Tag Archives: bread

Fitness House

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There is a kind of health movement going on in my house these days.

I start most mornings with a bit of exercise, and finish my day with a good walk.

I replace one meal on many days with a high protein shake. I’m aiming for healthier meals all around. Salad is my dinner this evening.

The other day, having made a nice, brothy soup with lots of vegetables and some wild rice, I decided to make bread.

Fitness House Bread.

The recipe comes from one of my oldest cookbooks, Home Food Systems. It’s not even really a cookbook, though it does contain some good recipes. It is more a resource for providing your own food, from raising and milling grains to harvesting and putting up vegetables, to raising and butchering farm animals. Or rabbits. Or fish.

There was a time in my life when I looked forward to living a life that close to the land, and that is when I acquired the book.

I keep it now, I guess, for the sentimental memories of that stage in my life. Most of the information does not apply to the way I live or eat. Most of the product reviews are so far outdated as to be useless. Just about the only recipe I ever use is the one for Fitness House Bread.

It’s a good recipe, though. Here it is:

  • Seven and one-half cups of whole wheat flour, warmed
  • Six teaspoons of dry yeast
  • One teaspoon honey
  • Four tablespoons of molasses
  • Four cups of very warm water

Dissolve the yeast in one cup of the water with the honey. Proof until foamy.

Mix the molasses into one cup of the water.

Add the yeast, molasses and the rest of the water to the flour. Mix well. Dough will be very sticky.

Divide in two, roughly shape into loaves and place in two well buttered loaf pans.

Let rise for about an hour. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes, until loaves are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped.

That’s it! Easy!

I always “doctor up” the second loaf. This time I added dried cherries, chopped walnuts, slivered almonds and currants.

My plan was to cut that loaf into thin slices as soon as it was cool, and freeze them, so that I could pull out a slice or two for toast. Unfortunately, it was SO good, i ate four slices warm from the oven.

It really doesn’t matter what the name is, it is not a fitness product if I don’t know when to stop!

The White Stuff

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Yes, it’s snowing again.

We’ve gotten plenty of snow here on Beaver Island this Winter. The last time I checked, we were at one hundred and thirteen inches (that’s over 287cm!!). And now it’s coming down again.

Our all-time record is 138 inches of snowfall in a season. We’re in position to beat that record this year.

That’s not the “white stuff” I’m talking about here, though.

Potatoes, rice, pasta…that white stuff.

The foods that seem so comforting this time of year.

The foods that are most friendly to my budget.

The foods that – according to the experts – women my age should avoid, for optimum health and weight control.

I’m pretty careful most of the time.

I center my meals around fresh vegetables from my garden in the summertime. Salad bowls are my usual dinner in warm weather, with chickpeas, egg and nuts added for protein and crunch. If I have a bit of meat, I’ll add it for variety.

In the wintertime, soups are the staple of my diet. I use stocks and vegetable purees that I put up in the Fall, from my harvest. Beans and grains give it substance. Meat, when I have it, for flavor. I make a whole-grain bread that’s a nice accompaniment.

Oh, I have my little indulgences: a glass of wine; chocolate in almost any form; coffee; cream; cheese…still, pretty healthy, for the most part.

Not this winter, it seems.

When the first wave of cold came through, I started wanting “comfort” food. The “white stuff.” Macaroni and cheese; tuna casserole; baked potatoes. As layer upon layer of snow came down, the craving continued. Goulash; fried rice; stew. The many (so many!) extremely cold and blustery days where the wind drove the temperature down and my drafty house was in a constant state of refrigeration, I warmed myself around the oven cooking one heavy meal after another.

Last week, I made a nice turkey soup. Broth and diced turkey that I’d put in the freezer after Thanksgiving, fresh celery, onion and carrots. “Substance,” I thought, “It needs some substance in this cold!” Barley was one healthy choice that I had on hand. I could have also chosen brown rice, wild rice, spelt, wheat berries or quinoa. I opted, instead, to make home-made egg noodles. You know, the white flour and egg recipe. That’s substance, all right.

One night I decided I’d just have breakfast for dinner. I mixed up a half-batch of pancakes. I made them in the silver-dollar size. Added blackberries that I’d frozen last Fall. Ate them with just butter. Looking back at the meal, I thought, “Congratulations, Cindy, you have just eaten one cup of white flour…butter added.”

Yesterday I made St. Scholastica’s Soup. It’s a lentil, barley and wild rice soup that’s one of my staple recipes. I usually top a bowl of the thick vegetarian soup with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Yesterday, because I had the time, and it was cold, I also made two loaves of crusty Italian bread so that I’d have that to go along with the soup.

I also took time yesterday to try on some clothes, in anticipation of a trip to the mainland. The snow is softening the landscape; it seems my shape has shifted and changed as well.

There is no doubt about it, it’s time to give up the white stuff!

Waiting

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Waiting.

It seems I’ve been doing that a lot these last few days.

Waiting for the road to be plowed.

Waiting to hear if my meeting would be cancelled.

Waiting for the cold weather to ease up.

Waiting for bread to rise.

Waiting for more information.

Waiting.

That’s too short a word to describe the act of it.

The “ting” on the end gives it a lilt it doesn’t deserve.

It should be replaced by one of those long, impossible-to-spell, difficult-to-pronounce words that seem to go on and on and on.

Like “onomatopoeia”, maybe.

In it’s purest and best form, waiting is anticipation: waiting for Santa Claus; waiting for the bell to ring; waiting for the announcement.

Usually, though, even when the wait is for something wonderful, the “waiting for…” takes the joy right out of the phrase. Compare:

“The baby has arrived!”

“…Waiting for the baby to arrive.”

Too often, the wait sounds like a state of Limbo, where everything is on hold until the much desired occurrence comes about:

Waiting for my ship to come in…”

Waiting for the right man/a good job/a better deal…”

“Still waiting for that apology/a raise/the respect I deserve…”

Sometimes it sounds downright fatalistic:

“Just waiting for this day/week/year to be over!”

So what happens then? We start on another long day that we can’t wait to be finished with, in our long string of days that make up our lives as we wait – inevitably – for our lives to be over.

Waiting for death.

There has to be more to life than that!

When my friend, Russell, knew that he was dying, he took his adult children to help him stock up on liquid refreshments, as, “folks will be stopping by.” He took his family on a ferry boat ride. He got up to see the sunrise and share coffee every morning.

When my Mom knew that she was dying, she decided she was going to live her days in the comfort of cozy pajamas, read just the books that would lift her spirits and eat only what tasted best to her. She welcomed family and friends around her, reconnected, reminisced and shared memories. She made note of the weather and her view of the lake (“the best view!”) every single day.

These people, with numbered days, were not waiting for death…but living.

This has been my intent: to live with purpose and direction; to pay attention and appreciate each day; to live in the moment.

Sometimes, though, it seems I still find myself waiting.

Zoom!

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Today is an overcast, drizzly day here on Beaver Island.

This is exactly what I need!

I’ve been putting  many hours into getting my garden ready for Spring. My hands are dry and wrinkled from spending so much time in the soil. My joints are achy and my back is complaining, too, from shoveling dirt, forking compost and moving rocks.

There is progress. I have given away raspberry plants and strawberry plants that were taking over pathways. I thinned poppy beds and iris beds, and sent the extras home with happy visitors. Day-lilies left with everyone who would take them.

I have staked out my central flower bed, and am working my way down the row.

I first dig out the soil, to a depth of about twelve inches. I sift the weeds out as I’m digging, and have a bucket standing by for them. The next step is to rake the surface smooth, then roll out the weed shield and cover that with a thin layer of soil mixed with compost. Now I’m ready to move some plants. I dig up a clump of day-lilies, pull all grasses and weeds away, separate the plants, then settle arrange them randomly in the new bed. I want them to have distance between them so that they have room to grow, and enough nourishment to make the move without trauma. I do not want them to look  like I’ve placed them in regular rows. I want the tallest specimens mainly down the center of the bed, and the shorter  varieties nearer the stone border. I  cover them over with the rest of the dirt that I dug out, and border that section with rocks.Image

It’s coming along, but is still  only about one-third of the way done. This new bed runs right through space that last year had a 4’x5′ strawberry bed and – at the very front – a peony bed. Before I called it a day yesterday, I finished digging up the rest of the strawberry plants that were in my way. They seem fine, this morning, in their temporary home: a tub lined with soil and stored under the picnic table, out of the sun.Image

Today! Today, with the dampness outside, I will concentrate inside.

There is the usual, of course: rugs to vacuum, floors to sweep and sinks to clean. Every single horizontal surface in the house needs to be cleared of what doesn’t belong on it. Laundry to be done, houseplants to water.

In my studio, should I find time to spend there, I have twenty metal frames to assemble and fill with twenty sheets of plexiglass and twenty finished collages. I have four small paintings to frame and three others to order frames for. I have two large paintings underway and a dozen collages in various stages of completion. The studio could use a good cleaning, too!

I have committed to teaching an after-school art class to high-school students through five weeks in May. Today I need to complete that class plan to turn in to the program director here, and a materials list to send  to the Arts Council for dispensation.

Tomorrow I’ll be back at my regular job, so today I want to make a pot of soup so that I’ll have it to pack for my lunches, or to warm up for dinner if I don’t feel like cooking. As long as it’s drizzly, as long as I’m going to have soup bubbling on the stove, I’d might as well make bread, too! That sounds like it will warm the house up,  doesn’t it?