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Thursday, July 31, 2014

B & B = Beer for Breakfast! Yes, me!

I've been having a couple of consecutive sleepless nights. Today was my opportunity to sleep in. 

Fat chance. 

"Mooooommy..?"

"Mooooommy!!! I almost made it to the bathroom, but something happened on the way…"

*Grumble* Again? I haven't even had my morning beer yet!

Kidding. 

I haven't even had my morning Coke Zero yet!

But I did have plans that included beer in the morning. Colin's abrupt wake-up call gave me an early start. Here goes:


What is this all about?

I was making my first beer bread! Actually make this my second or third bread ever!

I watched a couple of videos - one even included baking the bread on a fancy grill, and was fascinated by the idea. I scrambled elements of different recipes and techniques together, consulted my Swiss / Canadian guru (hello, Annette!on some yeast issues and was quite pleased with the result!



Ingredients

1.5 tsp active dry yeast (9g) or 4 tsp liquid fresh yeast (15g)
1.5 tsp salt
4.5 cups flour, I used a 3/4 wheat / 1/4 rye mix, but all purpose flour is OK, too (560g)
0.5 cup warm water, about 100°F (120ml, 38°C)
1 can beer, 12 fl oz (355ml) - room temperature 
(my miniature bottle contained 330ml, I used a bit more water)


Directions

In a large bowl mix together dry yeast, water and half a cup flour, stir, cover and let sit for 30 minutes which will give the yeast time to get bubbly.

Add remaining flour, salt and the beer - this is so fun! And I don't even like to drink beer!

If you are using liquid fresh yeast you can basically dump everything in the bowl at once. Actually go a little lighter on the water.

Do you have a kitchen machine? Let them do all the work! Using the hook, let it stir and knead for a couple of minutes. If you don't, use a wooden spoon to stir. As soon as you get a slightly sticky dough ball, turn it onto a floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes. Add more flour if you think this is seriously too sticky! I did. I think the humid weather was to blame.


This is what your dough should look like:


Cover with a damp towel and walk away. 


 In a warm spot let the dough rise for 75 - 120 minutes. 
(75 minutes if you're using fresh yeast, 2 hours for the dry stuff that needs more time)

By then it should have doubled in size. Isn't this fascinating?


Place dough on floured surface, deflate it and form into shape. Loaf, round, you choose!
If I do this again - and I think I will -  I'll actually divide the dough and make two breads.

Sprinkle with flour, cover with a dry towel and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Make an incision with a sharp knife. It helps your dough to rise more regularly.


Fill a fireproof dish with warm water and put it on the lowest rack of your oven 
(this is going to help humidify your bread)

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C)

Put your dough onto a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. 

Bake for 35 - 45 minutes.

That smell! Yum! Take out and let cool completely.


The waiting has come to an end!

Slice and be amazed! It doesn't taste the slightest bit of beer!


Enjoy!


While I was writing on this blog post, I was being called outside. The kids wanted to have their picture taken!


From left: L, Colin, A and little L - all the kids which names I didn't spell out, are our neighbors!

PS: I didn't tell my family that this is a beer bread until after they said how yummy it is! Hubby kept eating, Colin made a face. "You really shouldn't serve alcohol to a kid, mommy!"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Time Machine


Stickymom woke up one morning and started thinking about how much better off she would be, had "someone" told her a thing or two when she was younger. That's how today's subject came up:

10 things I would definitely tell my younger self
if I got hold of a time machine

As for me, I claim to have no regrets about my life choices. At least not to make any changes if I could re-write my story.

But this is simply about sharing my wisdom, so let's do this:

Hello, younger self, you're looking good! How are you doing? This is your future talking, which is actually a great thing, I tried to meet my older self one day, and it was quite enlightning, so listen carefully:

  1. No matter what you'd like to think, friends are not always forever. Actually they rarely are. Enjoy it while it lasts and don't feel bad to move on. If you're always the one calling, listening, giving your time, and there's never anything in return any more, it's not worth it. You're not being petty, you're being realistic.
  2. I agree, you might never need math in real life. Or other school stuff for that matter. It's still important to get the basics, though. Even if it's just to make sure you can graduate. It's no fun to be the subject of a "grading conference" where teachers debate whether you're lazy or  just limited in your capacitities.
  3. Speaking of teachers. Yes, there will always be the ones who just don't get you. That's their problem, not yours. However, they're the ones who grade you. Learn to get along. 
  4. As you'll have your first job you will notice that there are a****** bosses, just like teachers. There's no point in getting annoyed every day. Use your energy do to a good job and focus on where you can make a difference. Changing idiots into nice and smart people won't work, but you can change your attitude.
  5. When you're young you may have to accept jobs to make a living. Don't lose your dreams out of sight, though. Try to find something to do that you love. You spend a lot of time at work, better make it a good time. Oh, and know when to take a break, too. Blood sucking bosses won't visit you at the hospital after you've had a heart attack. Fortunately I didn't have to learn this the hard way. I listened to my husband for a change.
  6. You can't please everyone. If in doubt, please yourself! Simple as that. It's not selfish, it's healthy. And if you don't look out for yourself, who will? It's nice to be helpful and trustful, just try and be more skeptical sometimes. Saves you quite a bit of trouble.
  7. Boys? Tough to find the needle in the haystack, but there are a few nice ones out there. Take your time and remember, it's better to be alone than in a bad relationship! Heartache is a bitch, but just like math you can't avoid it, and you'll have to deal with your share of it. You'll come out a stronger person. 
  8. Marriage and kids - just because everybody is doing it at a certain age doesn't mean if you don't, you'll  miss out. Everyone goes at their own speed. If it's in your cards, you'll get there.
  9. Speak up! Even if you're pretty good at mind reading yourself, other people aren't. You have to tell them what you want, and how and when you want it. This goes for business and private life and has nothing to do with bossing people around, but merely about communicating your expectations and giving people a fair chance to meet them.
  10. Have faith in yourself. Listen to your intuition, if something feels wrong, be brave and don't do it. If you feel storngly about something but think it's unattainable, do your homework. Find a way! Ask for help! I know you can!

That was a lot of preaching. If you can only do one thing, please pick #10 - everything else will follow. Now go out there and kick a**! Love ya!





Monday, July 28, 2014

Carrot Risotto


Can you believe it's Monday? Again?? 

We had an unplanned playdate and a spontaneous dinner at a restaurant on Saturday and lived off leftovers on Sunday, so I didn't feel I had the time or pressure to go groceries shopping. 



So in about an hour hubs would be coming home for lunch, and I had - nothing?

Quick! 

Pasta? 

"Not again…"

I could make fish sticks! I always have fish sticks in the freezer. And fish calls for rice. It was an unusual foggy morning considering we are supposed to be in the middle of our summer vacation. Fog = fall = risotto! right? 

This is what I whipped up:



Ingredients:

1 cup risotto rice (200 - 225g)
2.5 cups diced carrots (300g) - works with other veggies, too (peas, broccoli, asparagus)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp parsley
salt, pepper to taste
4.25 cups vegetable broth (1liter)

grated parmigiano cheese


Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add carrots and parsley. 


Sauté and stir until the moisture evaporates. Season with salt and pepper.


Pour in rice and stir until rice is coated with olive oil.


Reduce heat to medium-high.

Set kitchen timer to 20 minutes

Carefully pour in about a cup of veggie stock. Be prepared for a lot of steam!


Stir until liquid is completely absorbed by the rice.


Pour in the second cup of broth and stir until mixture comes to a simmer. Again, stir until liquid is absorbed, add the next cup of stock. By the time your alarm is going off, all the broth should be absorbed, and the rice is smooth and "creamy".

You are ready to serve!


Carrot risotto with fish sticks - beats frozen pizza on the health scale, right? Tastes yummy, too! I hope you'll give this a try and let me know how you liked it! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Recycling Paradise

In my #100HAPPYDAYS post I was talking about the next challenge I am eyeing with: 

De-cluttering 365 Items in 365 Days 

Now I can't clean up every day. Well, I can, and I do. I have to, but that's just to maintain  the status quo. Our house is in need of more radical treatment!

This Sunday we did about a month's worth, probably more! 


The rule is that the items have to leave the house, so we set aside bags with baby toys to take to C's daycare and a bag with gifts I don't appreciate to re-gift, and come Monday we packed up our car with throw away items, and to the newly opened recycling paradise we went!





One of my problems with clutter is that I don't know how to get rid of it when it doesn't fit in a trash bag. Yes, around here we can't just stuff it into a huge garbage container.



We fill 30 liter (7 gallons) bags and leave them on the sidewalk once a week. Each bag requires a CHF 3 sticker. CHF 3 = USD 3.32
Go figure.  



A paradise it was, indeed! Only 3km (2 miles) away, too!


Mon - Sat from 9 - 12 and 1 - 6pm, not too bad! 

Our basement was full of waste paper, cardboard, plastic / glass bottles and tin cans. 

What we usually would do:

Bundle up, leave on sidewalk 4 times a year

Using the tin can press, squash and insert

Toss in one glass jar after the other,
making sure to know your colors: white, green, brown
Those containers are located in the village center.

Plastic bottles go here (supermarkets)
Individually pressed, one after the other
Not anymore!



Just dump your un-bundled paper!!!

Dump hundreds of plastic bottles at once!
There's also a counter for special / bulky items. You have to pay for those. I don't know how much it is - the things I put on the conveyer belt didn't trigger the weight minimum, so the lady wished me a nice day, and I was free to go!

Well, not without checking out the kids' area! Early practice makes the master, right?



With an empty trunk (well, almost empty, we wanna keep our hockey stick! The new season is just around the corner, they've already prepped the blue lines at our stadium!) and in high spirits we went home! 



Are you an avocado head?

Every psychology / leadership book will tell you how motivation works. Forget about salary increases or company cars! Give people appreciation and recognition, and they'll do anything!



Today's post is to prove that I work exactly like this. Now as a part-time employee of course I wouldn't mind a pay raise, but frankly I don't deserve it. I am on FB, and I google recipes during working time. Not acceptable? Taking advantage of working for the husband? Maybe. 

Ever since my peach cake has been featured in the current edition of Southern Special I'm totally motivated to do more food posts! Although I still think it's a pain to wash my hands and photograph every step, I do like the results!

Plus I bought this bag of "Kati Kati" a special coffee bean blend from Kenya and Ethiopia, that I wanted to taste - and I needed a food pairing to go with! 



So, in addition to lemonies lemon brownies I made Avocado Muffins today! 
I used the Betty Bossi recipe and converted the ingredients for you. Don't ask me how to measure 0.85 cups of milk, though! Wait, I know! Buy yourself a metric measuring cup!!


This is what you'll need:

150g white sugar (0.75 cups)
0.25 tsp salt
1 egg
200 ml milk (0.85 cups)
150g almonds, ground (1.5 cups)
150g all purpose flour (1.2 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp baking soda
1 avocado
2 tbsp lemon juice



This is what you'll do:

  • Line a 12 muffin tray
  • Preheat oven at 180°C (350°F)
  • In a bowl mix together the sugar, salt, egg and milk.
  • In another bowl mix together the dry ingredients: almonds, flour, baking powder and baking soda
  • In a shallow dish mesh the avocado with a fork and sprinkle it with the lemon juice, so it won't turn brown.





  • Now mix everything well together and fill in muffin tray.




  • Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, depending on your oven. Check with a toothpick. 




  • Remove from the oven and the tray and let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!




Holy Guacamole, this is goooood!!