Happy Friday! This week I am celebrating not being sick. Over the past weekend I came down with a mild flu. No big deal, except I don’t get sick. For like years at a time. 2011 was the last time I was K.O’d due to illness.
So this weekend I am celebrating the return of feeling better. I had to put my 15k training on hold for a few days and I still don’t feel 100%, but I do feel up for a good long walk outside. Weather is supposed to be decent (as decent as it can be during late January in Maine) and I intend to take full advantage of it!
One of my good friends & coworker is a baker. She’s also a nurse and historian and all around awesome person. On Mondays, when everyone in our office gives a weekend update, she always shares a story about some delicious treat she baked up for her family. And she talks about it in such nonchalant kind of way: “Oh, I made some baked oatmeal and fresh bread and some cookies for the kids to take back to school, did some laundry, went cross country skiing.” You know, everyday mom stuff. If I bake something I’m like “ATTENTION- I MADE YEAST ROLLS. PLEASE APPLAUD NOW.” [My actual words from this past Thanksgiving.]
So, when my friend gave me this bread recipe, I was dubious. As much as I love homemade bread, I don’t love it enough to go through all the trouble of making more than once or twice a year.
But the directions looked really simple. It called for minimal kneading, NO rising, no punching the dough down and waiting for it to rise again, or any of the other fussiness I usually associate with homemade bread. In fact you mix it up and then leave in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Mind. Blown.
The result – honest to goodness homemade bread. See for yourself:
The Easiest Bread Recipe You Will Ever Need
Serves: 1 loaf
No kneading, no rising, mix it up and forget it for a day. Bake it when you get home from work. Seriously.
3 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
11/2 cups warm water
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Cover tightly (I like a Pyrex bowl with a plastic cover)
Refrigerate for 8 – 24 hours
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Place a dutch oven or other covered casserole dish in the oven to preheat for 30 minutes
Remove bread dough from bowl and on a lightly floured surface knead in enough flour to make the dough elastic (not sticky).
Form dough into a round loaf
Place dough in the preheated dutch oven and bake covered for 20 – 30 minutes
Uncover and bake for an additional 10 -20 minutes
Every oven is a little different so the first time you make this bread, keep an eye on it. I have a propane oven that runs hot. You may need more or less baking time, depending on your oven.
I have already made three loaves of this bread – in one week! Tonight I’m experimenting with adding honey to the dough for a different flavor. I’ll let you know how it turns out!
Sometimes the stars align and I’ll find a cool recipe on Pinterest and have all the ingredients on hand to make it, without needing to run to the store for one item. This was the case with winter citrus green tea. It was pinned under “Dr. Oz’s Metabolizing Tea” and since it’s January and my pants are a bit snug from too much Christmas candy, I decided it was worth a gander, even though the rational voice in my head told me that drinking or eating anything isn’t going to make me magically thinner.
The original recipe called for tangerines (I don’t see why regular oranges wouldn’t work) fresh mint leaves, which I swapped for fresh basil (a member of the mint family but far less sweet and toothpaste-like), green tea bags, ginger and honey. I skipped the honey, only because I like my tea totally unsweetened. and added the juice of one lime, because I have a bag on limes in the fridge I need to get rid of and it’s too cold for tequila shots.
1 tangerine or orange
I tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 green tea bags
Slice tangerine and lime into quarters
Place all ingredients in a quart-size jar
Fill the jar with boiling water
Let steep overnight
Pour liquid through a strainer into a pitcher or other container
Add one quart of cold water and stir
Serve cold and enjoy!
Because I am the only person in my house drinking this tea, I make a pretty small batch. However, you could easily double it to accommodate a larger crowd.
Will this tea make you lose weight? Well, if you drink it in place of high calorie soda or chocolate donuts, then sure, it might. I don’t really hold with all the science of certain foods “burning” fat better than others. I think it is a matter of expending more calories than you consume. BUT I am not a scientist, nutritionist or doctor, so don’t construe anything I write as medical advice! I simply like the taste of this tea – it’s cool, tart and tangy and a nice change from the heavier black teas I usually drink. Plus it is easy-peasy to make!
So, we are halfway through January and its a good time to asses my new year goals (not resolutions). I registered for the Sugarloaf 15K (that’s about 10 miles, for those you not familiar with the metric system) coming up in May and have been very good about training. I’m currently running on my treadmill, in my kitchen. Which isn’t the best. But it’s getting the job done. I’ve been running consistently for about three weeks now and have gone from a 12 minute mile to a 10 minute mile. So, I’m feeling pretty BADA$$ at the moment.
Another goal was to kick my Diet Pepsi habit. I did purchase a bottle of it at work a few days ago, after a particularly stressful event. I was dismayed to find I don’t really like the taste of it anymore. Since my main drink of choice is now black tea or ice water or ice water with lemon if I’m feeling sassy, the diet cola had a sicky sweet/ acidic taste. I know I should be happy, but part of me is crying a little inside. Truth.
Breakfast sausage. Like Diet Pepsi, this is another bad habit I really miss. Breakfast just seems so empty without it. I found a recipe on Pinterest for making your own sausage that I am going to try. I’ll keep you posted.
I’ve been tracking my diet through Lose It, both an app and website, so I can punch in whatever I eat from my work desk or my phone or my iPad – leaving me zero excuse not to track everything I eat. I am doing this for a couple of different reasons:
1. To lose weight. What is the point of running a 15 K if you aren’t going to look stellar? Plus, I need to drop twenty pounds. Legitimately – not just because I am an American woman and that is our mantra. My blood pressure is high and when I lose weight (and probably stop eating processed breakfast meat high in sodium) it goes back down. Go figure.
2. To track my nutritional information. Once I got rid of the aforementioned breakfast sausage the amount of daily calories I ate from fat dropped into the right range of 25- 30%. I am now trying to increase the amount of protein I get. You should get about 10 – 35 % of your daily calories from protein. I am hovering around 22%, but would like to increase the amount of good protein in my diet. I’ve been eating more Greek yogurt, topped with a few walnuts, which is pretty good.
3. To get a handle on portions. My diet is pretty good overall, I just like to eat a lot of different stuff and it doesn’t take long to add up. Forcing myself to portion food out for a few weeks puts me back on the strait and narrow.
Coming up in February, I want to add strength training and conditioning as part of my general work out routine. I’ve started this a bit already, but it’s too early to tell if it will stick. Fingers crossed.
How are your New Year goals going?
Disclaimer – I have a BA in History- not nutrition. I grabbed all the above nutrition information from both Lose It! and Mayo Clinic. What works for me may or may not work for you. Check with your doctor first.
Some weeks it seems that Friday is never going to arrive. This is one of them. I think my general impatience stems from the cold, cold, cold weather that the we’ve been experiencing. Compared to last winter, this one has been pretty much a cakewalk, but the bitter cold of minus zero temperatures gets old pretty fast.
My favorite spot these days is sitting in my beat up chair in front of my fireplace. Nothing warms a room the way a wood fire does. I am especially grateful that I still have so much firewood left. One of the many perks of having three sons is that I didn’t have to stack any of it!
Summer seems a long way off, but I soon I’l need to start thinking about my gardens (I use that term loosely- they’re more like patches of plants among grass and weeds)/ And I am determined to use my greenhouse as something other than storage this year. I’m definitely looking forward to some springtime adventures here on the Little House on the Hill.
The New Year is often a time to try and kick a bad habit, like smoking, over-eating, whatever… I thought it was the perfect time to take stock of all the good habits I already have. They include:
Flossing- If you are looking to pick up a good habit, this is one of the easiest.
Regular exercise- This doesn’t have to be running miles on treadmill (which, ironically, is what I am currently doing) it can be a walk, gardening, something that gets you up and moving.
Family dinners at the table – The best part of my day, by far.
Not letting the junk mail pile up – I go through my mail every day- it’s an OCD thing.
Paying my bills on time – I do this most of the time, thanks to online auto debit.
Drinking a lot of water – My coworkers can attest to this – I am forever going to the ladies room.
Limiting caffeine – This is harder than regular exercise, but worth it, for me.
I’m sure there are other good habits I have, but it took me a while to think of the above list. Meanwhile I can rattle off a whole bunch of bad habits I’d like to break:
Too much wine with dinner – Calorie wise – not because I’m a lush.
Eating too much processed food – I love breakfast sausage. I have a problem.
Not sleeping enough – What parent gets eight hours of continuous sleep?
Why is it we are so ready to jump on everything we don’t feel we do well and rarely focus on the good things we are already doing? When I think about all the healthy habits I already do, it makes me feel 1) better about myself and 2) able to break out of bad habits.
For example, I am currently on a three week streak of no Diet Pepsi. Diet Pepsi was my go to morning drink, rather than coffee or tea. I only had one (or maybe two) cans a day – it wasn’t as if I was drinking gallons of the stuff. But I knew it wasn’t good for me, I knew that I wasn’t setting a good example for my kids and I knew it was something I wanted to change. So when the last 24 pack ran out, I just didn’t buy any more. I still miss it, but so far I haven’t wanted it badly enough to buy one. Adding no diet soda to my mental list of good habits makes me pretty happy.
Winter has officially arrived in Maine. Last week the ground was mostly bare and the temperatures reached near 50 – almost unheard of in late December/ Early January. This week, things are much more seasonal – a weekend storm brought us plenty of snow and it was minus 16 yesterday. I haven’t dared look at the thermometer this morning, but judging by the general draftiness of my farmhouse, I’d say the temps are about the same today.
When it gets this cold the best place on Boxshop Hill is in my sitting room, in front of my ancient woodstove, reading a book and sipping a hot cup of tea. In keeping with the spirit of the season, I started rereading this book:
I love all things Little House related and The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder is no exception. I feel cozier and more grateful for things like running water, electricity and my local grocery store every time I read it.