Friday, July 31, 2015

Mmmmushroom and Onion Bread

I don't like waste.  Probably not a surprise to you. Often the bits and pieces from my vegetable crisper make their way into omelets, quiches, and pizzas.  Sometimes they end up scattered under the bird feeder for the rabbits.

A few months ago I found myself with a bunch of mushrooms in the drawer with no clue what to do with them. I don't eat mushrooms, so ideas were not forthcoming.  I got on line to search for some inspiration but found none.

Even after deciding that I wanted to make a mushroom bread I didn't have any luck.  Surprisingly, there just are not a lot of choices in recipes for mushroom bread.

Well now I had a challenge.  After my first attempt at creating a recipe with my leftover mushrooms I sent loaves to my husband and neighbor.  Both loved the bread and said I should try it.  They said you couldn't even taste the mushroom.

They were right.  I was really happy with the texture of the bread, but wanted to get more mushroom flavor into it.  Last week I again found myself with leftover mushrooms and tried again using more mushrooms and more thyme.  I love the way it turned out.  Perfect hint of mushroom, even for me.

It tasted great warm from the oven with a touch of butter, but it would also be great as a sandwich bread.  Not sure you can go wrong.  My son and I wiped out two loaves, but two more made it to the freezer for another day.

I used the bread machine to make the dough, but you could modify the recipe to make it by hand.

Mushroom Onion Bread
1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 to 1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry thyme
5/8 cup warm water
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp milk
2 tsp sea salt sprinkled on top

Saute chopped mushrooms and onions in 1 Tbsp of olive oil until tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In the order suggested by your bread machine, combine the remaining ingredients (except the topping) and process on the dough cycle. For mine it was liquids first.  * Add the sauteed vegetables after the dough is well combined.  You may need to add a little more liquid if the dough looks dry or sprinkle a little extra flour if it looks wet.  Humidity will play a roll here.

When the dough cycle is finished (my machine takes 1 1/2 hours), remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 mini loaf pans.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  Brush with milk and sprinkle with sea salt.    Don't skip this step.  The salt really adds to the bread.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees.  Cool slightly in pans, then remove to wire rack.

*My machine has a fruit and nut "beep" that lets me know it's time to add extra ingredients.  If yours doesn't have this feature, add the sauteed vegetables when the dough has formed a well mixed ball.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hooray For Second Chances

At about 11:00 this morning I watched a beautiful Barred Owl fly into the big tree off my back patio.  I grabbed my camera, switched out my lenses, and marched through the sprinkler system to try and get a picture.  I did, but the humidity going from inside to outside made the lens fog and he was a little hidden in the leaves.

The morning light really lit up the trees.  Unfortunately, in all the commotion I made trying to keep my camera from getting wet, I spooked him and he flew off.

You can imagine how excited I was when at 7:20 this evening I watched him fly back in and perch in the same tree.

This time the light was coming from the west as the sun was setting and made the leaves glow.

What a beauty.

This time he wasn't scared of me.  I sat on the porch with my camera swatting Texas sized mosquitoes just waiting for him to spot his dinner and take flight.  Oh, how I would have loved to get a flight photo, but then this happened.  At first I didn't even notice the bobcat wander into the yard.  I was so focused on the owl.  When I finally spotted him out of the corner of my eye he was already passed me.  I still managed one good shot.

I probably would have gotten more, but then my grandoggies that were in the house spotted him and began barking.  The bobcat moved a little quicker after that and the owl flew away as well.

After going back and comparing this guy to the pictures I took back in May (Wait . . .What?  Bobcat? Yes!), I don't think they are the same cat.  This one had much more defined markings and had longer legs and brighter coloring.  I found some good information on bobcats at National Bobcat Rescue & Research that tells me I'm right.  Apparently their markings do not change and these are obviously different.

It makes me wonder what I would see if I could spend the entire day looking out my windows without break.  But, alas, laundry, dusting, and vacuuming keep calling me away.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Georges Island and Fort Warren, Boston

Breck and I recently made a trip to Boston to attend our son's graduation. Though he and his wife have been in Boston for 3 years it was my first visit.  We spent a lot of the time there seeing the sights and learning the history of the city with the friends and family that joined us.

One day we took a ferry from the harbor to the 28 square mile Georges Island in the bay.  

My husband loves a fort and this one was no exception.  Construction on Fort Warren began in 1833 and served as a prison for captured Confederate Army and Navy personnel as well as a defense for Boston Harbor.  It was used through World War II and decommissioned in the 1950's.

The entrance to the fort is called the sallyport and back in the day had a drawbridge.
The outer walls of the fort are 8 feet thick and made of granite.

View from the Bastion above the bakery looking over the grounds
View from the same Bastion looking back toward Boston
Here I parted ways with the group.  I got distracted by these birds in the shrubs that grow along the top of the Bastion.

Gray Catbird
Red-winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch
Barn Swallows
I came to a clearing in the brush and with great surprise saw a fog bank was moving from the open ocean toward the island.

View of Lovells Island
It came in so quickly and was very heavy.  In a span of less than 5 minutes the weather changed from cloudless blue skies to being a fog so thick you could not see the ocean just yards away.

Though I did not catch up with the tour, I wandered off the wall through a stairwell, down to the parade grounds and into the rooms below.

There are arches everywhere to hold up the massive weight of the dirt, granite, brick, and mortar.

Battery Plunkett
This was an extremely large area that had been used as an indoor drill hall, a powder magazine, and storage area for wagons and gun cartridges.

During World War II it was used as a movie theater to entertain the troops stationed on the island.

I am not sure what these rooms were.  I'm sure the guide I bailed on could have told me.  Offices?  Officer's Quarters?

The fog moved quickly and was beginning to clear when I made my way back out to the parade grounds.

There were more birds here flying in and out of the grasses and dipping into the well for bugs.

Barn Swallow
European Starling pruning himself

I rejoined my group and we headed out of the fort to explore more of the island.

Path through the coverface around the fort to the beach
Yep.  More birds.

Canadian Geese and their goslings
Mama Killdeer sitting on her eggs.
Ring-billed Gull hunting in the foreground  with a Herring Gull behind
Watching the gulls was a treat.  The Ring-billed gull picked up rocks with its bill looking for goodies to no avail as the Herring gull came in behind and snagged a crab from the water.

Herring Gull catching crab
The two gulls are very similar in their color, but the Herring Gull is stockier and has a red dot on its lower bill, whereas the Ring-billed Gull and a black ring around the end of its bill.  

I could have spent another 2 hours here exploring the beach and more of the fort inside and out.

Brick from the fort loose on the shore
Wreckage of a pier?
As quickly as it rolled in, the fog rolled out clearing our view back toward Boston.

Gallops Island to the right and Long Island on the left
But there were more things to see back in town so we gathered for the incoming ferry with a now perfectly clear view.

One of many adventures we had on this trip.