Tag Archives: frugal

our daily bread

Recently we decided to try a wheat free diet in hopes that it would solve a multitude of low-grade health issues within our lives.  It was fine; a wee bit expensive, but fine.  Gluten free all purpose flour with added xanthan gum worked like magic in most of my tried and true recipes like cookies, tea biscuits, and pizza dough.  I liked how if pushed me further into making more of our food from scratch and kept us out of the processed foods we can tend to fall back on.

All that being said, neither of us noticed any great changes and I mourned that I would never eat homemade bread again.  There is just something so womanly and anciently delightful about making your own bread.  The smell must be embedded in our genes as I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t swoon at the scent of yeast and sweetness.  It makes me think of my Gramma’s hands, shiny with butter, kneading dough and tearing little bits off for me to eat.  Like hanging clothes to dry on the line or the heat of a woodstove, there is something so deliciously comforting about bread and all that it requires from you and generously gives back.

Now, I love and respect a good loaf of bread, but until recently I had been incapable of making one.  I can make a mean sweet dough for dinner rolls, but all of my attempts have resulted in dense, under-cooked bricks of blech.  A couple of weeks ago, I was able to get some pointers from a dear friend as I watched her make her own bread.  The next day I did as she had done and what do you know, I had made a decent, fully cooked loaf of bread!  Last night I tried another recipe and it turned out even nicer; still not perfect, but good.

Two of the most valuable things I learned was 1.) to use my beloved KitchenAid mixer {named Gretel} and leave it mixing for way longer than I would have thought and 2.) use a meat thermometer poked through the bottom when I am tempted to take it out to ensure the core temperature is at least 200 degrees.  If not put it back in.

I will persevere + perfect.

Bread changes with the seasons and temperatures; it reacts to humidity and even the slightest jar; it absorbs moods and tensions; and like the rings of a tree, tells a story.  Every loaf must contain the love of a good woman {or man} to be worth eating.

Basic Bread Recipe from Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin

2 cups milk

3 tbsp butter (divided)

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp salt

2 packages of dry yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm water

6-6 1/4 cups flour (I used white, but will be playing with spelt and others in the future)

1.) Heat milk.  Stir in 1 tbsp of butter plus sugar and salt.  Stir until dissolved.

2.) Stir yeast into warm water in main mixer bowl.  Let proof for 5 minutes.

3.) Add milk mixture to yeast mixture.  Beat in flour 1 cup at a time.

(here it says to turn out and knead by hand, but I just left the mixer going until it looked smooth and elastic)

4.) Place in a greased bowl and turn so its greased on on all sides.  Cover.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

5.) Punch down and knead once more breifly.

6.) Divide and shape into two loaves.  Place in two well-greased loaf pans.  Cover.  Let rise once more.

7.) Preheat oven to 400*F.

8.) When loaves have doubled in size, slash tops two or three places.  Melt remaining butter and brush half of it onto the loaves.

(I skipped the above step)

9.) Bake for 40 minutes (use the meat thermometer if you’re unsure/inexperienced).  When done brush with remaining butter

10.) remove from pans and let cool on a rack.

{Makes two large loaves}

go gently + be wonderful

e.

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Bonjour

We have returned from a most lovely Quebec City.  We had a wonderful time eating croissants and wandering the cobblestone roads and narrow streets.  The Chateau glowed as though it were some magical castle upon a hill as we meandered the foggy boardwalk at dusk.  It wasn't hard to imagine we were in Paris and we couldn't help feeling slightly envious of the city's inhabitants.  Every street with its very own soundtrack of harps and song.  We ate breakfast beside open windows with the clip-clop of horse's hooves outside.  Even the simplest greetings sounded like happy french songs to our english ears.  Everyone we encountered spoke english and sadly never challenged us to speak french. 

I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed with myself for retaining barely an ounce of the french I took in school everyday for 10 years or more.  How lame.  So Mike and I made a pact that we would make it our goal to learn the language once and for all; a goal we have both hoped to one day fulfill.

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It was a lovely trip, but my heart ached for home.  You see, we recently inherited enough furniture and items from Gramma's house to refurnish our living room and beyond.  A couch and two antique chairs, a craft cabinet spattered with paint.  A spinning wheel and huge amounts of un-spun wool.  Cameras, jars, books and blankets.  I find myself burying my face into the cushions and blankets trying to commit the scent to memory as I know it will soon fade.  Salty tears mix with a pain I never knew takes my breath away when I realize I will never smell it again.  So I sleep under her blankets, knit in her chair and cook with her pans and quietly hope that she will one day visit Poppy with a message of love.

I finally rid our kitchen of teflon and plastic cooking utensils and began using Gramma's cast iron frying pan.  My eyes welled up as I made our first dinner and the heat released the smell of Gramma's cooking and home into my own kitchen.  Like the rings of a tree tells the tree's story, cast iron holds a homemaker's tale in its seasoned layers.

I don't know if it is the season or the comfortable antique chairs calling me to sit for a spell, but I am nesting like never before.  I have mentioned before that this house has felt impermanent to me, but with the addition of Gramma's things it somehow feels more complete and welcoming now.  I feel energized and rooted here now.  I sit in her chair and reacquaint myself with knitting projects tossed aside in the young days of spring.

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Yesterday Mike and I made 11 jars of spicy salsa from our very own tomatoes (barely making a dent in the abundance) and 4 jars of organic apple butter.  I now know the sweet satisfaction of snapping lids of the resting jars.  I think we shall buy a preserve cupboard at the Farmer's Market for our treasures.

The end of my paid maternity leave is looming and I fight the panicky feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think of it so today will be dedicated to Etsy shop construction craft show searching.  There is something exciting and freeing about challenging ourselves to a frugal and simple life though.  I can't deny the thrill I get when I make something with my own hands or change an overripe banana's destiny to that of warm banana bread.  It is as though my body holds onto some sort of cell memory that responds and swells when I busy my hands and heart with the fading arts of homemaking.

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I am exactly where I am meant to be.  I am grateful and perfectly happy.  I will begin to weave while trusting the Universe to provide me with the thread I need.  I trust this sated warm feeling in the pit of my belly to be contentment {finally} in fulfilling a life purpose.

P.S. See more of our trip photos here!

e.

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