“A good life is a collection of happy memories”
I’ve been reading A Prairie Kitchen Sampler, a book written by Ethel Mae Fritz between 1922 – 1934. The Author shares her experience living on a homestead in Nebraska, what preparing to become a wife at 18 entailed and all the recipes woman were to know in order to take charge of the kitchen and feed her family and farm staff. The book includes recipes for breads, pie shells, cookies, roasts. I’ve always daydreamed of a simple life and although her life was nothing close to simple, it still evokes a time when life moved at a slower pace. There’s a wonderful chapter about the process of making ice-cream for their birthday, including a trip to purchase a block of ice and get home before it melted in order to make fresh ice cream.
I’m feeling contented after a wholesome August long weekend. Living in a wholesome way means surrounding myself with media and activities that bring a feeling of innocence and I want more of that feeling in my life, so I spent the weekend surrounded by books and doing things that inspire and quiet the mind.
I made fresh hand stretched pizza dough with my sourdough starter discard (the recipe coming in a future blog) and we packed sandwiches one evening and had dinner on the beach until sunset.
One of my pet-peeves is idle-ness; I am happiest when I have a purpose for the day, even if it’s simple list of errands or chores around the home. There is always something that can be done – when was the last time you cleaned your fridge or organized your linen closet? You won’t find me scrolling through social media during the day or watching Netflix. I’m not sure if it’s “good” or not but I feel like after a day of work, I’ve earned my rest and enjoy it that much more when I’ve accomplished something. After dinner clean-up, I’ll catch up on our TV shows with my husband but never more than a couple of hours as I keep a nighttime ritual including a shower, skincare and reading or meditating before sleep. We’ve been watching ALONE since the beginning, almost 10 years ago and I’m on Season 2 of Anne with E which I’m so enjoying. It’s beautifully filmed in P.E.I. and is a remake of Anne of Green Gables, a story I grew up watching on T.V.
I’ve mentioned in other blogposts my fascination with pioneer life – I even remember the excitement of visiting Pioneer Village as a child in Ontario. I’m sure I would not have enjoy living in a dugout shelter or having to wake up at 4am to start breakfast and I’m certain that butchering chickens would break my heart. For me, it’s about working with my hands, learning basic cooking-from-scratch recipes and the sense of accomplishment that growing my own food and baking bread brings – I’m an old romantic soul.
There is some aesthetic work being done on the exterior of our building and at some point in the coming weeks we would have to clear our patio so I started cleaning out the pots with soil and moving the garden decor inside. I have missed not having my garden this year but some things are out of our control.
Although I meal plan weekly which helps avoid food waste, there is still, at times, ingredients that are left over so I go through what needs to be used and create new meals with them and stretch out my shop. This week I had Gruyere cheese I bought for the Mac n Cheese I made a week ago. I pulled chicken thighs from the freezer Friday night and in the morning asked my husband to marinade them for a BBQ and I made a Potato Gratin with the leftover Gruyere cheese to go with supper. I also topped up the granola container one evening. Granola with yogurt and raspberries for breakfast.
“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all”.
Last week was Lughnasadh, the first harvest. It is custom to bake bread so I thought I’d try a Sandwich loaf with my sourdough starter. This is how I made it.
*Feed sourdough starter the night before and leave it out on the counter to rise.
You Will Need:
porcelain bowl (oiled)
3 1/2 cups of flour
2 Tblsp Honey
1/2 cup of sourdough starter (or a heaping Tablespoon of active yeast)
1 1/2 teaspoons of Salt
1 1/3 cup of warm water
3 Tblsp melted butter
Mix all ingredients and create dough then put in the oiled bowl and let rise for 1 hour covered with wet cloth napkin (or tea towel). After 1 hour knead for about 1 minute – cover again for another hour to rise. After second hour, knead again for about a minute and cover for a couple of hours unless it starts to rise (then you can bake it). Mine didn’t rise so I left it then decided to to a few stretch and folds – so I did that a couple of times every 15 minutes within an hour then left it in the bowl, seam side down for about an hour. I then I pulled it out onto the counter and just pressed it down with my fingers and thickly laminated it into a rectangle shape (very roughly) then folded the ends into the middle and the top end into the middle then folded that over to create a loaf shape and put it into the oiled glass bread pan. I then covered it lightly with just a dry dish towel for 1-2 hours to see if it rise – it did a little more so I baked it at 350 for 40 minutes then gave it an extra 10 minutes to brown. I pulled it out onto a cooling rack and it was done
NOTE: the dough was pretty wet when it proofed and the bread was a tiny bit dense but very good flavour and ended up rising well while baking. Might add a bit more flour next time.
I’ve been slowly learning the art of bread making has a lot to do with feeling and improvising baking times based on what the dough is doing. I wish I could say it’s a perfect science but it’s all about learning to know your dough and working with it.
Thank you for joining me today.
Until next time.