Is Fresh Bread Every Day Possible?

When I saw lessthanperfectmama’s post called The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Bread Baking, I knew it was time for a bread post. A year ago, if you had asked me, I would have told you quite emphatically that I do not bake.  Not bread, not cakes, not cookies. No baking.

Then I got interested in learning some basic homesteading skills. I downloaded a book called The Weekend Homesteader to my kindle, and the first project that grabbed my attention was bread making. I tried it a few times, and it totally worked! Good bread! But I couldn’t get the crust quite right.

Then I found a recipe for a no knead bread on Pinterest that looked like it would give me the desired results by baking in a Dutch oven.

And it did! I had a loaf with a crispy, leathery, strong crust. It was amazing! And the family raved. But it required planning ahead and an overnight rise, and planning ahead isn’t something I am super wonderful at.

I can’t remember how I stumbled across the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes technique. I think I must have heard rumblings over on Pinterest. I got a copy of their book (a real copy, not an ebook), and gave it a shot. The ease and success blew me away.  Suddenly, I was making loaf after delicious, crusty loaf.  Then pizzas.  Then cinnamon rolls.

The idea behind the ABin5 technique is that you make a very large batch of dough, enough for four or so loaves, and store the dough in the fridge until you need it.  So you’ve just always got dough laying around to whip into something.

The books suggest that you bake the bread on a hot pizza stone, but after doing this for a year, I really do find that I prefer to bake it in a dutch oven.  When I turn on the oven to preheat, I just pop in the dutch oven to preheat as well.  I preheat for a full 30 minutes to make sure the dutch oven is hot.  I shape my dough onto a piece of parchment paper, and then just drop the whole thing, paper and all, into the dutch oven after the 40 minute rest period.  Halfway through the baking time, I take the lid off the dutch oven to let the crust brown.  The results are consistent and perfect every single time!

It’s hard to complain about having fresh bread all the time.  It warms the house during the cold winter, makes everything smell good, and it’s good food for my family.  I’m still learning to master the whole grain recipes.  I’ve not had good luck with those.  The loaves come out dense.  But my grandma bought me a scale for Christmas, so I am hoping that weighing the ingredients will provide a more exact measure and improve the texture of the finished loaf.  I will certainly keep you posted.

All in all, I really recommend the ABin5 books.  I have every single one, and I love them.  The naan recipe in the flatbreads book not only makes amazing naan, but also fantastic pizza crust!  The English Granary Bread in the original book is a family favorite, and the Limpa bread is amazing!

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Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

~Martin Luther King Jr.

Post Baby Fashion Crisis

Okay, let me be really clear.  This isn’t a fashion blog.  I’ve never been good at fashion at all.  But I have been stressed about the way I dress and the way I feel about the way I dress recently, so that’s why I’m writing about it.

I’ve always just worn jeans and t-shirts, with only a little variation.  My work “uniform” varied little from what my husband wears. Khaki or black slacks, a button up shirt (non-iron if you please), and flats.  Now that I’m not working, I find myself wearing jeans that are either a size too small or a size too big, an old t-shirt from high school (you read that right), yoga pants, or just a plain old nursing tank top that probably has milk or spaghetti stains on it somewhere.

One afternoon, I found myself going out on a date with with my husband wearing a long sleeved t-shirt, a black maxi skirt, my faithful red Toms, kelly green knee-socks, and my red ski parka.  I felt ridiculous.  Was this how low I had sunk?  Bless him, my husband had the grace to tell me that I looked beautiful no matter what I wore, but regardless of how he saw me, I didn’t feel good about myself.

It’s not that I’ve never noticed fashion.  There’s always been certain looks that I’ve admired.  I’ve just never thought, for whatever reason, that I could pull it off.  I’ve always been attracted to pretty dresses and skirts that have a vintage-y feel. Like Amy Adams in The Muppet Movie or like Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) from Once Upon a Time.  But I also like more modern looks, like Clara Oswald from the past season of Doctor Who. And don’t get me started on steampunk stuff.  That Victorian-science-fictiony-adventurous mish-mash of awesomeness is just so, so cool.

But how do you turn all of that into a style?  Honestly?  I have no idea, but you know what?  I’m old enough and confident enough that I want to start wearing clothes that make me feel good about myself, that are fun, and express my personality much more honestly than a ratty old orchestra shirt from 1997.

A friend of mine has been giving me fashion advice lately, and her idea was to think of dressing thematically.  That idea has really helped me feel more self-assured in what I am choosing for myself.  She’s kind, but honest, and not at all afraid to say, “Okay, you know, I really don’t think that’s going to work for you.”  Everyone needs a friend like this.  Someone you send a quick selfie to and say, “What do you think?”

Another thing that has helped me figure out some outfits is Polyvore.  It lets me shop at home and play with multiple pieces from different stores without having to brave the anxiety-inducing mall.  I can play with an entire outfit, all the way down to shoes and accessories.

Having these outfits put together ahead of time really helps me to find what I want when I actually go to the store. This way, I end up with a full outfit instead of a jumble of individual pieces that I don’t know what to wear with what.  I also feel a lot more confident in my ability to, well, dress myself I suppose. I don’t worry too much about finding the exact same things as I put into the Polyvore collections, but it gives me an idea of what kinds of things I can put together.

Having these pictures to go off of gives me the ability to quickly dig through the clearance racks or go through TJ Maxx or Marshal’s or other discount store to see if they have something in the shape and/or color family I am interested in at the moment.

Below are a few examples of pictures I put together for myself to shop from.

Fall into winter into spring

More winter

 

Winter Outfit
 
Untitled #10
This kind of pre-shopping helps boost my confidence.  I will never be a fashionista.  And frankly, I’m not interested in becoming one.  But I do want to feel good about myself when I go out in public, and I finally am finding the confidence to dress the way I want to dress.  Is my body perfect post-baby?  Nope.  Will some people look at me and think I’m a little weird for wearing quirky outfits.  Probably.  And I don’t care.
My advice is this: Dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself.  Screw everyone else.