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Guess what? It’s not really as hard as it sounds! I’ve done it a few times, so I feel like I can now give advice on how to make better-than-store-bought bagels.

First, you need a good recipe. The one I use came from a bread baking group I belong to on facebook, but there are many similar recipes online. Here’s the one I use:

2 1/2 cups warm water
6 T white sugar
2 t salt
4 t olive oil
2 T active dry yeast
8-9 cups flour (I use a mix of AP and freshly milled hard red wheat)

a stock pot full of boiling water
salt or sugar for the water to flavor the exterior of the bagels

The first step with any yeast recipe is to proof the yeast. Use a bit of the sugar and warm water, stir the yeast in, and wait a few minutes to see if the yeast activates and bubbles up. If so, you’re good to go. While the yeast proofs, pour the rest of the warm water into your mixing bowl and soak any freshly ground flour in it. If you’re using store-bought flour, skip this step.

Add the sugar, salt, oil, and half of the flour to the water. Mix it up good, then add the yeast mixture. Your dough will be a sticky, goopy mess at this point. Start adding the rest of the flour, kneading well as you go. Your finished dough will be slightly sticky and fairly stiff. Don’t worry about the stiffness because that will go away after the rise.

Put your dough into an oiled rising bowl, cover with a wet tea towel, and set in a warm place for about 40 minutes. De-gas the dough, then allow to rise a second time.

Once the dough has risen a second time, de-gas it on the counter and cut it in half repeatedly until you have 32 equally-sized bits. Roll each bit on an un-floured wooden surface until you have a rope about a foot long. Put the two ends together and pinch along the seam to seal it. Set each bagel onto a lightly floured surface. This is important. If you don’t flour it enough, the dough will stick when you go to pick it up for the next step, and you will lose your beautiful shapes.

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See the white towel there? That’s what I mean by a wet tea towel. I think some people call them flour sack towels. They are a must have for any serious baker. When wet, they don’t stick to dough. They also provide a moist environment for the baked goods to rise in.

Anyway, once you have all of your bagels shaped, put that wet tea towel lightly over all of them and let them rise for about 20 minutes. While they are rising, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and get a stock potĀ of water boiling with either salt or sugar depending on the flavor you want to impart to your finished bagels. When the bagels have risen, use your floured fingers to gently pick them up and slide them into the boiling water. I do 3-4 bagels at a time. Boil them for 30 seconds on each side.

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Place the boiled bagels onto a pan lined with parchment paper or silpat. This is the time when you sprinkle on toppings if desired. My favorite is a mixture of onion powder, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and garlic powder. You could also sprinkle some cinnamon-sugar on top for a sweeter bagel. This batch I made all plain because my kids are picky. When the pan is full, put it in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the bagels have browned slightly.

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When they’re done, take them out and immediately toss them onto an unprepared counter top to cool. I love our butcher block island for this. They’ll cool quickly.

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Once they’re cooled, enjoy! But be careful – these are some tasty nomnoms. Eating the entire batch isn’t out of the realm of possibility. You’ve been warned. If you have extras after you’re done gorging, you can either freeze them in ziplocs or put them in a bag on the counter for a couple days.

That’s it for today’s post! Have fun making your own bagels!

The tomato plants are all in 6" pots now. Look at how big they are! And hairy, too. Oh my.

The tomato plants are all in 6″ pots now. Look at how big they are! And hairy, too. Oh my.

The tomatoes are now calling our unfinished loft home. I put four shop lights up there on a timer and lined the walls with aluminum foil to increase light to the plants. It's a bit noisy with the fan going, but the fan doesn't go all day.

The tomatoes are now calling our unfinished loft home. I put four shop lights up there on a timer and lined the walls with aluminum foil to increase light to the plants. It’s a bit noisy with the fan going, but the fan doesn’t go all day.

Celery seedlings are nearly big enough to thin out to one per cell. Behind them are some eggplants that are going nuts. To the side are the brassicas.

Celery seedlings are nearly big enough to thin out to one per cell. Behind them are some eggplants that are going nuts. To the side are the brassicas.

Rice is touching the lights. Oh, lookit that! I have a bulb out! Oops. I'll get on that after I finish this blog.

Rice is touching the lights. Oh, lookit that! I have a bulb out! Oops. I’ll get on that after I finish this blog.

Three trays of basil, thyme, marjoram, and sage. Surrounded by crazy peppers that really really really want to go outside! I'm already picking off flowers.

Three trays of basil, thyme, marjoram, and sage. Surrounded by crazy peppers that really really really want to go outside! I’m already picking off flowers.

Some tomatoes are in the windows. They kinda love it there, so there they shall stay.

Some tomatoes are in the windows. They kinda love it there, so there they shall stay.

The asparagus. Oh me oh my.

The asparagus. Oh me oh my.

My son brought home two apple seeds from an apple he ate at school. They took about three weeks to germinate, and now each of the two that sprouted have a few leaves. I'm amazed they came up at all, and eager to see if they flower and fruit in a few years.

My son brought home two apple seeds from an apple he ate at school. They took about three weeks to germinate, and now each of the two that sprouted have a few leaves. I’m amazed they came up at all, and eager to see if they flower and fruit in a few years.

Although he doesn't know it yet, my husband bought me Easter tulips. Thank you, honey! It brightened my day to put these on the island!

Although he doesn’t know it yet, my husband bought me Easter tulips. Thank you, honey! It brightened my day to put these on the island!

Although today started out rough (as in 7″ of the white, fluffy stuff rough), it finished off in the 40’s and pretty decent outside. Most of the snow we got this morning has already melted. Hopefully it will be gone and absorbed into the ground before this weekend. I really would like to do an egg hunt outside for the kids and maybe clean up the firepit to have a little fire. I’ve already got all the fixin’s for s’mores waiting in the wings.

Last weekend I went to a local farmer’s market to sell some of my excess tomatoes and peppers. I did pretty good. I sold three flats worth, making about $10 an hour for the time I spent. And they said that was a slow day because it was snowing and raining! I can’t make it to the one this weekend, even though many of the customers said they would be back for more since I quickly sold out of a few varieties. Our youngest son turns 6 this weekend, and I scheduled the party right in the middle of the farmer’s market. Oh well. I’ll definitely be going back there next weekend. There’s no way I’m going to throw the other 400 tomato and pepper plants into our garden! I need to unload them. If you are in the Menominee, Michigan area, stop by and see me 9am-noon on Saturdays. Except this one, of course. It’s a great little market! As soon as the Stephenson, Mi and Marinette, Wi markets open I’ll also sign up to be a vendor at those as well. I might even be working a stand for a nearby farm if I sell all my stuff. Heck, I’ll go to these even when I’m not selling because the people are awesome. They are definitely my kind of folks – down to earth, gardeners, bakers, craftsmen, wood workers, farmers… they are a breath of fresh air after dealing with so many city people.

This next week I’ll be starting to plant marigolds and other flowers for around the house and garden. I’m planting extra of everything because I had such interest in my plants at the market. Made me fell really good about my skills to have actual farmers telling me that my plants looked like they came from a professional greenhouse. Ha! If only they could see my scrappy shelves and tin-foiled loft!

And now, if you’ve made it this far, I’m going to let you in on some super secret good news. My husband was offered a position with a top-notch local employer! Yes! He accepted, and should be coming home in the next few weeks! Woohoo! We can’t wait to have Daddy home again! More exclamation points!!!

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My goodness! We finally have some weather that resembles spring! It got up to 60 degrees today, and I can actually see patches of our yard and field. There are still a few inches of snow and ice, and a lot more where it got piled up when our neighbor came to help dig us out a couple times. But it’s melting!

In celebration, I stopped at the Goodwill in town today and bought some used golf clubs and foam “practice” balls for the boys. When they get home, we’ll head out and see how far we can hit them down the hill. Thankfully, the balls are neon, so we’ll be able to see them in the snow. What are you doing to celebrate spring?

On a related note, I had to rearrange the plants today. The tomatoes caught up with the peppers in record time. Remember how I started the peppers about 5 weeks before the tomatoes? That’s because tomatoes grow FAST! They are all easily 8-10″ high, except a couple dwarf varieties like the Tiny Tim tomatoes.

Look at this crazy, unruly indoor garden I have going on.

It's a heart! I love you, too, pepper plant.

It’s a heart! I love you, too, pepper plant.

Pepper forest.

Pepper forest.

See where the cotyledon leaves are? They are the bottom-most leaves on each plant. Those will be plucked off and the plant will be buried up to the first set of real leaves when I transplant them into the garden. All those little hairs on the stem are adventitious roots that will grow out into the soil and help to make these plants strong.

See where the cotyledon leaves are on these tomatoes? They are the bottom-most leaves on each plant. Those will be plucked off and the plant will be buried up to the first set of real leaves when I transplant them into the garden. All those little hairs on the stem are adventitious roots that will grow out into the soil and help to make these plants strong.

My little eggplants. They are slow growers, but it looks like they are about ready to be transplanted to solo cups.

My little eggplants. They are slow growers, but it looks like they are about ready to be transplanted to solo cups. Note the yellowing of the leaves on the larger ones – that is because they are becoming root bound in these small cells. When I transplant to a bigger cup, I’ll manually spread the roots around and they’ll green back up in no time.

Rice reaching for the sky!

Rice reaching for the sky!

See if you can count the leaves on each onion. Some already have four! That means the onion has four layers. They're still tiny, but once I transplant them into the garden and start feeding them compost tea... they'll bulb out wicked fast.

See if you can count the leaves on each onion. Some already have four! That means the onion has four layers. They’re still tiny, but once I transplant them into the garden and start feeding them compost tea… they’ll bulb out wicked fast.

 

Today was just about the shittiest day I could imagine for driving, with an inch of ice covered by a few inches of slippery, wet snow. But that didn’t stop The Granite Company from delivering and installing our brand new kitchen counters! Check it out! The kitchen is nearly complete…

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I have to get the faucet back on, but since I’m not supposed to use it for 24 hours anyway, there’s no hurry. And, yes, I still need to finish up the window trim that my husband started when he was home on R&R last. I did get one other thing done in the kitchen before the counter top guys got here. Can you see it? I installed all of the new pulls. They’re very pretty. Like little square sections of a metal braid.

We still haven’t decided on a back splash. Everyone who comes over says that tiles would look nice there. I don’t know. I’m somewhat burned out on tiling after doing the entire bathroom and hearth. What do y’all think? Should we even bother with a back splash? If so, what do you think would look nice?

UPDATE!

I tackled the faucet and wrestled it into submission. I am woman with a wrench – hear me RAAAAWR!

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Then I cleaned up the kitchen to bring you the following shots. Please know that this is probably the cleanest y’all will ever see my kitchen. I’m not obsessive compulsive about cleaning, though I should be with a house this great. Tidy is about all I can manage on a day to day basis.

Again, I still need to finish the window trim. I’ll get to it someday.

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I’m learning so much building this house. I never would have thought I could lay flooring or make trim or tile an entire bathroom! I have learned how to wire outlets, lights, and fans. I have installed an awesome faucet. I’m seriously feeling pretty full of myself. I hope this doesn’t mean something is about to go terribly wrong.

And to top all this goodness off, my plants are screaming toward the ceiling. They are out of control.

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