Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

Cheesy Corn Muffins

I was looking for a yummy addition to our chili the other night and I came across this recipe from Vegetarian Cooking: A Common Sense GuideI’m not totally sure why this book claims to be the commonsense guide. The recipes are not at all common… It does have good recipes, just not ones we are used to seeing. I also took a few liberties with the recipe, which I will note in my directions.

CheesCornMuffin|Fox & Broom Blog

 

 

Cost: VERY inexpensive
Skill Level: Novice. This is a super easy recipe, with minimal clean-up.

 

Corn Muffins
Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 310 g (11 oz/2 1/2 cups) self-rising flour [I measured out 2 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt into a cup, topped it off with all-purpose flour, measured out the rest of the flour - so total would be 2 1/2 cups, whisked it all together]
  • 75 g (2 1/2 oz/1/2 cup) fine polenta [I just used my regular corn meal]
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) milk [I had to add an extra tbsp of milk to my recipe]
  • 125 g (4 1/2 oz) butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 130 g (4 1/2 oz) tin corn kernels, drained [I used about 1/2 cup of frozen corn]
  • 2 spring onions (scallions) finely chopped
  • 60 g (2 1/4 oz/ 1/2 cup) grated cheddar cheese
  • cream cheese or butter to top

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 210º C (415º F/Gas 6 – 7). Grease two six-hole muffin tins.
  • Sift flour and polenta into a large bowl and make a well in the center.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and season with sea salt and pepper. Pour into the well in the flour mixture and gently fold using a metal spoon [I used a wooden spoon] until just combined. Do not over-mix – the batter should still be very lumpy.
  • Spoon the batter into the muffin holes and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for 5 minutes before turning them out. Serve the muffin hot or at room temp, split in half and spread with cream cheese or butter.

You could easily add more things to these muffins (chives, dried tomatoes). They are NOT SWEET at all. Notice there is not sugar added. I really really liked them alot. My husband still put honey on them – he likes a little sweet with his chili – and said they were really yummy with the sweet added to them.

They also seem to last nicely. They are on day 4 and still quite tasty. They will probably be completely gone by the end of today.

I think I might play around with this recipe a bit and see if I can make a vegan version… If I am successful, I will post the recipe.

CheeseCornMuffin|Fox & Broom Blog

Shhh! I have maybe 10 minutes!

The baby is sleeping, the middle guy is zoning out on tv (bad mommy moment – don’t judge me), and eldest is playing with his girlfriend err friend.

I have started up the C25K program again. I know, I know: I’ve started it like 5 times now. At the moment I am hoping to train up for the Bloomsday race in May. And getting myself back into shape. I managed to gain back everything I proudly lost over the summer. Bleh. Now, I know I can do it, so I am going to do it. When I have a little more time, I will post up my weekly plan (that I have been keeping to, except for yesterday when I had a sick child), my goals, and my rewards for meeting goals.

Ok. Gotta run. I get the fun task of waking up a baby to drive out in icy weather to take eldest to a class.

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread

I have been on a search for years for the perfect homemade sandwich bread. WHEAT sandwich bread. I came across a lot of issues in this search. Most wheat breads come out kind of dense. Or they taste funny. Or, if they taste fine, they have a weird aftertaste. Then, I happened across this recipe. I have to admit that I waited a few months before trying it. I now make it nearly every week, except for the summertime. It just makes my house too hot. I make it about once every other week to once per month in the summer months. I am trying to talk the hubby into letting me have an outdoor oven.

This recipe is a little complex, which is why I waited to make it. It is totally worth it. The bread comes out soft and not too crumbly. It is easy to cut and does not have that odd taste that has put me off in the past. I will post the original recipe with notes on my notes in italics.

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

This recipe does have a few steps. It is time intensive in that respect, though each step should not take longer than 15 – 20 minutes to complete. I usually make up the biga and soaker somewhere around 4pm the day before I plan on baking the bread. The biga and the soaker need to rest for 8 – 24 hours. Especially the biga. I have used the soaker within 4 hours and my bread turned out just fine. The biga does need to sit and yeast up for a decent loaf. I am sure that “yeast up” is a completely technical term somewhere. Or at least it is in my head.

With a lot of recipes, I am willing to use cheaper ingredients. Bread is NOT one of those. My preferred flour is Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur. I generally use Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat and King Arthur Bread Flour. I also splurge on my milk. For this recipe I use Pure Eire Non-Homogenized Whole Milk. It might be my imagination, but I am pretty sure this milk has the perfect fatty content that makes this bread perfectly springy.

So, yes, I am willing to buy what I consider quality ingredients for this bread. By my calculations, each loaf is approximately $2 to $2.50. Which still beats out the $4 – $6 cost at the store.

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Bread

Original recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients

Biga:
2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour
1 cup (8 ounces) warm water, about 100-110 degrees F
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast (I round it and even throw in a dash more)

Soaker:
3 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for kneading
1/2 cup wheat germ (I like to use ground flax-seed. This is also an optional ingredient. I have added nothing and had perfectly fine results.)
2 cups whole milk

Dough:
1/4 cup honey
4 teaspoons table salt (3 tsp works fine)
2 tablespoons instant or rapid-rise yeast (I round mine out)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (I use 4 tbsp)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (This can be cut down or cut out. I do like the texture of the bread better with at least 1 tbsp of oil added.)
bread flour for work surface

Directions

To make the biga: In a large bowl, combine bread flour, warm water and yeast. Stir with wooden spoon until no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set out overnight (8 to 24 hours) at room temperature. (I combine the water and yeast before mixing it into the flour.)

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Biga

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Biga

To make the soaker: In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, wheat germ and milk. Stir with wooden spoon until shaggy mass forms, about 1 minute. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Return to bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (8 to 24 hours).

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread Soaker

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread Soaker

To make the dough: Remove soaker from fridge and break up into 1-inch pieces. Place pieces in the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with dough hook. Add biga, honey, salt, yeast, butter and oil. Stir with dough hook until just combined, about 2 minutes, then increase speed to medium and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for 1 minute. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large clean, lightly greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise 45 minutes.

Uncover bowl and punch down dough. Fold half of partially risen dough over itself toward the middle, then rotate bowl 90 degrees and repeat. Do this for a total of 8 times. Re-cover bowl and let dough rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. (My dough usually rises much faster during the 2nd rising. Learn from my mistakes. Do not let your bread turn out like this. Check it every 15 – 20 minutes during the second rising. The bread will still turn out fine, your work area will just be a mess.):

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread. Uber rising.

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread. über rising.

Arrange two racks in the oven to middle and lowest positions and place a baking stone on middle rack. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans and set aside. Punch down dough and divide in half. On a well-floured surface using fingers, press one dough half into a 8-by-17-inch rectangle. With the short side facing you, carefully roll up dough into a log, keeping log taut by tucking it under itself as you roll up. Carefully place log seam-side down in prepared loaf pan. Repeat with remaining dough half. Lightly grease the tops of the loaves and cover with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

When dough is fully risen, place a heatproof bowl or pan on the bottom oven rack. Bring 2 cups water to a boil on the stovetop; pour boiling water into heatproof bowl. Uncover risen loaves and place on baking stone. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake loaves until dark brown and a thermometer inserted in the bottom of the loaf reads 200 degrees F, about 40-45 minutes. Remove loaves from oven and place on cooling rack. Cool 5 minutes; remove loaves from loaf pans and return to cooling rack to cool completely, about 2 hours.

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

My First Raffle

I am experiencing something new. I am holding my first ever raffle for my jewelry store, RavynEclipse Designs. I’m pretty excited about it. I spent a few weeks perfecting the raffle gift and I am really happy with how it looks:

Win this jewelry set created by RavynEclipse Designs.

Win this jewelry set created by RavynEclipse Designs.

I have mentally nicknamed it Serenity. Partly because of the lotus pendant and partly because it just makes me feel good to look at it.

The earrings were really fun.

Enter to win this jewelry set created by RavynEclipse Designs.

Enter to win this jewelry set created by RavynEclipse Designs.

The set was created with natural stone, shell, wood, and glass beads. So, some of the beads may look different from others. The sizes match up, just some colors and shapes vary. I like this effect.

The bracelet is about 8″ in length. The necklace is about 19″ in length. This set would be a perfect gift for a special someone or a perfect Holiday accessory for you. To enter the giveaway, you will need to go through Rafflecopter:

The 2013 RavynEclipse Designs Holiday Giveaway

Enter to win this jewelry set!

Enter to win this jewelry set!

 

Yikes!

Ok. So, I have changed my domain name… Which apparently means that some of my links on my pages now go to porn instead of to the posts that I had linked them to… I am fixing it, but if you came across this, I am sorry. I do not know why porn seems to be the default link. But, whatever.

So, I suppose I should explain my new name. A few folks have asked me about it and I did promise to write-up a post.

My maiden name means “fox” in Belgian. I always thought it was pretty nifty. The fox is also a symbol of someone who watches in secret, who holds secrets. That appeals to me. I used “Fox” as part of my online name for a few years. I feel a connection with foxes. It fits me.

Brooms. Symbols of cleaning and domestic care. They sweep out dirt and negativity. I like the idea of cleaning out that which is negative. Housework and childcare is hard enough without negative energies.

That is it. Nothing earth shattering. Just a change in the way I see myself. I am focussing less on exercise (which is still a part of me) and more on household. I know my focus will shift over the years and this is a name that I think will work with the many changes.

Tummy Troubles

I am totally ready for my tummy to be back to normal. Thursday at about 4:30 am, I started yakking up uncontrollably. TMI. It sucked. I was also up at that time with baby and didn’t have time to put him down and run to the bathroom. So I held him while I hugged the porcelain god. Thankfully, the hubby woke up and took him from me. It was a miserable day. Water wouldn’t even stay down. I was starving and super thirsty by the time I could finally get a few sips to stay down.

It is now Saturday night and I still have very little appetite and the tummy is still twisting ominously. I made Chex mix in hopes that might spark something. It is one of my favorite snacks… But no. The smell totally turns me off right now.

And, before you ask, I am not pregnant. I’m actually pretty sure this is food poisoning. Yay!

The Ultimate Dryer Buying Experience or Why Best Buy Will Never See Me Again.

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A few weeks ago our dryer died. Just died. Kaput. Done. Finished. So, we went off in search of a replacement. My mom had given me a few savings bonds she had found stashed away and just asked us to use the money to get a new dryer instead of a used one.

So, we went from store to store. Comparing prices and various dryer functions and brands. Ultimately extraordinarily boring and draining. We were done by the time we made it to Best Buy.

The prices were all essentially the same at every store on the style I had decided on. It wasn’t anything special. I decided I wanted to have variable temp controls and a dryness sensor was an added bonus. So, we decided to just stop with Best Buy and get the dryer from them. They told us that model would take a few weeks as they had sold out of it during their Labor Day sale. That was fine with us. We had already been hang-drying our laundry for a little over a week and figured a couple more would be ok.

We even splurged part of our credit rating and got the in-store credit card as it gave us a bit of a discount. I was told I just needed to give them a couple of days to get me in the system before I paid it off.

So, the purchase and even the credit card all made for a pretty normal sale.

I waited four business before I went in and paid most of our balance. I couldn’t remember the actual balance, so paid slightly under. I figured I would finish paying it when I got my statement. The clerk was also unable to look it up for me. He did try, but it came up as a 0 balance. He said I could go ahead and still make a payment and it would be adjusted once the sale showed up on my account.

That part was actually the only smooth part of this whole fiasco.

About a day after we bought the dryer (maybe two), I received a confirmation email stating my delivery and installation were set for Sept. 29. Cool. That was as I was told.

Well, last night (Thursday, September 26th), I checked my email for the first time in a few days and found one from Best Buy that had been sent to me on Tuesday, September 24th. Telling me that my order was back ordered and they had no date as to when it would be available. WTF? So I read it again. Sure enough, they had sent me an email to let me know that my dryer was in some limbo with no idea as to when it would appear. Oh, and if I did not respond to that email, then they would assume I agreed with that action. What if that email had not made it to me? Why wouldn’t they call someone about information like that??

So, I went into my local store as soon as my two older kids left with my in-laws. I immediately asked for a manager. The guy I spoke to said he was the manager. So, I explained to him about my purchase, the confirmation email, then the back ordered email. I told him this last email told me two very big truths about his company: 1. They lied. If they were not actually able to confirm my order, they never should have sent a confirmation email. 2. Their customer service sucks. For something like this, a customer should be contacted directly. To which he responded, “Oh. Ok.”

I then told him, “What I need you to do is stop my order and credit my bank account the amount I have already paid on the card, then pay the rest to the card.” He told me he would see what he could do. Then credited the entire amount back to the card. He credited a card I had already almost paid off. Then told me I would just have to wait until the credit card company sent me a check. I pretty much exploded at this time. I argued with him and two other schmucks for 30 minutes. I questioned him why I would have to wait for the credit card company to pay me when they were fully capable of taking the funds directly from my account. I also mentioned that for a store specializing in technology, they were sorely lacking in some technology. Bloody hell, I can refund someone through PayPal in a matter of seconds.

I requested they call someone higher up. They refused. I demanded they call the credit company and tell them they need to refund me immediately. They refused. I think it was at about this point that I started breastfeeding my baby. On the counter. He was hungry and it seemed like this was going to take longer. It made those three men very uncomfortable. One of them also started trying to help other customers (the guy who originally told me he was the manager – little snot). I told them I was not leaving until I had my money back. It was at this point that the guy who actually had a manager title on his name tag work hard to convince me that my money would appear in my mailbox in 3 – 4 days. Days. Still not acceptable. However, I was exhausted and sick of their bullshit. I told him I would leave when he called the credit company for me and they assured me my check would arrive in a few days. He took me to a phone away from the other customers and dialed the number for me…

The Best Buy credit line is by far the absolutely worst phone experience I have ever had. And I have had jobs that required me to call DMVs, insurance companies, and cell phone providers. The last straw was when I finally reached the actual customer service line only to be told that due to high call volume, they would need me to log onto their website. I said, “Screw this.” Hung up the phone and left the store. Then found a wonderful dryer at Sears (paid cash with what was left in my savings). It is already in my house, hooked up and ready to go.

So, maybe all of this happened because I was supposed to find that dryer at Sears. Only, I still feel like I have basically paid Best Buy to take back the dryer I never even saw. I also found out that Best Buy is failing as a company. Can’t say I am surprised.

Walking Along Harvard Street

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Boston Cream Deliciousness

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Boston Trip Update 1

The plane trip was uneventful and fairly smooth. Baby J did not cry at all and managed to just sleep most of the way. He did get loud a little bit, bit it was with happy noises instead of angry ones. For the most part, he actually seemed to enjoy flying.

Today, I walked around the area we are staying. We are here for 9 days; I may as well get to know the place. I bought some groceries at a Trader Joes. It was my first time ever in one. It was pretty neat.

I also went to a Dunkin Doughnuts for the first time in five years. That Boston Cream was heavenly.

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