Diversion: “An instance of turning something aside from its course -or- an activity that diverts the mind from tedious or serious concerns; a recreation or pastime.”
These are the moments in my day when ideas spark. Creativity shines. When the “I should be…”, becomes a captured photo, a creative twist on a recipe or a fun little project. These are the sunny spots that add warmth to my life. They help define who I am.
And this is my opportunity to share my “Sunny Diversions”.
It is funny how the changing seasons affect what you like to eat and drink. Fall brings a desire for warmth and spice. Which has me wanting a warm cup of Russian Tea; that simple mixture of powdered instant drinks and spices. It has been several years since I made up a batch. But, even though I was craving that spicy orange tea, I really did not want all the calories that are in the classic recipe. So I spent my morning calculating how to tweak the recipe, plus reduce the calories, without using artificial sweeteners. Tang is made with sugar, so the calories would need to be diluted by the rest of the ingredients. A packet of Crystal Light Pure Lemonade, which uses stevia, was in my pantry. It easily substituted for the sugared lemonade mix. I tried my combination without adding any additional sweetening, but the spices didn’t pop without it. I added 2 teaspoons of stevia powder, which was just the amount. My tea was delicious, and only 35 calories per serving.
1 cup Tang powdered drink mix
1/2 cup Instant Unsweetened Tea
1 packet Crystal Light Pure Lemonade (pitcher pack)
1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Cloves
1/8 teaspoon Ginger
2 teaspoons stevia powder
Shake all the ingredients together in a pint jar until well blended.
Mix one tablespoon in one cup of water, or 1 1/2 cups if you prefer a lighter drink. Enjoy, warm or cold.
I always have enjoyed oatmeal bread, but have never found one that had quite enough oat flavor to satisfy me. This winter my bread making goal was to come up with an oatmeal bread that did just that. It took a few experiments to get the balance right, and now that spring has arrived I am ready to publish. I settled on a combination of three types of oats; old-fashioned oatmeal, oat flour and steel cut oats. The cooked steel cut oats added a nice texture and all three gave enough oat flavor to the bread. The applesauce and brown sugar add the sweetness needed to make the oats shine. Since the recipe turned out to make three loaves, I made one loaf in to a cinnamon swirl bread. I am ready to make up another batch, because this bread has become another hit with my family, or as my son put it “Oat-standing”.
Triple Oatmeal Bread
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup oat flour
6 cups bread flour (plus extra for kneading)
1/4 cup buttermilk powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup cooked steel cut oats*
1 1/3 cups warm water
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon yeast
In large bowl, sprinkle yeast on top of warm water. Let sit for five minutes to start activation. Stir in applesauce, brown sugar and cooked oatmeal. In separate bowl, mix bread flour with oat flour, old-fashioned oats, buttermilk powder and salt. Add one cup of flour mix at a time to wet ingredients until incorporated into a nicely shaped dough ball, Take dough ball out of bowl and knead on a lightly floured board for eight minutes. Place in large greased bowl and let rise in warm, draft free area until doubled. Punch down and shape into three loaves. Place each loaf into a 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 greased bread pan. Cover pans with towel and again let rise until doubled in a warm draft-free place. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350º.
*I made up a batch of steel cut oats and froze them in one cup containers for my experimental loaves. A thaw in the microwave and they were ready to use.
For Cinnamon Swirl Loaf:
Roll one loaf out into rectangle that is 8″x 20″. Beat egg yolk mixed with one tablespoon of water and brush a thin layer onto the dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and raisins. Roll tightly and seal edges. Place in loaf pan and let rise until doubled. Bake the same as the regular loaves.
Last year, a storm took down a major part of a large, Snow Crabapple tree in our yard. Later, the remaining part of the tree was cut down, leaving a large stump. Lately, I have been pondering what I could do with the leftover stump. The top of the stump has a hollowed out spot with some good, loose organic material. My first thought was to buy an ivy and let it trail down the side of the trunk. But, before I headed to the greenhouse to pick one out, I thought about the morning glory starts that were coming up from last years seeds in the side garden. I dug up 5 little seedlings, and planted them in the top. I covered the soil with a few cedar chips and gave them some water.
I’m hoping to have beautiful blue flowers trailing on the old stump by mid summer.