Monday, November 30, 2009

summer snap mondays- breadmaking in the sun


I'm joining Jodi from Che and Fidel in her Summer snap Mondays meme.
Here are a few snaps of my homemade bread in the making.

I deem these snaps 'summer-worthy' because I let the dough rise in the sun for just over an hour, two times. I cannot tell you what a difference the warmth of the sun makes to the bread's texture. I learned how to knead my own dough through Rhonda-Jean's blog, Down-to-Earth, but since then I have really changed things and made up my own recipe.

I mix 4 cups organic wholemeal bread flour with 1 dash of organic whole milk, 3 tbs of organic butter, and a dash of salt. In a separate bowl I mix about 8 grams of yeast with 1 1/2 tbs of cane sugar with a few tbs of warm water until it activates (becomes frothy-like). I add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and then slowly add in about 200 mL (give or take) warm water until a dough is formed. I knead and knead and knead for about 10 minutes (the longer I knead the better the loaf turns out). I form a big ball with the dough and put a thin layer of olive oil on top, then cover it with a warm tea towel and let it rise in the sun.

risen dough


When it has risen I punch a hole in the dough and punch it all until there is no air left.

Take it out of the bowl and jnead a bit more and them roll it into a fat oval. I wet the top and roll the dough in seeds and sometimes a bit of flour. I put this dough into a greased bread tin and cover again with a warm dishtowel

and let it rise for about 30-40 minutes.

I pre-heat the oven to the highest temp and put the bread in for 10 minutes. Then I turn it down to 220˚ for another 20 minutes. When it is golden on top and the kitchen smells like warm homemade bread (mmmm!), I take it out and let it cool before transferring it to a wire rack.

It lasts about 3 days in a glass cake dome before it gets stale (still toastable for another day though).

For the first month I made homemade bread we had to have the first slice right out of the oven with some butter spread it. It's such a pleasure eating your own bread and once you try it, you can't stop.

Don't forget to see some other summer snaps by heading over to Jodi's to see what's cooking. xo

Sunday, November 29, 2009

serene sundays...

Sundays are a time for sleeping in, having late, long and wholesome breakfasts, sipping tea, reading the paper, planning the meals for the week, trips to the market, mending, cleaning, reorganizing, recharging, spending time with family and friends, reading books, playing in parks, taking naps in the sun, baking bread or any of the above in combination.
In light of this, I will categorize my Sunday entries as “serene sundays” and put up photos that describe my mood, thoughts, ideas, inspiration or general weekend goings-on, instead of writing an entire entry.


Things to do with a very bored and stir-crazy 15 month-old toddler on a
RAINY SUNDAY with NO CAR and NO HUSBAND:


1. Watch the rain on your couch with a friend



2. Have a snack and share it with a friend


4. Play some instruments and DANCE!


3. Draw with crayons on big pieces of paper


5. Hand the toddler over to grandparents for a few hours while Mama has a cup of tea, sews up the last of the Christmas presents and enjoys a little bit of piece of quiet...

(this is me sighing with relief... but the sick and twisted part is- he's been gone 10 minutes and I already miss him)

xo

Friday, November 27, 2009

basia bulat

Basia Bulat is a Canadian Indie folk singer who I just can't get enough of. Her music rocks and soothes you, especially if you're trying to wind down after a long day of noise- specifically in the form of children playing, screaming and/or crying. You may have heard the song below in the Volkswagon Eos commercials about a year ago- that's how I discovered her. Her lyrics are simple, yet deep; romantic, poetic and soulful.
Have a listen and if she tickles your fancy, you can download her first album entitled, 'Oh, My Darling' off of itunes. She is coming out with a new one in 2010- can't wait.


Have a wonderful start to your weekend. xo

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

the curious case of the elusive cucumber monster...


I went out to check on my heart and soul (aka. the potted urban garden) this morning and look at the state of my very first prized cucumber!!!!



I was mortified to say the least. What's worse is the guilty culprit was no where to be found... or even if it was, I have no idea what I am looking for. Could those innocent little white "butterflies" be responsible for this massive munch? Or should I be looking for a large caterpillar of some sorts? Garden lovers- help me find the felon so I can send him on his way and restore my little urban Eden!

As I'm on the subject, I might as well show you around the rest of the potted garden.

The zucchinis are still providing- I will have a couple more to pick in a few days, making a grand total of 14 already picked and eaten this spring.

Tomatoes do take their time don't they? It feels like ages since these cherry tomatoes first arrived. I plucked and ate the very first red one a couple days ago, but the rest are still green with hints of yellowy orange in them.


The truss tomatoes are popping up everywhere. I can only hope I get to enjoy at least a few before we go away for three weeks (on December 14th). Otherwise, my trusty watering maids will get to enjoy the ripe fruits of their labour.


The potatoes are growing away in this pot. No idea whether there are any new potatoes there or whether I just have a potato with a lot of green sprouts. I think I'll harvest them right before we leave to go away. Fingers crossed. I planted "Safeway Organic Potatoes" (which is an oxymoron in my opinion), so we'll see if they result in anything at all.


The lettuce is looking lame. We have been picking and eating it probably a little too often, not sure whether it will re-grow or if I'll have to start growing some new heads in the new year. And the curly lettuce in the middle is doing something weird at the top. Does that mean it's going to seed? Does lettuce even "go to seed"?... I am so ignorant when it comes to such things.


Big B's kaffir lime tree is sprouting flowers, which I assume means we might even get a lime or two at some point. I wonder if they are edible or can at least be used in gin and tonics...?


The little red pepper plant is also flowering, hopefully we'll get some spice out of it in the new year.


Finally, our strawberries are still going strong. They went through some hard times after the heat wave, but they keep appearing. I think a bird got a hold of one of them because it has a few pecks in it. I'll probably pick these tonight for L'il B to have with some yogurt for dessert.


Hope someone has some answers in regards to the garden monster, because I was really looking forward to making homemade dill pickles!!

xx

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

a day in the life of my tummy...

I've been taking some shots of my meals the past couple days to share. They're perfect for the season- light, but still satisfying and energy-rich.

Breakfast is usually:
A thick slice of homemade bread toasted with peanut butter and jam or organic butter and honey and a bit of fruit
A soy latte made with our espresso machine with a dab of honey stirred in


Lunch yesterday was:
Blanched Asparagus, lettuce from the garden, tomatoes, avocado and soft boiled egg with an oil and vinegar dressing sprinkled with grated parmasean


And for a light, no fuss dinner when my man was due home late:

Homemade baked beans made by sauteing one tiny onion and pickled capsicum, adding butter beans with tomato paste, a dash of salt and sugar and herbs de provence on top of
Homemade bread, toasted and drizzled with olive oil
Topped with fresh feta and parsley


Mmmmmm.

Dessert, you ask? Homemade dark chocolate chip cookies of course! I always keep some dough in the freezer for a quick fix.

xx

PS. There is a wonderful giveaway happening at retromummy if you're interested in winning some fabulous fabric! x.

Monday, November 23, 2009

milk mama! milk!




It's been over a week now since I taught L'il B the sign language for "milk" and he took to it like a monkey signs banana. He never EVER used to ask for milk. He never pulled at my shirt, he never even glanced in that area. He just drank when I offered and that was it. But the past two weeks, he has been frantically signing "milk, milk, MILK!!!". If I tell him "not now, we're having dinner" or something along those lines he gets agitated and upset, as if the world is totally unjust. Both of his top molars just popped through and the bottom ones are just starting to make an appearance, and I have never been one to point to "teething" as the problem-of-the-week, but I really do think they are causing him considerable grief. Perhaps part of the need to breastfeed so much is his desire for comfort and the little hit of natural pain-relief that breastmilk gives. All of that said, I was feeding 3 times a day (morning, before nap and before bed) and now, even though I deny him milk half the time he asks for it, we are back up to 4-5 feeds a day PLUS a night feed which he has gone without for a long time.

The hippy ecoMILF in me says "go with the flow", "trust his instincts", "he obviously needs the added nutrition/psychological comfort- (his solid meals haven't changed at all ie. he is not eating any less)", "he might be getting sick and trying to boost his immune system", "don't succumb to societal 'norms' "

The socially conditioned, brainwashed side of me says "he's only asking for it because you are giving in and giving it to him", "he is forming bad habits", "he doesn't need it that much- he's not a baby anymore"

You can tell which side of myself I like better.

My biggest issues with this change of breastfeeding-pace are

1. I have to feed him once a night around 4:30 and I truly AM worried that this will start bad night-waking habits

2. This means that if he gets more demanding I will have to start feeding him more often in public, which means being under scrutiny more often and feeling the eyes of people judging me for my unwholesome acts (The photos I post take more guts than you think, but I think it is important for western women to share these images in order to associate the sight as normal, beautiful, natural and above all publicly accepted, so that people like me don't feel self-conscious when we choose to breastfeed in public)

3. I don't want him to think he can get whatever he wants when he wants and I don't want him to get territorial over MY body, as he seems to be feeling now when I tell him it's not time for mama's milk.

Does anyone who has experienced 'extended' breastfeeding (L'il B is 15 months in case you were wondering) have any advice, suggestions or ideas? I have a hunch that this is all another phase in the breastfeeding journey and as soon as I hit "publish" L'il B will settle into a less frequent feeding pattern, but just in case, what are your thoughts on this matter?


I am joining Jodi from Che and Fidel (one of my bloggy inspirations) in the weekly theme: "summer snap mondays". The photos of L'il B and I feeding today will be my first contributions to this meme.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

serene sundays...

Sundays are a time for sleeping in, having late, long and wholesome breakfasts, sipping tea, reading the paper, planning the meals for the week, trips to the market, mending, cleaning, reorganizing, recharging, spending time with family and friends, reading books, playing in parks, taking naps in the sun, baking bread or any of the above in combination.

In light of this, I will categorize my Sunday entries as “serene sundays” and put up photos that describe my mood, thoughts, ideas, inspiration or general weekend goings-on, instead of writing an entire entry.



Quiet weekend indoors while my plants guzzled up the beautiful rain.

I did some knitting while L'il B had his nap today... first I worked on my dishcloth from down-to-earth's tutorial... and then got frustrated because my yarn wasn't right and my needles weren't the right size and I kept making mistakes.... so I unravelled that. I'll have to start again when I get the right materials and practice a bit more. Then I tried to start a little hat for a newborn due in December, but I couldn't get the K1P1 right... does "K1P1 ribbing" mean knit one and then purl one all the way through a row? And if so, what about the ends for some reason they end up all loose and tangled... frustrated again... unravelled.

And then L'il B woke up. Alas- 2 hours of knitting with NOTHING to show of it. Patience is a virtue when it comes to this new hobby, but at least I am learning to be a perfectionist, something I have never been, and I do believe it is quite important when you knit and sew.




When L'il B woke up he was quite stir crazy as he hadn't played outside all day...




Luckily, at about 4:30 it cleared enough for us to go on a little family walk.
Puddles were obviously the main attraction.





Trains are always a big hit.



These city ducks loved the new "ponds" they could splash around in (ew).



Hope everyone had a restful and and relaxing weekend. We had a lovely dinner with friends last night. K brought an apple torte that was to die for (when I remembered to take photos it was already sitting sweetly in our tummies). I will ask her for the recipe and post it soon. Off to watch the Australian Idol Finale- I am only slightly excited about it.... VOTE STAN!! Might bake something too but I can feel my pants getting tighter as the holiday baking spirit begins to take hold of me.

xo

Saturday, November 21, 2009

dear santa,

I know it's a little early to be asking for my Christmas presents, and I know I promised that I wouldn't buy anything new and that I'd encourage others to buy only handmade or make me handmade things... but here is a list of a few things that I really have a hankering for. Even if I don't get them all for Christmas, maybe you could send a suggestion or two to Cupid for Valentine's day.... or the Bunny for Easter... or even the Tooth Fairy, as I am pretty sure she owes me from when I had my wisdom teeth removed. Thanks for the consideration and I'll be sure to leave some gingerbread and frothy soy out for you this Chrissy eve.

xxx

1. Mineral makeup (I've run out of my foundation and bronzer, please and thank you)
Here is a great company: sante mineral makeup





2. Some reading and crafting material: Handmade Home, by Amanda Soule, writer of the infamous blog soulemama and One Skein, by Leigh Radford for my new knitting hobby.




3. This beautifully simple and lovely organic cotton/hemp dress by madydooijes on Etsy



4. Organic Cotton Yarn form ecoyarns.com.au to make many many dishcloths and washcloths from- since I have decided the best way to teach myself how to knit is to play around with dishcloths and washcloths until I perfect my techniques.



That's all. Especially because I have already received the best gift of all- I am going to do a jivamukti yoga workshop with Sharon Gannon and David Life for 4 days at Samadhi yoga in Sydney in February!!! Hoorrah! I was going to do their teacher training in New York when I feel pregnant with L'il B and he kind of put of a hold on that whole dream.... so this workshop and 4 days with two of my greatest mentors and inspirations- well, I shouldn't really be asking for anything because I am so lucky!



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Om Namaḥ Śivāya

Om Namaḥ Śivāya is a chant that primarily reveres the God Śiva. Although this is not a literal translation, when it is chanted, it is as if you are chanting,'Om and salutations to that which I am capable of becoming.'

Na represents Siva and his elusive grace, Ma is the world, Śi stands for Śiva, Va represents the identifiable grace in God, and Ya is the soul: each of these aspects represent your true self in the present, past and future.

Chanting Om Namaḥ Śivaya helps one to detach from the material world and to focus more on one's true self- the self that is one with and the same as God. Admitting that the material world causes us to be blind is the first step to being able to see our true nature and selves- filled with light, love and grace.

It is a five-syllable mantra (Om is not included in the count), and each syllable represents the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space. Each making us aware of how we became manifest, and in turn reminding us of the supreme source of energy from which those elements became manifest themselves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

strawberry rhubarb pie


Bring this to a dinner party to whack in the oven while you're there and be the apple... or strawberry rhubarb of everyone's eye.


Crust

2 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
2 tbs cane sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup (225 g) cold cubed organic butter
3/4 cup ice water

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.
Sprinkle the cubed cold butter over the top of the flour mix.
With a food processor combine the butter into the flour until you have a flaky mixture with pea sized pieces of butter in the flour.
(Don't overblend the butter- it will result in a too thick, unflaky crust)
Add 1/2 cup of the ice cold water and mix in with a large wooden spoon.
When large clumps of dough are formed add a bit more water
Work the dough together with your hands into a large

Split the dough in half and make to flat discs out of it and wrap them in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for an hour or two until very firm.


Filling

3/4 cup cane sugar (plus sprinkling)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 cups sliced fresh rhubarb
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
2 tsp cinnamon


Combine the cane sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch; add rhubarb and strawberries and toss gently until coated

The Pie

Pre-heat oven to 200˚.
Roll each disc out onto a well floured board to form the crust and place in a pie dish or something like it. I cut the second disc into strips to form a lattice on the top.
Fill with rhubard filling and bake for about 35-45 min until your filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown


xx.

Monday, November 16, 2009

sneaky vegetable muffins

I wanted to use up the rest of the zucchini's I picked from our urban garden on Saturday in a muffin recipe for L'il B. He's pretty good at eating all his veggie's up (his favourites are peas, avocado and carrots), but if I don't work to make them taste good, he'll happily pass on the steamed veg side order. He's been insatiable lately, and I have to admit I've been lazily resorting to prepackaged snacks. As "healthy" as they say they are, they're all laden with sugar and white flour. These muffins are packed with grated carrot and zucchini and made with either wholewheat flour or spelt flour. You could add 1/4 cup crushed walnuts for some added fat and protein if you know your toddler doesn't have any nut allergies.

This recipe made 7 adult muffins and 12 mini muffins. They will freeze for at least a month (or until he gobbles them all up). Enjoy! xo

Ingredients
2 cups spelt flour or wholewheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi-carb
2/3 cup raw cane sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 medium juicing carrot, grated
1 small zucchini (I used 3 of my mini ones from the garden), grated
1/2 cup sultanas
100 g melted organic butter
2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup whole organic milk

Directions
Preheat oven to 200˚ and line tray with lightly greased muffin cups (paper optional)
Stir sugar, flour, bi-carb, baking powder, cinnamon together in a large boel.
Add the grated veggies and sultanas until coated with the flour
Whisk in the melted butter, beaten eggs and milk
Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray
Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of muffin you are baking)
remove and cool in pans for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely