Monday, February 16, 2009

My Latest Hobby

Back when I had only 1 or 2 children (and therefore more time), I had several hobbies that I enjoyed doing on a somewhat regular basis. I scrapbooked, made jewelry, sewed cute decorative things (mostly for my sister, lol!) did cross-stitching, etc. to name a few. While I would love to pick some of those things back up one of these days, they are just difficult to do with 5 little boys running around, and, quite frankly, none of those things are terribly useful to my family right now.

I have taught myself to knit recently and picked up crochet again, mostly because we spend so much time traveling and those are easy to do in a car. But I've been missing having a "useful" hobby that I could really enjoy AND bless my family with at the same time!

I really enjoy cooking for my family and others, and I'm also always interested in saving money...I figure if my husband is the one working to earn the money, the best way I can help out is to spend it as efficiently as possible! I've also been trying to do more and more cooking from scratch, both for financial purposes and health's nice to know exactly what's going into all the food we eat! So although I've been cooking for a long time now, this month I've decided to embark on a new that I'm excited about because I know it will be a fun learning experience for me, AND bless my wonderful family at the same time!

I'm teaching myself (with help from all over the internet, of course!) to make all the bread we like to eat! Now, I've been making our basic sandwich bread for about 2 years now. I rarely bought sandwich bread at the store the last year or so we were in Austin, and I've finally gotten back to making all our sandwich bread in the last few months here. But I've still been buying at the store what I'll call the "fancy" sourdough bread, pitas, bagels, tortillas, french/italian bread, etc. My new goal is to learn how to make all those things at home. I think it will be fun to learn, and the satisfaction of knowing my family enjoys eating them AND saving so much money over buying them at the store should make the endeavor well worth the effort! I'm also going to include my dear children in the fun, and of course chronicle our kitchen adventures here on our blog!

Today we made bagels. But before we get to that, I must pause to show you two of my adorable "kitchen helpers!"
**Disclaimer** I scrubbed my tiled kitchen floor just before taking these pictures. After all, I couldn't show the entire blogosphere (or even just the 6 or 7 people who actually read this) what my kitchen floor really looks like usually. But wouldn't you know it, my silly mottled tile comes out looking downright DIRTY in the pictures...even though it's NOT! Something is inherently unfair about this...I scrubbed for nuthin', LOL! **end of disclaimer**

Here are Josiah and Jordan hanging out in our kitchen. As you can see, my kitchen is only about 30" wide. I've become quite adept at hurdling little people while cooking at the same time!

Aren't they just the cutest?

Look who's crawling, and quite proud of himself!!

Now, on to our bagels! We used this recipe. The only change we made was to use 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 white flour. Next time I might cut down the salt a little.
Here is Jordan (or Jordan's hand, more specifically) stirring water, sugar, and yeast together.

Jordan loves to help me cook. He wants to do everything by himself. He did a pretty good job measuring the flour...

Here he is stirring the salt into some of the flour...

Watching the dough mix...

Here's our ball of dough, ready to rise! I turn on my oven for a couple minutes, then turn it off and put the dough in. It rises for me really well that way, as opposed to out on the counter.

After the dough rose to double in volume, I punched it down and cut it into 12 chunks. Jordan and Jonathan rolled them into balls for me...

Here the balls are "resting." When Joey came in the kitchen to see what we were doing, Jordan yelled at him, "Don't touch the's sleeping!"

After letting the balls rest for 5 minutes (Jonathan minded the timer), it was time to shape them. Jordan and Jonathan successfully pulled holes in the center of most of the bagels. Joey mashed, squished, poked, and otherwise mangled the one he tried, but he was proud of his efforts nonetheless.

Here they are resting again while we got the water boiling...

Now doesn't this look like a sweet little boy who NEVER gets in trouble for anything at all? Just look at that angelic grin...NOT! :) You can usually tell by looking at Joey what our previous meal was...yes, our dinner included spaghetti sauce...chicken parmesan really, but he's wearing the tomatoes!

Watching the bagels boil. They have to boil for 45 seconds, flipping halfway. So we all counted out loud for each batch. Gotta get those math skills in there!

Jordan is absolutely "all boy!" This is what I got when I told them to look at the camera and smile!

Here they are, boiled, brushed with an egg wash, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Then we popped them in the oven for 35 minutes...

And voila! Success! Don't they look nice?

Everybody gobbled them down happily, with a little cream cheese...

Even Daddy liked them!

Well, I'm happy to say that our first attempt at making our own bagels was a success, not to mention a lot of fun! Next time we're going to try adding cinnamon and raisins. We can't wait! Stay tuned for our next bread-baking challenge...I'm sure we'll be trying something new later this week!


kathy castor said...

Jen, your kitchen is so tiny! I'm amazed that you can cook anything in there, let alone bagels! I guess everything is in easy reach so maybe it is a good thing to have a small kitchen.

Grandma and Peepaw said...

You never cease to amaze me. Who would even attempt to make bread from scratch with 5 small boys awake in the same kitchen.

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