Thursday, February 18, 2010

SotM Field Trip - Final Chapter at the Natural History Museum

Finishing up our trip to the Natural Sciences Museum in Raleigh, we went into the Living Conservatory.

This is a very warm, tropical room, filled with these beauties.

Sometimes if you hold still, they actually land on you. It's pretty cool.

Check this guy out. On the outside of his wings, he looks like this.

And on the inside....

There were just a few other residents in there, that were not winged and colorful. This is one...

And you can't really see this one, but this would be Sid the Sloth. Okay, maybe his name isn't Sid....but he is a sloth! And he's a bit anti-social.

This finishes up our trip through the Natural Science Museum.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hearty Herbed Italian Bread

This is a great bread to side with Italian-style dishes. You can use it for Stromboli, Garlic Bread, or whatever you like.

First, create a warm environment, by turning the light on in your oven.

And to start, in your mixer bowl, pour in 2 cups of lukewarm water. Sprinkle with 1 Tabespoon of yeast.

Let it sit for about 5 minutes, so it can dissolve and start bubbling.

Then, add in 1 1/2 c of regular, white bread flour. Mix it in.

Next, add in 1 cup of cornmeal, and 1/2 cup of rye flour (I use fresh-ground)

Mix it up for about 1 minute.

And now we will add 1 1/2 teaspoon each of Oregano and Basil.

This is what it should look like.

Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and place it in your oven, and let rest for about 30 minutes.
It will look something like this.

Next, you are going to add in 2 teaspoons of salt...

...2 Tablespoons of good olive oil...

and with the dough hook going, add in 1 cup of wheat flour (again, mine is fresh-ground)

And then gradually add in another cup of the unbleached bread flour, creating a nice dough. Let this knead in the machine for 10 minutes.

If need be, you can add up to another 1/2 cup of the bread flour, if it is unmanagable. This dough will remain slightly sticky though.

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl.

Take the dough, and form it into a ball, then roll it around in the oiled bowl, to coat it with the oil all over. I just swirl the bowl around to do this.

Now, cover it again with a towel, and put it back in your warm oven to rise. Let it 30-45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

After it has risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead it just a couple times. Divide the dough in half, and roll one section out into an oblong shape.

Now, roll the dough up.

Note: I have a special pan designed just for making this type of bread. I lightly spray it with some oil before placing the dough in it. If you don't have one of these pans, that is okay. Just use a baking sheet or stone.

Roll the dough, place it seam-side down in the pan, tucking the ends under. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Cover the dough again with the towel, and place it back into the warm oven for the final rise. Let it rise 30 - 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Now, set the pan on the counter, and heat your oven up to 400 degrees.

When your oven is ready, you are going to spray the loaves with some water. If you don't have a spray bottle, just brush some on. If you want, you can slash the tops of the loaves about three times at an angle. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. This time I didn't.

Spray the loaves, and then immediately put them in the oven, and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until just golden brown.


Printable Version: Hearty Herbed Italian Bread

Spur of the Moment Field Trip - Part 4 - the Naturalist Center

Continuing on through our field trip at the Natural Sciences Museum, on the fourth floor there is this really neat place for the older crew (ages 8 and up.)

It is called the Naturalist Center.

It is a very hands-on room.

With specimens galore!

Look at all the cephalopods! We have one of these at home.

Some of the specimens are just skins, some are stuffed, and there are lots in jars, like this bat.

I thought these were so cool! Inspiration for my daughter's upcoming biology labs, hehehe!

My boys, ever the outdoorsmen, were of course drawn to things like these.

and those.

The back wall of the Naturalist Center, is lined with these kinds of displays.

Just beautiful!

Look at the variety!

The cool thing about this room, is that if it isn't sealed in a case or a jar, you can take it out and hold it, and appreciate it.

Check out this wolf's paw. That is MY hand that is swallowed up by it.

Its head.


There is so much to look at in there.

and yes....more to come.