Another garden I visited at Oklahoma State University was next to the Engineering Building. It is composed entirely of native plants. There is a nifty garden directory sign so you can identify every plant if you feel like it. It was getting pretty hot, so …
Last week my younger son attended a one-day engineering camp at OSU in Stillwater, Oklahoma. I hung out on campus all day and took lots of pictures of the gardens and flower beds. After a day of breathing the “O State ozone”, I’m ready to …
I just made another loaf of this bread today and thought perhaps the recipe might be worth sharing. I haven’t made bread like this in ages since my husband and I have been mostly low carb for years.
However, my older son is home from college for the summer and was blessed to be hired as an intern at an HVAC company in the city. He is working full time (yay!). In order to save as much of his salary as possible, he is taking his lunch every day (thanks Dave Ramsey!). Initially, he was taking turkey and cheese tortilla wraps but had a hankering for a peanut butter and jelly–tortillas just won’t cut it for that, so I whipped up a loaf of homemade bread with my “go-to” recipe. It’s based on an old bread machine recipe and I adapted it for the KitchenAid mixer. Super easy, this is neither keto, low carb, nor gluten-free. It IS pretty tasty and arguably healthier than most of the bread from the grocery store. You can make excellent sandwiches, garlic bread, or the absolute favorite around here, cinnamon toast with it. My younger son is reaping the benefits of older brother needing good sandwich bread and he is definitely not complaining.
Ages ago when my husband and I had only been married a couple of years we splurged on a bread machine. And made tons of bread. And ate tons of bread. During this time I started developing the recipe for my cinnamon rolls (that’s another post)… Luckily we didn’t actually WEIGH tons (not quite) after several years of this, but finally the bread machine was put away and eventually donated. Meanwhile, I had acquired a KitchenAid mixer and found that it worked great for mixing and kneading homemade bread without needing to proof yeast or anything fiddly like that. This method is very forgiving as it allows you some wiggle room with the temperature of your liquid. You can still kill the yeast if it’s way too hot but it is less likely. Another benefit of the mixer over a bread machine is being able to double the recipe and make 2 loaves of bread or 2 dozen cinnamon rolls with one batch of dough. I think this would also work with a good food processor but I haven’t tried it.
The ingredient list is simple: All-purpose flour, powdered milk, sugar, kosher salt, butter, water, and yeast. That’s it. I buy the yeast in bulk from Sam’s Club; you get a boatload of it and if you wrap it tightly and store in a jar in the fridge or freezer it lasts for years. If you want a higher rise you could use bread flour but it isn’t really necessary.
Simple Homemade Bread
This is a very basic white bread made with all-purpose flour. The kneading is done with a stand mixer so it's super easy.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp dry milk
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 tbsp butter
- 7.5 ounces water warm
Combine water and butter in pyrex cup and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. You want it warm to touch, not hot, around 110 degrees or so.
In Kitchenaid mixing bowl add flour, dry milk, sugar, salt, and yeast. Mix with the dough hook then slowly add warm water and butter. Knead on low for about 10 minutes.
Remove dough hook and cover dough with clean cloth and place in warm area to rise for at least 30 minutes. It should double in size.
Prepare a loaf pan by spraying with Pam.
Punch down dough, then knead by hand for about 5 minutes. Shape into a thick rectangle slightly larger than the pan by flattening a little and stretching, then roll the long ends inside and tuck the short ends under. Place in bread pan seam side down. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise again about 30 to 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake bread for 40 to 45 minutes or until it tests 200 degrees with an instant-read thermometer. Brush with butter after removing from oven. Allow to cool before slicing.
If your dough is too sticky, add a little flour.
Slicing is easier with a long serrated bread knife.
My boys like simple food and this definitely fits that description. This will keep in a large ziploc bag on the counter for a couple of days but for longer storage, you should refrigerate. This will mold quickly because there are no preservatives, unlike store bread which seems to have the half-life of uranium. This will also freeze well, if you wrap it carefully in plastic, then foil, then place in a freezer bag with all the air squeezed out.
When the first loaf I made was all gone I was short on time so we picked up a loaf of “butter bread” from the grocery store. My son ate it for a couple of days then last night told me it really wasn’t very good compared to mine… So of course I baked up another loaf for him this afternoon! Flattery will get you everywhere in this kitchen. 😉
I hope you give this easy recipe a try! It will make your house smell amazing –we actually sold our first house to the very first people who looked at it by setting up the bread machine to have fresh baked bread when they came over. I read somewhere that fresh baked bread smell was the leading cause of people buying a home, with chocolate chip cookies a close second. If we ever sell this house I will bake cinnamon rolls and see how that works out.
A flower that doesn’t open until late in the day might seem a little pointless, but the four o’clock (Mirablilis jalapa) is a nice addition to your flowerbeds. When the flowers open in late afternoon you will notice a lovely fragrance, and the little flowers are worth the wait! They originate from South America but grow well nearly everywhere. They are perennial in warmer climates (7 and higher) and also reseed freely.
When I was a kid my mother grew four o’clocks in her east facing flowerbeds. (Actually, she still does.) They were all one color, kind of a fuschia purple, and the blooms closed during the day. The bushes got huge over the course of the summer and would crowd out other plants in the process. So I wasn’t really a fan of this particular plant.
Imagine my joy when after moving to this house I discovered the very same four o’clocks, same boring color and everything, all over the flowerbeds! Squee.
Landscaping was not a priority for the first several years after we moved here, with small kids, homeschooling, and interior remodeling. So I let the boring flowers go crazy. They were flowers at least, and they were pretty tough (benign neglect, right?).
Finally, we got roses for the main bed, and I started taking a little more care with our landscape. At this point, I was pulling hundreds of little four o’clock seedlings as they sprouted because this is a very floriferous plant, and each flower makes a black seed that looks like a tiny grenade.
I left some in the north end because it’s pretty shady and I hadn’t planned anything for that area yet. These flowers do attract sphinx moths, hummingbirds, and butterflies, so that’s kind of cool, and I planned to keep a few plants even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the boring flowers. But about four years ago something interesting happened…
One of the plants had some yellow flowers on the same plant with the fuschia flowers. That was really neat! The next year, more of the flowers were yellow or streaked. This kept increasing, until last summer I had several different colors of four o’clocks. I saved some seeds to give to friends; who knows what they will produce?
After some research, I found that this is not at all unusual with Mirabilis; the thing I don’t understand is why the different colors took so long to show. Perhaps one of those nice moths brought pollen from different colored flowers and got us some genetic variation going. Regardless, I no longer dislike the four o’clock flowers. I will still judiciously pull hundreds of seedlings as they show up where I don’t want them, but I will be sure to leave several plants. I can’t wait to see what they look like this summer!
If you decide to plant some four o’clocks, now is the time. After danger of frost, plant the seeds in the garden and water regularly. They prefer full sun (6 hours minimum). I don’t fertilize, but some garden sites do recommend a little fertilizer. They can get up to four feet high and wide–mine usually top out around three feet, but I don’t water as much as they would probably like and we have a lot of wind. You can trim back if they get too enthusiastic. They start blooming mid-summer and will go until frost. The seeds are considered poisonous. Most pests don’t seem to bother them, but in seriously bad summers, we have had grasshoppers eat some of the flowers and leaves. Give them a try!
When you live on the edge of the windswept Great Plains surrounded by wheat fields and home construction, dirty windows are a given. Along with our dirty windows, we get heavy dirt building up in the window tracks, especially on the west side of our …
My younger son took his ACT for the second time in early February. He got a decent score the first time, but in the hope of getting better scholarship offers elected to take it again to try and increase his math score (and bump up his composite as well).
He took it originally in April 2017 as a sophomore and got a 28 in math with a 32 composite. He was taking Thinkwell online Geometry at the time. This year he is taking Thinkwell Trigonometry (which begins with a massive Algegra 2 review!). I am not affiliated with Thinkwell, we just really like their upper-level math courses for homeschool.
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We had the first edition of this McGraw-Hill 50 Top Skills for a Top Score ACT Math (the second edition is out now) that his brother had used with some success when he was in high school and so thought it would be a good way to try and increase his math score. There are 50 lessons to cover 50 key ACT math concepts and strategies. He signed up for the February 10, 2018, test. By the time we recovered from the holidays and a family vacation, he had three and a half weeks to study; practically speaking he had 22 days. I challenged him to cover at least three lessons a day on top of his regular schoolwork. He had Sundays off and at least one camping weekend during this time, so he usually did four lessons a day.
Test day came and went, and I knew the scores usually come out the second Tuesday after the test Saturday so was really planning to check first thing on the 20th but got busy and forgot!
It was a couple of days after the scores were up before I remembered to look.
Mission accomplished! He managed to score 33 on the math section, which was a gain of five points! His other scores were comparable to last time, so his composite went up to a 34. I went and woke him up to show him the scores on my laptop screen. He was less excited than I expected.
This book is available on Amazon.
His method was simply working through the lessons in order, but this includes a CD with two extra practice tests (recommended), a pre-test and post-test, and cut out flash cards. These images are from our book, which is a few years old. The one linked above on Amazon is the new second edition.
I should say that no matter how good the prep materials are, you won’t get a good result without a lot of time and effort. Your results may vary!
I think his Thinkwell Trig course with the Algebra 2 review included helped but the prep book was a HUGE factor in improving his score. We highly recommend it!
Are you looking for a plant that survives freezing winters and scorching summers, is drought tolerant, blooms all summer, and attracts bees and butterflies? Look no further, because it’s right here…Russian Sage. Its botanical name is Perovskia atriplicofolia. This tough beauty is originally from the …