Gluten Formation

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It’s snowing pretty hard out there, and almost 100% humidity. It took about a whole cup of extra flour to pull this dough together, and there’s only 3 cups in the recipe. Yikes. (Yes I know that Saturday is the totally wrong day to make challah.)

Question

Is there anything better than argyle knee socks (with hot pink toes, natch) and warm purple sweatpants?

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Answer: no. No there is not.

Quick Tip: Strawberry Season

Strawberries are in season all across North America, which makes this the perfect weekend to find a “u-pick” farm and gather your own delicious berries. I’d like to take a few moments of your day to share some tips I’ve learned about strawberries.

Strawberries are not technically berries! We just call them that. Strawberry image from todayifoundout.com.

Tip 1: The smaller berries have better flavor.
I don’t know if this is because the flavor is more concentrated or what the actual reason is, but all my experience tells me so. The supermarkets will stuff those little plastic clamshell boxes with giant berries, which may *look* impressive, but they taste like cotton. Not to mention all the empty space in that box, which you’re paying for!

Tip 2: Buy them as fresh as possible.
All berries have a pretty short shelf life. By buying your berries as close to the actual strawberry plant as you can, you get to take advantage of as much of that time as possible. There are farms all over the country where you can pick your own, not to mention all the farmer’s markets. I bought mine today from an Amish family who picked them just this morning. The ones at the supermarket? I have no idea where they came from or when they were picked, nor do I have any way of knowing what was done to them to make them look nice.

Tip 3: As soon as you get them home, wash them.
Now, wait, don’t just run them under the faucet. I’ve heard anecdotes of berries actually rotting faster when they’re washed in plain water. Get a bucket or large bowl and combine one part plain vinegar with 10 parts of plain water. I use a margarine tub with 1/4 cup of vinegar and 2 1/2 cups of water. Dump in your berries (in several batches or all at once) and swirl them around for a few moments. Remove them, rinse if you wish, and store. (This is also effective for other kinds of berries.)

Tip 4: Eat them!
Strawberries are DELICIOUS.

Have a great weekend everybody. :)

Weekend Quickie: Pantry Shelf

I’ve been busy making things and taking pictures this week (and this weekend’s been busy), so my roundup is, once again, tardy. However, I invite you to welcome a new feature: The Weekend Quickie! Just a quick weekend post. This week, it’s a fast & easy home project, but other weeks it may be anything! I created and installed a shelf in an odd spot in my kitchen, giving me a great convenient spot for my pantry staples.


I wish I’d taken a “before” picture – I was in the middle of post-project cleaning.

Take a gander at this awkward spot in my kitchen. It’s across from the door into the garage. My kitchen is narrow and rectangular, with very little counter and cabinet space. The “pantry” is in the laundry room – literally as far from the kitchen as it’s possible to get inside the house.

You may know that I like to buy in bulk and I like to bake, so I always need several bags of flour and sugar. While my brown sugar and “specialty flours” fit into normally-available containers, it wasn’t until Saturday that I finally found some big ones. These 40-cup airtight containers are by Snapware and I only paid 12$ for them (yay outlet mall!). I can’t get the giant industrial-size bags of flour and sugar, but I can at least get the larger-than-supermarket ones at Sams. Also, this is a great excuse to get King Arthur Flour. (Only brand at that size at Sams, lol.)

All you will need:

  • Measuring tape. Measure first. Measure twice. Double check your measures.
  • 1 inch x 12 inch board, cut to your measured length
  • Screws, 1 inch long
  • Screws and wall anchors
  • L-shaped brackets
  • Level
  • Something to mark the wall with
  • Someone to help hold it steady
  • Paint

First, first, first, measure the space you want to put the shelf into. Measure it again. Then go to the hardware store and get your things. If you’d like a narrower shelf, adjust the size of your board and brackets accordingly. If you don’t have your own saw, many hardware stores will cut your wood for you.

When you’ve got all your stuff home, paint your board however you like. Mine is just plain white, but maybe I’ll add a stencil later. Let it dry. Then lay out your brackets, making sure they’re evenly spaced. Screw them firmly into place. If you could look closely, you’d see that mine are slightly misaligned. Be better than me.


I did, in fact, put on the brackets first. I thought I was gonna leave it natural brown and then changed my mind. It’s not a fatal error to paint after attaching, but it’s not “correct.”

Now, get a friend and have them hold the shelf steadily in place. Check that you’re happy with the placement, and check that it’s level. Now, grab your pencil or marker or whatever and mark the position of the screwholes in the brackets, on the wall.

Follow the directions on your wall anchors (I’ve used a couple different kinds, but generally this will involve a hammer), making sure to place them correctly to line up with the marks you made. Double check your marked positions if you have even the slightest doubt.


You can also have your “friend” do the screwing for you. ;-)

Get that friend back and have them hold it again while you insert some screws. One on each side should be enough to hold it securely while you do the rest, so they can rest their arms after that. Make sure you put a screw in each hole for maximum security, especially if you’ll be placing heavy things on your shelf.

You’re done! Line up your containers (or whatever) on your new shelf! Total time involved in this project was about an hour and a half, not including waiting for the paint to dry. I did get a cramp in my hand from the screwdriver, but otherwise this is an easy and painless project, with a highly useful product, especially for those of us who live in storage-light homes!


There is a legit reason why my cardboard and paper bags and plastic bottles are stacked as tall as my microwave stand. I promise.

This project freed up precious space in my pantry, as well as on top of my microwave. It also filled this thus-far-empty corner, making the room look much better. Where would YOU like to have a shelf added?

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