The Versatile Blogger Award!

Oh my goodness! It seems that I have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award! <blush> Thank you, thank you! Having not heard of this award, I immediately went to the Award website to learn more of what this means.  Basically, from my understanding, it was created as a great way to spread the word of some of the different blogs out there and to have different bloggers showcase their own favourite blogs! 

So the first thing I’d like to do is thank the blogger/s who nominated me! Please head over to http://faraazandaneesa.wordpress.com/ and check out the blog of Faraaz and Anessa, an adorable couple who live and teach in Korea! They are so cute. Thank you so much guys! 

As  per the nomination rules, I am to tell the person who nominated me 7 things about myself.  I’m not really sure how interesting or relevant these are but here goes:

1.  I love travelling and stay abroad for longer periods of time.  I returned from my last trip to South East Asia this past May and I’m already planning the next trip away!

2.  I have a degree in English Literature but I was never very studious.

3.  I am a vegetarian.

4.  I have weird neuroses.  I don’t like drinking out of styrofoam cups and I won’t eat a popsicle down to the wooden stick as I don’t like the taste or texture.

5.  I have moved around a lot within my own province/country-over thirty times.  I believe this accounts somewhat for my ability to travel for long periods of time and my detachment from my homeland.

6.  I like to cook and bake, especially for other people, whether they like it or not 😛

7.  I hate thunderstorms.  Lightning isn’t too bad, but I really don’t like thunder.

So there you have it! I would now like to pass on 15 of my own favourite blogs that I follow regularly and who I nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award.  I follow these blogs for all sorts of reasons, but usually they either have something to do with food, or I find them humorous or inspirational:

Thanks again Faraaz and Aneesa!

 


Cheese and Onion Sourdough!

cheese and onion sourdough.

Mmmm…bread.  How I love thee.  Unfortunately a bit too much.  I never buy white bread but I do love sourdough.  I am not going to go into how to make your own sourdough starter.  There are a tonne of websites that explain how to do this.  I have a pretty old funky starter going on right now and I’ve had it for probably a couple of years now.  The best way to get your starter, um, started is by getting a cup or so from a friend and grow your own from there.  That’s how I got mine and it’s survived this long.  They are very forgiving.  When I want my starter amped up and ready for baking, I take it out of the fridge and put it on the counter the night before and “feed” it.  When I am not going to use it for a while, I keep it in the fridge and it kind of goes dormant.  I kept it like this the whole time I was travelling without feeding it.  apparently you can also freeze the starter but I don’t know how this works since I would think it would kill the active bacterial goodness.  Anyway, that is my bit on starter.  If you want me to mail you some, we can try that too!  This recipe is an amalgamation of a few sourdough recipes I’ve used over the years but this time I decided to make it a bit more interesting with the onions and cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1c. grated cheese of your choice (I used cheddar)
  • 1 small onion (fried and slightly caramelized in butter and set aside to cool)
  • 4 1/2-4 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. white sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 pkg yeast (use the quick kind or else you have to wait forever for the bread to rise)
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 2 tbsp. margarine or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c. sourdough starter
  • 1 egg white (to brush on the top of the loaves for browning)

In a large bowl combine 1 c. of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast and add to this the 1c. of water and your oil or margarine.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Add starter and and mix.  Add flour gradually, a cup at a time until you get a slightly sticky consistency you can work with.  This might be a bit tricky for first time bread makers but basically you want to get to the point where it is too hard to mix it with a spoon and you gotta get your hands in there to keep it together.  Turn out the dough onto a very well floured surface and begin to knead, adding more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to everything.  Knead for about 10 minutes.  By this time you should have a pliable, smooth dough that is not sticky.  

Put the dough in a bowl and drizzle some oil all over it and turn it to coat.  Cover with a tea towel and let rest about one hour.  

Uncover the dough which should now be double its original size or more.  Punch all the air out and let it rest for about 15 minutes.  

Cut the dough into two halves.  Stretch out one of the halves into kind of a rectangle shape about a foot long and sprinkle the cheese and onions over it as if it were a really thick pizza.  Roll the dough up like a jelly roll and tuck the ends all under so it’s a round ball again.  Do not worry about making this look pretty or perfect.  As long as you get a ball by the end of it all, it will turn out fine.  Just make sure you don’t have cheese poking out or it probably will burn in the oven.  

Place the two loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted with cornmeal or flour.  Let rest and rise another hour.  Preheat your oven when necessary during this “resting” hour to 375F. After the hour, your loaves should have grown again, to about double their size.  Don’t worry too much if they are touching on the pan.  You can separate them later when they are done.  

With a pastry brush, brush the egg white over the surface of both loaves.

Bake in the oven about 40 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when you tap them with a knife or some such thing.

Let cool completely before cutting, no matter how hard it is to wait!

Voila!

 

Riding my Bike…

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, one of my favourite things to do in the summertime, is ride my bike.  Here are some of the things I see when I ride my bike in this small Canadian city in the Prairies…

IMG_2763

Wide open tree lined streets with no cars…

IMG_2757

IMG_2758

Pretty paths, overgrown, with sunlight and shadows…

IMG_2759

Postcard perfect vistas…

IMG_2756

Flowers!

IMG_2755

More flowers!

IMG_2764

And more flowers!

IMG_2762

Sometimes I park my ride for a rest…

IMG_2760

…and have an iced Americano and write in my book…

Rainy June Days and the struggle for motivation…

Well, I haven’t written too much here lately.  And I don’t really have a good excuse.  But my lack of enthusiasm for my blog unfortunately extends to the other avenues of my life, and I’ve had a hard time motivating myself to do much of anything since being back in Canada.  I think part of the problem might be the weather.  I was really looking forward to the beautiful June that I know, here in the Canadian Prairies, and since being back, it’s done nothing but rain.  We’ve had the odd sunny day and I’ve relished them.  The best day was when I could take my bike out of the garage and do my usual summertime toodling around town.  But those days have been far and few between lately.  In fact, there has already been the total monthly average of rainfall and it’s only half way through the month.  

Anyway, I don’t know if it’s the weather, or the difficulty adjusting to “back home” life or what, but I’ve been a bit down in the dumps lately.  This eventually culminated in a fantastical two-day meltdown.  First I was bitchy, then I was miserable, then I sort of fell apart there for a bit.  But the good news, is like most meltdowns, I felt better afterwards.  

A lot of it was due to the fact that I had all these massive creative outpourings of ideas while I was away and once I got back, it seemed so difficult to put anything together to fruition.  I didn’t feel like doing anything.  But, thankfully, my husband put me back together, got my head straightened out and made me go shopping for yarn and crafting things so I could get started on a few of these projects for my future shop.  Then there was about a one week burst of creative output.  I started making some things.  I practiced the ukulele a lot.  And then it sort of fizzled out again.  Now I’m just trying not to force it.  Trying to sort out my brain a bit and figure out what is going on and just let myself do what I want to do.  I’m trying to focus on just letting things happen as they happen a bit rather than trying to control everything.   Today that involved baking Sourdough Onion and Cheese loaves.  Recipe forthcoming.  

Another factor of the bad weather is that I’ve been stressing out about how much money we’re going to make this summer and if we’ll make enough to do what we want to do etc.  Rainy days mean no money.  We work outside, and at a farmers market and people just don’t come around when it’s cold and rainy outside.  From the 22nd, we are starting a ten-day event where we will be outside from morning till evening, working long days.  Last summer it was our biggest money-maker of the summer.  It remains to be seen what will happen this year, but as I said, I’m trying to focus on not trying to control things and if there is one thing I *know* I can’t control, that is the weather. 

Whatever should happen, will happen and if we have to make adjustments to our plans because of unforeseen circumstances, then we will do so.  God knows, it won’t be the first time this year we’ve had to make massive changes to our plans.  Anyway, I will try to post more now that I’ve been back a month.  Thanks for sticking with me!

xo

Adjusting to life back “home”…

Haven’t felt like writing much lately, to be honest.  I guess I’m slowly adjusting to things here and sometimes our travels feel like a million miles away.  SK is treating us well so far, but the first week was a bit rough.  I had this ideal vision of what it was going to be like when I got here, the sun and the beautiful summer and riding my bike around everywhere.  But instead up until a few days ago it’s been mostly rainy and very cold.  Going from an average of 40c for six months, to between 6c and 8c, takes it’s toll emotionally and I was feeling pent up and feeling a bit of the post-trip comedown.  But finally, the weather got better and I took a gigantic walk, stocked up on a bunch of my vegetarian cooking accouterments (nutritional yeast, Braggs, miso, tahini-you know, those kinda things!)  Bought a used juicer from a local gal as I could not dig mine out of the garage no matter how hard I tried to look for it, and things are looking up!

It’s been hard to reconcile all my creative dreams I had while I was gone, with that person that I am here and now.  It’s a lot easier to get these amazing inspirational ideas when you are travelling and constantly being inspired.  But luckily I wrote them all down so now it’s just a matter of making a bit of disposable income to put those ideas into action! I have a friend who is a great graphic designer and she is going to help me with my logo and new website from which this blog will eventually be linked…talk about a LOOONG work in progress, but for now, it’s all about baby steps: getting acclimatized, cooking again, trying to get into a proper sleep schedule (can you believe I am still waking up at all hours of the night?!) and just getting into the groove of living in my in-laws house for the summer, which has it’s own whole set of ups and downs.  

All in all I’m very fortunate, don’t have much I can complain about, and we are already planning our next trip abroad which will hopefully be in the fall, pending savings.  

As well, it’s my father-in-laws birthday tomorrow and I’ve promised to cook everyone a Thai dinner based on what I’ve learned during my cooking classes.  We’ll see how that goes.  There’s a bit of a difference between cooking on a propane tank outside in a metal wok and cooking indoors on an electric range.  But I’ll take some photos and share some recipes very soon.  I also have some left over straggler photos from the end of our trip and M’s birthday in Seoul, etc.  Thanks for sticking with me while I make this “transition”.  My thought patterns tend to be even more erratic than usual and I waffle between being “over” and “under” whelmed.  Looking forward to some tasty (hopefully!) Thai food to refresh my dulling tastebuds! 

x0