The Easiest Bread You Will Ever Make

Just look at that homemade bread…..

Hi there Hudson Valley! The COVID-19 pandemic has left us with time on our hands to try new things. So we thought we would help you learn how to make the best bread you have ever tasted!

The boss’s wife makes the best bread! She makes Milk Bread,

Milk Bread

Dutch Oven Bread,

Dutch Oven Bread

and is currently trying her hand at Sourdough, but this is the recipe that she can make in her sleep, and everyone loves it! Trust us, this is fool-proof breadmaking at its finest. Great bread recipe for the first-time baker.

Fresh Bread

Easiest Bread You’ll Ever Make


2 envelops of Active Dry Yeast (or 4 & 1/2 tsp if using jarred)
1 Tablespoon & 2 teaspoons of sugar
2 Cups of warm to warmish water
1 & 1/2 Tablespoons of salt
5 cups of flour (you can substitute bread flour, but it will make for VERY HEFTY loaves, we are talking a ton of bricks heavy)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 or more Tablespoons cornmeal (to scatter over a baking pan or pizza tile)
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water (to brush over bread before baking)
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, everything bagel seasoning, coarse salt or Whatever you want to sprinkle over the top
Spray oil
Ramekins for hot water
Hot water

Using a standing mixer (or large bowl) combine yeast, sugar, and water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Doing this gives your yeast the ability to bloom. If you watch the mixture, you will see little eruptions, that’s the yeast coming to life!

Add to this mixture your flor, salt, and olive oil. Using a dough hook and occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl, mix for 5 to 7 minutes. If mixing by hand, stir and scrape the sides of the bowl until the dough forms into a ball, once it forms into a ball, turn onto a floured surface and knead for 3 to 7 minutes. The dough should not feel wet, if it does, add flour by the tablespoon until it begins to feel dry. Put the dough into a well oiled large bowl. Cover with a clean dishcloth or oiled plastic wrap and let sit for an hour. If you find that you have a conference call in an hour, or you fall asleep while binging Netflix, DON’T WORRY! The dough can rise for as long as two hours, as a matter of fact, the longer the rise, the better the bread tastes!

Your dough should have doubled in size by now. Let out some of your isolation frustration and punch it down with a swift smack to the middle of it. Cover it and let it rest for 5 minutes. Use that 5 minutes to line two baking sheets with parchment paper or tinfoil. If baking on the baking sheet & using tin foil, spray the tin foil with cooking spray and then generously dust with cornmeal. If using a pizza stone, sprinkle a small amount of flour on parchment paper, save the cornmeal for the stone itself.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and use a sharp knife to divide it into two lumps. Set one lump aside and cover it with a clean cloth. Take a rolling pin and roll it out into a rectangle that is about 3/4 of an inch thick. If you want to make round loaves, roll the dough into a tight ball using well-floured hands. Place your newly formed loaf onto your prepared baking sheets and cover with clean cloths or well-oiled plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 400, if you are using a pizza stone, put it in the oven while it is heating up. Brush each loaf with your egg/water mixture, then take a sharp knife and slash the loaves. Long loaves usually get three slashes, round loaves 2. Then sprinkle with your choice of toppings.

Carefully transfer loaves to pizza stone for baking.

Before putting your loaves in the oven, you can fill ramekins with hot water (or an oven-safe coffee cup works in a pinch) to help create steam to help the bread rise while baking, but if you forget it still works.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When you take the loaves out of the oven, make sure to tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow, then it is done. Do your best to let the bread sit for at least half an hour before you cut into it, but we totally understand if you can’t wait.

We would love to hear from you about your favorite bread recipes, and if you try this one, share a picture of your loaves with us!

From everyone at Hudson Valley Agents, stay safe, stay healthy, stay home, and bake bread! Remember, we are all in this together.

5 Of Our Favorite Hudson Valley Hikes

Welcome to the weekend Hudson Valley, let’s go hiking! Hiking is the best way to see just how gorgeous our valley truly is.

We have put together a list of our five favorite places to hike, and we would love to hear about yours.
1- Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, Orange County – Do not expect to see or do everything at this 500- acre outdoor sculpture museum in one visit, and remember to bring sunscreen! Admission is $18 and worth every penny.
2- Schunemunk Mountain State Park, New Windsor, Orange County – Schunemunk Mountain is the highest point in Orange County, and no one in our office has yet to hike all the way to the megaliths. Be prepared to sweat.
3- Poet’s Walk Park, Red Hook, Dutchess County – Rumor has it that this is where Washington Irving came up with the idea for his famous story “Rip Van Winkle,” and once you climb that first short hill you will understand why.
4- Breakneck Ridge, Fishkill, Dutchess County – This hike is not for the faint of heart. The highest peak is 1,260 feet above sea level. This hike is so popular that it has its own Metro-North stop!
5- Falling Waters Preserve, Saugerties, Ulster County – Because of its proximity to the Hudson River, this preserve was once home to a rather large ice house. 168 acres, 3 miles of trails, and don’t forget the waterfalls!

If you happen to be wondering why we only listed one Ulster County hiking spot, you need to know that it was not a deliberate decision. Ulster County has an overabundance of gorgeous places to hike and bike, it is impossible to list all of our favorites.

Making a difference in our communities

On September 30 Team Hudson Valley Agents will join in the Out of the Darkness walk across the Hudson river.  We will join hundreds of other teams in Poughkeepsie at the Walkway Over the Hudson site to add our voice and donations to this worthy cause.

Since joining the Out of the Darkness cause we have heard many stories of loss and of triumph, and most of all we hear people say; “How can I help?”

Donations, education, or joining an AFSP event like the Out of the Darkness walk are ways for you to help prevent suicide in your community.  You can be the light for someone who is living in darkness.

If you would like to walk with us, please click here, and thank you for joining the team!  If you would like to help us with our fundraising, please click here, and thank you for your donation.  If you would like to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on your own, please click here, and thank you for donating to such a worthy cause.

Help us ensure that everyone knows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – donate today.

 

**THIS JUST IN**

The Hudson Valley SPCA receives their first van filled with dogs from Texas today and they are in desperate need of donations to help care for these animals.  If you would like to donate food, treats, blankets, dog beds, or towels please stop by 99 West Main Street in Walden during regular business hours.

 

#hurricaneharvey  #hudsonvalleyspca  #donationsneeded  #outofthedarkness  #HudsonValley #suicideprevention  #besomeoneslight  #insurelocal    

6 Things we love about life in the Hudson Valley!

When you ask someone what they love the most about the Hudson Valley you will probably never get the same answer twice.  We thought we should share some of the things we love about living and working in the Hudson Valley and we could find out what your favorite Hudson Valley adventures.

1- Taking a cruise on the Hudson River.  If you aren’t lucky enough to own a boat, then hopping aboard one of the river’s many cruise ships is an excellent way to really appreciate the beauty of the Hudson River.  We’ve cruised with Hudson Valley Cruises and truly enjoyed the trip!

2- All of the unique street art.  The city of Kingston is host to the original O+ festival and the artists that use the buildings as their canvas are top notch!

3- The Hudson Valley’s amazing breweries, vineyards, and distilleries!  We highly recommend 2 Way Brewing Company in Beacon.  Please drink responsibly while exploring the Hudson Valley’s many alcoholic beverages.

4- Drive-Ins!  It’s summertime, grab a blanket, some bug spray, and make sure your car’s battery is fully charged, it’s time to go to the Drive-In!  Dutchess county is home to 3 drive ins,  Green county has 2, Orange county has 1 (if we’re wrong, please let us know), and that seems to be it.  If you know of any that we’ve missed, please let us know.

5- Hiking.  Let’s face it, we live in the most photogenic place in New York state.  Just look at these views-

6- Fall.  Best. Thing. Ever.  Hay rides, apple picking, cider, the leaves, the air, there is nothing more beautiful than the Hudson Valley when the leaves are at their most vivid reds and oranges!

Let us know what your favorite things are in the Hudson Valley!  #ExploretheHudsonValley  #shoplocal  #eatlocal  #playlocal  #insurelocal  #HudsonValleyAgents  #HudsonValley

Welcome to Walden!

Walden has a bad reputation.  We don’t fully understand why or how Walden came to have its own listing in the Urban Dictionary, TBH we don’t really care.  We liked Walden when we opened our doors here 26 years ago, and we grew to love it and we think you will too.

Walden has something for everyone, but here’s a few of our favorite things:

Walden is our home, so stop by for a free insurance quote and we’ll tell you where the locals go to find the best pizza!   #HudsonValleyAgents  #insurelocal  #WaldenNY  #exploretheHudsonValley

 

Making and insuring movies in the Hudson Valley

Let’s talk about movie making in the Hudson Valley.  Governor Cuomo recently signed legislation extending tax credits for those making movies in certain counties in New York state, thus making filmmaking in the Hudson Valley very affordable.  Affordability is only part of the picture, the Hudson Valley is home to Umbra, a huge soundstage in Newburgh, and there is a proposal to build a film studio in Kingston.  We are also home to the Woodstock Film Festival, two wonderful independent theaters, and all the natural beauty anyone could ever want.

Even without the tax credit incentive, people have been flocking to the Hudson Valley to make movies and we would like to write their insurance!  We can insure every aspect of movie making in the Hudson Valley.  General liability, Property and Inland Marine, Crime and Fidelity, Bell Endorsements, and we even offer Risk Management.  We won’t bore you with all the insurance-speak in this blog, we’ll let Dave Jr take care of that, he’s our expert in this field and you can reach him at our Walden office 845-7782141.

Before we end today’s blog we thought we should share some of our favorite movies that were filmed in the Hudson Valley & New York state:

  • Cold In July (starring Michael C Hall and Sam Shepard, filmed in Kingston)
  • Taking Woodstock (filming was done at Yasgur’s Farm!)
  • Sisterhood of the Night (also filmed in Kingston)
  • Regarding Henry  (starring Harrison Ford & filmed in part in Millbrook)
  • Super Troopers (filmed scenes in Poughkeepsie, Wappingers Falls, Beacon, and Briarcliff Manor)

#movieinsurance  #makingmovies  #HudsonValley  #insurelocal  #HudsonValleyAgents

Top 5 New Year’s resolutions in the Hudson Valley

There are only 4 more days left in 2016, and for that we are thankful!  2016 has been the year from hell for most of America and we find ourselves looking towards 2017 with hope and a little bit of nervous laughter.  2017 will be welcomed in with hearts filled with the hope that this will be the year we actually keep our New Year’s resolutions.

Making resolutions for the new year is something we have all done and 2017 will be no exception.  An impromptu poll of Hudson Valley residents (we asked our friends and family members) shows that these are the 5 most popular Hudson Valley New Year’s resolutions:

1- Lose 10 pounds

2- Save money

3- Live your best life

4- Shop locally more often

5- Become more organized

Hudson Valley Agents can help you keep 3 out of 5 of these resolutions!

  • Saving money on your insurance is easy, call, click, or stop by for a free quote on all of your insurance needs.  We work with many insurance companies that offer competitive rates and many of them are located on the east coast.
  • We love to shop local and we really love to insure local!  We work with several Hudson Valley-based insurance companies as well as companies based in New York state.  We also offer affordable insurance coverage for small businesses throughout the state.  You can always #insurelocal with us!
  • Organizing your insurance policies is easy with our free app for iPhone and Android users!  Finding your policies, making claims, making payments, even finding your car in a crowded parking lot just became a whole lot easier.

#HudsonValleyAgents #NewYearsresolutions  #insurelocal

Spiders in the Hudson Valley

DSC_0004_edited

This not so little spider has set up housekeeping on our social media manager’s back porch.  Kudos to her for overcoming her arachnophobia long enough to take this photo!  Believe it or not, spiders are a vital part of our ecosystem and should be looked upon with thanks instead of this –

kill it with fire

Hudson Valley Agents cannot recommend the “kill it with fire” option, and we feel compelled to inform you that your homeowner’s insurance probably won’t cover the fire option of spider removal, although we are sure they are just as creeped out by spiders as we are.  Regarding insurance, coexisting is your best bet.

Contrary to popular belief, most outdoor spiders do not seek the comfort of your home when the weather in the Hudson Valley starts to cool off.  There are house spiders and outdoor spiders and rarely do the two meet.  This article from burkemuseum.org explains this much better than we ever could so click on the link for more info.

We need spiders.  We need them to eat Zika carrying mosquitos and the pests that eat our crops and if that isn’t a case for leaving them to do what they need to do we don’t know what is.

Enjoy your Labor day weekend Hudson Valley, and if you come across spider webs while doing yard work just leave them be.  You can tell your neighbors that you are doing a little pre-Halloween decorating.  #insurelocal  #spidersareourfriends