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Monday, December 7, 2015

Of Blogs and Bread

All weekend I've been researching web hosts and trying to glean the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. More importantly, I've been trying to decide which is the best for me and my situation.

Enter tech-guru Tia Nevitt who was kind enough to explain what I was reading. Deciphering technical jargon is like reading ancient Greek...backwards.

After talking to Tia I'm sure now I want to go the self-hosting route. I don't want to be encumbered by restrictions over what I can and cannot post. Chances are using WordPress.com wouldn't hurt me any, but I'm trying to plan for how my blog might evolve in two or three years. WordPress.org is more hands-on, meaning more control on the part of the user.

That's good if you like to have full control of your blog. Not so good if you're a troglodyte like me. But even troglodytes can learn. We usually do it kicking and screaming--but we do learn. 

Whatever I decide won't go into effect until mid to late January. I want to get the holidays behind us before I start anything new.

Speaking of holidays...have you decorated? We were supposed to decorate over the weekend but I came down with a bad sinus headache. 

This year I plan to make gift baskets for my friends. For the neighbors I plan to make some kind of bakery goodness. Sherri Myer on Facebook posted this recipe for cinnamon rolls. I'll probably use Greg as my pastry tester to be sure they came out right. He won't mind. :)

I've mentioned before that I am not a baker, but I would love to get better at it. Please, please, all you bakers out there: What's your secret for making a light, holey bread?



My bread always comes out too dense. I thought maybe I was overworking the dough but even with my handy-dandy Kitchenaid mixer, it's still not light and fluffy.

What am I doing wrong? It tastes good, but it's as heavy as a rock.

Do you bake?
Have you decorated yet?
Anybody out there use WordPress.org?

36 comments:

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

We'll probably do our decorating this week or next weekend. It's our first Christmas in our new place so we're still not sure yet what or how much we'll put up this year.

Good luck with the cinnamon rolls - yum! :)

Maria Zannini said...

Madeline: Go all out if you can. The first Christmas in any new place is sure to create lots of memories. Mine always did.

Sandra Almazan said...

Maria, do you use bread flour? I think it has more gluten in it to aid with rising. I use a mixture of bread and wheat flour, along with extra gluten. Even so, sometimes my loaves are shorter than other loaves made with the same recipe.

betty said...

That is great to give the gift of bread :) I'm sure it will be a wonderful one to receive (and tasty too).

I haven't done much decorating the past few years; December has been kind of a hard month for our family; several losses in the month and other things that have happened; its kind of hard to get into the festivity of the season. We won't be home this Christmas so that gave me a good excuse not to decorate this year :)

When you do go over to WordPress, I'm not that familiar with it, but make sure if you can to put something on your blog that allows people to subscribe to it through email or something like that so I don't lose track of you.

betty

Angela Brown said...

I'm working on setting up a website for both my names. With DOBB launching soon, my Rayven website is getting set up first. Between the two jobs and my kid, doing the site myself wasn't happening so I found someone to do something fairly simple and easy to maintain using Wordpress. Even with me letting the second job go soon, the writing will step in so I'll stay busy.

You're a fast learner so I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

I don't bake so sorry... no secrets to help with that.

Mike Keyton said...

Yes all the stuff about using the right flour. In my case Strong Canadian flour. And yes, I used to make my own bread as a matter of misplaced pride. But now I have a Panasonic breadmaker and it's absolutely brilliant. So. the right flour and a Greg Christmas present bread maker is my tip. You can thank me in years to come :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I used to bake bread for Christmas gifts for neighbors and friends all the time. I was always told if your bread is too heavy, you're using too much flour. Don't know if that will help or not.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I'm in the process of decorating, but only on the inside and only in the family room. It's where we're at most of the time anyway. No one in the family seems to care if the house is decorated outside, so I don't bother anymore.

Maria Zannini said...

Sandra: I do use bread flour. I remember hearing something about using extra gluten, but I'd never seen it on store shelves.

Maria Zannini said...

Betty: If you're traveling, there's no point in decorating. Sometimes, I just put a wreath outside the door so the neighbors don't think I'm a total Grinch. :)


re: Wordpress
I'm sure I'll have a subscription tab up. I know some people prefer it.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: That was smart. Sometimes we forget that our time is money too. Unfortunately, I have no excuse. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: I had a breadmaker, but that was back when I was an even dumber baker than I am now.

Some people swear by King Arthur flour. It's pricey, but maybe I can try a small bag and see if that makes a difference.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: That's a good point. I'll have to double check my measurements next time.

I'm sure I'm not very accurate.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I hear you. I hate to decorate outside because no one can see it from the road anyway.

The inside is my fairy playground though. I like to go all out.

Rebekah Loper said...

Perhaps too much flour? I can make the same recipe, identically, and have it turn out light and fluffy one time, and dense the other. My mom says it's about how much moisture is in the flour itself. The only way I can come even remotely close to getting it the same every time is to go by 'feel', which is why I still hand-knead my bread. Also because heavy-duty mixers are so expensive.

Hubby being laid off has prompted me to start thinking about some of the blog-things I've been considering for income, but have been putting off so far. So, maybe, after Christmas when I have some gift cash, I'll see about going self-hosted.

Maria Zannini said...

Rebekah: I wish I knew the answer to my bread dilemma. For my next try I'm going to buy fresh yeast and flour and see if that makes a difference.

Anna Soliveres said...

First time hearing/reading the word troglodyte. I've been considering migrating to WordPress, but haven't sat down to really review all the pros and cons. Probably because, like you, I looked all the jargon, got dizzy, and decided anything, staring at a blank wall was better than trying to decipher it all.

Good luck on finding something that works for you! I can't wait to hear more about it, and glean some insight.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I've decorated as much as I'm going to. I did the tree and a few knick knacks, but that will be all this year.

I love to bake when I'm feeling up to it. I'm making a cake this Thursday, actually. But that will likely be all of the holiday baking.

Maria Zannini said...

Anna: This is why I put it off for so long. Every year or so I think about Wordpress. Unless you're doing a template styled blog you need more software savvy than I've got. But now I have to get off my duff and do it.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: Heck. You just got out of the hospital. You need to take it easy--and give all your chores to hubby. :)

Jenny Schwartz said...

I use Wordpress.org, self-hosting. I'm a tech dummie, and so far, no problems. You'll rock it, Maria! T

Marlene Dotterer said...

My son and his family are on their way down from Seattle area THIS VERY MINUTE. I expect them in the next 2 or 3 hours. With three grandchildren (2,4,6)coming, I waited to decorate so I can have a house full of excited kiddies, cookies, music and hot chocolate. Tomorrow is the day and I'm already full of giggles.

As for bread, alas, I can't help. I have rarely made a successful loaf. I refuse to use refined flour and I've followed recipes for whole wheat, but no luck. It just refuses to rise much. I haven't tried in a few years.

I did buy gluten though - I think I ordered it from Bob's Red Mill. They're my go-to source for anything in the grain line that I can't find locally.

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: You give me hope. I might email you later this week to ask you about your host.

Maria Zannini said...

Marlene: The kids are going to love it. There's nothing like visiting grandma for Christmas.

Enjoy.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Definitely email, Maria. Tia can give informed and clear advice. I can provide the panic and ignore advice :)

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: Yeah, but you'll probably understand my panic best of all. Tia will only laugh at me--or at least chuckle.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Only lightly decorated. So, a tree (half a tree, actually, on a table) half the ornaments and then some wreaths, but that was it

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: I'll bet you're just saving your energy for cooking. :)

Lynn Viehl said...

On the bread dilemma -- I always proof the yeast first (instructions here: http://www.thekitchn.com/baking-lessons-how-to-proof-ye-94555) before I bake to make sure the little bubble makers are ready to work. Sometimes lazy yeast makes bread heavy. I'm also careful not to use water hotter than skin temperature because my Mom always claimed that actually kills a lot of the yeast. I have pretty good luck with my breads and rolls being light so I think it might help if you're not already doing it.

Other than putting up the lights on the house we have not decorated yet. My guy works in retail and is inundated with holiday stuff in his face all day long, so I try to keep it low-key at home. I talked to him tonight about going out to get a tree and he just gave me this blank look, like he'd completely forgotten that we still don't have a Christmas tree. I think maybe he did! Ha.

Shelley Munro said...

I tend to put seeds and nuts in my bread, so it's denser anyway. The others have given you great advice. With bread and baking, I think a lot of it is trial and error. The final product can depend on the ingredients, the oven and the baker!

No decorations here. I get a bit bah-humbug about Christmas. Must be related to the Grinch ;-)

My website is self-hosted WordPress.

Maria Zannini said...

Lynn: Oh-oh. I might have found my problem. I think I err on the side of caution and use too hot water. I'm going to start proofing the yeast to make sure it's working too. Thanks!

re: working retail
He's probably tired of Christmas music too. Back when I used to decorate store windows my goal would be to finish before the store opened so I could work upstairs (in the attic) before the music started.

Maria Zannini said...

The warmer it is, the harder it is to feel Christmasy--and you're in the middle of summer.

Re: WordPress
Ah, another Wordpress mentor. :)

Crystal Collier said...

I don't bake or I could probably tell you, but it may be your oven. Not all ovens cook the same.

Maria Zannini said...

Crystal: My oven is marginally hotter than most, but I've learned to compensate for it.

I always recommend people checking their oven temperature. Not all ovens heat alike. I found out the hard way when dishes I'd prepared before were coming out overdone in my new oven.

Misha Gericke said...

I bake, but mostly cakes and cookies. We haven't gotten around to decorating either. (And after moving house in March, I'm not 100% sure where everything is.)

Maria Zannini said...

Misha: In years past, my go-to gifts were cookies and cakes, but now I want to try something more adventurous.

Re: moving
I take the holiday season off every I move. Like you, I don't know where everything is until I un-box them so why cause more stress.