Monday, October 29, 2012

2 Reviews: a Book and a Recipe

Recently I finished a book I had borrowed from a book club member, Year of Wonders.  Honestly, I didn't read the physical copy of the book, but decided to experiment with the local library system's online directory.  Here in Tulsa, the library system has been heavily promoting their applications for iPad, Kindle, Nook and smartphones.  I decided to dabble in the application for the iPad and discovered there were quite a few audiobooks available for check-out...what luck for me, an audiobook lover.  And it literally takes only seconds to download.  Score!  I downloaded this book in audiobook format and listened while I got ready for a few mornings as well as when I would sit down to crochet.

The premise of this book is based upon a true story, about a small village near London around 1666.  The village becomes inundated with the Plague and the pastor of the church convinces the town members to participate in a self-induced quarantine.  This novel is told via the housekeeper of the pastor, who loses her husband and children throughout the telling of the book (I'm not giving anything away-in the beginning you're aware she's alone).  It's very interesting to read about how different people react to poor living situations and conditions, especially when they change from a relatively normal one.

I have to say that while the idea for this book is sound, the actual follow-through was pretty...meh.  It was one of those books that, when I put it down...I didn't feel super positive or negative about it.  There was no "man, that was an awesome read" feeling nor a "that book stunk" feeling.  I suppose I would say this book was the definition of mediocre for me.

On a higher note, I would definitely recommend looking into your local library system's options for book check-out via your reader or smartphone!

Moving right along...I thought I'd share a Dave's Fave (for breakfast) that I haven't made in a while: raisin bread.  This is one of those recipes that, while it doesn't take a lot of effort and there's nothing too complex about it, it just takes a while to make.  You know, the whole waiting for the bread to rise..twice...thing.  But, this is a delicious recipe and I would definitely recommend making it if you've got the time to come back to it a couple of times throughout your day, in order to move it along to the next step.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Food Network Magazine January/February 2011 - click here for their printable

2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for brushing
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
Cooking spray
2/3 cup raisins
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

Measure out 1 1/4 cups very warm water and check the temperature; it should be 120 degrees F to 130 degrees F. Mix in the yeast with the warm water, then combine both flours, the dry milk, egg, canola oil, honey, salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Add the yeast and warm water mixture. Mix 3 minutes on the lowest setting, then increase to the next highest setting and mix 5 more minutes. The dough should be soft and sticky.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough has nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Dry raisins will rob moisture from the bread, so soak them first in boiling water until plump, about 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Picture it as a loose square. Lift up one side of the dough and fold about one-third of it across; press down on the dough with spread fingers to remove any air bubbles. Repeat with the remaining 3 sides of the dough.

Mist two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray. Divide the dough in half; roll out each half into an 8-inch square.

Brush each square with canola oil, then sprinkle with the cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins. 

The first few times I made this recipe, I measured out these, I know about how much.  It's really just a fine covering of sure to have the filling items all the way out to the edges of your loaf, otherwise the edges will be mostly just bread and no tasty filling!

Roll up each square of dough into a tight cylinder.

Place seam-side down in the prepared pans.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough fills the pans and springs back when touched, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the loaves with canola oil and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

I didn't roll this one quite as tight as I'd like, but it was still delicious!  Enjoy!

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