Wednesday, 18 August 2010

My Daily Bread

Two weeks back, I tweaked my usual bread recipe and came up with this one. I like it so much that I have been making it each time we run out of bread. This is not fancy baking. We make this every 3-4 days at our house. Here is the recipe:

  • 1.5 cups of water

  • 2 cups of bread flour

  • 1.5 cups of wholewheat flour

  • 2 tbsp black strap molasses (BSM)*

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tbsp oil

  • 2 tsp instant yeast

  • 1 tsp flaxseed

  • anything else you may fancy e.g. raisins, sunflower seeds
I put the lot of ingredients into the breadmaker and run a 'dough' cycle. Then transfer it to an oiled bread tin and let it rise for 60 minutes. Punch down. Let it rise for 40 - 60 minutes. Bake at 180C with a bowl of hot water. I have found that having a bowl of water in the oven makes a moist loaf.

The tweak*
I found a bottle of organic BSM left over from a liver detox which we did a few years back. It smelled & tasted ok, so I decided to use it in place of sugar in my bread. The aroma is heavenly and it imparts flavour without adding sweetness. Perfect for the kids who prefer sweet breads but minus the sugar. If I remember rightly, BSM is a good source of iron.

This is my daily bread. The beauty of the recipe lies in the simplicity. It is versatile, you can add anything you like. For weeks, we had raisin and cinnamon, then apricot, almonds. Today, its BSM and sunflower seeds.
I am going to have a slice for supper.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Lemonade 25 cents?

I find it hard to resist lemons. Who can when they are going at 25 yuan (around USD 0.75) for 9 ? I inadvertently leave the supermarket with lemons. I suspect my mother is of the same nature. She doesn't stop me. Frankly, I am not surprised because she is the one with the lemon tree on her balcony 10+ floors high up in the air.

There we were this morning with 9 lemons - 2 decaying, a couple yellowing but the rest still holding on and my mother in the background grumbling about having to throw them out.  (In case you are wondering, the local lemons are green). What do you do when your mother throws you lemons ? You have lots of fun !

Ew and I did our homeschooling lesson on lemons / lemonade.

Lesson : "How to make lemonade?"
First, we grated zest. Lovely, zingy zest that could go into a cake or muffins or add piquance to roast chicken.
Ew: "Can I smell it, mummy ?".
A: "Of course"
Ew: "Hmmmm. Eat some. can I ?"
A: "Er, sure - if you really want to. It doesn't taste... Well, try it."

This is kinesthetic learning at its best. Learning with all your senses. Learning when you're relaxed, having fun. I resisted the urge to control, to be frugal cause I really don't enjoy grating lemon zest that much and I have plans for the lovely zest.

Next, Ew tried to peel the skin off his lemon. He bashed it around for a while. I gave him a plastic knife which he grabbed with glee. The mutilated fruit is stabbed several times. I quickly added a tea towel under the chopping board. Yes, I expect such lessons to be messy but I am going to be smart about it. The mess has to be easy to clean.

I started rolling the other lemons around and execute a couple of bashes of my own. This gets the juice going. It is true. When I cut into the fruits the juice squirted out. Ew never got round to cutting his lemon. He bit into it instead and sucked whatever juice he got.

The fun fizzled out a little at this point. He had cut his finger earlier with the plastic knife and the juice was stinging the wound.  Ew expressed a need for cream. We stopped to wash his hand and apply some cream. He sat watching me, playing with pips. We had a jam jar full of lemon juice (for later use) and half a bowl for our lemonade. (If we don't get around to using the juice, we'll make ice cubes out of it. Great for when you need lemon juice but don't have lemons.)

Summary of lesson:
Lemonade = water + honey + lemon juice

Ae woke up from her nap at that point. She was hot and grouchy. Nothing a little lemonade won't fix. Soon, we were all drinking fresh lemonade from our cups. Everyone was smiling.

Ew: "Mummy, this is so fresh. Let's do it again tomorrow."

Ae: "Sumor (some more) Mummy"

Lemonade 25 cents ? No, lemonade priceless.

We had Lemon Drizzle Cake for tea. Yes, it's a cracked at the top. But heck, it tastes good. Like I said earlier, I find it hard to resist lemons.

Recipe from BBC GoodFood

We ate it while it was still warm

PS - the rest of the fruit went to my vinegar making. That's another blog for another day.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Sweet Potato & Rosemary Buns

Hot buns fresh out of the oven

We had these buns with homemade burgers, grilled pineapple, cucumber slices and wasabi mayo.

Recipe from The Fresh Loaf.

I used a lonely sweet potato that was lying in the kitchen for weeks. The bread maker did the kneading. I humbly admit that it does a much better job than me. But as you can tell from the irregular shapes which I find rather endearing, I shaped the buns and dusted Italian herbs on it for a more attactive appearance.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The Little Frogs

They're on their way!
Today, we released 3 of our little frogs into the school vegetable garden. It all started a few weeks ago, with 'the Jackson 8' - 8 tadpoles from a dirty puddle in the school playground. Jackson for my son's favorite frog in 'The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse' by Beatrix Potter. 'The Jackson 6' cannibalized 2 and 1 simply didn't live long enough to see froghood.

The surviving Jacksons are one of the few lucky tadpoles of their time. The summer heat dried up all puddles and ponds in the neighborhood. While their peers battled for survival, the Jacksons enjoyed the morning sun in the front balcony and rested in the cool shade of the washing area in the afternoon. Their diet consisted of boiled, chopped, frozen lettuce. Fresh water was delivered regularly.

In return, they shared the wonders of metamorphosis.

Our new lot of babies