Thursday, January 31, 2013

Artisan Bread

I love making bread.

I come from a big bread country. FRANCE!!! I love baguette, poilane bread, brioche and all different kinds of flavored bread. I did not even know  how much I loved bread until I moved to the US. The bakeries were hard to find and the processed bread on the shelves of the grocery stores where not crunchy enough for me (or should I say not at all?) so I started baking bread at home to sooth my nostalgia.
Making bread by hand was a real challenge at first. Sometimes my bread would turn out great sometimes it was a complete disaster. There would be days when the yeast would not make my bread rise. I would measure the ingredients the same way each time but the dough would turn out different. And let's talk about the time it took to actually make a good loaf of bread! I loved the kneading part of it, but I did not like the fact that I would always have to watch the clock and stay home so I could take care of my bread until I met my friend...the Bread machine.

Many years ago, I was out at a yard sale and fell upon a brand new bread machine still in its unopened box for just $5. I thought it was the best deal ever since I had seen that fabulous machine at the stores selling for over $100. I snatched it and put it to work immediately. Yummy homemade bread was on its way to my house or so I thought.
Don't get me wrong. I love my bread machine. It does so much more than just bread and I could make any kinds of breads I liked without worrying about the rising, the kneading etc... but I was still not fond of its crust so I continued to pay over $4 for fresh baked bread until I found a new way of baking bread....I call it the easy lazy way!

The Artisan Bread recipe I am going to share with you is delicious, super easy to make and leaves your house smelling like a bakery. I found this recipe on youtube a long time ago but I have seen it on pinterest too so it has been around for a while. If you are a pinner than you might have come across this recipe and may have already tried it. If not, please hang in here for a while and continue reading.

Artisan Bread

3 Cups All purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water (more or less)

Kitchen ware:
large mixing bowl
plastic wrap
enameled cast iron pot

Oven temperature 450 degrees. Cooking time 45 minutes

Let's get started....

Step 1. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, salt and yeast

Step 2. Whisk all dry ingredients well.

Step 3. Add the water, mix with a spatula, cover with plastic wrap.
Note: The dough will look very sticky. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of water but I always add extra water. I do not know how much more. It varies every time. I guess I sometimes pack the flour a little too tightly. But you can see how sticky the dough looks on the picture.

Step 4. Let it rise overnight. DO NOT refrigerate! 

Step 5. The next day, after the dough has risen all night, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, place your enameled cast iron pot with the lid in the oven and preheat it for 30 minutes.
As soon as your pot is in the oven, you can dump your dough on a heavily floured surface and form it into a ball. you will need to have a lot of flour in your hands as the dough will be very sticky at this point. Once you formed your ball of dough, you can reuse your plastic wrap and cover it until your pot is finished to preheat.

Step 6. At this point, place the ball of dough in the preheated pot (careful it is very very hot), cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes.

Step 7. When the oven beeps, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. The bread looks fabulous now and you can remove it carefully form the hot pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

Voila! Your Crusty Artisan Bread is ready to be eaten. Soft and moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mail Station

Two Weekends ago, I decided to pick up the old muddy pallet that had been sitting around in our yard and make something out of it. After a lot of washing and scrubbing I tried the take it apart with a hammer but the nails were so long and rusted, the slats would not budge. So, I decided to get the power tools out and put our jig saw to good use. I cut all the attached pieces off and to make them all the same size and have better clean cuts, I got my husband's miter saw out and started cutting again. After a few breaks, I finally had 13 pieces that were the exact same size.

Now, what could I make with this.....I remembered a wall organizer that one of my dear neighbor has at her house. It is hung by the back door and has all kinds of knobs on it so she could have her keys, dog leash, coats.... at hand's reach when leaving the house. I also had a old vintage glass mail box that I was hoping to hang on our hallway and the idea hit me!

Why not build a mail station? And this is how my design came to life.

Do you like it?

I put all 13 slats together on the floor and used the nail gun to attach a couple of pieces of wood (2x1x45) vertically.

After looking at it, I thought it needed something else. Some type of writing to give it a vintage look.
I used a two inch stencil set I had gotten from AC Moore a few months ago and watered down some white acrylic paint to make it seem washed out. I traced the stencil with a pencil and tried to stay outside the lines as much as I could to make it look imperfect. Boy, was that hard! For years and years, I have been painting inside the lines so doing the opposite felt very unnatural.

Once the paint was dry, I just screwed in all the hooks and knobs I could find lying around and added a little basket and my antique glass mail box. I am hoping to find a small rod I can screw  to the bottom this board in order to hang the magazines that come in the mail. I will update my pictures once I find one I like.

This beauty had been sitting against the wall for two weeks until I hung it yesterday. I wasn't sure how I was going to do this, so I headed to Lowe's to see what they had. I found those L shaped hooks and thought they would do the job. I drilled holes in the studs and voila!

What do you think?

We have been hanging our keys, hats, putting our phones in the basket, writing messages on the board since yesterday.I love the way it looks. I know I can keep on adding knobs and hooks to it over the years.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Anti Aging Face Oil

For years, I have struggled to find a face moisturizer that will work for my skin. I have tried many brands, some were good but expensive others left my skin too dry or too oily and even sometimes gave me break out. Being on a budget, I decided it was time to experiment with the essential oils I have been collecting over the years and I found an excellent recipe for an anti aging face oil which does not leave my face oily, dry or with breakouts. I have used this oil for several months and have received many compliments. I don't think I could ever go back to buying another tube or jar of face cream that contains so many chemicals.

Essential Oils

I have been using essential oils in my bath, as air fresheners, as face steamers for fighting colds  and cleansing my skin.. for over 15 years. Not only these oils are natural oils, they have so many great benefits for your well being and and ave countless uses. If you are interested in knowing more about aromatherapy, I can suggest two of my favorite books.

The first book was written by Valerie Ann Worwood - The Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy.

The second book was written by Franzesca Watson - Aromatherapy Blends & Remedies.

These books are full of information and recipes and I like them both. I have made many blends from either one of them but if you ask me which one I rely the most on, I would have to say the Valerie Ann Worwood book. I love the detailed information and all the essential oils charts.

Now about that anti aging hydrating face oil.....

Valerie Ann Worwood has several recipes divided by four age groups.
The wrinkle preventative for the over-twenty, over-thirty, over-forty and over-fifty.
I am going to share her recipe for the over-thirty as I am turning 40 this year and felt that I no longer belonged in the over-thirty six months ago.

Neroli - 10 drops
Lavender - 10 drops
Frankincense - 10 drops
Rosemary  - 2 drops
Fennel - 10 drops
Lemon - 3 drops
Carrot - 1 drops
Evening Primrose - 10 drops.

Diluted in 2 tablespoons of either hazelnut, almond or apricot oil.
Lightly massage the mix every night on the face, and if you wish, on the neck and chest as far as the collar bone.

I have used both almond and apricot oil for this recipe and I find the apricot oil to be less thick and oily. After massaging it, you may wipe off any excess oil on your skin.

Well, I hope you can give it a try and let me know how it turns out. I know that essential oils can be expensive but they last a very long time and if you research them online, you can find online stores who sell them at a pretty reasonable price. I know I have.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chocolate Cobbler

Today, I would like to share the dessert of the week!

I found this recipe on Pinterest. I am a Pinterestholic (who isn't). I wanted to find something easy to make with ingredients I could find at home and that would take little time to prepare or little to clean up just in case I need to make this in the future for a last minute tea party.
After scrolling through many pictures of cakes, and cookies and puddings....I came across....The Chocolate Cobbler!

So yummy and super easy to put together. I encourage you to try it and I can promise you that you won't be disappointed.

All you need is:

2 Sticks of Butter
1 1/4 C Sugar
1 1/2 C Self Rising Flour
1 T Vanilla
3/4 C Milk
Chocolate Layer
1 C Sugar
6 T Cocoa Powder
2 C Boiling Water

Step 1.
Preheat oven to 350. In a 9x13 baking dish, melt the two sticks of butter in the oven.

Step 2.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the 1 1/4 C sugar, flour, vanilla and milk. Once the butter is melted, pour the batter over the butter but DO NOT stir.

Step 3.
In a seperate bowl, mix together the cocoa and the 1 C of sugar.

Step 4.
Sprinkle the cocoa/sugar mixture on top of the batter. DO NOT stir.

Step 5.
Pour 2 C of boiling water on top of that (DO NOT stir)and bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

The choclate mixture kind of falls at the bottom and becomes the consistancy of pudding. It is so good when served warm with a side of vanilla ice cream.

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures to show you how it turned out. I did not think about blogging about it until now that I have a small chocolate craving but you can find this recipe and all the steps's pictures on just a pinch