Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Amazing, make-u-feel-accomplised, Bread recipe

Seriously. I feel like superwoman after pulling this bread out of the oven! There's something about the work that goes into kneading it, the smell of it, and just knowing that I will be slicing it up to use for sandwiches and dinner everyday, that makes me smile. This is just one tangible way of being a Titus 2 woman, and I love it. :)
So on to the recipe. I found this amazing recipe on allrecipes.com here. And, to be perfectly honest with you, the only reason I chose it was because of all the ratings it has. There are also tons of ideas in the comments that are great.
Here's the recipe (with my comments included):

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

3 Cups of warm water (110 degrees)
2 (.25 ounces) pachages of yeast (or 4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup honey (or agave nectar or maple syrup)
5 Cups of bread flour (yes, you need to use bread flour)
3 Tablespoons of melted butter
1/3 cup of honey (see above)
1 Tablespoon of salt
3 1/2 cups of wheat flour

1. In a large bowl, mix warm water (make sure that it's around 110 degrees. If it's too hot, you will kill the yeast. And if it's not warm enough, it will take too long to rise) , 1/3 cup of honey and the yeast. Stir to combine. There will be little chunks of the yeast, but that's okay. Then add the 5 cups of bread flour by stirring while scraping the sides of the bowl. Let this set for about 30 minutes, or until it is big and bubbly.

2. Mix in 3 Tablespoons of melted butter, 1/3 cup of honey and salt, just stir it all in. Then stir in 2 cups of the whole wheat flour. You may have to use your hands a bit, but the idea is that it is not super sticky so that you can start kneading. So after the 2 cups of wheat flour are mixed in, through some wheat flour on the counter and take the dough out of the bowl. There will still be some parts of the dough that are pretty sticky, so just kind of push those parts into the flour on the counter and start forming a mound. (I hope that makes sense. . ) Keep adding the wheat flour about 1/2 a cup at a time. You'll need to add more flour to the counter and to the top of the dough as you are kneading. Now, I don't know if this is the professional way to knead, but the way I do it is to push the dough forward with the palms of my hands, fold it over, turn it, then push again. If you are still confused, watch this. By the time you are done kneading, you will have added about 2 1/2 more cups of wheat flour and the dough will only be slight sticky.
Place your dough in a large, greased bowl, turning once so that it has a thin layer of the grease, then cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel.
You're going to let this rise for about 2 hours, or until it has doubled.

3. Whoohoo! You're almost done, and this is my favorite part. :) Once your dough has risen to double the size that it was, you punch it down. That's right. Make a fist and punch down in the center of that big bowl of dough. It is truly satisfying! :D

4. Now you grease your 9 x 5 loaf pans (I believe glass ones are the best if you have them), and divide the dough into three, equal sized loaves.

5. At this point, you can either put all three loaves into the pans, or roll out one or two to add ingredients. To roll the dough, you just lightly flour the counter, roll it out to about 5 x 10 inches and spread the ingredients on the dough. I've used cinnamon and sugar, cinnamon and raisins, dried cranberries and pecans or walnuts, really anything that sounds good in bread! Then just roll it up and pinch off the ends. Then place in the loaf pan.

6. Once the loaves are in the pans, you will need to cover them up again and let them rise until they are about an inch above the pan. (about another hour)

7. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Once the loaves have risen, stick them all in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. You'll know they're done when the top and the sides are browned. If your sides and bottom are still white, then the inside of your bread will be doughy. Believe me. :(
The top may get a little crispy, which I like. But if you want a softer top, you can spread butter on the top of the loaf right when it gets out of the oven.

8. After you remove your loaves of yummy-smelling bread from the oven, make sure to let it cool for a bit before attempting to remove from the pans. You may need to run a butter knife along the edges, but most of the time, they just fall right out. Use a good serrated knife and dig in! :)

Please don't be intimidated by this process of bread-making! Grab a friend and try it together! Oh, and one last thing. Yesterday I said that it cost a little under a dollar to make this bread. I don't think that's entirely accurate. It's difficult to calculate the exact amount, but it probably comes out to around $1.50. The most expensive part is the honey, so use what you have. Maple syrup, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, etc. :) Also, much to my dismay, I use **gulp** bleached bread flour. . . I know. . . but when a 25lb bag is about $6.50 at Costco, it's really hard to spend $18 at Winco for the wheat bread flour. When my budget allows for it, though, I will switch for sure.
Okay, have fun baking!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Baking Day!

The aspect of Tim's job loss that has probably affected me the most is in the area of our food budget. I am a stay at home mom, so I am constantly preparing meals and snacks. And when we don't have the money to buy the food that I would normally use, things get a little hairy. . well I get a little cranky. ;)
Over the last few months, I have been working to develop my baking and cooking skills to better use foods that are inexpensive: read: whole foods, fresh food!
Now, I had already been cooking mostly all of our dinners from scratch for some time, but our baked goods and snacks were a different story. Good bread and healthy snacks are expensive! So I had to make a choice. I could either buy cheap "wheat" bread at the dollar store, or I could learn how to make wholesome and tasty bread for my family for a little less than a dollar per loaf.
As I have been perfecting my skills and baking away, one problem kept arising. . . . where can I fit this into my schedule??!?! And then I remembered a great post written by Abbi at Proverbs31 living: http://proverbs31living.blogspot.com/2009/09/baking-day.html
What a concept! Most of us are either home everyday, or we dedicate a day of the week to stay home to do laundry or other household chores. Why not use that time to bake as well? Really. Most of the time involved in baking is in letting the dough rise or baking it in the oven. During those times, keep on going with your normal tasks. :)
Monday is my baking day, so I thought I'd share with you whats on my menu for today:

-Banana muffins
-Honey wheat bread
-Wheat sandwich rolls
-Molasses Cookies

I usually try to make one breakfast item for those mornings when I don't have time to cook breakfast. . . . err, when I don't get out of bed on time. ;) Loaf bread is made every week, and this week I am trying out these sandwich rolls. And then I make one or two sweet snacks for lunches and for hubby's sweet tooth. :)
Really, I can't express to you enough how much this has saved us! I'll write more about this again, and provide recipes. But start thinking about items on your grocery list that you can replace with homemade goodness.
Now, I'm off to go take the umbrella out of the patio before it flies away in this crazy wind! :)


Monday, November 8, 2010

Lies. . . .

I shared this on Facebook about two weeks ago, but I needed a reminder today. ;)

Jesus did not die so that I can have material pleasures in life. What does that stir up in your heart? I’ll tell you what it stirred up in my heart this morning when this thought came to me: I have been holding on to some sort of prosperity gospel for some time now. I know. Is that possible? It’s not like I consciously have said, “I believe that God will give me a Mercedes if I believe in Him.” But think about it for a moment. . . . .

Tim has been unemployed in the traditional sense for almost nine months now. The Lord has provided for us in many ways, but there has been no full-time job offers in 9 months of sending out resumes and applying at hundreds of different places. And, to be honest with you, I go through seasons of being “okay” with this. The times when I am “okay,” there are usually other prospects of a job on the horizon for me to look to. And then when I am not “okay” I am swallowed up by anxiety and grief. So, over the past few days, I have been praying and thinking about this: Why am I so freaked out about Tim’s being unemployed?

I think most people would agree that losing one’s job is one of the worst things that can happen to a family. Why is that? Well, losing a job can mean losing a home, losing a car, losing the ability to buy things when you want to, losing the ability to be comfortable, losing the ability to provide food for your family, losing some freedoms. Okay, look at that list again. . . everything on it is related to money and possessions.

And during this time of Tim’s job loss, I have prayed in earnest that the Lord would provide a job for Tim so that we can resume our lives. So that we wouldn’t have to rely on other people, etc, etc. And when the Lord hasn’t answered my prayers, I have been resentful. Wondering, “where is Your faithfulness, O God?!”

And here’s where it hit me: Jesus did not die so that you could be comfortable here on earth. He did not die so that I could have all the material possessions I want. EVEN if what I desire is good and not excessive. Yep.. . ..

Not very may of you are in the situation that Tim and I are in right now. But I want to challenge you to think about this. We can be really critical when it comes to people believing in a prosperity kind of gospel. Let’s be more critical about what we truly believe. I am horrified to think that this was in my heart for so long, truly horrified. So think about what your reaction would be if you or your husband lost your/his job today. How would you respond? What would you be anxious about? Let’s guard our hearts from consumerism and the temptation to see money as the only way that God blesses His people.

His faithfulness is in what He has already done! He died a gruesome death, raised up from the grave, and is now preparing a place for us while He intercedes on our behalf! Praise God for His goodness and unbelievable grace upon those who believe!.

I have a feeling I will be rehearsing the gospel to myself even more often for a while, and praying that my eyes will be open and aware of any of this sin that could come crawling back into my thoughts. And I don’t know what is in store for Tim and I. But I do know that my salvation is secure, and that I’m here to be used by God, and that’s all that I need to know.

Please share your thoughts! :)