Adventures in Bread Making

This is a “What NOT to Do” kind of post. When I was in college to be a teacher, the professors always told us to only write on the board what you wanted the students to remember. If you wrote what not to do, invariably, that’s all they are going to remember.

I’m not heeding my professors’ advice on this post.

It’s too funny not to share.

So I’ve been experimenting with a new way to make bread, right?

What I failed to mention in the previous post is that you have a pan with 1 cup of water in the oven along with the bread. The steam from the water helps make that luscious crust I was raving about.

Here’s the method: Warm up the oven with a baking stone (for the bread) and broiler pan (for the water) in it. Scoot the dough onto the stone and pour a cup of water into the broiler  pan then quickly shut the oven door to trap in as much steam as possible.

Simple, right?

Ok, after baking my first loaf I noticed that the evaporated water left a residue in the bottom of my broiler pan. That’s no fun. Not entirely difficult to clean, BUT

***enter GREAT idea***

a GLASS pan would be so much easier to clean after baking my bread!

Stop laughing. I can hear you. I did not foresee what was to come. Obviously.

Everything was going beautifully. My loaf has risen marvelously. It slid onto the stone perfectly. Then along came the water…


Pyrex 8×8 pan has gone to be with Jesus. I loved you little pan!

Now that was a reaction I was not expecting. I jumped away from the oven so fast! I spilled water everywhere in the kitchen, but thankfully, the oven contained the explosion quite well.

Hot glass pan + mildly hot water = explosion

Notes from this experience:

1. Yes, I did continue baking the loaf to perfection. I was in such shock that I just shut the oven door to contain any further chain-reaction explosions, set the timer, and let the bread bake.

2. No, we did not eat the loaf. Although it looked soooo yummy. I figured it would not be good to possibly ingest shards of glass.

3. Dan asked me why I continued to bake the loaf, and I did not have a good reason.

4. I became intimately acquainted with the inside of my oven as I worked to clean the glass out once it cooled. I did not touch the oven for hours and hours though because I was afraid of aforementioned chain-reaction explosions.

5. I obviously do not know how heat, water, and different materials react to each other. I’m an actuary, not a scientist.

That’s the end of my tale. Please tell me you’ve done something this stupid too. Or you can laugh and say it’s only me! 🙂

Cristy’s Baby Shower

I was a part of a group of six girls that lived together during our senior year of college. Some of us had roomed together for other years, but our senior year brought us all under the same roof.

One of our roommates does not live in the area anymore, and she has two children. Of the five remaining, Cristy is the first one be fruitful and multiply. 🙂

We all journeyed to her hometown to pamper her and attend her baby shower.

Saturday night, momma-to-be made us some delious chicken enchiladas.

Yes, I did try to get her belly in every shot. I think it’s beautiful. I hope she doesn’t mind. 🙂

Cristy and Kim making us dinner.

Meg and Erin at dinner…

Note: All of these pictures were taken with my new camera. I’m not the greatest at taking pictures with it, so pardon the low picture quality. I’m working on it!

After dinner we had a spa night of pedis,


and face masks. These masks were seriously scary once on, so I deleted all the pictures. We truly looked like death with them on. Hopefully we have fewer wrinkles though!

The next day we went to Cristy’s baby shower hosted by these two lovely ladies, Shelly and Amanda. Yep, they’re all preggers! (Sorry for the out of focusesness…I’ve got some serious learning to do!)

The shower was jungle themed, and they went all out with the food and decorations. It was adorable!

The sweetest gift at the shower was two copies of a book that the daddy-to-be and the grandparents had recorded themselves reading the book to baby Davey. So cute!

Five of the Giddings Girls at the shower, love you girls!

Homemade Bread

I have been making my own bread for quite some time now, almost 3 years, if I had to guess. The decision to make my own bread came from a financial need rather than a health reason.

I know homemade anything is usually better for you than store-bought, but I make no claims that I had this burning desire to make our diet more healthy when I decided to make my own bread.

We had just bought our first house when Dan unexpectedly lost his job. This was in 2008 or 2009 when the economy was on its way down the toilet. We went through our budget with a fine tooth comb to find any place where we could cut back. Groceries is always the easiest place to cut back.

Beans and rice are pretty cheap, and they last a long time. 🙂

My nerd-y side came out, and I calculated the cheapest way to eat the things we wanted. Making our own bread was cheaper than 95% of the bread at the grocery store and it was WAY healthier. (Occasionally, crappy white bread was cheaper than my homemade loaves, but I wasn’t going to buy that anyway!)

**Step up on my soapbox…**

I may share sometime how we budget, because it may be helpful to some people, but I’d encourage you if you’re going through hard time to evaluate your grocery budget. I’m sure there is fat to trim if you are honest with yourself. During Dan’s brief time of unemployment, we saved more money than we could have dreamed possible. We didn’t save a lot of money because we had a lot of income or low expenses. We did it by buckling down and learning to be disciplined in our spending.

**Step down from my soapbox…**

I have been making this recipe of wheat bread for years. It was delicious. We liked it. I had my method for baking it down pat.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Right?

I had been hearing about the book, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, from several sources. The idea of homemade bakery style bread is intoxicating, yet scary. I LOVE a good crusty load of bread. However, learning new things can be a little intimidating, especially since I was very comfortable in the rut I was in.

I ignored this method for the better part of the year until I had the opportunity to pick up the book for free. To sum it up, it has changed my outlook on bread making completely.

I’ve only made the master recipe (a basic white loaf), but I cannot wait to experiment further. I think rye is next on my list.

I highly recommend picking up the book for yourself, but I’ll show you my first experiences here. It’s unbelievably easy.

Try it!

The master recipe only  has 4 ingredients. 4. Four. Quartro.

Flour, salt, yeast, and water. Can it get any more simple than that?


Want to know the craziest thing about the water? Temperature barely matters. The recipe calls for lukewarm or even cold water. The worse thing is too hot of water because it kills the yeast. This dough rises like crazy.

Are you having dough that doesn’t rise, and bakes into a brick? You may be killing your yeast with water that’s too hot.




Mix into a very wet, loose dough.

Pour into a plastic container for first rise and eventual storage in the fridge.

Now if your plastic container looks like mine with the dough in it:

Your container is too small.

This will happen in a short amount of time:

Ha! Oops! You will have to switch to a bigger container, and you will have one very sticky container to clean. Learn from my mistakes and start with a larger container!

After the first rise, the dough should look something like this:

Muchos bigger!

Now the dough is ready for the second rise and baking or storing in the fridge for another day. That is what I love about this method, I can make enough dough for a couple weeks worth of bread and just leave it in the fridge until I need it.

Love. Ly.

I’ve been making free form loaves, but you could use a bread pan if you like. Here’s my first loaf on it’s second rise.

Cut some slits in that bad boy…

…and bake it!

Wow, can you believe I made that? I can’t!

This bread is just like bakery bread. It has a nice, crusty outside and a hearty, chewy inside. I was surprised how dense the loaf was. I expected it to be light and airy, but it wasn’t. I’m not sure if that means I did something wrong or if that’s how the loaf should be. I’ll have to read the book again to check that out.

If you make your own bread or are thinking about it, I highly recommend this book and this method.

Has anyone else tried this? Does my loaf resemble yours? Share your bread making experiences!


This post does not contain affiliate links. I’m not that cool of a blogger. I just really like this book, and I wanted you to be able to quickly see pricing info.

I have a new toy…

Ain’t she a beauty?

So many buttons that I have no idea how to use!

Now I can take much crisper, true pictures like this:

And this…

Confession: We already have about 10,000 picture of George, and we’ve only had the camera for 4 days. Yikes, we have no life. Or just nothing to take pictures of. 🙂

Shall we take another look?

Mmm….Mmm…Mmm…she’s gorgeous!

Go, Blues!

Our first mini vacation of the year was a quick weekend trip to St. Louis, Missouri to see a Blues game. (That’s hockey for those who don’t know!)

Dan is a die-hard Blues fan, as is his friend Jason.

I have a lovely Breast Cancer Awareness jersey thanks to Dan. I look like a real fan!!

I mean. I AM a real fan. I love hockey! Right, honey?

Jason scored us a sweet deal on club seat which are all you can eat and drink throughout the game. Suh-weet!!! The food was your typical concession food: hot dogs, pretzels, pizza, cookies, etc. I did manage to eat more than my fair share though.

It’s all you can eat. I had to get my money’s worth. Right?

My waistline is not loving my decision right now though. All that grease and fat goes straight to the love handles! 🙂

I had fun messing with my camera to see how far I could zoom in to get pictures of the players.

Zooming in on the scoreboard…

Things got really dicey when I went into digital zoom. I’ll spare you those pictures. Let’s just say they didn’t turn out.

Trivia Question: What does “SOG” stand for in the picture above? If you guess right, you get 1,000 points!

Back to more important things…our lovely mugs!

Goofing off before the game. Who needs the game as entertainment? We can entertain ourselves!

The best part of the night…

Woot, woot! Blues win! Go, Blues!!!

My Side of the Story – Part 13

The Days Leading Up to Surgery

After you’ve been in the hospital for any amount of time, you loose track of the date, how many days you’ve been there, what happened on a given day, etc. It’s like time stands still.

The visitors I remember before surgery are my co-worker Whitney, her husband, Candice, and Jordan. I think Whitney came to visit a day or two before the embolization. She is such a sweetheart. I love her to death. We had a nice visit in my itty-bitty (but private!) regular room.

Speaking of rooms, I was moved back to a regular room to await surgery. No worries, nothing happens this time! Except bad roommates, Holy Cow!

Roommate #1 is very, very ill. Whatever she has causes her to vomit and call out for her family all the time. Remember, I am on bed rest, no blowing my nose, pushing out BM’s, etc (don’t you love all the details!). Throwing up is definitely out of the question. Dan finds the nurse, explains the situation and requests a room change. The nurse claims Roommate #1 isn’t contagious.

I’m glad you think so, but you aren’t sleeping 4 feet away from her!

We get a room change that night.

Thank you, Lord!

We are in our new room for several hours before Roommate #2 arrives. She is a hysterically-cranky, sweet old lady. Her family is with her through the evening then leaves. We over hear the nurses doing their neuro-checks and cognitive tests with her. We can barely contain the laughter on the other side of the curtain. I think she answered every question in the most sarcastic manner possible.

Nurse: What day is today?

Roommate #2: How should I know?

Nurse: Why did you come here today?

Roommate #2: Some old fart brought me here.

I can’t remember all the things she said. The term “old fart” was used over and over in reference to anyone and everyone. Hysterical.

I don’t know how long we were in that room, but we were eventually brought to a private room once one opened. It was so tiny (as mentioned above), but SO nice to not have some stranger snoring next to you or waking you up in the middle of the night because she doesn’t know where she is.

Poor lady.

The night before the embolization Candice and Jordan came to visit. What was so great about their visit, besides the company, was Candice did my nails. So fun! She gave me a wonderful manicure. My nails were a fantastic purple when she finished. I kept it on the entire time I was in the hospital and rehab. It lifted my spirits every time I looked at it.

That night I was progressively more and more anxious. I’d like to think I kept a pretty cool exterior, but I don’t know. Family, feel free to call me out. I remember someone says that when they were in the hospital, they got some meds for anxiety to help calm them down before the procedure. Eventually, I buzzed my nurse to ask for the same thing. I’m not sure what I got, but it definitely did not calm me down. I think the meds are either psychological or meant to prevent anxiety not treat it once you are anxious.

**I don’t remember this part, but Dan says I asked for it over and over again before the embolization. I was getting a little freaked out, ya know?**


Next: My Side of the Story – Part 14

Curry Rice

Here is another tasty recipe from my mother-in-law. It’s not entirely homemade. It uses a curry mix to make the sauce, but it’s quite good for coming from a box.

Curry Rice

  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of chicken
  • 1 large potatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 1/2 package of curry mix
  • cooked rice

Cast of characters:

Chop potatoes and put in large skillet.

Want to see the best part of our new apartment?

That is a gas stove my friends. Love. It.

Chop carrots, onion, and chicken. Add to skillet.

Drizzle with olive oil to keep from sticking.

Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until meat is browned and potatoes are soft.

Add two cups of water or until meat and veggies are covered.

For this much meat and vegetables, you’ll need half of the box of curry.

Put the curry into the skillet and bring to a boil to dissolve the curry and thicken the sauce.

Finished sauce…

Serve over rice.

You can see my sauce was too thin, but I didn’t realize until I served it. I would have just mixed some corn starch with water then added it to the sauce to thicken some more.

This recipe is very versatile. Use any combination of vegetables and meat you like. My mother-in-law uses pork or beef usually, and you could substitute any vegetable to the sauce too.

Stauch Family Photos 2012

We enlisted the help of a friend of mine, Molly, to get some pictures for Christmas presents this year. We haven’t had professional pictures taken since our wedding. It’s really nice to have some good shots of us.

Without further ado…here they are!

Don’t worry, mom, one is on the way to your house. 🙂

Cucumber Kimchi

Kimchi is more a way of preparing a vegetable than one specific food. I’ve shown how to make Kimchi Soup which uses traditional “kimchi” made from Napa cabbage. Kimchi can be made from a variety of vegetables though: cucumbers, radishes, cabbage, etc.

Cucumber kimchi is Dan’s favorite kind of kimchi, and over Thanksgiving (I know, I know a long time ago!) Oma taught me how to make it.

Cucumber Kimchi

  • 1 seedless cucumber
  • Sea salt, approximately 1 teaspoon, more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons hot pepper powder, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 jalapeno or other spicy pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Roasted sesame seeds, to taste

Slice cucumber into one quarter inch slices.

Place in bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. Below is the salt I used. I’ve found if there is a spice or ingredient that is used often in ethnic food, it is significantly cheaper at the ethnic grocery stores.

For Korean food, tofu, rice, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, fish sauce, etc. are all cheaper at the Korean market. I haven’t made Indian food too much yet, but I’ve noticed the spices and rice are significantly cheaper at the Indian marts. Do your research before buying at the typical American grocery stores!

Mix salt and cucumbers and let rest for 30 minutes.

Add hot pepper powder and crushed red pepper flakes to a small bowl.

Add enough water to make a paste. I just add a little at a time and mix until it looks paste-y.

Let the paste sit for 30 minutes, like the cucumbers.

Meanwhile, slice the green onions.

Slice or mince the jalapenos. We leave the seeds and ribs in for more heat, but you can take them out if you can’t handle the heat. Who am I kidding? I can’t take the heat either. This is Dan’s dish and only Dan’s dish. 🙂

Toss onions and jalapenos into the bowls with the cucumbers.

Add one large spoonful of red pepper paste, garlic, fish sauce, and sesame oil to the bowl and mix well.

Taste once mixed and add salt or more red pepper paste as needed.

Garnish with roasted sesame seeds and serve.