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Extraordinary Bread – Scaccia


Scaccia is a stuffed flat bread in Sicilian cuisine. “Scacciata” derives from the Sicilian word meaning to drive away, equivalent to the Italian word “schiacciata” meaning to crush or to flatten.

This bread is made with a very thin rectangular layer of dough, folded on itself three or four times. It can be stuffed with different ingredients, the more common variations are ricotta cheese and onion, cheese and tomato, tomato and onion, or tomato and eggplant, depending on location, taste, or season. It is baked and can be eaten hot or cold.

A great option for a lunch, I made this King Arthur Baking Company recipe today. As I have a habit of doing, I did change the recipe a bit. Scaccia is also referred to as Lasagna Bread. So, I decided to add one of my favorite lasagna ingredients to it – Italian Sausage.

The dough was mixed, kneaded and allowed to rise in my bread machine. After a two hour rise, the dough was rolled and stretched prior to adding the filling
To the filling recipe, I added 1/2 pound of browned Hot Pork Sausage.
Unable to find the cacciocavallo cheese, I used shredded Romano cheese.
Half of the meat sauce was spread over the center of the dough and covered with half of the cheese. The dough was folded, meat and cheese added, folded and more meat and cheese added, and then folded one last time.
The bread roll was then placed in a baking pan.
It may not be pretty, but it sure was tasty.
After removing from the oven, I sprinkled shredded parmesan cheese on the top.

This loaf was extremely tasty. The next time I make this recipe, I think that I will try to make individual sized portions that I can warm for lunches.

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ExtraordinaryBread – Cinnamon Conchas

Conchas, which means “shells” in Spanish, have a the twisted streusel top that is supposed to look like a seashell. They are Mexico’s national sweet bread. The history of the concha dates back to the colonial era, when French, Spanish, and Italian bakers established themselves in Mexico, bringing their recipes, like brioche and baguettes, with them. Traditionally a type of pan dulce, they usually come in either chocolate or vanilla flavor. The King Arthur Baking Company recipe uses cinnamon for the topping.

The ingredients for these rolls are fairly standard. Thus, I did not take a photo. The recipe is also fairly easy. When first shaping the rolls, they seemed really large. So, instead of making ten rolls, I made eight of two different kinds, cinnamon and chocolate, for sixteen total.

While an easy recipe, I did forget to place the egg wash over the rolls before adding the topping. By the time I realized this, the rolls had already started to rise and I did not want to mess with them. I was pleasantly surprised after the rise to find that the streusel topping had created a cracked appearance, removing the need to cut lines into the topping.

The cracked surfaces baked fine as well. Even though I made them smaller than the recipe called for, they were still plenty big. I think the next time I make these I will make them even smaller.

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#ExtraordinaryBread – Butterflake Herb Loaf

Another recipe done and another tasty loaf (actually two loaves) of bread. For the complete recipe, see the King Arthur Baking Company recipe. This is a recipe I have made before. This time, I made a few adjustments.

Instead of regular milk, I used 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk, mixed with 1 cup warm water.
For the flour, I used 1 cup wheat flour, 1 cup unbleached bread flour and the rest (by weight) was all purpose flour.
The recipe calls for splitting the dough into two balls, rolling out the dough and cutting out ten circles for each loaf of bread. Instead of rolling out the dough, I manipulated the dough into discs with my hands. I also like numbers that are easily divided in half, so I did 16 circles for each loaf of bread.
The recipe lists numerous herbs for the filling. Herbes De Provence has nearly the same herbs and I had a jar in my cupboard that I need to use up.
I spread the herb-butter mix over the disc, folded in half and spread on one of the outer sides to help the bread pull apart easier.
Two pans ready to rise.
Ready for baking.

As expected, since I had made this recipe before, these loaves tasted great!

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#Extraordinary Bread – Khachapuri (Georgian Cheese Bread)

Several years ago, I watched the movie “Julie and Julia” with some of my friends. The movie involves two story lines. One details Julia Child’s start in the cooking profession. The other follows a blogger named Julie as she challenges herself to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child’s first book, 524 recipes, in one year. I enjoyed the movie and always thought cooking through a cookbook would be a fun thing to do.

When King Arthur Baking Company announced last week that they were having a contest (randomly drawn winner) for bakers to make any of the twelve recipes in the Extraordinary Bread collection, I thought I would give it a try. I plan to try out each recipe and post some tips and suggestions with each.

While I am definitely not the writer that Julie Powell was, nor are my cooking/baking skills any where near a professional like Julia Child, I do enjoy trying new things.

Today, I made Khachapuri. The bread is shaped into flat “boat-like” ovals and filled with a mix of cheeses and topped with an egg. Based upon the ingredients, I assumed the bread would taste somewhat like a flattened bagel. With that in mind, I made some modifications to half of the “boats”.

For the recipe, visit the King Arthur Baking website.

Measured out each of the dough ingredients. My flour tends to be rather compact in my storage container.
So, for greater accuracy and a better bake, I would strongly suggest weighing the flour rather than going by the cup measurements.
Dough mixed and kneaded in bread machine.
Cheese filling combined in mini food processor.

The recipe makes four bread boats. I knew that my family would likely not eat all four of these. So, I only made a half batch of the cheese filling to be used with two of the boats. For the other two boats, I combined 1/4 cup Ricotta Cheese with 1/4 cup Cinnamon Sweet Bits (found here).

The recipe says to roll out the dough into ovals.
I found it worked well to just push the dough into ovals with my hands – less mess, no need to wash the rolling pin.
Two ovals were filled with cheese filling and the edges turned up.
Two ovals were filled with the ricotta-cinnamon mix and the edges rolled up.
Before baking, I brushed the edges with egg wash. I sprinkled Swedish Pearl Sugar on the edges of the cinnamon boats.
An egg was cracked over the cheese filling prior to the last ten minutes of baking.
The Ricotta-Cinnamon filled bread tasted like a cinnamon bagel with cream cheese.

Each type of Khachapuri tasted really good, but I especially liked the Ricotta-Cinnamon combination.

The loaves are rather big – each loaf is enough for two or three people to eat. I think next time I make these, I will make twelve small loaves rather than the four large loaves.

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A 3D Christmas

Now that all of the Christmas gifts that I mailed have finally arrived and been opened, I though I would share some of the fun things I made this year. Wanting to put my 3D printer to use, I looked on-line for gift ideas I could print. I found several useful ideas. My go-to source for printing ideas is Thingiverse. They have an incredible number or free printing files.

Among Us Ornament. During our Thanksgiving family video conversation, my adult sons wanted the entire family to play an on-line game called Among Us. While I didn’t really understand the game (perhaps because I became a ghost about 15 seconds into the game), the boys seem to enjoy the game. For a creative gift, I found a pattern for making the characters from this game. Thinking that they would make nice tree ornaments, I created a remix of the pattern that had a ring on the helmet to attach some ribbon for hanging.

After printing these, I found out that there are several fun “hats” that the characters can wears. So, I decided to remix some more patterns to make some hats to fit over the ring for each. These were really fun to make.

Can Holders. I would have put individual names on each of these, but the customizer in Thingiverse was not functioning at the time that I made them. There was an existing customized file for the Green Bay Packers. So, I made several of these for family members who are Packer fans. The rest were printed without a label on the handles. These are useful for several reasons (1) keeps a cold can away from your hands, and (2) helps identify which can is yours. I made 18 of these in various colors.

Battery Boxes. In these boxes, the batteries load from the top and the ramps inside feed the batteries to the opening at the bottom of each box. I made 14 sets of these in various color combinations.

Christmas Tree. These trees store flat and add a nice decoration for a small space.

I already have some fun ideas for next Christmas.

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Hidden Hugs

Image result for inspirational quote of hugs

I read somewhere that hugs may be necessary for survival. While that may not be the case, hugs are definitely important for mental health. Unfortunately, in our social distanced pandemic lifestyles, we have become a fairly touch-deprived society. Hugs are avoided for everyone’s health and safety.

I have many young patients, who, when they arrive at my dental office, are eager to give me a hug. Unfortunately, their parents will now stop them and reprimand them for doing so. I miss that part of my job. It was always a lift to my day, especially when the patient was one who had previous difficulty with going to the dentist.

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So, in this pandemic era, I need to look for other ways to “hug” through words of praise, words of thanks, and words of encouragement.

Tomorrow is National Hug Day. To celebrate the day, I decided to make some treats – Brownies filled with Hershey’s Hugs. To make these, I used my favorite brownie recipe, but any recipe or even a box mix would work. Before baking, place a hug into the batter, bake as normal. After they have cooled, you will have a hidden treat – a Hidden Hug.

So, even though real hugs may not be possible, look for the hidden hugs in your life.

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Love Intentionally & Unconditionally

There is a lot of discord in life and some days it can be overwhelming. Lately that has been the feeling I have had. I don’t think that I have radical or controversial opinions, so when I started writing a blog, I never dreamed that people would send negative, sometimes hateful emails. But, I have received numerous anonymous emails from people condemning me for what I write or how I write.

Too often, people say things behind the guise of anonymity that they would never say in person. So, my suggestion to anyone reading my blog. If you don’t like what I write, just move on to something else. If you are following my blog and don’t like what I write, just unfollow me. And, if you are reading this on Facebook and you don’t like what I write, just unfriend.

This unfortunate state of communication is all too common these days. Too often, people think that if someone doesn’t agree with their thinking, then the other person is wrong and they need to be “put in their place”. There seems to be no room for differences of opinion. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be, and it seems like now more than ever we need a reminder of that.

The way we interact with others can reflect God’s love and bring glory to him. God accepts us, despite our imperfections, our impure actions and motives. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him (John 3:17). God accepts us, despite our messy lives, impure motives, and irritating attitudes.

My thoughts and beliefs may not be the same as yours. Ultimately, which of us is right or wrong is not something to argue and debate about. This is something between each person and God. This means we accept others’ quirks and look past their faults in order to see individuals created in the image of God.

We need to learn how to accept one another unconditionally, just as Christ accepts us unconditionally. The Bible says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7 NIV).

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Flowers, Friendship and Eternity

Miltoniopsis Lennart Karl Gottling 'Hula Skirt'

Fifteen months ago, after attending a professional meeting in San Francisco, my eldest son (who lived in SF at the time) and I visited the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. One of the plants I saw there was a very unique and absolutely gorgeous orchid, Miltoniopsis Lennart Karl Gottling also called ‘Hula Skirt’ Orchid.

After seeing it, I search the internet for a source to purchase one, but was unsuccessful. This particular orchid was “out of stock” everywhere. One of the growers did have the ability to indicate if you would like to be notified when the orchid was in stock again. At the time, I filled out the request. But, since then, I had accepted the fact that I would be unable to obtain a plant for myself and thus totally forgot about my search.

Well, on Monday, I received an email from Orchid Web notifying me that the orchid was in stock. Needless to say, I was surprised by the notification and immediately went to their site to order one. When placing the order, I discovered that the store is located in Plymouth, Minnesota, just a few miles from a friend’s dental office. This was fortunate because I could pick the plant up in person, avoid paying shipping, and avoid potential damage to the plant during transit.

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Since I would be driving to Plymouth, I sent my friend a message to see if she would like to get together and whether I could bring her lunch when I came. She responded with an even better offer. For a holiday celebration, she was treating her staff to a catered meal from “Gardens of Salonica”, a Greek restaurant and invited me to join them at her office. This was an offer I could not pass up.

I had a nice lunch comprised of good conversation with an amazing friend and some truly great Greek food!!

Being a member of my professional study club, I had also made her a table/wall quilt over the summer, which she received a few weeks ago.

While she is several years younger than me and will likely not retire for a while, she does have her “pre-retirement” quilt. This quilt was made utilizing the Greek Key quilt pattern. I picked this pattern for several reasons. The obvious one is that she is Greek. But, more importantly, the Greek Key is a symbol for infinity or eternity. This is very fitting because she is a constant friend who is always there for me.

My photo of the front of the quilt is a bit out of focus. But, the photo of the back does highlight the quilting that was done. In particular, quilting clearly shows the continuity of the Greek Keys in the piecing and in the quilting.

These eternal rings symbolic of the eternal love and support we have as friends. And, also a symbol of the love we celebrate this time of year at the birth of our Lord.

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English Paper Piecing – best enjoyed when making small projects.

We have five members in my professional study club, and I have previously written about two of the quilts I made for these friends. Continuing with quilts for my other study club friends (who actually don’t retire for a few more years), I needed to come up with two additional designs.

The parents of one of the other friends is originally from England. So, I decided that her wall quilt would be a good opportunity to try English Paper Piecing.

EPP involves placing a paper template onto the wrong side of the fabric, folding the fabric over the paper template, tacking the fabric to the template with water soluble glue and then hand stitching the various shapes together. It’s almost like a fabric form of Tetris!

The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece by [Katja Marek]

Five years ago, while attending the Minnesota Quilt Show, I purchased a book “The New Hexagon – 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece” by Katja Marek. The beautiful blocks really caught my eye and since it was 52 blocks, I originally thought I would just try to make one each week for a year. Well, unfortunately, other projects always came up and the book sat on my shelf unopened.

Then, last year, while browsing various quilting sites on-line, I saw a posting by the same author about a Millefiore Quilt Along. This quilt along was completed a few years earlier, and the pictures were stunning.

Because the technique involves hand stitching the pieces together, I thought that a wall quilt would be a good place to start to learn the technique. This project would not be too large and intimidating, and would be easily carried in a bag to work on when I was not at home.

Since this particular friend has beautiful flower gardens at her home, I started out by doing some simple flowers. Many of my quilting friends will already know that hexagon flowers are commonly made using paper piecing.

Unbeknownst to my friend, I was stitching the flower pieces together when we were working in the same office on several occasions. I’m not sure she realized after receiving the quilt that I had been sewing the pieces together right in front of her!!

Once I had a few hexagon flowers sewn, I needed to figure out the rest of the quilt design. To personalize the quilt for my friend, I played around with creating my own paper piecing designs. She is an avid biker, so with the help of her husband, I found a photo of the type of bike she rides. Using Electric Quilts, I created the paper piecing design to make a bike for the center of the quilt.

With the bike designed, I next needed to figure out what to do for the background of the quilt. After playing around with a couple ideas, I decided to make it look like the bike was on a trail. The flowers would then be stitched into groupings on either side of the bike.

Hand sewing the pieces of the bike together was time consuming. And, the background was going to be larger pieces with straight seams. Thus, I settled for machine sewing the rest of the background around the bike and the flowers. After machine quilting, I added some hand embroidered stems for the flowers and some ribbons.

I enjoyed learning this new technique, it is much more “portable” than machine quilting.

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After this project was completed, I thought about what paper piecing project I could try next. Since the millefiori quilt idea really stuck with me. I spent some time designing my own take on a Millefiori quilt. Early November, with two weeks off of work and I started out with great intention of creating a full sized quilt using English Paper Piecing.

However, I quickly realized that I am not a fan of hand piecing quilts. The amount of time needed to cut out the paper templates, glue them to the fabric and then hand sew the pieces together was overwhelming. And, I really wondered how durable my hand stitching would be. I certainly didn’t want to spend hours and hours sewing together a quilt that would easily pull apart at the seams.

Thus after finishing one section of the quilt (the center section in my hand drawing), I decided that the rest of this quilt would be sewn by machine.

There will be many difficult seam junctions to line up when sewing this design by machine. But, I am much happier with the way the rest of the quilt is coming together (more on that in a couple weeks). And, while I enjoyed learning English Paper Piecing, I am also happy that I learned that this is not something I will use for designing larger quilts.