Sunday, July 8, 2012


Just 2 days out from the 4th of July party and we are CRAZY enough to begin preparations for the next party.  Tomorrow we are having a dinner party for some well deserved and beloved friends.  The prep work began today.  I began by putting together flower arrangements for the tables.  I like to put arrangements together myself.  It saves quite a bit of  money but more importantly I really like doing it.  This is a really good way of turning a couple of $10.00 bunches of flowers into 3 $30.00 arrangements.  By putting these together today, I have more time for other party prep tomorrow.  My glorious Mother always told me to do everything I can ahead of time.  I am just now starting to listen.  I did not have three of the same vases so I opted to use these little white serving bowels.

Putting a grid of tape on the container will help the flowers stand up.  I have gotten lazy several times and skipped this step.  I am always sorry I did.  I wind up fighting the flowers to stay in their position the entire time.  After putting water in the container, I choose the largest or most important looking flowers of the bunch.  These get the important position of  "center and high".  Then next order of business is the "corners" of the containers.  These bowels obviously don't have corners, but I have visually divided the bowel into four parts so I can spread out the color.

 The arrangements had a lot of white so the corners got white as well as the center. 
Time for the fun...color.  The important positions have been taken so now there are designated "holes" in which to place the beautiful colored flowers from the bouquet.  The colored flowers fit perfectly in the void spaces between each "corner" flower. 
When making multiple arrangements, I always make them simultaneously.  I am too CRAZY to keep it straight any other way. 

Don't be freaked out by any spaces left between flowers.  This is why we use filler!  YEA, for filler!!!!  Don't ever throw filler away.  My good friend Debbie taught me never to throw filler away.  We can use it all!  Thanks, Deb!
 These are sweet, simple, and were very inexpensive.  I get teased all the time for saying it...but..."It doesn't have to be expensive it just have to be thoughtful."
Make sure the finished arrangement has enough water to last the night.  If I have room I keep them in the fridge.  These little guys will spend the night in the beverage fridge in the garage.
Additionally, we made homemade rolls.  It is a killer recipe my mom got years and years ago from a neighbor.  I think just about every roll maker on the block uses this recipe.  I spent years sitting nose high at the counter watching my Mom make rolls. It certainly is a lost art. I would like to thank her for passing on her knowledge and talents.  I have learned well.   These rolls take a little time but are well worth the trouble!  The secret to the soft and delicious bread is potato flakes.  YEP, you read it right, potato flakes. 
I have changed the original recipe a bit and I thought I would give it first and then share the things that I have changed. :]

Potato Knot Rolls
1 ½ T. yeast (or 1 T. instant yeast)
¼ cup warm water (if using reg. yeast)
½ t. sugar (if using reg. yeast)
3 cups milk
1 cube butter and ¼ c. shortening
(you may use ¾ cup of any combination of butter & shortening)
1 cup instant potato flakes
¾ cup sugar
1 T. salt
4 eggs
7-8 cups flour
An additional cube of butter for spreading on dough before forming knots.
(Suggestion:  half unbleached Pillsbury flour and half Gold Medal Better for Bread flour)

Step 1.  Heat milk in microwave for 5-7 minutes.  Add butter, shortening, potato flakes,sugar and salt.  Combine and let cool to lukewarm.
Step 2.  Beat eggs and add the lukewarm milk mixture.  Add 4 cups flour and beat until smooth.  Add the yeast (If you use the instant yeast you can put it right n and omit the ¼ cup water and ½ t. sugar.  Otherwise, you will need to prepare the yeast ahead of time as you normally would with any bread recipe by adding the yeast to ¼ c. water and ½ t. sugar and let it sit for a few minutes.)  Mix on low and slowly add the flour, until the sides of the mixer are clean-ish.  Don’t make too stiff. (Keep on the soft side, or it is hard to roll out.)  Sometimes it takes all 8 cups and sometimes a little less.
Let the mixer knead the dough for 5-8 minutes.  Put the dough in a large bowl sprayed with Pam.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour.
Step 3  Divide dough in half and roll into a large rectangle.  Take soft butter (1/2 cube for each half) and spread all over the rectangle.  Take the top of the rectangle and fold to the middle and then take the bottom of the rectangle and fold on top so that you have a long rectangle.  

Cut the dough into 1 inch strips and tie in a knot.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet or one lined in parchment.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 2-3 hours depending on the temperature inside the house and bake at 375 for about 11-12 minutes.
This is what I do when I make them
* Always use regular yeast.  It tastes better and rises waaaaay better.  Many people say there is not much of a difference, but when you make them all the time you become very picky.  
*Use whole milk
*I do not use a combo of butter and shortening, I use ALL butter.  
*I use 5 large eggs and beat them well with a mixer.  The smoother the ingredients, the smoother the end product! I find that one additional egg makes the dough easier to work with.
*I use only 7 cups of flour, never 8.  The dough will be sticky but it also remains softer.  Have you ever had dough that you can't roll out? Like, when you roll it out it retracts right back? Well...surprise! Too much flour! Use less, you can always flour the rolling surface as needed.

These rolls freeze well.  YEA! Another exciting element to this dough!  I learned this from my Mom.  After the first rise, she would roll them out, knot them, place them on a cookie sheet, and put them in the freezer.  The day you want to fill your house with the lovely homemade smell of love, just take them out and separate 12 or so to a sheet,  let them thaw and rise for the second time.  Obviously, they need extra time to thaw in addition to the rising time.  Love these rolls!  Homemade bread not only makes you a hero, they make your whole house smell FABULOUS!!! :]

Lovely party! Well worth the work! 

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