New Bread, Plants Plus a MYSTERY

So, I have been super busy the past few days, so this is another quick update.  Despite working on stuff for the Indie Media Fair, I found some time to make bread, but this time this isn’t a no-knead bread… no, this is a bread that lovingly took about an hour and a half to knead (if added all together of course).  The weather has been erratic, yet our plants seem to be pretty happy (although Dante wants to eat most of them, sigh).  Also, our tropical palm has grown these strange tendril things.   They are kind of soft, with little nubs on them.. there are about three or four of them?  Does anyone know what they are?  But, of course I know most people want an update on my doll.. well check back tomorrow because I promise I will have some new photos of Diana!

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New Bread + Valentines

So, usually, my partner and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s day.  We don’t really see the point, we already spend as much time together as possible, and generally each other our love on a daily basis.. so the idea of squishing it into one day, and spending needless money on overpriced chocolates shaped like hearts, seems.. pointless.  But, on the other hand, it gives us an excuse to spoil ourselves a little.  This year my partner surprised me with two little Lego kits, a kitty and squirrel playground.  Even though they are from “the girl’s Lego series” aka: Lego Friends, which I am vehemently against (why do girls need a separate series they never needed them before, where are the minifigs, just why), these sets are incredibly adorable (and thankfully did not come with those weird new people, which totally freak me out).   I’ve also been trying to make some new, different types of bread.  These all require *a lot* more kneading than my posted no-knead cheese bread recipe, but I figure it’s a great upper body workout.. and the bread is delicious so the work is worth it!  Also, in the spirit of Valentine’s day, I made a red velvet banana cake, and it was delicious (I say was, because it’s.. gone).

Summer Cake {recipe}

Okay, so it is now into October and I guess that means I’m a little late with posting my “Summer Cake” recipe (hence named because I made about one of these cakes a week, every week, all summer long, plus the original name isn’t the most uplifting name). Originally, this cake started as a standard WWII Rations Cake. I have been increasingly interested in WWII Rations recipes because they don’t frequently use eggs and rely more on cupboard staples than fresh ingredients.  But, I don’t really follow the original recipe anymore, and I have found countless ways to adapt them (making every cake a unique flavour and texture).

This cake is so simple, I’m not even going to include process photos.

Summer Cake 2012

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup Flour* (see alterations for more specifics on flour and sugar)
  • 1/2 cup Sugar*
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 1 cup Cold Water

Alterations:

Okay, so the ingredients listed so far will make a cake.. but it won’t be very exciting.  Here is some more information on how to make a truly delicious cake, and add some more nutrients (because that makes it easier to justify eating half a cake in a single night).  Other than the *required* ingredients, I recommend that you add at least one other flavour to the cake, unless you want a really simple cake.

Flour: I change-up the combination of flour every time.  Usually I use 1 cup of Cake Flour 1/4 cup of Whole Wheat All Purpose Flour and 1/4 cup of Quick Oats.  I’ve used a lot of different types of flour, Bread Flour, different types of Multi-grain Flours, Rice Flour, Kamut flakes, Semolina, and others that I’m sure I’m forgetting.  Each type of flour will give a different texture, density, and chewiness.  I like adding oats and heavier grains because it makes the cake a little more textured.  Really, use whatever Flour you have on hand.

Sugar: I commonly use Turbinado Sugar, but sometimes I use a mix with Brown Sugar or Cane Sugar.

Other additions/ alterations:

  • Vanilla
  • Sprinkles
  • Fruit (I’ve tried Strawberries, Blueberries, and Apple, all have turned out great)
  • Cinnamon
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Chocolate (or Carob) Chips/ Chunks
  • adding 1/2 cup water creates a Pudding Style Cake
  • Almond pieces (or ground Almonds)
  • Peppermint extract (I plan on trying with fresh mint as well)

Cooking Explanation:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 C
  2. In a bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients.
  3. Prep your baking dish, I butter a cake pan for mine.
  4. Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients, then put in the oil.
  5. Put in the Vinegar.
  6. Dump in the water.
  7. Mix quickly, it’s okay to have lumps.
  8. Pour into your prepped baking dish.
  9. Bake for 15-25 minutes (or until the inside of the cake is cooked to your preference).

I serve this cake in different ways, from topping it with icing and sprinkles, to making fruit sauces, chocolate sauces, serving it with ice cream, heating the cake up, there are loads of ways to eat this cake so it never gets boring.  Hope you like it!

Thanks for reading,

Rin Vanderhaeghe.

The Nights Grew Colder, and She Knew that the Summer was Over.

“What I did with my summer vacation”, a topic that is explored by many unhappy students of all ages.  It always seemed like a boring type of writing assignment that didn’t mean anything.  But really, it forces us to reflect on how we spent our time.  Everyone knew that come September, they would have to, either through an essay, small presentation, painting, or other, share with their peers their adventures and development.  No one wants to reflect on their past and say that have accomplished nothing, or did nothing with their time.  Nothing encourages activity more than summer in Canada, with the looming winter always ahead, summer time feels like the time to have fun and do crazy things.  Another reason why I think this topic is proposed to school children year after year.  Now, as an adult, I don’t have a “summer vacation” in the same sense, but I am still affected by the “Canadian ambition” of “using summer to its fullest”.   But, as an adult it becomes increasingly difficult to decide exactly what constitutes “productivity”, or development.  I think it is hard to be honest with yourself, and it is easy to occupy yourself with things that may appear to be productive but are really just a waste of time (or worse you consider something personal growth when really you have changed nothing at all).  Kids, when they talk about their summers, tend to exaggerate, to make their summers seem *special* or more exciting than their previous summers (or the summers of their peers).

This summer did not turn out how we planned, or initially wanted.  But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade (actually, I’ve made lime-ade, but it’s still the same idea).  I really tried to disconnect from the computer this summer.  My partner and I spent a lot of time together, exploring London’s parks and environment, the downtown festivals and events, local museums and art galleries, biking, picnics and sleeping under the stars.  We made a real effort to get out of the house a lot more often, and do more things out of the house that didn’t involve shopping.  It made us a lot closer, and it made us appreciate these moments in between work and chores.  It feels great to pack a day as full as possible and be able to plop on the couch at the end of it exhausted (but happy).

I think it was a good idea for me to take a step back from everything I’ve been doing online, and business wise.  It gave me time to re-evaluate exactly what I want and exactly where I want to go.

I’ve read so many books, that when I wanted to gather them together to take a photo of them, I actually can’t remember them all (plus, some of them were borrowed from friends, and some were borrowed from the library).  I have mostly read retro sci-fi and graphic novels.  Here is a rough list of books I’ve read:

  • the Day of the Triffids (John Wyndham)
  • the Midwich Cuckoos (John Wyndham)
  • Nebula Award Stories 8 (edited and introduced by Isaac Asimov, includes a great novella by Arthur C. Clarke)
  • the Umbrella Academy: the Apocalypse Suite (written by Gerard Way with art by Gabriel Ba)
  • the Umbrella Academy: Dallas (written by Gerard Way with art by Gabriel Ba)
  • Mice Templar Volume 2.1: Destiny Part 1 (created by Bryan J.L. Glass, and Michael Avon Oeming with art by Victor Santos)
  • the Possibility of an Island (Michel Houellbecq)
  • Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
  • Janet Marsh’s Nature Diary (Janet Marsh)
  • Atomic Robo: Volume 1 (written by Brian Clevinger and art by Scott Wegener
  • Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (written by Bill Willingham and art by a variety of artists)
  • Weirdling (Mike Dubisch)
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep V1 (written by Philip K. Dick and art by Tony Parker)

I have been working on new art.  I have a few new sketches, I’m just not sure what direction I want to go in right now.  Too many ideas and not enough time.  I want to focus on dolls and on a few detailed, small art pieces.  So that is what I plan on working on and posting in the coming weeks.  My partner and I have also been doing some space painting together, which is fun way to spend an afternoon.  I have also been doing a lot of writing off-line, and I want to keep working on that, but I think it is okay to keep that there until it a little more cohesive.  I plan on having one more recipe post, for my Hobo Summer Cake (name still in lingo), it is based off of a World War II cake recipe I found, but WWII Cake just doesn’t have a cheery ring to it.  I made a lot of these cakes, and since I would change some of the ingredients every time, not a single one tasted the same.

Another goal I had this summer was to expand my diet.  I have always been a picky eater, and I’ve never really pushed myself to eat different foods.  I wanted to include a lot more vegetables.  I learned that I actually *like* red peppers and zucchini.  We’ve also tried a few different types of mushrooms, including King Oyster and Enoki.  I’ve made soup using tomato sauce (made by my sister).  Personally, this is a huge accomplishment.  I have refused to eat all of those thing, basically my entire life.  Our diet is much more balanced now, and a lot healthier.  I’ve also learned how to make a variety of bread type items, I seem to be collecting flat bread and pita recipes.  It makes me look forward to Winter’s weather that longs for hot soup and fresh bread.

So, enjoy this gallery of photos, various cooking, the Monsters of Schlock, Critical Mass, space art, the North East London Community Market  and SPIDERS. I am also still updating both my gardening and urban explorers albums on my facebook page here.

Also, I have been contributing a blog post every Tuesday on the VHS Tape Swap/ Shock Stock blog of photos.  Check it out the first post here!

Thanks for reading,

The Easiest Roasted Garlic Recipe {with no hassle}

I love garlic.  We add it to almost every meal we have.  But very few people enjoy the taste of raw garlic, and I am not one of them.  I have had a few meals ruined by under cooked garlic, particularly garlic bread.  I knew that I had to find a solution, one that included just as much, if not more garlic.  I looked online, and found a few recipes for pre-roasting garlic.  I found a lot of conflicting information, and I found that the recipes were often over-complicated.  This recipe requires very few ingredients, and just as few supplies.  Plus, when the garlic is done I just plop the entire roasted cloves (skin and all) into a freezer container.  It means that I have delicious garlic that is ready to be added to any meal in minutes, and (more importantly) I can make perfect garlic bread in as little time as it takes to toast.  The roasted cloves are very easy to handle, the remaining skin literally falls off when taken out of the freezer.  All you need to do is cut off the very end piece of the clove where it attached to the bulb.  You can do this when the clove is still frozen, or simply wait a minute or two for the clove to de-thaw (this also allows you to mash the clove if necessary, again very easy).  Never again have raw, bitter, un-cooked garlic!  Trust me, it’s worth it, and delicious.

The Easiest Roasted Garlic Recipe {with no hassle}

Ingredients:

  • As many bulbs of garlic as you wish to roast (I usually do 6-8)
  • A little bit of oil

Supplies:

  • Brush (for the oil, or like me, you could do it hand-style)
  • Tin Foil
  • Baking Sheet

Hope you have enjoyed my latest recipe.  I am still debating and working out my next recipe post.  I have been experimenting with both cake and soup making, and so I expect that my next recipe will one of those two things.  Thanks for reading, until next time!

Single Day Cheese Bread {without a bread maker!}

Whew. How time flies in the summer time!   I have been very busy the last few weeks, everything from camping out under the stars (literally, with no tent), multi hour bike rides, making new foods on a daily basis, a poop load of gardening (literally), re-arranging all the furniture in the house, plus all the work we’ve been doing purging the organizing the house.  Needless to say, by the end of the night I am passing out with exhaustion.

But, I am here today with another instalment of my recipe series, this time my personal Cheese Bread recipe.  This is a favourite with my partner, who begs me to make this every time I make bread now (but I can’t make it every time, otherwise it wouldn’t be as special!). It’s not uncommon for me to make a loaf of this bread and have it disappear by the end of the night, especially if we have friends over.
Plus it is insanely easy to make.  As you are about to find out!

Single Day Cheese Bread {without a bread maker!}

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Bread Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole-Wheat All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbl sp. Kosher Salt* (of course you can use regular table salt, but I added a note on the end about why I use Kosher Salt)
  • 1/4 Tea sp. Instant Yeast (or Bread Maker Yeast)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Luke Warm Water
  • 1/2 Cup – 1 Cup Grated Cheese

Supplies

  • Large bowl (for making the dough)
  • Spatula (for kneading the dough)
  • Measuring cups or spoons
  • Saran wrap and towel (for rising the dough)
  • Casserole dish with lid (for baking the dough!)
  • Parchment paper

Mix all dry ingredients, don’t worry about mixing the yeast right in! Quick note about bowls: I use a thick ceramic because I’ve found it rises much nicer than in plastic or metal bowls.

Pour in the water, simple and easy.

Put your cheese in after the water, why? I’m not entirely sure but I find that it blends into the dough more evenly this way.  Also, only put in about half of your cheese in this step.

Once the bread is well kneaded (by well kneaded however, I usually do it for about five minutes, which would probably make professional bread makers cry), I add the rest of the cheese, this allows some cheese to be super melted into the loaf and some cheese to turn into delicious gooey bites.

Gently knead the extra cheese into the loaf.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, then a towel and put it somewhere where it won’t be disturbed, and preferably somewhere a little warm. I put mine on top of the fridge.

After eight hours or so (sometimes I leave it for more if it’s colder, or if I’m in a rush I’ve even left it for as little as four hours!) the loaf will be a sticky, gooey mess and will have doubled in size.

After you knead the bread again, it’s time for the loaf’s second rising (haha). I try to leave my loaves for a full hour, but sometimes I am impatient and leave it for a little less, but this definitely affects the consistency of the final loaf.

One way to keep patient while you wait for the second rising is to prepare your casserole and oven for baking. I put parchment paper into the casserole dish before pre-heating to make it easier to put the loaf in. Sometimes I sprinkle corn meal on the paper, but that is really just for added texture. Most bread recipes say to pre-heat the casserole dish for 30 minutes before, but I’ve never had any problems with 15 minutes at 420°C.

Bake at 420°C for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 300°C, take off the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is a crunchy golden colour. Then let the loaf cool and enjoy!

Sometimes I do some *additions* to this loaf, such as adding roasted mashed garlic, or other herbs.  Sometimes I sprinkle the top with extra flour before baking to make it a more “farmers loaf” style.  As I mentioned, I also sometimes add corn meal to the bottom too.

If you have any questions, concerns or tips, please let me know in the comments and I would be happy to try to answer them (or thank you for them if they are tips!)

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Why Kosher?

The main reason why I use Kosher over regular salt is simply because Kosher salt doesn’t include additives.  These additives tend to be anti-caking agents, which changes both the taste and texture of the final bread.  Plus, because I don’t grind down the Kosher salt, so I’ve noticed that we use less salt overall.  Of course, the biggest difference between table salt and Kosher is that there is no Iodine in Kosher salt, but whether or not that affects bread making is a big debate that honestly I know nothing about!

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Thanks for reading, until next time.

xoxo

Father Sol {Sunfest 2012}

Last weekend (and technically the Thursday before as well) we went downtown to attend Sunfest, in London Ontario.  We love going, mostly to eat some delicious food.  Unfortunately, on the first day the camera died and we couldn’t get any photos of everything we had, but it included coconut cookies, fresh pineapple, watermelon, and fried wontons.  Luckily, we were more prepared on Sunday and ensured we had our camera charged.  ^_^

This is actually one of the few photos from Thursday: a back view of the food place where I got my wontons, and coconut cookie.

This is where Jerry got his vegetable samosas.

On the left, my wontons with yummy sweet and sour sauce, and Jerry’s vegetable samosas on the right.

The only money we spent at Sunfest, other than on food, went to two super cool Tillandias, or “Air Plants”.  I need to put them properly into their container, but I already love them. I’m happy that I found some!  Plus the next day we added another plant to our indoor garden, a cacti. I will be adding new photos soon to my facebook page, both in the Gardening and Urban Explorers albums! 

Wheh, it feels good to have a little bit of time to relax.  I feel like I haven’t taken a break in… weeks!  But the house is really coming together, so much stuff has been removed.  But we still have a lot of work ahead of us.  But today, we are taking a break.  Last night we did an intense bike ride across the city, it took over an hour to get there, and about forty-five minutes to get home.  But the bike ride was definitely worth it; we got to go to a friend’s surprise birthday party, which involved a backyard film screening of “The Last Waltz”.  We had an amazing time, and I’m happy to say that I’m not even all that sore today!  I plan on making a tomato-pepper soup today, which is something I never though I would be typing, let alone doing.  I’m also going to bake a cake to reward myself.  ^_^

This summer has already been so exciting.  My decision to disconnect from the computer significantly has given my more time to be active.  Although we are not all that thrilled to be living in London, we are truly trying to make the most of our time here.

Thanks for reading, I’m already working on my next post!

xoxo