Thursday, September 25, 2014

No-knead Wheat Bread

Who knew it was so easy to bake your own bread?  I don't buy bread anymore because there is no way for me to eat a loaf before it goes bad.  Not that this recipe didn't make more bread than I could eat, but I feel like it is way more acceptable to share fresh baked bread with a neighbor than trying to get someone to go halvesies with you on a bag of sliced store-bought bread.  An additional benefit to making your own bread is the wonderful smell that will fill your home.

I found this recipe on the side of a bag of Gold Medal all purpose flour and thought, "I bet I can do that." You can find the original recipe here.  For the most part, I followed the original recipe.  The few changes I made included using mostly whole wheat flour and cutting back on the salt.  The bread is best within the first couple days (and amazing when eaten fresh out of the oven).  I will definitely be experimenting with added herbs and cheese in the coming weeks.

No-Knead Wheat Bread

Makes 4 small loaves

3 cups lukewarm water
5 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 package active yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

I used a stand mixer and allowed the dough to set in the bowl with a towel over it. The dough rose for about 2 hours at room temperature.  I then transferred the dough to the refrigerator where it stayed for an hour.  This step wasn't completely necessary, but it did make it easier to handle.  You can tell from my picture, I got a little excited with the flour.  It is very necessary for handling, but too much will make it a little tough.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

101 in 1001

Happy first day of Fall!  In a lovely surprise, I stepped out into a crisp chilly morning when I went to take B out.  I love autumn.  I’m not sure if it is getting away from summer’s ridiculous Alabama heat and humidity or pulling out sweaters and boots and everything pumpkin.  The arrival of Autumn is always welcome.  The turning of a new season, especially spring and fall, always feels like a fresh start.  So, to kick off this lovely season, I'm staring a new to-do list.  101 in 1001 is a list of things I would like to accomplish in the next 1001 days (which equals approximately 2.75 years).  The idea, which came from Mackenzie Horan at Design Darling, is a happy medium between a to do list and keeping a bucket list.  In addition to a lot of personal goals I have had for some time now, my list includes a lot of activities around Montgomery.  Despite growing up just outside the state capitol and actually moving to Montgomery a little less than a year ago, I really haven’t explored the city as much as I’d like to.  I  really think this list will encourage me not only to live a little better, but to be more intentional in the weekly plans I make.  I have until the start of summer 2017 to meet my goals and will happily donate $5 to a charitable organization for each I do not complete.  I’ll keep you updated and hope that you will join in with your own list!

Personal Goals: 
1. Donate $5 for every uncompleted task (charitable organization TBD)
2. Take a pottery class
3. Learn calligraphy
4. Sew a dress by myself
5. Evenly hem a pair of pants
6. Finish my t-shirt quilt
7. See a TED talk live
8. Get a new camera 
9. Learn how to use said camera
10. Join a book club
11. Read 5 career books
12. Read 3 biographies
13. Pick back up with Spanish and get to a somewhat conversational point
14. Get a massage
15. Take a cooking class
16. Learn how to dry herbs
17. Learn how to can and make jam
18. Bake a soufflĂ© 
19. Make ravioli from scratch
20. Bake doughnuts
21. Make macaroons
22. Make my bed every day for a month
23. Clean out my living room and office
24. Keep my desk/table clean for an entire month
25. Research savings options
26. Learn how to code VBA
27. Take someone I want to learn from out to lunch
28. Interview an environmental scientist about their career
29. Keep a separate work to do list, leave it at work
30. Drink 8 glasses of water every day for 2 weeks
31. Go a month without eating fast food
32. Try a juice cleanse
33. See the sun rise every morning for a week
34. Run every day for a week
35. Run a 5K with a family member
36. Run my 6th half marathon
37. Join a yoga studio
38. Try hot yoga
39. Yoga outside
40. Be able to do a headstand
41. Go rock climbing
42. Try a new workout class
43. Take a self defense class
44. Gardening-figure out what I’m doing
45. Join a CSA
46. Stick to a vegan diet for a week
47. Stick to a vegetarian diet for a month
48. Go a week without caffeine
49. Go 3 months without killing a cactus
50. Go a week without swearing, may involve taking a different route to work
51. Complete 50 hours of community service
52. Join a local church
53. Plan a trip to Europe
54. Visit a new city
55. Visit a new state
56. Visit a new country 
57. Rent bicycles at the beach
58. Go camping
59. Visit an aquarium
In Town: 
60. Visit the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art
61. See a play at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival
62. See a play at the Cloverdale Playhouse
63. Go to Montgomery Ballet’s holiday show
64. See a movie at the Capri Theater
65. Explore the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum
66. Visit the Museum of Alabama at the Alabama Department of Archives & History
67. Visit the Moo-seum (take Gray)
68. Take a dinner cruise on the Harriott II
69. Go to the planetarium
70. Eat at 10 new restaurants around Montgomery
71. Visit the Nature Center at Lanark
72. Spend a day at a spa 
73. Do yoga at Old Alabama Town 
74. Visit 2 local art galleries
75. Visit the Montgomery Zoo
76. Kayak 2 new places in the area
Friends and Family: 
77. Buy my mom or grandmother flowers just because
78. Take my dad out to eat
79. Do something special with each of my nieces and nephews
80. Go a year without missing a single family birthday
81. Watch a sunrise with Seth
82. Plan and cook a brunch for friends
83. Throw a dinner party
84. Reconnect with friends from high school
85. Reconnect with undergrad friends
86. Find ways to be more involved with other alumnae 
87. Go on a hike with friends
88. Have an arts and crafts day/night with friends
89. Celebrate 3 little holidays I normally wouldn’t with friends
90. Ring in a new year with friends
91. Bake cookies for the mailman
92. Bake cookies for my landlord
93. Bake cookies for my fix-it guy 
94. Buy a stranger coffee
95. Leave a 100% tip for good service
96. Learn and use html design elements on my blog
97. Join a blogging network
98. Meet other bloggers
99. Start a blog series
100. Add pin it feature to images
101. Figure out my blogging routine

Friday, September 12, 2014

High Five for Friday

1. My new planner came in the mail! Its the Kate Spade Large Agenda and I absolutely love it. As environmentally friendly as I try to be, I absolutely love planners and to-do lists. I have yet to find an app or online calendar that makes me feel as prepared as having my day written out does.

2. I have gotten in such a habit of snacking, I completely forgot about lunch yesterday. I am not one to starve myself or anything; I just eat a lot of really small "meals" throughout the day. This week included granola (homemade), cranberry almond trail mix, apples, overnight oats and some awesome snacks from Graze. I especially love the Mississippi BBQ Pistachios and the Key Lime Pie Mix.

3. I have gotten back to running. For me, running is a very freeing practice. Every few months I get out of the practice, generally because I have clumsily injured myself or I get frustrated with how it is constantly hot here, but I'm always surprised by how easy it is to get back into it. My running partner makes it ever better too; he will hopefully be a little more enthusiastic as the weather starts to cool off.  My current running motivation was learning about SeaWheeze. Yoga, running and brunch...count me in! (I'm so sad to see that registration for next year is already sold out!)

4. I got to spend a little time with Seth in Mountain Brook, Alabama this weekend. Mountain Brook is this adorable little town in the Birmingham area and it happens to be Seth's hometown. I love the botanical gardens and the zoo, but just walking around the villages provides plenty to see and do. This adorable little guy is in a community garden in Crestline Village.

5. Following this month's challenge of self-improvement and growth by The Everygirl, I've been working on blogging.  I'm hoping this will help me in learning a little html and learning how to cook a few healthy meals. I've been researching recipes and all things blog related and have found so many interesting tidbits, but haven't put many into practice just yet.

Hope your weekend is wonderful!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Granola

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I love cinnamon. Also, raisins, the original favorite dried fruit. I love mixing the combination into oatmeal and of course adding cinnamon to oatmeal raisin cookies. I’ve never tried making granola before, and couldn’t believe how easy it was. With the honey and brown sugar, this isn’t the healthiest snack, but it is very filling. I love eating it dry for a snack, or with cold milk or yogurt. With a little warm milk, this would make a great cold weather snack.

Quick and easy homemade granola

Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time:  30 minutes

3 cups old fashion or steel cut oats
1 1/2 cup raisins
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup grape seed oil (you could also use coconut or canola)
1/4 cup brown sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 300F and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Once again, grind the flax seed. A coffee grinder would be ideal for this, but I used a food processor/blender. It took a little more patience and stirring but still worked well.
  3. Combine the oats, raisins, almonds, flax seed, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt in an over-sized bowl.
  4. In a small saucepan and over medium-low heat, combine the oil, honey and brown sugar. Stir frequently until the brown sugar starts to dissolve, this should take no more than 5 minutes; do not bring to a boil.
  5. Pour the hot sugar mixture over the oat mixture and stir. This isn’t something you would need a mixer for. Just a few quick stirs to make sure everything is coated and you’re good to go.
  6. Spread the oat mixture on the parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes. After the initial 15 minutes, stir/flip/turn the granola. Check and turn the granola every 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Mine was done in 30 minutes, but I have a gas oven- which can be a little dryer of a heat.
  7. Let cool. I left mine on the cookie sheet for a few hours.
Deciding when the granola was done was probably the hardest part of this process with all the cinnamon in there. I taste tested each time I pulled the pan out and stopped when the granola started to reach a crunchy consistency.

                                                                                                    Hope you Enjoy!