Saturday, March 29, 2014

Back to Basics - Homemade Bread

     I'm a frequent reader of the blog Down to Earth written by australian blogger Rhonda Jean.  She writes all about living a simpler life focusing on sustainable living, living within your means and classic homemaking.  All these things remind me of how I grew up, and specifically, of my grandmother.  As I'm getting older the way she and my mom do things is starting to make so much more sense in a world that is so focused on speed and technology.  Slowing down and taking part in your own life has fallen to the wayside in search of the next best thing.  Don't get me wrong, I love my technology, but I'm getting burned out on seeing it as the goal rather than a tool.  I will spare you my rant about the lack of depth I'm feeling in the average american experience, but I will tell you I feel an instinctual shift in my focus.  A focus for me to be present.

     Maybe its because I'm hitting my stride in my almost mid thirties, eek, or that we are talking about expanding our family, or my more recent introduction to meditation.  Who knows.  Honestly I'm not concerned with the "why" at this point.  Rather the question of "what now?" is way more at the front of my mind.  I love the idea of growing and making things for my family rather than buying them, including meals, clothing, gifts etc.  Homemaking and handmaking have always been enjoyable for me but I struggle some days with the 1950s housewife mental trap.  "I'm a career woman!"  But being a homemaker and a handmaker is a way to take care of my family as much as providing financial income.  I like knowing the food we are consuming, the clothing we are wearing and the things we surround ourselves with aren't full of preservatives and chemicals.  When I'm able to make some of those things they also have the added ingredient of love.

     Rhonda talks on her blog about starting a simple life slowly, one thing at a time.  I have a tendency to dive into things and go overboard, which is probably why most things don't stick, so I'm taking her advice.  The first step I decided on was to start making all our own bread.  I'm a much better baker than cook so this was a pretty comfortable decision.  I'm happy to report I haven't purchased a loaf of bread in over two months.  Bread always had this stigma to me that it would be too challenging or time consuming to make myself.  That's why I used to own a very expensive bread machine that gathered dust in a closet for 10 years before being donated.  While the second part is a little true in the sense that making something actually does take time, the idea that it is beyond my abilities is totally wrong.  The bread machine, while very handy, took away the connection that I was making something.  I think that's why its luster wore off like most other fad purchases I've made.  I've been focusing on really getting good at one recipe before expanding and I'm happy to report my sandwich bread is a big success.  
     The recipe I use is from a post on Delia Creates called best bread ever.  It makes three small loaves or two large ones and it is delicious.  Not only that, it only has 5 ingredients!  I can make a batch in about 2 hours start to finish, with 30 minute breaks at various steps in which I fold laundry, do some reading or blogging or a quick 20 minute meditation.  In reality I'm only actually making bread for about 30 minutes.  After the loaves are completely cooled I throw one or two into the freezer until we are ready to eat them.  Typically I've been making one batch every week to 10 days.  If you want to try something a little more crusty try this recipe for 5 minute bread from Rhonda or an easy overnight dutch oven recipe from My Life in Food.  I've also created a new pinterest board dedicated to bread and baking that I plan on adding to as I try new things.

     Back to basics is what I'm calling this approach to a simpler life.  I've got more to share and can't wait to hear what you guys do or want to do in your life to slow down.

Bake on!


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