Monthly Archives: March 2011

willpower

Age: 9 years old.

Mission: Stop sucking your Thumb

Bribery: An American Girl’s Doll, Samantha to be exact

Duration: One Year

Result: Success

 

Age: 23, 25, 27, 28

Mission: Quit Smoking

Bribery: Better life

Duration: Ohchrist forever

Result: Success, with help from medication

 

Age: 28

Mission: Stop Peeling lower Lip

Bribery: A job interview

Duration: Ongoing

Result: momentary success, but relapses have occurred

 

Age: 29

Mission: Lose up to, including, and passing 100lbs (or roughly 45kg)

Duration: Ongoing

Results: Time will tell

 

 

Now, those first two, three, items on that list actually took a lot of willpower.  And the smoking, there was a point where I had quit on my own for over a year.  But my willpower crashed and I relapsed.  Again and again and again.  But finally, with the help of modern medicine, I was able to kick the habit and I haven’t wanted a cigarette since (December 2, 2009).

 

But i’m wondering, just how much willpower does one individual have?  Have I used it all up?  Did I crush my strength under the burden of stopping sucking my thumb?   Was stopping biting my nails a habit that saw me abandoning any dreams of having the willpower to say no to chocolate?

 

Just how much does one person have? What kind of reserves can be relied upon really?  Have I reached my limit?

 

I found myself asking this question today as I did another 3 miles with the Walk at Home dvds and I found myself realizing that no, I have not hit my limit on willpower yet.  I can do this, I do have more in me.  I can and I will.

 

I got this.

 

Now if only my knees will keep up with me.

Chicken Little?

So, there was this chicken.  She didn’t seem too big really, maybe about 4 or 5 lbs.  But let me tell you, Little Miss Chicken can go a long long way.

I never really bought whole chicken in the states.  The ex boyfriend refused to eat chicken on the bone, and then so did my mother.  Mom just doesn’t like dark meat, he hated the feel of the bone on his teeth.

 

Whatever.

 

So last week was time for an experiment for me.  We had gone food shopping last sunday (21 march) and instead of picking up a packet of chicken breasts like usual, I figured we could go for the whole bird.  Now, there were some thoughts along with this, and I will share.

 

In the states, when you buy the boneless skinless chicken breasts, they usually come in just that one tear-drop shaped breast, down here, you get the entire thing.  Enough so that a package of 3 breasts can easily be made into 6 whole cuts of chicken.  If not more.  I can usually stretch that 1 package of chicken breasts into at least 3 meals for us.

So logic states, if I can do that with just the breasts, what can I do with more chicken meat!  Well, add onto this logic, plus the fact that E had a cold and was craving some soup, I talked him into getting a whole chicken.

 

Best thing ever!

 

I had intended on roasting the chicken and then just using the bones to make the broth and taking the meat and dividing it up for dinners, but my father suggested that I do it the other way,boiling the chicken in the water to make broth, and then salvaging the meat for further uses.  Excellent idea!

 

So the chicken went into the pot with some carrots and some spices, and she boiled away for about four hours.  A nice long hot bath.  She was definitely dead by now, but her legacy lived on.

I have about 3 cups of chicken broth frozen in the freezer for future use.  I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup that night for my E, and his cold. I have made 4 servings of curried chicken salad. I made a chicken pasta primavera bake thing. And I made chicken mushroom tomato sauce.  so let’s go over this again.  1 chicken has brought us

 

  • 3 servings chicken noodle soup
  • 4 servings curried chicken salad
  • 4 servings chicken pasta primavera bake
  • 4 servings chicken and mushroom spaghetti sauce
  • 6 (3) cups chicken broth (3 went into the soup)

From ONE chicken. that is, has been, (1+3+4+2=10) TEN meals from one chicken.

 

TEN.  MEALS.

The chicken cost just about $14NZD (that’s $10 USD).  And for the things that I used with it, I don’t even know.  The noodles from the soup and the primavera were about $1.50/bag.  The Tomato sauce was about $2.00, the frozen veggies were $3.00, the cheese was about $5.00…

 

I made a weeks worth of meals for under $40.  And that’s not even counting the beef that I mixed up on the same night as the chicken!

Taco Goop

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 cans mild chili beans
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large slicing tomato, wedged
  • Water
  • Tomato sauce (ketchup)
  • 1 cup brown rice

 

  1. In my slow cooker i dumped in the meat, beans, and corn.  Added in the spices (the measurements are approximate and should be adjusted to what you think you can handle or what looks right), brown sugar, and the liquid.  I put in enough water to just cover the meat and other goodies.
  2. Put slow cooker on low.
  3. Now my slow cooker gets hot and stays that way, so I have to keep an eye on it.  I left it on low for about 5 hours, going back and stirring and tasting and adding more pepper or more cumin as I saw fit.  And adding more water or tomato sauce (which is like ketchup but it’s thinner.  It can be purchased in cans in the US) as it needed.
  4. I added the rice in about an hour before ‘dinner’, but seeing as it was brown rice I should have added it in about 2 hours prior as the hour cooking time did not give it enough time to cook through.  I also added more water at this point to keep the consistency loose like a chili and to give the rice more to drink.

 

There is a 3 cup container in my freezer filled with half of this mixture, the other half has been made into tacos earlier this week and will become the mix for stuffed peppers tonight.

 

 

I think what i’m trying to say is that buying whole foods seems to be the best way to go for economics.  And it doesn’t have to be whole pizza.  while nothing I’ve had this week has been necessarily ‘stellar’ on the health scale, I have had some really good food.  In smaller portions than normal.  And I haven’t felt bad.  And it’s all been very affordable.

 

Am I going to buy another whole chicken and do it again?  Oh heck yes.  I’m thinking chicken tacos, chicken pasties, chicken pot pie (E will approve of this one, i’m sure), and maybe some chicken croquettes.

 

Cooking for two people is one hell of a lot more adventurous than cooking for a family was.  Especially when E will eat my mistakes and still tell me that they’re tasty!

A Good Life

I don’t think that there is too much more in life that I could ask for at any given moment.

 

Do I want to lose weight, yes.  Would that be the most awesome thing ever to get to a weight where I can be able to get around without sounding like i’m slowly dying a thousand painful deaths with each breath? Yeah, that would be pretty cool.  I am getting there, slowly, i’m getting better at making it up and around the hills and walkways around home.  the numbers may not be moving on the scale, but i’m feeling better.

 

I have a man who loves and adores me, he treats me better than I ever even dreamed I would be treated by any man.  He spoils me, he supports me, and he loves me.  And to be honest, there is not much else to hope for out of life other than that.

 

I still do not have a job.

 

But that became a bit secondary this past weekend when I got an e-mail from immigration telling me that my visa was running out in 45 days.  Insert panic here!!  So I did what any person would do,I called immigration.  sure, most people down here work through e-mail, but there are some things that just need to talked about with a real person.  Like the apparently very real possibility that I’ll be getting kicked out of the country.

 

So, what happened was that at the border, the customs agent had a difficult problem getting my visa to scan or get recognized, so instead of grabbing somebody to help her, she just punched me into the country as being on a visitors Visa, as opposed to a working holiday.   Insert frustration here!!

 

Easy fix though! Just head down to the branch office in the CBD and they’ll get everything straightened out.  So today, that’s what I did. And after waiting in the long queue for a bit, I got my paperwork all handled and my visa is now not only the correct visa, but it’s been extended from october to next february.  Of course i’m going to have to reapply for the work visa midyear,but at least I know we have some time to get our partnership thigns together.

 

Insert relief here.

 

So, that is taken care of.

 

Of course, in finally getting the visa taken care of, I have found out that legally I can’t work in a permanent position.  so it’s not even that the companies are covering their own behinds, I legally can not work for them.

 

Which didn’t soften the blow on friday any when i got the rejection email from the company that had actually interviewed me. That, on top of the absolute pummeling my good mood had taken from the visa notice and this was not shaping up to be a good weekend.

 

Enter the boyfriend.

 

He took me out to dinner on friday, we were going to go for Thai, but we found this little Italian place instead, and then we went to the countdown and grabbed some food things for the fridge (mostly eggs, because i’ve been going through them like they’re going out of style lately).

 

Saturday, we went out shopping in anticipation of colder weather.  I got a new shirt/tunic thing, some socks and a sweatshirt.  Plus a scale for weighing me, and a scale for weighing food.  A good day.

 

sunday, another meal out! I know, i’m spoiled.  This time to Tony’s Steakhouse in the CBD, and then a quick trip to Borders to take advantage of their sales.  I got a brand new cookbook for half price!  A good night.

 

 

So what is the moral of all of this?  Well, it’s mainly that even though I haven’t yet hit any of my goals that I’ve set for myself, I haven’t ruined them yet either.  And through it all, I have my E standing at my side, supporting me.

 

And right now, that makes this a good life.  and I’m ready for the next challenge.

To Make the Best Better

image courtesy texas A&M Ag Extension

 

“I pledge

My Head to Clearer Thinking,

My Heart to Greater Loyalty,

My Hands to Larger Service and,

My Health to Better Living for

My club, My community,

My Country, and My World”

That is the pledge that I took every Tuesday night in the basement of a small community church, right after saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  Those are the words of the 4-H Pledge and saying them now to myself while I type this up means a whole heck of a lot more to me, than when I said them all those years ago.

It’s been twenty years now since I first joined 4-H, with the Broadkill Kool Kats gathered in that little church in Milton, Delaware.  It’s been ten years since I’ve been active in any 4-H events at all.  But I can still remember that pledge, and holding my fingers to my head, heart, outstretched in front of me, and then to my sides every week.

When I first joined 4-H, it was mostly because my parents wanted to get me into something extra curricular, but I refused to join the Girl Scouts.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a Brownie or a Girl Scout.  But for me, there was one major flaw.  No boys.  I had grown up surrounded by guys, and in that turn I found them easier to befriend, the thought of being in a group with a bunch of girls mortified me.  In some ways, it still does.

I didn’t appreciate back then, the good that 4-H did for me.  Even when I was leaving the organization upon turning eighteen, I still had not quite grasped just how important it all had been in shaping who I am today.  In giving me the outlook on life that I have currently.

Everything started on a personal level, with project books every year. I hardly ever finished mine, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t useful.  Everything from animal care to geneaology was offered and I had friends who raised chickens, sheep, and pigs, while I worked on sewing projects and making bread.  As a whole for the County we put on Horse shows for local equestrian enthusiasts and students, we cleaned up beaches of trash and filth, we had nights of food tastings and competitions, including my favourite event where each participant chose a country and made a traditional food from that nation.  Everything was geared towards helping children to learn.  To become better adults in their later years.

And what happens during that awkward transition time, when you change from being a child to being an adolescent? That horribly painful time when your body doesn’t work right, everything is changing and nobody is nice to anybody else?  In 4-H, you become a Junior Leader, and you get responsibilities.  While other places are unsure of how to treat adolescents who are trying to become young adults, 4-H is there with the answer, treat them like young adults.

We were given classes on inclusion, very basic psychology, life saving measures including basic first aid and CPR certification.  And we were entrusted with the care and oversight of other children.  We became camp counsellors, the people that you drop your kids off to in the morning and pick up in the afternoon in the middle of summer.  As Junior Leaders, we were given the trust that we could handle these other kids, and the confidence in ourselves to make the program on our own.  There was adult supervision, always, but only for emergencies.  Everything else was handled by the Junior Leaders.

And we handled it just fine.  With responsibility comes Maturity, and with maturity comes something else.  Some other attribute that is hard to place, but is nonetheless knowable to others.   Being in 4-H, while I didn’t realize it back then, and it has taken me several years to open my eyes on it now, has not only made me who I am today, but has enabled me to make it to today.

I am getting ready to turn thirty years old.  I’ve hit a lot of bumps in my adult life, but I’ve always seemed to bounce back from them, somehow.  Currently, I am living in New Zealand and starting my life over again.  I have found myself repeatedly typing the same words while looking and applying for a job down here.  I want to have a positive impact on my community.

I no longer want a job just for myself or for the money.  I want a career that will mean something to somebody else.  A position that will help myself move forward, of course, but will also serve the greater good, the better purpose.  And up until recently, it just made sense, that was how I was.  But then a friend’s son started getting bullied at school and she was looking for something to help him with his self esteem.  I immediately suggested signing him up for 4-H.  And I made a very bold statement in doing so, I quite honestly told her that 4-H had saved my life.

It seemed so out of the blue, and yet, it was true. I owe my life to 4-H, both the organization, my County, and my Club.  My fellow members, my Leaders and Junior Leaders, all of them helped to make sure that I not only survived the living hell that was adolescence, but also have helped to shape me into the adult that I have become.

Without the sense of community, trust, and leadership skills that I learned and picked up during my time with 4-H, I am not certain how I would have made it this far, and I know that I will rely on those skills, those teaching moments to move myself, my community, my country (both of them), and my world further to make them stronger, safer, happier places.

I don’t owe everything of who I am now to this Organization, but I owe enough of myself to say thank you.  And to eagerly, heartily, and readily recommend to anybody with children that 4-H is one of the best options out there to help your child through a difficult time.  They will find friendships, they will find laughter, and they will come away from it all knowing that they can make the world a better place.

-Sarah K

Broadkill Kool Kats, Sussex County 4-H, Delaware, USA

1990-1999

So Much

Ohman ohman ohmy.  So much to cover.

 

I know, i promised a more thorough thought through the horrors of bullying, but you know what, i’m sure my viewpoint on that is not going to be anything that anybody really wants to hear, so we’ll just let it go.

 

Although if somebody decides they are dying to know my opinion on Bullying, just let me know and I’ll be more than happy to write something more up.

 

However, there are other things.

 

First off, I have a job interview!  Tuesday morning at 10am.

 

I will not jinx this by saying much more than that, but please if you are a believer in finger crossing, I would greatly appreciate the cramped knuckles in my general direction (for most of you this is down).

 

Ok, you can let go now.  No, seriously.  It’s ok. You can let go.  Well I didn’t ask you to get your fingers stuck, now did I?

 

Sheesh.

 

Alright, in other adventures, we haven’t really trekked or tramped anywhere of much lately, been busy meeting the friends, planning my domination of his house (nearly complete), and cooking on the weekends.  Sometimes the food is stellar, other times not so much.

 

Sometimes, we have meals that are halfway there between stellar and average.  Like tonight.  Tonight was store bought chicken skewers with butternut squash.  I tried to season the squash savory, but I really didn’t like the results.  It also cooled far too long.  the skewers, however, were just barely tolerable.  High levels of salt, mostly fat and sinew, and the flavor was eh.  Not a repeat purchase.

 

Today, however, was a successful day in the kitchen.  I took the leftover Challah and turned it into a rather tasty bread pudding (yes a sweet treat that even E will eat), and then tonight, discovering the tomatoes that we bought last week still lingering in our fridge, I decided to try my hand at tomato soup.

 

I peeled, seeded and sliced the tomatoes, I sauteed up some red onion in olive oil and butter, added in garlic, and some spices, and then stewed everything in some vegetable broth.  after the tomatoes had broken down and the liquid had reduced by almost half, I poured it into my new Food Processor (YESSSSSSS) and pureed it up.

 

POOF

 

Tomato soup.  Fascinating.  I was going to let E take it to work tomorrow, but he still has Hot & sour soup leftovers that he has to finish up.  So I get the Tomato soup tomorrow for lunch.

 

Score!

 

I might make myself some rice to put into it.  Shocking!

 

hmm.

 

that’s about it for the moment, but yes.  If you are a thinking, praying, hoping, wishing, finger crossing and uncrossing, kind thoughts type of person, send some of that magic karma my way on Tuesday 10am  (that’s around 5pm EST Monday).

 

I’m gonna need the good vibes.

Bullying

I’m probably not going to make any friends with this post.  you’ve been warned, there are some rather strong opinions to follow.  If you feel in any way that you might possibly be offended, stop reading.  Now.

 

The interwebs are on fire. the tubes burning up in the middle of the night. There was a kid, he got bullied, and he fought back. The kid is a hero! the kid is amazing! More kids should do this! Wait, he got suspended?  HORROR! OUTRAGE! He was only defending himself!  How can you suspend a kid for that?

 

ok. there’s a few topics here for discussion.  One, could be the overall topic of Bullying which to be honest, I don’t have enough epaper for at this moment.   Two, could be this particular situation, which seems to be getting far too much attention.  Three, a combination of the two.  Sounds good.  Let’s go with that.

 

Bullying.  Yes. It’s a problem.  guess what.  It always has been. What’s the big difference now?  As with many things in our society, information.  Kids have cellphones now. Cellphones that can take pictures. and video.  they can document their cruelty for everybody to see.  As opposed to only talking about it in the gym locker room.  They can show the world how cool they are, instead of having to relive the memories with their buddies over the weekends, taking secret shots from their dad’s liquor cabinet and sitting on the trampoline.

 

There’s no difference between the bullying happening now and the bullying that happened when I was growing up.  I was that kids age once. I was fat. I was the new kid in school. I was Jewish. No, there was never any physical bullying done to me. I was never kicked, or punched, smacked around.  Was I backed into corners? Yes.  Was I pointed at, talked about, made fun of, harassed? Yes.  Did this happen from 3rd grade all the way up to high school? yes.

 

Kids are, apparently, a lot more physical in their bullying these days.  But it doesn’t change the fact that verbal abuse by your peers is still bullying.  And it still hurts. And it still leaves scars.  Both physical and mental.

 

Having to change in the bathroom after Phys Ed because your body was fat and everybody would point it out to you, that’s damaging.  Your breasts developing before others because you were larger? And having people notice? that’s hurtful.  I wore my first pair of jeans in the 9th grade.  Why? Because nobody made jeans to fit fat kids like me.  I went through the whole of middle school the dumpy fat kid in sweats.  And if you think i didn’t hear the whispers, the jokes, the laughter and I didn’t see the fingers pointing, you’re wrong.

 

I saw them.  I felt them.  Every single last one of them.  You didn’t have to actually punch me in the stomach, your words were enough to do damage.

 

so yes, before you go and get all hyper-actively self defensive, yes,there was bullying when we were kids.  Yes, teasing can be bullying.  No, there’s no easy way to deal with it.

 

I could have turned around and been nasty back. I could have said things about you, but that wasn’t worth my time.  My self-esteem was so low by that point that just getting through the school day without crying was an accomplishment.    Life was miserable. Everything was hateful. I hated everybody and everything.  Mostly myself.

 

But then, the confidence started to grow.  I got involved in things outside of school. Outside of the group of people that were so petty they couldn’t see their noses from their faces.  4-H saved my life.

 

I’ll say that again.

 

4-H saved my life.  Responsibility as a camp counselor, instilling values of kindness, acceptance, and responsibility into other kids? Rewarding.  One week every summer where I was away from everything at camp and had people that cared about me.  Looked out for me.  And weren’t cruel.  It’s astounding what that program did for me.

 

4-H was the perfect answer to my lack of confidence, a fantastic supplement to a great friend,who had been with me the entire way through.  But that’s a whole other story.  For another day.  I’ll just put this here now. 4-H and Shaun saved my life. Multiple times.

 

 

Now, that we have that statement done.  yes, there was bullying when we were kids. Yes, it was mean, spiteful, hateful, and horrible.  But no, not as many people were aware of it.  We didn’t all have video cameras in our pockets.  Or over protective parents and teachers.  For the most part, you had to fend for yourself.  Survive or don’t.  Welcome to the Island.

 

There’s a memory I have from High school, I think I was a senior or junior and this little freshman decided that the fat girl was going to be the perfect target.  He started with words, and then moved onto some light physical contact, throwing little punches in my direction and asking, goading, me about what i was going to do about it.

 

I turned to the little brat and told him in point blank terms that I was a straight A student, a senior, and that every teacher in the school at least knew my name and I’d never been in trouble before.  He was a freshman, had no backing, and was messing with somebody who did. To put it frankly, “Who are they going to believe more, me or you?”

 

Brat backed off.  Never had another problem.  High school was when most of the bullying stopped.  We had all grown up and most of us had gotten over it.  Most of us.  There were still times when it happened, but they were few, far between, and swiftly handled.

 

Now, I’m certain that I have hit your limit of caring at this point.  So, I will post a bit later about my opinions on the boy who is at the center of all this.

 

I will sum this up though.  Bullying happens.  It has always happened and it will continue to happen. Your child is not a special snowflake.  They’re a child that has to make it through this hell like everybody else had to.  trial by fire.  Middle School is living hell.  And anybody who says differently is an idiot.  You either get out of it stronger, or you don’t.

 

But you make it out and then life is on the other side.  And life is good. To steal and or borrow from another campaign out there.

 

It gets better.

Thursdays

I am finding myself more capable of making it down and up the hill.  The breath comes back faster, and hurts less. there are less stabbing, prodding, poking hot stakes going into my chest.

 

How am I doing?

 

I’m making it. Being depressed makes things difficult.  But beating myself up into misery isn’t going to get all this excess fat off of me or tone this extra skin down.

 

I still need to get a scale.  But at the moment, I’ll take bit by bit.  I need to eat less.  My portion sizes have gone back up again and I know it’s not a good thing.  Because I feel miserable afterward.

 

Hot & Sour soup tonight for dinner, Not exactly light and refreshing, but it’s lighter than spaghetti and cream sauce.

 

going to try to make the Hamantaschen cookies tomorrow.  Had no luck at the grocery store near the house finding pie filling of any kind, so I picked up some lemon curd.  gonna try to fill the cookies with that.

 

there’s no real point to this post, nothing has made me want to post all of this, other than I need to keep people updated I suppose.

 

Job search is the same.  It’s still a search.  My CV has been more professionalized, my cover letters are better structured and professional looking.  Somebody, somewhere is going to want to hire me.  I just have to keep trying.

 

And that’s my life this thursday.  Oh, happy St Patricks Day.  Umm I’ll make some lettuce or something….

Something About Writing

I dunno, but I had this weird dream the other night. Well, same dream, sort of. There was a modern version (starring Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver) and then towards the end of the dream it started over again.

It involved a man and a woman, their children, and some sort of kidnapping something.

Then, last night, when I went to sleep, the beginning of the 2nd part of the dream started over again.

A man on his horse, a trail of people walking behind/beside him, the snow whipping around them fiercely as they moved onto somewhere not there. The man wore a mask, or a helm, or something in between the two, the head of a white stag, with a wide rack.

the ‘camera’ shifted to a woman on the ground beside a longhouse, strong and wooden. she wore clothing to fight the cold, but she didn’t move to join the others, who for some reason were evacuating the village.

The woman called out to the man, calling him Ivan, and she held out a basket to him, begging for him to take the basket with him. He refused, telling her that this was her duty and her charge. He then pulled a ‘child of the coal’ out from the line of people and pushed her towards the kneeling woman.

“the child is your duty, Evelyn. Moriah will help you tend to her needs. Do your duty, there is nothing more I can do to save you.”

and then man in mask turned his gaze forward, leaving Evelyn and Moriah huddled in the snow, protecting the basket which it was slowly revealed, held a baby girl.

****

that’s really all that I remember. I know that the baby’s name is samantha. I know that somehow she’s important, but I don’t know why or what about. But I know that I’m going to have to sit down and write this story out.

I love when my dreams talk to me.

Foodities

So, I thought for a while that I would make this blog have a section on food that I’ve cooked and the recipes that I used.

 

Which is an awesome idea.

 

Until I realized that for the most part I don’t use recipes.  this could be a challenge.

 

Take for example the dinner from tonight.

 

I just grabbed a few of the things that we had in the house and whipped this up.

 

 

Steamed broccoli, italian herbed potato wedges (they were from a bag), and then the steak and sauce.

 

sauce was started by cutting up some fresh crimini and a red capsicum (bell pepper for my States readers).  These were tossed into the frying pan with a bit of butter, some black pepper, ground cumin, minced garlic, and italian herbs.  I sauteed this up until just about done.  Then transferred it to a bowl to rest.

 

At this point, I took our two steaks and put them right into the hot pan.  while they seared on one side, i spiced the other with pepper, cumin, and then some brown mustard from the squeeze bottle.  flip the steaks.

 

Meanwhile I took our sauteed veggies and added to them a can of mushrooms in pepper sauce.  Which looked like a cream of mushroom soup, but with pepper.  I stirred them together and then added in some more mustard and then some worcestershire sauce.  Stir and tasted, delicious.

 

Since E and I both like steak that’s not well done, I wasn’t worried about killing the steak.  So I pulled it out of the pan with about 10 minutes of time left.  Placing the mushroom sauce into the pan to heat it up.  That took about 5 minutes (at this point, I turned the broccoli on to start to steam).

 

with the last 5 minutes, i put the steak back in the frying pan and covered it with the mushroom and capsicum sauce.

 

And the end results?  Delicious, to say the least.  E finished his plate.  Almost too quickly I think.

 

I doubt I could repeat the success, but it certainly tastes good tonight.

Challah

So, I’ve been toying with the idea of making this blog something of a food thing.  I talk about my food, I post pictures and recipes and make you all jealous.

 

But I thought that might be a bit cruel of me. Plus, I just can’t seem to get myself organized enough to make this blog look the way I want it to look.  At least, not just yet.  So, You are going to be subjected to my randomness while I try to make things work out.

 

that being said, today, we are going to make bread. Challah bread to be exact.  what is Challah?  Challah is a traditional Jewish egg bread.  My family version is made with honey and we often add raisins to the braids.  But the bread that we are making today is not the raisin kind.  Challah is traditionally braided for most normal occasions, like the Sabbath.  But on Rosh Hashanah the Challah is braided and then formed and baked into a circle to symbolize the never ending circle of life.  Challah is typically eaten plain, although it can be slathered in butter and drizzled with honey.  Some places will even use Challah as French toast!  Madness (delicious madness!)

 

So, now that the talky talky part is over, let’s start with making the ingredients!

 

 

What you need is flour, water (not pictured), sugar, yeast, eggs, salt, honey, and vegetable oil.  Don’t worry about the amounts yet, we’ll get to those in a little bit.

 

In one bowl, you take your sugar, lukewarm water and your yeast, and you combine them in a process called ‘blooming’.  I learned that from watching Emeril.  A long time ago.  Basically, you make certain the sugar is dissolved and the yeast is well mixed in. Let it bubble and double until the combination looks frothy and foamy. Like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, in another mixing bowl, combine your hot water, salt, oil, and honey.  let it cool down just slightly and then add in your eggs.  Beat until well combined.  It will be a bit frothy.    And look like this:

 

 

Once this is done, your yeast (if you did it right) should be bubbly and frothy and yummy.  Just pour the yeast into the liquids and combine.  Then, you start adding your flour, 1 cup at a time.

 

Eventually, your dough will start to form.

 

 

From there, turn your dough out onto a floured surface and knead until elastic and fun.  Yes, you will need more flour.  I never really use all of the flour that the recipe calls for, but I do use most of it.  I’ve found that hand mixing the dough uses less flour than when I used to make this in a mixer.

 

Your dough should be elastic and smooth.  At this point, take another bowl (yes there are a lot of bowls used in this. I’m up to four total) and grease it up. I use vegetable oil.  Place your ball of dough into the bowl and make sure that all sides of the dough are also covered in oil.

 

 

At this point, I cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and set it up to rise.  Usually on top of the microwave near the oven.  The oven which I’ve had warming up to about 100C.  That’s not going to be the baking temperature, but I wanted the kitchen to be nice and warm.

 

 

Leave the bread to rise for about an hour or until double in bulk.  Now comes the fun part.

 

On your still floured surface, knead out your dough one more time for about five minutes.  Then, you split your dough into 3 equal parts.  Or as equal as you can get them.

 

 

No, they’re not really even or equal.  Nobody’s perfect.  I like to divide the dough naturally, but I suppose you could slice it into three equal parts. I just don’t like to be mean like that.

 

Prepare to braid!

 

 

I am anticipating any and all jokes and finding none of them to be funny.

 

Braid away!  Just like you would braid hair. If you’re a guy and trying to do this and you don’t know how to braid hair? Well, I am unfortunately not the best tutor for that type of instruction. Youtube might help?

 

 

Now, once again you let your bread rest for an hour, or until double in size.  What happens then?  Well for me, I like to use a milk wash, but most recipes will tell you to use an egg wash.  Either way is up to you.  But you wash your bread.  And then you put it into the oven at 325 F ( I don’t know my conversions very well) for about 45 minutes.  The bread should be golden brown and sound hollow when it comes out of the oven.

 

 

And that, my loves, Is how to make Challah.  And now, the Recipe!

 

 

Honey Challah (all measurements are in US terms)

4.5-5 cups of flour

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1.5 packets of yeast, or 1.5 tbsp yeast

1 cup hot water, not boiling

1 tsp salt

3 eggs

3 tbsp honey

2 tbsp oil

 

–In a small bowl combine lukewarm water, sugar, and yeast together. Set aside until doubled, about ten minutes.

–Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine hot water, salt, honey, and oil together. Let cool slightly. Add in eggs. Beat to combine.

–Stir yeast mixture into liquid mixture until just combined.

–Begin adding flour into liquids one cup at a time.  Dough should form easily and begin to pull away from sides of the bowl like a sticky mess. Add more flour until stirring with anything other than your hands is not an option.

–Flour a clean surface and turn out dough onto flour.  Continue to add flour to dough as necessary, kneading as you go.

–Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.  time vary but approximately 6 minutes.

–You will most likely have flour leftover, do not worry, this is normal, save it to the side.

–Oil a large mixing bowl and place your doughball inside the bowl, coating it all over with oil.  Cover with a damn cloth and let rise for one hour in a warm place.

–Dough should be double in volume. gently knock it down and turn out onto the still floured surface.  Knead for about five minutes more and then divide into three equal (or as equal as possible) portions.

–Shape three portions into long rolls, lay them out side by side on your counter and pinch one end together.  Braid and pinch the final end.

–Place braid onto your cookie sheet and cover once again with a damn towel. allow to rise another hour or until double in bulk. Preheat your oven at this time to 325 F.

–top with a wash. Egg and water, egg and milk, just milk, whatever you desire.

–Place bread into the oven for 45 minute, or until golden. Bread should sound hollow when tapped.

–Slice, butter, honey drizzle, enjoy. Share with family and friends, if you feel like it.

 

 

There are variations with raisin filling, but that will come at a later point.  For now, enjoy your challah!