A busy day

Looking outside right now, it’s sunny, slightly breezy and 76 degrees.  Yep, 76 and December 17th.  Hey, it’s San Antonio.  I brought in several loads of wood today, because it’s San Antonio and where I’m at tonight it’s going to get down around 29 degrees.  We’re known for insane highs right before a norther hits and we freeze our tail feathers off.

I also have a loaf of homemade bread rising at the moment.  It’s a potato rosemary bread that is absolutely awesome.  It also takes two days to make.  If you’re into making bread, buy The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  It is truly the Holy Grail of bread making.  And by a couple of unintentional accidents, I found a way to make that particular loaf of bread even better.  One, I was in a hurry and instead of having mashed potatoes from scratch I used instant potato flakes and water, not following the directions on the box, but throwing 2 ounces of flakes into a bowl with 4 ounces of water.  The potatoes were very dense, but I tossed them in anyway.  That, and the second rise is supposed to be between 1 to 2 hours, with a 35 to 40 minute bake time.  The other day when I was making it, at the one hour mark I had to leave and wouldn’t be back for an hour and a half.  I knew if I left it out on the counter, it would over-rise and end up collapsing.  I could have set the cook time on the oven for 35 minutes and have it shut off, but I was worried it would over-bake with the residual heat.  What did I do?  I stuck the pan with the rising dough in the refrigerator.  It had just barely reached level with the top of the pan.  I figured when I got back I would have to set it out for 15 to 20 minutes or so to let it finish rising before putting it in the oven.  Ummm….no.  I got back and the dough had risen well above the top of the pan.  I immediately popped it into a 400 degree oven and it rose even more, and came out so incredibly soft and fluffy, it was mind-boggling.  It stayed soft and fluffy for two days, which was the time it took for us to eat it.  Usually by then bread starts to lose the softness, but not this loaf.  So, going by that sequence of events, I’m trying to replicate the same results today…keeping my fingers crossed.

I’ve done all the holiday decorating I’m going to do.  The outside lights were up in November because hubby got a serious case of Christmas cheer so he, our son and daughter went to town, but we did refrain from plugging them in until the night of Thanksgiving.  I decorated the mantle with pine garland, silver sprays, red and silver ornaments, multi-colored lights as well as battery operated candles that have timers.  I highly recommend that feature, as they come on at the perfect time and shut off just after everyone has gone to bed.  The dining table and coffee table both got bowls of pine cones, ornaments (red and gold for the coffee table, silver and blue for the dining table) as well as the timer candles.  Christmas tree is up with a menagerie of birds, owls, red roses, shiny nonbreakable ornaments and pine cones as well as twinkling multi-colored lights.  Christmas wreath is on the door as well as lights and garland surrounding the outside door frame, a couple of poinsettias, and our lighted outdoor Christmas tree as well as the ever-faithful bear, which is still moving its head back and forth after 13 years of use.  The manger is set up year-round in the built-in, so I didn’t have to set it up, and I didn’t set up any of the Christmas village or animated figurines–the weather had been so warm it was hard to get into the Christmas spirit, but we put up enough stuff that it looks good.

I’m done Christmas shopping, thank goodness.  Twelve people to buy for, with the larger portion of $250 each going to the two kids and considerably less for the rest, but I still managed to get things everyone could use and like.  I figured with me supplying the Christmas Day feast and libations for the day, that combined with the gifts was more than generous.  Now I just need to decide on the Christmas Day menu.  Hopefully with the frigid cold front coming in tonight it’ll get me in the holiday mood and provide me with inspiration.  Right now the only thing I know for sure on the menu is the coconut snowball martinis–they got rave reviews last year and have been requested multiple times in the last four weeks.

Sometime before Christmas we’ll head downtown and take a stroll along the Riverwalk, checking out all the holiday lights and decorations, and will probably have dinner down there, too…just taking a breather, enjoying the festivities with our family and savoring this time together…it all passes by way too fast.

If I don’t get back on here before then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a prosperous New Year filled with love and happiness!




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