Happy Things

Hello all! Can you believe that February is already well on its way? Also, it’s only 10 days until my due date. I’m so ready for this kid to arrive!

Here are some things that have brought me joy over the past few weeks.

{2/52} Splash!

My first attempt at a splash photo. It made a huge mess.

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

Grapefruit + Avocado salad (spring greens, grapefruit, avocado, sea salt + fresh ground pepper, and a grapefruit juice vinaigrette). See the completed salad HERE.

Sam & Amanda

My sister, Amanda, got engaged. I had the fun of taking the engagement photos. See more HERE.

Flowers From Reuben

Reuben surprised me with flowers one evening.

Wintry Walk

On days when the weather will permit, it’s been fun to take leisurely walks through the woods.

Terrain Order

I decided that with part of my birthday money I should make an order from Terrain. I chose the Weck jelly jars and a wooden spoon.

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons. Something new-to-me. So far I’ve made creme brulee with them, but I also want to try my hand at lemon curd.

Honey on Fresh Bread

Honey on fresh baked bread (with butter, of course). Is there anything better?

Hope you all are having a smashing 2013 so far. What has brought you joy lately?


Best. Bread. Ever.


So I saw lots of people raving about how awesome no-knead bread is. Super easy and delicious.

“Yeah, right,” I thought. “You have to knead bread for ages to get a good crumb.” Boy, was I wrong.

Faced with having to knead bread by hand (horrors!) since we can’t afford a stand mixer just yet, I decided to give no-knead bread a try. After all, Hannah had made it and loved it. It had to be okay.


It’s more than okay. WAY more than okay. The crust is crunchy and the inside is soft, light and flavorful. And it takes about 5 minutes to mix up. In all honesty, I would make bread much less often if it weren’t for this recipe. Downside? Well, there’s no more excuse for buying store-bought bread when you can make it so easily.

Think you can’t possibly tackle making bread at home? Give this recipe a try. You’ll be so happy you did.


Not only is this bread so quick & easy to throw together (you literally just dump all the ingredients in a bowl & mix it a bit with a big spoon), but it’s also very versatile. I have made this with sour milk in place of water and whole wheat flour in place of some of the white with awesome results.

If you must, you can skip the steaming step. The last couple of times I made this bread I forgot that part with no ill effects. But I highly recommend steaming for the best crust.

I really like shaping the dough into a boule, but you can also shape it into logs or braids.

No Knead French Bread | Printable Page | Makes 2 large loaves

From Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day via Honey & Jam


  • 3 cups of lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


1) Place the water, yeast and salt in a very large mixing bowl. Dump in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until everything is nice and moist. And you’re done mixing!

2) Cover the bowl loosely and let sit until it has risen and deflated a little. Now your dough is ready to be baked or stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

3) To bake the bread: (If the dough is coming from the refrigerator, let it come to room temp before continuing) Wet your hands with water to prevent your hands from sticking and grab a piece of dough (I usually make half a recipe and use all the dough for one loaf, but you can make smaller loaves if you wish). Form it into a boule by pulling the sides of the dough towards the underside of the dough ball and rotating the dough until you get a roundish shape with a smooth surface. You can also shape the dough into logs or braids.

4) Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper (recommended) or a cornmeal-dusted cutting board. Let the dough rest and rise for about 40 minutes.

5) About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake the bread, put a cast iron skillet or pizza stone on the center rack of the oven and place a roasting pan (I use a 13×9-inch pan) on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450° F.

6) Dust some flour over the top of your risen loaf and cut a few slashes into the top about 1/4-inch deep. Transfer dough onto the skillet or pizza stone, quickly pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler pan and shut the oven door to keep the steam inside. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is nice and brown. Cool completely before cutting. You may manage to wait that long…I never have.


Grandma’s Cooking School: Homemade Bread & Sweet Rolls

{Grandma’s Cooking School is my chronicles of the informal cooking lessons that my Grandma graciously decided to give us girls. I have compiled a list of all the lessons so far. Enjoy!}

I am at a loss for words to describe these delicious creations, so I’ll let the photos do (most of) the talking.


Grandma’s homemade bread. Light, flavorful, delicious.


I love Grandma’s flour/baking drawer.


And her cupboards.


Grandma showed us a different way to form loaves: folding!

group4Now, the cinnamon/sticky buns. Much butter is required.


Proofing and baked. Can it get any better than this?

**Next Time on Grandma’s Cooking School: Apple Strudel**

Here is the list of our lessons so far.

17 Responses to “Grandma’s Cooking School: Homemade Bread & Sweet Rolls”

  1. I’ve missed your updates! Come back soon :)

  2. Natalie says:

    I love following your blog! Many of your posts remind me of my own experiences… especially Grandma’s homemade bread :) Your pictures are incredible and as usual everything looks delicious! Keep up the awesome posts. Thank you.

  3. Melanie says:

    My bread never turns out like Grandma’s! Does she use gluten?

  4. Erica Lea says:

    Melanie: No, I don’t believe she uses gluten. Seems like magic, eh?

  5. Kitty says:

    I love what you are doing. My friends and I always talk about how we miss our mother’s home cooking and how we wish we haven’t written down their recipes. Your “Grandma’s Cooking School” is brilliant! I wish I had the sensibility to have done the same thing.

  6. Jo says:

    Yum! I would like one of those cinnamon rolls now, please :)

  7. Hannah says:

    i absolutely love this series!!

  8. Laura West says:

    I just discovered your site on Tastespotting. What a joy! You are an amazingly talented young woman. I love making family recipes and recipes friends have given me from their families…so much history lies behind a recipe. Your kind and loving nature shines through!

  9. Sue says:

    Just found you via Tasty Kitchen..that top photo of your bread is so beautiful!!! I’ll add you to my reader :-) Congrats on your two year anniversary too :-) Your photos and recipes are lovely!!

  10. Mariaq says:

    Baking with loved ones makes the product even more tasty! What a great post!

  11. pambala says:

    Oh, your photography is gorgeous! That shot of the loaf of bread is beautifully lighted and I’m sure you edited it just right!!

    Nice website! I’m looking forward to trying your recipes! I found you on Tasty Kitchen.


  12. rita says:

    i love your blog! keep it up. these recipes are wonderful. grandmas, rock! thanks for sharing. i’ll be sure to try these lovely bread/rolls.

  13. kathy juarez says:

    just found your blog love it…. would you mind sharing the name of the cook book your grandma is holding in the pick it looks like her loving hands have made many recipes from it .

  14. Kathy Green says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your Grandmother. I regret not knowing how to REPLICATE my Mom’s PIZZA – the BEST ever! Thanks for sharing.

  15. shivani says:

    lovely bread n rolls. wonderful way to show ur love to ur grandmother.
    are the recipes available on the site. i would live to try the both the bread n the rolls. the bread has risen beautifully.

  16. Erica Lea says:

    shivani: Unfortunately the recipes are not available. Grandma would like to keep the recipes in the family.

  17. Holly says:

    Where is the recipie link? The pics are great but I need the recipies.

Pizza Dough

Can you believe that this dough is 100% whole wheat? Can you? It is! Yet it handles so well – better than any pizza dough recipe I’ve ever tried. It is so easily manipulated, yet it doesn’t tear easily.


What’s the secret? I really couldn’t say. Perhaps the method of mixing. Perhaps the perfect combination of ingredients (thanks, Cook’s Illustrated!). Perhaps the type of whole wheat flour I use (white whole wheat flour). All I know is, my search for a whole wheat pizza dough recipe ended when I found this one. Maybe someday I’ll try a different pizza dough recipe, but for now I’m content.


Care for some ideas for pizza?

~ Why not spread it with some homemade pizza sauce and sprinkle it with homemade Italian sausage?
~ Or you could drizzle it with Smoky BBQ sauce and add chicken (perhaps some bacon) and cheddar cheese for a BBQ Chicken Pizza.

~ The other day, I made pizza on the grill. It’s a great way to beat the heat and it is so delicious. Here is an excellent article and video with the instructions.

How do you like to fix your pizza?


Pizza Dough

Adapted from The New Best Recipe


  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 110°
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups (20 ounces) white whole wheat flour (aka white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Olive oil or butter, for greasing the bowl


1) Place the 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl. Add the yeast and stir. Let sit for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast begins to swell. Add to the room temperature water and oil and stir.

2) Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly until combined. With mixer on low speed, slowly add the liquid ingredients. Mix just until a cohesive dough forms. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

3) Change to the dough hook attachment. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes.

4) Oil or butter a medium-sized bowl. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot. Allow to rise for 1 ½-2 hours, or until double in volume. The dough is now ready to be used in your recipe.

Makes enough dough for approximately 3 large thin-crust pizzas

Maple Cornbread ~ and a Giveaway!

Yankee cornbread. Slather it with butter. Pour on the maple syrup. Repeat.

This recipe is the perfect blend of sweet and nearly fluffy, and rustic and flavorful.

This cornbread has the best flavor when you use fresh ground or at least stone ground corn. However, it is still very tasty when you only have yellow cornmeal (as I did).


Maple Cornbread

Adapted from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion


  • 1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup stone ground or yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (2 3/4 ounces) maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten


1) Preheat the oven to 425° F. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into an 8 or 9-inch square or round baking pan.

2) In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the milk, maple syrup, remaining butter, and eggs. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently stir together just until moistened.

3) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

Makes 9 servings


And now for the giveaway!

Here’s what you’ll win:

One lucky person will win two (2) cotton dishcloths, hand knitted by yours truly!

What makes these dishcloths so special?

They are knit with a single strand of crochet thread. That makes for a much tighter knit than regular hand knitted dishcloths. And the scrubbing power is wonderful. They take much longer to knit, but it is worth it.


How can you win these?

Leave a comment describing to me what you would do with this piece of cornbread. For example: would you drizzle it with honey, spread it with jam, crumble it into a soup, or chuck it out the door?

The Rules:

  • Leave a comment as described above before 11 p.m. on Monday, May 18.
  • You must leave me with a valid e-mail address.
  • Only one comment per person.
  • The winner will be chosen at random using random.org.

Good luck!

Edited Tuesday, May 19: The giveaway has ended. Thank you all for participating! The winner will be announced shortly.

No-Fuss Focaccia

This bread really was extremely simple to make. Just mix all ingredients for 60 seconds, scoop into a pan, let rise, and bake. The taste is excellent as well, even with my changes to the recipe (replacing half of the AP flour with whole wheat)

Confession: I had a bit of a mishap when I was mixing the dough. The recipe instructed me to mix the dough with an electric mixer. My gut told me it would be better to mix it in the stand mixer. But a recipe (especially KAF) doesn’t lie, right?

Wrong. The dough was just too much for our little electric mixer. Bits of dough flew out of the bowl and onto the floor. The mixer made noises it shouldn’t.

Not to worry! I scraped the dough into the bowl of our stand mixer and finished mixing it there.

Lesson: when cooking, listen to your gut. 🙂

The finished product reminded me of the texture of bread sticks: crispy crust, soft crumb. It’s definitely a keeper.


:: Focaccia ::


Adapted from King Arthur Flour


1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) warm water
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) hard white wheat
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon onion powder (optional)

1 tablespoon dried chopped onion (optional)
pizza seasoning or dried herbs of choice, optional


1) Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the ingredients except the optional seasonings. Beat at medium-high speed for 60 seconds.

3) Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan. Cover and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, till it’s become puffy. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.

4) Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with pizza seasoning, and/or the dried herbs of your choice, if desired.

5) Bake the bread till it’s golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I’m Back!

I’m finally getting back into the swing of things after over a week of vacation. Please forgive me for the paucity of my posts. Hey, I like how that sounds. Paucity of posts. Paucity of posts.


I promise to be better in future.