Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Love Like Bread

I realize this has nothing to do with closets, style or therapy, but I am so dang excited that I had to share! As I mentioned before, we are a one car family and some days I stay in all day to help the budget in gas consumption. That, coupled with looking for new ways to save money and thus buy another car, I decided to do some culinary experimentation. On both counts, they were successful and simple with the goal of cost savings achieved. I found these You Tube videos to be extremely helpful and I hope that Mr. Breadtopia doesn't mind me sharing them with you.

In addition to the lower price and the satisfaction of baking something successfully, I can see how these recipes are going to be a successful way to add more vegetables and be creative with leftovers. We eat pizza once a week and usually buy a frozen pizza from Central Market for $5.00. I thought that was very economical and now I see that it was actually expensive because making a pizza yourself is quite thrifty! Below is the video with excellent step by step instructions on how to do it. Don't be afraid of doing it wrong because I think that the methods are quite forgiving while you are learning.

This is how my first pizza turned out.  I hadn't quite got the knack of making it round yet.

Although I am enamored with the pizza, bread was my first foray into these endeavors.  Last year there was a no-knead bread craze that the video mentions and even before that I've always wanted to try making bread.  There are many sites that explain how to do it and also variations on the recipe from the NY Times. Even I added more salt because of all the helpful reviews.  I also learned that you can use dry active yeast in the same amount instead of instant and it comes out fine.  Substituting flours to vary taste is another way to experiment later. 

This bread came out perfectly for me in my handy Le Creuset dutch oven.  It is earthy and crusty, looking much like the artisan's loaves you will see at a bakery.  I have made one a week and we have no problem eating it all.  I even used the last hard bit as bread crumbs for salmon patties a few days ago.  I'm imagining that french toast is not out of the question either for bread past it's prime.  After all, that is how french toast got started.

Here is my beautiful bounty of bread on my first try.

And here is the second.  You can see the results are consistent.

Gustavo has been more than impressed with this burst of culinary creativity on my part. When I made the bread the first time, I proudly led him into the kitchen and presented him with the crackly, steaming loaf. We both put our ears to the bread so we could listen for the highly anticipated "singing" as the bread settles. After that though I scooted him out to wait for 2 hours until the bread was ready for cutting.  We had pizza again last night and I was more than happy to show him how I make it and let him laboriously knead the dough for 5 minutes.  It is a wonderful way to relieve frustrations and what a joy to create something so delicious!   

Since being on this mission, I've been thinking about adding these labor making activities into my life.  Not working, I have a lot of time, but not a lot of money.  I could easily return to the work force and have plenty of money, but no time.  Am I digressing in function by choosing the simple act of making my own bread?  Of course, a resounding no is my answer, but it does make me ponder what other simple old-fashioned ideas I had never considered, but am finding to be quite satisfying.  

Besides money, I have found making bread to be so comforting and in a way makes me feel like I'm baking love.  There is a reason that we equate bread with life, no?  And being recently married, I have to tell you a funny story.  Growing up, my parents had a trivet on the stove that I would read in passing often.  I knew it by heart but didn't understand it until much, much later.  I'm sure you will understand the meaning faster than I did!  I don't remember how I came to have this trivet, but I hold it dear for what it represents-bread, family and love.  


Friday, May 23, 2008

Free Gift with No Purchase

I usually never win anything.  When there are door prizes I don't even get the little thrill when they are calling out the numbers.  Maybe I have low expectations or maybe I prefer to be really surprised if I would win something.  Well I have won something and I was surprised!

To some it may sound insignificant, but to me it's a that thrill that you can only have when coupled with low expectations.            Jolie Nadine had a Clinique contest and I won the new Lash Power Mascara.  I just received the package from Clinique with a lovely handwritten note wishing me a summer of beautiful, clump-free lashes!  And they sent me a staple color-Black.

I feel so loved today!  We are heading to South Padre Island and Mexico this weekend for Memorial Day.  I hope your weekend is blessed with an unexpected surprise too!

If you don't know who Jolie Nadine is, she is a very funny cosmetics writer.  She wrote this book which I recommend for an amusing afternoon at the beach.  Only certain people can endlessly read about cosmetics and I am one of them.  

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sweet Inspiration

I have some rules that I adhere to as much as possible in my life.  One of them is "Presentation is Everything".  A gift well wrapped, a dinner served on a beautiful table, a bed coordinated with varying patterns or a sweetly iced cupcake.  I believe making the simple things in life beautiful is an art.  

When I came across this blog several months ago I was searching for tips on how to make meringues.  The tips were spot on, but I was so enchanted with the creativity and love that went into her desserts that I became a faithful reader too.  Tartelette displays je ne sais quoi in everything she does.  I love her stories about her relationship with her mother and how she eagerly awaits care packages from France.  The way she presents her creations in a tiny bowl or an unexpected half eggshell is a sweet sight to me, and it warms my heart the way she shares with her neighbors.  Go visit her but beware that it will give you an irrepressible urge to bake and a desire to embellish each sweet with something as visually stimulating as it is tasty.  

Another blog that I found for the first time years ago, before I had really even discovered blogging, is Tongue In Cheek.  She lives in France and her pictures and words will touch you deeply.  She writes about her family, about daily life, posts lovely photos and tells stories about them.  Just visiting her in the haven of cyberspace she has created will make you feel like you've visited some place special and perhaps seen something intimate and treasured that you shouldn't have.  But don't worry, she invites us to see her world and I highly recommend entering her philosophical, generous space when you can.

Blogging has flung open the doors on many artistic souls who have found their niche in writing, sharing photos, opinions, advice or just rambling to relieve a void.  I actually find the level of beauty and talent overwhelming.  These are not magazines and books with huge staffs to help with all aspects, but creative souls who can't hold back their passion.  

It would be remiss of me to not mention someone who has no blog, but a talent for photography.  My dear friend, Jerome, who gifted us with the photographing of our wedding. He has a sharp eye for the tender moments as well as irony in a photo.  Jerome's website boasts many more photos than just our own precious few wedding ones.  When I see his photos, I am reminded of not only of a photographer's talent, but the talent of a well lived life and cherished friendships.  His travel photos are nothing if not a kick in the pants to get out of the house and see the world.  Since I seem to have an underlying theme today, I must mention that he is also French and also oozes his passion from every pore.  Even in the last late night photos of our wedding day when there was no light left, he was still clicking trying to round out the day of over a thousand shots.  

I hope you see that there is no comparison or competition in the sweet spot we inhabit in order to live out the unique God-given talents that, when unleashed, will create a beauty in its own way.  One of the wonders of life is that when you do what you love and share it with others, the rewards to everyone are multiplied. Be inspired by these people.  I know I am. 

Photo from www.marthastewart.com.

Our Trip to Rosemary Beach, Florida

I'm linking up again with  Erika ,  Andrea  and  Narci  for the Friday Favorites!  I love reading everyone's favorites too! ...