Bread Machine Spiced Pumpkin Bread

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I bought a bread machine a few years ago from a thrift store for only $6, and I think it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made because I get to enjoy specialty bread whenever I want, at a fraction of the cost.

Every holiday season from October until December I make Spiced Pumpkin bread, and I thought I would share the recipe.

This is the recipe that came in the book that I had to download since it didn’t come with the bread machine. What do you expect? I found it in a thrift store. I was lucky it had all the parts and that it actually worked. They had some better looking machines that were missing the kneading paddle. Is that what it’s called?

I had to experiment with some of the recipes because sometimes you might get soft fluffy bread, while other times it might be hard and will leave a brick feeling in your stomach. If the bread is too hard, it’s because it didn’t have enough water. If it falls apart, you put too much water in it. This particular recipe says to add 1 egg and enough water to make 1/4 cup. Well, I learned to add 1 egg, plus 1/4 cup of water, and no more water after that.

There are some recipes that have raisins in it, this one does not, but I like to add raisins to it anyway. I don’t add the raisins in the beginning because it turns them into dust. I wait until the machine is finished kneading the dough, then I add the raisins, then the machine starts to knead again for about 15 or 20 minutes before turning off to let the dough rise.

One thing that I don’t like to do is to let the bread machine bake the bread because the container that it is in doesn’t give you a normal shape loaf of bread. I just let it knead the dough, then when it’s finished, before it allows it to rise, I remove it from the pan and put it in a regular bread pan and put it in the toaster oven at 150F for 45 minutes to rise, then I turn it to 350F to bake for 45 minutes.

I love this bread for 2 reasons. 1 it has a pumpkin flavor, and 2 because it’s sweet from the raisins. I like to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with this bread more than anything else. It just makes it better. I have had ham and/or turkey sandwiches, but nothing beats PB&J.

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Laminating Pathfinder Character Sheets

Laminated Pathfinder Character Sheets

I am geeking out right now with my new AmazonBasics Thermal Laminator that I bought from Amazon. I was watching my shows and out of the blue I thought to myself, “I wonder if laminating sheets can be written on with a grease pencil and erased.” I have this white grease pencil that I’ve literally had for decades that I don’t remember where it came from, I just know I have it. It’s white, so I don’t know what I can do with it. I used it on a business card that I laminated and it writes great. I rubbed it off with my finger and it comes off without any trace.

So I was thinking if this grease pencil works on these laminating sheets, then perhaps it would be a good idea if I laminated the Pathfinder character sheets so that they can be written on with a grease pencil, and when someone is using them and something changes, they can easily remove what they wrote and write a new number, or whatever. When they are finished and they don’t need to keep that information, they can erase the entire character sheet.

My partner joked today that I’ll never use these full page sheets, and that I’ll be buried with them, but I’ve laminated 4 character sheets tonight and 4 pages with bread machine recipes. I’m sure I’ll probably find many other things to laminate without being too wasteful.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

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Have you ever had Spiced Pumpkin Bread? No, I’m not talking about that cake stuff that you buy, or that grandma bakes for dessert, I’m talking about actual bread that you can make sandwiches or toast with. Yeah, actual bread. No? Well, you are in for a real treat my friend because this is the best bread that I have ever had and it is too awesome not to share.

Okay so disclaimer it is high in calories. I’m not going to lie. You know that diet that you’ve been struggling to stay on? Well, you can go off your diet just this once. I swear off bread when I am dieting, but from October to December I throw caution to the wind because screw it, your weight can wait until January 1st when you make your New Years resolution to lose weight.

Now back to the bread. This bread is so fantastic. You can literally make a ham or turkey, or ham and turkey, go wild. My favorite is Peanut butter and Jam. It really brings out the taste of the pumpkin more for some reason. You can also make toast or garlic bread. Whatever you want, just freakin’ do it!

This is what you do. If you have a bread machine then wonderful, if you have a mixer that works too. If you have neither and you are low on funds, just head on over to the thrift stores. I bought my bread machine at a thrift store for $6. I shit you not. If you can’t find one then well, get your hands ready to start kneading dough. Trust me, it is so worth it.

spiced pumpkin breadThe ingredients are very simple. You start with the top and work your way down to the bottom. This is the recipe that comes in the recipe book for my bread machine, but I have a couple alterations for you because this recipe doesn’t make the best loaf of bread.

The recipe I use is in the middle for the 1 1/2 pound loaf. I don’t actually let it bake in the bread machine, I just use the machine to knead the dough for me. So just use the normal dough setting.

Start with 1 egg. Crack it directly into your cup. It says 1 egg with enough water to equal 1/4 cup. Well, I make it 1/2 cup. 3 tablespoons of oil. It doesn’t really matter what type of oil you use, so use whatever you want. I used canola for this recipe. 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. You can use a real lemon, or just buy one of those little plastic lemons with lemon juice. Just go down the list and add everything else verbatim.

Once you’ve added all of your ingredients, turn on the machine (or if you are actually doing this by hand, and if you are I applaud the hell out of you) and let it start kneading the dough. Don’t walk away from it, stand there and watch it. Does it just spin dry as if it were a baseball stuck to the bottom? If so, it is way too dry so add some more water, I would say about 1 tablespoon at a time. I would also suggest adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of more pumpkin. More pumpkin doesn’t hurt. What you want to see is your dough flapping against the side of the pan or bowl. Don’t make it too wet, but if you do, just simply add another tablespoon of the flour. Just keep watching it to make sure that it’s not too dry and it’s not too wet.

The bread machine should go for about half an hour or so. Once it finishes its kneading cycle, it will rise in the machine, just allow it to rise until it beeps and turns off. When it does that, what you want to do is turn the machine on again so it starts spinning the dough again. Let it work long enough until it’s back to a ball of dough. When that happens, take out your bread loaf pan and grease the sides to keep it from sticking, then dump the dough inside the pan.

I use a toaster oven since my oven doesn’t work, but that is the perfect place for me because I don’t have to wait for it to preheat, and I will tell you why. You want to put it in the toaster oven on warm, not bake, 45 minutes on 150F to rise. When 45 minutes is up, you should notice that it has risen again, and if it has, you want to turn the temperature up to 375F and switch it from warm to bake and let it bake for 45 minutes. When the 45 minutes is up, turn the temperature back down to 150F and switch it over to the warm setting again and let it warm for 20 minutes.

Oh and if you are using a toaster oven, you don’t need the rack because the bread will rise so high that it will touch those 2 coils at the top. You do not want that to happen. Just take the rack out and put it on the counter to use later. If you have 2 coils at the bottom, if they are wide enough that your bread pan sits in between them then you are golden, if not then you may have to sit it on top of them. I hate to give the advice to do that because it could break them, and we don’t want that. So if that is the case then it’s probably a better idea to use your oven.

Most people would say to take the bread out of the bread pan and put it on a rack to cool, but I found that it falls when you do that, so just leave it in the pan on the counter for a 10 minutes. When it is sort of cool to the touch, flip it over into your hand and lift the pan off. If the bottom is kind of wet, just take 2 paper towels and place it over the pan and drop the bread back in. I know this sounds odd, but it is wet because it is no longer in the oven, so it gets wet. Give it about 10 minutes and take it out and put it on the rack. It should be nice and cool by then, and the paper towel will soak up the moisture from the bottom of the bread. Let the bread sit on the rack until it cools down and the bottom will dry out.

I bought a bread slicer, it’s more of a guide that allows you to cut even slices and trust me, it really helps. You want to give it a couple of hours to really cool down before you start slicing it. Some say to wait a full 24 hours, but screw that, you want some bread now! Just let it cool down and then cut the bread to your hearts content. I use a plastic grocery bag to store it in.

Your bread should be light and fluffy and really soft. If it is too dense, you didn’t add enough water when mixing the dough. If it is too fluffy, you either sliced it too soon, or you added too much water. If you did it right, it will be so delicious that you will never want to buy regular bread ever again.

I normally don’t eat bread because I get so addicted to it that I can’t stop lol. Most people are addicted to chocolate, I get addicted to bread. I mean, not just regular bread, if it’s really good bread, then yes, but like regular bread, not so much. Give me a bag of bagels and get the rest while you can. Forget about English Muffins, those are ALL MINE! LOL. You see, I didn’t get fat because I couldn’t stop eating junk food, it’s from all that damn bread.

My Year In Review

my year in chalkboard

before and after morro bay 2013 was a very good year for me.  I started out not wanting to make a new years resolution out of fear of the disappointment that would always come from breaking it.  I decided to make one after a few days, and I stayed with it, well, until July anyway.  I said I wanted to lose weight and I did.  By July I had lost 70lbs with an android app called Noom, but then the weight stopped dropping and I gained 10lbs back, but fluctuated throughout the rest of the year.  I started out the year at 264lbs, went down to 194lbs and as of today I am 205lbs.  I will make another resolution to get back on my diet so I can get down to the weight that I wanted to get down to.  I know how to do it, I just need the willpower.

xray1 On March 16th I had an accident while riding the bicycle home from the grocery store at night and I broke my arm.  It was the ball of my left arm that fits into the shoulder socket.  I didn’t have a cast, instead all I was given was a sling from the emergency room.  By that time I had already lost 35lbs, and as you can already tell from the previous paragraph, the broken arm didn’t stop me from reaching my weight loss goal.

etsy banner While I was recovering from my broken arm, I decided that I wanted to start a new craft.  Well, it wasn’t really a new craft, it was an old craft that I learned when I was 9 and in the Cub Scouts.  I had some materials, so I wanted to use them up by making a couple of keychains.  I had so much fun that I decided that I wanted to learn a more complicated pattern.  I got so good at it and I was having so much fun that I ended up with about 40 keychains, so I opened up an Etsy shop.  I started out with keychains, and I added dangle keychain style earrings, studs and hoops and I already have plans on making and selling dream catcher earrings.

On June 26th, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled DOMA to be unconstitutional and Prop 8 was finally repealed.  HURRAY!  What a glorious day that was for the gay community in California.  In fact, 18 (or 19) states made gay marriage legal in 2013 and legal on a federal level.  The reason I said or 19 is because Wikipedia doesn’t include DC, but says eighteen states AND District of Columbia.  Whatever.  18 or 19, it’s still a huge victory for us.  Illinois is in that 18, but theirs isn’t legal until June 2014.

IMAG2002 In late July I started having pain in my parotid gland, which happens at least 2 or 3 times a year for I want to say the last 10 years, but I am not positive.  It’s been going on for a very long time.  The parotid gland is the saliva gland and for some reason the saliva doesn’t release into my mouth, instead something blocks the way and it swells up to the size of a golf ball or bigger.  I try to milk it so the saliva goes into my mouth, and that does work, but it hurts really bad.  The doctors usually give me an antibiotic and it clears up in a week, but this time it didn’t clear up.  My doctor sent me to an ear, nose throat doctor and to have an ultrasound which showed that I had a stone inside of my parotid gland.  The ENT doctor sent me to have a cat scan with contrast which showed that I had several stones in both of my parotid glands, but the ones on the right side were much bigger than the left.  I had surgery on November 20th to remove my parotid gland.  The area is still numb and I was told it will probably be numb for another couple or few months.  YAY!

My back has caused me tons of pain for so many years and this summer I finally found out what was causing it.  Apparently I have scoliosis in my spine.  I told my aunt about it and she told me that my great-grandmother was born with scoliosis and she lived her entire life with it.  I remember she had a hump on her back, that was the scoliosis.  My doctor sent me to physical therapy for a month and that halted the pain, but it didn’t correct anything.  I have an appointment in January to start treatment up again, and it’s a good thing too because the pain is already starting to come back.  My first treatment was a shock, no, seriously, they put these electrodes on my back and it shot electricity to my nerves to dull them.  They had me do exercises for half an hour and then they would give me a deep tissue massage. The electrode was only applied to me on the first visit, all the other appointments were just me laying on the table doing exercises and then massages.  The last couple appointments didn’t include a massage.

bread slicer pumpkin bread We went to a thrift store in October and I found a bread machine for only $6.  I can’t say I have ever had homemade bread before, like ever, so that was quite an experience.  I did learn that I was doing it wrong for a very long time when I had such a horrible stomachache which felt like I had a 10lb brick sitting in my stomach.  Apparently the bread was too dry.  I read the instructions.  It clearly stated that I was to use exact measurements, no more, no less, so I was only doing what I was told to do, but apparently rules are made to be broken.  Now the bread is light and fluffy and it actually tastes better than store bought bread.  My favorite bread to make is Spiced Pumpkin Bread with raisins.  Have you ever had a ham sandwich or a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich with pumpkin bread with raisins?  It’s quite awesome.  Although I will have to cut back on the bread when I start my diet up again.

We also helped feed a couple of neighbors for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which frankly is what the holidays are all about.  It’s nice to receive presents, but it’s even nicer to do a good deed for someone.  I guess those were our good deeds for the year.

Of course we exchanged presents.  I got a Nook HD+ 32GB tablet from my partner, and I gave him a Google Chromecast so he can watch Netflix and YouTube from his tablet, plus I got him Netflix.

I don’t know what will happen in 2014, but I’m sure it will be as memorable as 2013.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Bread Machine for Beginners

wheat bread

I have been having a lot of fun with my new bread machine.  I’ve mostly made 100% whole wheat bread for sandwiches, but I’ve also been making spiced pumpkin bread which I also use for sandwiches.  The picture above is my first attempt at making bread, this one is wheat bread, not 100% whole wheat.

Not every loaf of bread comes out perfect though, in fact, I had no idea that my dough has been too dry until now.  The other day I made a loaf of 100% whole wheat bread and it came out smaller than usual, and when I took it out, it was really thick and hard.  I cut the slices and noticed that it wasn’t light and fluffy at all, which is how bread should be, but decided that I will just go ahead and eat it anyway and hope for the best.  Last night I had a sandwich with that bread and had the worst stomach pain in my life about 6 hours later.  I don’t know if it was the bread, or a combination of the bread and all the pretzels that I ate and the fact that everything was dry that was causing the pain.  I had a heating pad on my stomach for nearly an hour.

I decided to do a little bit of research, which I should have done to begin with.  I found this website called Salad in a Jar with 6 Bread Machine Secrets for Beginners.  I am glad I found that because I found out that I’ve been doing it wrong all this time.  My bread is always the same consistency, but never touches the sides of the pan.  It’s always a hard ball in the center of the bread machine that just spins in circles.  I didn’t know it had to touch the sides.  So now I know why the bread is so thick.

The person who wrote that blog post said to use the bread machine to knead the bread, but then transfer it to a bread pan and bake it in the oven.  Well, I don’t have that luxury because I don’t have a normal oven.  Well, we have a normal oven, it’s just old and I never use it.  I bake everything in the toaster oven, which is why I bake the bread in the bread machine.

So now that I have this new knowledge, I am going to attempt to make a regular loaf of wheat bread, not 100% whole wheat.  I will make sure it has enough water and is tacky and sticks to the side and is not too dry.

I really want my bread to come out light and fluffy and not too heavy and I want it to taste good.  I also want my partner to like it so he doesn’t have to buy his own bread from the store, which was the whole reason I have a bread machine lol.  I don’t blame him for wanting to buy bread, because it is too hard to eat, so I really hope it works out now.  I have my fingers crossed.  I have my eyes crossed for good measure.

Bread Slicer

bread slicer with pumpkin bread

I know, this is a very strange thing to blog about, but I’m excited because the bread slicer that I bought on eBay actually works.  I tried using it when I first got it, but it didn’t really work out because I sliced the bread too soon, so it wasn’t slicing right because it was too soft.  The trick is letting the bread harden a little before slicing it which usually takes a day.  I was also pushing down on the top when I was slicing it the first time because it was wobbling too much in the slicer.  That gave me uneven bread.  If I don’t touch the top, it gives me perfect slices every time.

The bread in the image above is spiced pumpkin bread.  I normally only make 100% whole wheat bread to use for sandwiches or toast, but the spiced pumpkin bread is awesome to eat during the holidays.  In case you want the recipe, here it is.

spiced pumpkin bread

I substituted the oil with butter, and I don’t use the lemon juice and it comes out just fine.  I don’t use the lemon juice because I found a recipe for cinnamon raisin bread from Betty Crocker that uses butter instead of oil and it doesn’t use lemon juice.  The recipe for cinnamon raisin bread that came in the recipe book that this recipe came in used oil and lemon juice, so I simply just cut out the oil and lemon juice and replace them with butter in all of my bread recipes and they still come out good, amazing in fact.

I use the 1lb recipe for my bread machine and the bread usually goes over the top, if I use the 1 1/2lb recipe, it goes way over the top and touches the vent and the glass on the door of the machine.  That’s way too much bread, so the 1lb recipe is perfect.  The Betty Crocker recipe must be the 1 1/2lb recipe because it always goes over the top.

So I just wanted to show the slicer and how thick the slices come out.  I was hoping for thinner slices, but this is fine.  At least they aren’t too thin on one side and too thick on the other which is what usually happens when I don’t use the slicer.  It’s a good guide to use.  Oh and this bread slicer was only $7.99 on eBay.  I give this bread slicer a thumbs up.

Here is this same bread slicer on Amazon and here it is on eBay for $6.99.  Naturally they lowered the price by $1 the day AFTER I bought it lol.

Oh and just in case someone asks, because I was thinking about it too, you can buy an electric knife if you want to, but a regular bread knife works just fine.  Although an electric knife will probably give you a more even cut on each slice, a regular one works just as well.  The bread in the image above isn’t 100% perfect, it’s uneven, but it’s not too uneven so it doesn’t make too much of a difference to me, but I’m sure you will get the same or near the same results with an electric knife.  So if you already have a regular knife like I do, save your money and just use that.  If you don’t have either then buy whichever one you want, but a regular bread knife will work just fine.

I Bought a Bread Slicer

bread slicer

The bread machine that I bought at the thrift store seems to be the best thing ever, you could even say since sliced bread.  Pun well intended.  The bread machine is awesome, but there is only 1 issue that I have, and that is slicing the bread.  I have a long bread slicer knife, but the bread slices are uneven.  Sometimes they are too thick on one side, and paper-thin on the other, or some are too thick while some are too thin or some are just lopsided lol.  It’s very difficult to slice bread, so I have been researching bread slicers.

I wanted a wood bread slicer because wood is way better than plastic when it comes to something like this, but they are way too expensive.  I decided to buy this particular bread slicer on eBay because it was only $7.99 with free shipping.  Although, today it is $6.99, but I still feel like a got a good deal, so I’m fine with what I paid.

What I really want is to cut thin slices like you see in this picture.  I want thin slices because the bread that I make with my bread machine is really… and I’m not sure I’m using the proper term… dense.  It’s not fluffy like the bread you buy in the store, you know like Wonder Bread or Sara Lee bread.  It’s harder like the really expensive wide breads that you buy.  I like the airy or fluffy bread, but the problem with those is they rip to shreds when you spread peanut butter on it, but this bread doesn’t have that problem which is why I love it so much.  I think the thinner the slices are, the better the sandwich will taste and the less calories it will have.

I see from this picture that you can slice the bread at any size you wish, like the slices laying down are thinly sliced, but the one they are slicing in the bread slicer is double the thickness.  That is perfect if you want to make French toast.  If you are making pumpkin bread or banana nut bread then the thicker slices are better, so at least I have that option.

I really hope this bread slicer isn’t a piece of crap that will break as soon as I start slicing the bread.  That’s another reason I wanted wood, because plastic is crap and it breaks, wood is sturdy and will literally last a lifetime.

My new plastic bread slicer will be here next week.  I hope it was worth it.