Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s Next?

As much as I hate it, and as much as my ADHD adult mind would love to wander off on yet some other tempting tangent or two, especially during this holiday season of overeating and overcooking and overbaking…

We’re still faced with the fact that my husband has just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and that we both need to start eating better.

This has actually become a top priority, if not THE top priority, in our lives right now.

And I have made planning our meals around the Raw Foods Pyramid my plan on attack.

Mainly I am doing this so that I won’t have to cook…no, wait…that’s so not true…

But it is true that the real reason I use huge recyclable cloth bags when shopping is so that I can safely cram more into each bag and, as a result, make fewer trips from my car into the house…not to save the environment.

My pursuit of a “raw foods diet” so far has involved learning to eat more unprocessed, organic, and uncooked foods….foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, sprouted grains, and beans—none of which can have been heated above a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 104 and 118 degrees.

I have also been becoming more aware of which foods have been refined, pasteurized, homogenized, or produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.

I have been learning about the raw foods dfiet by starting at the base of the Pyramid—those low calorie, nutrient dense foods that we should probably all eat more of in the first place and slowly working my way to the higher-calorie, less nutritious foods at the top of the pyramid, those foods that we should eat very little of, if any at all.

The three bottom tiers of the Raw Foods pyramid—water, leafy greens, and fruits and vegetables—are grouped together in the one category called “Production Foods.”

Let’s take a look at what we’ve learned so far…

Advertisements
Satisfying the Sweet Tooth

Holiday Baking-Gingerbread

Hard to believe that National Gingerbread Day is celebrated in June instead of December, but since today is National Gingerbread Day, I thought that this would be a great day to re-publish this previous post about Torunskie pierniki.

Torun, Polanda medieval city on the banks of the Vistula River, and one of the few cities in Poland that escaped the devastating bombings of World War II, is known as the birthplace of gingerbread cookies…


Muzeum Piernika, the Museum of Torun Gingerbread, is the former factory of Gustav Weese, a family who has baked pierniki there for generations…and the only museum dedicated to gingerbread in Europe.

Visitors to the museum take part in an interactive show which teaches them how the dough was made in theMiddle Ages…how to make their own gingerbread using traditional baking molds…and how flour is produced using millstones.

Great pierniki are all about the proper blend of spices: Too much ginger or pepper will make the cookies too spicy. Too much cinnamon will make them too sweet.

Training for the job of gingerbread master was once comparable to the training as a sommelier….but here is a gingerbread recipe well worth making in months other than December.

Gingerbread

Cream together…3/4C softened butter…1-1/2C brown sugar.

Add…1C molasses…2 eggs…1Tbsp maple extract.

Sift together…6C flour…1tsp salt…1/2tsp of each of the following—allspice, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon

Add the flour mixture in three batches, beating until just combined after each addition.

  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge. Divide the dough in half once dough is soft enough to roll but still firm. Roll out each half between two sheets of plastic wrap.
  • Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Bake 5min, Remove with a spatula. Let cool completely.
  • Cream together 2 pounds powdered sugar, 1/3C milk,, 2 egg whites
  • Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a fine tip or a squirt bottle.
  • Decorate the cookies with miscellaneous candies, sprinkles, and so forth…using icing as an accent and as glue to hold on the candies.
  •  Allow icing to set before transporting or serving.

Gingerbread has a long history and has become part of Christmas traditions throughout the world.

in 992 gingerbread was brought to Europe by the Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis who had left Nicopolis Pompeii, to live in France. He taught gingerbread baking to French Christians.

 in the 13th century, gingerbread was brought to Sweden by German immigrants. Early references from the Vadstena Abbey show how Swedish nuns baked gingerbread to ease indigestion.

During the 17th century gingerbread was sold in monasteries, pharmacies, and town square farmers’ markets for medicinal properties.

During the 18th century, the town of Market Drayton in Shropshire, England became known for its gingerbread and started displaying gingerbread on welcome signs to their town.

Although ginger had been stocked in high street businesses there since the 1640, the first record of gingerbread being baked in the town was not until 1793.

Gingerbread and Childhood Memories


Gingerbread men have played an important role in childhood culture and memories for centuries.

Almost everyone remembers the fairy tale about a gingerbread man who comes to life, outruns an elderly couple, and is finally devoured by a fox.

In 1892, Tchaikovsky wrote his famous ballet The Nutcracker, portraying the Nutcracker leading an army of gingerbread men in a battle against the Mouse King and his fellows.
In 1945 the game Candy Land was released…starring “The Gingerbread People” as the main characters.
Shrek movies include a talking gingerbread man named Gingy in the cast.

Gingerbread Around the World


In England, gingerbread is commonly known as Parkin, a soft gingerbread cake made with oatmeal and black treacle. Molasses was first used by apothecaries to make the medicine theriaca, from which name the word “treacle”…so treacle is actually molasses.

Parkin was the food of the poor. Ovens were rare in the houses of the poor, and so they cooked these cakes on griddles or bakestones over an open fire. Oats were also the staple grain for the poor, even though thought of as animal feed for the upper classes.

Parkin is traditionally eaten on Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night, November 5th…a celebration of the great failure of Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses on Parliament in 1605.

Parkin

Preheat oven to 275.
Stir together…

  • 1-1/4C oatmeal
  • 3/4C flour
  • 1/2C brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Warm the following ingredients in a saucepan just long enough to melt the butter…

  • 1/3C syrup
  • 1/2C butter
  • 3/4C milk
  • 1/3C molasses

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
Pour in the milk mixture.
Mix ingredients together with a spoon until fully incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove from the oven. Let cool fully on a wire rack.
Wrap the parkin in paper and place in a tin with a lid for a couple of days

 

In France…Pain d’épices, a honey spice cake and a speciality of the Alsace region, has been around for hundreds of years.

Traditional recipes for pain d’épices call for mixing honey and rye flour into a pâte-mère (mother dough) and leaving the dough in a wooden trough to rest in a cool place for months.

Traditional pain d’épices is sweetened entirely with honey, and the loaves can often be purchased from French honey merchants.

Julia Child’s Recipe for Pain d’épices

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prep springform or loaf pan. 
Beat together…1¼C honey…1C brown sugar…¾C boiling water.
Add 1Tbsp baking soda…½ tsp fine sea salt.
Gradually add 3½C flour. 
Beat 2min more on medium speed.
Reduce the speed on the mixer to slow.


Add

  • ¾C finely chopped almonds
  • 1tsp almond extract
  • ¼C dark rum
  • ½tsp cinnamon
  • ½tsp cloves
  • ½tsp ginger
  • ½tsp nutmeg
  •  ¼tsp ground white pepper
  • 2tsp grated fresh orange or lemon peel
  • ½C chopped dried apricots
  • ½C golden raisins

 

Mix until everything is well incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan. Bake one hour. Let cool before wrapping well in plastic.

Note…Julia recommends waiting at least a day or more before serving. For the best flavor and texture, age the cake for two weeks in the refrigerator or one month in the freezer.


In Germany gingerbread is often called Lebkuchen and sold at carnivals and street markets, especially Christkindlmarkts.
As early as 1296 Lebkuchen had been invented by monks in Franconia, Germany…and Lebkuchen bakeries were started in towns like Ulm and Nürnberg.

Today Nürnberg is especially famous for the export of Nürnberger Lebkuchen. Lebkuchen is sometimes packaged in richly decorated tins, chests, and boxes, which have become nostalgic collector items.

In addition to “ordinary” Lebkuchen, three more types of Lebkuchen are…

  • Hexenhäuschen (“witch houses”)…made popular because of the fairy tales about Hansel and Gretel.
  • Honigkuchenpferd (“honey cake horse”)….the closest German equivalent of the gingerbread man.
  • Lebkuchenherzen (“Lebkuchen hearts”), cut-out hearts usually inscribed with icing and sold at German regional fairs and Christmas markets, and Oktoberfest.

German Lebkuchen

  1. Whisk together 3/4C flour…1/2tsp baking powder…1/4tsp salt…1/2tsp cinnamon…1/2tsp ginger…1/2tsp ground cloves.
  2. Add…3 ounces crumbled almond paste…1/3 cup apricot jam…3 large eggs…3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar.
  3. Blanche, toast, and then finely chop 3/4C blanched whole almonds…1/3C blanched hazelnuts. 
  4. Finely chop 1/3C candied orange peel, 1/3C candied lemon peel, 4 pitted Medjool dates.
  5. Add these to the batter.
  6. Transfer dough to an airtight container. Refrigerate overnight.
  7. To bake…Drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, using a 1/4-cup scoop and spacing cookies 3″ apart. Place 3 almonds close together on top of each cookie. Bake at 325 until golden brown, about 14 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
  8. To ice…Whisk together powdered sugar and milk. Brush over cooled cookies. Let stand until set.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

“Me Time”—The How

If you’re lucky, your weekends are designated “me time.” Those are the days you get to unwind from work and delve into hobbies, passions, or side projects that take us out of the daily grind and let us flex our interests and creativity.

But, you know, sometimes life gets in the way. You were supposed to practice with that fancy new camera lens you bought, but then a mountain of laundry beckoned. Or maybe you were going to finally start those Italian lessons, but then a friend asked if you could help them move.

There’s always going to be something that pops up during the weekends, but the trick is to make your side project time non-negotiable. Rather than giving away your hours because of guilt or necessity and then feeling bummed you had no “me time,” here are a few sure-fire ways that will make room for your hobbies on the weekends.

 

Announce It To Your Friends…If your friends (or partner) have a habit of springing plans up on you during the weekend, make a habit out of announcing that you need time for your hobby. So if they want to go to the beach or a flea market or get lunch, always respond with, “Well, I have my guitar lessons at two every Saturday,” or “maybe after my photo editing session at one.” By reinforcing that you have this weekly task that you make time for, they’ll begin to respect that time slot and not try to take it over. And even better—you’ll respect it more, too. By announcing it to others you’re making it a permanent part of your weekend, which will only make you take it more seriously.Sometimes responsibilities get in the way, and making room for personal hobbies or side-projects can get tricky. But follow some of these tips and your passions will have at least a fighting chance!

Block Out Recurring “Me Time” for the Future...Open up your planner right now, and every 1 PM on every Saturday for the next year, block off an hour with the words “me time.” That way, no matter who asks you to lunch, to volunteer, or to help you with moving, you’ll know that you’re already booked. It’ll help you manage your time, but it also establishes a routine for you and your hobby that will help you accept it as a permanent part of your life: Every Saturday at one o’clock, you do it. After a month or two, it’ll feel like a natural part of the weekend.

Do It In The Morning…If you find yourself easily bogged down by commitments or out-of-the-blue emergencies, try tackling your hobby during the mornings. While everyone is still waking up and moving slowly, you can get a jump start and sit down with your blog, your camera, or your book club selection, and tackle your me-time before noon hits. If you get it out of the way first thing in the morning, you won’t have any excuses for not doing it.

Have A “Short Version” Ready For Busy Weekends...Rather than just hitting pause on your interests when the weekend gets busy, have a “short version” ready of your hobby for when schedules get hectic. For example, if you enjoy doing yoga, swap your usual 45 minute session for a quick 15 minute one on YouTube. Or if you love to bake on the weekends, try a recipe that uses five ingredients and takes 30 minutes to bang out, rather than picking one out of the fancy French cookbook that’s meant to take half the afternoon. That way you can still enjoy your interests and tackle everything on your hectic to-do list.

Schedule It...It might sound rigid, but if you use a daily planner regularly or an app on your phone, then you probably know that if an appointment is made it’s basically set in stone. If the time is marked, you’ll show up to it. Following that logic then, if you see “yoga” or “beer brewing” on your Saturday afternoon schedule, you’ll be more likely to actually do it. Since it’s already blocked off in your calendar, you’ll have a smaller chance of giving that spot away to a brunch with friends or a quick nip to the laundromat.

Set Yourself Weekly Goals…It can be super easy to be diligent with your hobby one week, and then put it off for two more because things came up. What you need to do is find a way to make your me-time a priority. A great way to do that is to set yourself weekly goals so you have something to strive forFor example, say your hobby is writing. If you have a goal of writing one chapter per weekend (or one poem, or one pitch,) then you’ll be more likely to sit down at the computer and do it. You can make it more specific – maybe the first Sunday of the week you’ll write a chapter, and then the next weekend you’ll look up editors you want to pitch to, and the weekend after that you’ll read articles on how to properly write out a pitch. Having action steps mapped out for the month will help you motivated to continue on with your goals.

Think Of It As Play Time…Rather than making it another thing to check off your list, reframe your hobby as “play time.” See it as a break from the usual rotation of chores, errands, and obligatory hangouts, and use your hobby time almost like recess: This is the part of the weekend you’ve been waiting for. The part that puts your interests front and center, and has no other purpose than to let you enjoy something for an hour or two. If you reframe your hobby that way, then not only will you look forward to it all week, but you won’t feel guilty for indulging. It’s not time away from cleaning your house or hanging out with your partner- it’s self-care.

Sewing a Straight Seam

The Importance of “Me Time”

We have been taught that taking time out for ourselves is selfish. We put pressure on ourselves to be perfect and meet our own extreme expectations.

Most people in our culture feel the need to be going all the time. If we are not working and putting our energy into something, we believe we are wasting time.

Especially during the holiday season…

Yet in order to be able to support and care for others, we must first take good care of ourselves.

If we feel healthy, happy, and energised– instead of exhausted, unwell, and unhappy,- then we are generally in a much better position to love, support and nurture others.

Taking care of ourselves is a crucial part of living a full life that allows us to…

  • Learn to just ‘be’ and to enjoy our own company
  • Get to know ourselves better
  • Be more open to self-growth
  • Encourage us to stop and take time out from the chaos
  • Take time to process or digest what has been happening and how you have been feeling, which will allow you to go to sleep more easily
  • Avoid feeling exhausted, rushed, and run down
  • Start feeling more energized, healthy, patient, creative, inspired, clear-headed and productive
  • Relieve stress
  • Recharge our batteries

Although feeling stressed out and burned out are pretty much “normal” in today’s society, extreme stress can lead to emotional problems—such as poor judgment, problems focusing, having a short temper, feeling overwhelmed, and being generally moody.

Extreme stress can also lead to physical health problems—such as rapid heartbeats, chest pains, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack, and other aches and pains.

Stress can cause you to sleep too little, eat too much, or even turn to drugs and alcohol.

In order to avoid stress overload and burnout, you need to provide yourself some me time on a regular basis, even if only fifteen to thirty minutes each day.

This could mean getting a massage and a pedicure, doing thirty minutes of meditation, vegging out on the couch watching movies, going to the gym, going for a night out with friends.

Even this little amount of time will help improve your concentration, inspire your creativity and increase your happiness.

Having a career and hobbies and developing your talents will actually allow you to be more involved with the people around you.

“Me” time can help you avoid irritability, enable you to control your emotions, and improve your mood in general. This time will also help you have greater stamina and a better ability to concentrate.

So give yourself permission to take at least a half hour per day, just for yourself, every day…even if this simply means reading a book or watching the sun come up while enjoying a hot cup of coffee.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Baking with Applesauce

IMG_4908

Being the wife of a type 2 diabetic makes you reconsider the old ways that you have learned to cook, not only in WHAT you cook, but also in HOW you cook.

You become more aware of the amount of saturated fats, sugar, and calories contained in your baked goods.

For example, check out these facts about the nutritional value of Paula Deen’s Sour Cream Pound Cake found in my last post. I’ve been making this cake for about thirty-five years my self and eating it for about fifty, but never stopped to really think about the ingredients until here lately.

But still, being from the Deep South, I absolutely love to bake and would gladly put my sour cream pound cake in competition with anyone else’s at any upcoming state fair this fall.

But how do I still manage to make moist, delicious baked goods that will rival any competitors while also keeping my type 2 diabetic husband’s blood sugar and cholesterol levels in line?

One way is by replacing some of the fat called for in cookie and cake recipes with applesauce.

So this holiday baking season, I plan on making at least some of my traditional recipes using applesauce so that at least some of my offerings will contain less sugar and perhaps even healthy(?!)…since apples have been shown to have great health benefits.—such as helping to prevent cancer, reducing your risk of cardiovascular difficulties, acting as an antioxidant, and diminishing the effects of bad cholesterol.

Heading Off to Work, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blessing the Bibliophiles

 

For those of us book lovers who have a nightstand piled high with books, subscribe to the local bookstore’s newsletter, and always keep a paperback close at hand, we belong to a special breed of people called bibliophiles.

And this year why not share your love of reading with other bibliophiles by making a big deal out of this shared passion and giving a literary-themed Christmas gift such as the perfect coffee mug, pair of comfy socks, or a nice and warm blanket. 

   

Blanket…Musical Background in Retro Style Throw Blanket ($40)by Cafe Press

     
Bookmark…Music Beaded Bookmark ($3) by Peter Pauper Press

  

Library Stamp…Monogram Stamp ($20) from The Stamp Maker

  

Mug…”Kindly Go Away, I’m Reading” Mug ($16) by Zazzle

  

 Reading Socks…Fur Tipped Cable Knit Reading Socks

  

 Spoon…ThePaperSpoon4U

  

Sweatshirt…The Great Gatsby Sweatshirt ($42)…Out of Print Clothing

   
Tea…The Literary Tea Collection ($51) from First Edition Tea Co.

  

Tote Bag…Keep Calm and Read On” Tote Bag ($21) from The Library StoWith Love