Friday, January 25, 2013

Excerpts From the Diary of a Bread Fanatic

I'm a huge talker. I'm curious about pretty much any subject. And I definitely like to talk about my passions. However, there are two subjects that I'm VERY passionate about that I  TRY not to talk about (often unsuccessfully): my bread, and nutrition.  The reason? Not many people can relate with me over the joy of successfully developing the gluten in bread, or achieving the optimum amount of fiber grams for my daily allowance. :) So I try to keep these things to myself! :)I'm caving today, and writing a WHOLE blog post about bread. Why? Because I just had a MAJOR victory in bread-baking. The biggest one in the WHOLE ENTIRE HISTORY  of my bread-baking. (about three years.) Before I explain, let me show you (through pictures) why this is so exciting to me. (That is, of course, if you haven't already clicked off this blog because you realize what you're in for.)
First, look at the bread on this sandwich: Oh wait, don't look!!! FIRST, I have to tell you that all these pictures on this blog... are ones that I haven't taken. I'm totally not technologically savvy (I can't even figure out how turn on my mom's new phone) and I couldn't figure out how to snap a picture on my sister's camera. (Yes, I tried.) NOW, please look at the bread on this sandwich:

 Do you see it????? Look at the crumb of the bread! It's open and airy and absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!! This, my friends, is the result of completely developed gluten. Oh wait... do ya'll know what gluten is? I'm sure I've slipped up and talked about it sometime, but just in case, I'll tell you. There are these two different proteins in flour (gliadin and glutenin) Normally,they just "hang out" together in the flour, but when flour "meets" the water, it causes these proteins to bond together! The more you knead the bread dough, the more you "develop" the gluten. (the stronger the bond becomes) It's like working out! The more you do it, the stronger you get! And the "stronger" (more developed) the gluten gets, the better it supports your bread!

There IS a problem, though. Developing the gluten requires MUSCLE. And time. Lots of time. So long, that I've never achieved truly developed gluten before IN MY LIFE! How can I tell if it's developed?
Here's how:
This is called windowpaning. Basically, you do this by taking a piece of your kneaded dough and stretching it as much as you can. If you can stretch it so thin that light can come through it (like a window, get it???) then your gluten is developed. I've never, ever, EVER been able to accomplish this. So it has affected my bread! Here's a picture of the kind of crumb MY bread has had:

 Now there is nothing wrong with this bread if you're making a sandwich loaf or something, but for artisan bread (something I've been trying to accomplish) this crumb is NOT right. It's too dense. The gluten simply is not developed enough.

So what's my victory??? I made bread with DEVELOPED gluten!!! For the first time EVER! And I've been trying a really long time. The secret? Using a stand mixer. My dad let me use his ( he uses his to mix concrete in small batches for his business, but our family doesn't actually own one.)!!! The mixer did all the work for me! I just had to make the poolish beforehand, and put in the ingredients and test the gluten development! (okay, there were a few more steps involved, but nothing hard!)

And guess what I got today??? Actually, I'll show you!
See this? While I didn't make this bread, this looks really similar to the bread I made today! See the crumb? While it's not as open as my "ideal" bread, it was definitely a huge step from the sad attempts at artisan bread I've made before. And I think if I had used the higher gluten flour the recipe called for, ( the kind we never keep in our kitchen and that is hard to come by) I might have achieved my "goal" crumb. :)

While you may not be as thrilled about me at this "major" accomplishment, maybe I've given you a little window into my passion for bread. You may be wondering why I love bread... I'd tell you now... but I'm thinking it would make a great list for another post! If you have any questions or want the recipe (or want to know what poolish is) I'll e-mail you. I don't want to bore you with any more! I just HAD to tell you about this, and figured I could explain it better in writing!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Treasure and New Years Resolutions

This year I'm going to change______________
You fill in the blank. Millions of people around the globe muster up their determination at the start of the New Year with the intent to change... something.
Some decide to back off on the brownies...

Others decide to write more... (Stole yours, Savanna, sorry!)

Still others decide to pinch their pennies...

    The list could go on and on. Spend more time with the family, talk less (one of mine!!!), read the Bible more, pray more, deliever the brownies that you're trying not to eat the neighbors instead, work out more, bake more, etc, etc, ETC! I think we humans like the idea of improving ourselves. There is something empowering about being our own "handy man." If you see something that needs worked on, do it yourself! Fix yourself up, and you're bound to feel better about yourself. This year's gonna be different.

     Have you ever thought this way? It could be it's just me, (that would not be a first) but I LOVE the concept of improving myself. If I can just work a little harder, get a little thinner, a little nicer, a little sweeter, ... maybe then I can feel better about myself. I can walk outta that house with confidence! In fact, I like the idea of resolutions so much, I find myself making new ones every day. I'm pretty good about finding problems with myself, and I do my best to fix them. Do you know how many times I've made a "resolution" to keep a tidy room? Great concept. Definitely not great execution. Seeing as you can't see the floor of my room half the time... I guess you could say it's... poorly applied. :) That has been the pattern of my life for as long as I can remember. The problem: I fail. Miserably. Frequently.  And...predictably.  And then of course, I see that I have problems. Where is my self-discipline?!?! What is wrong with me! I failed again. And then I go into a whirlwind of self-problem solving. Only to fail again. And again. And again. By this time, I'm usually VERY mad at myself. You know why? Because when I can't perform up to my personal standards, I don't feel valuable. And that hurts. If I can "fix" myself, I'll fell better about myself for a time...  I'll be on an emotional HIGH...until I fail again. And then the hurt returns, raw and a  just little bit deeper than before.

   BUT, what I am realizing is that, for starters, my feelings may be real, but they are not always valid.  I have a Savior who was willing to give His life for ME! I certainly couldn't earn His love.  But the fact that He died for me means that I have worth in at least one person's eyes. And it just so happens that that person is Lord of All.
     Second, when those feelings of worthlessness surface, it means that I'm ignoring my idenity in Christ. If I look in the mirror and feel worthless, who am I letting define my value? Me.  If I decide I need to get all A+'s on my school to feel good about myself, I am valuing MY opinion of myself more than God's.

So here's where the treasure comes in:

So often the things I treasure ... are just that: things. Maybe it's that number on that scale. Maybe it's my grades. Maybe it's people's opinion of me. Maybe it's the number of miles I can run without falling over. :) All too often, I focus up on storing earthly treasures: In other words, I focus on what will make me look good here and now. I forget the future I have before me! I forget that when I stand before Jesus one day in heaven, He's not going to ask me how many hours a day I spent in the gym. He's not going to review my life's worth of report cards. He's not going to frown at the size of my thighs. He's probably not even going to laugh at the number of times I forgot to clean my room. You know what He wants? Me to value Him. Me to want what He wants. I can focus on pleasing Him, and I can focus on DOING all the right things, without ever turning my eyes in His direction.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying New Year's Resolutions are sinful. I'm not saying that if you work hard towards a goal, you're not focusing on Jesus. I guess what I am saying is that it can be overdone. Even if the action I'm doing is not a sin itself, I can let it define me. I can get my value from it.

As usual, God says it better than I can:
"Nothing can separate us from  God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love." ~Romans 8:38

NOTHING, not our failures, not our untidy rooms or even our sinful nature- can separate us from Jesus' love. NOTHING can make us worthless in His eyes. I'm thinking that looking into His eyes will bring MUCH more fulfillment than looking at that number on the scales. Just a thought.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why I Love People

It seems that my blog posts alternate between thoughts about God, random stories from everyday life, and even randomer  (yes, I know that's not a word, forgive me, Mrs. Mann) lists! I haven't written a list in what feels like forever, so here it goes!

Since I haven't seen my friends as much as I would like recently, I have to admit I've been thinking a lot about them. Being away from them has made me appreciate how special they really are. In fact, being away has made me appreciate how special people in general are! And it's made me realize just how MUCH I love them! So, here's a list of why I love people... both those who are just acquaintances, and those "special people."

Reasons People in General are Wonderful WONDERFUL!!!!!!!! ( I couldn't resist using all caps!)
1.)  Every single person in this world has a story. Some seem more eventful or exciting than others, but they all matter to God.  All too often write off people by what the result of the story is-be it anger, bitterness, or insecurity, etc-without knowing the story behind the behavior. I'm working on not jumping to conclusions when it comes to why people act the way they do. If they matter to God, they should matter to me!

2.) People have such a wide variety of personalities! I love getting to know the quirks and their God-given differences. From being introverted to outgoing, from control-freaks to those happy-go-lucky people, they all can provide insight into different situations. Their unique perspectives on life make life more interesting and often more enjoyable!

3.) They come in all ages, shapes, and sizes! I love being with younger kids because they are so full of joy and energy. I love hearing their rambling stories. I love how they can be so passionate about the littlest things, like marshmallows and staplers! (yes, the kids in my Sunday school have been passionate about both!) On the opposite extreme, there are those elderly people in nursing homes who are also such a joy , because they are delighted to see you!

4.) People have such a variety of God-given talents. Some are athletic, some are musically inclined, some are good at public-speaking, some can make people laugh. Some are great teachers, others are leaders, others can quietly make people feel at home. People bring so much joy into life that would not otherwise be there!

5.) There is one AWESOME thing that just about everyone has in common: The ability to smile. I have a friend who has told me  that our smile is God's favorite thing about us. I would have to agree. Our smile is a silent expression of JOY! I think this is one reason I love little kids so much: they smile a LOT.

Then there are the "special" people in my life, the ones who I care deeply about. Here are some of the things that separates them from being just acquaintances:

1.) They really care about me! They may show they care in different ways, but they express it in some way or another.

2.) I know I can trust them. If something is wrong, I don't have to "fake it" with them. Even when I'm brutally real, (and when I'm real, it's  often ugly, trust me) they still care and love me.

3.) Most of the people who are closest to me are Christians. Since my goal is to make God my first priority, (although I often fail) it is helpful to have other like-minded children of Jesus at my side. 

Maybe now you can see why people are so special to me. They are definitely my favorite of God's creations. While they all  definitely do have a sinful nature, I think it's really cool that God has given us a way to be freed from that so we can truly be who He wants us to be.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Very Special Friend

So I think I already posted something about the "Ultimate Relationship," earlier on, but something God has been reminding me of lately is that He is the Ultimate Friend. Ultimate meaning, of course, that it can't be beat or surpassed. I have been blessed with several close  earthly friends, all of whom I am very thankful for. I love them to pieces, and whenever I have a spare moment, I am usually thinking of one person or another, and praying for them. People are SUPER valuable to me, and I can't imagine life without them.

     Recently, I haven't had the opportunity to spend as much time with my friends, and I've been missing it... a lot. My friends really help build me up and focus on Christ. Without seeing them as much, I've missed that support as well as something to take my mind off of... things I don't want to think about. I've missed asking them all the random questions that pop into my head, and I've missed all their often insightful thoughts and advice. But as much as I adore all the people in my life, I often forget how fulfilling Jesus can be. Here's some of the things that I've been appreciating about HIM... my friend,  my Savior, and God!

First, God doesn't CHANGE! As much as I despise (and I really do despise) change, it's all around me. From location changes to what is on hand for breakfast, not much is really consistent in my outside world. And then there's this annoying thing that plagues my thought patterns called... (drum roll please) emotions. Oh yes, they really do feel like a plague at times. They fog up any logical pieces that might possibly be in my brain, and often overpower what I know is right. Sometimes I feel like there's this giant, complicated maze called life, through which I'm supposed to navigate. There's only one right way to get through it, and it requires all of my mental energies and ZERO distractions for me to choose what's right. And then a murky wall of fog titled "The Cloud of Emotion" sets in, and I can't see or even focus on what I'm really supposed to do.

Okay, cheesy example, but you get the picture. Emotions confuse everything! They can change from exhilaration to despair in a matter of minutes. Same with life circumstances: they change! People change, too, because they have emotions, hidden motives, and misunderstandings! But God doesn't change. And when He first made me, when I was a cute little baby who hadn't hardly sinned,  He saw me as beloved. And now, after ALL the things I've done... things that would bring great embarrassment to any normal parent... He still sees me the same way! My friend reminded me recently of a song lyric that has been stuck in my head since: "When I don't measure up to much in this life, I'm still treasured in the arms of Christ." Wow... even when I've done NOTHING to bring Him pleasure, I'm still His treasure. That shocks my socks off!

One more thing that God has recently brought to mind about His character: HE'S the initiator. The process of Salvation started with Him intiating... and drawing me to Himself. He wanted ME! There are several (but not all) of my friends who I've done a lot of the initiaing with, especially ones I met at camp. I introduced myself. I started conversations. I tried to make people feel welcome, and we became friends. But I never got the sense they wanted to know me first. Same with the kids in my Sunday School. To start the relationship, it was work! It was really, really FUN work, but I had to work my little brain to think of questions to ask, and to remember that Olivia likes horses, and Leah does gymnastics... not the other way around. But Jesus is different! He desired a relationship with me first, and HE has revealed pieces of himself to me.  To me, that initiation is really special, because it shows that He thinks I'm WORTH the time and the effort to have relationship with me. I know there's more to say, but I've been rambling already, and it's time to cut it off. But what an incredible friend I have in Jesus.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Two AWESOME Mini-Disasters

I'm assuming by now that I don't have to warn you about upcoming randomness. Maybe I should, but I think you all know that Hannah Peterman writing anything implies randomness. Therefore, I will skip the apology and jump right in.
There were two exciting disasters that have happened to me in the past week. Okay, so "disaster" might be an exaggeration, but these events were memorable enough for me to write about them, so here it goes!

The first happened when my eleven-year-old  brother decided he wanted to make tortilla chips. These require an oven... something that should have been a huge red flag to me and my mom. But, Blaize was hungry, and the chips are simple enough. You cut tortillas into wedges, lay them on a greased cooking sheet, spray with cooking spray, and season. Surely Blaize was capable of that, especially since I was sticking around to "supervise!" I told him how to preheat the oven, then let him do the rest while I continued on my extensive quarterly test. He was quite successful in all the steps, and the chips had the makings of being absolutely DELICIOUS. He hadn't dropped them on the floor once! One last step was left: baking the chips. Blaize carefully carried his chips to the oven and slid them in. Here's where the second red flag was waved frantically in my oblivious face: Blaize was watching football!!!!! He'd stopped in the middle to make himself a football snack, and while the chips baked, he intended to watch football! Football, ovens, and eleven-year-old boys should not be in the same sentence together. But, I didn't think twice about it, and he went in to watch his beloved sport. Here's the problem: football-watching-people seem to have time-management issues while they are watching. Apparently, five real-time minutes only feel like one to the eager football fan. Ten real minutes, then, only feel like two in football minutes! While this is great when you want to pass the time, this proved problematic to Blaize... or maybe more accurately... his tortilla chips. Five football minutes later (20 real minutes) Blaize recalled that his chips were still in the oven. He swaggered over to check to see if they were done, opened the oven, and started screaming.
"Hannah, they're on FIRE!" Blaize shrieked. (his voice hasn't quite deepened enough for me to say that he "bellowed" or even "yelled.") I whirled around and saw flaming tortilla chips in the oven! Needless to say, I was freaked out, but Blaize was panicking.
"Let's throw water on it!" he urged me. But I figured water wouldn't be the greatest on one of our newest electrical appliances, so I scooted over to a kitchen drawer and grabbed the oven mitts. Then, I ran across the kitchen to the oven, yanked the door all the way down, and carefully gripped the tortilla chip pan, and made my way to the sink. I have to admit, I was scared. The flames were pretty tall, and I'm not a fire person. I hate candles and matches, and even putting wood in our fireplace gives me the shivers. But this is the part that made my day: Blaize was scared, too! Not that our house would burn down, not that he wouldn't have anything but watery chicken pot-pie for dinner, but for me! He didn't want me to get hurt! Back to the magnitude of this in a moment. Anyways, I dumped the pan in the sink, and poured water on them. It seems that the fire didn't appreciate that very much, and disappeared shortly thereafter, leaving BLACK, powdery ashes in the shape of tortilla wedges. But Blaize was so sweet. He admited that he was actually worried that I would get hurt!!! This meant a lot to me, because normally the only way Blaize shows affection or care towards me is by asking me to come build a fort with him outside in the 20 degree weather. His message rarely gets across as love, and is normally rejected! But for him to tell me (in a round-about way) that he cared made my day. Sound weird on paper, but it did!

The second incident happened when we were driving through a small town. Before I continue, you must know that Petermans NEVER get nose-bleeds. It is just un-petermanish! As a result, my family was totally unprepared when I got one in the middle of a car trip! I didn't notice anything, until blew my nose and saw blood. Then I looked down at my white adidas sweatshirt, and saw more blood. Then I saw the bloody blanket in front of me, and realized I was making a mess! I needed a tissue, but, because Petermans do not get nose-bleeds, we had none along. Natalie handed me the best thing she could find: a piece of blue notebook paper we use for school. Now, while that paper is GREAT for school, it wasn't working very well for my nose-bleed. My dad decided to stop at a small-town general store. There was a problem, however. This small town general store was closed for lunch. And it was 12:30. My parents were upset because their daughter was bleeding, and I was freaking out because I was getting blood all over my clothes! So, my dad did the next best thing: (which also happened to be the thing that mortified me.) he asked a random guy who was scraping the ice off a random car in a random driveway where he could get a tissue! Naturally, this random guy (who turned out to be a deputy sheriff) offered to get us a tissue inside his house. This "tissue" turned out to be a full roll of toilet paper from his bathroom! Needless to say I was embarrassed, but relieved to have a tissue!