The use of cookie cutters is definitely a baking skill I use rarely, if I had to estimate how many times in the past five years I have used a cookie cutter for cookies would be about twice. (of course I have sat with my daughter and used a cookie cutter while playing with her play dough though)
When I began my Christmas baking this past weekend I made the goal this holiday season to learn and perfect rolling dough and cutting cookies with snowmen, bells, candy cane and circular cookie cutters, and what better way to start that goal then to make a delicious glazed sugar cookie with a burst of flavour.
Cinnamon Maple Sugar Cookies
2 1/4 cup cake and pastry flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple extract
Sift the flour, cinnamon, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together.
In a bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar. Add the extracts and eggs.
Slowly add the flour mixture into the liquid mixture in the mixture.
Wrap dough in a ball in plastic wrap refrigerate for up to two hours.
After two hours pre heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll dough on a floured work surface until about 1/8 inch thick. *Does not puff up much during baking*
Cutwith cookie cutter and place on prepared sheets.
Bake 8 – 10 minutes
Transfer to cooling racks and cool completely.
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon maple extract.
Mix glaze ingredients (if you wish to have a runnier glaze add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until the thickness/thinness you want) and spread the glaze on completely cooled cookies. Let the glaze harden before eating, stacking or packaging cookies.
Sleep is not my best friend, back in high school it was normal for me to go 48 hours without sleep, it’s normal for me to not be able to get to sleep until 1-2 in the morning some nights, I’ve lived my life used to only having about 5 hours of sleep a night. Eventually I was told by my doctor I have “insomniac tendencies” and was put on a sleeping medication.
Sleeping medication though I’d also not my best friend, it took me testing many different medications to find one that mostly worked. The first one I tried gave me horrible night sweats and if I wasn’t set to go to bed with pajamas on then I was out of luck because if I didn’t fall asleep in about ten minutes the medication didn’t work, or the one medication that gave me terrifying dreams that I felt like we’re reality. The medication I decided to use (I honestly just ran out of other medications to try that were covered by benefits) leaves me with a sleep hangover, one that does not simply go away with a few cups of coffee.
With my new lifestyle changes for a healthier family I decided to finally try to end my many years of relying upon sleeping pills, and look for a more natural way to help me and my daughter (who at the time was having nightmares and waking up through the night also) I tried by getting outside and taking in fresh air more in my day which did help, and adding more exercise and outdoor running games with me and my daughter which helped her sleeping issues. I though was still having problems staying asleep at night.
Then I found essential oils. Lavander to be exact, a few drops on my pillow and 20 minutes of reading in bed smelling that scent I had the most amazing sleep I had, had in months, amd without that horrible sleep hangover! I ventured to my local farmers market that weekend and went to the essential oils booth and purchased some chamomile and the scent combination has helped me wonders. I can tell when I forget to sprinkle a few drops of oils I have a long night that I wake up constantly. Lily is also sleeping so much better, I sprinkle one drop of each on my daughter’s favorite teddy bear she sleeps with each night and she’s begun to sleep the entire night with no scares.
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My quest to make a (not quite so) simple loaf of sandwich bread continued this week, I had spent the weekend going through my baking books and even asked my mother and grandmother for some help and baking tips. With all this new knowledge I went to work on Wednesday morning with the goal yet again to make a proper loaf of bread that day and…
I did it! I finally made a loaf of sandwich bread
I’m going to continue to make my own bread for the household and keep using all of the information I have accumulated in my brain to make the perfect loaf, and I thought I should share some of those tips with all my readers.
Make sure there is sugar going into your water and yeast mixture. The yeast needs something to feed off of which is why the sugar is used
Most cookbooks call for you only waiting 3-4 minutes for your yeast to activate, but the best time is to wait 10 minutes, you will know it is activated it will look bubbly and frothy and double in size
Use bread flour! Most recipes I was reading were using regular all purpose flour, but bread flour is high in protein and will form gluten which will help the bread rise and bake with a good crust
sift the dry ingredients! Many recipes never mentioned sifting and I honestly didn’t think of doing it until my mother mentioned it
don’t be tempted to cut short kneading time, kneading distributes the yeast evenly through the dough. Kneading should be around 10 minutes, or until it’s smooth and elastic
the best way I learned to do the proving process is boil water in a kettle, poor the water into a large baking pan and put on the bottom rack of the oven, then put the dough in a bowl on the top rack ( do not turn on the oven!) It gives moisture to the dough and the perfect temperature to rise the dough
after an hour of letting the dough rise, take it out, push down the dough and expel the bubbles, knead again for 1 minute then put it in the baking pan, then proof it again for 40 or so minutes
For a great crust glaze the top of the dough with milk
Try nor to open the oven while baking! The intense heat is needed for a good crust
If the dough does start to go a little to dark, tent some aluminium foil over the bread.
You will know the bread is finished if you turn it out of the pan and tap on the bottom of the loaf, if it sounds hollow it’s cooked.
A “crunchy mom” is a woman on a quest for more information. A mom who is environmentally, health, and socially conscious.
I was called a “Crunchy Mom” a few weeks ago, and from the rest of the comment, it was definitely meant to be an insult. I’ve heard of the term, but have never thought of myself of being one, I definitely though never thought of it as a bad thing, it was one of those mom things that seemed like a good thing to aspire too. I mean look at the definition! Coming from a girl that was in the environmental club through my school years, volunteered at the food bank, and even tried to start my own charity to give your old sleeping bags that just take up space in your closet that you never use to the homeless during the winter so that had a chance to stay warm in a freezing Canadian winter where shelters were packed full I think that looks like a real honour to be called a “Crunchy mom” but was I one really?
First, I went to my boyfriend and our best friend Dave, I mentioned the comment and wondered what they thought. Obviously I had to kind of explain what the term exactly meant, but once I got the jist of the definition out I was promptly told “well of course someone said it, you are one!” It wasn’t one second of mulling it over, not one brief pause. So the two people I spend talk to the most and spend my weekends with believe I’m a “Crunchy mom” but I still questioned myself, that seems like such an honour to be called ( in my opinion) and I didn’t just want to take that label and run with it, I wanted to make sure I’ve earned it.
Where else to turn to? Well I don’t have many mom friends (social anxiety at its finest, I really have to just push myself and find more mom friends) and went to Facebook groups, one I had been invited to was a natural parenting group and I went there, as I read through these moms comments and questions I felt even more like I wasn’t one of them. These were moms that went all vegan, moms that travel the world with there children, moms that bathe in the lakes they find while there road tripping through life in there mini buses there family lives in (ok not all, but I did find one mom that was doing just that!) I was nothing like that, I’m flexitarian, my kid bathes in a bathtub and my kid isn’t travelling mingle with different cultures on there natural land.
But was that what I had to do to be a crunchy mom? Or are there levels of “crunchiness” ?
I decided to open up, went to the post section and wrote how I had been deemed a “Crunchy mom” as an insult and felt like I wasn’t really doing enough to be “crunchy” so asked, am I really a crunchy mom? I couldn’t just ask a bunch of strangers and get a proper response so I decided to explain a bit about what I do, that I think is a bit “crunchy” but I still don’t think is enough.
Uses coconut oil religiously as moisturizer, and make my own body scrubs with coconut oil
Lily and I have a minimum of one hour of nature time a day
I buy most of my cheeses, vegetables and meat from local farmers
All our sweet treats and desserts are home made
I’m attempting to make as much ourselves, soups, marinades, condiments and my quest to make our own breads is ongoing (see mu last post) and I hope to one day make all our sandwich breads, buns and such from scratch.
Instead of turning up the heat I try to use blankets and layers, or in the heat flowing clothes instead of turning on the air conditioner
I do yoga with Lily as much as I can to teach her how to calm her mind and body down.
I try to limit Lily’s tv time to one movie a day (when she gets bored of the movie and runs off to play, the movie is paused and when her interest comes back to the movie the tv turns back on until she loses interest again.
I use essential oils for everything from making sure I have a good night’s rest ( chamomile and lavander) to muscles pains and growing pains for Lily.
I’m trying to cut down on processed foods, and snacks are only whole foods versus pre packaged snacks.
we are flexitarian, we do eat meat but we don’t make it the only way we get our protein.
Lily and I still cosleep, even though she’s starting to move around more during the night and prefers my side of the bed, after almost four years were still comfortable.
After writing the comment and posting it I had had revelation. Why do I need these mothers to approve that I am a crunchy mom? Why do I need to be approved to have this title? I’m trying my hardest to be eco conscious, trying hard to make sure my daughter understands where her food came from, and how it’s made versus that it’s just something you buy in a store. I’m teaching my daughter to be aware of the world around her, and to not harm anything even as little as an ant and I’m teaching her that there are other ways to get rid of anxiety, pain and other ways to deal with sickness then popping a pill.
So yes, I’m a crunchy mom, and I wear that title as a badge of honor.
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When Lily was around 9 months old I borrowed this one book from the local library titled “The Homemade Pantry” and it’s exactly what the title suggests, an entire cookbook packed full of recipes that show you how to make all the pantry staples at your home instead of buying everything pre-made and processed with ingredients you might not even be able to pronounce.
That idea of the book stuck with me all these years.
I want my daughter to grow up understanding how to make her own bread, that mayonnaise doesn’t just have to come from a Hellmans container but can be whipped up in our kitchen, I need her to know early on that pizza doesn’t come prepared and frozen in the freezer section of the grocery store, heck I want it to go so far that she understands she can even make her own crackers and cheese!
This is why Lily has grown up in the kitchen and will continue to do so. As a little girl, I would place her in her high chair, roll it into our tiny kitchen and give her a wooden spoon while I baked zucchini bread, graham crackers and even when I wilted spinach in a pan with Garlic to make her a personal toddler person that became a staple in her diet as a toddler.
As she’s grown older she grown from just sitting in the kitchen to her helping us gather our ingredients throughout our kitchen, to her even grating chicken and help dice carrots with a safe knife and learning to scoop the sides of a bowl while stirring and hold to lightly fold chocolate chips into a batter.
I’m a Baker and I hope to one day own my own bakery and I hope for a little while that Lily will be along to help with odd jobs in the kitchen while I work…I even have this dream that I would have a tiny table for her to sit at off to side where she can do her homework.
We have a bit to go for my dream of a fully homemade pantry but my daughter is along for the ride and I couldn’t pick a better kitchen helper.
We are lucky to live in a society that still believes in fresh farmers markets each weekend, we’re lucky to have farmers open their fields for families to go anywhere from apple, pumpkin picking to strawberry picking.
But we won’t be for long.
If we don’t continue to purchase from our local farmers, our local cheese makers, the farmers that surprise us not only by growing wheat, but grinding it down into a flour and baking with it and having that all done in time to sell at the local farmer’s market, if we don’t continue to support our local food growers one day will not have enough money to support not only themselves but also their homestead which means no more local food.
When we purchase our foods from farmers markets and directly from the people that are making and producing the product then we have so much more information available. We are able to learn information like the positives of drinking milks and eating cheeses from other animals not just from cows, which I learned about last weekend at the farmers market. I’ve been loving Brie in this one sandwich I’ve been buying premade at a indoor market grocery store and decided to buy my own brie, when I asked for some from the man at the market he asked which one I wanted, cows milk or buffolo. Know I like to think I’ve tried more foods then most and I’m to trying most things once, but I have never heard of local buffolo milk, luckily when asked which he recommended he went into an amazingly informative conversation that I was happy to listen to and discuss. I would have never gotten anything similar to that from a grocery store.
I’m committing myself to eating locally as much as I possibly can. I’m going to find a farmers market that I can find most of what I need, my cheese and dairy needs, my jam needs, produce needs and pre-made but locally made foods (like the gorgeous pizzas at our market). I mostly shop at the London’s Western Fair Market which has all of this and more, but now that the spring is here and more produce and outdoor markets are beginning to pop up and I’m going to be as happy as can be to try every single new market that pops up in our area.
I’m proud to eat in season, I’m proud to support local food, and I’m proud to eat local!
I want my daughter to learn where food comes from.
I want her to know chicken doesn’t just naturally come in nugget form, that seeds that you find in your fruit actually can grow an entire new plant, I want her to know that milk comes from a cow, I even want her to learn what she can forage from a field or forest and what is edible and what is not (which I will be learning along with her)
The past few days I have been reading The 100 Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon and it has opened my eyes to plenty of new information, shocking statistics and how much I really should be doing to make not only my life a healthier life for me but for my daughter and the planet that my daughter will grow up on.
This week I have decided to make some changes in my life and my daughters, we will be starting to compost so that we have healthy compost to sprinkle over our new garden we will be planting shortly that will be full of vegetables and berries. I will be planning on growing green beans and tomatoes and Lily wishes that we could plant carrots which I will be looking into. Yesterday I spent quite some time picking the tiny seeds off of strawberries so that I could rinse them off, then dry them and plant them in a tiny area so they can begin regrowing inside our home.
I’m hoping in the next few months that Lily and I will be able to travel to a few different farms around us and pick some fruit and learn some new things about farm animals and we will be going to try some different farmers markets now that the warmer weather markets begin this weekend in our city.
Through all of this I hope my daughter learns to try new foods because shes comfortable that they are safe, because she feels proud to eat them because shes helped grow them with her own hands. This is going to be a change for us, but one I believe is needed to teach my daughter to be grateful for the food that she eats, to be grateful for our earth and that we are still able to grow our own food.
I’m a list person, I love making grocery lists, I have numerous “bucket lists”, lists of books I wish to read to many lists to count. Making a list calms my mind and allows me to feel prepared and organized. One thing often taught in therapy programs is making a list of goals, of course most of these lists were weekly goals but I’m going to change it up and give myself more time and prepare goals that I can tackle this month.
I’m going to promise myself to not put to much pressure on myself for the following goals, these goals are to better my bigger goal of a happy life, not to put stress on me. These are tasks that I am trying to achieve to bring myself joy, new friendships, and pride in myself.
Prepare more vegetarian recipes, or simply make my old vegetarian recipes; take photos and finally begin to post them onto the blog.
Begin responding to comments, thanking people that take time out of there day to give me support. Also begin to comment on others posts also letting them know there posts are appreciated.
I’ve taken to much time off from practicing yoga and I’m hoping to get back into weekly sessions if not more then a few sessions a week.
Walks- Lily loves to explore outside and she’s getting better with listening and holding my hand so we can go on walks around the block more often this month I’m hoping.
Smoothies- I’m still finding it hard to eat a breakfast, I’m hoping by starting out drink smoothies rich with vegetables, fruit possibly adding some hemp seed even can help me start my day off right and eventually lead me to a real breakfast.
Try something new – I’m hoping to try a new food this month, maybe dragon fruit? I love going to the grocery store and seeing different products and I’m planning a few trips to markets this month so I’m sure i’m going to find something to try.
I’ve been doing really well with my lunches and snacks but my dinners still tend to be normal fair, I’m hoping to begin making healthier meals for dinners.
Friendship: I’m open to meeting new friends, I’ve come a long way from my high school days and I don’t seem to have made many new friends since then that share my current interests in writing, yoga, nutrition, motherhood, or cooking. I’m also hoping to spend time with friends this month, just a simply coffee date would suffice.
Meditation: A few times after Lily has gone to bed I’ve put on the “Spa” channel and just simply listened to the music and emptied my mind but I’m hoping to meditate more often and even try some guided meditation.
What do you hope to complete this month? Do you make weekly or monthly goals lists?
I’m not going to be delusional and tell you I’m at a perfect weight and there’s no reason for me to loose weight. I’m overweight, I know already so lets just get that point out of the way and move on, I get it I should eat better and I should do more exercise and loose weight, and that is what I am attempting to do know.
Losing weight is not the main reason though that this April will be the beginning of me trying to eat healthier, and be healthier, mentally and physically. I’ve had issues these past few months, I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been having a lot of joint pain, and feeling like I’m constantly pulling a muscle, and my fingers keep locking on me, and I’m trying to eat healthier because I understand that yes there might be a deeper issue, but part of the problem could have been my eating habits. I don’t take care of myself to be honest, i’m that person that will go hungry so someone else can eat, and I’m the mother that eats very little to make sure I don’t need to spend any more money on groceries for me, so that i still have money just in case Lily needs food. I have spent the past few months eating just until my hunger goes away, and I’ve been eating at wrong times (I eat once Lily goes to bed at 7:30, and then I get to bed a few hours later which I’ve read is a reason for weight gain) Where I make sure her father/my boyfriend is eating enough, I’m not taking care to make sure my body is fueled and with proper foods either.
I’m making a few changes, one of the main ones is cutting out as much pop/soda as I can. When I was pregnant carbonation was one of my cravings, carbonated water, pop, anything I could get my hands on that had those bubbles in it I wanted. It didn’t stop after Lily was born and some months I have had at least one can of pop a day! I’ve tried stopping my pop “addiction” before and I was doing good, but nothing ever stuck. One of the issues was that it was easier to just grab a can then pull out juice or something and a cup. But I can’t make that claim anymore because no matter if it’s a can or a cup Lily will try to grab it so no matter what I drink out of I’m going to have to work to keep that liquid in the cup and not all over my couch. I’ve picked up one of those liquid water flavorings. I thought this would be a good idea because I need to get more water into my routine and because it’s better then buying unhealthy juices.
I’m going to try and eat more simple foods, what I mean by that is my snacks will try to be more simple in nature, natural fruits, and vegetables, slices of healthy cheese, a handful of almonds, healthy yogurt, more foods that will give me energy. Just simply making sure I snack during the day will be a main game changer. I don’t snack, I eat a small lunch and I eat dinner, I never really ate breakfast, and I never really eat snacks. I’m taking one from Lily, she loves her fruit, shes finally eating strawberries, loves grapes, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and loves banana’s with peanut butter.
Last but not least I’m going to try and change my dinner and lunches. First I’m definitely changing the time I eat my dinner. I began eating dinner after Lily went into bed because I have certain rules and restrictions about my eating from my mindset of an eating disorder that began in my teens, one of the big ones is unless i’m sitting at a table having a conversation with someone I can’t eat unless I’m watching something I enjoy on television (which in turn means I can’t eat during commercial breaks) so I didn’t want to force Lily to watch something not child appropriate or something boring to her so I let her watch television as long as shes eating dinner, and then the tv gets turned to just background noise. I do eat lunch with Lily though, but Like I said I don’t eat much for Lunch. I’m changing this by eating dinner with Lily, (5:30 or 6:00pm) and I’m going to eat more healthier foods, of course I have healthy comfort foods, and of course I’m going to treat myself to my lovely casseroles, just not as much. Healthy comfort food for me is salads. I love salads I could honestly live off of them, there are so many variations, I love adding corn to my salads, shrimp is amazing in salads and I even found a new salad that I want to recreate at home, it was an Asian chicken salad, that I found pre-made at the store. The sauce was a sweet chili dressing, I was unable to fully handle it (I ate it but 2 cups of lactose free milk later and there still was a ting of burning sensation in my mouth)
Know don’t worry I’m not going to become a blog only about health and fitness. This blog is meant for food. Recipes, Food ideas, food news, my trips to markets, new food product finds, kitchen essentials. I will hopefully be making new healthy recipes but that’s not all I will be writing about, I already have some usual food that I like to make ready to post about, not that there high in calories and not healthy, just the idea of the recipes is comfort not nutrients. Of course though you can indulge once in awhile, everything in moderation! Don’t you worry, comfort food is the main theme of the blog and it will stay that way.