Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Manna from Sweden!

A couple weeks ago, I noticed one of my recent clients was once again listed on my work schedule. She was having issues with her CapTel 800i telephone and needed my assistance, but her appointment wasn't for another week. Since I was delivering in her area, I called to see if I could come sooner. She was thrilled...of course.

When I arrived at her home, I saw beautiful rounds of homemade bread cooling on her countertop. More rounds were baking in the oven and the house smelled scrumptious. After I successfully fixed her new phone and I knew I was, once again, her best friend, I thought I should inquire about her recipe. I'm sneaky like that.

She graciously offered me a warm round bread loaf and went downstairs to copy the recipe that had been passed down from generation to generation. In fact, when the current recipe card was written in English, her own mother (years ago), scribbled the measurements back into Swedish so she could read the recipe....I have that scribble! As a bonus, I also received another recipe that was written completely in Swedish on the card, "Äpple kaka" or Apple Cake. She went over the Apple Cake recipe so I understood that "socker" was sugar and "bakpulver" is baking powder. She completely lost me when she started talking about dl measurements and I figured I would never be able to make the cake until I opened my recent IKEA catalogue and saw this....

$4.99 and it has DL markings on the side! Yes, it's providence.

The bread round was delicious! So amazingly delicious! It almost tasted like a scone, but it wasn't fried. My client told me that in Sweden they eat open faced sandwiches. They cut the round in half and then slice the half down the middle to make a "sandwich". I thought about how yummy and appetizing the rounds looked and how having a beautiful bakery type bun might just make our plain old turkey sandwich a bit more appetizing.

The next morning, I decided to try my hand at this new way of making bread. I was stuck in the humdrum of making loaves of bread and most of it would go to waste. The bread was never what my kids or I wanted to eat. It's not that it wasn't good, it just wasn't what we were accustomed know, Sara Lee or Home Pride. On the first try, several rounds came out
beautiful and few came out a little flat. I made 17 rounds of different sizes from one batch. My KitchenAid Professional 5 mixer was protesting the whole time, but I stroked and kissed it and she grumbled her way through the kneading process. Whew!! The twins sprinkled grated cheese on top of the flat ones and made open-face cheese sandwiches, which I praised them long as they clean up their mess. I'm always saying that around here. For dinner the next night, I spread garlic butter on a few rounds and baked them in the oven for several minutes. They were marvelous! I was thrilled when we were down to the last two loaves, so I decided to make another batch....hoping this wasn't a fluke and I might be able to use this recipe as our choice of bread. Never again buying sliced bread from the grocery store would be a dream come true!

My second attempt was even better, except that my KitchenAid was not at all happy that I wasn't making brownies or banana bread. I think she has a sweet tooth. I discovered my KitchenAid is only good for soft mixes (cake, brownie, sweet breads and pudding), which is a total disappointment, by the way. I think I should save my pennies or ask Santa for one of these....

Yes, I know it's currently $359, but I hear it's the BEST bread mixer around. In fact, my Swedish client has one that is 30 years old. Of course it's not this exact model, but it does everything. Oh Santa, I BELIEVE!

Oh yeah, the second try. All my rounds came out beautiful and I even made little ones, for personal sized sandwiches. I figured I'd try making small ones to fit into the kids Bento boxes since I'll be making school lunches soon. The kids grabbed warm rounds and gobbled them up. Chloe made a PB&J sandwich on one yesterday and exclaimed, "That was the BEST peanut butter sandwich ever!" With some of the dough I added dried basil, oregano, and garlic to make herb breadsticks for our pasta dinner that night.

For our large family, I'll be baking this bread a lot and you know what? I'm completely happy about that!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back To School shopping...EEK!

Today I registered my 14 year old son, Casey, for High School. If that isn't traumatizing enough, I about had a coronary when they told me what I needed to pay in order for Casey to receive his schedule. Having made the decision early last year that Casey would travel daily to a public charter school that specializes in performing arts, we knew there could be extra costs associated with that. We are also well aware that High School costs are staggering. Having two almost 17 year olds...we're used to the $100+ each fees.

Registration Fees: I forked over the main High School fee of $101 and asked for the Performing Arts charter school to defer the remaining $85 dollars (not including the $35 year book), and then I promptly cried (inside).

You see, the twins register on Friday and there we will have to slink down in our chairs and ask to speak to the Vice Principal to see if we can defer their fees throughout the next few months. After that, the boys will be given their schedules (but not their school ID's until it's paid in full) and we'll need to walk down the hall to have their pictures taken. We'll choose the cheapest package, but it will still cost us about fifty dollars total.

I have a suggestion for schools though...can we not have picture day the same day we are supposed to pay registration fees? PLEASE!?

Thank goodness the other two are in Elementary school. The costs there are far less, even when you count in the extra tissues, clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, EXPO markers and other things the teachers ask for. I'm willing to buy these extra items, even if I do spread it throughout the year to help make things a bit more bearable.

For those of you keeping tally, it seems that we'll spend over $450 dollars just to register the three High School boys. Five kids photographs will cost us (cheapest package) about $130 and come 2nd Semester, we'll have more fees, I'm sure. Oh, and we can't forget the Yearbooks....those are the most important, right? Hehe.

Supplies: I spent $63 at Target on the basic school supplies (I still need about $20 more, but waiting to make sure they really need it first). Thankfully, my mom bought the majority of the kids school clothing. What a blessing!!! We really don't go all out, just some basics. Jeans without holes, new shoes, socks and a couple new shirts. Chloe got the most outfits, but I made sure everything can be worn in the winter, too. I'm not buying new shorts for school....they can wear the ones they wore during the summer. When it starts to get cool we expand the school wardrobe with a few long sleeve shirts to wear under the t-shirts they already have and I tend to bargain shop for $2.00 t-shirts that go on clearance in the Fall.

Oh, and do you like how I conveniently avoided the fact that I have been blogMIA for, like, ever?