Hatch Chile Wheat French Bread

I am a fan of Hatch chiles. If you don’t know, they are chiles from Hatch, NM. And it happens that Fresh Market has the little cans of them on sale 3 for $5. I now have 8…wait, 6 cans of Hatch Roasted Chiles. I decided that 8 cans was just two too many for one house to have. So, it occurred to me that I could maybe do a recipe “mashup”…just to see how it goes. I can tell you it smells fantastic, and so for that reason I am sharing the recipe BEFORE I try a piece.

1 cup lukewarm water

1 packet active dry yeast (I actually use 2 1/4 tsp from a jar of Fleishmann’s)

3 cups of all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour

1/2 tbsp salt

2 cans (the small ones) of Hatch Roasted Green Chiles (I use the mild, but you can use the hot ones, I imagine)

1 tsp Ancho Chili Powder (optional)

Oil for the bowl the dough rises in

Cornmeal to dust the baking pan with

Bloom the yeast in the lukewarm water for approx 15 minutes.

In the bowl of your mixer (or any large bowl if you’re going to hand-knead), mix together the flours (save back 1/2 cup whole wheat flour) and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour the yeast mixture in the middle.

Incorporate the yeast mixture with the flour until it comes together. Add the chiles. Mix on medium until the dough holds together. You may (or may not) need the extra 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour to make a moist but not wet dough.

Knead until smooth and elastic.

Place in a well-oiled bowl, ensuring all sides of dough are covered. Cover. Place in a warm area and let rise for 1-3 hours until at least doubled in size.

Once it has risen, punch down and shape into a loaf. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal and place loaf on pan. Cover with a moist towel and let rise for an hour.

Preheat oven to 450° .  Score the top of the loaf 3-4 times. Bake for 25 minutes. You can always take the bread out and coat with an egg wash, returning to the oven for 5-10 minutes if you want. I never do that.

Let cool, or cut and enjoy. I am considering making an ancho-chile butter but it’d probably be fine with normal ole butter.

If you try this, let me know in comments how it turns out. Mine smells fantastic. I might be bringing it to a friend tomorrow so I will know soon if it’s worth repeating!

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Fabulous French Bread – a la Mary

I probably should begin by saying this is only PARTLY my recipe. As always I start with a base recipe and “adjust”. So this base recipe has been blogged before…way back when I first got my Kitchen Aid. I think that was in 2011, but it might have been early 2012. Anyway, this is a modified version of the recipe that came with my Kitchen Aid for French Bread. That recipe matches 90% of the other French bread recipes I’ve seen over the years. Here’s what I did.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or one envelope)

1 1/4 c of lukewarm water

1/2 tbsp salt

1/2 tbsp butter

2 1/2 c bread flour (white)

1 c whole wheat flour

Cornmeal (around a teaspoon)

All purpose oil for greasing pans/bowls

STEPS:

Assemble your ingredients

Dissolve yeast in warm water in the bowl of the mixer. Here’s my tip/trick: warm water. Measure the temperature. It should be above 98.6, but not above 110. Too warm a temperature will kill the yeast, thus no rising.

Let the yeast sit for about 5 minutes.

Add salt, butter and flour.

Mix on medium low with the dough hook for 2 minutes or until dough begins to come together.

If dough doesn’t seem to hold together, add a splash of milk. Not a lot, just a splash. If the dough seems too wet, add no more than a tablespoon of whole wheat flour.

Knead on medium low speed for 2-3 minutes or until the dough is smooth.

Dough will be sticky but not wet. Form into a sphere.

Transfer dough to a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides of the sphere.

Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts for at least an hour. I personally let mine rise for 2 hours. It should be at least doubled in size.

Punch down and roll into a rectangle (about 12-15″ long). Then, roll up the dough until it is the shape of a log. Taper ends if you want.

Grease a baking pan and dust with cornmeal. Place the dough on the pan and cover. Let rise again for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 450°. With a sharp knife, make 4 diagonal cuts on top of the loaf.

Bake at 450° for 25 minutes.

[My oven is unreliable and runs hot, therefore I stopped at this point because the bread was fully baked]

Remove from baking pan and cool on a wire rack.

Bread_French_Wheat

Looks like bread!

I guess French bakers also add a step of brushing the top of the loaf with an egg white mixed with a tablespoon of cold water after baking for 25 minutes and then return the loaf to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes. I didn’t do that.

This bread was soft enough to eat without the cavalcade of crumbs that frequently happens with crusty French bread. It was substantial enough that it cut easily with a bread knife. And, although often times when you “enhance” a bread recipe with whole wheat flour, you wind up with the heavy, dense bread…not so here! It is soft and fluffy. My husband isn’t fond of the crusty boule kinda bread and he really liked this. So win-win.

If you try it out, let me know how it goes.

 

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Reading and Writing in 2018/2019

So 2018 is over and 2019 is upon us. I’m not planning this blog to be a weepy missive on current events or personal events of 2018 and planning for the brightness of 2019. Instead, I’m on a path to examine what I read and wrote in 2018, planning what to read and write in 2019.

2018 saw me finally reading the Stephanie Plum series. I had “planned” to read it for years. Enough years that there were at least 20 books for me to read in 2018! I enjoyed most of them…I can say that Janet Evanovich has a way with weaving funny and interesting into her suspense novels. Truly, I had been excited to read the new book when it came out this past year…but sadly, I was a bit let down. As much as I like Stephanie, Moretti, Ranger, and Lula but the storyline was a tiny bit weak and I truly got bored of what I think was supposed to be suspense.

I also read books from a few of my other favorite writers…If you’ve followed me for a while you might have heard of them:

  • Diana Gabaldon (Outlander stuff)
  • Bethany Claire (historical romance/time travel romance…I especially like Bethany’s style)
  • Wendy Wang (paranormal/lowcountry mystery…Wendy’s lowcountry books are awesome)
  • Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles mysteries)
  • Regan Black (paranormal romance, suspense…Regan writes well…I’m looking forward to reading her newest book that came out this week)

This year, I also learned about a few new writers I have come to like a LOT. I’m gonna recommend you look these ones up and check out their books if you’re a romance/suspense fan

  • Carly Phillips – I read her Dare to… series. I think I read a few others too…I’m a tad too lazy to look on Goodreads but y’all might be able to look at my “read in 2018” list on Goodreads. I especially liked Dare to Rock, and you KNOW why that is.
  • Zoe York – early in 2018, I read a handful of her books. I liked her style. I follow her on Goodreads and Book Bub…maybe even Amazon. The last book I read of hers had a few editorial issues, but the content was decent.
  • Jennae Vale – She writes time-travel romances too. She put out a new book this past year and it was decent.
  • Kaylea Cross – She wrote a couple of really cool books (Fractured Honor and Buried Lies) that grabbed me in late 2018. I highly recommend.
  • Tarina Deaton – I liked Stitched Up Heart, Half-Broke Heart, and Locked-Down Heart. Had a bit about PTSD and veterans issues…really great stories.

And then I get to my new, favoritest OF ALL author…

Pamela Clare. If you haven’t heard me gushing about her newest book, Chasing Fire, you don’t follow me on Facebook, I guess. I bumped into Pamela’s Colorado High Country series through Book Bub (if you’re a reader…especially an eReader, you NEED to be on Book Bub). Her first of that series, Barely Breathing, not only snagged me for life, but also rekindled an old crazy dream of mine to learn to rock climb. Indoor, of course…I gobbled up all eight of those books. Okay, I’m guessing it’s 8 but that’s what I feel like it was. Once I consumed them, I had to spill over into the I Team Series. I read all of them too and had to go into the historicals, which I’m currently wading through. I’ve read three of the historicals – I’ll finish those up this quarter, I’m pretty sure.

Anyway, if you have any uh…leanings towards romantic suspense, EMT, police, outdoor character fiction, Pamela is your gal. Check out her stuff on Amazon or join her Facebook groups:

The Scarlet Springs Readers Group

Pamela Clare’s I Team

I admit, I’m doing a shameless plug for her. She really changed my life starting long about August…it took me until November to get vertical, but I plan to climb every week and hope my belay skills improve.

And now…moving on to my writing –

I have to admit, I’ve got five books done. By done, I mean probably over 50K words for each book (except for Flying Sky Blues…it’s a mini-novel). They’re kinda like this:

The Wild Child Series:

1. Straight From the Heart

2. Burnin’ Up the Streets

3. Two Lives Changed

4. Little Girl Gone Bad

5. Flying Sky Blues

I’ve got two other stories started, but I keep going back to the first five and “fixing” them. Maybe 2019 will be a year I will self publish. I don’t know – I think the series is good, but I wrote it. I think each story still needs something but I’m feeling good about 1, 2, and 4. Of course, those are the three I’ve gone back to in the past few months and “fixed up.” I still need to work on book 3…it’s the longest of all of them and I still have no idea why.

Anyway, keep an eye out – I have another WordPress page for my author name AJ Childs. I actually have a Facebook page for that too…

AJ Childs – Romance Author on Facebook

AJ Childs WordPress site

Follow me on both of those sites. You never know what’ll happen, huh?

Final thing:

I’m gonna try hard-copy journaling every night this year. Maybe just writing a few things that I’m thinking about. Lots of my stuff that I start, I never finish as witnessed by a gazillion arts and crafts projects I have spread across at least two states. But, if I can just keep my ADHD addled brain focused for…well, they say 21 days makes a habit…maybe I’ll do it for the whole year. Here’s hoping.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Us

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Twas the night….

So here it is. Christmas eve 2018.

And the spirit is still…well…not exactly here.

But, I do want to say how much friends-that-have-become-family -because-my-family-is-small mean to me.

I do have some awesome cousins…they are wonderful and they mean the world to me. I’d love to post a picture of them…but well, I ain’t got any. They hopefully know who they are and even more hopefully know how much I love them.

And then there are those friends I’ve known forever…I cherish them…junior high, high school, college, and just after college…you are all my sisters (and a couple of brothers) and you are family by choice.

Then my rock n roll sisters and brothers…wow, there are a lot of you. Some near, some far. All are dear to me. Thank you for rockin with me (and now Jim too) all these years.

My work family…in a few weeks, 22 years strong. I feel you all have made me a better person by encouraging me and caring about me. So many family members here. Even some that are no longer employed by Blackbaud…still part of the family.

And while I don’t have a ton of local friends, some have recently become very dear to me. Thank you for being part of my family.

In 2019, let’s try to be kind to each other.

Let me leave you with a picture of or two that I love.

 

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A Little Bit Of Cheer

I wanted to write about this because it made a huge difference to my mood around the holiday this year.

My faithful readers know that I kinda hate the Christmas holidays. Have I mentioned that occasionally? Well, it’s a little bit true.

This year, I got involved in a couple of really great Facebook groups that I will not name specifically but I truly love the vibe in them. The subject of a Card Exchange came up before Thanksgiving and because you could choose the amount of people you send cards to, I agreed to five people. I figured I could commit to at least five cards.

When it came to be December…I scrounged through my junk room (who am I kidding, every room in this house is a junk room) and found the box of cards I had planned to send five years ago…and never did. I pulled out the names I had been given and addressed them, added a personal note to each one, and then slapped postage on and off I went to the post office. What happened next…well…was unexpected.

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I kinda thought I’d get 5 cards. Because I had signed up to send five cards. But instead, I’m blown away by the really SWEET notes and just…wow. Rarely am I speechless. But I am.

After watching Ellen DeGeneres’ special, “Relatable” today, I keep thinking about “Be Kind To Each Other”…and how a bunch of people I have never met in person and probably never will totally brightened  my holiday this year.

Now I just have to get on with some of the projects I wanted to complete in 2018. Like the books. I’m done with five. Three are actually at the point where I could have them edited and maybe published. Two need work. I was gonna do that during the holidays. So far I’ve been on vacation almost a week and I haven’t touched the books. Nor have I actually accomplished anything I wanted to get done. I hope to get some stuff done this week…maybe by Saturday. I did get my Christmas shopping done. Okay, I bought stuff on line and Mom will have a bunch of things to open on Christmas. Jim and I have kinda given each other our gifts. Queen tickets are the lion’s share of gifts…

Anyway, I digress. My goal for 2019 is to commit to 15 cards in the card exchange. And to actually rock climb 4 times a month. And, to get my life squared away so that I can retire in 2029. I have big dreams, don’t I?

That’s it for tonight. Two blogs in one day. Can’t be all wild like this every day.

 

 

 

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Bread(stick) is Life

So, in my continual quest to be able to bake any kind of bread, I tried bread sticks tonight. Kinda a traditional type of bread recipe, so nothing wild and crazy there. I originally had planned to make them with fresh garlic and butter but changed my plan when I decided today was the day. And I wanted to get the dough rising 45 minutes before dinner needed to be on the table. So, I delved into my All American Baking Book and came up with this recipe. The measurements are from the book. The technique is all Mary.

1 packet of active dry yeast (I do 2 1/4 tsp but it’s the same thing)

1 1/4 c lukewarm water

3 c flour

2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

1 egg (could have gone with a couple of tsp of egg-white instead. I wasted an entire egg and only used about a tbsp)

Sea Salt (or I used Pink Himalayan salt)

Garlic powder

Dissolve the yeast in the water and let stand for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the flour, salt, sugar and olive oil in the bowl of your Kitchen Aid mixer with the bread hook attachment. Spin that sucker about 5 times around to combine while you’re waiting the 15 minutes.

If you don’t have a Kitchen Aid, you can use a food processor, or do it the cave-man method. With a spoon.

Slowly add the yeast  and water mixture to the flour mixture until it comes together. It may be sticky…I found I had to add about 1/4 c more flour to get the consistency correct. The dough should hold together and be slightly moist, but not sticky.

Knead (by hand or by Kitchen Aid) until smooth and elastic. I did about 5 minutes in the Kitchen Aid and about 2-3 min by hand to make sure the dough didn’t become wallpaper paste.

Turn into a greased (oiled) bowl and cover. Let rise for 45 minutes at least. Doubled in size.

Depending on the size of bread stick you want will depend on the size of ball you will tear from the dough. I did half mine in golf ball size, and half in a bit larger (probably around 2 1/2″ diameter) size.

Roll on a board until they are the length and width you desire. I think I came up with 12 total, but you could have thinner bread sticks and wind up with 18-24.

Once you have your bread sticks on an ungreased baking pan, brush with egg and then sprinkle on your flavorings. The recipe I read in my book suggested sesame seeds (toast those suckers first!) but I could see poppy seed, or caraway seed…kosher salt, maybe red pepper flake, or an herb/garlic mixture.

Let rise again for about 20 minutes. Don’t get excited that they’ll rise a ton. Just a little bit. At this point you can preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

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Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Shut the oven off after fifteen minutes and let them sit for another 5 minutes in the oven with the door shut. They should be nicely golden but not brown.

Let cool for a few minutes then remove from the baking pan. Serve warm or room temperature. You can always put them in a pretty wrapping and set them on the table too.

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You could probably turn these into sweet bread sticks too, by sprinkling sugar or brown sugar instead of salt on them. Cinnamon-sugar would be nice.

Let me know how you like them…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Holidays and all that cr@p

Yeah.

If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you know that this time of the year makes me a little more than anxious and I would give just about anything to press the “fast-forward” button on December. Don’t get me wrong. I love taking the two weeks of PTO at the end of the year, but I’d much rather have the time off without the holiday “cheer” encroaching upon it.

I’ll do a quick recap of why so those who don’t know don’t have to go searching back through old blogs to figure out why I dislike the season that so many wait patiently all year for.

Dad was a Christmas-aholic. He was obsessed. We have boxes and boxes and BOXES of Christmas stuff here. Lots of it is actually still “hanging around” because he got bad quickly after Christmas 2011…and I just didn’t have time to clean it up. Seven years later, it stands as a horrific reminder of the worst day of my life. Yeah, does that sound incredibly melodramatic? Probably. I still stand by that statement. I refer to the day dad died because in effect, I lost both my parents that day.

So, here it is…November 29…almost December and I’m really just holding onto the fact that I get to take December 14-January 1 off from work…while everyone else is excited for giving gifts and decorating, and all that crap. Not me. I’m glad that I have time off but I struggle to “get in the spirit” because it’s just another day to me.

I kinda doubt that mom even knows the holiday is coming up. If we didn’t mention it to her she wouldn’t know…she might surprise me there but after having her show surprise that I had turkey for Thanksgiving dinner growing up, I’m getting a little bit numb.

Promise…I will do my one dip into self pity and then step away. Others have it worse than I do, I know. If I didn’t have this blog to “blow off steam” I’d probably be mumbling in a corner somewhere.

God bless you all – have a wonderful holiday. Enjoy it for me.

happy holidays

And for those of you not celebrating…here’s a hot guy…

fireman

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Something Crazy’s Goin On

I haven’t blogged generically in a while. Sorry for those of you who actually READ my shit.

Since it’s been a while, I’ll go with updating you on what the heck has been going on in my life. Some of you are Facebook Friends so you’ve seen a bit of this. Others, Instagram followers, thus you might have seen this stuff too. If you get bored quickly, jump off now. HA!

  1. So, I have five books complete. They’ll be teased under the AJ Childs page I have. I can get you that link if you’re interested. They’re romance novels. And they’ve got a bit of sex to them so if you are of the faint-of-heart, well…don’t read ’em. I have an idea for a sixth book which might just wind up becoming something else, but I haven’t had time to write aside from work writing and y’all don’t want that in your face unless you’re super thrilled by Fixed Assets or Accounts Receivable. If so, you should definitely have that thing checked.
  2. I read a bunch of books by my new fave author, Pamela Clare. She’s the bomb. And, her Scarlet Springs series sparked a fire in me to learn to climb. And by climb, I mean indoor rock climb. I found a rock gym in Wilmington, NC and I’m moments away from actually joining the Wilmington Rock Gym. I don’t know if any of you are potentially in the Wilmington, NC area…but if you want to ever try out climbing in a really safe environment, this would be your place. Remember, I’m terrified of heights but you don’t think about heights when you are climbing. You think only of the puzzle you’re trying to solve. It’s amazing. Will post a picture of me in here climbing like a crazy person.
  3. We’ve had a rough fall. After evacuating for Hurricane Florence, mom hasn’t quite been herself. I tried to tell myself that she was just kinda getting back into the swing of things but today I was kinda slapped in the face with the fact that she is withdrawn and might just stay that way. My uncle who died back in March…she really loved him. They were kindred spirits from the Northest part of Northern New York (Potsdam/Gouverneur) and today was his memorial service here in Brunswick County. I had bought her new clothes to wear, we had “prepared her” to go to the service today and for the first time ever, she flat out refused to get out of bed, saying that she didn’t want to go because she didn’t know anyone there. Of course, it was my dad’s family…so I suppose we could say that she didn’t know them as well, but she has always considered them close. Except now. I guess. I don’t know what it’s like to be in her world so I can’t judge. It just hit me hard. I wanted her to go and see the family…guess that was for me. Not for her. Anyway, it was a thing. And then I had to see my dad’s “headstone” in the columbarium at the church. It just kinda hit me hard. Been a great day. Two thumbs up on that one. I love my family. They lost their dad too…and if there’s anyone who understands that, it’s me. I get it.
  4. I should probably have a fourth thing. But for whatever reason, it’s kinda blown out of my head. How bad is that? Ugh. Oh. That’s right. All this time I’ve gone on and on about how I need to get fit and lose weight, etc. I have to say…in the past four months, I’ve lost about 40 lbs. And that, of course, is another reason I love the climbing thing. I can do it. I need to build up core and leg strength, but I am down one dress size and while I’ve been hungry lately, I did lose the 40 lbs without really feeling hungry. How did I do it? One meal a day. And standing all day instead of sitting all day. Both those things (and maybe a little acupuncture magic, not sure there). It has been a hard journey but a good one. And with all that going on, I actually feel better about myself. My purple-haired self. Two pictures to upload. One of me with purple hair, one of me climbing a rock wall.

I’ll try to blog a bit during my PTO. I’m also going to try to write that sixth book. I need to get some of that stuff out of my system!

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Veggie Chili for Bud and Mike

I had a request for a vegetarian chili recipe I made back in 2004 or 2005. I am not that good…and when I cook (as opposed to bake) I don’t need no stinkin recipe. But for Bud and Mike, I am gonna try to remember…

It’s basically a mashup of cans and frozen food.

1 can black beans

1 can pinto beans

1 can of kidney beans (light, dark, or white)

1 lb package of veggie crumbles (the chorizo style would be good too)

1 onion, diced

1 pepper, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic crushed and minced

1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz…or the big 20+ oz can)

Salt

White Pepper

Chili powder (I actually use ground ancho chili now)

Cumin

Olive oil

So, saute the onion, pepper, and garlic in the oil until soft. Add veggie crumbles and heat through. Add spices, beans, and tomatoes.

If the mixture seems to be too tight, add some veggie broth or more tomatoes.

It is done at this point, but tastes better after a rest overnight.

You can probably do it in a Crock-Pot too… but I’d add the oil on the bottom and then the fresh veggies, then start at the top of the list of ingredients and work your way down.

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Another excerpt

I thought I would share one of the very “Mary moments” in the book. This is pretty much how I would react if I ran into like….geez, I guess like (I’m having problems thinking of a rock star I haven’t met that I have the hots for…) Brad Gillis. I’ve met him but I will always be star struck around him.

(By the way, I’ve tried to fix the double space at the end and can’t…)

——

Leah turned around to see Cade Carrington, Jay’s boss, lead guitarist of Wild Child, and blonde bombshell

standing behind her. For just a moment she might have stopped breathing. She quickly turned away from

him to see if maybe she was imagining him standing there. She shook her head and counted to ten in her

head. When she turned back, he was still there.

Although she had dated Jay, she had never actually gotten a chance to meet Cade. And, she really hadn’t

thought about it much because she was too into Jay and being with him. But now here she was, just a

random fan in the lobby of the hotel Wild Child was staying in…and randomly she encountered a band

member…in the lobby…and of course it had to be her…what was Jay considered now…ex…sorta…boss…

She also knew him from years of being a Wild Child fan. Being a Cade Carrington fan. All the pictures of

him in the guitar magazines her brothers read when she was growing up raced through her mind like a

crazy teen girl’s scrapbook of fan mag photos. His hair was a bit shorter now, but still gorgeously golden,

his eyes were deeply blue, and he still had the same smile she recalled from all those magazine photos.

For a moment she was thrown back in time reliving flipping through the pages of Guitar for the Practicing

Musician magazine, wishing she could pull out the photos of him and his Black Beauty…the guitar was

sexy, but damn…Cade Carrington in person was way hotter than she ever imagined.

Unsure of where he had appeared from, it seemed as though he was just randomly passing through the

lobby since he wore flip flops, a pair of faded jeans, and his sunglasses hung from the neck of his wrinkled

tie dyed tee shirt. How did she have all the luck of running into him at this hour? It would have been so

much easier if he were Trevor. Or Mike. Or any other person in the universe that wasn’t Cade

Carrington.

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