Wednesday, March 24, 2010


OK, y'all.  I'm pretty excited about the give away going on over at Nourished Kitchen right now. 

My family is on a journey to better health.  We have eliminated just about all processed foods from our house.  We are eating homemade yogurt every day.  We are eating more organic fruits and veggies.  And, we have significantly cut our sugar intake.

One area that is on my list of changes yet to be made is switching over to grass-fed beef.  Can you guess why I'm so excited about this give away?

US Wellness Meats is giving one of Jenny's readers a grass-fed beef package worth over $100 that includes:

Hickory Smoked Brisket (1.5 lb.)
Liverwurst (1 lb.)
Garlic Beef Franks (1 lb.)
Plain Beef Franks (1 lb.)
Beef Bologna (1 lb.)
Pot Roast (2 lb.)
Salami (1 lb.)
Summer Sausage (1 lb.)
Shredded BBQ Beef (1.5 lb.)

So, if you're wanting to switch over to grass-fed beef - or if you just live with a bunch of carnivores and would like some free meat, head on over to Nourished Kitchen to find out how to enter. 
*Disclaimer:  If you win and I don't, I would happily accept the summer sausage on your behalf for introducing you to the give away.  :0)  I'm just sayin'...
Happy Homemaking!

Friday, March 12, 2010


Yesterday, I posted about a few updates I've made in my bedroom this at my other blog.  But, I have other plans for that blog today (hope I have time to get to it).  So, I thought I'd share a couple of quick and cheap udates here that I made to the dining room.

I have always had red accents in my neutral(ish) home.  This is a picture from last Spring.  I added a white table runner (the one made from the shower curtain) and a Springtime/Easter display.  But, lately I have wanted to change things up a bit and get some softer colors in the house for Spring and Summer.

I have a guest room upstairs that has a beautiful comforter in blues on the bed that my mom gave me when she re-did her bedroom.  I have spent the last year combing Goodwill and thrift stores for accessories to fill the guest room out.  Since the room has had guests in it for a total of 3 nights in the past 25 months - and it's upstairs where no one, except me and the boy (and on rare occasions - the husband) goes - I felt that I could safely swap a few items from up there with no one really noticing.  Hence, the new blue color scheme was born.

I have spent about the past month looking for things at Goodwill to help me freshen things up in the main living areas.  This is what I came up with for the dining room.

I found this tablecloth for $1.99.  There is another one exactly like it that I plan on picking up today - if it's still there.  I now realize the value of having a back-up for when this one is in the wash.  I also took the red rug out to the garage and lugged this one that used to be in the living room back in with Isaac's help.  It has much softer colors with some blue sprinkled in there. 

Then, there's the windows.

I found these at Goodwill for $3.99 per panel - $7.98 total for a huge amount of drapes.  They are actually just king sized flat sheets.  I did nothing to them, save for the washing.  The top of the sheet (when it's on a bed) with the large four or five(ish) inch hem is by the floor.  I simply clipped the other end to my rings,  making a double fold at the top to get them the right length.  You can see it if you look closely.

In the above picture you can also see that I took the black shade off of the chandelier.  My goal (if it goes like I see it in my head) is to cover the shades with some really pretty soft blue and white toile wrapping paper that I have and then put them back on the chandy.  But, that would require me remembering to buy some double-sided tape when I'm out today. :0)

And, centerpiece for the table.  I already had this Jasmine topiary, so I decided to make it work for Spring.  It's sitting in my wicker Goodwill tray (lined with burlap) that has held many other things in the past.  I had this nest of eggs from last year.  It needed something around the base, so I bought 2 bags of blue glass for a buck a piece at the dollar store and put them in there.  And since I had a nest of eggs - I thought it only fitting to swipe the lovebirds from my bedroom to fill it out.  Is it perfect?  Nope.  Is it good enough?  Good enough for me!

So, that's a peek of where I am with the dining room right now.  I think that it will make a huge difference when the woodwork is all painted out white, too.  I hoping that happens tomorrow. :0)  Total spent in this room = $11.97.  Not bad for new curtains and everything.  I'll share the living room next.

Happy Homemaking!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I promised that I would share my first attempt at making sourdough bread.  Let me first just say that I was slightly, just slightly apprehensive about this little venture.  From what I've read about sourdough, you have to have patience, because it can be slightly tempermental at times.  But, what the heck...I like to live on the wild side!  Sourdough?  Bring it on, Baby!  I used Sarah's recipe from Sarah's Musings, once again.  She has become my virtual sourdough guru. 
See yesterday's post to learn how to make your sourdough starter.

OK, enough jibber jabber!  Let's make bread!


1 c. sourdough starter
2 c. whole milk
1/4 c. honey - I prefer raw because it's nutrients are in tact.
2 large eggs
6 c. (divided) whole wheat flour
2 tsp. sea salt - I used kosher. It's what I had.
6 TBSP. unsalted butter, room temperature


Make a sponge.  Does anyone know why it's called a sponge?  I certainly wouldn't eat my kitchen sponge and I sure as heck ain't going to clean with this one.  What a mess that would be!  Anyway, here's how you make it.

In a large bowl, mix your starter, milk and 2 cups of flour.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave on counter over night.

This was my sponge in the morning, after I stirred it.


Stir your sponge.  Add eggs and honey and stir well to incorporate.  Add the remaining 4 c. of flour, salt and butter and stir until it forms a mass.  Dump out onto a lightly floured surface.

Knead for about 5-7 minutes, until it's smooth and elastic.  I like to err on the side of a longer kneading time.  Only knead it with enough flour to keep it from sticking.  Also, I used damp hands for this particular bread. It worked very nicely and didn't stick at all.

Place dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with oil.  Let it rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size.  This will take longer than yeast risen bread, anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the conditions in your kitchen.  Go give yourself a pedicure or something.

Now that your dough has doubled in size, butter two 9" x 5" loaf pans.  Then, punch the dough down and dump out onto a clean work surface.  Cut in half.  Flatten each dough section with the heel of your hand (about the width of your pans).  Next, roll the bottom 1/3 up onto itself and seal edges.  Continue rolling and sealing until you have an oval log.  Place in loaf pans seam side down and flatten slightly to evenly disperse in pan.

Leave them plain. Or, brush the tops with water and sprinkle on a topping like I did.  I used a combo of poppy and sesame seeds.  But, you could use oats, nuts, cornmeal, or any other seeds you like.  Just make sure that you cover the loaves loosely and allow to double in size again - up to 2 hours.  Go watch a chick flick and eat bon bons.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees when they're getting close to the right size.

Once they're ready - slash the tops of the loaves and immediately stick them in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes.  You'll know they're done when they sound hollow on the bottom when tapped. 

Remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.

Beautiful, Daaahling.  Just beautiful.

Once the bread has cooled completely, feel free to slice and enjoy!

  • I don't know why I was intimidated by the process - it went off without a hitch.
  • This bread has a beautiful crumb and makes a great sandwich bread.
  • It actually holds together much more nicely than my multigrain bread.
  • See Sarah's post on making it for a few more ideas about using this dough.
  • I will DEFINITELY be making this bread more often.
  • I like that I don't even have to buy yeast to make this bread.
I hope you consider taking the plunge in sourdough (and bread-making for that matter)!

Happy Homemaking!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I've been reading about the benefits of sourdough lately.  And since I've begun to tackle and expand my skills at bread-making - learning to make sourdough bread just seemed like the next logical step.

First I had to make a starter.  I followed the process from Breadtopia to make it.  It uses pineapple juice instead of water to initially get it started.  Evidently, there is something in the pineapple juice that prevents bad bacteria, while encouraging the good. 

The first step was to mix 3 1/2 TBSP. whole wheat flour with 1/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice, cover it and set it aside for 48 hours at room temperature.  Stir it 2 to 3 times a day.

It doesn't look like much now, but hang in there.

The next step was to add 2 TBSP. whole wheat flour and 2 TBSP. pineapple juice after the first 48 hours have passed.  Once again, set aside (covered) for a day or two, remembering to stir a few times a day.

Beautiful tell-tale bubbles that signal fermentation is beginning!

The next step was to add 5 1/4 TBSP. whole wheat flour and 3 TBSP. purified water (from my fridge), cover and set aside for 24 hours.

Lastly, I added 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 - 1/3 cup purified water.  I had a healthy starter at this point, so I transferred it to a crock that would hold more starter and easily allow me to get it out when I needed it.

Now, to keep it alive, all I have to do is feed it every day with a 1:1 ratio of flour and water.  It smells all yeasty and wonderful.

OK.  So, now that I had a healthy starter I needed to make something with it.  I turned to Sarah's Musings for this.  Sarah seems to have a really good handle on all things sourdough and she has a bunch of recipes on her site, too. 

The first thing I decided to try was her pizza dough.  We eat homemade pizza pretty regularly.  I usually make a whole wheat crust, but opted to shake things up a bit this time.  Here's Sarah's recipe a la Pam.


1 1/2 c. sourdough starter
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2 TBSP. olive oil
water (optional)

In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix well, adding water or flour as necessary to make a soft dough.  (If you feed your starter with a 1:1 ratio of flour/water this shouldn't be necessary.)

Knead for about 5 minutes until dough is soft and elastic and is not sticky to the touch.  Form into a ball and let rise in an oiled bowl (covering dough on all sides with oil).  Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with oil and place in a warm spot until it has doubled in size.  I usually turn my oven on about 250 degrees and set the bowl on top of the oven.

After the kneading process.

The risen dough.

And, here is where I forgot got too busy to take more pictures.

Go ahead and get your oven pre-heating to 500 degrees.  If you have a baking stone, let it heat up as well.  I used 1 regular old metal pizza pan and 2 iron skillets.  I let the iron skillets pre-heat.

After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into pieces to make your crusts.  It will make 2 - 12" crusts.  But, we all like our pizzas slightly different, so I cut mine into 3.  Whatever...just make yourself happy.  Cover the dough balls with a damp towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Use this time to gather/prepare your toppings. 

Roll the dough out to about a 1/4" thickness.  Sprinkle a little cornmeal onto your pans and then put the dough down.  Top them as you wish.

Bake pizzas for 10-15 minutes until the crust is crisp and brown.  Remove and let rest for about 5 minutes before slicing to serve.

A few notes: 
I used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup of  unbleached flour in my crust.

This was by far one of the best pizzas I've ever put in my mouth.  Remember the scene from "What About Bob?" when he was eating dinner with his therapist's family?  That's kind of what we felt like eating this pizza. 

I liked the fact that I didn't have to drag my heavy stand mixer out to make this crust like I do with the one I usually make.  I will be making this one from now on.

Tomorrow, I'll share my first attempt at making a sourdough sandwich bread.

Happy Homemaking!