How I make Cinnamon Bread

On Sunday mornings our house is filled with a sweet smell of cinnamon and butter.  Sky and Happy (you know, not their real names) are waiting in the kitchen for their favorite breakfast of French toast made with fresh eggs provided by our friends’ backyard chickens and home baked cinnamon bread, made by their mother, me.  The bread is usually baked on Saturday, and what’s left of it is turned into breakfast on Sunday.  The following description is of a modified recipe given to me by a friend a long time ago. Here it is:

In the mixer’s bowl mix –

2 TBS dried yeast

1TBS salt

2 TBS sugar

1/4 cup warm tap water

Let stand for about 10 minutes until the yeast wake up, start working and turn all the ingredients into a bubbly mix.

While the yeast is working for you, mix these ingredients in a measuring cup:

Two eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Water to bring the mix up to one cup.

Add this mixture to the yeast, and mix well.

When all the liquids are mixed, add:

When all the liquids are well mixed, it’s time to add the flour. I start with 3 cups (bread flour works best, but a mixture of bread and whole wheat or whole wheat white flour can be used). After the flour is added,I start the mixer and  knead for about 10 minutes. If the dough is too wet and sticks to the fingers – I slowly add more flour.

The dough should be very elastic and not sticky.

Now it’s time to shape the dough into a ball, roll in vegetable oil until it’s all covered, cover with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm place.
















After about an hour, when the dough ball has doubled in size it’s time to shape the bread.I place the dough on some flour that I sprinkled on the big cutting board.





Place the dough on a floured surface. I use a large wooden cutting board. Let it rest for a 2 to 3 minutes, and then roll it to a rectangle. Sprinkle with:







Cinnamon & Sugar




Roll the dough

Place the bread in a lightly oiled pan, seam side down.

The pan I use is a large bread pan

Cover with a towel and let rise again.It is now time to go for a walk in the woods….

Cover with a towel and let it rise again for about an hour.










While the bread is rising it is recommended to go for a walk in the woods….




Today in the woods we found an owl pellet

Hibernating beetles under a bark of a dead tree

And old rusty kids bike.

Meanwhile the yeast were working and the bread was rising…

Pre heat the oven to 400F and place a dish with water at the bottom of the oven – the steam will help create a nice crust.

Place the bread in the oven and lower the temperature to 350F. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the pan and let the bread cool.

The warm bread is super yummy with some butter or cream cheese. Or Nutella. Any leftover bread can be sliced, frozen, and used for French toast next weekend…


If it’s not all gone before the end of the day, I slice and freeze the bread. Next Saturday it will be used to make French Toast.

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joseph’s Dreamcoat, an end of the year tradition

Posted on December 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm

It’s the day after Christmas: New toys to play with, leftover Chinese food, the beginning of a weeklong vacation for the kids, and a week off work for some lucky adults. This is also the week that Middlesex County’s Plays in the Park (PIP) are moving indoors to the State Theatre in New Brunswick for what is now a holiday tradition – a production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” .  “Joseph”, a colorful and fun show, is not only a tradition for the PIP but also for us.  J.O.Y (not his real initials) and I meet with the family of his best friend since pre-school for an evening of musical fun.  We get tickets together for the grownups and younger kids and two tickets in another part of the theatre for the almost teen-agers J.O.Y and E.T.L.  The boys love it – they get to sit together, apart from the parents. They sing along with the actors, they know what to expect, and laugh at the jokes, some that change from year to year.  They text us as soon as the lights come on for intermission “meet you at the lobby” as if there could be another meeting place.

The story of Joseph, Jacob’s beloved son, based on the biblical story, is told in singing, with different modern day additions (I don’t recall a flight to Egypt in the original Genesis version), jokes and great dancing. The musical, written by the team on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, was first performed in the US in 1970. PIP at the state theatre has done it now for 17 years! You can tell that the actors/dancers/singers on stage are enjoying themselves as much as the audience. Reading “who’s who in the cast” proves that they like what they are doing, many return to be part of “Joseph”, some are in the show for the twelfth time! So if you are looking for something fun to do with the family, and stay close to home – go see “Joseph”. Tickets are only $7 each. We will be back to see Joseph in his technicolor coat, his brothers, Pharaoh and the others in December 2012.

Posted in Nothing Essential | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How, and why, we make candles

One winter day, when S.K.Y (not her real initials) was in third grade she told me that “during science today the teacher read us a really really interesting story about a girl who made candles”. The science part of the story was how candles are made. “So did you make candles after reading the story?” I asked. No, they did not have enough time, or supplies. Challenge alert!  We had to try it at home!  S.K.Y repeated the story with as many details as she could remember and we re-created it in the kitchen. We started with melting candles and using the melted wax to make new candles. It was fun but did not make much sense.  It was time to experiment. We read about making candles. We tried different materials we had at home. , We went to the craft store to buy supplies.  It took some time but finally we perfected candle making in a home kitchen!

It’s been a few years now and every December we get out grandma’s old electric pan and the box of supplies and we make Hanukah candles. We got so good at it, we make enough to last us for the eight days of Hanukah (call it a miracle!), and we give some as gifts.

So here is how we make candles:

To keep the wax warm use an electric pan (we use grandma’s old one, as mentioned above) filled with water, kept at 200F. Inside the pan are containers with different color wax. The hot water keeps the wax melted. The best size containers for the wax are tomato paste cans (I made a lot of spaghetti sauce once I found those work best!).

The wax I use is from a big slab of white paraffin wax from the local craft store. The wax is cut to small pieces that fit inside the can. To add color to the wax we use crayons.  Every family with kids has a box of crayons in the house, right?  Finally there is something to do with all the small pieces and broken ones! We always keep a few basic color going – red, yellow, blue, green and white. If we have room and extra cans we use other colors and mix different colors together. Wicks are available at any craft store, but I like to use what I already have at home so I use thick cotton yarn (bought many years ago for a weaving project that never happened, but that’s a story for another time).  A piece of the yarn is dipped in the wax repeatedly until the candle is formed.  This is the tricky part – do it too fast and no wax sticks to the wick, too slow and the candle melts back into the can.  It is also important to give the wax time to harden. After a few dips, I hang the candle to rest and cool for a few minutes. For this reason I have a few candles going at the same time, when one is cooling I work on another.  You can use one piece of yarn for two candles, one on each end.  This makes it easier to hang them to cool.  To cool the candles I hang them on a drying rack made of a cardboard box and yarn (see pictures).

Kids usually have no patience to work slowly or wait, so for them we add another step – between dipping in the wax, I have them immerse the candle in ice water for a second or two, so they never have to wait, the candled dipping alternates between wax and ice water.

Candles can be made with one color, or layers of different colors.  It’s really cool to see the different color appear when the candles are burnt.

Please look at the photos, each one is worth a thousand words.  I hope you will try making candles, and if you do, please tell about it in a comment and post pictures of your creations.

Happy solstice and mid-winter light festivals to all.

Posted in Home, Nothing Essential | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Meet Bob, my new pet

Bob, my new black swallowtail caterpillar, was born a few days ago on a dill plant in my garden. When i first found her she was less than 1cm long and looked like this:

I named her Bob, after Mork’s best friend.

Two days later, Bog changed her appearanceto this:

She is now almost 2cm long and eating and growing nicely. I put a fence around her and build her a new roof today, so she is well protected.

Posted in Wild things | Leave a comment


When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ship’s whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot plams and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. I don’t improve; in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable. I set this matter down not to instruct others but to inform myself.

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley, 1961

Posted in Quotes to learn from | Leave a comment

Eggplant with Honey

Last spring I went to Malaga, Spain to work with my dear friend Maria.  Note that every other woman in Spain is named Maria.  But this Maria is my very special friend that because of the distance I don’t get to spend much time with so being in Malaga for two weeks was wonderful. Malaga – The sun, the sea, the people.  Mostly the people.  The most friendly, warm, welcoming of people. What a pleasure it was to spend three weeks working at the University of Malaga.

And the food. Yes the food.  Coming back I carried a bag full of goodies. Two kinds of honey, wine, two kinds of olive oil, raisins and other dried fruit. Chocolate to melt into milk, and sugar cane syrup. It is very similar to molasses, but not as strong and with a picture of a saint on the jar.  The syrup is drizzled on fried eggplant to make a dish they told is called “eggplant with honey”.  Sounds strange, tastes delicious. So I made it at home for my family and friends. There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe the wonderful taste.

Posted in Food | Leave a comment

A. Einstein once said

“Never memorize something you can look up” Albert Einstein

Posted in Quotes to learn from | Leave a comment