Merry Christmas

Here’s hoping that everyone is having a wonderful, snowy, and festive Christmas weekend!

photo 2

My most reluctant Christmas helper!

photo 1

Rocking some new Christmas sparkle.

IMG_0546

Merry Christmas, from my family to yours!

 

Advertisements

Christmas Prepping: Poppy Seed Bread

I’ve had a couple requests to post a blog about all the crafting I’m doing for Christmas presents this year.  This blog will come, but it’s going to have to wait.  I can’t really post about the presents I’m giving to people next week!  To get you in the Christmas spirit though, I thought I’d share a recipe I make for Christmas every year.

I’m not generally much of a baker.  Honestly, I almost never, ever bake.  It’s just so time consuming, it generates a huge amount of dishes, and you have to be so accurate with the measurements.  It does seem odd that I don’t like to be analytical in the kitchen, because being analytical is one of the traits that got me through school and it helps me excel at my job.  Maybe I just need the kitchen to be a place where I can just relax with wine and cook by feel?!?

Whatever the reason, baking just isn’t my forte.  When I do bake, I tend to make bread.  Which is odd because bread generally isn’t considered like “Intro to Baking” level activity.  I always seem to have a huge collection of bananas in the freezer, and every now and again I’ll get a wild hair to whip up several loaves of banana bread.  The other thing I bake “regularly” is my Grandma’s recipe for poppy seed bread.  It isn’t a traditional poppy seed bread.  Forget the visions of lemon poppy seed bread currently dancing through your brain.  This bread involves making some poppy seed goo and then rolling it all up a la jelly roll.

There’s nothing  particularly “Christmas-y” about this recipe, and I don’t remember that Grandma ever made it specifically for Christmas.  However, once she got sick and stopped cooking, I started making the recipe, because someone needed to be making it.  I was in college then, so I always ended up making it over Christmas break.  Now I try and make batches every Christmas and give them out for part of Christmas gifts.  No one else really makes it, so it’s my little attempt to keep a family recipe alive.

 

1919601_100351099995035_3226324_n

These two though…..they hang in my closet and I see them everyday.  Their memory reminds me to stay humble and work hard.

313838_276914812338662_125596557_n-2

A little Nutcracker action, to keep you in the holiday spirit!

The problem with this recipe is that it’s not really much to go on.  My Grandma, and her mother, were that old school breed of women who could cook for days without a recipe at all and everything just ended up perfect.  They used specific bowls to measure thing, and the phrases, “mix till it feels right” and “just throw some in” are what come to mind when I remember cooking with my Grandma at the farm.  I remember calling Grandma one of the first times I decided to bake the poppy seed bread because my goo wasn’t becoming goo.  I had already added way more cornstarch than she had originally told me, and like I often do when things are going astray….I started to panic!  We sat on the phone for a while and chatted while I stood and stirred my goo in hopes that something would start to happen.  She just kept telling me to add more…….few minutes later, “Is it getting thick?”  Nope……”well just add some more!”  So, I guess if you try this, and things don’t seem to be working out, just remember to add more cornstarch!!

Recipe: Makes 2 Loaves

Dough

  • 1 Package Yeast
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup Margarine
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 4-41/2 cups Flour

Filling–The Goo

  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 oz Poppy Seeds
  • 2-4 heaping tbs Corn Starch mixed in small amount of water

IMG_0271

Soften the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water.  Warm the milk and margarine in the microwave until just melted, and add to the yeast mixture.  Add in the salt, sugar, and egg and whisk well to combine.  Whisk in the first 2 cups of flour.  The last two cups need to be stirred in.  Don’t worry if you can’t get the whole last cup of flour to mix in.  Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth.  Place in a large bowl, cover, and place in a warm space.  Let raise to double and then punch the dough back down and let it raise again.

IMG_0273

This is a double batch, it will raise enough to totally fill this huge bowl.  I only use this bowl for poppy seed bread.  Maybe I’m more like my Grandma than I thought!

While the dough is raising, prep the filling.  Place the milk, sugar, and seeds in a saucepan on the stove.  Heat until just before boiling while stirring to prevent scalding.  Mix the cornstarch with a small amount of water, I just do this in a coffee mug.  While stirring the seed mixture, pour in the cornstarch slurry.  Continue stirring to avoid lumps and heat to boiling.  The mixture will thicken as it cools some, but it’s better if the mixture is too thick.  Runny goo will make your life a struggle later.  Don’t be afraid to add more cornstarch!  I made two batches of bread this weekend.  Yesterday’s batch had goo that was slightly on the runny side, today’s was maybe too thick.  Trust me, thick is definitely easier.  It stays where you put it and doesn’t come oozing out the ends before you can crimp them up!

Once your dough is ready, divide in half.  Roll out half on a floured surface to about 1 foot long and 6 inches wide.  Place a small line of goo about 2 inches from the end of the dough.  Flip the dough over to make a pocket around the goo.  Press down all around the edge to seal in the goo, make sure the get the ends well sealed.  Add another line of goo on the crimp line, and flip the original pocket over to make another pocket.  You’ll keep doing this until you get to the end of the dough.  The goo probably oozed out of the ends slightly , and you might be feeling a bit sticky at this point.  It’s all fine, and I promise it will taste just fine.  Carefully, place the loaf final seam side down in a loaf pan.  I sometimes don’t get my dough sized right, if it’s too big for the pan just squish the ends in a little…..no one will know!

Under the advice of a boy I attempted to spread the filling across the dough and roll it like a jelly roll.  Let’s just say that Grandma’s know how to do these things best.  I have to admit I had always been curious about why it wouldn’t work.  It ended up being much harder to seal, it totally burst open in the oven, and it is definitely the saddest of the 4 loaves I made yesterday.  Live, learn, and trust Grandma on that one I guess!

Cover the pans and let rise slightly before baking at 350 for 45 mins.  Once baked and cooled slightly, tip out of pans and place in bags to freeze or let cool on a cooling rack.  If you didn’t get all the ends and seams sealed up, some of the goo might have burst out of the bread.  Again, this is all fine and won’t effect much other than maybe the floor of your oven. Let cool before cutting so that the goo can reset.  I like mine with butter, but its equally good plain.

 

IMG_5316

You might get some air pockets and you might get some oozing filling, but trust me…..your mouth doesn’t care at all!

The dough can also be used as Long John dough.  I’ve never done this, but Grandma always used the same recipe.  After the dough has raised, roll and divide into equal portions, shape, and deep fry.  In traditional Peterson style, your Long Johns should be topped with vanilla frosting and chopped peanuts.

Happy baking!  If I don’t write again before Christmas, here’s hoping that you and your families have a very Merry Christmas!

❤ MisHappenings

Chapter 10: A Letter to my Texan

Could I just say, that I’m not sure there’s anything better than coffee and Netflix in bed on a chilly, grey Saturday morning.  I’ve got a curly French twist which is looking gloriously bedheady and I’ve fluffed my comforter into poofy submission.  I’m feeling very Carrie Bradshaw this morning!

It’s probably been a month or two now since I saw an article about how JJ Watt is apparently having a horrible time finding a girlfriend.  Join the struggle sir!  Not that I’m looking for a girlfriend, but ya know what I mean.  Sometimes, when we normal people reach out to celebrities, mystical things happen.  On the advice of my hairdresser, this is my reach out to my celebrity.  So, if any of you have some magical connection to the Watt family, please feel free to pass this along! 🙂

th

…..and I’m dead…..

Dear Texan,

As a fellow single twenty something, I am well acquainted with the struggle that is the modern dating world.  You said in an interview that you were having a hard time separating the sincere women from the fame junkies and gold-diggers.  This is my small effort to prove that nice, normal girls are still out there.  Well, I mean normal is a relative term obviously, but according to the internet I feel like I can dig on your brand of normal.

Even as a normal girl living in the normal world, I encounter guys all the time who were apparently raised by wild animals, and thus have moral compasses that are slightly……wonky.  I can’t imagine the volume of women who throw themselves at you, purely because of who you are and what you do. I’m not trying to throw myself at you, although I’m sure you could catch me like a football!  Hahahah, ok that will be my only lame football joke.  Truth be told, I’m not generally a huge fan of football.  I’m not opposed to it watching the game, and I’d be more than down to watch you play.  I do know what you mean about someone only liking you for your job, I mean it would be super weird for someone to want to date me only because I run science experiments on ethanol all day long.  Our jobs are part of who we are for sure, but they aren’t the only thing that defines us.

I’m sure that fame brings gold-diggers, which is a whole thing that we normal girls don’t really have to deal with.  Do girls really ever have to deal with gold-diggers!?  Are guys going after a girl’s money still called gold-diggers?!  These are really the struggles of our lives I think, and Kayne didn’t help sort them any.  In any case, I think the key to a good relationship is two people who want each other, but don’t need each other to function in the world.  I make my own money, pay all my bills on time, and don’t have the time for people who aren’t responsible adults by this point in our lives.  I mean really, get it together people!!  I know that being an adult is hard, but that’s why God invented Google and YouTube.  Find the info you need, and then remember the mantra, “Stupider people than me have done this….therefore I can!”

Dating is really almost the worst thing ever, I get that.  In the face of the whole struggle, it’s important to remember that some of us good, Midwestern, traditioanl valued girls are still out there.  You’re a Midwestern guy, you know what I’m talking about.  Out here on the prairie we are raised to be respectful, work hard, and never forget where you came from and the importance of family and friends!  At the end of the day, hard work and a good heart will get you everything you need in life.  Atleast that’s what I’m hoping, because that’s what I’m banking on!

Fingers crossed,

MisHappenings

photo 2

Obviously, this is all in good fun.  Hahaha  I get that celebrities can’t run around in the real world to meet people.  He’d get totally mauled by fans if he ever walked into my local bar of choice.  I mean this is Viking country, but people still know him.  Plus, I read this morning that he is dating someone.  However, I decided to write this anyway cuz it seemed like a fun idea.  Good luck on your new relationship my Texan, and hopefully your wrist heals soon.  …..yea that’s right, I do pay some attention to sports!

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Birthmas!

I’m spending a lazy Sunday on the couch with my Lil Nugget drinking bloody marys with homemade dilly beans.  Yummm-o!  It’s been a busy week, but one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long time!

IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY WEEK!!!!!!

I turned the big TWO-EIGHT on Wednesday.  I did some of my traditional birthday activities…

  • Work a half day
  • Skip my planned noon workout for lunch
  • Annual manicure
  • Nap
  • Nachos, apple guinnesses, and free dessert at McNally’s with Bestie and the Hubby in Law!
photo 4 (2)

My Sexy Russian wanted me to write about my mani…….its Plum Raven by Gelish with loose and chunky glitter with matte top coat.  Yay bloody mary!!!

I also got several bouquets of flowers so my house and office are full of blooms!

I may have also ordered myself some new birthday makeup.  May I present the new, limited edition Urban Decay Gwen Stefani eyeshadow palette!

photo 2 (2)

This gives me life!! Much lighter than my Naked 2 for more subtle smokey eyes! #magicsinthemakeup

The birthday celebrations continued on Friday.  Momma came to town to take me to lunch, and Bestie took me out for an epic sushi dinner!  It was also a big week for her, she finished her medical lab science program at the hospital….congrats on being done Bestie!!!!  It was a good week, and I’m feeling very grateful and loved.

photo 3 (2)

Plum wine, white and fatty tuna, rolls, and a not pictured soft shell crab….EPIC!

Along with my birthday comes Christmas decorating!  Christmas was always been a major decorating event growing up.  I’m quite sure that Momma has a garland for almost every window, door, and mantle.  I don’t have quite that collection yet, but after two years, I think the living room decorations are really coming together.  I don’t really decorate the upstairs or my bedroom…..just the main room of the house.

While this is normally the highlight of my year, I’m still in a bit of a funk about it because Menards no longer stocks my favorite garlands.  So, if any of you out there have Menards connections….tell them I want my garland back!  Never the less, I soldiered on and made the house festive for the holidays.  Now that it’s all done, I never want to undecorate.  Why is that houses always feel much homier when they are decorated for Christmas?!  The general theme for my house is simple and traditional looking, with a sprinkling of snooty deer…..because if I were a deer I would be snooty!

Much thanks to my Momma for helping me redo my outdoor decor on a snowy Friday.  Also for helping me scrape ancient wax off some skis I collected from my Grandpa’s basement.

 

photo 3

Skis and a matching tear drop for the exterior!

 

 

photo 5 (3)

Snooty and jumping!

photo 3 (6)

 

photo 3 (5)

So snooty!  A birthday present from last year, and I love him!!

That’s pretty much it for the decorations.  There is a small pot on my back patio and a string of lights with lace and tulle in my bedroom window, but they aren’t super exciting and it’s too dark to get good pictures of them now.

 

In other news, last week, on Thanksgiving morning, we had a death.  Captain Jack, my beta, had a good run but the rum got the best of him and he went down to Davy Jone’s locker.  After my sushi date with Bestie on Friday, we ran to Petsmart and got a new fish.  I’m please to introduce…..Black Pearl!  Yes, he lives in a Crystal Head vodka bottle in my secretary.  Welcome to the crazy little buddy!

photo 4 (4)