Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bread, Tortilla, and Pizza Dough Recipes

Kelly and Christy asked for these recipes, thought I'd post them here:

1. Hamburger and/or Hot Dog Buns Recipe (or basic white bread):
(Adapted from's Amish White Bread recipe)

2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees, or just a bit warmer than lukewarm)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups bread flour

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar, yeast, salt and oil in the warm water. Add flour, one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place into a well-oiled bowl, then turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in bulk (about 1 hour). Punch dough down. From here you can shape this dough into:

2 loaves sandwich bread
16 to 20 hamburger buns
20 to 24 hot dog buns

Allow to rise a second time, about 30 to 40 minutes. For loaves, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from loaf pans immediately and cool on wire rack. For buns, bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove immediately from baking sheet and allow to cool.

*Note: this is my basic white dough recipe. I use this also for dinner rolls. Just shape smaller.

2. 100% Whole Grain Wheat Bread
(adapted from

2 3/4 cups warm water
1/3 cup olive oil, but any kind will do
1/3 cup honey or sugar
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (helps the loaves to rise better)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed (optional. If you omit this, add in a bit more flour instead)
6 to 7 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I prefer King Arthur brand White Wheat Flour, in the orange-colored on the borders bag.)

Place all ingredients except the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add in the flour, one cup at a time until it forms a soft dough. Don't add too much flour, or your loaves will be tough. Just add enough so the dough will hold its own shape and not be too sticky. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Put into a well-greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for 30 to 45 minutes. The dough will rise, but does not need to double in size. Drop the dough onto a flat surface and shape into two loaves. Put into 2 well-greased loaf pans and allow to rise again. When risen, bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove from loaf pans immediately and allow to rise on a wire rack. Do not store this bread in the refrigerator, or else it will get tough.

3. Flour Tortillas

I use this recipe: Authentic Flour Tortillas
But I make a few changes:

1. I use olive oil instead of shortening.
2. I use a flat cast iron griddle to cook mine. On my electric stove, once my griddle is heated up, I turn my stove down to a medium low and cook each side of my tortillas for about 30 seconds.
3. The recipe says it makes 30 tortillas. I can only get 24 fajita-sized tortillas.
4. If you can get your tortillas round, let me know your technique. My family has eaten amoeba-shaped tortillas for years now!

4. Pizza Dough

I use this recipe: The Fresh Loaf Pizza Dough
I hand-knead my dough instead of stirring it with a spoon. Otherwise I fall this recipe AND TECHNIQUE exactly. The technique of cooking this pizza is what makes this so good, I always get compliments on my pizza dough. (I use cornmeal underneath the dough instead of parchment paper.) I don't use the sauce recipe on this site, I just use a HFCS-free bottled spaghetti sauce.

If anyone else has any tried-and-true bread recipes, I'm always interested!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A 4 Year Old's Questions About the Fiery Furnace

My son's Sunday School class learned about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego yesterday. I've told him about those events several times, but he was younger and probably doesn't remember it well.

But his teacher must have told the story in a more memorable way. Yesterday he came home with lots of questions:

"What's a fiery furnace?"
"Is Abednego a funny name?"
"Why was that king so bad?"

Here's the one that really took me aback:

"Why did God let them go into the fiery furnace? Why didn't he just turn off the fire?"

I wanted to answer, "Because God sometimes lets his people go through hard times so that we'll learn to rely on Him. Sometimes God lets his people go through a 'refining fire' of sort, so that whatever we have in our life that is not rooted in Him will fall away, and we'll be better for it. The evil king who saw Jesus in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego changed his ways and worshipped God because of it. That wouldn't have happened if God just turned down the heat. That's why it's important that Christians keep a good testimony when we're suffering--we never know who might see Jesus in us during our suffering. They might be saved because they see us enduring with a dignity not found naturally in this world."

But my son, being only four years old, isn't quite ready for those hard truths. He was happy with, "God didn't turn off the fire so that everyone could see Him rescue Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. People worshipped Him more that way."

James 1:12 promises us--"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."

Do we ask God to "turn down the heat?" I am guilty of that too often. Instead I should be praying, "Lord, please help me to remember that whenever life gets difficult, there's always a lesson in it to bring me closer to You. When I'm going through life's difficulties, please remind me that others are watching to see how I handle it. Please keep my testimony pure, pointing others to You in the process. Teach me that whenever I'm in life's fiery furnace, you're in there with me too."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy July! (or not...)

My 4 year old boy is already a cantankerous old man. A couple of weeks ago, he was on a tirade:

"I don't like Halloween! I don't like Santa Claus! I don't like balloons! AND I DON'T LIKE JULY!"

(You should probably know that he is terrified of loud noises. Whenever our smoke alarm does its monthly test, there's about 10 minutes of pure mayhem around here.)

So, he doesn't like balloons or fireworks because of their loud popping noise.

That boy has seriously bad mojo around balloons, too. The first day we went to our new homeschool group, he asked timidly, "Will there be balloons there?" Would you believe, there was a big rainbow arch of balloons? I thought I'd never get that kid to go inside!

The first time we ever visited Honey at work, he asked again, "Will there be balloons there?" Honey works as a work-study assistant in the Veterans Affairs office at the university, so I confidently answered, "No, there are no balloons at college." Y'all, I'm totally serious when I tell you, the whole road up to Honey's office was LINED with balloons from every tree! Apparently there was some big orientation, and the balloons marked the way to get to the reception area. And...once we parked the van, we had to WALK under those balloons to get to Honey's office. And...balloons were popping all around when the wind blew them into the branches! I thought my son would be traumatized for life...

We went camping  shortly before Memorial Day. Part of the campground attraction was a laser show. We told our son, this is lasers, they don't make loud noises. Uhmmm, the brochure said laser show...we found out the hard way it's a laser AND fireworks show. That boy screamed into my shirt the WHOLE SHOW! We thought about leaving, but we stuck it out.

So we have already promised our son that we will not attend any Fourth of July fireworks shows this year.

But our daughter...

...on July 1st, she informed her brother, "Guess what? Do you know what today is? It's the first day of JULY!"

He went into full. meltdown. mode.

I didn't know whether to scold my daughter, comfort my son, or bust out laughing!

(Yeah, it's a laugh riot around here.)

So, Happy Fourth of July to you! (or not...whatever makes you happy.)