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Our Weekly Bread

I started making sourdough bread last year after learning about its digestive benefits.  I have always loved making bread and discovering that sourdough also has digestive benefits was too good to be true.  You can read more about the benefits here.

My mom makes everything from scratch and I’ll always love the familiar smell of fresh baking bread.  It reminds me of a happy, loving childhood.  There’s something about enjoying fresh homemade bread that makes people feel cared for and valued.  At least, it did for me, so I’ve always wanted my kids to have the same experience.  The other thing I love about sourdough is it keeps me on a weekly routine of baking bread, so as to keep the starter active.  I don’t have lapses of not feeling like baking because it’s become an easy routine.

I made my starter from the Betty Crocker Cookbook recipe.  It is very easy to make, or, perhaps you have a friend who can share their starter with you!  I am really enjoying the flavor of feeding it with milk, but you can feed it with something else if you prefer: water, beer, etc.

This is the recipe I use every Sunday evening to make our sourdough for the week:

Sourdough Bread from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

(with some slight modifications)

  • 1 c sourdough starter
  • 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 c warm water
  • 3 3/4-4 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 T olive oil
  1. In large bowl, mix sourdough starter, 2 1/2 c flour, and warm water with wooden spoon until smooth.  Cover and let stand in warm place for 8 hours
  2. Add 3 3/4 c flour, the sugar, salt, and oil to mixture in bowl.  Stir until dough is smooth and flour is absorbed.  Dough should be firm enough to gather into a ball.  If necessary, add remaining flour.
  3. Knead dough about 10 minutes or until smooth and springy.  Grease large bowl, place dough in bowl, turning to grease all sides.  Cover and let rise in warm place about 1 1/2 hours or until dough has nearly doubled in size.  Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
  4. Grease two bread pans.  Push air out of dough.  Divide dough in half.  Shape each half into a round loaf.  Place each loaf in a bread pan.  Cover and let rise about 45 min
  5. Heat oven to 375 F.  Place loaves in the center of the oven.  Loaves should make a hollow sound when tapped when they are done.  Remove from pans and let cool on a cookie sheet.
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Activities with Kids, Faith, recipes

Granola & Grace

I rolled my eyes a little at the title of this post.  But, to be honest, food & Jesus tend to be two things that fill my mind the most throughout the day so it feels honest.  I wrote before that I am trying to involve my kids more in the meal preparation process.  It is hard for me at times because I don’t want to deal with the mess or the pace.  Oh, the pace.  Having kids has highlighted my need for improvement in the art of patience.  But, I’m learning and I have really been enjoying the time we spend making food together.  Granola is one of my favorite things to make with them.  I have a “base” recipe and let the kids add whatever they want (to a certain extent) to each of their recipes.  We’ve had chocolate chip peanut butter granola, extra raisin-y granola, and many more inventive creations.  It is so great to see how much my kids enjoy this contribution to our meals.

Oh, and about grace.  Lately, life circumstances have caused me to contemplate death.  And when you contemplate death, you have to also contemplate life.  What has been meaningful to me in these thoughts is meditating on the core of what I believe.  Every life is offered love and grace.  That is central to the message of the gospel and the hope of Jesus.  I want everyone to experience what it is like to accept that love and grace into their lives.  I want my kids to experience these truths every day.  I fail daily, but I hope my heart will always return to the core of what I believe is most important in life.  I hope in the daily routine or the sudden difficulty that my life remains constantly rooted in these truths.  I read recently that we can’t give our kids something that we don’t possess ourselves.  So, I will continue to seek and stand firm in what I know to be true:  this life has meaning because of the love and grace of Jesus.

I hope my kids feel this when we make granola together. 🙂

granola

 

Coconut Almond Granola

  • 1 cup almonds (I often substitute walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/3 c honey
  • 4 T coconut oil + a little extra
  • 1/2 t vanilla

some favorite additions: cinnamon, poppy seeds, almond extract (for a really almondy taste), raisins, millet

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Mix together dry ingredients
  3. Melt coconut oil, stir honey into melted coconut oil to warm honey slightly
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined
  5. Add a little extra coconut oil into the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan to grease slightly
  6. Firmly press the granola mixture into the 9×13 pan
  7. Bake for about 20 min or until granola looks nicely browned.  Do not stir!
  8. Allow the granola to cool completely in the pan.  Once it has cooled you can break it up and pull it out.  This makes for the best crunch!
Activities with Kids, recipes

Biscuits & a Snowy Day

Today is a beautiful, snowy day.  For awhile it actually looked like a blizzard outside.  So, since we have no prior obligations today, we will be staying home.  I tend to have mixed feelings about these days.  I love being home and letting me kids enjoy the day at whatever pace they choose.  However, there is always the potential that we will go crazy.  Maybe it’s more than potential, it’s bound to happen.  So, I’ve tried to approach today with the right attitude: thankfulness that I am home with them and we get to do nothing together.  So far we’ve painted, played tag, built a fort, taken baths, played music, danced, read books, and, oh, made biscuits!  Yes, it is still early afternoon and quite a bit has happened.  But, that’s what I need to expect on these days at home indoors.  One of the things I’ve been focusing on today is waiting longer before suggesting activities to them.  I tend to experience some anxiety when they are getting a little squirrely and list off a dozen things they could do-usually they don’t like most of my ideas.  So today I have been trying to sit longer in the unrest and let them work out what they are g0ing to do with themselves.  I think it’s gone pretty well.  I love seeing what they come up with when they have the opportunity to just play.  Oh, and they loved making biscuits.  This is a great baking activity for kids!  It’s not too complicated but has a lot of fun elements for them: mixing, pouring, rolling, cutting.  And the result is oh so delicious and cozy on a snowy day.  We had our biscuits with butter and homemade apple butter.  Yum.

biscuitbiscuit1

Betty Crocker Biscuits-from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 3/4 c milk
  1. Heat oven to 450 F
  2. Mix dry ingredients in bowl, cut in butter, then stir in milk.
  3. knead lightly a few times
  4. roll dough into 1/2 thick round
  5. Use round cutter (we used jar lids) to cut out biscuits.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
  6. bake for 10-12 min, or until golden brown.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

Serve warm.  Biscuits topped with apple butter made for a great mid morning snack!

 

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Healthy Blueberry Muffins-Dairy Free

I love a good, healthy muffin recipe.  These make a great snack or breakfast for the whole family.  The “base” ingredients can be used for kids to create their own muffin recipes as well.  My kids get so excited about creating recipes themselves and muffins are a favorite!

 

Healthy Blueberry Muffins

makes 12

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c milk (dairy free or regular)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 T almond butter
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 2 c flour (any kind with some gluten, quantities would change with gluten free…I like to use spelt flour or a combo of whole wheat and all purpose flour)
  • 1 c blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Mix egg and milk in large bowl.  Add banana, mash it, and mix it.  Add almond butter, vanilla, and melted coconut oil and mix thoroughly.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and fold into wet ingredients.  Fold in blueberries.
  4. Scoop mixture into greased muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
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To Be or Not to Be

Have you ever found there to be a gap between how you thought you would raise your kids and how you are actually raising them?  We all have grand ideas of what great parents we will be to our imaginary children before they are actually born.  Then the reality of responsibility and, oh yes, individual personality sets in.  Things we always thought we would do as parents become secondary to doing laundry, potty training, and cleaning up breakfast before dinner time.  I will never be the perfect parent of my dreams, but I also do not want to settle for less than I could be.  I want to challenge myself every day to reach some of those expectations I have for myself.

This idea really hit me when I was touring a local Waldorf school.  I loved the classroom, the kitchen, the toys, the story area.  The way the teacher described their typical day was…exactly how I have wanted my days at home to look like.  I left there wishing we could find a way to afford for our kids to go there when suddenly it hit me: I COULD do many of the things they do there in my own home.  The beautiful Waldorf classroom might not be feasible for my family, but why couldn’t I use their example to make some changes to our home?

These are the primary things that struck me in the classroom that I wanted to implement at home:

  1. Involving children in meal preparation.  I baked with my kids every few days, but they typically did not have ownership over their meals.  That is changing.  I now try to give my kids every opportunity to prepare meals with me.  The first thing we started doing was making individual granola recipes.  I usually use my base granola recipe (will post tomorrow) and H & E add whatever ingredients they want!  They LOVE it and are always to proud to tell their daddy what they have created that day.
  2. Decluttering.  I mean everything.  This process actually started about half a year ago after reading Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I’ll write more about this later.  But lately my decluttering has focused on toys.  I have easily moved about four bins worth of toys to our basement.  In the next few weeks I will be taking note of what my kids miss and actually want to play with, and the rest will be going away.  Waldorf classrooms do not have plastic toys, so, as much as possible, I have gotten rid of our plastic things.  (I do think there are some great plastic toys out there)  So far, no one has noticed at all.
  3. Playing outside.  We go outside every day unless it’s more than 10 or 15 below zero.  That’s it.

This is what I’m focusing on right now.  This blog has a more extensive list if you are feeling inspired to make your home more friendly to creative play.  I am excited about the progress I have already made.  This is the parent I want to be and this is now the parent I AM.

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What I Bring

I’m tired a lot.  Today is no exception.  I think most parents of young children feel the same way.  It’s cold here in the frigid north and that means more time indoors than is ideal for little ones with nonstop energy.  Every day I’m searching my brain, our art supplies, and recently unused toys for some way to keep everyone entertained.

I want my kids to spend their time at home having fun and being creative, but often times it seems that at my core I am looking for an escape.  I want them to build a fort together so I can just go sit and drink my coffee.  I want them to paint pictures for Grandma and Grandpa because I know my in-laws would love it AND I just want to go finish the dishes in peace.  I find that I spend a lot of energy trying to entertain my kids so that I can get away.

Don’t get me wrong, moms should have some time away!  Kids should definitely learn to play on their own and desiring a moment of peace is more than okay.  But, for me, this causes me to check my heart.  I want to find peace in my day.  I want to find rest for my body and my brain when I don’t know how much longer I can play hide and go seek.  The heart check for me is that I need to remember that I’m here at home with my kids to bring peace, not create it.  I want to bring love and rest,  not try conjure up some perfect scenario where it will exist.  If I am showing my kids Jesus on a daily basis, I need to remember that there is nothing I can do that will create these feelings for them and for me.  What I can do is invite Jesus into everything I do, so that even in chaos I can be peace and love for my kids.

At this moment, my kids are in the next room watching tv and the baby is upstairs sleeping.  I am enjoying a time of rest.  But this isn’t what I am seeking all day.  Instead I want to use this time of rest to connect with my Father so that I can bring His Spirit into whatever life, or kids, might throw at me for the rest of the day.  Because really, that’s why I’m here.

Also, Organic India Tulsi Masala Chai is the BEST afternoon cup of tea!  Just the right amount of spice and caffeine. 🙂