Kindness

Kindness is essential in our daily lives.
I will share weekly a new post with a message of how powerful kindness really can be.

Monday, February 27, 2012

True Kindness is Helping Someone Who Cannot Pay You Back!

(A great read by Author: Anthony K. Wilson Sr.)

You will have many opportunities in life to help those who can never repay you in some way, but compassion has a greater reward than any payback ever could…


I often marvel at how the holiday season seems to bring out a level of kindness that never seems to be as intense or consistent in the earlier parts of the year? Why does society seem to ramp up its receptive nature to perform these random acts of kindness at such a limited window when compared to the entire year as a whole?


Think about the last time you did something nice for someone. Did you expect, or receive, something in return? While there is nothing negative about being paid back or about receiving some other form of appreciation, there is a special way of kindness that is much better.


When you show kindness to someone who cannot give nor do anything for you in return, you are expressing a wonderful kind of compassion. It is doing something for a fellow human being, without any expectations. There are no strings attached to compassion, nor are there any conditions. This makes compassion the purest form of kindness that exists.


If you consider all the people who are in your daily life, you will see that you have many opportunities to show kindness every day. There are also many people whom you do not see very often, and even strangers. Each and every person in the world needs, deserves, and appreciates kindness. You will not need to look very far to find plenty of them every day.


When you show that you are a compassionate individual by extending kindness, you will deepen your respect for yourself. Other people will soon learn to respect you as well. The reason for this is that expressing kindness shows that you are a person who cares about others.


In today’s world, especially, there is a great need for kindness and compassion. Many people feel empty and alone. It is not hard to find many situations to show family members, friends and even strangers that each one does count. You may not have considered it this way before. The simple fact remains that whenever you show kindness to a person, you are letting him know that he matters.


Even the smallest act of kindness can truly make a difference in a person’s life. When it is sincere and unconditional, you may even be helping him to believe in himself. The tiniest act of kindness can be a blessing that he will always remember. You have the gift to make such an impact in a person’s life!


How to Make Homemade Pizza Dough Using a Bread Machine

There's a story behind my bread-making machine worth sharing. To say my husband loves bread is an understatement. Subsequently, he presented a bread-making machine to me as a Christmas present many, many years ago. I made several attempts to produce homemade bread with this new piece of equipment but was never successful. At that time I was working a full-time job, running a household and probably had much less patience then than I do now. I decided I wasn't intelligent enough to work the darn thing so I put it away and forgot about it. Now skipping forward many, many years I decided to clean out some storage in the basement when I came across this piece of forgotten equipment. I brought it out of hiding and once again decided to attempt to put it to good use one more time. My husband couldn't understand how the process could possibly be that difficult and he finally came to the conclusion that the machine was malfunctioning. Duh. Now remember the time period has advanced several years while it was in storage. The bread-loving husband wasted no time. He took it back to store where he purchased it and asked for a replacement since this one hasn't worked from day one. With no questions asked he was given a new model as an even exchange. He brought it home to me and I've been baking with it ever since with little effort. I have a lot of respect for my new bread making machine and have rewarded it a position on the counter top where it belongs instead of in the dusty old basement.

Bread machines come with a booklet that provides the exact instructions and information necessary to operate and produce a great finished product with pizza dough being one of the easiest recipes to follow.

The ingredients are so simple it's frightening.

For 2 pounds of pizza dough:

3/4 tsp. salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1-1/4 cups warm water (115 F)
3 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

Yes, that's all there is to it.


To prepare:

Add the following measured ingredients to the bread baking pan in the following order:

warm water (115 degrees F)
olive or vegetable oil
flour and salt


Before adding the yeast, use your finger to form a well (hole) in the top of the flour where you will pour the yeast. The yeast must never come into contact with a liquid when you are adding ingredients.

Prep done. Now return the baking pan to the breadmaker.





Carefully snap the baking pan into the breadmaker. Close the lid of the bread machine and plug the power cord into the wall outlet. Select dough setting  (see #7) and press Start/Stop. When the unit signals and display reads "0.00" press Start/Stop and remove dough. The whole operation will take 1-1/2 hours. It's not necessary to keep an eye on the baking process (so go ahead and do some laundry or make a salad and/or dessert) but be alert to stop the process when complete in 1-1/2 hours. 

Turn out the finished dough from the baking pan onto desired (lightly greased) pizza pan(s). Using your fingertips and/or the palms of your hands pat the dough evenly over entire pan(s). I always use a 12" x 17" pan for making pizza (see pic).

Really, it doesn't get any easier than this. Now the fun begins.







Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Spread the pizza sauce over the dough. (Hopefully you made the Pizza Hut copy-cat recipe I provided in another post.)










Sprinkle cheese over the sauce.












Add other desired toppings: pepperoni, sausage, peppers, onions, etc. and bake 15 -20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.






In reality, this post is being provided mainly for anyone who either does not own a bread machine (or has one stored in the basement somewhere) in support of it's usefulness.

This simple and easy pizza dough recipe is being shared in hopes that I can encourage someone else to join me in taking another step closer to self-sufficiency through the use of a simple piece of equipment such as a breakmaker. Then you too will feel the same great sense of satisfaction as I do when taking this masterpiece of a pizza from your oven and serving to your family and friends. Think how much fun this can provide as a family shared activity and WOW what a great learning experience for the kids to carry forward.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

This delicious soup, brimming with tasty and colorful ingredients, is comforting on any day of the year. Using preserved vegetables from my summer garden give an added goodness to the flavor.

Here at my house we enjoy this soup on a crisp winter day as well as on a hot summer day when our house is chilled by the air conditioner. The three main ingredients, all picked fresh from my vegetable garden at peak and canned, are crushed tomatoes, string beans and carrots. This recipe can be modified in many different ways: omit the meat for a vegetarian style soup; with or without barley; add a small type of pasta; use beef or vegetable stock; add your favorite spice(s), add additional vegetables; etc. I'm presenting this as another way to use home-grown garden ingredients to prepare a quick, easy, nutritional and extremely good tasting soup that, in itself, is good enough to be the main entree....and as encouragement for you to join the sustainable movement of gardening and preserving.


Ingredients:
  • 1 quart of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 quart of sliced carrots
  • 1 quart of string beans
  • ground beef (an amount to your liking)
  • 1-2 onions chopped (to your taste)
  • 1 cup of rolled barley
  • salt and pepper (to your taste)
  • and secret ingredient - MINT (picked fresh from home and dried in my dehydrator - in a not so fancy used jar)

Directions:

In a large soup kettle/pot fry the ground beef with the onions on medium heat breaking the beef into small pieces until the meat is thoroughly cooked.


Add the crushed tomatoes and the liquid from the string beans and the carrots to the beef and onion mixture and bring to a boil.


Add the rolled barley, salt and pepper and mint to the pot and boil covered for 15 minutes. Consider adding other spices at this step.


I just remembered at this point that I had some dried tomatoes (not sun dried but dehydrator dried) in the freezer so I added them to the pot for additional tomato flavor. You could add a couple spoonfuls of tomato paste or beef bouillon for an enhanced broth flavor also. 


Add the already cooked string beans and carrots to the boiling pot and simmer for a few minutes more until the vegetables get good and hot.
 
It's time to serve!

The final result is always outstanding...as it should be. With the just-picked garden-fresh tasting ingredients and the hand-picked spices and choice flavoring, it's custom made just for you!
This is not a recipe...it is a creation!








Monday, February 20, 2012

Vitamin F

A Friend shared this article with me and I want to share it with you.
Why do I have a variety of friends who are all different in character?
Some of them can be considered marginal even ?
How do I get on with them all ?
I think that each one helps to bring out a "different" part of me...
With one of them I am a polite, good girl.
I joke with another friend.
I sit down and talk about serious matters with one of them.
With another I giggle at every silly thing.
I have my wine with one
And dance with another.
I listen to one friend's problems and give her advice.
Then I listen to another advising me.

 
They are all like pieces of a jigsaw,
When completed they form a treasure box.
A treasure of friends!
They are my friends who understand me better than I do,
Who support me through good days and bad days.
They are like colorful antidepressants that I take on different days.

 
Real Age doctors tell us that friends are good for our health.
Dr. Oz calls them Vitamins F (from Friends) and counts the benefits of friends to our well being.

 
Research shows that people in strong social circles have less risk of depression and terminal strokes. If you take Vitamin F constantly, you can be up to 30 years younger than your real age. The warmth of friendship stops stress, and even in your tense moments, it decreases the chance of a cardiac arrest or stroke by 50%.

 
I am so happy that I have a stock of Vitamins F!

 
In summary we should value our friends and keep in touch with them.
We should try to see the funny side of things and laugh together, remembering to "open wide" to capture the Vitamins F swirling all around us!!!

 
Thank you for being one of my vitamins!

Check Your Shampoo Bottle Label


I don't know WHY I didn't figure this out sooner!!!!

It's the shampoo I use in the shower!

When I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body
and (duh!) printed very clearly on the shampoo label is this warning:
FOR EXTRA VOLUME AND BODY!

NO wonder I have been gaining weight!!!

Well! I have gotten rid of that shampoo, and I am going to start
using Dawn dish soap instead. Their label reads,
DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE.

Problem Solved!!!

If you call and I don't answer the phone, it's because I'm in the shower!!! 

Rice Krispies Treats Recipe

Let's give Rice Krispies Treats the credit they deserve. Simple, quick, delicious and addictive - what more could a 'sweet tooth' want. Using easy recipes gives comfort to making homemade treats. This one-pan recipe is a no-mess quick-clean creation that satisfies the taste buds of every age group (my 3 year old granddaughter and my 93 year old dad will both attest to this.) The most inexperienced cook can produce a superior batch on first attempt. File this recipe under simple, quick and delicious desserts. Train your mind to go to this recipe box before you waste your time and money making a trip to the supermarket or bakery. This is worthwhile attempt at becoming more self-sufficient.


Ingredients:
  • 6 cups of Rice Krispies cereal
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows (or 40 large)
  • 3 tablespoons margarine or butter

Directions:


Melt the margarine or butter in a large saucepan over low heat.
Add marshmallows.


Stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.


Mix in the the Rice Krispies cereal and stir until well coated.
This will be a very thick mixture.


Coat a 13x9x2 inch pan with cooking spray.


Spread the mixture evenly into the pan using a piece of
wax paper or your hands.
(coating either one with a small amount of butter helps)


When cool, cut into any size/shape you desire.

If you're feeling generous, double the batch and share
with family, friends, neighbors or office mates who I'm sure will appreciate the offering. : )








I hope that this idea for referencing simple, quick and delicious desserts in a recipe box helps you to live simply.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Crockpot Yogurt

Crockpot recipes are always a hit and this recipe is no exception. The crockpot, a popular countertop electrical cooking appliance used for simmering food for many hours unattended, can favorably be used to make 2 quarts of yogurt with no fuss using a simple recipe of only 3-4 ingredients. 

I specialize in simple recipes that are quick and delicious but even though the 'making yogurt' process itself is simple, I have to admit it's not that quick. Yogurt requires time to sit and culture. For this reason a thermometer is necessary for testing the temperature of the milk. Quick or not, it's an undertaking you'll want to attempt. The incentives for making homemade yogurt are knowing that you made the product yourself, you'll know exactly what's in the product, and you'll realize great satisfaction in another step toward self-sufficiency. 

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 gallon milk (8 cups)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt with active cultures
  • 1/3 cup powdered milk
  • 1/4 pure maple syrup (optional for sweetened yogurt.)

Directions:
  • Pour the milk into the crockpot.
  • Cover, turn on high and let the milk heat up to 185 degrees F.
  • Turn the crockpot off. Remove the lid and allow the milk to cool down to 100 degrees F. If you want it to cool faster stir it occasionally during this process or place the pot of hot milk in a bowl of cold water.
  • After cooled, stir in the yogurt and powdered milk (and maple syrup if desired) until they have all dissolved.
  • Put the lid back on top of the crockpot, wrap the entire crockpot with a large bath towel and set away for 8-12 hours until firm. The inside of the oven (with the oven light on) is a great place to keep it away from drafts and help it retain the heat longer.

  • Stir well, ladle into your clean containers and store in the refrigerator to get nice and cold for 12-24 hours.


The finished product can be stored in two 1 quart containers or four 1 pint containers or something of equal measurements that suits your needs.



Indulging in your yogurt creation is yummylicious!




Friday, February 17, 2012

Circle of Love!



You know, he almost didn't see the old lady, stranded on the side of the road. But even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.


Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn't look safe, he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you. He said, "I'm here to help  you ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car where it's warm? By the way, my name is Bryan."


Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt. As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn't thank him enough for coming to her aid. Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk. She asked him how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She had already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped.

Bryan never thought twice about the money. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way. He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance that they needed, and Bryan added "...and think of me". He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The cash register was like the telephone of an out of work actor. It didn't ring much.

Her waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn't erase. The lady noticed that the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger.

Then she remembered Bryan.

After the lady finished her meal, and the waitress went to get change for her hundred dollar bill, the lady slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. She wondered where the lady could be, then she noticed something written on the napkin under which was 4 $100 bills. There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote. It said "You don't owe me anything, I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I'm helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do Do not let this chain of love end with you." Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day.

That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard. She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, "Everything's gonna be all right; I love you, Bryan."

by: Author Unknown, Source Unknown

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hummus at the Homestead

Hummus is a popular middle east appetizer and dip/spread that is made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, lemon juice, salt, garlic, and olive oil.  Served with flat bread such as pita or tortilla chips makes for a great snack or appetizer. It's also been suggested to serve hummus as an accompaniment to grilled chicken, fish or eggplant.

Hummus is one of the oldest foods dating back to ancient Egypt. Yes, it is sold at most supermarkets but making your own offers you the opportunity to add additional garnishes to your liking such as chopped tomato, cucumber, cilantro, parsley, sauteed mushrooms, whole chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs, paprika, olives, pickles, roasted peppers, pine nuts, more garlic, less lemon juice, etc. or anything else that gets the juices flowing in your mouth. That's the best part of making anything  from scratch -  you are in charge - you're able to adjust the recipe to suit your taste buds. Sometimes this can be dangerous!

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation:

  • Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can.






  •  Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth. 


  • Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus.


Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley (optional).

Serve immediately with fresh, warm or toasted pita bread, or cover and refrigerate.

Variations

For a spicier hummus, add a sliced red chili or a dash of cayenne pepper.

Storing Hummus

Hummus can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and can be kept in the freezer for up to one month. Add a little olive oil if it appears to be too dry.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf) Simplified

When I first started making free-form yeast bread I was intimidated by The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf) recipe. As a newbie free-form bread baker I found the recipe way too wordy - and that just confused the heck out of me. After making several successful batches I decided to scale down the steps in this recipe to make it more user friendly.  By using this platform to share my scaled-down version with other free-form bread-baking newbies I'm in hopes that this simplified version will encourage others who want to become more sustainable to attempt to use my version of this recipe.


After you make this bread you'll agree that it is one of the easiest and delicious free-form breads to make without using a bread machine. This recipe makes four 1-pound loaves and can be easily doubled or halved. 


The ingredients:

  • 3 cups lukewarm water (100 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (= 2 packets) (= 4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt or other course salt (= 4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour - measured with the scoop-and sweep method *
  • Corn meal for pizza peel (not needed if using parchment paper)

*Scoop-and-sweep method: scoop up the four into a measuring cup; sweep off the top level using a knife; don't press down onto the flour as you scoop.

Making the dough:
  • Heat 3 cups of water to 100 degrees F and pour into a large bowl.
  • Add 1 1/2 tbsp of room temperature yeast and 1 1/2 tbsp of course salt to the water to dissolve.
  • Add 6 1/2 cups flour to the wet ingredients and mix everything together until it is uniformly moist without any dry patches.

  • Turn the dough out into at least a 5 quart plastic container that has a lid.
starting 2 hour rising
  • Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature for approximately 2 hours until it begins to collapse or flattens on the top. Longer rising times, up to 5 hours, will not harm the result. 
This shows how high the dough rises 
and flattens following the rising cycle.
  • The dough can be portioned off any time after this period but fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and easier to work with so it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight before shaping a loaf.
I was impatient and formed this loaf before refrigeration.
Although it tasted very good  it was too sticky
to get it smooth and round.                                   

On baking day:

  • Prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the loaf from sticking to it when you put it into the oven. (Instead of a pizza peel I use parchment paper placed on top of a cookie sheet - no cornmeal - easier cleanup.)
  • Cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough using a serrated knife.
  • Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour to keep it from sticking to your hands.
  • Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive.
The dough for these loaves were refrigerated for
three days before they were baked.
They were not sticky and very easy to shape.
  • Place the shaped ball on the cornmeal-covered pizza peel (or parchment paper) and allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes uncovered.
  • Preheat the oven to 45 degrees F with a baking stone placed on the middle rack and an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.
  • Lightly dust the top of the loaf with flour and slash a 1/4 inch deep pattern (3 straight lines work fine) into the top using a serrated bread knife.
  • After a 20-minute preheat slide the loaf off the pizza peel (or the loaf and the parchment paper off the cookie sheet) onto the preheated baking stone. Quickly pour about 1 cup of hot tap water into broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.
  • Allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack for best flavor, texture and slicing.

  • Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days.

  • Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them.
  • The dough can also be frozen in 1 pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.
Artisan bread is great served with pasta.




For a more descriptive (wordy) Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf) recipe you can refer to this website where great photos are provided and more in-depth directions are provided.


http://breadmakingblog.breadexperience.com/2009/08/artisan-free-form-loaf-boule.html

If you need further encouragement please email me at dmacie@twcny.rr.com and I'll be glad to assist you.








Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Making Pasta Sauce From Preserved Tomatoes

Many recipes can benefit from the enhanced tomato flavor of home preserved tomatoes. One of the easiest by far is pasta sauce. Plain. With vegetables. With added meat. Use your imagination. I'm going to share my quick and easy method of preparing a pasta dish using one quart of tomatoes that I canned from home grown tomatoes, garden grown onions and bell peppers that I pulled from the freezer.

There is no recipe. It is based totally on your likes and dislikes. You like onions? Go ahead and add onions. You like garlic? Go ahead and add garlic. Sausage instead of ground beef? Go for it. The same goes for the spices. Add whichever flavors satisfy your taste buds.

Begin the process by heating up a healthy amount of olive oil in a cook pan on medium heat. I like the flavor of meat so I start by putting a small amount of 90% ground beef in the center of my cook pan. I like the taste of onions so I chop them big (because that's the way I like onions) and throw them into the pan. I like peppers so I add a good helping of chopped bell peppers into the pan also.


As the meat begins to cook stir all the ingredients together.

When the meat appears to be fully cooked I add a healthy amount of chunky chopped garlic because I love to bite on pieces of garlic. I like the flavor of oregano so I shake a small amount of that into the cook pan also. Smells real good! Are you getting the picture? 


When everything in the cook pan appears to be cooked pour in one quart of canned tomatoes and stir it all together. Stir in one small can of tomato paste to the pan at this time also.


Turn the stove top burner for the pasta sauce down to low/simmer and start boiling the water in your pasta pot. Continue to stir the pasta sauce every so often while the water boils to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. 

After the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain off the water and pour into a serving bowl. 

 One quart of canned tomatoes with one can of tomato puree makes enough sauce for 1 lb of pasta.


If you plant a vegetable garden that grows tomatoes, bell peppers and onions you'll have half of the ingredients on hand and save a lot of money. Freezing bell peppers in pint or quart freezing bags are great to pull out and use in your pasta sauce, Spanish rice, omelets, sloppy joe's, etc. Onions can be stored in a cold storage area throughout the winter.

BEST SERVED WITH HOMEMADE ARTISAN BREAD