Learning is living

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I love the Boston Public Library. If you find yourself in Boston you need to visit. The physical structure is an architect’s delight. I love going into the Bates Room and looking at the rows of tables with green library lights. photo.JPG

The main stair case is beautiful marble. There are beautiful chandeliers throughout.

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It is a library lover’s happy place. Besides the physical presence, the library offers many services. You can check out their website, but let me tell you about something I just discovered.

Last year I upgraded from my eCard to an actual library card. You can apply for the eCard online and with it, you have access to all of their databases. There are certain requirements to get a library card, such as being a resident of Massachusetts. I’ve been more vigilant to read their emails and peruse their website. Recently I read about their online classes. I like to take online courses in areas that interest me, like writing, or may help me professionally, like Excel. I have relied on ed2go.com. They offer many different kinds of online classes for a cost. The Boston Public Library offers the same courses through the database GALE Courses for FREE!!! This is such an opportunity for continual education. I encourage you to check this out. If you’ve never taken an online course, this would be a great introduction. You don’t have to worry about your grades because there are none. This is all for you to continue learning. You should never be discouraged from learning.

 

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

John Dewey

American philosopher

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No Knead to worry

                         No Knead Bread A La Lisa

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My friend Lisa likes to cook as much as me, maybe even MORE! One day as we sipped coffee at her house, we started talking bread! Her mom (I think) had adjusted the NYT recipe. I scribbled it in my handy notebook for future baking. I had made the NYT No Knead bread plenty of times, but it was never enough for my family.  I always had to double the recipe. Lisa’s recipe makes a bigger bread. Bigger is better, right? I also took some liberties. I am lazy. Instead of folding it on a lovely linen tea towel, I just do it in the same bowl that the bread had risen in. Lazy, but effective. The biggest problem with this recipe is it takes too long. You need to give yourself a window of about 18 hours, give or take. Once you mix the dough, you let it sit for about 12 + hours. The yeast works it magic at this point. It’s an eternity when you want to eat bread, but it’s worth the wait. After this, you need to let it rise for another two hours. Yup. Again worth the wait.

So, before you attempt this recipe, read it through. You have to have a lidded pot, big enough (about 5 quarts) that can withstand a very hot oven. I use my Le Creuset Dutch Oven. Find it here.http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/le-creuset-signature-round-dutch-oven_0/  It works perfectly. I also use parchment paper. Another wonderful cheat technique. Your bread will still brown, but won’t burn and it comes right out of the pan.

So promise yourself to make this bread. It’s worth the wait. Some night make a delicious soup for dinner and serve this bread. You WILL thank me!

4 ½ cups of flour (King Arthur “regular” flour is what I use)

2 ½ tsp. salt (kosher)

1 tsp. granulated yeast (instant)

¼ cup honey

water

Cornmeal (optional)

Those are all the ingredients.  It’s easy and affordable to make this bread. You just have to be patient.

In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, pour in a ¼ cup of honey.  You are now going to add water to the honey. Fill up to the brim of the measuring cup, with warm water. Do not use hot water. It will kill the live yeast. If you’re not sure and don’t have a thermometer, pour warm tap water into the honey and let it sit for 15 minutes. If you have a thermometer, make sure the water is about 110 degrees. It can be less, but NOT more. Stir the honey and water. You want to melt the honey.

In a big bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add in the honey/water mixture. You will need a spatula or wooden spoon to mix it. It will be very sticky. Just mix until the flour is blended through. Then STOP! Put plastic wrap over the bowl and let it sit on the counter for about 12-16 hours. This will give the yeast time to work it’s magic. The dough will get bubbly. This is good. The bubblier the better. Now, just walk away from it.

After the 12-16 rising, the dough will have risen in your bowl and should have many bubbles. Now comes the fun part. Put about ½ cup of extra flour in a bowl. You will be dipping your hands in it and spreading some on the dough. With your fingers today and dipped in flour, scoop the dough away from the sides of the bowl with one hand. Sprinkle just a little flour on the dough. Fold the dough over itself, turning the bowl. You want to sprinkle flour on your hand and a little as you fold the dough over into the middle of the bowl. Just go around the bowl once. Put the plastic wrap back on and let the dough rest for two hours. Set your timer. You will need to pre-heat the pan and lid for about a ½ before you put the dough in it. So, set your timer for 1.5 hours. When it goes off, heat the oven at 425 degrees and put in the empty pan with the lid on. Make sure your pan and lid can go in the oven. Some handles and nobs cannot handle this high of heat. Check with your manufacturer. You don’t have to use Le Creuset. Lodge makes very reasonably priced cast iron products that you can use. http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-L8DOL3-Pre-Seasoned-Handles-5-Quart/dp/B00063RWYI/ref=sr_1_3?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1390409854&sr=1-3

I use pre-cut parchment paper from King Arthur. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/baking-parchment-paper-half-sheet I love it. I use it for everything! After the pan/lid have been in the oven for a ½ hour, take them out and put on your stovetop. Remember….they are VERY HOT! Use oven mitts! Take the lid off and put on another burner. I take the parchment and carefully push it down into the VERY HOT pan. Just have a dent in the parchment, so you can pour the dough into it. Flour your fingertips, and scoop the dough into the VERY HOT pan, trying to get it into the center of the pan. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly centered. It’s bread, it will be fine! Put on your oven mits, and shake the pan, so the dough settles evenly. Sprinkle some cornmeal on top of the dough. This will help it brown and give it some crunch. Put the VERY HOT lid back on and put it back into the oven. Relax. The hard work is done. Let your bread bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take the VERY HOT lid off and put the dough back into the oven for about 15 minutes. Cook it until it’s nicely browned. You may want another 5 minutes if you like it darker. Take the VERY HOT pan out of the oven and place on your stove. See that beautiful bread? You made it! All by yourself! You are awesome! Pull the parchment paper by opposite corners and put the bread on a cooling rack. You’re done! Let it cool, if you can. There is nothing better than fresh bread with sweet butter and jam. Store it a plastic bag or something else airtight after it cools. This bread never lasts more than a day in my house!

Boston strong….

BostonStrongRibbonThis has been a very sad week for the people of Boston and the surrounding cities. Lives were lost, and many changed forever. Dreams were destroyed. But I am very proud  of my city. It’s a city that has been there for me to work in and play in. People rallied together and showed their true colors. The city has been divided in the past but has been coming together for a while. This was a time that we were all the same: terrorized. We will not let the terrorists win. All the people that responded are heroes. There are no words to describe the actions taken by law enforcement, the medical field and just regular people. It fills my heart with hope and joy to see people work together in a terrible time, such tragedy. Screw you terrorists. Boston strong….