Have you ever baked your own bread?

No-Knead Bread - Finished Loaf (294068096)

No-Knead Bread – Finished Loaf (294068096) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve baked bread for years…learned to do it when I was a kid and my grandfather loved the basic white bread I made for him.  He would just rave about it (and what kid doesn’t enjoy that?) and talk about how it was just like what his mom used to make.  For many years, that was the only bread I made…well, that and corn bread.

I love artisan style breads, but always bought them from a bakery.  Sheesh…do you realize how expensive that is?  And being on medical leave has caused me to be just a bit more cautious with my spending.  Who really knows how long I’ll be off work?  I sure don’t want to waste money on things I don’t need, especially things I can make for myself.

I’m on Pinterest and have a bread pinboard…have pinned a ton of recipes but hadn’t tried very many of them.  Until earlier this week when I was out of bread and didn’t feel like going to the store.  Yes, I certainly could have asked someone to pick up a loaf of bread for me, but I hate to ask people to do things like that.  So…I started searching through the recipes I’d pinned.  There were a lot of them that required ingredients I didn’t have on hand…again, didn’t feel like getting out, so I kept searching.  And then I came across a recipe for peasant bread…an easy to mix up recipe with only basic ingredients…and no kneading.  Now there are times that I find kneading bread to be therapeutic, but not when I don’t feel well.  So I decided to give this recipe a try.

It really was so easy…the bread dough was a little stickier than I’m used to, but it didn’t matter.  Let it rise in the mixing bowl, divide it into 1-quart glass baking dishes, let it rise again and bake.  And it’s delicious.  How can you go wrong with a recipe that’s quick and easy and then turns out to be yummy as well?

I’ve been exploring the blog where the recipe was originally published…love it…check it out for yourself…

http://www.alexandracooks.com/2012/11/07/my-mothers-peasant-bread-the-best-easiest-bread-you-will-ever-make/

I’m always amazed at the various talents that people have…this woman is an amazing cook and writes a blog that makes you wish you could be in the kitchen with her.

So…I’ve found another go-to bread recipe..I have a feeling I’ll be making this frequently.  Let me know if you try it, okay?

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Bread baking

trio of bread

trio of bread (Photo credit: kidmissile)

First, let me say, I love bread…but not just any old bread.  I like the artisan style breads…homemade breads…breads with some texture.  So you won’t see me buying a loaf of pre-sliced pre-packaged fluffy, spongy white bread…you know, the kind that is so loaded with preservatives that it will keep for a couple of weeks.  I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate that stuff (see, I can’t even call it bread).

I like the bread made with whole grains and seeds, but have you ever noticed how expensive that kind of bread is?  Well, I have.  That got me thinking about making my own bread.  I used to do that a lot, then working a lot of hours kind of got in the way.  But now I’ve decided to go ahead and start baking bread again.  That decision led me to wondering about bread machines.  I’ve never used one, don’t own one, am not sure that I really want one.  Yes, it would be convenient to be able to just throw the ingredients in and have the machine do all of the work.  But…there again, there’s the cost involved.  So what’s a girl to do?

I’ve looked online at the local “yard sales” on Facebook as well as some of the trader sites…so far nothing.  I’m going to stop at Goodwill one of these days and see if they happen to have one.  See, I’m kind of hesitant to spend much on something that I may not like…so looking to go the cheap route until I’m sure.  So, I guess my question for you all is, do you use a bread machine (if, of course, you bake your own bread) and what kind do you recommend?

Oh…I did bake some bread when I got home from work today.  Corn bread with stone ground cornmeal from Spring Mill State Park in my old home town of Mitchell, Indiana…stop by if you’re in the neighborhood…very cool place to visit.

The long and winding road to fitness, day 161

Snow Cat

Image by clickclique via Flickr

Words can’t possibly do justice to the beauty of having a day off of work.  I slept in (if you consider getting out of bed at 5:30 sleeping in).  Fed the hungry kitties, prepared a healthy breakfast and a cup of hot tea with pumpkin spice creamer…yum…ate breakfast while going through my email.  It felt so good to just take my time, not to feel rushed…gotta go, gotta go, gotta go!!!  I then got ready to go out and run a few errands.

Can you think of a really fast way to drop $30?  Go to the gas station.  I really shouldn’t complain, the $15 a week that I’m spending on gas is the equivalent of one cab ride from home to work.  So see, I’m actually saving money…

I stopped at Aldi to pick up some produce and eggs.  Bought lettuce (some kind of gourmet blend…looks good, I’ll let you know), carrots, and tomatoes for salads for lunch at work.  Also bought some frozen corn and peas.  I was in and out in about 10 minutes, no long lines, not a lot of people there.  I suppose the pouring rain may have had a little to do with that.

I came home and got some vegetable beef soup started in the crock pot (slow cooker?  what do you call it?)…the house smells soooo good.  I’m looking forward to dinner in a few minutes.

And then, what to my wondering eye should appear?  Why, it was snow, falling from the sky, my dear.  Really heavy snow for a little while this afternoon.  Not a lot of accumulation, nothing at all on the roads, just a little in the yard and on the trees.  We might get more tonight.  I’m always excited at the first snowfall and, yes, tired of it by February.  Have you ever noticed that there seems to be a hush all around when it snows?  I love going outside early in the morning after an overnight snowfall…no one is around, everything is so quiet and peaceful.  I  was watching a bright red cardinal at the bird feeder outside my kitchen window…he was sharing the feeder with a little finch…and the snow was falling all around them…beautiful…I wish I could have taken a picture, but I haven’t quite figured out how to get a good picture through the window and I didn’t want to disturb the birds’ dinner.

I hopped on the exercise bike this afternoon…woohoo!  First time in quite a while.  I could tell that my fitness level has decreased just by how my legs felt with the tension I’d been used to.  I kind of dialed it down after the first few minutes and finished my workout.  Looks like I’m going to have a lot of ground to make up once the holiday season is over.  But I’ll do it.  I’m determined to do it.

Well, the aroma of that soup is causing my stomach to growl.  I think it just may be time to eat~

The long and winding road to fitness, day 155

Oh my gosh, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven…slept in until 7 this morning…stop laughing…when you get used to that blasted alarm going off at 3:30 every morning, 7 seems like sleeping in.  It was so nice to be able to get up and prepare a leisurely breakfast, sit in front of the computer reading emails…ahh…

Then I decided I’d better get ready and go finish up the shopping for our buffet at work.  I was really dreading facing the crowds today, but I think I made it early enough to avoid the worst of it.  I’ve purchased 16 12-packs of soft drinks, 4 cases of bottled water, 1 12-pack of bottled tea, 6 giant bags of chips, 3 or 4 bags of candy, mixed nuts, cashews, trail mix, a barrel of cheese balls (the people I work with love those things), a couple of boxes of Ritz crackers, a box of Cheez Its, an assortment of snack cakes and snack crackers, a couple of big boxes of PopTarts, a huge jar of giant dill pickles (kind of a Thanksgiving tradition at our store), a jar of hamburger sliced dill pickles, cheese sauce, dip for chips, lots and lots of disposable plates and silverware as well as a big package of napkins, hot cocoa mix, some Christmas cookies…oh yeah, and a ham and a turkey.  I’ve got the ham baked, sliced and in the fridge ready to go.  The turkey is in the oven for another hour or so.  Then I still need to prepare my world-famous cauliflower salad (hmm…could be a blog in that one…)  and maybe some pumpkin fluff…need to find the recipe for that one though.  I think we’ll be okay with the food and I still have money left over…that’s why they send me shopping, well…that and the fact that no one else wants to do it.

Thanksgiving dinner 2010

Image by acnatta via Flickr

After reading that list, it kind of reminded me to be thankful for all that we have.  There are so many people who struggle to put food on the table and I’m trying to figure out how to spend all of the money they gave us.  We’re very fortunate.  I guess it’s time for me to pull myself up out of my anger and sadness about having to work on what I consider to be a holiday to spend with family and friends…time to focus on all of the blessings in my life and put that negativity behind me.  I genuinely like the people I work with, so spending a holiday with them isn’t all bad.  Would I rather be with my family and friends?  You bet.  But being with the people I work with is good too.  And, since there isn’t a lot I can do about it short of quitting my job (and I’ve gotten kind of dependent on that pay check), just go with the flow, make the best of the situation and know that I will get Christmas Eve and Christmas off because I’m working on Thanksgiving.  Not a bad deal…

The long and winding road to fitness, day 137

Hot air balloons, San Diego, California

Image via Wikipedia

My last Saturday off…sob…sniffle…but at least it was a good one.  A gorgeous fall day, lots of sunshine, warm temps, lovely blue sky.  Saw some hot air balloons when I was out and about this morning…I’ve never been up in one, but that’s on my bucket list.

 

I ran a few errands this morning…Aldi, CVS, Kroger…bought a fair amount of produce…actually ate a big salad for dinner tonight…the entire time I was eating it I was thinking about how really tasty it was…  Hard boiled some eggs to put on salads, washed the Romaine lettuce, shredded some carrots (with a little hand grater…sounds like I’m energetic, but it’s really laziness…too lazy to dig out the food processor and then way too lazy to have to clean it after I’m finished)…so salad fixin’s are ready for a few days.  Being the sweet, kind person (or brown noser, depending upon how you look at it) I even made a small salad to take to work for my boss tomorrow.  He’s one of those unusual guys (haha…this has me rolling on the floor…he’s unusual, all right) who actually likes salads…and for some reason (like, because he’s a guy?), he never makes them for himself.  Won’t he be surprised?

I also froze some over ripe bananas, then made banana pops with them…I bypassed ice cream at the store today because I had decided to make these instead…yum, yum…

The only exercise I did today was some core work and range of motion exercises…and then I cleaned house…a lot…I knew I wouldn’t have the time for the next couple of months to do a lot of housework so I wanted to at least start my six-day work week with a clean house…then I saw a Facebook status from one of my friends, who is a manager at a store in Indy, saying she’d done the same thing…so do you think the guy managers who had today off did the same thing?  Uhh…what am I saying?  Of course they didn’t…they probably went out to the golf course or something silly like that. 

And then the time changes tonight…don’t want to forget that…don’t want to show up to work early…that’s right, isn’t it?  It would be early, right?  6:30 would normally be 7:30, so if I showed up at 7:30, I’d really be there at 6:30…oh never mind…just remember to change your clocks…fall back…like you’re falling backwards into a big pile of fall leaves…

 

 

The long and winding road to fitness, day 136

christmas

Image by **tWo pInK pOSsuMs** via Flickr

A pretty good day today.  I guess getting a decent night’s sleep helps.  I managed to get in about 7 hours last night and am hoping to do the same tonight.  It was crazy busy with people stocking up on all of the discounted Halloween and fall merchandise.  And yes, people have already started their Christmas shopping.  Back in my pre-retail days, I always set the goal of finishing all of my shopping by Thanksgiving.  Now I’m lucky to finish it at all.  Gotta love those gift cards.  And really, I like getting gift cards myself.  Then I can just go out and buy whatever the heck I want…oh wait, I pretty much do that anyhow…well, within reason…no trips to Paris or fancy shmancy cars…but you know what I’m saying, right?  There really are advantages to living by yourself.

I stopped at Kroger this morning before work to stock up on healthy dinners for the freezer at work.  I didn’t even realize they were having one of their mega sale things where you get $5 off your purchase if you buy ten items.  So, yes, I bought 10 Healthy Choice meals for work.  The one I ate for lunch today was really quite tasty…lemon pepper fish with rice and broccoli…only 350 calories and decent as far as sodium goes.  And, you know, that’s something I would be unlikely to prepare for myself so it’s a real treat to be able to throw it in the microwave and have a hot meal ready in 5 minutes or so.

I ended the day under on calories again.  Wow!  Two days in a row.  What’s going on? I also did some walking and strength training this morning.  And lots of walking at work, lots of walking, lots of talking…it’ll be nice to have tomorrow off and be able to enjoy a little peace and quiet.  I can be quite the talker, but I also like some time to myself.  I NEED time to myself in order to function.  I’ve been that way my entire life…never minded alone time.  I know there are a lot of people who want to be surrounded by people every minute of every day, but not me.  Being able to get away from people gives me time to recharge and go out and do it all again.

I’ve got to run some errands in the morning.  Then I’ll come home and clean house and do some cooking.  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find a few minutes to do a little extra writing.  How about you?  What’s in store for your weekend?

 

The long and winding road to fitness, day 134

olive garden salad dregs

Image by scaredy_kat via Flickr

Have you ever had one of those days where you know you’ve been busy all day and have nothing to show for it?  That was my day today.  Go, go, go…and get absolutely nothing done.  But, such is life in the retail industry at times.  Maybe tomorrow will be a bit more productive…

I did upper body strength training and walked for 20 minutes this morning.  One of these days I’ll get back to working out for an hour or so a day, but that day probably won’t be here until after the holiday season.  We start our six-day work weeks in another week, so this is my last weekend off…boo!!  I do well to keep the house clean during that time of the year.

I did a good job with my eating today.  Twice avoided fast food and stuck with my plan.  I ate six fruits and veggies over the course of the day.  I feel pretty darn good about that.  Aiming to repeat tomorrow.  Had a V8 at lunch (low sodium) along with this chicken broccoli thing and half of a roasted squash.  That’s the most veggies I’ve had at lunch in quite some time. 

I need to do some cooking this weekend, haven’t sat down and planned anything yet, but I want something that is healthy, has loads of veggies and is easy to take to work.  I’ve been thinking about a pot of veggie soup and salad for lunch next week (I’ve noticed I tend to try to make healthier versions of some of my favorite restaurant meals…you know, Olive Garden soup and salad).

Definitely early to bed for me tonight.  3:30 will be here much too soon…sweet dreams to all!!