A Winner, a Baker & BF

First of all, congratulations to Annie of Annie Off Leash! She’s a winner!

Annie is the lucky reader who is getting my first giveaway–a beautiful Art Meets Glass original, pomegranate pendant, created by Marsha Anderson. So, Annie, please email your mailing address to monicastangledweb@gmail.com, so it can be shipped out to you. And, thank you to everyone else who participated. I so appreciate you tweeting the news!

Thanksgiving was at my house this year. Once a year, I cook to my heart’s content, and this was it. I made just about everything from scratch, which is why it’ll probably be another year before I do anything like this again. The best part was that I decided to bake the bread for our meal, something I haven’t done in over 15 years!

Here's what my Grand Champion Dill bread looked like just before baking.

Some people think baking bread is a daunting task. I know, because I used to be one of them. And I don’t know why I stopped (blame it on not enough time in the day), because baking is such a pleasure. It’s soothing, relaxing and rewarding. Now, I do not own a bread machine, as I don’t consider using one to be really baking.  If you ask me, it feels a bit like cheating.

I prefer the old fashioned way. I take the temperature of the water before I mix in the yeast. I let my dough rise several times. I split it in thirds and make long strands, which I then braid together. Brush on egg yolk, then I pop it in the oven.

Voila!

I’ve baked this bread before and the recipe I used, Grand Champion Dill Bread, is from the 1979/80 issue of Better Homes & Gardens Creative Ideas: Baking Ideas. If you happen to have that issue around, as I do, it’s on page 16. If not, please see recipe below. Let me tell you, the aromas while it’s baking are absolutely heavenly and the bread itself, piping hot from the oven, delicious.  I was afraid I might have forgotten how to bake bread, but, happily, it all came rushing back. Like riding a bike. So, I may be baking bread again soon.

Now, here’s how I managed BF (Black Friday).  My son and I went on a reconnaissance mission. Which means, we gathered by his computer to review the Black Friday circulars at a website devoted to just that (bfads.net). We then made a list of what we both wanted and, while I manned our secret headquarters (aka, my home), he plunged into the night, to stand in line at Best Buy.

Traveling incognito, he arrived a half hour before opening, and quickly discovered the parking lot was already full. He was about to yell, “ABORT, ABORT!,” when suddenly he realized there was parking available across the street. He then fell in line, with about several hundred BF shoppers, a line that wrapped once around the store. By 12:15 a.m. he was in, and our mission was underway: to search out the items on our list.

Meanwhile, my job was to be on standby (like one of those phone operators in India). Periodically, he’d call me to have me check prices online, verify product codes, and check availability. Isn’t technology amazing?

I only had two items on the list we made: the latest Harry Potter film just released on DVD, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. It was on sale for $9.99. Also on my list, a blu-ray disc player selling for a low $39.99, which we knew would be a long shot as, at those prices, they always go fast.

Success! More or less. Despite being told they were out of the blu-ray disc players, he found a lone one, discarded in another aisle, no doubt by someone who had changed their mind. As for the DVD, he picked up the right one, then at the last minute, he switched the it  for a version that claimed to be in 3-D, as he had recently purchased for himself a 3-D television and wanted to try it out.  Unfortunately, in the excitement of the moment, he didn’t notice that the 3-D version was actually part one of The Deathly Hallows and not part two.

The upshot was that I got to lounge around and relax with a movie on TV while he ran around like crazy gathering his purchases.  He did say that everything was nice and orderly and the people, including the customers, were rather helpful. The worst part? The line to pay. It took him over an hour to get through that line.

So how about you? How did you spend Thanksgiving and Black Friday?

Grand Champion Dill Bread

1 package active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

1 cup dairy sour cream

1 beaten egg

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon dill seed

1 tablespoon dried dill weed

1 teaspoon salt

4 to 6 cups unbleached flour

1 beaten egg yolk

In large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Stir in sour cream, beaten egg, butter, onion, sugar, dill seed, dill weed, salt and 1 cup of the flour. Beat with spoon till well blended. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can with a spoon. Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Continue kneading till smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Let rise till double, 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. Punch down; divide in thirds. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Roll each third to an 18-inch rope. Place on greased baking sheet; braid. Combine egg yolk and 2 teaspoons water; brush atop loaf. Bake in 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Makes 1 loaf.

Take Me to Cinépolis!

Want to know the latest development in the movie industry?  I’m talking bigger than all eight of the Harry Potter films. Bigger than the latest boy wonder, Ryan Reynolds. Yep. Have you been to the movies lately? Well, I went this week and all I can say is, wow! The whole world of movie-going is changing, and if you ask me, it’s about time.

But before I go any further, let me just say,

You’re welcome.

Because I’m pretty sure I had something to do with this gee-whiz-awesomely-new advancement in movie watching. Friends, a theater like this does not happen by accident.  Clearly, someone was spying at my window and saw how, these days, I prefer to watch movies at home instead of going out.  I mean, who wants to tackle the lines, the annoying crowds, and the need to arrive early just so you can get a good seat and not get stuck in the first row where you can develop a crick in your neck from having to crane it for the entire film? Who needs that?

The concession stand. We ate Coconut Shrimp and homemade potato chips, freshly baked.

On the other hand, what can be cozier than staying home and watching a film all cozy in your recliner, while wrapped in a blanket and eating your favorite snack—or sipping a glass off wine?  After all, it’s so much relaxing at home. You can get in your jammies, pop in a DVD and voila! Instant movie theater!  No crowds, no fuss, no muss!

Of course, the downside is, at home you don’t get to see the first-runs–the blockbuster hits, as well as the smaller independents, when they’re newly released. You’re seeing films that have been out for a while.

The lobby area is designed to be a gathering place--to see and be seen.

So whoever was snooping, clearly took the best of watching at home and the best of theater going, and the result is the ultimate in movie-going luxury. So, now you can have your cake and eat it, too!

Welcome to the future. Welcome to Cinépolis.

My kids joined me for a showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Check out those seats!

Cinépolis gives you the best of home viewing while putting you smack in the lap of luxury.  If you ask me, it has brought the comfort of home viewing to a whole new level!

Consider these accoutrements: Reserved seating in your very own leather recliner. Private screening feel, with theaters averaging a mere 70 seats. Push a button and a waiter comes–discreetly and unobtrusively–to your seat to take your order. Fine dining (sushi, sandwich wraps, specialty desserts and more), as well as more traditional movie fare (popcorn, served in cones, and malt balls). The only thing missing is a blanket for your lap!

So look for a Cinépolis coming soon to a theater near you. And when it does, be sure to check it out. Oh, and expect to drop a small bundle, too. It’ll cost a pretty penny, but it’s so worth it!

Until then, I hope my photos do the experience a modicum of justice.

The entire theater has a sleek, well-appointed look, complete with hardwood floors and dark wood paneling.