Family

Dutch Oven No Knead Bread

Rainy weekends make baking homemade bread a delightful treat! One of my favorites is grilled cheese sandwiches made with fresh baked bread and served with hot tomato soup. We usually jazz up our grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon and avocado.

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Bacon, avocado, grilled cheese sammie with tomato soup

Ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water room temperature

Instructions

1. Mix flour, salt and yeast in a big bowl. Using a wooden spoon add water to the bowl and mix until it’s a sticky ball.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature.
3. Preheat oven to 450 F degrees. Add cast iron pot to the oven while it’s preheating.
4. Remove the cast iron from the oven and set lid aside. So the bread doesn’t stick to the pot, sprinkle flour or cornmeal to the bottom. I prefer to use cornmeal.
5. Flour your hands really well, pick up the dough and shape roughly into a ball. Place the dough into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place into oven.
6. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on.
7. Remove lid and back for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
8. Remove the bread from the pot. Let cool before slicing to serve.

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No Knead Bread

Marinated Chèvre Topping

This is tasty holiday crowd pleaser for those crazy lactose intolerant relatives, yes this is me. It’s one of my favorite creations by my dearest sister-in-law, Jocelyn Woods.

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Serving size: 4

Ingredients

1/4 c green onion
1/2 c golden raisins
1/3 c diced dates
3/4 c cranberries
1/3 c sliced figs
1/2 c sliced apricots

Dressing

1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
1 small clove garlic
1 T fresh thyme
1/4 c honey
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c canola/vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Directions

1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing together and pour over fruit mixture. Mix well.
2. Serve over goat cheese rounds. Let stand about 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Contributor: Jocelyn Woods

Stollen bread

Weihnachtsstollen is a traditional German fruit bread that has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions. The Wisconsin Electric Power Company would publish an annual holiday cookbook. This recipe was from their 1966 edition.

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Stollen dates back to the 14th century when Germans baked loaves at Christmas to honor princes and church dignitaries, and to sell at fairs and festivals for holiday celebrations. It can be enjoyed at anytime of day!

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Serving Size: 3 stollen loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 packages active dry yeast or 1 oz. compressed yeast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup seedless dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup diced dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup diced dried apricots
  • About 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • Melted butter

Directions

Soften active dry yeast in warm water or compressed yeast in lukewarm water. Scald milk; stir in sugar, salt and butter; cool to lukewarm.

Stir in 2 cups flour, yeast, eggs and cardamom; mix in fruit and enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough.

Knead on floured surface; place in greased bowl; grease top of dough; cover and let rise until doubled. Punch dough down; cover; let rest 10 minutes.

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Divide into three equal parts. Shape each piece into an 8 x 10 inch oval; fold lengthwise and place in greased shallow pans.

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Let rise until doubled and bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes. Frost and decorate if desired.

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Contributor: Elaine Woods

Cucumber and Feta Salad

This recipe is from a dear friend, Brad Thomas. It is a great appetizer for any occasion. It’s so good even the kids will beg more. Typically for a smaller gathering we’ll half the recipe below.

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Serving Size: 8 – 10

Ingredients

  • 1 large seedless, English cucumber
  • 2-3 T, fresh minced dill fronds
  • 6-8 green onions, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • Pink peppercorns, for color
  • Olive oil
  • ¾ pound of Greek Feta
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Cut the cucumber into long strips and dice into ¼” pieces. Place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the dill, green onions and garlic. Toss with olive oil until saturated. Add the juice from 1 lemon and about 1 tsp. of lemon zest. Add the peppercorns. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice the feta and arrange in a layer on a platter. Pour the cucumber mix over the top of the feta.

Suggestion

Serve with sliced baguette or toasted pita triangles.

I’m on a boat

Every year we go on a long weekend vacation with Mike’s family and this past summer was particularly special since it was Mike’s parents 50th wedding anniversary. I had a mission to find the family a memorable experience. My searches guided me to a 70′ Monte Fino Yacht named OASIS in Seattle, WA.

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This was my first trip to Seattle and having spent our evenings from a boat was the best way to experience the beautiful city. From OASIS’s top deck we had a great view of the Space Needle and off the back we were able to watch the seaplanes take off and land every few minutes.

 

The boat had 3 stories and approximately 1800 sq ft of livable space. The main deck had the living room, dining table and kitchen. The lower deck had a master suite, stateroom with queen bed and a bunk cabin for the kids. The upper deck was my most favorite where we could watch the skyline light up as the sunset.

We spent our days exploring what the city had to offer. We toured the Space Needle and wondered the Public Market where we sampled the best smoked salmon I have ever had. Late afternoons we would return to the boat for snackers and cocktails.

One of our last evening together we wandered down the street and stumbled upon a cute little Italian restaurant, Pasta Freska. It was an enjoyable ordering experience where Chef Mike asked if anyone had food allergies, what types of food we liked and didn’t like and how hungry were we. Chef Mike and staff treated us as family bringing plate after plate of incredible dishes and bottles of wine flooded the table. If you are ever in the area, it’s absolutely worth a stop at this little gem.

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We paid extra for an evening charter of the puget sound with Captain Chuck on OASIS. Captain Chuck was an excellent guide pointing out Bill Gates mansion, the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat and the Nathan Myhrvold T-rex mansion. We ended our evening tour with a belly full of proper brats and a competitive game of Farkle.

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If you are planning a trip to Seattle remember to bring good walking shoes, eat lots of seafood and get out on the water.

Where it all began

We had a rough start to 2014 having to return early from our around the world trip for Mike to recover from dengue and typhoid. The silver lining is this setback provided time for us to discover a new found passion which ignited our adventurous spirit and love for the outdoors.

In late January, four months into our international travel, we flew back to the states. We opted for Arizona’s sunny skies rather than Minnesota’s frigid below zero temps. We had our 60 liter backpacks, holes in our cloths, we were sun-kissed, exhausted but happy.

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Oro Valley, AZ visiting Mike’s mom

We had no official home or even a vehicle to get around. Mike found a great deal on a Mazda hatchback in Minneapolis, so we flew back to buy the car. We exchanged cloths, visited family and friends and were reunited with Wiley, our amazing pup. We grabbed what little camping gear we had left which comprised of sleeping bags, pillows and a coleman stove. Next we hit the road to Colorado to see my brother and their new baby girl, Kadence Lillian. Luckily for us Travis wasn’t planning on camping anytime soon so he borrowed us his tent and headlamps.

A week later we were on the road again, headed southwest toward Moab. Utah instantly captured my heart as we drove south on Hwy 128 surrounded by the massive red rock walls and the babbling Colorado River. We saw campsites available as we drove closer to town.

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Hwy 128 heading toward Moab, UT

We rolled in Moab for gas, looked at each other and agreed immediately we should stay a few days. Our most affordable option was to camp. Moab was smaller than we expected and fortunately for us we were able to find everything we needed at the True Value Hardware. The essentials included a blow up mattress, two spoons, two bowls, canned soup, triscuits, firewood, an axe and of course, our camping staple, hot sauce.

Camping in Utah during March was colder than expected. You know it’s cold when Wiley paws you awake in the middle of the night to crawl into your sleeping bag. In the morning, Wiley was shaking from the chilly morning air. We boiled water for our coffees and cranked the heat in the Mazda for Wiley to warm up. We headed into town and found the best breakfast burritos.

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Big Bend Campground, Utah

We spent the week exploring Utah’s five National Parks and camped our way back to Arizona. We kept our camping momentum for the next several months as we road tripped around the western states exploring the national parks.

It’s been two years since this trip and last summer alone we camped almost every weekend, started in April and ended in October. On a rare occasion we were in town we would get the itch and need to, at a bare minimum, take a day trip to a national forest or the coast.

We closed out this summer with a 5000 mile road trip to Wisconsin and back. We picked up a cute little travel trailer, the r-pod, from my parents. Thanks mom and dad!

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Leaving Beaver Dam, WI

We found it only fitting to repeat our Utah adventure on the journey back to Portland, OR. I was beyond excited to cross off another bucket list item – driving the 37 miles of the Shafer Canyon Road in Canyonland National Park.

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Top of Shafer Canyon Road

I am humbled and honored by what nature provides us. It surrounds us everyday, from the smallest of creatures to breathtaking views. Appreciate your surroundings no matter the scale. It can be as simple as a snail crossing or a waterfall pouring down from a giant mountain. Seriously, where does all that water come from? Find a tree wider than your arm span or wake before the sun to watch it rise.

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Natures beauty

Find that sense of wonder and appreciate all life has to offer. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Love hard and do things that make you happy. Get out there and keep discovering!

What floats your boat?

This thing we call life, it’s hard. I mean really hard.

During our travels I met a beautiful charismatic woman who gave me a different perspective on life. Her analogy resinates with me to this day. It brought clarity and the previous negativity was replaced with positive feelings of those lost friendships or the longing for the past.

So here it is… We each have our own boat. People come aboard as you need them. A select few are the anchor and stay for life. Others may visit every few months or years. Some may come aboard during a rough storm and throw you a life vest. It could be just a dinner or long weekend, never to be seen again. Whoever they may be, the universe brought you together for a reason.

Maybe it was a moment that made you laugh so hard you cried. Or possibly a piece of advice that stuck with you. It could have even been a conversation that challenged your personal belief. No matter the scale of these interactions, they are what help shape us into the people we are today.

I challenge you to take a look at your boat and its current occupants. Are they bringing you strength or should they walk the plank? Is it time for a party to invite in new perspectives? Is there someone needing your devoted energy to rekindle a friendship?

Put yourself out there. I get it, it’s scary but you know we only have this one life to live. Experiences and memories make this all worth it.

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