Thursday, July 03, 2014

My Snack Success Secret--SHARED!!!

So, in case you didn't remember, I tend to have a little collection of kids (generally girls) at my house for a bit on (almost) any given day.

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It's absolutely wonderful.

And in case you didn't know, one thing that pretty much every little kid I know likes is snacks. They walk in the door, wondering if we have any snacks. They color pictures and make paper-and-scotch-tape creations while dreaming about their next snack. They can interrupt intricate detailed games of imaginations, full of ponies who take care of baby kittens who live in jungles of licorice swamps while watching over helpless infants and simultaneously taming leopards and unicorns -- ask for a snack-- and then pick up right where they left off when the asking is done.

As they leave our house (often to go home to dinner), they will ask for a "snack for the road" (it takes them approximately fourteen seconds to go from our home to their home--not a whole lot of "road" there, but everyone knows that it's better to ask than not to ask, you know?)

And of course, the permanent resident around here is not above asking for snacks from the moment she wakes up (literally) until the moment she brushes her teeth in her pajamas.

I remember being the same way at their age. There's just something about the word "snack" that sounds more exciting, more adventurous, more delicious that the words lunch, dinner, or supper, you know? I mean, "dessert" is a pretty great word, as is "feast", and even "breakfast" and "brunch" conjure up images of deliciousness. But, it's hard to come by a feast or a brunch, and generally you aren't going to get breakfast at the house of a friend on a regular basis, and so getting a snack is about as good as it's going to get (unless you can score a dessert of course).

As a first-time mom, getting used to the "snack train" was a bit of a learning curve for me. At first I bought fruit snacks. But, those little packets are spendy. Also, I'm suspicious of items that say "fruit" on them, but have the consistency of gumdrops. How healthy can they really be? They're like the mystery meat of the vegetarian world, right? For awhile I did crackers, but they are also spendy, and they're small enough that my little patrons think they should be carried through the home, munched on at will, which leaves crumbs all over my only-vacuumed-once-weekly-if-I-can-get-away-with-it-carpet.

I do try to buy apples and baby carrots pretty consistently. They aren't the snack of choice for most of the gang (not exotic enough I suppose), but they're healthy and pretty economical, and I feel good about offering them.

(And I've found that a boring healthy snack is generally preferred to no snack at all. So, there's that.)

But, last fall, I happened upon a recipe that saved all my snack issues forever--or at least for the past ten months.

Friends, I give you:

Easy Homemade Artisan/Peasant Bread

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It's delicious, it's delightful, it's easy and about the cheapest most economical thing you can make, and the kids go wild, absolutely wild for it.

You want the recipe? Of course you do. Here you go:

(This recipe is so easy and I make this bread so much that I'm writing this down out of my own head. Can you believe it? That's a testimony in and of itself!)

Put two cups warm water in a bowl (I use my Kitchenaid)

Add 1 TBS of yeast, 3 TBS of sugar, and 2 tsp of salt. Take a spoon (I usually use the Tablespoon I've just used for the yeast and the sugar) and stir the mixture together until you don't hear any granules. That will tell you that everything is dissolved.

Add 4 cups of flour, and mix it all together. The dough will be quite sticky--unless you are like me and use 2 cups white flour and 2 cups wheat flour--then it will only be kind of sticky.

Once everything is incorporated, let it rise for about 30 minutes.

After that, put a bunch of oil on your hands ('cuz your dough is sticky--remember), and using your hand as a "knife", cut the dough in the bowl into two sections. Put the sections on your baking sheet (be sure to spray it first or use parchment paper or a Silpat) and let them rise another 20 minutes. When they have about 10 minutes to go, go ahead and start preheating your oven to 425.

Bake the bread for 10 minutes at 425, then move the temperature down to 375 and let it go an additional 15-20 minutes.

Take out your bread and enjoy it! It's nice a crusty on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside. When it's warm, there's nothing better. When it's cold, there's nothing better except for when it's warm.

(If you want a whole tutorial on the bread, complete with pictures of each step, and witty commentary from Eric's awesome sister, go here.  It is her recipe, after all.)

If you happen to have some homemade jam to go with your bread, so much the better!
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Those are some happy snackers there folks. Take it from me.
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Aw heck, you don't even have to take it from me, do you? You can tell just by looking at them!


Emily said...

Looks so good and so easy! I 'll have to try it out and let you know how it goes, I'm notorious for my bread making fails, but I keep trying! Also, awhile back you posted a recipe for peanut butter play doh. We tried it and it was really good, but those powdered milk granules never seemed to go,away, even though we used instant? Thoughts?

Jamie Younker said...

First off it kind of makes me die of embarrassment when I realize my kids are snack monsters at other people's houses! I guess tomorrow's FHE is on manners... Again. Lol

Second of all- you have an amazing attitude. AND you really do make the best bread in town! I can't even tell you how many times my kids have randomly said "you know who is the best bread maker ever!?!? Charlotte!!!"

And last but not least- I really enjoy reading your blog. It feels like having a conversation with you. And you crack me up.

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