Friday, March 20, 2015

The soaker, the biga and the bread

I enjoy the process of making bread. Yeast bread recipes are never exact because humidity, temperature, even ingredients can change what is required to make a good loaf. It's all in the feel of the dough.

For me, bread is one of the finest foods ever to emerge from an oven. But, if the bread is going to have flavor and the greatest health benefit, you have to go big or go home.

So after many months searching and more than a few not-worth-the-effort trials, I have landed upon a combination of two recipes that make three outstanding loaves of bread. The prep starts the night before with a biga and a soaker. Even though this seems like an extra step, it makes baking day easier than ever.

And the bread? Oh my... it's beautiful! (Can you imagine what my kitchen smelled like at the moment of this picture?)


It's full of whole grain goodness... 


And I know exactly what's in it. No preservatives. No dyes or refined sugar. No unwelcome surprises at all.

Life is good... especially with food like this.

Jesus said... I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 3:35

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Oh deer...

February was cold ... and snowy ... and windy ... and icy... Overall, a month not friendly to man or beast. On occasion during those nasty days, I wondered how the deer were faring with their usual available food buried under snow.

I learned just exactly how well they manage a few days ago.
 

 Just to give a true sense of the amount of damage, this picture shows my dearly-beloved spraying deer repellent to try to save the what's left of the trees.


We heard from a neighbor that she saw a large herd of deer in our yard gathered around the smaller trees. She took pictures. (I silently wished that she had yelled, banged a pan, anything to scare them off!)

I've heard that cutting hair spurs growth. It feels like cutting the grass has the same effect. Hopefully the principle holds true with trees and this winter "pruning" will plump them up.

In the meantime... they look quite strange!

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. Jeremiah 17:7

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Salmon and Salsa

It feels like the health of everyone around me is being attacked. Immediately new diets are researched. Old ways of eating and and favorite foods are scrutinized to determine if they are healthy... or hazardous enough to be discarded from regular menus.

All of this concern has rubbed off on me. I'm busy looking for recipes to suggest or what the next expert has to say about what we eat. In the process, I have found some recipes that look so very good. One in particular is Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa.

I waited for a beautiful avocado to come to the perfect point of ripe. The cilantro bunch was deep green and fragrant. The salmon waited... we all waited for the avocado. Finally the day arrived.

The spicy rub was applied to the fish. The salsa was resting in the refrigerator. The moment arrived. Grill pan hot. Fish sizzling... and flipped. The kitchen smelled wonderful. I plated the cooked fish, hurried to the fridge to get the salsa to spoon on top.

But the bowl didn't want to slide off the shelf. So I pulled a little harder and as it slipped from my finger and smashed - I should say exploded - on the floor. Every little chopped piece of my salsa... ruined.

So, I have no pictures of the perfect salmon dinner. I'm still filled with sadness. Sometimes it is the little things that spoil a day.

Sigh.

Jesus said... In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Brrrr!

You know it's cold outside when you see your breath and feel your face burn in the 15 second run from car to store.

When the snow crrrunches beneath your boot-encased feet... It's bitterly cold!

When the above statements are true and the rooster yard guard is up to his neck in snow ... well, it's just plain time to hibernate.


I know that it's winter and it's Michigan... but I am so ready for some green grass. This too shall pass, right? Right?

Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. Psalm 62:1

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chili powder DIY

Twenty plus years ago, I discovered the world of super fresh spices. Through all these years I have stayed with one company that supplied me with any spice for any recipe that looked intriguing. I was a faithful and very loyal customer.

But now, the search is on for a new seller of spices. Who knew finding an excellent spice merchant could be so difficult? I discovered that chili powder is a good way to gauge a merchant's product line.

My first order in new territory included "medium hot chili powder". I was concerned that one man's "medium hot" might be another's "HOT!", so I ordered the smallest amount. It was bland to the point of being tasteless.

Back to the computer for another search - this time, DIY chili powder. Did you know that some chili powders have a paprika base, while others use a variety of chilies? (I immediately understood the makeup of my bland experience.) I narrowed my recipe choices to 4, read each one very carefully and picked the one that looked most promising.

hot! hot! hot! Fortunately the test batch was very small, so I adjusted the next batch to my idea of "medium". Wow. I think I have reached chili perfection right in my own kitchen. (Original recipe here)



I'm still working from my supply of excellent spices from my former supplier, but some things are getting very low. A serious hunt is on for a new spice home.

I do love tasty food. 

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.Matthew 5:6

Friday, February 6, 2015

Grocery lists... and pickles

No matter how carefully you write your short grocery list, when you hand it to a man and send him off to the store alone, you never know what will fill the bags that come home with him. Bless his heart.

I needed one red onion. Among the other surprises that came home from the store that particular day, there was a 3# bag of red onions. I used the one that I needed... and then wondered what I could do with the 2.5# still in the bag.

My penchant for clipping recipes actually rescued the situation. Quick Pickled Onions they're called. They are delicious... and beautiful. Best of all - they are easy.

Because the first batch disappeared so quickly, I bought a bigger bag of red onions to make more pickles... in a bigger jar.


While I had the four (that's right 4, plus water) necessary ingredients out, I decided to find out how carrots would respond to pickling. That was an experiment worth repeating.


Here's the original recipe for all of this quick and easy goodness.

Quick Pickled Onions 

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup water
1 red onion, thinly sliced (I used my food processor)

Whisk vinegar, sugar, salt, and water in a small bowl until the sugar and salt dissolve. Place the sliced onion in a jar; pour the vinegar mixture over. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. (You can make these ahead. They will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.)

I used the same recipe for the carrot rounds (minus the onions, of course) and added a few celery leaves, some peppercorns, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Those are very good too!

Maybe next time, everything that looks lonely in the vegetable drawer will end up in a jar together. Maybe I'll give it a fancy name .... like Pickle Melange. One thing is certain.... there will be a next time.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

Monday, February 2, 2015

Seven years of making

Today is a special day. Seven years ago today, I started this blog. The first few posts were labelled with Making __________. 

In my mind "making" is the word that encapsulates my days. It soothes my soul to have the work of my hands involved in something useful. If it turns into something wonderful... even better! Oh, the adventures, the lessons, the growing that has occurred in the last 7 years. I am only the same person in that I still love to "make". What I make now is another story.

My latest project has been to make myself a desk calendar/planner. Last year, I inherited and "refurbed" an outdated planner. But it just wasn't pleasant to the eyes and it didn't get much use. So this year, I aimed for lovely.

 
I dressed up the covers of an old book with gorgeous paper from Hollander's. The plan was to use a spiral binding, but the cover was too thick to fit into the machine. Plan B included 1" book rings.


The dividers for the months are from my stash of painted papers... too pretty to cut up, not pretty enough to stand alone.


 The pages are designed to keep a log of my life. No diary or journal entries... just what I did and when. Very helpful when trying to remember the sequence of events... or win an argument. Heh heh.


I dipped into the boxes of leftovers from printed/painted papers - the insides of die-cuttings, almost-right experiments, hand cut shapes and bits - to find decoration for various spots that needed something.



I'm happy - a month late for keeping tabs on the new year - but late is better than never, right?

Happy birthday little blog. You make my heart and hands sing.

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17

Monday, October 27, 2014

Practical vs creative

Somehow, in the midst of trying to be productively creative, I lost my way. Literally, my way.

There is a natural conflict when a practical person tries to be creative ... the practical demand for "useful" can quickly crush the joy of seeing "beautiful!" appear as the fingers manipulate color and paper and glue.

I have been working to fulfill a friend's request for flower cards, and trying to invent something that was easily reproducible (just in case they took off and I got an order for 100 copies, you know). But reproducible, I discovered, has no texture. It's smooth, and boring, just like the one before it and the one after it. There is no life... no beauty that brings the I love it! gasp, or the desire to reach out and touch.


So, onward into bumpy, spattered, layered, one-of-a -kind! Let the joy of creating be the reward for creating. It is enough for the inspired heart.


I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvelous works. Psalm 9:1