Monday, December 5, 2011

Friends, Beavers, and Bubbles

Jane and Charlie got to ride the bus with their friends, up to the Calgary Zoo in October. When you are a homeschool kid, riding the bus is quite the novelty. We had a good time, other than when we lost Jacob. Security found him watching the gorillas. That's where I would want to go sit too. 

Another fun time with friends was a visit to this huge beaver dam in town. I didn't get to go this time but Tim said it was the coolest thing ever. The kids were all fired up about it when they got home and they talked about it so much that it almost feels as if I had been there.

Apparently the Walters are our field trip friends. It's nice to have good friends to learn and play with. They planned this fun idea to visit our local bakery. We got to go in the back and bake pretty much whatever we wanted which turned out to be a zillion cinnamon buns, donuts, and elephant ears the size of America.

These guys have done a lot of bread making lately. We made homemade soft pretzels the other day too. They were amazing. They tasted exactly like the real kind. EXACTLY. Here is the recipe:

Homemade Soft Pretzels
adapted from Alton Brown
(makes 8 large pretzels)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (1/2 stick)
olive oil, for oiling bowl
For Dunking:
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
Topping (optional):
1 cup shredded cheese (I used provolone)
minced garlic, to taste
Oven Temperature: 450 F
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle the yeast over this mixture and let sit for about 5 minutes, until the mixture starts to foam at the top.
2. Add the flour and melted butter and mix in on low speed using the dough hook attachment. Once the ingredients have combined, change to medium speed and let the dough hook knead for about 4-5 minutes, at which time the dough should form a smooth ball around the hook and no longer stick to the sides of the bowl (see photo).
3. Remove the dough from the bowl and using olive oil, oil either the same bowl or another large bowl. Place the dough into the oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise in a relatively warm place for 50 to 55 minutes. At this point, the dough should be approximately doubled in size.
4. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Bring the water and baking soda (for dunking) to a boil in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, cover 3 baking sheets with aluminum foil sprayed with a non-stick baking spray. Set aside two sheets for baking, using the third for prep. Place the dough onto the third baking sheet and divide into 8 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece over a flat surface into a 2 ft long rope. Make a U with the rope and cross the ends over each other and toward the bottom of the U to make a pretzel shape, slightly pressing the ends into the U to stick.  Return to the third baking sheet.
5. Once all of the pretzels have been formed, place one-by-one into the boiling water for about 30 seconds and remove using a spatula. Place on the other two baking sheets designated for baking. Prepare the glaze by beating together the egg yolk and water and brush over the tops of the pretzels. Add any toppings you wish to the pretzels. If using the cheese and garlic, simply sprinkle over the shredded cheese and then the minced garlic.
6. Bake the pretzels in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, until the tops turn golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Pretzels can be stored in a ziploc in the fridge and warmed up in the microwave; they will still taste delicious!

I am loving the Christmas-y simmer pot recipes. My kids eat a whole box of mandarin oranges in one afternoon so I started saving their peels so we could use them to simmer with cloves and cinnamon sticks. It smells so so good.

On Saturday we strung popcorn for our first real tree. Even Tim got it on this craft. As you can see, we only made enough to get half way down the tree but it worked out fine because I think Scarlet would have eaten the lower strings anyway. She loves popcorn.

As of Dec. 4th, all of our presents were wrapped and under the tree. This may be a world record. I wrapped while I listened to the Church Christmas Devotional- I think I might make that a yearly tradition. This year we saved a few trees and wrapped our presents with my fabric scraps and tied yarn around them to hold the fabric together. I love how it looks so organic. No tape, no wrapping paper. 

For FHE tonight the kids delivered these Christmas bubbles to some friends. We painted the jar lids with chalk paint so we could label them and the cool part is that the dish soap we used is green so it looked so Christmas-y. We tied ribbon and gift tags onto the jars with a bubble wand made out of a pipe cleaner.  We just made circle wands but you can see in the picture below that you could make fun shapes for the wands if you felt like it. The kids had so much fun going door to door with their bubble jars. Christmas is so delightful.


Elizabeth said...

You are all seriously delightful!

Unknown said...

Ohhhhh, I love reading your blog, the magic and joy just oozes out, your kids are so delightful, oh my goodness, Scarlet is a doll!!! Keep on blogging it lightens my week!

Timothy said...

It's becoming more and more apparent to me where the most important work in our family is happening. I love that my kids get to hang out with their mom all day; even when she's cooking a biscuit in her tummy.

M. said...

you are amazing. don't think i've told you that lately! xx I LOVE the way the tree looks with those presents.