Our little piece of the world

A mother, wife, and teacher aims to make life simple

Archive for the category “Food”

Cast iron skillet bread

I’ve posted in the past about my recent discovery of cast iron cookware, and how awesome I think it is… then I discovered that I could bake bread in my skillets… and now my life is complete.

I came across this recipe for italian herb skillet bread on pinterest, and was drawn in by how awesome the picture looked. I tried it (with my mom’s breadmaker recipe for dinner rolls instead of the pre-made dough), and I don’t think I’ll ever make those dinner rolls in any other way.

The bread came out perfectly crunchy on the bottom and soft and warm on the inside. Since the skillet held heat evenlyand baked the crust perfectly.

I’m on the lookout for other amazing things I can make in my skillets- any suggestions are welcome!

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Blog recommendation

I forgot that I wanted to recommend a blog that I have been reading in an attempt to learn more about canning and preserving.

Heavenly Homemakers has a ton of great information, but I’ve really focused on the canning and preserving section. If you’re into gardening and find that you have too many veggies, this is a great place to start learning how to preserve it for your pantry.

Why I love my slow-cooker

A few years ago, the year my husband and I got married, my mom bought me a slow cooker for Christmas. This was at a stage in my life where I didn’t cook much but I was happy to get it, thinking it would save me some time and that I would be able to cook a little bit more easily.

Boy, did I ever underestimate things.

It didn’t take long for me to fall completely in love with my slow cooker. I remember the conversation with my mom very clearly

Me: “so I can just throw some food in there in the morning, turn it on, and dinner will be ready when I get home?”

Mom: “yep”

Me: “and it will all be cooked enough so it won’t kill me”

Mom: “yep”

Me: “That sounds too good to be true. ”

Mom: “yep

I got to the point where I used my slow cooker at least once a week, usually more. I fell even more in love once my son came on the scene and I became a working mom. The feeling of coming home after a long day at work and getting to play with my son instead of slaving over a hot stove was absolutely priceless.

…and then it broke.

I came home one day and the stoneware in my slow cooker had cracked, leaving the food inside dried out and the rest of it essentially ruined. It was one of the saddest moments in my culinary life (almost as sad as when I discovered that there was no good recipe for avocado fries). I promptly looked for a replacement for the stoneware but discovered that the company no longer made that particular model, so I couldn’t get a replacement for the stoneware.

Today I finally bit the bullet and bought a new one, and will be making taco soup for dinner tomorrow in celebration (one of our favourites).

The slow cooker saves us time, money, and electricity… what more could we want?

Making your own apple cider vinegar

I’m pretty exicted about this, because it marks a new page in my quest for self-sufficiency (that sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?).

When I stumbled upon this blog post about how to make your own apple cider vinegar I *might* have giggled with glee. I’m not sure what it is about this that makes me so happy- it’s probably finding a use for something that I would normally throw in the garbage. Finding ways to take something that is normally expendable and common, and make it into something that I would normally buy anyway excites me a little bit too much.

Essentially all that is required is peels and cores from some apples that you’ve set aside after cooking something (we made apple sauce). You put these scraps in a bowl, fill it with water enough to cover the peels by about an inch, mix in 1/4 C of sugar, then weight the apple-stuff down with a plate. Cover up the bowl in order to keep bugs away, and let it sit for a week. Mold will form quickly (mine already has), but all you have to do is spoon it off. After a week strain out the apple stuff and put it in a jar, seperating the lid from the jar with a piece of cheese cloth (to stop the lid from corroding from the acidity). Leave it alone for 6 weeks (labeling it might be a good idea), and then you should have apple cider vinegar. I plan to pasteurize the vinegar by boiling it before canning.

This is not only awesome because you’re getting something for nothing (essentially), but it’s also great if you think about all the amazing uses for apple cider vinegar. In no particular order here’s what we have used it for in the past, or what friends use it for:

1) Removing stains from your teeth (dilute a bit and dip your toothbrush in it as you brush)

2)  To clean your hair (diluted)

3) To clean your face (very diluted- I’ve never tried this one because of my aforementioned sensitive skin).

4) To clean your house (kitchen, bathrooms, etc)

5) Add it to your bath (about 1/2 C) if you have a sunburn

Those are just a couple I can think of off the top of my head- pretty good for something that would have wound up in the garbage!

The best thing since sliced bread: fresh apple sauce bread (you have to slice it yourself though)

I mentioned on monday that my goal this week has been to make more of our own bread, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been accomplishing that so far! Not only have I managed to make raisin bread and whole wheat bread in the breadmaker for this week, but my son and I also tried our hand(s) at making apple sauce bread. As someone who’s constantly looking for healthy treats for my little guy, I’ve hit the jackpot.

Last night we made some apple sauce. Not a difficult process, but necessary because we had a bag of apples sitting in the fridge that weren’t going to get eaten before they went bad (I had a brain fart at the grocery store and bought a new bag before we’d finished the old one. The process of making the apple sauce was relatively painless, I peeled, cored, and cut 8 apples into chunks (you could also shread it if you want it to cook faster), put it in a large pot on the stove with 1/4 cup of water (about enough to cover the bottom of the pot) and a tablespoon of cinnamon, I put the heat on low and let it simmer there for a few hours. You can also do this in your crockpot (which I would have, but mine’s broken).

My son loves apples, so by the time the pot made it to the stove there was probably only 7 of them, but I digress.

Once the apples had cooked until they were mushy (probably about 2.5 hours) I squished them with a spoon and put it all into 2 years. It probably made about 3 cups all together.

Today my son and I made this apple sauce bread. Here’s the recipe for link-phobes:

Applesauce Bread:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rapadura or 1/2 cup honey
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. sea salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
3/4 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted

Mix dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and add applesauce, eggs and butter.  Stir well.  Pour into a buttered bread pan or stone.  Bake for 45-55 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

First off: this stuff smells AMAZING. My son kept begging me to let him eat some as a snack before bed. Normally we don’t do bedtime snacks, but it smelled so good I felt horrible saying no. He gobbled down a piece and asked for more- but I opted to save the rest for breakfast for the two of us.

Best of all, this stuff is pretty healthy: not much sugar, salt, and the flour is whole wheat- what more could you ask for?

The goal for this week: start making our own bread

Awhile ago we made the switch to buying bread only from a locally owned bakery downtown. While it was wonderful to be supporting a local business (and we will continue to buy our bread from there whenever we need it), it is fairly expensive and making our own bread is an easy way to become more self-sufficient.

This all started last week when my parents came for Easter weekend. My were coming as well, so we started talking about childhood favourite recipies that my mom could make (or bring with her for me to make). One of our favourite things for my mom to make when we were kids we called “monkey buns”. Not sure where the name comes from, as that’s not the name on the recipe and they’re just regular dinner rolls, but we loved them for some reason. She brought the recipe and I made it for dinner- my son loved them and my husband has asked for them twice since then.

Not only that, but it reminded me how easy it was to make dinner rolls instead of buying them. I used our bread maker to make the dough (which I know isn’t completely self-sufficient, but it’s a step in the right direction), and was very happy with the result.

The fleeting thought of making bread for our family intensified when I found this amazing blog with a ton of breadmachine recipies on it on pinterest. Seeing all these delicious breads that I would never be able to buy in a store.

I am so excited about getting to wake up to the smell of fresh-baked bread in the morning again. I have very fond memories of my childhood where lazy sunday afternoons were spent eating one of the sweet breads that my mom made for us, or waking up to the smell of fresh raisin bread in the morning.

If I’m able to get into the swing of making bread for us regularly, I’m going to order a slicing guide like this, because wonky slices of bread were one of my pet-peeves about the home made bread.

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