Saturday, September 28, 2013

Making Bread

On a lazy weekend, when the days and nights are cooling as we head into fall, there is nothing wrong with baking some bread.  Lately, I have been using a starter (levain) that I keep in Tupperware in the fridge, adding a bit of flour and water each week as 'food' to keep the yeast alive, and taking out a cup or two to bake a few baguettes or a loaf of bread.  My recipe is from the book "Bread Alone," which really, honestly, does not demystify the process. If you want to feel at ease with bread making, stick with the no-knead bread that Bittner's NYT column has made famous.

With Bread Alone you'll grow --if anything-- more in awe of artisan bread bakers. But after months of experiments and disasters, I now have a reliable go-to bread (that only takes about 6 hours!).

Here is a peek at the dough, getting on its way to a nice loaf.

Really, only about an hour of work (including clean up), and a lot of rising time.

The levain was made of flour, water, and literally a pinch of yeast.  It was left covered on the countertop for three days, as I fed it more flour and water each day. Now, as I mentioned, the levain lives in the fridge and gets a weekly feeding. For two loaves I use:

Two cups of levain (the mild sourdough starter),
5-6 cups of flour (I use bread flour usually but all-purpose works)
About 2 &1/4 cups of water
One tablespoon of salt.

After a 2-hour rise, I will punch it, then rest it for 30 minutes, shape it into loaves and let it rise another 2 hours before baking for half an hour in a hot  and steamy (450) oven.

I'm tempted by the possibilities at this point.  I have some minced sun-dried tomato and jalapeño I could knead in. Or should I fold in some fresh herbs or nuts? Just a few sesame seeds on top maybe? Or just score the top to let steam escape, and make it a nice naked bread?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Ah, the sweet pink taste of summer. Perhaps my favorite two-ingredient recipe: Watermelon Agua Fresca. Popular in Mexico, any number of fruits could be used. One of my housemates during college made this watermelon agua several times during one long, hot Portland summer.  It doesn't get much simpler or more refreshing than this.

I.   Chunks of watermelon, just covered with water, blended well.
II.  Refrigerate and serve, diluting with additional water, to taste.  
(My preference is about 50% watermelon juice and 50% water.) 

This is one of those times when you "pulp-free OJ people" might want to strain it. You'll still be left with lovely pink fresh water that is soooo much better (healthier and more delicious) than any kool-aid or commercial flavored beverage. But give it a try without the extra step and extra mess of straining, and you'll get the benefit of a little fiber in there, too. For those of you who are already juicing all the time, give yourself a break; hold the mint and protein powder, and cucumber-kale-ginseng... etc. Just relax: watermelon and water. I'm telling you. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Scary Godmother doll

The Scary Godmother doll by els82
The Scary Godmother doll, a photo by els82 on Flickr.
To those who love dolls, love Halloween, love witches, love friends of Neil Gaiman, or love The Scary Godmother herself....

You should run over to kick starter and back this doll project. It's by the woman who created the character and it needs to be made! She's so close...

I backed her and hope to get a first run of this amazing doll.

Check it out!

(UPDATE!!!! As of 6:51pm central time, the goal has been surpassed! I guess that means its a go!!)


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Golden Potato Soup / Vichyssoise

Happy Vegan MoFo, everybody!  As we wend our way toward fall, thoughts turn to comfort foods, root veg, sweater-weather, the crunch of leaves, and a pumpkin-spiced soy latte.  It’s not quite chilly enough to think about some of those yet, even in Chicago. So when you aren't sure whether to wear a tank top or a fleece, make potato soup! Served cold, it’s vichyssoise. Here is my make-it-up-as-you-go version, featuring the “holy trinity” of flavor bases (onion, celery, carrot).

7 small-medium potatoes, scrubbed and boiled whole, in enough water to cover
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 med. carrots, finely diced
3 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 small yellow onions, finely diced
2 leeks, white and light green parts, well rinsed and minced
Salt (or onion salt, or salt substitute) to taste

While the potatoes boil in one pot, heat up the olive oil in what will become the soup pot.  Add carrot, celery, onion, and leek. Sauté until onions are translucent and all vegetables are soft. If potatoes are not ready yet, add a little water to the veggies to prevent burning.  When potatoes yield to a knife with almost no resistance, transfer the potatoes and about half of the potato water to the veggies in the soup pot. Mash with a potato masher and/or blend with an immersion blender (or wait until it's cooler and run it through a traditional blender). The blender pulverizes the potato skin, which otherwise will float around in larger chunks in the soup. If your family is weirded out by potato skin, you could peel the potatoes before boiling, but that is a lot more work, and you should explain to them that the skin’s where the most nutrients and fiber are. Seriously, don’t make me go all Thug Kitchen on them. Eat the skins. After mashing and blending, you probably will want to add more potato water to thin to desired consistency. Add salt to taste. This recipe makes up a bunch (maybe about 4 pints) of delicious golden potato soup. If you eat it cool it’s “vichyssoise,” which in my household growing up we always pronounced vishy-swah and ate wearing sunglasses.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Still here...

So where have I been? To be honest, I'm not sure. I sort of feel like I'm drifting lately and have been all over the place.

I just lost my writing mojo there for a while and didn't feel like I had anything important to talk about...not that what's on here now it all that important. Maybe the word I am looking for is "interesting" and that's all relative anyway.

                                              Sometimes I do...

So what have I been doing? Well, I started the summer off by entering the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge and wrote 50,000 words! A pretty big deal...if only it would pay off. I think writing that much is fun, but tiresome so I haven't really written since and I may never enter that again, we'll see. I haven't touched the novels I am working on since then and it's got me kind of down. I want to make this published author thing happen, but I got so many rejections before, it's hard to get motivated to finish the series. I have had many other stories pop into my head and I actually got started on several of them a while back, but none are complete. I need something to jump start my creative mind so I can finish them and send out queries.
Got any ideas? I also thought about just publishing them myself on Amazon or the other sites, but I don't know where to begin and it all seems very daunting without any paid help.

                          "I only want to see you if you are feeding me..."

I did take a little vacation with the kids and my mother recently. It was fun, and challenging, but mostly fun like all trips with the family are. It wasn't a relaxing, lounging on the beach kind of vacation (sigh), but we did do a lot of things and I saw lots of my extended family over the fourth which was awesome.

                                         Steel Creek, AR

A few other things, little things, that I've done recently...renewed my interest in Kimono with the help of reading this blog. She wears her Kimono so beautifully and I love looking at her pictures. She's really funny too so it's a fun read. She is so adventurous, in my eyes. I could never wear Kimono way out here in this rural community where I am, unless it's Halloween (which I did once...sorry no picture). People would think I was a crazy weirdo...and they'd probably be right, I just don't necessarily want to show it in public. :-p
If I were in the city, I totally would. Anyway, it has me shopping online for some Kimono of my own...just in case I have the chance to wear it.

                                        Amelia Pond         &        Shaylee

I've also expanded my Blythe doll collection to the grand total of three (sorry no pic of #3). I wrote a guest post on (see previous post) and found two more gals that wouldn't totally drain my account...which is so hard to do with Blythe. Both sellers were generous enough to include tons of extras in the sale, such as clothes, shoes, etc. Those can add up very quickly...I've seen shoes, dolly size mind you, for upwards of $50! I don't own said shoes, but I can dream. I don't think any of my own shoes are that expensive. :-/
It's fun shopping for them anyway. Blythe has also opened my interests into other dolls and toys, mostly vintage, but some new like Monster High dolls,(I love all the interesting creatures), and Unazukin, (those are seriously cute).


I've really been enjoying Flickr lately too and I have several pictures, though not great ones, of my Blythe and other things there. Check it out if you are interested.

                               "That giant chicken is giving me the stink eye!"

I haven't been cooking as much as I would like, but I am trying to change that starting this week. My DH has a weird and very busy work schedule and we don't even get to eat supper together very often, especially during the week, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't cook a full meal...right? Well, that's what I keep telling myself. In any case, I was tired of eating crap all the time, so I'll do my best. If you have any simple but tasty recipes you'd like to share...I'm open.

I will try to post here more often, though my reader list is small...thanks for following at all, I really appreciate it. I'd love some comments and for you to also check out my author blog. Let me know what you think there too (though it's been neglected also).

                                                   Lovely nature

My Etsy shop has gotten tons of hits lately, which is fantastic, though I haven't sold anything in over a year, not fantastic. I have plans to add some Blythe jewelry, but haven't even made them yet. (Sigh) Where's that creative kick I so badly need???

All in all, the summer had a great start and it seemed like all would be swell, but now it's nearly over (our kids start school on Aug 14!) and I feel I don't have much to show for it.

                                        So much to do and no motivation

If you have any suggestions to help kick start me. Let me know...

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Blythe Life Guest Post

I have written a guest post at Blythe Life. Check it out!

Thanks, Danna

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


This month everything in my Etsy shop is on sale! Just use the code  Spring  and get 25% off.