Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crusty No-Knead Bread


I love bread. A lot. I can pretty much not get enough of it (much to my thighs dismay). I think bread is at its best when it is soaking up gravy or soup or stew. You need a pretty hearty piece of bread to hold up to some of my stoups (soup/stew hybrid). It has to be soft and spongy in the middle to soak up all the deliciousness of the dish but I also like a thick, hard crust though too. I want both! I want it all! Is that too much to ask for? Am I being greedy??

So then I found this recipe on Pinterest for a hard crusted large loaf of bread. I had to try it and try it I did! It was everything I had hoped for! 

Crusty No-Knead Bread

Ingredients:
  • 6 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour; I used 4 cups of all-purpose flour & 2 cups of whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 tsp. instant or active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 2/3 cups cool water
  1.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and mix until everything is well combined. The dough will be very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 12-18 hours at room temperature. I mixed my ingredients and then just left the dough on the counter overnight. When the dough is ready, it will have risen and will be dotted with bubbles on the surface.
  2. Flour your hands and your work surface lightly. Place your dough on the your work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over a few times and work it into a ball pinching a seam underneath.
  3. Generously (really generously) dust a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the cloth as it rises. Sprinkle more flour on the dough and cover with the edges of the towel or another towel and let rise for another 2 hours or until doubled in size. I used a flour sack towel. It worked perfectly and was big enough to just fold the corners up over the dough to rise. Do not skimp on the 'flouring of the towel' step. The first time I made this recipe I had a bit of a sticky mess attached to my towel. Sad face. 
  4.  After 1 1/2 hours, preheat your oven to 425°. Place a 6-8 quart dutch oven (or any heavy covered pot) in the oven as it heats up. 
  5. When your 2 hours are up and your dough is fully risen, remove your dutch oven carefully from the oven. As carefully as you can, remove the top towel or top folds from your dough ball and flip the dough into the hot pot seam side up. 
  6. Cover and bake for 40 minutes and then uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more until the crust is a dark golden color. 
  7. Remove the bread from the pot and let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!!


what you will need
mixing dry ingredients in my awesome pink bowl
I prefer the hand mixing method
after all the ingredients are mixed, fight with the plastic wrap to get the bowl covered. Sorry no pics right now of the dough after the 12-hour rise. I will take some and post them tomorrow! ;-)
This is my very old, very well-loved gifted Dutch Oven
And here it is! Isn't that crust beautiful!?
 

Thanks for stopping and God bless!!

 

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars


Good mornin' all! Once again the Midwest is being hammered by another round of rain, sleet, snow, and wind. So, I am staying home from church...again. Sad panda. But, I can take this time to share with you this terrific recipe for your very own Homemade Chewy Granola Bars. My kidlets LOVE them and I know they are not filled with a bunch of random ingredients like soy lecithin (which sounds like something that could crawl out of ocean). In fact, check out what is actually in your fav name-brand chewy granola bar here. You make be shocked.

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup honey 
1 cup raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, coconut, peanut butter chips or what ever your little heart desires (optional)

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl and mix. Add the vanilla and honey, and mix well. Next, add your add-in and mix well to even distribute.

Press the mix evenly into a greased 8x8 pan. Bake at 325° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting. 


What you will need

Our helper coconut oiling our pans.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl

Mix well. I prefer the hand method.

Add your honey, vanilla, and add-in of choice. We chose raisins and dried cranberries for our batch.

Press evenly into pans. We did a quadruple batch which is why it doesn't match the 8x8 pan in the recipe. The recipe listed above will make one 8x8 pan (about 14 bars depending on how you cut them)

The final product!

Thanks for stopping and God bless!

Friday, February 8, 2013

another man's treasure...

One man's trash is another man's treasure. 

I am a fairly frugal person. I love a good deal and an even better find in an unexpected place. Growing up we did not have a lot of money but we never starved and we always had a mostly warm house. My sister wrote of a not so fond memory addressing the same subject. You can read her hilarious post at her blog 31 Cups

However, I am not writing here today to stumble painfully down memory lane remembering how we pretty much lived in hand-me-downs and had to wear bread bags on our feet to keep the snow out of our boots. Yes bread bags. True story. I wanted to share that because we didn't always had the most money growing up, we really learned to appreciate what we had and to look for bargains. Here of course I am talking about THRIFT STORES! It is almost like a personal victory when I find something that is almost life changing in a thrift store. All I have to do is walk through my house I can could count about two to three dozen items just out in the open that I have discovered unexpectedly hiding under some other discarded products at our local (and not so local) 'Junk Stores'. The term Junk Store is coined by my mother. ;-)

So, after that intro into my madness, I just wanted to share some of my terrific finds with you. Check out your local thrift or junk store; The Salvation Army, Goodwill. Just in my area alone (good ole Southern Minnesota) there is also The Treasure House, MRCI, Thrift & More, and Neighborhood Thrift Store. I have found something in each and every one of these money-saving gems.

So, today's Thrift Store Gold purchase was at a little store in Sleepy Eye, MN (yes, that is the real name of the city) named the Next 2 New II. Let me tell you, when you find these, BUY THEM. They are probably as old as I am (thirty-somethin') and still look and work great! I have purchased six or seven different pieces from these old Tupperware sets. Gold I tell you! And for $1.00 a piece, I'd say I got a pretty good deal!




Already put to good use with my Easy Apple Snack ready to go for my kidlets. Recipe to come!

So, if you are ever out and about thrifting and you see these retro, old Tupperware containers, just get them. They will be worth pretty much whatever you spend on them (within reason of course). You will not regret it!

Thanks for stopping and God Bless!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Homemade Iced Coffee & Sweet Cream



I begin today's post with a quote from my twin brother, Eric. He LOVES his coffee and says this often. I thought it was an appropriate introduction to my Homemade Iced Coffee and Sweet Cream recipe. 

I know this is a bit out of season for some of my readers. It is February and freezing here in Minne-soota so many of you might not be thinking of iced drinks (maybe you are more interested in my Homemade Vanilla-Caramel Latte)

However, in my desperate thoughts of summer, my iced coffee drink sneaks into my mind. I yearn for warmth and sunshine and let me tell you, there is nothing more magical then the warm morning Minnesota sun in July. I can see it now. Sitting on my cement steps in front of my tired old farm house after a morning run with my delightfully cold iced coffee in hand just soaking up the vitamin D with my jogging partner, Gus Gus.

....

Back to reality.

Okay, back to the iced coffee recipe. So in order to make your lovely iced coffee base you have to start with cold brew coffee. You can make cold brew coffee with a french press but if you don't have the funds to go and buy one you can make it on your own with nothing but ground coffee and water. 

So here is what you need to make your Cold Brew Coffee
  • A cup of ground coffee (any flavor you prefer)
  • A quart mason jar
  • Filtered or Distilled water


  

Pour your ground coffee into your mason jar and add enough water to fill it up to the top of the jar. I always leave a little head room at the top. Place the lid on the jar and give it a little shake to make sure that all the coffee grounds get mixed in with the water. 

 

Let the mixture sit for at least 12 hours. If you want a stronger brew, then leave it longer. I have let it sit for up to 24 hours (I forgot about it ;-) and it was very strong but if you like a stout cup then you will be just fine. 

After 12 hours filter the mixture through a strainer lined with a coffee filter. There is nothing I loath more then stray coffee grounds in my coffee so I run my coffee though the strainer a few times.


 This process takes a little time so you may want to find something to do while it is straining. Staring at it actually makes the process longer. 

You can, however, work on your sweet cream while you are waiting on your straining coffee. So, lets get started on that! 

What you need for you Sweet Cream: 
  • 1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk 

Wal-Mart generic. That's how I roll.

Combine your two ingredients and shake well to combine.

  
Alright, back to the coffee. Your cold brew should be strained by now and ready to go. 

Aren't they beauteous?

After all of that, you are so excited to try your iced coffee, arn't you?! I am exited for you! Yay!

Fill your cup with your desired amount of ice.

 
Add your cold brew coffee. This is all personal preference. If you like a stronger coffee flavor add more coffee to your cup. If you want a sweeter drink then add less coffee. I fill mine about 2/3 to 3/4 full of cold brew coffee.


Next, you add your sweet cream.

Isn't it pretty?
 That is pretty much it. Stir and enjoy and imagine it is 84° and sunny.


I don't condone the drinking of excessive caffeine drinks by a toddler but he steals my coffee and drinks it all. :-/


Thanks for stopping, enjoy sipping, and God Bless!
  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Regrowing Green Onions

Good morning! Today's post is under the Recipe tab but isn't really a recipe. This is basically just a kitchen tip but still a very neat one. 


 I have seen a few of these posts on Pinterest about regrowing certain vegetables in water. According to a few sites you can regrow store bought celery, green onions, and romaine lettuce in water. I tried to regrow celery in water but I only got a few little stalks and then it died. Sad face. So, when I saw this post on Pinterest I was a bit skeptical. However, I thought I would try it anyway. 

I bought some green onions and cut them down to about an two inches above the bulb. I chopped up the onions and used what I needed and froze the rest in a water bottle for easy dispensing (also a Pinterest tip ;-).

Day 1
Day 3
Day 6
Day 10
Isn't that the coolest!!?? The Day 10 pic was taken right before I cut them down again.  The roots got really long during the ten days but I did put them back in water again to try to regrow for a third time. I guess we will see what happens. 


Thanks for stopping and God Bless!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

DIY Liquid Laundry Soap


Happy Sunday, world! Usually on Sunday morning I would not be here blogging but at my favorite church family's house worshiping. However, today is it actually freezing rain and turning our highways into a bobsled track. Sad face and welcome to Minnesota.

So, instead I am catching up on household stuff. I knew that I had to make some more laundry soap. I found this recipe on Pintrest (imagine that) and thought I would give it a try. I have tried a few other homemade laundry soaps. One was a powered soap from Being Creative to Keep My Sanity and another liquid laundry soap recipe from One Good Thing by Jillee. I love the powdered soap and still use that on most of my white loads and for my hubster's really nasty work clothes. I also really liked Jillee's recipe but this other recipe was just a little more suited for my laundering needs.  

So, while making this for my own household I thought I would also share this amazing and CRAZY FRUGAL recipe with you! 

Yes. I keep my Borax in an ice cream container. ;-)
 What you will need:
1 Bar of Fels Naptha Soap, grated (I have also heard of people using a bar of Ivory or Zote soap)
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Super Washing Soda
4 Cups Hot Water
5 Gallon Bucket

First, dump your four cups of hot water into a pot on the stove over medium heat to get it working. Grate your bar of soap and add it to your heating water on the stove. 

My grated soap. Not to be confused with cheddar cheese much to my toddlers dismay.

Stir your soap and water combo until all of the soap is melted. It takes about ten minutes for the shreds to melt.




 While waiting on your soap to melt you can start add about two and a half gallons of hot, hot, hot (your singing the song now aren't you?) water to your five gallon bucket. You don't have to boil the water or anything it just should be hot enough to get the soap mixture combined well. Your bucket should be just about halfway full.

After your soap is melted, carefully dump it into the bucket. Watch out for splashing and little people who constantly have to be 'helping'. Next, add your one cup each of Borax and washing soda. Stir it up really well with a very long spoon or whatever you can find. I use an old axe handle...cause that's how I roll.

Adding my Borax.

 Fill up the remaining space with hot water and stir again with your axe handle. 



  And that is it. Let it sit for about 24 hours to thicken up and you are ready to kill that pile of laundry. It really is too bad that there is some sort of magical concoction that will fold the clothes and put it away for you as well. I will work on that and get back to you. 

 You will use about a cup of soap per wash load. Don't freak out. I know that seems like a lot of soap for one load but I am telling you, it is so cheap to make you can still wave your El Cheapo McCheaperton Flag.

I said it was cheap and I will prove it! I get pretty much everything at Walmart. They seem to be the lowest price around so I will just give you their product prices. 

Felz-Naptha Soap: $0.97
20 Mule Team Borax : $2.99
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda: $2.99
Total:  $6.95


However, you are not using all of the Borax or the washing soda. So here is another breakdown. (My hubster did the numbers. I am not mathematically gifted.)

Felz-Naptha Soap: $0.97
20 Mule Team Borax : $0.44/cup
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda: $0.32/cup
Total: $1.73

Under two bucks for 80 loads of laundry!!!! That's bananas!!!

 I did not figure in the five gallon bucket. I was able to find mine at Runnings and it was extremely a bit over priced. Frowny face. It was something like 15 bucks for the bucket and the lid (yes I had to buy the lid separately...growl, snarl, hiss). However, once you have purchased it, you have it forever. You can shop around to find the best price. My sister also told me that you can go to certain fast-food joints or restaurants and buy their old five gallon pails for very cheap. 

So, there you have it. Five Gallons of Homemade Laundry Soap for $1.73. It doesn't get much better then that. 

Thanks for stopping and God Bless!



 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Whipped Coconut Oil


Hello all! Today's post comes to you from the Great White North Country of Minnesota (like every other post I create). I reside in this chilly region with my two boys, my hubster, the Horse (Gus Gus the dog), and my ornery feline, Norma Jean. Today it was -2° when I woke up this morning. It has pretty much been below zero every day this week. That is not completely abnormal for January in Minne-Sooota (cue Fargo accent) but you do have to sort of work up to that kind of weather every year. Your bod becomes accustomed to the low temps and you deal with the constant cold all the way to your very core...but that's just me. 

Even though your body eventually gets used to it, your skin SUFFERS. Mine does every year. You know what I am talking about. Cracked lips, alligator hands, heels that you could use as sandpaper (nast). It. Is. Awful. 

Over the summer I discovered the amazing benefits of coconut oil. I had no idea it was such super-powered stuff! Check this out! Sidenote: Check out Wellness Mama, she has really great stuff! I have fallen so madly in love with the stuff that I had to dedicate an entire Pinterest board to it: Coconut Oil Awesomeness.

Anyway, coconut oil is terrific stuff. I have used it in my homemade chap-it, homemade lotions, body butters, lotion bars... The list goes on. So, all that being said I just wanted to share with you a recent discovery that my hands truly appreciate. You can whip coconut oil. You could sure put the C.O. directly on our hands as is and that does work. However, when it comes directly out of the jar it is a bit hard (depending on the time of year of course and where you are from). Whipping it just makes it a bit more user friendly when applying it to your body. Cool beans, huh? It is a pretty basic procedure, but I will document it through pics cause that's the kinda gal I am.  


Basic Pure Coconut Oil. Eventually I would like to be able to get the 
organic stuff, but I am waiting on my money tree to start producing.


Place desired amount in a bowl and whip it, whip it good. It takes a little bit of time to really get it to a nice consistency (about 3 or 4 minutes) 
but keep at it, it's worth it.

hard & crunchy verses soft & fluffy


Scoop out the fluffy, delightful C.O. and place 
in a jar with a lid and you are good to go!


 Isn't it pretty? There is is ladies and gentleman. You can use your C.O. now with ease. I like to slather my hands and arms with it. I will feel greasy at first but it will sink in quickly. I also put it on my two kidlets who have uber sensitive skin.



****Update: So it has been a week since I originally ran this post it continues to be pretty traditional here in the North. The last few days have been really nasty with lows coupled with windchills around -31°. Even for us hearty folk, that is really blasted cold. I used to use baby oil while in the shower to help with the dry skin issue. However, my sister brought to my attention that mineral oil is not the best or even safest thing we could be putting on our skin. Then I did some research and found an interesting article at Herbal Luxuries. Umm, yikes.   

So I tried something new with my awesome whipped coconut oil to combat the gator skin that is taking over my body. I used the coconut oil the same way I used to use the baby oil. After I was done with all of my washing and before I turned off the water, I put a light layer of oil on my skin. The warmth from your skin melts it immediately and all you have to do with rub it in. Turn off the water and dry yourself like normal. The oil has already trapped the moisture from the water in your skin and the oil helps hold that moisture for hours. Yay!

Thanks for stopping and God Bless!


 
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