Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Adventures in Dallas

The old homestead

Last week, Hubby and I made the three and one-half hour trek from OKC to Big D. Why? Simply to spend a couple nights away from home in one of our favorite places. Back in the 1970-1980s, when lived in a suburb near Dallas, our kids were in elementary and pre-school, we had several young couples as neighbors, and life was golden in that halcyonic way that one's mind remembers good times. In spite of my passion for Oklahoma, the lure of Dallas is still strong.

Of course we did a drive-by of the old house, and what shocked us more than anything was the size of the trees. In a former neighbor's yard, a tree that was 10 feet tall when we helped plant it is now 35-40 feet tall and nearly overwhelms the yard. And a former drainage ditch at the end of the street is now a lovely, park-like bayou with walking trails. Sadly, our old house was minus the loquat trees we placed in front, and other landscape details we established were missing.

Also on our agenda was a visit to a shooting range, where I discharged my new .22 for the first time. Learning to competently handle a gun is high on my to-do list this year. While I felt marginally comfortable shooting the .22, firing Hubby's .38 almost knocked me down. I fearlessly shot and destroyed the clip holding the target as well as a chunk of the ceiling. I feel certain that the gentlemen marksmen in nearby lanes feared for their lives. Hubby laughed bravely.

We purchased cupcakes at Sprinkles, attended a gun show in Mesquite, and wait, there's more--we shopped at a Kroger Signature grocery store, where we purchased gourmet goodies for a picnic dinner on our hotel bed. Oklahoma has no Kroger stores, and we keenly miss them.

Mostly we relaxed, ate what we wanted when we wanted to, took dorky self-photos, and enjoyed having no pressing plans. Good times in Dallas. But we were happy to go home to Okie-Land.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shredded Wheat Bread

I will use almost any excuse to make bread. I have often used bread-worthy lefovers as my bread base--pancake or waffle batter, the remaining bits of granola, bits of fruit, and of course potatoes--all can be successfully incorporated into one's favorite bread recipe. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't, but the process of invention is always fun. So yesterday, I had a few bite-sized frosted shredded wheats left in the bottom of the bag, and I got the brilliant idea to make bread from the crumbs.

First I pulverized the shredded wheat in the food processor, and then I added a cup of warm water to it, to soften it.

In the meantime, I added 2 teaspoons of yeast to a cup of warm water, then whisked in a cup of flour. After about 30 minutes, the yeast mixture was bubbly, and the shredded wheat had become a nice, fragrant "wheaty" mass.

Into the KitchenAid mixer bowl went the softened shredded wheat and the yeast mixture, along with 2 tablespoons of yogurt from Wagon Creek Creamery (an Oklahoma dairy), two teaspoons of salt, and enough flour (maybe another 3 cups) to make a slightly sticky dough. After a decent interval of mixing with the bread hook (God bless it), I let the dough rise for about an hour. I then turned it out onto a floured Silpat, gave a knead or two, and formed it into a Vienna-shaped loaf.

I had to run some errands, and when I returned, the loaf had risen to the size of a flattened whale; so I did not slash it for fear it would collapse. I baked it at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, and while it did not make a pretty loaf (think buff-colored whale) the finished product was delicious.

The texture was nice and moist and chewy, the shredded wheat lent an addictive nuttiness, and the crust was especially tasty toasted.