Jan
30

The Best Bread. Without a bread maker.

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So in light of living and enjoying each moment – nothing says ‘life is amazing’ quite like freshly made bread.

I’ve been keeping this from you for a while now. Since arriving in Mexico and discovering that there is no bread here without sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (I joke not), we have been breadless unless I get my act together and whip some up from scratch. The first loaf was shit. Not even worth talkin about. But I am now the master of bread. Well, master to the point where it tastes damn fine to me, Ivan says ‘can you make more?’ and Mika gobbles up the crumbs faster than you can say ‘baby led weaning is awesome!’

Over the next few days I will share my pizza dough recipe, my delicious warm perfect soft center crispy/chewy crust white bread recipe, my 5 grain bread roll recipe and my wholewheat baguette recipe. Are you ready for an overload of amazing bread in your life?

First up: The easiest loaf of bread you will ever make, but one that you will probably wait the longest for.

Embarrassingly, I don’t have my own photo because we eat this bread too damn quickly. However, this is almost exactly what the bread looks like and I stole the photo from here. The recipe is from the no-knead bread craze started in 2006 by this article in the NY Times.

  • 3 cups of white flour
  • 1/4 tsp of instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • just over 1.5 cups of water
  1. Put flour, yeast and salt into a bowl. Mix in the water until the dough is all shaggy like. It will look ridiculously shaggy and wet. This is AOK.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and put the bowl somewhere safe on your counter for 12-18 hours. (A LONG TIME). Make it for tomorrow’s dinner.
  3. After 18 hours, flop the bread onto a floured surface and sprinkle generously with flour. Fold the dough over on itself a few times, sprinkling flour as you go to stop it sticking to you or the counter. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  4. Grab a couple (clean) dish towels. (Cotton ones that aren’t fluffy). Sprinkle one with quite a lot of flour. Take the dough into your hands and kinda mush it into a ball. Place it on the towel, sprinkle with more flour and cover with the other towel. Leave for 2 hours.
  5. Turn oven on to HOT. I put it at about 220 C. Put a pan (or the original recipe suggests a skillet. We don’t have a skillet, but this would probably be awesome) into the oven to heat up. When it’s hot, take it out and dump the dough, shaking the tray a bit to settle the loaf. Place in oven for around 20-30 minutes. Check on it. Maybe put it back in for another 10-15. You’re looking for a nice lightly browned crust that sounds hollow when you tap it.
  6. Take it out, cool, and try to fend off the hoards of people who will be swarming your house as they catch whiff of your freshly made bread. You’re amazing, and you just made the most AWESOME loaf of bread.

Go life!

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Jan
30

My heart

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The other day my friend and I were chatting about life. She has just recovered from a nasty illness (totally more nasty than you are even imagining) and I had just returned from a funeral.

She was elated, joyful and high on life. She wanted to high-five the clouds and kiss the ground and dance with everyone in the street. She wanted to take deep breathes and savour the feeling of being alive. She wanted to thank her arms and her legs and her eyes and her lungs and her amazing body for doing what it does.

And there I was. Having returned from a funeral I too probably should have been high on life, but I wasn’t. I was petrified. At the funeral I saw what losing a loved one looks like. I saw painfully real emotions and sadness that I just don’t feel ready for. Every second that passes, my heart feels a little more love for Mika. I have no idea how this is possible, but it’s true. So what does that look like when Mika is 5? Or 10? Or 20? That is a lot of love.

I honestly never quite understood the saying about how when you have a kid your heart lives outside of you (or something like that). But now I totally get it. My heart is hanging out in the form of a little baby girl right now. And at the moment I’m with her most moments of every day, I can see my heart and it’s safe and happy. But I won’t be able to keep watch over it forever, and that scares me. No, wait, it terrifies me.

I feel like I’ve pushed this massive stone (a metaphor for giving birth perhaps?) and now it’s slowly gathering speed and it’s unstoppable. So naturally, my strongest desire is to stop time. Let’s put everyone in a big plastic bubble and freeze time.

Gah, I’m not stupid, I know that’s ridiculous. And I know that it should be even more motivation to seize life and enjoy each moment, like really really enjoy each moment. And to cherish relationships. And make those phone calls and write those letters. And to get excited because we are ALIVE and we are AMAZING and we are YOUNG and we are BEAUTIFUL!

Go tell someone how amazing they are to you. You never know when they might not be around. Thank your body for being so good to you – you never know when things might not be so easy.

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Jan
27

Chicken Chili for the sleep deprived

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It’s Thursday and I’ve just finished building a website.

Mika and Ivan both have rotten colds, although Mika seems to be handling it a lot better than Ivan.

For all the work, sickness and exercise, there’s nowhere near enough sleeping going on in these parts. I hate how so many people and general life advice tell you to ‘get plenty of sleep’ cause I’m all like ‘where is your 10 month old child who refuses to LET you sleep? Please propose to me a way that I can get more sleep AND calm my insomniac baby AND manage to maintain a peaceful and orderly home. Please someone tell me.’ But they don’t. So I will continue to get by on minimal sleep, operating in hands-down the most sleep deprived state I have ever been in and thank the universe that we have such awesome support and that we’re generally such an awesome couple that neither of us have died from exhaustion…Yet.

And somehow I still can’t help but love making lunch/dinner every night. This one is so super easy and crazy delicious. I call it ‘chicken chili for the sleep deprived’. But no really, try this.

Super Easy Chicken Chili
Adapted from somewhere! But not sure where.

Ingredients:

  • 2 big onions, chopped really small
  • tbsp oil of your choice
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 red capsicums, diced
  • 2 yellow capsicums, diced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you’re adventurous)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cans chopped tomatos with the juicy goodness
  • 2 cans of beans (black, kidney, bayo…any of the above)
  • a small can of sweet corn (or some freshly cooked corn kernels)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (unless you’re cooking for Tess)
  • Cooked chicken breasts (enough for 4 people) shredded
  • Optional for serving: sour cream, avocado, corn tortillas

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil
  2. Add onion and garlic. Stir til soft.
  3. Add capsicums and stir til soft.
  4. Add spices and salt.
  5. Add chopped tomatos and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce to a simmer for about 30 mins.
  7. Add beans, chicken, corn and cilantro.
  8. Simmer for 15 minutes
  9. Serve with sour cream, avocado and corn tortillas.

SO GOOD.

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Jan
23

10 Months

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At ten months this little girl is a bundle of energy. From 4am she is pretty much ready to start the day, much to our displeasure. So we all drift in and out of sleep from 4am until 7am when there is no more snoozing this little alarm clock.

She stands on everything. She has her 2 bottom teeth. She has just mastered the ‘proper’ crawl, but when she is tired she will resort back to the army crawl. She eats whatever we are eating. Still no dairy or nuts though – but pretty much everything else. She loves to feed herself – the ultimate distraction – she can easily spend 20 minutes picking little pieces of food off her tray. She is much less fussy these days too.

She talks non-stop. Full babbling conversations with herself and with others. She has also just started turning her head away and then saying ‘boo!’ and as she turns her head back towards us quickly. She thinks she is hilarious. We agree.

Things she finds very funny:

  • When Ivan and I throw a ball between us. I have no idea why, but she gets herself into fits of laughter whenever we chuck a ball around (this is often).
  • When Ivan and I throw her between us. Well, we pretend to throw her, really we just pass her. But she finds it hilarious. We count to three and then ‘throw’ her. Laugher. Joy. Fun times.

Four words: sweet, determined, energetic and pensive. 

And so freaking cute.

“Hey love! Come quick! Look how cute she is!” (this is all Ivan and I ever say. Seriously.)

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Jan
23

We visit the theme park

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I run around the lagoon. The lagoon is man-made and often smells of sewerage. (I’m not yet sure of the reason for this. I think it has something to do with the water circulation. Either way, this lagoon is definitely no swimming hole.)

Next to the lagoon is a big park. It’s a cross between a theme park, a carnival and a zoo. Last week on my run I witnessed 10 men trying to push a tiger into it’s cage. I’m not even joking.

Considering the amount of times we have walked or run past this park, we have never actually been into it. So this weekend, after some Saturday morning fish tacos we decided to check it out with Mika’s cousins.

Excitement!

As it turned out, the zoo was under construction. But we still managed to catch a glimpse of a tiger and on the little train we got a good look at a couple camels, zebras and a hyena. (Hyenas are creepy.) For an entry fee of 7 pesos, this was a pretty good deal.

Some snaps from a happy weekend (picture overload):

If you’re wondering why Mika looks practically naked next to her well-dressed cousins, it’s because we still haven’t got the memo that it’s cold here. Apparently we still think 30 degrees (celsius) is pretty hot. I know, I know, we’re strange.

(My mama is crazy)

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