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.

Happy fourth of July Hudson Valley!

Happy fourth of July Hudson Valley!

July 4th is one of our all-time favorite holidays. We enjoy celebrating the independent spirit of our country, and why wouldn’t we? Independence means freedom of choice and we’re an independent insurance agency!

Here’s some fun facts/trivia about this all American celebration:

  • Congress authorized the use of fireworks displays to celebrate our new country’s independence on July 4, 1776.
  • Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1777.
  • Calvin Coolidge is the only American president to be born on July 4.
  • On June 28, 1786, the Common Council of New York decided that there would be no display of fireworks on the Fourth of July, the land was very dry and the risk of fire was high.
  • Rumor has it that George Washington gave his troops a double ration of rum to celebrate on July 4, 1778.

Wondering where to watch fireworks in the Hudson Valley? Click here.

Most of us have spent the past couple of days listening to the pops and bangs of our neighbors setting off fireworks. Before you rush out and buy your own, please think about those who live near you.

Fireworks are not enjoyable for pets, soldiers with PTSD, and those with autism. You might be having a great time listening to the explosions but many others do not. Please be respectful.

Enjoy yourselves this fourth of July. Have a picnic, swim in your local creek, gather with friends and family to watch those gorgeous professional fireworks, and be safe.

Are you covered for tree removal after a tornado?

Parts of the Hudson Valley are still cleaning up from the storm that spawned 4 tornadoes on Tuesday, May 18, 2018, it was a storm that many of us will never forget. 4 tornadoes touched down in our area that day; 2 in Putnam county, 1 is Orange county, and 1 in Ulster county. One of the Putnam county tornadoes was verified to be an EF2, that means that this particular twister had winds that clocked in between 113 and 157 miles per hour and was capable of turning the debris it created into missiles and ripping the roofs off of houses, YIKES! Orange hosted an EF0 strength twister, winds at 40-72 miles per hour with the capability to uproot shallowly rooted trees and tumble brick chimneys. Ulster county’s EF1’s winds blew in at 73-112 miles per hour and were capable of blowing mobile homes off of their foundations. This storm was no joke.

If you think that these tornadoes were just a freak occurrence, think again. From September 20, 1975 – May 2000 there were 11 verified tornadoes in Ulster county. Orange county also had 11, theirs were first recorded on July 25, 1969 – July 11, 2011, and Orange county has a body count. Dutchess has had 11 as well, August 7, 1978 – June 25, 2006.

On Wednesday morning our phones began to ring, it seemed like everyone in our local community of Walden, and Motgomery NY had some damage done to their home or vehicles. Large branches and sometimes entire trees littered our roads and yards, schools were closed or delayed, and everyone had the same question; “Am I covered for tree removal?” The answer, more often than not, was not something they wanted to hear.

Tree removal is one of those things that 99.9% of homeowners insurance policies DO NOT ROUTINELY COVER. Shocking, isn’t it? Other catastrophes that are not covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy are:

  • Mold removal
  • Earthquakes
  • Termites
  • Flood

A homeowners policy is designed to help you repair your home and generally does not cover your yard, so if a tree falls and does not land on your home, there is usually no coverage. Unless you have had your policy endorsed with specific add on overages that have been developed recently, pests, earth movement, flood, and mold have never been covered.  Call you agent to see if you can have some of these newer endorsements added to your policy. It will cost more but some companies now offer sub-coverages such as tree removal, fungus abatement, earthquake, pest damage, and even a limited flood endorsement is now being made available by one of our carriers. For those of you that do not have a flood insurance policy but are still a little concerned about the possibility of flooding due to a change in the topography in your area, call your agent to find out. That added coverage is incredibly affordable and really comes in handy when the Hudson Valley’s weather decides to go big or go home.

When was the last time you sat down with your insurance agent? Insurance is asset protection, don’t wait for a disaster to find out that you are under insured.

#insurelocal  #homeownersinsurance  #hudsonvalleyinsurance  #hudsonvalley

Christmas Trivia

Thinking about Christmas is so much more fun than thinking about insurance and that is the reason we are sharing some Christmas trivia with you today.

  • The written story of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer was originally meant to be an advertising campaign for Montgomery Wards department store in 1939.  Author Robert May penned the story for a free booklet to be given out to children as they shopped with their parents.
  • A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost-Story of Christmas, is the full name of the Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol.
  • Only female reindeer grow antlers.
  • NORAD first started tracking Santa Claus on December 24, 1948.
  • The Coca-Cola Company is responsible for how we picture Santa Claus.
  • Eggbert (of the famous Devitt’s Nursery) was once an attraction at the World’s Fair.
  • There is only one holiday celebration in the Hudson Valley starts on one side of the Hudson River (Kingston) and ends on a different side of the river (Rhinebeck) – Sinterklaas!

Share your holiday trivia knowledge with us in the comments section below.  Happy holidays from all of us at Hudson Valley Agents!  #triviatuesday  #christmastrivia  #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