Happy Kansas Day, Kansas

Happy 154th Birthday to my home state. Oh, Kansas. Sometimes, I want to run away from you so so badly, but as Dorothy said in the movie, "There's no place like home."

If you followed this blog over the last couple of years, you'll know that Kansas Day is a big deal to Kansas. Or it was. Little Sis told me they read S is for Sunflower in drama class (performing arts magnet, remember) and Big Sis said they're doing something for Kansas Day in her enrichment intervention group. I have fond memories of parties and fun activities in elementary school.

To learn more about this day, check out my posts from 2014 and 2013 

I wanted to do something this year to acknowledge the date, so last night, the girls and I made a sunflower craft.

After all, Kansas is "The Sunflower State."

I started a new Pinterest board, pinning new ideas as I found them. I kept coming back to the idea of paper plate weaving, a craft I remember from Family Fun magazine, when they were still owned by Disney. This pin directs to a link at Spoonful, the website Disney transferred their Family Fun stuff to, after they sold it to Meredith. Spoonful has become a Disney Family Crafts page, and the paper plate weaving craft has disappeared. Thank you, Red Ted Art, for coming to the rescue. I used small, yellow dessert plates. Dinner plates would be easier, but the craft store was out of the darker yellow plates in that size. The yellow and dark brown yarn was the cheap stuff. Please see the link at Red Ted Art for instructions. Her tutorials are fabulous, and you should be following her anyway!

Yesterday was a bright, warm sunshiny day, with a high of 75. The sunflowers looked as if they belonged.

I grabbed green paper straws and two pieces of green scrapbooking paper (in two different shades) when I bought the plates and yarn. While I admit the flowers would be prettier if I adhered the stems and leaves with glue, laziness hit, and we used tape instead.

Look at how they brighten up the fireplace! Which is great, because today is cold and dreary, no sun in sight. Um, thanks, Kansas.

While the girls are at school today, I am baking bread. How very pioneer of me, right? Kansas, after all, is "America's Breadbasket," weather and climate change permitting.

Of course, the Kansas pioneer women would have kneaded everything by hand. I'll bet if they had trusty stand mixers with dough hooks back then, they would have used one, too!

Sandwich Bread (adapted from the recipe for White Sandwich Bread, from the magazine Homemade Bread, from the editors of Hobby Farm Home Magazine.) Makes two loaves.

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast (I buy mine in a jar. This recipe calls for more yeast than one envelope would provide.)
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
6 3/4 to 7 1/4 cups flour (The recipe calls for all-purpose. I used half unbleached all-purpose flour, and half whole wheat.)

1. Combine 1/2 cup of warm water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl or measuring cup. Stir to dissolve yeast, let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy. (I had a new jar of yeast, so it was foamy in just a couple of minutes!)

2. In a large bowl, or in the work bowl of your stand mixer, combine the remaining water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Add the yeast mixture, and stir until combined. (Use your paddle attachment, if using a stand mixer.) Add 2 cups of flour, and mix well. Continue to beat the mixture for one or two minutes until smooth. Add more flour in 1/2 cup increments, stirring well after each addition, until the dough holds together and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

3. Okay, now if you want to feel like a real pioneer and get your hands messy, turn out the dough onto a very well-floured surface. It's kneading time. Knead in the remaining flour by the spoonful, until the smooth, satiny dough no longer sticks to your hand. If you want to plant yourself firmly in the 21st century, however, you can swing like me and use your stand mixer. (I love my red KitchenAid!) Switch to your dough hook, and add your flour while the mixer is on low. It should only take 3 or 4 minutes.

4. Now, grease a big bowl with a small amount of oil. (I used olive oil. It's up to you.) Place your dough in the bowl and turn it, coating the dough with the oil. The magazine instructs you to cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap, but I use a damp tea towel, because that's the way I've always done it with other recipes. Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled - about 1 1/2 hours. (NOTE: If room temperature is particularly chilly at your house, you can use my trick of preheating your oven waaaaay in advance, and letting your dough rise on your stovetop.)

5. Turn out the dough onto a work surface, and divide it evenly in half. Grease two standard loaf pan (9x5 inch) with butter, and set aside. To form your loaves, pat or roll each ball into a rectangle. The longest side of the rectangle should match up with the side of your loaf pan. Starting with the longest side, roll the rectangle into a tight loaf, pinching the seam to seal. Place each loaf seam-side down in the loaf pans, and cover loosely with plastic wrap (or be stubborn like me, and use your damp tea towel.)

6. Time to let your dough rise again! It should only take about 30 minutes this time. Meanwhile, preheat your oven (if you haven't already done so) to 350 degrees F. Just before baking, take a sharp serrated knife to make two diagonal slashes 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in the top of each loaf. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the loaves look deep golden-brown and sound hollow when tapped. Allow to cool completely before slicing, unless you really, really want to taste it hot. I don't blame you. Go for it, just don't blame me if you wind up with a crumbly mess. Seriously. Hot bread is a pain to cut. Tearing it might be easier, in fact.

ENJOY. See? It really isn't that hard.

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  1. fun fun fun!!!!!!!!!! i love kansas day just b/c of your blog! 75 - wowza. i've given up hope of any snow this yr, so sad. your sunflowers are cheery and fun! and your bread --- you've totally inspired me, you and Vanilla Bean Blog - this is the year I'm going to make real attempts at yeast dough baking!!!

    1. Just follow a recipe and go for it! I promise, it isn't hard. Especially if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook. Then you don't even have to knead it!

  2. I love how you're being a pioneer, hehe :) and the sunflowers are lovely! Sunflowers are such friendly, happy flowers. And what a beautiful picture in the end- yay for the silver shoes! ;)

    1. Everyone's outgrown the silver shoes now! I need to get someone a new pair. I think Little Sis can still wear her ruby slippers, though, so at least one of them can reference the movie Oz with their footwear. ;)

  3. Do you have directions for the sunflower project? Thanks! Cool ideas!

    1. I apologize for just now seeing this! My blog has been dormant since June, and I wasn't getting email notifications about pending comments. I know it's a little late, but I found instructions here: https://www.redtedart.com/paper-plate-weaving/


Comments are welcome! I'm a shy blog commenter, too, but I do love to read what people have to say. All I ask is, please be kind, to me and to each other.

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