Saving money with bread: my favourite easy, healthy, no-knead bread recipe

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I’m back to making our family’s bread on a regular basis. It saves us at least $7 per week or more, and is much tastier than anything we can buy. On second thought, I think making good bread saves much more than the cost of bread, since my family is more likely to choose a fresh slice of yummy fresh bread than a more expensive snack like boxed cereal. Plus, my kids really love “Mommy Bread”, and it makes my heart swell to hear them say so!

With cooler Fall weather coming our way, making bread is also a lovely way to heat up the house and create that homey feeling that seems to define the season.

My current fave recipe is kinda healthy, and very easy. It’s the Good Whisk Bread recipe from Wildly Affordable Organic by Linda Watson (with only a couple of modifications that I’ll tell you about below!). Linda has made two videos (first part heresecond part here) demonstrating the process for making and then shaping this bread, which really takes the guess-work out–especially for the shaping bit!

What I love about this recipe is that it gets great flavour with a super simple recipe that requires very little hands-on time. It makes two small loaves, which I have been slicing right after baking, and putting in the freezer to last the week. It makes very flavourful toast and cheese sandwiches. My daughter loves when I make her a toasted cheese sandwich in the morning for her lunch (she calls it a “Cheese-a-roo”), and I love having a tomato sandwich for lunch, with mayo, cheese, and a pickle!

The original recipe recommends white whole wheat flour, and 1/2 cup of untoasted wheat germ along with the first mix. I don’t have either of these things, so I have just been using the freshly ground Redeemer whole wheat flour that I have, and not bothering with the wheat germ, though I suppose I could add in 1/2 cup of home-ground oat flour or some other add-in. I have also reduced the salt from 1 tbsp to 2 1/2 tsp, as I found it a bit too salty at the higher amount.


Good Whisk Bread

(by Linda Watson, from Wildly Affordable Organic)

2 1/2 cups (300 g) whole wheat flour, sifted

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (or one package)

2 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp (21 g) honey or other sweetener (maple syrup or agavé for a vegan choice)

3 cups warm water

4 cups (480 g) all-purpose unbleached flour

Combine whole wheat flour, yeast, salt and sweetener. Add 2 cups of the water and whisk swiftly for one minute. This starts to develop the gluten to give a better rise in the final bread.

Add the last cup of water and the 4 cups of unbleached flour, and mix vigorously and thoroughly to combine. The dough will be sticky and quite wet.

Cover with a lid and let rise on a counter for 1 to 5 hours, then refrigerate overnight or longer (up to 2 weeks). I find a good flavour develops at 2 days).

On baking day, remove the dough from the fridge and divide and shape into two loaves. This video shows how to divide and shape the loaves. They will be quite wet, but still should form a nice shape in a loaf pan.

Whereas Linda uses a greased nonstick pan, I prefer to line my loaf pans with parchment paper which easily peels away from the finished loaves. I find mine need to rise for at least 3 hours. I prepare my oven with the loaves on the middle rack, and a pan of boiling water underneath for warmth and humidity.

I also find mine need a longer bake at a higher temperature (though maybe a longer rise would correct this somewhat). The last loaves I made baked for at least an hour at 400ºF. The internal temperature should reach 205ºF.

Allow to cool completely, and then either keep at room temperature or slice and place in the freezer to maintain freshness.

I’ve used my Amazon Affiliate link–but I have no expectation of ever making a dime off such a thing. I am completely willing to be surprised, however, if you want to order this great book. You won’t be disappointed.

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Frugal Daily: a newsletter update

So far I’ve sent 16 newsletters out–with one on the way in the morning!–and I’ve already received several emails from readers who are enjoying the tips! I hope I am inspiring people to clarify and make progress on their financial goals, or even just to tweak their lifestyle to be a bit more environmentally conscious.

My tips range from abstract to concrete, all with the aim to keep frugality on your radar as you start your day. If I can add a few tools to your toolbox along the way, that will be gratifying.

Remember: there are no affiliate links; I’m not selling anything; you can unsubscribe anytime; and it’s not about couponing. (Unless I write about why I don’t do couponing. That would be the only coupon-related post I would ever do.)

A Quick Apology to my readers!

I accidentally bombarded you with some posts I added back into this old blog from my “new blog” which I am shutting down. Sorry I forgot to shut off my auto-notifications before doing that work everybody. Thanks for your loyal readership!

My Green Smoothie Recipe

smoothie-wordsHappy Monday morning folks!

On my way to work today I had a happy encounter with a man named Trenton. He’s a cancer survivor, and he asked me about my green smoothie. Trenton is working out to get fit, along with his 17yo son. He totally made my day when he asked me for my smoothie recipe, so I told him I’d blog it just for him! Here you go Trenton, this is for you!

Morning Smoothie

1 banana
a handful of strawberries (or other sweet fruit: apple, grapes, pear all work well)
1 cup kefir (could use yogurt)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp flax seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp coconut oil
large handful chopped kale
water up to “max” line on Bullet, or enough water to make it liquidy

Blend, and enjoy!


I’ve been drinking this smoothie daily for the last few months, and I really love it. Here are some notes about the ingredients.

Bananas: This smoothie is best if some of the ingredients are frozen when you make it. I’ve had good luck with breaking up a bunch of bananas and freezing them on a tray, then storing the chunks in a baggie in the freezer. This makes for a nice cold smoothie, and allows you to take just the right amount of banana.

Strawberries: I like to use frozen sliced strawberries. I can get a nice big bag of organic ones from Costco for a much better price than the grocery store. This is something you can grow, but it takes a lot of area to grow a sizeable strawberry crop. I was also lucky to go strawberry picking in the early summer, so I kept back a few from that adventure for my smoothies (So delicious!!).

Kale: I grew a nice crop of kale this summer, so I was able to enjoy *Really* local kale for my smoothies! You can buy a big bag of chopped kale and throw it in the freezer for ready access through the week.

Kefir: I have been making my own kefir! Stay tuned for more on that!

Chia seeds: Chia seeds have a very high amount of Omega 3, and very low Omega 6, very good for the brain. Chia seeds get really thick once they’re blended up and mixed with a liquid, so you might have to adjust your quantities of chia and water to get a thickness you like. Too much chia or too little water, and you get something more like pudding, which is a little hard to drink. I like to put the seeds in after I add my kefir. If you put them in the bottom or over the bananas, they sometimes stick to the bottom of the cup, and miss out on the smoothie party.

Flax seeds: These are another good source of Omega 3s, and a good source of fibre.

Turmeric and Cinnamon: These are both touted as cancer-fighting ingredients, and they give the smoothie a nice flavour. Cinnamon can also add an impression of “sweetness” without added sugar.

Coconut Oil: Another healthy fat, which emulsifies and adds richness and a creamy mouthfeel. Coconut oil can also help to make fat-soluble vitamins available to your body. In the summer, when your coconut oil is liquid, try to add it to the top, otherwise it might harden onto the side of the cup and never make it into your smoothie. When it is hard in the cooler months, I like to layer it in with the seeds so it doesn’t stick to the blades.

I blogged about my Nutribullet just the other day. Well, this is the smoothie I’ve been making with it.

I’d love to hear other recipes, and your ingredient tips too! Let me know what you think in the comments!


Monday Mindfulness: One Moment Meditation App

I have heard over and over again that our inability to sit with discomfort is at the root of most dissatisfaction and anxiety. It causes addictions, ruins relationships, and leads to a lot of instability. How many of your decisions are made based on a desire to avoid pain, rejection, boredom, desperation or other discomfort? How would your life be different if you made decisions based on your values, or on the impact they would have on the earth, or on your loved ones?

I know my life would be vastly different. And these questions aren’t meant to judge you, because we ALL seek pleasure and avoid pain. We aren’t robots or monks (I’m assuming? I can’t imagine robots or monks would be interested in reading my blog!); pain, boredom and conflict will eventually *get* to us, and we will try to shift away.

What I hope for, in my life, and in my kids’ lives, is the ability in the millisecond before making that shift, to be able to make a choice. There isn’t a lot of room there, between the burn and the flinch, between the perceived insult and the angry yell.

With meditation, we get to create a space

meditation-by-spirit-fire
meditation” by Spirit-Fire, 2011

We can either choose to yell or maybe to take a deep breath instead and take a break, walk away, have a drink of water or look at a tree for a few minutes before coming back to the conversation. The space we create can allow us to choose our values.

When we meditate, we see all sorts of things pass by on the screen of our mind. They seem very important, until we say “Hmm” and let go and return to our breath. Letting go, over and over and over again, shows us that we CAN let go. And so, over time, we create a space where we can choose to let go.

Studies have shown that meditating actually causes changes in our brains, de-escalating emotions, and actually reducing pain. How remarkable! We can actually reduce our pain by learning to sit with pain. It turns out that what really increases our pain is the feeling, the belief, that we can’t handle it. When we bring compassion to our pain, it reduces the hurt. And all this can come from just sitting and breathing.

A simple practice

I’ve had an on-again-off-again meditation practice for over a decade, and what I love about meditating–most of which I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh–is its simplicity: Get comfortable. Set a timer. Breathe. Focus on your breathing. When your thoughts wander, let those thoughts go, and return your focus to your breathing. That’s it. No special position, just get comfortable. No special words; no words at all. So simple you can do it anywhere.

one-moment-meditationI have tried a few different meditation apps over the past year, but I hadn’t found one I liked until I tried One MomentMeditation. Many of them had music, guiding text or swirling colours. OMM has nothing fancy: just a timer for one minute, plus an optional warm-up and cool-down.

What I love about it is that it is almost impossible NOT to meditate with this app. Just one minute? How can you say no? And yet, even one minute seems like a deliciously long break in the middle of a stressful work day.

Even in one single minute we can learn how to bring compassion to our discomfort, boredom and pain. Even one minute a day can help reduce our pain, our anger and our sadness.

Even one minute can create space for us to choose our values.


I have no affiliation with One Moment Meditation. This is an honest review for which I have not received, nor do I anticipate receiving any compensation. I did include a couple of Amazon Affiliate links; however, I encourage you to look for the linked books in your local library.

Shooting star or seedling: What to do with all the great ideas?

 

seedling
Seedling” copyright Drew McLellan, 2007

I’m an idea person. I get a lot of them, though they are more like shooting stars than, say, seedlings. They burn bright and fade quickly instead of growing. That is, instead of me nurturing them, feeding them, watering them–believing in them.

It should not be surprising to hear, given the “itchy sweater” feeling I currently have about my life, that I have not recently nurtured any great ideas to full ripeness. I’ve been stumbling along, with only vague ideas of what I want to do, what I want to leave as my legacy.

 

It was a post somewhere on Penelope Trunk’s blog (which I’ve lost along the tangled path of her fascinating site) that made me realize that drifting along is basically ensuring my unhappiness. She claims that people who see a clear relationship between their actions (or lack thereof) and their situations, are much more likely to achieve happiness.

Let me rephrase that:

The way to happiness is realizing that you can make decisions to bring you happiness.

The decisions we make, the actions we take, those have consequences: they can lead us to a better life. If we abdicate the responsibility to choose, leaving it up to fate, we will continue to drift along, never getting what we want.

I’ve been drifting for too long–letting the path choose me instead of deciding where I want to go.

Part of that is because of the big changes that have occurred in our life over the last year and a half. The big decisions we made were to stay put in Sudbury instead of trying to make homeschooling work in another city, and to prioritize financial stability over homeschooling. (I personally know at least four families who persisted in homeschooling through a job loss, so I know that is possible–but that was way too terrifying for me!)

up-the-lane

I’ve really felt lost over this time. I hadn’t realized it at first, but losing the identity of “homeschooling mom” put me in a place of not really knowing who I was, or where to go next. I think I had to come to terms with that loss before I could move forward to something new.

I think I’m finally done mourning. I’m ready for the next steps.

I’m done drifting.

Now that I’m ready to move ahead, I realize I’ve been doing the prep work all along.

Over the last few months, I have really been trying to figure out my path, my meaning, how I can best contribute to the world. I’ll write more about my process later, but essentially I’ve done some work articulating my values, analyzing what brings me joy, considering my personality, and ultimately coming up with an action statement of what I want to achieve in this one life.

What I’ve come up with is this:

I want to bring people together to do cool stuff.

I want to create community. I want to help people feel good together, and help them feel good about being together. New people, lots of people, people you’ve never met before. I want to surprise you with the awesomeness of your neighbours.

 

So, lucky me: I got an idea a couple of nights ago. I think I maybe dreamed it? Or maybe it bubbled up at 4:30 am as I was lying awake. It’s a pretty good idea, maybe even great. It has even withstood the 24-hour stress test (I didn’t get stressed out about it after 24 hours!).

Following this idea could bring people together to do something cool. In sort of a metaphorical way. It has the potential to create community, surprise people about their neighbours, and spread some good vibes.

I’m making the decision to move this idea forward one step. And then, I hope, another. Who knows what it will lead to, but at least I know that wherever it leads, it was a result of my decision to take care of this little seedling of an idea, and hopefully watch it grow.

It is truly amazing how the universe jumps on board as soon as we make that decision to go somewhere good.