Weekend Coffee Share – The Situation

 

86738726_10216809551735458_799043098796621824_o

I’m so glad you could make it to our weekly coffee date! How are you? I mean, how are YOU really doing? 

Many people work from home here in Sweden. Some businesses are closed. I personally know several people who lost their jobs. We are practicing social distancing, but people are doing this on very different levels. Essential businesses are open, schools are among these businesses. The older children have their lessons online, younger children, 15 and under have regular school. I’ve been working all week. Anyone with slightest symptoms of a cold are staying at home, both teachers and students. It is emptier than usual, but it actually feels good to go to work. I feel that we (my colleagues and I,) are providing an essential service caring for our future (the children) in these unusual times. When the children are taken cared of the parents with important jobs, that needs to work, can give their jobs undivided attention. 

I follow the news closely, and of course there are so many thoughts going on in my head. I’m sure in everyones head. I do strongly believe in social distancing, to slow this virus down, and at the same time I believe that keeping the schools open as long as possible helps to keep us calm and strong. I’m saying no to all unnecessary social contacts for our family. I send my daughter to her school, and go to work, nothing else. I turn people away that wants to visit, and I’ve said no to numerous playdates for my daughter. I don’t go to the grocery store, I have my groceries delivered to my porch. For now we have everything we need. I even scored some yeast this week! 

Do you have everything you need? Are you in good spirits? How is your area? Are you in quarantine? Are you working? Does the situation give you extra time on your hands?

Spring is here now, even though the mornings are cold. It’s been a beautiful week, and we’ve been playing outside with the children many hours every day. On Friday we joined a dance party over YouTube for school children in Sweden. There is a famous DJ that normally comes out to schools and dance with the kids, due to Corona he choose to do his thing over YouTube instead. It was fun! We had speakers outside at a playground area and danced with the kids almost two hours.  

Thank you for joining me for coffee this weekend. What are you up to? I’ve been spending today (Saturday) putting a new desk together for my daughter. I let her do as much as she could herself. It made it into a longer project than it would of been if I did it myself, but it was definitely worth that. She mastered basic tools that she hadn’t had much experience with before, like a screwdriver and a hammer. She was very proud of herself, and the result was great 🙂

Please tell me how you are doing. Stay safe my friend.

Love,

Maria

Weekend Coffee Share – Seedlings & Gratitude

smart

Welcome in for a virtual coffee in front of the fire place. It is  7am, about 10F/-12C outside, and the sun is shining. I just poured a second cup coffee for myself, what can I get you? 

I’ve been lingering in bed this morning, highly unusual for me. The reason was an owl. I was trying to figure out what kind of owl I’ve been hearing. I am still not sure, maybe a Pärluggla (Boreal Owl) or Kattuggla (Tawny Owl)? These are the two most common owls in the area. I haven’t been able to see it, but I hear it every day, more and longer periods this past week.

I’ve been staying at home this week with a cough. The schools, and most businesses are still open here, but anyone with even light symptoms of a cold is advised to stay at home due to Covid-19. I feel better now. If I don’t hear anything new today, like that the schools are being closed, I’m going to work tomorrow. 

I’ve kept my daughter at home with me this week, and we’ve been having a mindful, peaceful week at home. One of our biggest joys at the moment is to watch the seedlings in our window sill grow. You can visibly see them get bigger over night. 

smart

I took these photos yesterday, and they are already much bigger!

smart

I have plenty of seeds for a vegetable garden at home, but I was running low on my favourite kitchen herbs. I ordered some online and they arrived the other day. I’m going to plant them next week. 

How are you holding up? Are you working from home now? Do you have everything you need? What’s the recommendations where you are? We are advised to limit social contacts, stay at home when we are sick, wash our hands frequently, big crowds of more than 500 people are not allowed, the older children get their lessons online, the grocery stores have somewhat limited supplies, and older people are advised to stay at home. 

My daughter and I have been talking a lot about the situation, gratitude, and what the consequences of the virus may be. She is so wise for her age. I still cannot believe that she is this incredibly intelligent, thoughtful being that she is, and not a helpless little baby or toddler anymore. We’ve been discussing gardening, and where our food comes from, and we’ve been experimenting with baking bread without yeast. She loves baking and fresh bread as much as I do. We’ve also been talking about our homesteading/off grid dream that is still very much alive, even though I see us doing it in Sweden and not in the US now. I got a message from my daughter’s dad, which is unusual, saying that he was grateful for her being here with me in Sweden. That was touching. 

We’ve spent most of this week inside, literally, the only exception going to the woodshed to get more firewood. Last night my daughter asked if we could go on a short walk. We did. We are surrounded by several lakes, and we walked to the closest one, its only minutes from our house. It was very beautiful. 

90298593_10217100128919706_4122166755793567744_o

I hope that you are safe, healthy, and in good spirits.

Love,

Maria

2 simple and inexpensive ways of making bread without yeast

I’m still at home coughing, feeling bad for not being at work. I thought to myself this morning, is there anything I can contribute with in this crazy situation we all are in, except drinking my tea and doing everything I can to get well? I thought for a while about any homesteading skills I have that could be useful for others. Knowing how to bake my own bread from scratch is not a unique skill, but a very useful one, especially now. I’ve been passionate about baking since I was a toddler in my mamas kitchen (and my grandma’s kitchen.) I became an apprentice to a baker, and after finishing my apprenticeship I worked as a baker for 9 years, (before becoming a teacher.) 

I actually had a baking blog 8 years ago, until I started traveling so much with my RV that it sort of died out. I love bread. I love mixing the dough with exciting ingredients, I love kneading the dough, I love baking the bread and devouring the scents, and I love eating bread every day. (One may argue how good it is for you to eat bread every day, but that is for another day. My bread is sugar free, organic and filled with things that are good for you.) Maybe the bread isles at your grocery store is empty due to the mass history around the corona virus? Maybe all the bread isles at all the grocery stores in your entire state/country is empty? Maybe there isn’t any yeast available anymore. There are things you can do, to still get that delicious bread. 

I’m going to talk about two different ways anyone can try. These are very simple, inexpensive methods. Both methods can be used with any type of flour, but for a faster result I use organic flour when I can. Organic is always my preference, but in these times you work with what you have. Organic flour is not treated the way regular flour is, and have more good bacterias that will work for you. That is why you will se a higher, faster rise of your dough if you have access to organic flour. 

Method 1

The first method is as simple as skipping the yeast, and making the bread according to your proved recipe, (or a recipe you find online,) but without the yeast. If you do this you need to make the dough long before you are planning to eat the bread, preferably 20-30 hours ahead of time. You knead the dough and put it back in the bowl, cover it lightly with some kind of fabric (whatever you have on hand,) and put it in the warmest place in your house. Now you just let it sit, eventually the bacterias from the flour and the air will make the dough rise. There are bacterias everywhere. Many of them are good and could be put to use. After 20-30 hours you should see some difference in the dough. It may look something like this.

View this post on Instagram

“The smell of good bread baking is like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight… [Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.” – M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating. I agree! Baking bread from scratch is full filling in every way. This is a batch of #ryeciabatta #baking #inmykitchen right now. #homemadewithlove #fromscratch #rye #ryebread

A post shared by MJ (@sagittariusviking) on

Gently knead it into loaves, bread cakes, or individual buns. Do not over work the dough! Place them on a baking sheets, or in a cast iron skillet, bread form etc. Let your bread sit covered for a few more hours (longer is better. You could let it sit to next day if you are patient,) and bake according to the recipe you are following. If you do not have electricity, it works fabulous to bake in a cast iron skillet over a fire.

Method 2

Maybe you already guessed that the second method is sourdough. Yes, sourdough is always a great option. My preferred flour for a sourdough start is organic stone ground rye flour, you use the flour you have on hand. There are many many ways to create a sourdough start, most of them including feeding your start every day for 4-5 days. I will share a very simple beginner start. The water you add to your start should be slightly warmer than your fingers.

Day 1

1 Cup water

1 Cup flour

Mix in a big glass jar, and leave in a warm place, with the lid not completely closed. If you don’t have a glass jar take a mixing bowl and cover with a towel. Leave your jar/bowl in a warm place for three days, stirring gently once a day. The picture below shows what it looks like Day 1.

 

Day 4

10 Cup water

10 Cups flour 

Add the new water and flour to your start. Mix gently until all the start is smooth. Let stand for one more day.

Day 5

Your start is ready. Divide into ten equal parts, I usually store them in small plastic bags, but you can use any little storage container, jar etc. Save one part sourdough out to bake with, and put the rest in your freezer for another time.  Individual sourdough starts will last up to one year in the freezer, and around a week in the fridge (my original recipe tells me that it lasts 4-5 days in the fridge, but I have used starts that’s been in the fridge more than a week on several occasions, with good results.)

One part sourdough in this recipe is equal to 2×16 oz packages of dried yeast, or 2x 50g packages of fresh yeast. Substitute the yeast in any recipe with your sourdough start. When you use sourdough in your regular bread add a little less flour, and keep your dough sticky. Knead the dough gently. Let the dough rest two times, preferably 3 hours the first time, and around 90 min the second time. Longer is better. 

I hope these tips helps a fellow bread lover. As you start using these methods you will tweak your favourite recipes, and find a perfect way to make your bread just the way you like it. Trust your gut feeling, and don’t be scared to try. 

If you do happen to still have some yeast left, save a piece of the last dough you make with yeast, and use that as a starter for your next bread, keep saving a new piece of every dough you made, so that you are exchanging/or building up the starter every time you bake. A starter like this can last up to two weeks in your fridge, you can freeze it as well. If you freeze it be sure to thaw it in the fridge over night.

If you have kids at home, why don’t make baking a fun activity to do together? Besides the fun, baking is math, science, reading, and art 😉  Stay safe!

Yours,

Maria