For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Making do with watcha got.

One of the skills I hope I'm instilling in our girls is the ability to creatively make do with what's available. This is particularly useful in the kitchen, and today is one example.

Our plans for the day changed, which meant my plans for supper changed, too. I was no longer going to be home to supervise a long, slow oven roasting. Instead, I quickly grabbed some ground beef out of the freezer and hoped it would be thawed out by the time we got back (it almost was).

It wasn't until I got back home that I could stop and think about what I could do with the ground beef. It wasn't a large package. Extra lean. I never buy regular ground beef, if I can avoid it. With extra lean, there's no fat to deal with, and there's hardly any shrinkage during cooking.

A peek in the fridge showed me half an onion that needed to be cooked before it got soft, three button mushrooms (stuffer size), and some plain yogurt.

Thinking of Shakespeare's Kitchen, one of the many cookbooks I've borrowed from the library, I decided to make meat filled "purses." These sorts of hand-held pastries were a common street food for many centuries, and I believe they still are in some parts of the world.

This is what I came up with.

For the filling, I cut the onion into smallish pieces and started cooking them in butter. Then I cut and sliced the mushrooms into thin pieces and added them to the onion. When the onions and mushrooms got to about half done, I started adding seasoning. I could have just added salt and pepper and it would have worked fine, but I like to keep a variety of herbs in the pantry. I added garlic granules (because I didn't think to cut up fresh garlic earlier), oregano, sage, thyme, tarragon and paprika, simply because those are some of my favorites. Then I added the mostly thawed out ground beef and cooked it all until the meat was cooked through and any moisture was pretty much evaporated.

When it got close to being done, I mixed about a cup of plain yogurt with roughly a tablespoon of flour. If I'd had sour cream, I would've used that. If I hadn't had yogurt, I probably would have left the filling as it was. Some tomato paste or sauce would've worked well, too, as long as it was kept thick.

When the yogurt and flour was well combined, I stirred it into the meat mixture until it was heated through, then took the whole thing off the heat and set it aside to cool down and thicken a bit.

While it was cooling, I made a basic flaky pastry dough. For a small batch - enough for top and bottom for a 6" pie - you need...

1 cup flour
1/3 cup fat
1/3 tsp salt
2 Tbsp or so cold water

In the old days, the fat would've been bacon grease or lard. Personally, I like to use butter, but shortening will do as well. I suppose you could use hard margarine, but I can't imagine why anyone would want to. ;-) The important thing is for the fat to be very cold. The water needs to be really cold, too. I just put some in a little bowl with a couple of ice cubes and set it aside until I was ready for it.

This basic recipe is fine on its own, but modifies well, too. If it's going to be used for a dessert, try adding things like a bit of sugar, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc. to the dry ingredients. For a savoury dish, like what I had in mind, all sorts of dry or powdered herbs can be used. For mine, I added paprika. When I found this recipe only used up half the meat mixture, I made a second batch with ground sage and dried tarragon.

To make the dough, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, then cut in the fat until it's quite small and the texture is like coarse meal. Then start adding the ice cold water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. When the consistency is right, shape the dough into a ball and divide into equal pieces. Because there are 4 of us, I split it into 8 pieces.

Start pre-heating the oven to 350F at this point.

For a flaky dough, it needs to be kept cold and handled as little as possible. I worked with 2 pieces at a time, keeping the rest in the fridge. I rolled out each piece to about 1/8th inch thickness, added some of the meat mixture to the middle (careful not to over fill - I'm forever adding too much!), and pulled up the sides to make a purse shape. A bit of water along the inside edge helps the dough stick to itself better. If you want, they can be shaped into crescents or whatever shape is more convenient.

After shaping the filled purses, I put them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and stuck them in the oven. Since the filling is already cooked, they only need to be baked until the dough is starting to get a bit browned on the edges and bottom. For my oven, which I'm still not used to yet, it took about half an hour or so. That was enough time for me to mix up a second batch of pastry dough with sage and tarragon.

And this is what they look like. The paprika makes for a lovely colour. The sage and tarragon dough looks pretty bland in comparison! *L*

I broke this one open while it was still steaming hot. It smelled so good!

Youngest definitely preferred the paprika dough, though not being a fan of mushrooms, she would've preferred I didn't use those at all. Eldest loves mushrooms, but she hates ground beef. *sigh* Ah, well. Dh and I liked both versions, though I liked the paprika dough a bit more, I think.

All in all, I'd say this was a success.

I wonder how it would work with the ground pork I've got in the freezer right now?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Wishing everyone joy and blessings this Easter morning.

We start off our morning sharing the bounty of our basket. This year, I chose a brie for the cheese and baked it this morning. There's also the special bread we baked, eggs, prepared horseradish (WOW did that pack a wallop!), ham, kielbasa, butter and salt.

A wonderful way to celebrate Easter morning.

We did have a couple of chocolate bunnies, too. We'll get to them eventually. ;-)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Preparing for Easter

Easter preparations have been going full bore these days. Today was our day for doing the eggs and the bread for our basket.

I started off doing plain eggs for the girls to colour later, then did kraszanki. I completely forgot to take pictures of them, though. We did them the same as usual, except that I took half a dozen out earlier, so they're slightly lighter coloured than the rest.

Next up were the dragon's eggs, with a difference. Since we've cut soy out of our diets, the eggs were done in just black tea, spices and sugar. I did add a pinch of saffron for a bit of extra colour, but I don't know that it made any difference. As you can see here, there's quite a difference in appearance!

A few of them didn't look as nice, so I peeled them for snacking. The effect is a lot more subtle. They taste just as good, though. :-D

The next project was the bread. It was our basic bread recipe using eggs and milk for the liquid, local honey for the sweetener, and butter for the fat.

While the dough was rising, the girls took over the kitchen and coloured the plain eggs I'd readied for them earlier. Eldest didn't do very many, but the ones she did do, she got experimental with, as you can see here.

Youngest got creative with some of hers, too.

She was having fun with these bi-coloured eggs.

I like how it turned out.

With others, they did things like crack the shells a bit before dying them, so that they'll have a nice effect after peeling.

We didn't do any wax resist eggs this year. I know I unpacked my kistka and wax, but I'm not sure where I put them. I figured we had enough to fuss with to skip them for this year. ;-)

When the bread was ready for shaping, I used 3/4's of the 2 loaf recipe to make the wreath. After making a braid and shaping it into a wreath, I cut a bit more from the remaining 1/4 of the dough for the bow. I wanted the wreath to stay large and open, so I put an overturned bowl in the middle, forcing the dough to rise more outwards than inwards. If I'd had an oven proof bowl in the size I wanted, I would've left it there for baking, but no such luck. Instead, with the help of Youngest, we carefully removed the bowl when it was done rising, then she applied an egg wash to the surface for me.

It's not the smoothest or prettiest of wreaths, but it's the size and shape I was after.

The remaining dough was cut and shaped into 8 small balls and put into a little cast iron frying pan I've got. I'd used it earlier to melt the butter for the dough, and I didn't want to waste the dregs left behind. ;-) That and I really like baking in cast iron.

I think they look adorable. :-D

It's now well past midnight. The eggs are in the fridge, and the bread is cool enough to wrap up so they don't try out.

Then it's time for bed!!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

It's a start!

It is with great satisfaction that I can finally say we've started on our balcony garden! After all this time, we can finally do it. Not that there's anything on the balcony itself, yet. We'll need to pick up pots and soil and figure out where we want to put things, which will have to work around the other uses we'll have for the balcony, like the bbq that we need to replace and the seating we want to arrange. We now have a south facing balcony, with long hours of sunlight, which fixes one problem we had before. More important, though, we expect to actually *be* here long enough to start doing stuff like this!

For now, I've got a tray of 72 starter pellets planted with cooking herbs. I've got 6 of rosemary and another 6 of tarragon (which Eldest wanted in particular - she loves cookinig with tarragon). These can grow pretty big, so if they all sprout, it'll be more than we actually need. I'm sure, if it becomes an issue, we'll have neighbours willing to enjoy them. ;-) I planted a dozen pellets with chives, and another dozen of thyme. That should be enough for drying, too. Finally, I planted 18 pellets each of parsley (plain leaved) and basil (Sweet Genovese), as these are herbs we would use larger quantities of. The entire tray now sits on top of an aquarium that we have, but won't be setting up for a while yet, which gives them enough light for sprouting while keeping them out of reach of the cats! :-D

Along with the herbs, I've got some greens that will be sown directly into their pots, which I still need to pick up. I got some spinach (Epinard), romain lettuce and mixed red and green leaf lettuce. These I will have to find a way to keep in the area of the balcony that gets more shade. Which means we'll have to figure out where to put the patio swing we inherited with the unit. I also got some carrots - Amsterdam 3 - Sprint, an heirloom variety that's supposed to be good for container gardens. I think that should be good enough for this year. Depending on how things work out, I'd like to increase the vegetables a lot more. Perhaps some peas and beans - we have a wall we can train them up against - or even some strawberries, raspberries or grapes. There are some dwarf varieties of other veggies I'd like to try out.

When I picked up my seeds, I talked to one of the staff about container gardening on our balcony. He was a very young guy, and passionate about gardening. He told me how a lot more people have been getting the raspberry, blackberry and grapes for growing on their balconies. I guess it takes a recession to get a lot of people thinking about stuff like this. I think that'll make it better overall, as more varieties of seeds, etc. are becoming available to meet the demand. This is the first year I've seen vegetable seed varieties specifically for container gardening. With so many people living in apartments and condos instead of houses with yards, it's good to see these things available.

My big challenge is going to be pots. I'll be using the balcony rail a lot - if I can get the type of pots I'm after, I should be able to do all the herbs on or over the rail itself. I'll need shallow, wide tray-like pots for the leaf lettuces, deep pots for the carrots, and either wider pots or several of them for the romaine.

It should be fun!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Good for a chuckle

A friend just sent this to an email list we're on, and I just had to share - with my personal comments added in, of course. ;-)

You know you're a mom when....

You can’t find your cordless phone, so you ask a friend to call you, and you run around the house madly, following the sound until you locate the phone downstairs in the laundry basket.

(I have to admit, I never had this problem. By the time we got a cordless phone, the little ones were no longer little.)

You spend an entire week wearing sweats.

(There are other types of pants?)

Your idea of a good day is making it through without a child leaking bodily fluids on you.

(*snort* Oh, yeah, I remember those days!)

Popsicles become a food staple.

(Freezies, in our household, but only in the summer.)

Your favorite television show is a cartoon.

(TV? We usually didn't have tv.)

Peanut butter and jelly is eaten for at least one meal a day.

(Peanut butter, sure, but jelly? *shudder* )

Your baby’s pacifier falls on the floor and you give it back to her after you suck the dirt off of it because you’re too busy to wash it off.

(Yup! I've done it!)

You’re so desperate for adult conversation that you spill your guts to the telemarketer that calls and HE hangs up on YOU!

(Another one I've never had happen.)

Spit is your number one cleaning agent.

(LOL! You bet! Well, not so much anymore...)

You’re up each night until 11 p.m. vacuuming, dusting, wiping, washing, drying, loading, unloading, shopping, cooking, driving, flushing, ironing, sweeping, picking up, creating lesson plans, changing sheets, changing diapers, bathing, helping with homework, paying bills, budgeting, clipping coupons, folding clothes, putting to bed, dragging out of bed, brushing, chasing, buckling, feeding (them, NOT you), PLUS swinging, playing baseball, bike riding, pushing trucks, cuddling dolls, rollerblading, basketball, football, catch, bubbles, sprinklers, slides, nature walks, coloring, crafts, jumping rope, PLUS raking, trimming, planting, edging, mowing, gardening, painting, and walking the dog.

(ROTFLMAO Yeah. Right. Most of this list just didn't get done.)

You get up at 5:30 AM and you have no time to eat, sleep, drink or go to the bathroom, and yet … you still managed to gain 10 pounds.

(Well, that implies going to bed in the first place... :-/)

In your bathroom there is toothpaste on the light fixtures, water all over the floor, a dog drinking out of the toilet and body hair forming a union to protest unsafe working conditions.

(The body hair dustbunnies that accumulate behind the bathroom door give me the creeps...)

You count the sprinkles on each kid’s cupcake to make sure they’re equal.

(Lucky me, my kids never really cared for sweets.)

You hope ketchup is a vegetable because it’s the only one your child eats.

(We didn't have ketchup in the house most of the time. Is that unusual?)

You have time to shave only one leg per shower.


You hide in the bathroom to be alone.

(LOL It didn't work.)

Your kid throws up and you catch it.

(And a whole lot of other things I don't want to think about...)

You consider finger paints to be a controlled substance.

(We'd make our own. It was safe to eat. Made for some interesting toilet colours, though.)

You cling to the high moral ground on toy weapons; but your child chews his toast into the shape of a gun anyway.

(Hmm... was never an issue.)

You find yourself cutting your husband’s sandwiches into cute shapes.

(Nope - I never got into those. Who's got time to fiddle around with hungry kids hanging off your legs?)

You’re eating lunch out with a friend and you say “I bet I can eat my spinach faster than you can.”

(Eating lunch OUT?!?)

You can’t bear to give away baby clothes–it’s so final.


You hear your mother’s voice coming out of your mouth when you say, “Not in your good clothes.”

(LOL!! Not that particular example, but yeah, I'd done things like it.)

You stop criticizing the way your mother raised you.

(Uhm... not really. My mother did the best she knew how to do, but that's as charitable as I can get.)

You read that the average five-year-old asks 437 questions a day and feel proud that your kid is “above average.”

(Not quite - more like being proud of my elder daughter's extensive vocabulary, grammar and sentance structures - at age 2. Bad grammar still drivers her bonkers. *L*)

You know you are a mom when the gifts you love most are made from construction paper or popsicle sticks, watercolors or glitter, even finger paint. A bouquet of dandelions that are “just for you mommy” are treasured more than a dozen roses, the macaroni necklace more than a gold.

(*melt* You bet!)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A day in the life of an unschooler...

I think one of the main reasons we're unschoolers, besides the fact that it matches Eldest's learning style, is that plans change too quickly for us to schedule things too tightly. *L*

Before Eldest went to bed, she asked what plans we had for today. Forgetting that we had to go to the library, I couldn't think of anything specific, so she asked if we could go to Goodwill, as she had some stuff she was looking for. I agreed we could do that, and off to bed she went.

I did remember that we needed to go to the library later on, but we mostly needed to return dvd's, so we had plenty of time to do both.

Some time later, while talking to Dh, I noticed I hadn't flipped the calender to April yet, so I did that - and promptly noticed we had something written down for today. The local symphony had a free concert at noon, and I'd intended to take the girls.

After some figuring of things out, I left a note with a re-worked schedule. Normally, we go to the library after lunch. Instead, we'd go before lunch, grab something quick to eat, then go to the performance, which was at a theatre kitty corner from our library branch, then go to Goodwill.

Dh suggested we just park the car downtown while we did all our running around in that area, then headed out. It wasn't until we were getting ready to go and the girls and I were discussing the order of things that I realized it would be silly to take the car. We wouldn't want to drag anything we took out with us to Goodwill, so we'd be swinging home anyway. With the library only a 10 - 12 minute walk, it just seems silly to pay for parking.

So, after renewing what we could online, then gathering what we had to return, off we went. As we walked, plans modified again. We all still had stuff at home, so we had no desire to actually take out more stuff. So we'd just drop stuff off, then go across the street to a certain favorite cafe for lunch. As we walked past the theatre we'd be going to for the symphony, we noticed people already going in. Lots of people. We considered a moment, just dropping stuff off and going into the theatre, but decided against it. The idea of waiting around for 45 minutes didn't appeal to me.

After dropping off our returns, we headed for the cafe. Again, we changed our plans. None of us were actually hungry, so we ended up just getting drinks and a cookie each. I'm glad we did it that way, as they were busy, and it took a lot longer for us to get our drinks than I expected. Still, we had time to relax and enjoy our treat while chatting.

Shortly after 11:30, we crossed the street to the theatre, found a lower level entrance, and managed to find a group of seats together. I couldn't believe how full the theatre was already! We grabbed seats in one of the few side rows that actually had 3 seats together - the centre rows were completely full, and seating on the second level was almost full, too. While we waiting for the final 15-20 minutes before things were supposed to start, we watched as not only all 5 levels of seating opened up, but seating above and behind the stage was opened. These people would've had a great view of the orchestra - from behind. There was also a screen set up above the stage with images projected from the back. People had to walk in front of the projector to get to their seats. The theatre was completely filled by the time they started, about 5 minutes or so late.

Then the lights went down, the stage was lit up, the conductor emerged, and they went straight into a rousing rendition of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, first movement. The conductor was thoroughly entertaining, bouncing and dancing and generally being very into what he was doing. He was as much fun to watch as the orchestra was to listen to.

Only after the piece was done did the conductor turn and give an introductory and welcome speech. The program for the performance featured a variety of pieces from the upcoming season. The second piece was Dvorak's Carnival Overture, then J. Strauss II's Tritsch-Tratsch Polka (pronounced Trish-Trash), which will be part of their Octoberfest performances. From a series of Hollywood movie music, they played Badelt's theme from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. That was followed by an awe inspiring performance of Williams' main theme from Schindler's List. The violin soloist was amazing. As Eldest described it, it was positively aching.

The final piece was Bizet's Suite No. 1: Les Toreadors from Carmen. It was fabulous! Then, just as it ended, the conductor turned and asked the audience if we felt we had time for one more. The thunderous applause confirmed that yes, we certainly did want more! The final piece, which was never named, had a salsa beat to it that soon had the audience clapping along while the conductor enthusiastically shook and shimmied and danced while conducting. Truly fantastic!

The hour and a bit flew by quickly, and we were all incredibly entertained. This was the first symphony the girls had ever seen, and they are eager to see more. During breaks between performances, there were video clips talking about the upcoming season, and we'd love to see at least some of them. I'm going to do a bit of research and see what kind of subscriptions they have. I'm hoping there's a family or group version.

As we were leaving, I had this craving for more Carmen. The girls were amendable to the idea of going back to the library to see what we could find. I ended up putting a hold on a dvd, as the only available copy was at another branch, but I did find a cd and a 2cd set of the music to borrow.

While searching for Carmen, I did find a couple of other dvd's to borrow. One was actually in a display as we came in, La Cage Aux Folles. This 1979 movie was the inspiration for The Birdcage, with Robin Williams - a favorite of ours - and I've never seen all of it. I also grabbed Broadway's Lost Treasures; 22 Rare Performances from Broadway's Greatest Musicals.

(As I'm writing this, my daughters are behind me. Eldest is watching Youngest play a new Xbox360 game Dh picked up. They've been singing parts of "Sixteen - Going on Seventeen" from The Sound of Music at the same time. Yes, we spontaneously burst into show tunes and movie quotes. Earlier today, we suddenly started singing "To Life!" from The Fiddler on the Roof in the car.)

So we checked out our finds and walked home. As we were putting things away and almost ready to head out again, Dh phones my cell, thinking we were still out. Because of the time, we discussed whether or not he'd be getting a ride home, since we'd be going past his office along the way. I wasn't sure if we'd be done before he was finished at work, so we left that in the air.

The girls and I then headed to the Goodwill. They both found some things, and I scored a couple of finds myself. I was thrilled to find a bag of mohair blend yarns for only $5. There ended up being 7 skeins of one type alone - enough for a decent sized project. Normally, this sort of yarn would cost more than $5 a skein, never mind for a whole bag! I also found an egg dish - the type with shaped dips to hold deviled eggs. I plan to use it at Easter. I've had in mind to get one of these for some time, as I'm tired of how the egg halves slide around the plate.

Unfortunately, Eldest did not find what she was after, so she asked if we could go to the Salvation Army. At first, we were going to do this, though it was late enough that we'd be coming home well after Dh got off work. That would've been fine, until we realized we didn't know how late the Salvation Army was actually open. I though 5pm, but Eldest though 4pm. If it was 4pm, we'd have arrived shortly after they'd closed.

So, plans changed again. We'll do Salvation Army tomorrow. Instead, we phoned Dh at work and arranged to pick him up.

The girls and I were quite hungry by then, as we hadn't eaten anything but drinks and a cookie each some time before lunch. Dh, on the other hand, had had a work lunch in a restaurant, so he was still full. With that in mind, the girls and I made some sandwiches for supper. What I'd originally planned to cook for supper remains in the fridge for tomorrow.

As for now, we're taking things easy. Dh has gone for a nap. Youngest is killing things on the Xbox360 while Eldest watches. Now that we have tv again, the girls have discovered NCIS, which they plan to watch later on.

Hmmm... I'm thinking a nice big pot of tea might be in order right now.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Making do can be a success.

Yesterday, I tried a new bread recipe. It's a "5 minute" artisan bread. It doesn't actually take 5 minutes, of course, but the working portion is about 5 minutes - mixing together water, salt, yeast and flour for a batter like dough that is not meant to be kneaded.

The first hitch came when it was time to measure in the salt. It seemed like a huge about - the same as the yeast measurement. Turns out it was supposed to be *course* salt. So maybe that's why the dough didn't want to rise? Possibly. The dough was supposed to rise until it fell in on itself, a stage it never reached.

To give my bread dough a warm, draft-free place to rice, I use my oven. I turn it on to the lowest heat for a while, then shut it off, leaving only the oven light on to maintain temperature. The covered bowl of bread dough stays warm and toasty.

Because it wasn't rising well, I ended up leaving it overnight. With that length of time, I did actually re-heat the oven a bit a couple of times.

So I *know* that, last night, my oven was working.

This morning, I went to bake the bread and discovered my oven no longer working. I'd already shaped 4 small loaves and had them on a pan to rise before for about half an hour before I started pre-heating the oven, so I was kind of stuck. The rest of the dough (I'd made a double recipe) was already in the fridge, so it was fine, but what to do with what I had?

My initial thought was that I'd accidentally hit the timer button on the oven. I've done something like that before, so I fiddled with the knobs, ensuring that it was set to manual.

Nothing. The "on" light wouldn't even light up. The stove top was working fine, but the oven was doing nothing. It was warm only because of the light bulb being on all night.

The only number I have for the maintenance guy is an emergency cell number, so I called the co-op's office to see if there was another one. Unfortunately, there was no one there, so I left a message, explaining what happened.

After a while, since I was getting the mail anyway, I went to the office in person. Still no one there. I asked some people there, and was told she would be back later. Unfortunately, we had stuff we needed to do away from home, so when I got back, I called and left another message saying we'd be out, but that if he was available, the maintenance guy had permission to come in while we were gone. Then we left, making sure to cover the shaped loaves with a damp cloth.

When we got back several hours later, the oven still wasn't working and there were no messages, so I had no real idea if he'd come in. A few minutes later though, there was a knock at the door. It was the maintenance guy, and he managed to squeeze in a few minutes to check on us. His first thought, like mine, was the timers. He also checked the fuses, but they seemed fine. He took the 2 fuses for the oven anyways to check them properly, saying that if they were the problem, he'd be back with new ones. If not, he'll have to come back on Monday, since he only works 3 days a week (this is his "retirement" job).

He hasn't come back.

Which left me with 4 loaves under a now-dry cloth, and no oven to bake them in.

Time to get creative.

I got out my wok.

After putting 2 butter knives across the bottom, I added water. I have a pan - a stainless steel frying pan that lost its handle many years ago - that fits inside the wok, with the butter knives keeping it from touching the bottom. The water was enough to go partway up the sides of the pan. The loaves on the baking sheet were on cornmeal to prevent sticking, so I'd put cornmeal on the bottom of the pan, too. I was going to put a lid on the pan, but it has a handle on the top that prevented the wok lid from fitting, so I didn't use the pan's lid at all.

Only 2 loaves fit in the pan, and when I put them in, they looked all flat and dry from being out all day. A while after the steam did its work, they were puffed up and moistened beautifully.

I had no idea how long to leave them, or even if it would work at all. Talking to a foodie friend on MSN and doing some research online, I found that I probably should've at least tried to use aluminum foil to cover them. The loaves were also pretty large for this technique.

After a while - an hour? More? I never looked at a clock - I added some boiling water to the wok to top of the water levels. Maybe half an hour after that, I stuck a knife in one of the loaves to see if it was ready. It seemed hard-ish, so I quickly took one out, leaving the other still in the steam, and cut it in half to see if it was cooked through. It seemed to be. Then I took the other one out, brought the water back to a boil and popped in the remaining 2 loaves.

The end result is... strange. But good. The loaves are pale and dense. The bread is chewy in texture. But it tastes good (though much saltier than I like - no surprise there). The whole family has tried it, and Youngest REALLY likes it.

I still have the remaining 2 loaves steaming away. Since we won't have an oven until Monday, at the earliest, I at least know that I can still cook the dough that's in the fridge.

Hey, whatever works, eh?