"The wife is like the fire, or to put things in their proper proportion, the fire is like the wife.
Like the fire, the woman is expected to cook: not to excel in cooking, but to cook,

.... be a cook, but not a competitive cook,

a school mistress, but not a competitive schoolmistress; a house-decorator but not a competitive house-decorator, etc...
She should have not one trade but twenty hobbies; she... may develop all her second bests.

Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow;
on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad.

G.K. Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World?

February 22, 2014

Whole Wheat Bagels

This recipe is from the Bread Beckers Recipe Collection.

This recipe uses freshly milled hard white wheat berries. My children have always liked store bought bagels but I stopped buying them a while ago. When I broke these homemade ones out one morning as a surprise, my kids were all so thrilled to have bagels again that none of them noticed the change to "whole wheat." I'm glad they were a hit.  (The cream cheese helped I think. :)

Whole Wheat Bagels

2 1/4 cup warm water
2 Tbs honey
2 1/4 tsp salt
5 cups freshly milled wheat flour (hard white)
1 Tbs. gluten (optional)*
2 tsp instant yeast

Combine water, honey, and salt. Add half the flour, yeast, and gluten and mix well.
Add remaining flour and knead to form a slightly stiff dough (about 8-10 minutes). Let rise until double, covering to keep don't from drying out.

Divide the risen dough into twelve pieces and shape into balls and allow to rest. In a large pot bring one gallon of water to a boil then add 1/3 cup honey to it. Working with only six balls at a time, take each ball and poke your thumb through the middle forming a hole, twirling each new bagel on your thumb to enlarge the hole until the hole is about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Let each bagel rest about five minutes, then place it in the boiling honey water. Cook two to three bagels at a time, adjusting the heat so the water is simmering all the time. While these cook, prepare your next six balls for the water. The bagels should sink, then rise in a few seconds; if they don't, they rested too long but are still fine. Just turn them over so that the both sides get wet. After one minute in the water remove with a slotted spoon and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at once in a preheated oven at 425° for about 35 minutes. The bagels may be brushed with a mixture of 1 beaten egg and 2 tablespoons water then sprinkled with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced onions, or minced garlic before baking. The egg wash makes even ungarnished bagels shiny and pretty.

(* I didn't add the optional gluten into mine.)

February 18, 2014

Crock Pot Chicken and Saffron Rice

I got this recipe out of The New Slow Cooker: Comfort Classics Reinvented cookbook. I've hardly ever struck out with a Williams-Sonoma cookbook recipe, and I've made quite a few of their recipes over the past fourteen years or so.
I have about ten cookbooks of theirs and I go back to them over and over. I'm always looking for good crock pot recipes. Getting most of the dinner prep (and mess) done and cleaned up early in the afternoon, and at the same time filling the house with the savory smells of slow cooking meats, vegetables, and herbs, is something I'll take any day of the winter week.

photo from the cookbook, because my dished-up plates never look like this ;)


Large pinch of saffron threads

1/2 C plus 3 TBS dry white wine

1 whole chicken, about 3 1/2 lbs cut into 8 pieces
(or you can buy the pieces separately)

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 TBS olive oil

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

3 bay leaves

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

4 C chicken stock, homemade or purchased

2 C long grain white rice

2 large jarred pimiento peppers, seeded and chopped

Soak saffron in the 3 tablespoons wine for 20 minutes. Oil the slow cooker insert. Pat the chicken dry and season generously all over with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. When oil is hot, working in batches to avoid crowding, add the chicken and sear, turning as needed, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Pour off most of the fat from the pan and return to medium-high heat. Add the onion and bay leaves and saute until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, several grinds of pepper, the saffron mixture, and the remaining1/2 cup wine and stir to dislodge any browned bits on the pan bottom. Add the contents of the pan and the stock to the slow cooker and then stir in the rice. Nestle the chicken in the rice, cover, and cook on the low setting for 3 hours.

Uncover and check to be sure a little liquid is still visible at the bottom of the cooker. If it appears dry, add 1 tablespoon water. Sprinkle the chopped pimiento evenly over the rice, then re-cover and cook for 15 minutes more.

Spoon the chicken and rice onto a large warm platter or individual plates and top with Warm Asparagus Salad (below), if using. Serve at once.

I just used a bunch of organic drumsticks instead of a whole chicken. Made it easy to serve for kids.

Warm Asparagus Salad

Trim the rough stems from 1 pound asparagus, peel the lower 2 inches with a vegetable peeler, then cut the spears into 1 1/2 inch lengths. Bring the saucepan three-fourths full of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the asparagus pieces, 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, and 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed.
Drizzle with 1/3 - 1/2 cup Lemon Vinaigrette (below) to coat lightly and toss well. Serve at once.

Lemon Vinaigrette

1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 TBS white wine vinegar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 tsp salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Whisk in the oil until emulsified.

(I didn't have any pimientos so I didn't put those in the chicken and rice. They probably would've given the dish more flavor, but it tasted just fine without them. Also I didn't do the parsley or the capers with the asparagus, just poured the lemon vinaigrette over them when they were done.) 

Even if you don't make anything else on this page,
make the lemon vinaigrette and pour it over 
your next asparagus side dish! 
You won't be sorry!