Easy slow rising bread recipe

My family loves bread. We eat probably almost 2 loafs a week. One of those loafs is ezekiel brand, grain sprouted and flourless. It is just better for you then any other type of bread.

The other I used to get at the public market every Saturday from my favorite French bakery. I used the past tense because I got tired of hunting for it and even at $6 a loaf it was already gone by the time I got there.

I was always petrified of making bread. Let me refraze that- I am petrified of baking in general. It was never my thing. You have to watch the temperature, obide by the recipe, measure the exact amounts etc…..things that I usually don’t do in the kitchen.

Every time my mother visited she baked this awesome bread but it was soooooo much work that I never wanted to make it myself. Too much work involved.

This recipe is easy. If you count the active time it is probably less then 10 minutes. It is slow rising dough so it needs at least 12 hours to rise. I usually make it in the evening so that it can raise during the night and I bake it the following morning.

The ingredients for one loaf are:

  • 5 cups of flour
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of yeast
  • 3 or 4 cups of water
  • oval baking dish with a lid

It has to be sticky, so it really depends on the flour that you are using. I use a combo of unbleached white and wheat (3 cups of white/ 2 cups whole wheat).

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. I leave it overnight on the kitchen counter next to my stove because it seems to be worm and less drafty.

The next day the dough has probably doubled in size. It is time to bake. Dump the dough out on a clean, floured counter. Kneed few times and cover with a towel again. In an hour or so start preheating the oven on 425 with the baking dish inside.

When it beeps dump the ball into the dish and bake for 40 min, the last 10 without the lid. When you take it out of the oven you will have to resist the temptation to eat it right away. It smells amazing. You need to let it cool before you cut into it.

I have made some variations like sprinkling with sunflower seeds or folding in some raisins….it comes out great every time. Play with it, make it your own.

When you make it few times the process becomes a habbit. And the best thing is that the cost is not even 90 c a loaf. Can’t beat that!

DIY Christmas Stamps

Christmas is almost here so I thought it would be nice to get ready. I mean decorations, cards, packaging, gift tags etc…..all the stuff that sets the tone. This project is very easy, inexpensive and the outcome- unique. Each and every stamp is going to be different. All you need for this project is:

  • scrap wood (which I had plenty of in my garage)
  • adhesive craft foam
  • sharp pencil Easy right?

Cut the wood into smaller blocks, adhere the foam cut to size and draw your design. That is all! Very simple….The best part is that it is easy enough for kids to do, even my 4 year old was able to make some stamps. Think of your designs and maybe draw them on paper to make sure you like them. Once you draw them on the foam press hard to make deep groves so that all the details stamp nicely. Lastly we used paint brushes to brush on some paint onto the stamp, then pressed hard for a few seconds and Tada! So far we decorated plain brown bags and gift tags. We plan on stamping the cards and also brown paper. Enjoy!

Christmas wreath

I am not a freak when it comes to seasonal decorations. I like few simple things that convey the mood and let my creative spirit out. The tree is usually the key piece anyways so the rest has to be toned down.

This year I decided to make a wreath to hang on the door. I love using nature so I used pinecones and vines. I did not even have to go to the woods to get the stuff since the pinecones I found at the College in Geneseo and vines are from my backyard.

I had some spray paint in red and white leftover from other projects. Perfect Christmas colors, I thought, not to mention Polish flag!

I spray painted few pinecones red and some white and let it dry well. I weaved the vines into a circle and glued the pinecones arranged by my son using a hot glue gun. I tied a red ribbon to finnish off the look. What do you think?

 

 

What can you make out of felted sweter?

Running through San Jouan de Dios market I stopped to check out this one used clothing stand. Going through the stuff I found a black GAP sweter that srunk in wash to doll size. It was felted to the point that noone could possibly use it. I looked at it and figured that I could use the felt to make some embellishemnts for my knitting project so I got it for a whopping 15 pesos. When I cut it up and looked at it closer another idea came to my mind.
The back of the sweter after folding formed a perfect size clutch. That is exactly what I did! I also made two coin purses from the rest of the felt. Using my newly acquired knitting skills I embellished them with flowers. I sewed some zippers on and voila!!! It was a perfect gift for a friend of mine.

Pasta con sarde

When I first met with a naturopathic doctor she told me that if I wanted my kids to thrive I have to give them 3 things: omega 3s, coconut oil and probiotics. I had no reason not to belive her since I as a kid remember eating these things in one form or another. Every day before school I had to drink my tablespoon of fish oil. It was not a pleasant experience but well, if it is healthy you do it. My diet was rich in sourkrout and other fermented veggies which are nothing less then probiotics. Coconut oil was unknown….probably because palm trees are not a common view in Poland.
In this article I would like to focus on omega 3s which are mostly found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackrel.
Wild cought are much better then farmed because they have higher content of the good fatty acids and are fed natural diet. Farmed fish, on a contrary are fed corn and soy.
Unfortunately wild cought fish is hard to find and expensive. The cheapest way to get a load of omega 3s from food is eating sardines. We eat sardines very often usually just the way they come in a can with a piece of multigrain bread. Try mixing them with cream cheese and use as a spread on a piece of toast, put them on a cracker or make the following recipe.

This recipe serves family of 4

2 cans of sardines in olive oil- if it tastes too fishy try 1 can
1 box of short multigrain pasta
1 can of diced tomatoes or 4 fresh , diced, tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 of diced, large onion
2 cups of baby spinach
1 tbs of olive oil
olives if you like
capers if you like
parmezan cheese if you like

Cook pasta acording to the instructions on the box. While the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce.
In a frying pan heat up the oil and fry the onion and garlic until translucent. Add sardines with the oil and break them up with a wooden spatula. Add tomatoes and cook for few minutes. In the end put spinach, olives and/ or capers in. Mix pasta with the sauce and dinner is ready. There is everything your body needs in this dish. Lots of protein (every can is 13%) to counterpart those carbs and lots of fibre. It is a great pantry dinner and „budget saver because all the ingredients are under $10. Bon apetit!

How to make recycled kids party favor boxes

Living for 6 months in Mexico I religiously collected toilet paper rolls. They really are a great medium for all kinds of projects. We made flower pots, binoculars, all kinds of animals you name it we have done it but this project is a little more practical. This time we made colorful boxes to fill with chocolates and give out to all the classmates on the last day of school in San Miguel.

Material needed:

  • toilet paper rolls,
  • scrapbooking paper
  • decorations
  • scissors
  • glue
  • imagination

Cut the scrapbooking paper in strips as wide as the paper roll. Glue it on the roll and let dry well. Decorate with whatever you have on hand, stickers, paper, in contrasting colors, sequins, buttons…whatever you like. Bend on each side of the roll to close it well. Fill with nuts, chocolates, dried fruit, candy and it is ready! What I like the most about it is that it is small which makes a great serving size of sweets even for the youngest:-)

 

Visit at Yosemite

After freezing experience at Sequoya and Kings Canyon National Park we chased the hot weather to Millerton Lake State Park near Fresno, CA. It did not disappoint, it was very nice. Warm enough to sleep in t-shirts and shorts again:-) After doing pretty much nothing for few days, we headed to Yosemite National Park.

We have seen so many beautiful movies filmed in this gorgeous park… It is very extensive, full of breathtaking waterfalls, granite mountains, pristine forests and wildlife.

Prepared to freeze our butts off again we decided to compromise and stay for one night and later decide if we want to stay longer. We entered the park, but it was still a long drive before we got to any kind of camp ground or visitor’s center. Long, winding road in front of us made me very sick immediately. I have a terrible motion sickness disease, so as much as I love the mountains driving there is not my favorite activity.

We get to the Valley and it is as busy as Time Square on a week day. The traffic is annoying, parking lots are full and hungry crowds with professional cameras shooting every squirrel, every bird, every inch of the park.

We went to the reservation office just in time to find out that all the campgrounds in the Valley were full and have a mile long waiting list. The only option left for us was a spot for one night on a campground located on the west side of the park, 45 min drive from all the action. What could we do , we took it. Whoo hoo, more driving… 🙁

On our way there we found ourselves accepting the fact that our visit was going to be very short. Robert, who’s high hopes for some serious hiking vanished immediately had the hardest time accepting.

The regrets were still showing on our faces while setting up the camp. The toughest part was that the decision was not made by us but the thousands of people from all over the world who decided to show up at the same time and spoil our idyllic sabbatical. What happened to the economical crisis in Europe?! The park is full of people from France and Germany…

After all was in place, we decided to head to Hatch Hatchy, a nearby reservoir – much less visited location in Yosemite. While driving, it was obvious that it is not so popular amongst tourists, the road was ours – no cars around. Moving forward, while the sun was slowly going down, I look to the side of the road to find a… BEAR trying to cross to the other side. Yes, a BEAR!!! We have never seen a bear out in the wild before. Our van is coming to life. Everyone is screaming with excitement looking at the beautiful animal moving slowly to the other side. I could not believe it! We even managed to take some photos since the camera, thanks to Robert is always ready and in the same spot:-) That was it, it changed our mood completely, thankful for what we just experienced.

Taking another curve, still discussing the bear we were surprised AGAIN, because crossing the road the other way around was a… MOUNTAIN LION!! This unbelievably gorgeous animal, very secretive in fact, decided to make an appearance right in front of us. It was completely unexpected, even for the lion since he tripped on the side of the road, very unusual for this graciously moving cat. He quickly went up seeking space, but then he stopped, turned and posed for us from a safe distance. I almost had to climb the car’s roof to take that photo, but it was surely worth all the acrobatics. I could have left Yosemite then, with no regrets. Looking in the eyes of those animals, seeing them in their natural habitat was one of a kind, unusual experience.

The next day we managed to go for a short, crowded hike and we also did some sightseeing but to me, the encounter with those rare animals will always be the best experience of Yosemite:-)

Whole Foods or… Whole Paycheck?

We recently visited Phoenix, AZ. I will remember it forever, not because its beauty, but dry heat frying you from dusk to dawn and a visit to local Whole Foods store. It was the first time for me. I heard a lot about them, but since they are mostly on the West Coast and in the central states, I had no chance of ever visiting their stores.

For someone that likes real food as much as me, it was like going to Disneyland for a kid – excitement all the way. I knew that I was going to find everything that I needed, all those things that drew a blank on peoples faces in most regular grocery stores.

I could not wait to get out of the car, we were not even in a full stop yet… not a good example for the kids. Anyway, I rushed inside like it was going to close in five minutes. Passing all the studs that were checking themselves out in the windows I was finally in the fruit and veg aisle. Wow, I thought, fresh young coconuts, what a treat! I walked further to find that almost ALL was organic and locally grown. Now, the prices were a little high. Lets not judge yet, I thought and moved to the seafood section. Sooooo much variety! Wild caught, natural diet, clear water, omega 3 the tags read… but the one particular fish that I was interested in lacked price/ lb information. Well, that is very important info for most of us, right? I looked at other packages, some had it some did not. I walked away since I want to be able to compare prices before I make my decision and a “package” is not a sufficient unit of measure for me:-)

Next I headed to the dairy isle hoping to find kefir for my kids. They prefer it to regular milk, unless we have access to raw, whole fat milk. Anyways, I almost fainted when I saw the prices… $5 for a quart bottle of lifeway kefir?!?!?!?At Wegmans I used to pay just little over $3 or $2.99 when on sale! I walked away again.

Passing by the meat section I noticed a ½ lbs bags of sauerkraut for $3.99 a package. Let’s analyze it little further. In order to make sourkrout you need to shred the cabbage, sprinkle it with salt and beat it until it releases its juices. Put it all in a dish and weigh it down… in few days its is ready. Pretty simple process, don’t you think? As far as organic goes, cabbage is very minimally sprayed with pesticides, so you do not really have to buy it organic. That is the most expensive sauerkraut that I have seen in my life!!!! In this case I will agree with my husband, it was a rip-off.

In quest of a good sourdough bread I wonder to the bakery isle. I am sure it varies from one store to another, but their bakery was very small and had hardly any freshly baked breads available. The ones that were there would probably feed only my kids for breakfast at a price of $4.99 per small loaf. I will not even mention the Ezekiel bread for $5.50 a loaf!!!

I ended up getting few things like coconut oil, olive oil, some fruits and vegetables, icecream… most were their store brand called „365”.

Walking out I realized that there is nothing to be jealous of, we have Wegmans with the same selection of products with much better prices:-)

I never thought I would say this because I hardly ever shop at WalMart (for various reasons), however now being on the road, I have to. WalMart saved my butt so many times on that trip – it is everywhere, even in the middle of nowhere and even thou their organic section is very limited, you can pretty much always find organic eggs, hormone/antibiotic free harvestland chicken, organic carrots, spinach, apples. organic peanut butter and vegetable stock. I can live with that, that is a survival kit that allows me to prepare a nutritious meal for my family.

Having said that I once more realized how I miss Bonnie’s milk, Olde Silo Farm, Seven Bridges Farm and Wegmans of course… Whole Foods has nothing on us!:-)

Mobil- a great gift for every little girls room

Wednesday night our friends decided to thow us a farewell dinner at their new house. One last time we had an opportunity to admire the views of San Miguel together, sipping a margarita on their roof top. Of course we had a great time! Great food, great space and the most important- awesome company.

I decided to thank them for their generous gesture by making a mobil from recycled materials for their daughter Helena.

Materials used:

  • a small branch
  • toilet paper tubes
  • spray paint
  • glue
  • string
  • ribbon
  • pencil
  • ruler

 

The most labour intensive part is to make the flowers. You need to flatten all the tubes and mark 1 cm increments. Cut where you marked, you should get 7 or 8 petals from each roll. Glue them together, each flower takes about 6 petals to make.

Once they are all ready and dry, you can spray paint them on both sides. You could also use brush but it is going to take much longer. Spray paint your branch also and let dry.

The assembly:

Cut your string however you like it, I cut mine different lenghts because I like it to be slightly assymetrical.

Make holes in the opposite petals of the flowers and attch the strings. Once you have desired number of flowers on strings tie them to your painted branch.

Now all that needs to be done is attaching the ribbon on the opposite ends of the branch and hanging up on the ceiling. It is so light that it turnes with the slightest air movement:-) Happy mobil making!

 

In the Desert the Beasts Come Out at Night

They say you learn something new every day…..or night in this case. We were woken up in the middle of the night by noise coming from the grabage containers. Rackoons, we thought who else… in rare cases bears, coyotes or maybe bobcats… We were quite astonished to clearly distinguish the sound of hooves on the pavement. Puzzled we looked outside to find donkeys passing by our tent. Yes, in Arizona there are hords of wild DONKEYS roaming through the trash:-0 And there was a big pile of poop to prove it in the morning:-)