Monday, November 12, 2012

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe and Video

The night I bought my new Breville Stand Mixer, I made some whole wheat chocolate chip cookies with Blue Rock.  I wanted to see how easy it was to make them.  I had never used my mixer before so I was learning as I was going.  The mixer was great!  It was easy to use and handled the mixing very well, even when Blue Rock turned it to the highest speed.  You can see how well it worked below and how quiet the Breville Stand Mixer is.

This is the Betty Crocker Recipe.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe


3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
  • 1 Heat oven to 375ºF.
  • 2 Mix sugars, butter, vanilla and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  • 3 Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

My New Mixer!

I bought my first awesome stand mixer!  Well, my husband bought it for me for an early Christmas present! Like I said in a previous post, I had a cheap stand mixer in Germany but it was not very good.  I know it would never have been able to mix dough, for example.  After lots and lots of research I decided to buy the Breville Scraper Mixer Pro 5-Quart Die-Cast Stand Mixer.  This was a difficult choice.  I had always thought I would eventually buy a KitchenAid Mixer.  However, after looking at them both, reading lots of reviews, and plugging them both in at the store and comparing them side-by-side, I decided I liked the Breville better.  It was quite a bit quieter than the KitchenAids, had a higher watt motor than the KitchenAid Artizan and only slightly less than the Professional, and the speed dial was easier to use.  It also has a timer and you can set it to a certain time and it will automatically turn off.  I love that!  Especially since I have a busy boy running around and can easily lose track of time.  Both mixers were the same price so it boiled down to what I thought I would enjoy using the most.  I also liked the fact that the controls tells you what speed to set for different things.  Again, it was a tough decision as both mixers are great.  The only thing my Breville won't do that a KA will is I can't attach things to it like a meat grinder.  However, the primary purpose of my mixer is for baking and using it as a mixer.  The makers of it say it was designed by bakers for bakers.  It's a solid mixing machine!

I bought my Breville Stand Mixer from Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $299.99.  However, I had a 20% coupon so it brought my total before tax to about $240.  So for a little over $260 (after tax), I have an amazing mixer.  Here's a video of my unboxing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Trip to the Cheese Farm, Soda Factory, and Chocolate Factory

Last Saturday we decided to take a day trip to the country.  I have really missed seeing farms in Germany and the cheese from Europe, especially The Netherlands.  Europeans usually make their cheese fresh, using only the freshest ingredients, including raw milk from grass fed cows and goats.  So I was looking online to see if I could order some delicious cheese from somewhere and I found a farm about 2 hours away, that makes and sells cheese, organic raw milk, organic eggs, and local organic meat, beef and sausage.  I was excited to learn that we could visit the farm, take a tour, and see how they make their cheese.  Very cool!

DH had a men's Bible study Saturday morning so we missed the tour.  However, we were still able to explore the farm, see the cows and baby calves, which Blue Rock loved.  We saw the outside of the cheese cave, hopefully next time we'll get there in time to go inside.  There was also a large white dog who lived on the farm that was very friendly.  Caden tried feeding the calves grass, so sweet.  We also tried between 12-15 cheeses.  It was the BEST cheese I've had since living in Germany.  We saw the machines they used and the owner/cheese expert, said the equipment is from The Netherlands and he follows those methods in cheese making.  We filled our ice chest with lots of local fresh cheeses, milk, and meats. 

Next we ate at a local restaurant.  It was home cooking at its best.  DH and I each ordered a meat plate with 3 veggies.  The meal came with a drink and dessert all for $8!  What a deal!  We shared our food with Blue Rock and still had leftovers.  For a couple bucks more you could order the all you can eat buffet.  Everything is made fresh there and it was packed with locals. 

After a delicious lunch we headed to Dublin Bottling Works, where Dr. Pepper used to be made.  Now they make sodas with pure cane sugar, yummy!  I ordered a dark soda from the soda jerk and Blue Rock had his first taste of soda.  I loved the look on his face!  I asked him if he liked it and he said yes.  He tried a few more small sips then gave it back to me.  We're not big soda drinkers but we bought a big case of a variety of pure cane sugar sodas anyway.  DH said we might as well buy 24 since they'd only be $1 each instead of $1.50.

Next we headed to the small town of Hico to a chocolate factory called Wiseman House Chocolates.  Did I ever mention that Europeans also have better chocolate than Americans?  Especially the Belgians and Swiss.  At this factory, all of the chocolate is made by hand from the same chocolate from Belgium and Venezuela,  They only use fresh ingredients and leave out added sugars, glutens, sodium nitrates, and trans fats.  If you like chocolate you'd love their chocolate.  They offer tours and classes as well.  Think of episode of I Love Lucy when Lucy and Ethel made chocolate.  If you visit, make sure you bring some money because this is the not the cheap chocolate you buy at Target or Walmart.  We tasted some delicious chocolates, then loaded up our small ice chest with chocolate gifts for Christmas.

We enjoyed our day trip a lot.  I am so glad there are so many wonderful places to visit around us that are only a day trip away.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kitchen Stand Mixer Advice

In Germany I bought my first stand mixer.  It was an inexpensive German brand 220v.  I got a lot of great use out of it and had no problem selling it before we moved back.  Now I am looking for a really good stand mixer that will hopefully last for a number of years for my life in the States.  I had always thought I would get a KitchenAid stand mixer.  However, it seems like since KitchenAid is no longer owned by Hobart, the quality is not what it used to be.  Lots of people love them but then there's a certain percent that get a bad one.  Although it is noteworthy that for many years, KitchenAid was voted No. 1 by Consumer Reports, even though it's no longer what it used to be.  However, recently, Consumer Reports has rated another kitchen stand mixer No. 1, Breville, which looks really awesome.  Another friend told me Bosch is the best brand.  However, based on reviews, their larger kitchen mixer doesn't seem like it's as good for smaller batches.  If you have a large family and bake large amounts at a time it would be perfect.  Bosch does, however, have a compact mixer that could work for us.  It reminds me of my German mixer except my German mixer didn't have a shield to keep the batter inside. 

I would love to get your opinion on this.  If you own or have used one of these, did you like it?  I mainly bake cookies, brownies, and occasionally bread. If there's another mixer you love, I'd love to learn about it.

Here are the mixers I'm considering:

1. Breville Scraper Mixer Pro - $285.53 at Amazon.  It has 550 watts, 5 qt. stainless steal bowl, 12 speeds, and a timer.  It actually looks like an awesome mixer.  I just had never heard of it before.  The only downside is you can't add attachments like you can on KitchenAid.  But I'm not sure if I would even buy or use any attachments, so this might work fine.  I'm actually leaning toward getting this one because of all the user friendly baker features.  Including high watts and timer.

Breville Mixer
2. KitchenAid Artisan or KitchenAid Professional - $359-$459.
KitchenAid Artisan has 325 watts, 5 qt. bowl, and 10 speeds. Lots of colors to choose from.
KitchenAid Professional 600 series has 575 watts, 6 qt. bowl, and 10 speeds.
Both are made in the USA.

KitchenAid® Professional 600™ Series 6-Quart Bowl Lift Stand Mixer
KitchenAid Professional

KitchenAid® 5-Quart Artisan™ Stand Mixer
KitchenAid Artisan

3. Bosch Compact Mixer - $199.99 at Amazon.  The pros is it's less expensive than the other two and can do basically what the other ones can do and is smaller.  It has 400 watts and has great reviews for making bread.
Negatives are, it's made of all plastic, although this makes it lightweight.  It also only has four speeds.
I just don't know if this one is really as good as the others.  Consumer Reports didn't even consider this one in it's study. I also don't really like the color white but I would probably store it in my cabinets anyway.
product image
Bosch Compact Mixer

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Adjusting to Life in the States

We have been back in the States for about 9 months now.  They say when you move overseas it takes about 6 months to adjust, sometimes it can take up to a year.  I believe that is true whether you are moving to a foreign country or moving back to your own.  Things change when you're gone, people change.  For better or worse, relationships change.   

When we were in Germany and I thought about how my life would be when we returned to Texas, it was different than my life really is.  I thought we would live near where we used to live, go to the same church we used to go to, and hang out with the same friends we used to hang out with.  Thankfully, we still see some of our old friends occasionally, but we live 45 minutes to an hour away from most of them.  Not only that but we have all changed some.  Most of us are now parents.  I returned to the States as a mom, and a stay-at-home mother at that.  In Germany all of my friends who had children stayed home with their children or worked a part time job from home.  Here many of my "old" friends work full time or part time away from home. Several of them are not married or do not have children.  Which is fine, I love people who are in all stages and walks of life.

I am a people person.  The title, stay-at-home mom is very deceiving.  I honestly don't know any stay-at-home mom who really stays at home most of the time unless she has a newborn and is recovering from childbirth or has a sick child.  Most stay-at-home mamas are very active, we take our children places, we volunteer in our communities, we look for fun things to do and enjoy our children.  A bonus for getting out of the house is, if you're not home, nothing in your house will be destroyed and you might even come home to a clean house. 

Thankfully I live in a big city so there is plenty to do and people to meet.  I have joined a new church, which was very, very difficult.  We love our friends from our old church.  However, we no longer live on that side of town.  We tried for over 3 months driving 40 minutes each way on Sunday to church before we finally realized it was too far to commute with a young child.  Thankfully Blue Rock has adjusted well to our new church which is 7 minutes away where he also attends preschool.  I also joined a local Mom's Club and a MOPS group.  

We also bought annual zoo passes and museum passes.  One thing that kind of surprised me has been that I've become better friends with some people I used to know that I wasn't as close to when we lived here before.  Others whom I thought I would hang out with all the time we don't.

I'm sharing all of this to say that we are adjusting well.  There are things we miss about Germany and things we are loving about being home in our country.  A few things that I have noticed that have changed since we were gone are: higher prices in food, more people seem to be unemployed, and a strain in the medical field. Those are just a few things I've noticed.  

There are days, however, that I really miss parts of my life in Germany.  I miss the friendships, Bible studies, beauty, neighbors, and traveling.  I know Blue Rock does too.  I thought at 2.5 he would adjust really easily to moving but it has been hard on him.  Now he's almost 3.5 and he still talks about Germany sometimes, his friends, our old his, his old room, and the parks.  I felt very safe in Germany and loved how I could walk down the street to two different parks in about 2-3 minutes.  But like I said, life is good, adjusting is hard, but we are doing good.  I love our new house and I am enjoying getting to see old friends and meeting new ones.  We have also enjoyed going to new places.
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