Clipping coupons

One thing I do pretty regularly is cut coupons or add coupons to my member card for Safeway and Fred Meyer.  The vast majority of things that you can get coupons for are processed foods, which we rarely buy, but there are also toiletries that you can get great deals on, like toothpaste and toilet paper.  Both Safeway and Fred Meyer often offer coupons for foods like eggs, milk, ground beef, and chicken.  They also offer deals on more processed foods like canned tomatoes (for whipping up a batch of tomato sauce) and dry pasta.  Clipping coupons tends to require some vigilance, along with an awareness of usual grocery store prices, in order to get the best deals.

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Recipe: Kneadless White Bread

Here is a bread recipe that I have adapted from Nancy Baggett’s book for no-knead bread recipes.  I have cut her recipe in half so it only makes one loaf, and I have fiddled with the flour and water ingredients, and incorporated leftover whey from yogurt-making and sourdough pour-off.  If you don’t have starter, increase flour by 1/2 c. and whey by 3 oz.

Easy White Bread

makes 1 loaf

  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. high gluten flour (like Sir Lancelot from King Arthur Flour)
  • 2/3 c. sourdough starter
  • 2 1/2 T. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 T. sugar
  • 1/2 T. salt
  • 1/2 t. yeast
  • 8 oz. cold whey

Mix flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in large bowl.  Mix wet ingredients together.  Stir wet ingredients into dry.  Dough should be stiff.   Brush or spray with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-10 hours.  Then let rise at cool room temperature for 15-20 hours.

Stir dough, then press into loaf pan and let rise covered for 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours.  Remove cover when dough nears the top of the pan.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  When dough is about 1/2 in. above pan top, lower oven temp to 400 and bake for about 40-45 min.  Cool in pan for 10 min.

Recipe: Sourdough bread!

I finally had the chance to make a true sourdough bread from my homemade starter.  I have been using the pour-off from the starter for various things, including pretzel knots and sandwich bread (recipe coming soon!).  However, this is my first bread that I can say has a true sourdough flavor.  This recipe is adapted from Nancy Baggett’s Kneadlessly Simple, a book on no-knead breads.

San-Francisco Style Sourdough Bread

  • 3 1/2 c. (17.5 oz.) bread flour or all-purpose flour (I use all-purpose with Sir Lancelot flour as the extra flour)
  • 1 3/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. instant yeast
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 2/3 c. sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 c. whey

Stir flour, salt, and yeast in large bowl.  Whisk oil, starter, and whey in another container, then add to the dry ingredients.  You will want a very stiff dough, so add extra flour if needed.  Spray with oil, cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate 3-10 hours.  Let rise at cool room temperature 18-24 hours.

Stir dough, adding extra flour if necessary.  Fold sides toward center then let rest 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with 3-4 T. of flour, and work flour into dough.  Dust with flour, then form dough into a round.  Transfer to an oiled Dutch oven.  Dust with flour again and cut cross-hatches (3 parallel slices bisected by 3 parallel slices in the opposite direction) across the top.  Cover pot and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours until doubled.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Reduce heat to 425.  Bake covered for 55 min.  Uncover and sprinkle top of dough with water.  Bake approximately 10 min.  Cool on rack for 10 min.  Cool thoroughly.

Note: You will really be able to smell the ripe starter doing its work after the second rise.  I got a big whiff of alcohol when I took the plastic wrap off!

Adventures in gardening

Last week I was talking with a coworker of mine who has his own garden, and I told him that I wanted to try starting one of my own, but I wanted to learn more about gardening before I attempted anything.  He suggested that I just try planting the seeds and see what happens.  This conversation was inspiring because I am often reluctant to try new things unless I’ve done a lot of research before hand.  Part of this is because I have to buy materials and other resources, and some of it is probably just my personality.  I want to know what I’m getting into.  However, this same personality trait sometimes prevents me from trying new things because I get daunted by my research, which makes things sound really complicated and tiresome.  My research on gardening made it sound like I would have to wade through a lot of contradictory advice on what to plant and how, and that it would be a lot more expensive in terms of water.

However, this weekend I decided to go ahead and take my friend’s advice.  I did some preliminary research on what would be good late summer/fall seeds to plant, and I headed out to Fred Meyer and bought packages of seeds for:

  • Purple plum radishes
  • Endive
  • Broccoli
  • Onion
  • Gourmet lettuce blend

I hope that something ends up growing, because I know that I would feel more encouraged to try growing other produce and invest more time in gardening.  I also hope that I have other opportunities to try little things to see if I get satisfaction out of them before I decide to plunge headlong into them.

Crossfit milestone: 80k deadlift!

One of my favorite things that Crossfit instructors do is watch you do exercises to make sure you have good form and don’t hurt yourself.  They also help you challenge yourself by showing variations on different movements, or ways to get that little bit more out of a movement so that you can do 80 kilo deadlifts!  Yay!  Granted, I only did two reps before I felt like my form broke down, but that’s two more than I’ve ever done before.

Cutting out soda

It has been my goal to cut down on soda for health and cost reasons, since I consume a lot of artificial sweetener through sodas.

There have been studies about how artificial sweeteners still conditions your body to want sugar, and a variety of ills have been attributed to artificial sweeteners.  Even if artificial sweeteners turn out to be health-neutral, it would still save money and feel healthier – and considering that placebos can sometimes be effective, I try not to underestimate the power of mind-body connection.  Plus, it would be better for my teeth to not drink too much soda, regardless of whether it has artificial sweetener or not.

Oddly enough, something that I have found to be effective in not drinking soda is drinking ice water.  Regular water doesn’t do it, but for some reason drinking water with a lot of ice cubes is satisfying in a way that allows me to skip soda.  Not sure why it works, but I’m hoping it will continue to work even when I am bringing my lunches to school.

Recipe: Deviled eggs

I like cooking to require very few ingredients, yet also be delicious.  Sometimes the trade-off is that it’s complicated to cook.  Not so with deviled eggs.  It’s almost not even a recipe because it’s so simple.

Deviled Eggs

  • 5 boiled eggs
  • 4 bread-and-butter pickle chips (I use Trader Joe’s because it lasts a really long time and is relatively inexpensive)
  • mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cut eggs in half lengthwise.  Add egg yolks to a small bowl with chopped up pickle chips, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add mayo and mash until creamy.  Fill egg whites with mixture.

That’s it!  You must use bread-and-butter pickles for this, though – I have tried other kinds and they do not taste right.  If you made the bread-and-butter pickles from scratch you’d need more ingredients, and they wouldn’t last as long as TJ’s.  (If you are so inclined, this pickle recipe seems like a recipe I would try.)