Friday, March 27, 2009

Extreme Closeup

This is definitely an extreme closeup because I never get close to these things if I can help it!

It's been a long time since I've participated in Photo Friday assignment, and it's something I want to get back to doing each week. (Life must be slowing down a bit...) Check out their site for more extreme closeups. People have posted some amazing pictures!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Love Mrs. Baird's... Bakery

Earlier this month, our homeschool group took a field trip to Mrs. Baird's Bakery in Fort Worth.

After we were ushered into the classroom, our tour guide told us we were in for a real treat. The smaller bakery that offers tours was closed that day for unscheduled maintenance, so instead of rescheduling us, she decided to take us across the parking lot to the larger bakery. Score!

We watched a cartoon video about the history of Mrs. Baird's Bread and how the bread is made, then we put on hair nets and hard hats with earphones and walked next door.

The factory was loud, as was to be expected. We saw not only bread being made, baked, and cooled, but we also got to see icing being spread on top of cinnamon rolls and mini donuts traveling on conveyor belts, on their way to be smothered in powdered sugar or bathed in chocolate. We saw where their delicious honey buns are made, but they were finished with that for the day. We also got to see where the bread is sliced and packaged, but that was also temporarily shut down.

On our way out of the factory area, each of us was given a package of mini chocolate donuts and a honey bun.

Our next stop was a replica of Mrs. Baird's original kitchen, where she baked 4 loaves of bread at a time. For more information on Mrs. Baird's history, check out "Meet Mrs. Baird" on the company's website.

After our tour was over, we went back into the classroom and sampled some fresh, warm bread and butter. Mmmmm...

Down the street, there was a Mrs. Baird's Bakery Outlet where you can buy day old bread at half-price as well as other things made in the bakery. There's also an outlet near our library, so I think we'll go from time to time.

Unfortunately the Mrs. Baird's bread we've bought at local grocery stores gets hard after just a day or two. The boys eat sandwiches for lunch almost daily, so hard bread doesn't go over well. For Billy and the boys, I buy Sunbeam bread, which I've noticed stays soft for about a week. For myself, I do buy Mrs. Baird's Bread - the Honey 7 Grain variety, which has sunflower seeds and other goodies baked into it. One loaf will last me two weeks, though, since I only eat a half a sandwich for lunch almost daily. Yes, the bread gets a little dry after a while, but it doesn't seem to get as hard as the white bread. I'm happy with it.

We enjoyed the bakery tour and the boys have already said they're ready to go back. If you're interested in going, it's a great experience, but you have to request a reservation up to two weeks in advance. Small groups and families can probably get in easier than larger groups like ours. To schedule a tour, visit their website.

A few things we learned...

*The main ingredients in Mrs. Baird's Bread are flour, yeast, water, and milk.

*The factories run 24/7, with two days off each year - Thanksgiving and Christmas.

*Mrs. Baird's Bread can be found in TX and neighboring states, as well as MO.

*Wendy's restaurants are the largest local (DFW) consumer of Mrs. Baird's hamburger buns.

*The factory can bake 2,000 loaves of bread at once. The bread takes 20 minutes to bake and 2 hours to cool (if I remember correctly). We saw 20,000 loaves cooling on a rotating rack when we visited.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #36

I got busy yesterday and forgot to post!

Here's the plan for this week:

Monday: mac & cheese and hot dogs for the kiddoes (keeping 2 others); pot luck for Billy and me.

Tuesday: Italian Sausage Pasta

Wednesday: leftovers or sandwiches

Thursday: Mexican Chicken Casserole, Spanish Rice

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: OUT!

Sunday: OUT!

Next week will be our Spring Break, so I won't be cooking. I'll post another week's menus after that.

I'll be adding some more recipes to my recipe blog (Ashley's Cafe) soon! I've got Rum Pound Cake, Garlic Butter Shrimp, Italian Sausage Pasta, and Jambalaya. Maybe more!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday #35

Yes, I know it's been a long time since I've posted a weekly menu plan. The last time was in October...

Here's what's on the menu for this week:

Monday: Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya and steamed broccoli

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: grilled cheese sandwiches and carrot sticks

Thursday: Garlic Butter Shrimp with Cracked Pepper, angel hair pasta, salad, garlic bread

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: Garlic Bread Pizza

Sunday: sandwiches