13 August 2011

Newfoundland Homemade Bread

Using a video of Mrs. Anita McCann making "Newfoundland Homemade Bread" (filmed/edited by her son, Kevin McCann), my natural tinkering has come up with some experimental varieties. ;)

The basic recipe is:

  • Yeast:
    • 1 packet of active dry yeast dissolved in
    • 1/2 c. warm water, with
    • 1 tsp. sugar [organic evaporated cane]

  • 3.5 lbs flour [I estimate 10 cups]
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. sugar [organic evaporated cane]
  • butter "the size of an egg" [soy butter works just fine]
  • water (to achieve consistency)

  • For a sweet bread:
    • 1/2 c. molasses
    • raisins

Allow to rise, lightly sealed with "butter" and covered with plastic wrap and towels, in the mixing bowl for 90 minutes. Then divide into 9 parts to make 3 loaf pans of 3 balls each. Lightly seal with "butter" and recover. Rise for another hour or so. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (check a little earlier for sweet bread version). Consult the video for more complete instructions.

  • Multigrain.
    Experiment with switching out portions of the flour with other flours. I've played with using dark rye, millet (gluten-free), and oat flours. These heavier flours make a heavier bread, though, and the dough does not rise quite as easily. Still good, but makes a denser bread. So far, I've kept at least 1/2 the flour as regular all-purpose flour, though.
  • Cranberry.
    Another variation was using the sweet version, but using dried cranberries in lieu of raisins. Also added some chopped walnuts. Substituted 2 c. of the regular flour with dark rye. Added 1/4 c. ground flax seeds for some extra omegas.
  • Olive Bread.
    This was fun. Added about 4 chopped up kalamata olives from a jar, a Tbsp of minced garlic, garlic powder, Herbs de Provence, and lavender pepper. Flour mix was 5 c. all-purpose flour, 2 c. dark rye, 2 c. millet, and 1 c. oat flour.

27 December 2010

Winter Tires

OK, this is random. :)
I seem to be surrounded by more and more "modern" Californians and other assorted urban folk. Made mention of walnut tires and siping (and re-siping) the other day. No one knows what I'm talking about. Of course, I'm not afraid of snow like they seem to be. It's important to have a healthy respect for driving in snow and ice, but not to be frightened by it.

Now, I've never had walnut shell tires myself, but my grandparents used to swear by them for traction. My mom also recalled to me that they were highly thought of for snow. Also, rather than get a new set of studded tires for snow, have your existing tires siped (cut new grooves in for traction) to make them last through the Winter... then get a new set of tires in the Spring.

Anyone else remember such things? or am I all alone? ;)

21 January 2010

Homeschool -- throwing in the towel

Well, it's been 9 months since the decision to homeschool. I haven't blogged near as much about it here as I should have. Today is my son's first day back in public school. This has been a hard time and a difficult transition with the deaths of so many loved ones, relocating, and much more.

On one hand, I feel like it's been a failed attempt -- that it turns out homeschool (in the format we attempted) was not the right long-term decision for us. On the other hand, though, I am hoping that this 9 months has provided a better footing (especially emotionally/socially) for "success" back at public school. I'm hoping that we've broken the downwards spiral he was in before at public school.

Fingers crossed... knock on wood... remind me to breathe. Hoping this is the right decision for now.

23 November 2009

Yankee Sailor

The following is something I wrote on the OKP (Online Kitchen Party on http://www.greatbigsea.ca/) last night, but felt it would be appropriate to cross-post here.

The new song that Alan Doyle played in Olympia on Wednesday night really touched my heart.
"Yankee Sailor" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecnsiUEpOXo

This reminds me of the stories my dad would tell. Nearly had me in tears. Listening to it again since in the safety of home, it had the tears streaming down. Alan kept the intro pretty polite.

He talks about American servicemen that were stationed in Newfoundland while the local boys were stationed elsewhere during WWII. Local men would then return to find their lady loves off with someone new.

My dad lied about his age to join the Canadian Army during WWII (he was only 14), and got in for a minute 'til they figured out that he'd cheated his vision test, too (he was blind in one eye). So Dad was one of the guys that stayed behind in Canada. There were jobs, as the majority of able-bodied young men were off at war, but times were still tough, just coming out of the Depression. Local guys could [maybe] afford to take a girl out for coffee and pie, but the Yankee soldiers could afford a full dinner and movie, etc. The American servicemen in Canada were showing up the local guys at every turn. Americans were paid more than military personnel in the other Allied countries, too.

I say that Alan kept the intro polite as far as describing the situation because he only talks about the women marrying the Americans and leaving together. He doesn't talk about the girls who fell in love with the "Yankee Sailor" but then were left behind (sometimes pregnant), after having alienated their local boyfriend.

This happened all over. Newfoundland and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries, I'm sure. When my dad was living in Australia in the early 1950s, someone in a bar couldn't tell the difference in the accent between American and Canadian, and so someone called him a "Yank". Dad told the guy he'd give him to the count of 10 to take that back. "Oh yeah? Why is that, Yank?" When they found out that Dad was a Canadian, they bought him drinks the whole rest of the night, apologising for the mistake.

The history behind this song was felt strongly by so many people all over the world.

27 October 2009

Afterschool Snack: Apple Cornbread

The windy, wet weather has returned to the Pacific North'wet', and so this sounded perfect. It's cooling on top of the stove right now.

Apple Cornbread (Vegan)

1 c. yellow corn meal
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. organic sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 "egg" (= 2 Tbsp. ground flax + 3 Tbsp. water)
1 c. non-dairy milk (soy, hemp, rice, etc.)
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 c. applesauce
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 apple (honeycrisp is what I used)

Mix "egg" in a little dish and set aside to soak & set up a bit. Sift dry ingredients together into bowl; add wet ingredients. Stir until smooth. Cut apple in eighths & cut out core; slice thinly into batter & fold in. Bake in greased 8-inch square pan or iron skillet. Bake 25-30 minutes at 425.

10 August 2009

Is it August already? Friendship Bread update etc.

Wow, is it August already? Where did the time go? I'm not ready for all this!

Actually, for a quick update since the last post (end of May ~ wow):
1. We've had a couple of heat waves come through (that I swore were trying to kill me). Today feels good, though... raining off and on, but still 20c(68F) inside the house without having to turn the heat on!

2. I started a new project of scanning in my dad's old photo album. Many of them, he developed himself. Cool old Black & White pictures from all over Western Canada & Western US, Australia, and both North & South Islands of New Zealand. Still more to do, but I got a big chunk done! [Part 1; Part 2.] :)

3. More hiking in the woods. When it wasn't too hot and I had to hide inside, we went for shaded walks through the woods and along the saltwater.

4. Vegan Meetup Potlucks! Word has spread about the monthly vegan potlucks that I host, and the group is growing. Looking forward to another one this coming Sunday (late afternoon). http://www.meetup.com/Olympic-Vegans [Come hang out with us and have fun!] We even had a guest speaker on June 30th ~ Emily Shaules talked about the wonders of a Raw Vegan diet.

5. Had "iguana green" streaks dyed into my hair. Didn't last long... they've faded out bad. New colours next week, especially in time for the trip to Toronto. :)

6. Took a "girls-only" mini-vacation to San Francisco, California to visit my friend Janice. Had a wonderful time, took lots of photos that have me considering going professional, and got horribly (HORRIBLY) sunburnt. Lessons in life, right?

7. Sprucing up around the shop. Painting woodland scenes atop the outdoor bistro table set... Painted the couch in the back into a striped design of black, blue, & sparkles. More to come.

8. Seeing my older boy run off again and again. Good thing he always comes home. His team took 1st place in the State softball tournament. Now, he's off at camp up in the mountains. A couple of weeks ago, he formally took office as the Master Councillor of the local chapter of DeMolay. Threw a big party for that. Other than having one "meat option" for people, the whole dinner was vegan! :) It actually went over really well, and my cupcakes were a huge hit.

9. Homeschool. We've been taking it easy this summer, focusing more on "un-schooling". Paddy has been taking part in everything and helping out a lot. He really likes running the cash register at the shop, and he's become better at it than some employees I've had! :)

9. New Adaptations to the Amish Friendship Bread. Link to my original recipe. I'm taking a minute right now while the bread is in the oven baking. The recipe is never quite the same twice, especially with the option to add different things each time. I've stopped making the sugared crust on it anymore.

Originally, I was using Ener-G egg replacer, but have now dabbled with using ground flax seeds as an egg replacer. It's turned out really well. Sarah Kramer suggests using 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed + 3 Tbsp. water to replace each egg.

Last time, I added carob powder to the batch. That was a hit with everyone! Right now, the batch that is baking has hempmilk, "live" spelt flour from Farmer's Market, ground flax seeds (as egg replacer), applesauce, vanilla hemp protein powder, and pecans... but *then*... split the batch into 2 bowls. Added 1/4c. shredded coconut to one bowl; 1/4c. carob powder to the other bowl. Then marbled the 2 together into the loaf pans. The 1/4c. carob powder was a bit much, and needed a sprinkling of additional hempmilk to wet it so it would blend. [Here we go... picture of it just coming out of the oven!]

We went out for lunch today at Toga's. I had always wanted to go when they were a fancy gourmet restaurant, but didn't. Now, they've done a huge overhaul / remodel and are a lunch place... soup, sandwiches, salads, and baked goods. We had a Veggie Focaccia Panini, and then cups of soup (Curried Veggie Lentil, and Roasted Veggie) ~~ I have to say, it was really good. As we were looking over the pastry case, I asked if anything was dairy-free. Sadly, no. There was a marbled cake that Paddy loved the looks of, so I let him know we could "totally" do that ourselves. :)

30 May 2009

Homeschool Update 30 May '09

I think homeschooling my younger son is the best decision I could have made. This has really enriched both of our lives.

Yes, I have a generic curriculum on CD-ROM that I purchased in order to cover the basics, but the additional exploring and learning that we have been doing above and beyond the standard curriculum has been wonderful! We are following topics that we both find interesting, and allowing ourselves to be guided to the next topic from there.

Paddy is very interested in the Titanic, so he has been learning about the history, the tragic event, and new information that continues to surface. He has also learned about the Lusitania and the comparisons (and contrasts) to the sinking of the Titanic. He is absorbing the information and is making further connections. E.g., he perked up to hear that both ships were from Liverpool.

He has been reading a lot. He first read "Singing Wheels" by Mabel O'Donnell (illustrated by Florence and Margaret Hoopes), pub. 1957. This is a book from which my maternal grandmother taught elementary school. I then had him read a related book that I had written as an elementary school student, called "Getting Ready". Both are about the western pioneer movement. He is currently working on the 7th Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J.K. Rowling. He is using the dictionary on a regular basis to look up words, and is learning the differences between my different dictionaries (1993 American Heritage College Dictionary vs. 1910 American Dictionary of the English Language).

His dad has been working with him a lot on math. He spends Mondays and Tuesdays with his dad. We are finding that he is at Grade 7 and 8 level math (as opposed to Grade 5, where he was bored silly). He is working on mean, median, and mode (statistics); cost vs. profit; and other topics.

I am also working with him day-to-day with simple math in his head, but to have a working comprehension. When we are gardening, we discuss many topics, such as history. When we talk about the different years that events occurred, I ask him how many years apart they were. 1623-1635, 1776, 1867, 1949, 2009, etc. This is similar to time I spent with my dad in the garden in my childhood.

Speaking of gardening, we have been working on a variety of plants, and the list keeps growing. In our bricked-in patch, we have (so far) rhubarb, nasturtiums, cilantro, Brussels sprouts, celery, and artichoke. We have 2 hanging tomato plants (the new upside-down planters that are the rage this year). We've also been working with decorative flower planters. He likes succulent "rock plants", such as "hens and chicks" and sedum, and so has his own collection going outside in the back patio.

We were cutting up a store-bought pineapple the other day, and he asked me whether pineapples grew "right-side up" or "upside-down" off the trees. I told him that I honestly didn't know. I had him go look it up on Wikipedia, and then to come report back to me what he found out. He found directions on how to take the top of the pineapple (the sharp stems at the top) and plant them in a shallow dish of soil to grow another pineapple out the top. So we did just that... planted it, and now we'll see how it does.

I find that I am researching and reading more than usual in order to meet his learning needs. With our recent introduction to "Amish Friendship Bread" (see previous blog entry), I've been reading up more on various yeast recipes and researching vegan alternatives. Most recently, I am reading "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Ellix Katz and am fascinated by "the flavor, nutrition, and craft of live-culture foods". We are now experimenting with different yeast starters for breads, and considering our own homemade sauerkraut (choucroute), kimchi, miso, vegan yogurts, and more. The most recent addition to our projects is a sourdough starter from potato starch water and unbleached flour. The potato starch water is from cooking local Ozette potatoes (a native species).

Paddy enjoys the process and the interaction of baking the friendship bread. We do it a little different each time, and in turn learn more each time.
Unbleached flour vs. "live" spelt flour...
2/3 c. hemp protein powder vs. only 1/2 c. ...
currants & coconut vs. no fruits or nuts (forgot to add any on one batch) vs. raisins, fresh pineapple, & almonds... etc.
He is also learning practical application of fractions and conversions. Ex. doubling recipes and doing 1/2 recipes...
or that if 3 tsp = 1 Tbsp, then 1/2 tsp x3 = 1/2 Tbsp.

Paddy keeps in contact with other kids, too. He has his older brother still attending Grade 10 at public school. He also spends a lot of time with his cousin Leo (who is in Grade 7). He goes to Sunday School at church. He also participates in activities with the local DeMolay chapter. With DeMolay, he helped this morning with washing local law enforcement cars, trucks, and vans as a community service / civic engagement activity.

Starting today, he is also taking part in activities through the Olympic Park Institute's environmental education program. Today is an "Insect Hike" through the woods of the national park.

During relaxing times, we have been watching the series "Life After People". He finds it fascinating, and it is another way in which information is brought together from multiple disciplines in order to show a more complete picture.

We have been hiking in the woods and walking on beaches. We visited the local "Art in the Woods" exhibit, where you have to really search to notice some of the artwork. We've walked along the Elwha River and discussed traditional tribal boundaries ("usual and accustomed lands"), esp. between Makah and Klallam Nations. We've even had fun serving as "Twilight" tour guides to friends from out of the area.

There are so many other topics we have covered, but I'm not taking the time to cover here. Some include beekeeping, music, poetry, photography, art projects, and geography. Even though I've taken on additional responsibilities -- as both "Mom" and primary teacher -- it is an amazing adventure and is incredibly rewarding. Just think, it's only been 7 weeks so far!!