Tag Archives: cinnamon raisin bread

Bring on the (new) bread machine

Well. We’ve managed to destroy yet another bread machine. Here’s the thing. Some people eat cold cereal for breakfast. Some eat eggs. Some eat nothing. I eat cinnamon raisin bread — NOT the store-bought spongy, flaccid stuff — only homemade.

Somewhere in the mid-80s, we purchased our first bread machine. Made by¬† DAK, it resembled R2D2 and made round loaves. Our two then-preschool-age daughters watched, mesmerized, as the dough mixed, began to rise, and baked. One day, it became off-kilter mid-cycle and walked right off the counter and crashed to the floor. Thus began a long line of bread machines. I forget how many we’ve had because like our toasters and irons — they have short lives.

DakSo…a few months ago, the most recent machine died. Mid-cycle. This was not pleasant. My attempts at completing the baking process were useless. We ended up with a half-baked lump of dough. Still, I loved that particular machine and set about buying another one. I couldn’t find the same model nearby so settled for another. My first clue that it might be a dud was when I noticed the pan didn’t click into place when I set it in the machine. I was sure it was a dud when nothing happened after filling it with flour, cinnamon, oil, honey, salt, water and yeast.

After a few choice words, which my husband appeared to ignore, I kneaded it by hand, let it rise, and baked it in the oven. And…returned the machine to the store.

I know. I should have ordered a new one right away but decided instead that I’d drag out my 30-year-old Cuisinart, mix up the dough, and bake it. That has worked fine when/if time allows, but I’d become accustomed to baking it on the one-hour cycle while I run — thus, having fresh bread whenever we’re out.

photo(17)image(10)So, okay. I give. The trusty Cuisinart didn’t let me down today — odd, when you consider the number of other appliances we’ve seen come and go. Given my tendency toward pessimism, I know it’s not going to last. And yes, I know I can mix it up by hand and bake it. But not while I’m running.

So…that’s it. I give. Bring on the next bread machine. May you live as long as (shhhh…) the Cuisinart and the 30-plus-year-old clothes dryer.

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Walnut butter replaces addiction for PB

Some addictions are okay to have. Like, for example, nut butters. Until about a year ago, I was addicted to peanut butter because it goes well on just about everything…crackers, bread, ice cream, popcorn. As a kid, my favorite sandwich was peanut butter, honey and raisin. Fortunately, I married someone who loves PB almost as much as I do.

But you won’t find any of that mainstream slimy PB with sugar or hydrogenated oils in our house….only the real stuff — just peanuts and salt. Smooth. And yeah, you have to stir it up before you spread it but hey, it tastes MUCH better.

True to form, our oldest daughter inherited that love. All the way through third grade, she packed her lunch every single day. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The only variation was the type of jelly or jam, which could range from strawberry to raspberry to peach.

Along comes daughter number two. Surely she would share our love for PB. But no. Her very blue eyes in a family of brown/hazel should have been a clue that she would veer from the course we three were following. Try as we might, the only item with peanut butter as an ingredient that would cross her lips were honey milk balls, an amazing concoction of peanut butter, honey, oats and powdered milk (see recipe below).

Fast forward 26 years. Daughter number two and I are perusing the various nut butters in Trader Joe’s. She tells me that her tastes are changing as she gets older and admits that she actually likes peanut butter now. So we started comparing the various nut butters and I realized that like every other store I’ve checked, they don’t carry my new addiction — walnut butter.

About a year ago, my mom and my friend, Mary, introduced me to homemade walnut butter. There weren’t a lot of foods that interested me at the time — I was still recovering from abdominal surgery — but walnut butter appealed to me. I decided to learn to make it, which involved finally learning to use my 30-year-old Cuisinart.

Walnut butter on rice cracker

Walnut butter in Cuisinart

Once I mastered that, I haven’t turned back. I buy walnuts in bulk, dump them in the Cuisinart, add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and turn it on. About 10 minutes later, I’ve got smooth walnut butter. Which, by the way, goes really well with cinnamon raisin bread (see recipe for bread machine below).

Okay, so like most nuts, walnuts are high in fat. However, like salmon and flaxseed, they’re also high in Omega 3, which among other things can lower the amount of lipids (fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides) circulating in the bloodstream and reduce inflammation throughout the body. So like everything else…eat them in moderation.

Honey Milk Balls
(Makes 2 dozen)
Combine in bowl:
1/2 c. honey

1/2 c. peanut butter (try this with walnut or almond butter)
1 c. dry milk powder
1 c. uncooked rolled oats
Mix well, then knead by hand until blended. Shape into small balls.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
(For bread machine)
3/4 c. very warm water
1/4 c. applesauce
1/2 c. raisins (Monukkah raisins or other sticky ones, work best)
1 tbsp. olive or canola oil
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. yeast
Put first eight ingredients into bread machine in the order listed above. Make an indentation on the top of the ingredients and add yeast to indentation.
Set machine according to manufacturer’s instructions for baking. I prefer to bake this recipe on the one-hour setting, but that will depend on your machine.

“Twas three days before Christmas…

‘Twas three days before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring ‘cept Ma and her dog. One child and two cats were nestled snug on the couch, when Ma and her Ike tiptoed into the room. From out of the dark, there rose such a howling, the quiet household shuddered and woke with a start.

So much for a quiet start to the day. And so much for my attempts at poetic license. I knew that there would be an extra cat in the house, but I’d been assured that Peaches the Queen and the visiting Casio, would “just ignore each other”. What we didn’t plan on was the rude awakening of said cats and child by one wriggling, tail-wagging miniature Schnauzer, eager to join the sleeping trio.

Ten minutes later, one cat had been relegated to the outdoors and the other one to the basement. Ike, the innocent instigator, was upstairs in bed with the other child and Harvey, the calmest dog on earth.

Phew. Quiet reigned again…for a few minutes anyway. I took that as a sign that I could take a shower. Halfway through that, daughter number 1 pops her head in the door to say that “I was trying to find an outlet for the coffeepot, and I unplugged your bread machine. Does that matter?” Matter? Why would it matter that a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread had been unplugged mid-cycle? A little deep breathing reminded me “not to sweat the small stuff”. Lo and behold, she’d plugged it right back in and the bread kept baking. Huh. Must have some sort of surge protection on it.

30 minutes later, I headed off to work. As I walked out the door, I heard two hoots of laughter from daughters number 1 and 2, watching something on the Internet. Which reminds me. All cat- and dog-fights aside, it’s good to have my family home.