Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blue-ribbon bread

I dusted off my copy of the 2008 Iowa State Fair cookbook last weekend and found an easy recipe for raisin bread. There aren't any cinnamon-sugar swirls; it's just raisins studded in fluffy bread. The bread turned out terrific on the first try, so this recipe is a keeper.

I accidentally added 2 cups of whole wheat flour to the bread dough before I realized that I grabbed the wrong flour bag from the cupboard. It didn't affect the final result, however; and it gave the bread a nice golden color.

I also experimented with a recipe from my new "Joy of Pickling" cookbook. I made one of my husband's childhood favorites: watermelon rind pickles. Actually, they are dark watermelon pickles. The dark brown color comes from the whopping 5 cups of brown sugar I added to the pickling liquid. The recipe description said these pickles were more like a confection, and I totally agree. They turned out sticky like caramel. And no, these watermelon pickles aren't bright green or red, like some of the recipes that call for food coloring. Josh remembers his grandmother serving green watermelon pickles every Christmas.

A special thanks to my husband for cutting up the watermelon rind for me while I went out to watch the "Julie & Julia" movie. By the way, it was an amazing movie. I read both the books the movie was based on, and I think the movie did a great job of representing the true stories. I was so inspired, I'm thinking about putting together a Julia Child costume for Halloween this year.
Here's my not-so-impressive attempt to get a close up shot of the watermelon rind pickles.

One more bit of good news: My zinnias finally opened up to show off their rainbow colors. The first dahlia flower also bloomed. I picked a bunch of garden flowers and put them in my favorite ceramic vase. If these colors match, it's purely by coincidence. I'm not that great at color coordinating my garden. I just like anything with bright colors.

The dinner-plate dahlia is a biggie!

The yellow glads make me think of spring tulips, for some reason.


  1. I've never had watermelon pickles, but have read about them. It's interesting to see real photos and read how they taste.

  2. Thanks! I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. I'm waiting a couple weeks before opening up a jar, but I snuck one from the pan, and I was surprised how sweet it was. I need to be a little more careful about buying watermelon, though. I accidentally bought a seedless variety without much of a rind.

  3. Everything looks wonderful. The recipe for the watermelon pickles must be different from what my grandma used. Her's had more of a blush-like color to them and not as sticky, or so it sounds. The bread looks delicious and I'd love it if you could share the recipe. I'm not so great at yeast breads but I still like to try and I love to use wheat flour. Have you had any luck with tomatoes ripening yet? I finally was able to squeeze out 6 qt of juice this morning. Ryan found me a great tool to separate the skin and seeds with minimal work...I love making tomato juice now that I'm not using my potato masher!! Thanks for sharing!


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