Friday, June 22, 2012

the best loaf of bread ever

I've been baking sourdough for a while now, regularly feeding this lovely culture of a bacteria laden flour-water mixture for almost a year. Over the course of a year, I've been learning more and more about the finicky nature of this little much and how often to feed it, the ratio of flour to water when preparing the dough, how to properly knead, the correct temperature to make the creature happy as it ferments all day, and the length of time to get it right without the end result being too sour, not sour enough, risen enough etc. You'd be amazed how much goes into the ancient art of sourdough bread. And I'm glad to say that I had achieved the point of effectively make a beautiful loaf of whole-wheat sourdough just about every time. 

But I was getting bored. Until my friend showed me the book Tartine Bread and my whole outlook on sourdough has changed forever. Dramatic, yes I know. Amazing. Basically you use an immature sourdough starter (one that doesn't smell sour but rather, fruity) and you use way more water than in conventional recipes. What you get is a a very moist loaf with lots and lots of big air pockets, is super chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. I also cook the bread in a dutch oven now to cook with steam...the results are as close to a professional bakery as I have ever reached. I'm so excited! Here's some photos of my first attempt with the new method. I know you're drooling. This recipe is the "country white", which uses mostly white flour (which has been digested by the sourdough, making it more nutritious than regular white bread) but also has some whole wheat flour added.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Ugh, I'm so tired of being sick. It's going on two weeks and it's getting to be a bit ridiculous. What started out as a cold led to a laryngitis-type thing and is now a dry hacking caugh! grr. Anyway, enough about that. Over these last few weeks of survival, I've been reverting to headbands to take care of hair that I have no time for so I thought I'd share! The first one I sewed a couple of weeks ago out of a chocolate brown jersey knit fabric and is awesome for summer. Sometimes I just don't have time to deal with bangs so that's where this stretchy piece of fabric folded over a few times comes in handy. 

The second two with the lace I finished knitting several weeks ago but haven't had the opportunity to show off yet. I love them. Here's a link to the pattern. I initially knit one for my girlfriend and I liked it so much that I knit one for me. The aran weight yarn makes it a bit heavy for hot summer days (which is where the stretchy headband comes in)but works great on cold days any time of year.

There's nothing like a head band for covering up bad 3-day-unwashed hair, for growing out hair, for covering up bangs you don't feel like dealing with or adding some interest to an otherwise routine day. I plan on making more once everyone is healthy and sleeping again. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

save a little chocolate for me

Mother's day has long come and gone and I've been wanting to share the following recipes ever since the big day but have been completely unable to due to sick children, sick me, work, etc. Life has been crazy. I actually went insane last week, had a temper tantrum and took off up north for a few days to a tiny little town that is most underrated. My mother-in-law lives there part-time and she shared the parental role with us, which allowed me to get some much needed rest. A lovely retreat when the pressures of every day life boil over. And when you're a sick mumma with sick kids who just don't stop!

Anyway, for mother's day, I wanted to do something home-made for my mum (the person who has everything). After spending some time on pinterest looking for ideas, I decided on chocolates and home-made candles. The chocolates were amazing! 

The candles turned out ok but were a bit finicky because the wax kept drying unevenly, creating huge craters which required me to re-melt and refill a couple of times with more wax. No big deal, just a bit more work than I'd planned and an end result that was less than perfect. But functional. I bought 2 little tea-cups second hand and bought candles from the dollar store that I melted down in a double-boiler. Voila, candles. Here's the link.

Oh my goodness, the chocolates...who knew that chocolate making was so easy and so delicious! The DIY versions were hands-down better than their commercial counterparts. Here's my favourite, the home-made version of Pep's or York Peppermint Patties:

Then there were my son's favourite, the Chocolate Peanut butter Turtles

And finally, home made Almond good.

I made extras of all of them, then put them in the freezer. The intent was to always have a treat at arm's reach for visitors. But they haven't lasted long as we have been devouring them. Especially in the afternoon when one babe is asleep, the other is outside amusing himself with his dump trucks, and I find myself with a rare few minutes alone...nothing beats a chocolate and a coffee or tea by myself. Guess I have to make some more...