Homemade red curry soup

I was scratching around my cupboards a while ago, trying to find something to scrape together for dinner. I knew it would probably be soup. We eat a lot of soup. Ask my kids.

But soup is just one of my all-time favourite easy, healthy meals – just chuck whatever veggies you can find into a pot with some seasoning, blend together and VOILA! Easy,healthy deliciousness!

Anyway, as I was throwing things in I realised that this particular soup might turn out to be something special, so I started jotting down approximate ingredients as I went, just in case (this made me feel very clever and organised – it was a nice feeling.) It turned out I was right – it was SO DELICIOUS that I knew I had to share it with you. As I never measure anything – and as individual tastes vary – make sure you taste and edit the soup as you go to suit your own family.

Red Curry Soup

Serves about 8 (but so yummy you’ll want to allow for seconds… 😉 )

  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 200g red lentils
  • 1 pint water
  • Head of garlic, roughly chopped
  • Knob of ginger (to taste), peeled and chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 3 tsp coriander
  • 4 tsp mild curry powder (my very favourite is Sainsbury’s own mild version)
  • Salt & pepper to taste (sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper are my favourite choices)

Fry the onions and curry powder in a little oil (I use a high heat-tolerance oil like palm). Add the peppers, ginger and salt, and let them cook for a minute. Next, add the chopped tomatoes, water, lentils and garlic. Allow this to simmer for about 45 mins – until the lentils are cooked.  Add the remaining ingredients, then blend together using a hand blender. Remember to do a taste test, and adjust accordingly.  Serve and enjoy!

Advertisements

Nettle Soup (honestly)

My mother-in-law recently made this DELICIOUS soup. It’s cheap and high in vitamin C, and even my brother loved it. My kids begged for more, and Prince even asked to have it for dessert instead of cake. Now that has GOT to be a winner.

Turn these stingers into something great!

Turn these stingers into something great!

Spring is the perfect time to collect lovely fresh nettles. So get your gloves on, take the kids foraging and follow this simple recipe.  Enjoy!

1 carrier bag of nettle tops
4-5 large potatoes, chopped
4 large onions, chopped
2 chicken stock cubes
2 pints water
Salt & pepper to taste

Collect nettle tops (wear rubber gloves!!) – break off about the top two inches of nettles (try to find some in a good location where dogs are less likely to have weed on them (ew), and preferably away from a main road where fumes will have polluted them). Bring them home and take off the leaves, discarding the stalk. Thoroughly wash and rinse the leaves, then set aside.

Chop and fry up onions in a large pot. Add chopped potatoes and cover with water, stock cubes and salt. Bring to boil then simmer until potatoes are cooked (around 5-10 mins if potatoes are cut small). Add nettle leaves and simmer for another 5-10 mins. Blend all ingredients together and serve!

(P.S.  In my experience, it might be better not  to tell your husband it’s made from nettles until after he’s tasted it… 😉

Possibly the best cookies in the world ever

Today the kids and I baked a new recipe: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Three cookie monsters!

Three cookie monsters!

They. Were. Amazing.

I found the recipe over at Ambitious Kitchen. They are easy to make, and the ingredients are actually pretty healthy. We used half molasses sugar and half demerara sugar, both unrefined (and therefore healthy… right?) The recipe calls for regular peanut butter, which I happened to have in my cupboard. We used it this time, but next time I will be using my usual wholenut version, which again is healthy. From the comments I read below the recipe this might require extra oats, but that is never a problem!

The baking process didn’t quite turn out as I had expected, but then I’m used to that. Happens every time I try to bake without my Mom. (On a side note, can we start an online petition for her to move back to the UK to help me bake?) The batter was really soft, and despite adding extra oats to try and firm it up, I still couldn’t really make the “dough balls” the recipe called for – ours were more like melting blobs.

Our cookie dough blobs - pre-cooking.

What the looked like before they went in the oven.

Also, when cooked they looked more like failed bread rolls than choc-chip cookies.

What they looked like after they came out the oven.

BUT. They tasted amazing, so who cares what they look like. And now that I’ve got your mouth watering, you can find the recipe (along with pictures of what they are supposed to look like) here. Go and enjoy!

Vege-table

Here’s a tidbit of info about me: I love vegetables! And I love it when my dinner table is a vege-table.

Princess helping prepare our favourite fish salad.

Princess helping prepare our favourite fish salad.

Being a homemaker, I delight in cooking tasty, healthy food for my family, especially when I can do this on a budget. Vegetables are great in summer and winter, and I enjoy soups and salads all year round. Everyone knows they’re full of vitamins and minerals, but it’s not always easy to find yummy, easy recipes to incorporate them into your diet. So – here are two of my FAVOURITE vegetable recipes, which can be easily added to your repertoire of delicious vegetable meals.

I hope you enjoy using them to turn your table into a vege-table too 🙂

~

Super Quick and Easy Tomato Soup

INGREDIENTS:
1 Onion
6-8 Cloves of garlic
4 tins chopped tomatoes
Handful fresh rosemary (or about 2 tbsp dried)
Salt & pepper to taste

METHOD:
Chop onion and garlic. Fry onions in a large pot. Add salt, pepper and chopped tomatoes, bring to boil and let it simmer for about 10-15 mins. Turn off heat. Wash and finely chop rosemary. Add garlic and rosemary to pot. Blend with a hand blender. Serve and enjoy!

~

My Granny’s Best Fish Salad

INGREDIENTS:
Large tin salmon or other fish
Canned beans (optional)
1 small onion (red is sweeter, though I personally prefer white)
3-4 small/medium potatoes
Various salad vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, sprouts, cucumber, apple, etc.)
Mayonnaise and natural yoghurt
Vinegar (red wine is my favourite)
Olive oil
Piri-piri sauce or shake (optional for extra heat!)
Salt & pepper to taste

METHOD:
Chop potatoes into large bite-size chunks and boil (or cook whole and chop afterwards). Meanwhile, dice or slice the onion and put into a large salad bowl. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and add two or three tablespoons of vinegar. Next, chop and add your vegetables except tomatoes (and tinned beans, if using) to the bowl. Add the tinned fish, drained, and about 1/4 to 1/2 cup (in total) of mayonnaise and yoghurt, (also add your piri-piri if using). Mix this all together. Now add the potatoes and tomatoes, sprinkle again with salt, and with pepper, and pour over about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Mix again. Lastly, cut up leafy vegetables (fresh spinach and rocket is a favourite here) and add to the bowl. Don’t mix them in until ready to serve, then toss and serve.

Of men and muscles

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:8

Every night I watch my brother and husband work out in our lounge. This started about two weeks ago, due to their desire to flatten their tummies and grow their muscles, and they are pretty faithful to do it every evening. Sometimes they even cajole me into joining them, but I have to admit I prefer to just watch… 🙂

We live in a world where health and fitness is seen as somewhat of a god. People join gyms, buy protein shakes from health food shops and sign up to all kinds exercise classes. Children are taught about the value of regular exercise, cigarettes are legally obliged to come with huge health warnings, and mothers are given information on post-partum ways to work out as soon as possible after giving birth.

Now there is nothing wrong with being healthy – if you’ve read my previous posts you will know that I myself am concerned with helping my family to stay healthy by eating the best kinds of food we can afford. Being healthy is great – but it’s value is a limited-time offer. You see, we can be the healthiest, fittest person on earth, who never gets sick and avoids cancer, diabetes and heart attacks. But in the end, health is only valuable for this life. When you die, health and fitness won’t be an issue! Godliness, however, has eternal value.

Prince takes every opportunity to strengthen his physical muscles. Do we take every opportunity to strengthen our kids’ spiritual muscles?

As parents, we need to keep this truth in mind as we train up our kids. It’s easy to spend hours of time researching how to give your kids the best nutrition for their growing bodies. It’s easy to spend money and time enrolling them into sports and gymnastics, knowing that you are supporting their physical well-being. But more than all that we need to be seeking after ways to regularly feed them spiritually nutritional food, and find ways to encourage them to exercise godliness.

One of the reasons people seek after health is to avoid getting sick. They don’t want to go down with the flu or risk a heart attack by clogging up their arteries with grease. In the same way, we need to exercise godliness so that we can avoid falling into sin. We should be aiming for peak spiritual fitness – for ourselves and our kids. We need to give our families the best spiritual nourishment available to strengthen their souls, so that they will be able to resist the harshest of temptations.

My little boy loves to compare his muscles to Daddy’s muscles. He take joy in seeing how strong he is, and even takes it upon himself to exercise in the hopes of getting stronger as quick as possible! My hope is that I can teach him to have the same kind of passion for developing spiritual muscles, because this will last him for eternity.

Homemade garlic hummus

My first experiences of hummus were not good ones. Pasty, dry chick peas blended up. Yuck! However, my stance on this dip/spread changed when my mother-in-law introduced me to garlic hummus a few years ago. Suddenly it took on a whole new – and much nicer – flavour! Since then I have grown to love it, and find it to be a great condiment to keep in the fridge and snack on with some raw vegetables or spread on homemade wholemeal bread.

I don’t think I have ever actually bought hummus from the shops; I prefer to make my own at home. This is partly for health reasons, because I first started making it when I lived in Canada, where all the hummus I could find had genetically modified ingredients. It is also partly just because I enjoy creating it to taste exactly the way I like it!

My first attempts at homemade hummus were made following a recipe I found in a Google search. Over the years I have changed and tweaked this to suit my own taste. For those interested, here is the recipe I now use:

Homemade lemon and garlic hummus

Ready to make homemade hummus.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (I use freshly ground)
  • 2 tbsp cold-pressed virgin olive oil
  • 4 – 5 large organic garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (I use the juice of one fresh organic lemon and then top up with bottled lemon juice)
  • 1/2 tsp Nando’s garlic peri-peri sauce
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (wholenut gives the nicest flavour)
  • 1 tin organic chick peas

Method:

  1. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, peri-peri sauce and peanut butter into a blender (or a bowl/cup if you are using a hand blender).
  2. Peel and crush the garlic cloves using the flat side of a knife blade. Add them to your blender.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Drain about half the water from your chick peas. Add the rest of the water and the chick peas to your blender.
  5. Blend again until well mixed in.
  6. Pour the mixture into a Tupperware tub with a lid and refrigerate for about at least hour.
  7. Enjoy!

The finished hummus, ready to eat with some fresh vegetables.

Following this recipe will give you a very strong garlic hummus, so feel free to play around with the quantities and make it to your own personal taste. I always test a bit on my finger after mixing in the chick peas to see if I need to add more of any ingredient (note: the hummus tends to taste stronger after sitting in the fridge for a while, so do be careful). Fresh lemons add the nicest flavour, but can be a bit time consuming and expensive to squeeze, so I tend to use a mixture of fresh and bottled juice. Also, you can also use tahini instead of peanut butter, but I usually don’t have that in the house.  Another option is to make it without either of those.  I have done this and it still works, it just ends up a bit thinner.

Homemade hummus is a healthy and cheap choice. Because it is fresh, it’s free from preservatives, artificial flavours and other additives. I find it to work out about the same price as shop-bought hummus, though maybe slightly more expensive than non-organic varieties. Look around for deals on the ingredients to save money. I have found organic chick peas cheapest in Asda, although I suspect that buying dry and soaking your own would work out cheaper still. This is something I plan to look into when I get time.

My favourite way to eat hummus is as a dip with fresh veggies – white cabbage being my all time top choice. It is also nice as a spread on bread, or added to other meals as a flavouring. Some ideas I would like to try as varieties of this recipe are: using coconut oil instead of olive oil, and adding tomatoes and herbs instead of lemon and garlic. What other ways do you enjoy hummus? Have you got your own favourite recipes? I would love to hear more ideas for ways to enjoy this yummy, healthy condiment.

Five a day: part 3, fun for kids

My little food loving Princess!

My kids are opposites when it comes to their stance on fruit and vegetables. Prince, as I mentioned in part one, has issues with the texture of almost all raw options, and most of his life has strongly disliked them. Princess, on the other hand, seemed to be born with a passionate love for all food! Her first real food after breast milk was a strawberry, which she gummed to death, holding my hand (which was holding the strawberry) as tight as she could with her little fists to keep me from taking it away! Her intense love of strawberries still holds strong today, but she also loves to eat just about any fruit and most vegetables on offer.

I have to admit, I was quite relieved when Princess came along loving these healthy foods! I did nothing different with her – they are just naturally different. My prince has mild autistic traits, and texture issues are known to be prominent in this spectrum. It is because of this that I have taken a very gentle approach to getting Prince to eat these raw foods.

My success so far is limited, yet hugely significant. Prince, who is nearly six, loved his fruit as a baby. In fact, his first birthday ‘cake’ was actually a fruit salad instead of cake. But only a few month later he started refusing to eat certain fruits until I was left with just one I could get him to eat – bananas. He even went through a period refusing these, but I managed to successfully reintroduce them to him when he was four. Apart from banana he has not eaten any other raw fruit or vegetable in nearly five years. Until now. Now Prince also eats sugar-snap peas, apples, carrots, bean sprouts, cucumber, green beans and baby corn – all raw!

This is more than I had imagined was possible 6 months ago, and we are still in the processes of expanding his range. Here are some things I have done which have helped my Prince to do so well. You may find some of them useful if you have kids who don’t like their fruit and veggies.

  • Be patient.  Understanding that Prince has a real issue with texture, and that he wasn’t just being fussy or defiant has helped me to be patient with him. I think this has been one of the most important steps we have taken, though it can be one of the hardest. I have had to be patient for nearly five years, waiting until he was mature enough to take on the task of facing such a challenge to his senses.
  • Know your child.  I know Prince very well. I know what he struggles with (in this case, texture and discipline), and what motivates him (encouragement, imagination, achievements). When you can identify these things, you can work out a plan which plays to their motivations and overcome their struggles.
  • Put the two together.  When you have been patient and discern that your child is ready, then put your plan into action! My plan was to use a chart. Charts work very well for Prince, and ever since Princess started working on a ‘no accidents’ toilet chart he has been asking for one. The timing was perfect – he was highly motivated by finally having a chart of his own, with prizes to work towards.
  • Explain the ‘why’.  The classic children’s question! Prince is in a real ‘why’ phase, so it is both important and interesting to him when I explain why he needs to work on eating raw fruit and vegetables. We talk about vitamins, health, illness, etc.
  • Be firm but gentle.  The first few times he tries any new food is particularly hard for Prince. I have to insist he eat it, and usually have to feed it to him. I have to keep enforcing the next bite. But I also keep it very matter-of-fact, to help him not become over emotional about it.  I am careful not to raise my voice, and not to tell him off or get angry. It’s important to keep in mind how difficult this is for your child.
  • Make it fun!

    Make it fun.  Sometimes I encourage Prince to imagine that his chewing is ‘choo-chooing’, and that he is going on a journey somewhere exciting. This distracts him from the tastes and textures in his mouth, as he thinks up new places for each bite. Sometimes I arrange his food in fun shapes. The other day I made an ‘alien’ face with different vegetables for the eyes, ears, mouth, hair etc.

  • Pray.  God cares about every detail of our lives, and this is no exception. Pray for your child to have the strength and discipline to be able to take on this challenge and succeed.
  • Encourage their success.  Praise is sweet to the ears of a child. Make sure you acknowledge their hard work and achievements, even if they have only managed a little. This is sure to encourage them to keep working hard and trying their best, and to have a positive outlook.

I want to leave you with something Prince said to me a couple of weeks ago, as he was working on eating cucumber.

“Mommy? When I’m finished my chart I am going to LOVE fruit and vegetables!  And I am going to say, ‘Mommy, please can I have some strawberries, please can I have some carrots, please can I have some grapes, please can I have some blueberries!'”

Five a day: part 2, on a budget

The trouble with fruit and vegetables is that they are expensive. They are especially expensive if you like to buy organic… which I do! If you have money to spare, then I guess this isn’t a ‘trouble’ for you, but I find most people are like me – on a tight budget. So here are some of the ways I have found to save money and still eat healthily:

  • Set a budget and work to it.  To do this effectively I break it down. My budget is £250 per month. From this I make a rough weekly budget, which is £60. I also break that down to a daily budget, which is roughly £8 per day.

    Work out your budget right down to a daily amount.

    Doing these rough calculations helps me to stay on target. It means when I am out in town and tempted to buy a quick burger instead of going home for lunch, I can immediately see just how much extra that costs. £6 doesn’t sound like much on its own, but when compared to a total daily budget of £8 for the  whole family for the whole day, £6 on one meal suddenly seems huge!

    Breaking it down also helps me when I go grocery shopping. Instead of trying to estimate how much I need for a whole month, or how much I have already spent, I go knowing that if I just stick to my weekly budget then the whole month will balance. I use the handy calculator on my mobile phone to add up the cost of things as I go, aiming for no more than a £60 trolley load.

  • Eat less meat.  Fruit and veggies are expensive, but so is meat.  To allow extra money in my budget for fruit and veg, I cut down on meat.  We eat meat, on average, once a fortnight.  Instead, our main meals are mostly based on grains, veggies, eggs and fish (usually tinned, as fresh is too expensive).
  • Make your own.  While it is not always cheaper to make your own foods, it usually is. It is also almost always healthier. I love to make my own bread and my own hummous.
  • Stock up on eggs and bananas.  Both of these are cheap, healthy and filling. So we buy LOTS.  I took my brother with me to the grocery store one time, and he was shocked to find me buying 45 eggs at a time! To be fair, though, that was actually for two weeks 😉
  • Eat less.  Probably the best grocery money-saving tip ever! We don’t go hungry, but on the other hand we don’t (or at least TRY not to) eat more than we need. The principle ‘eat only until you are full’ helps both your waistline and your purse.
  • Drink water.  I guess this is easy for me, since water is my favourite drink! But even if you don’t much like it, I recommend you drink it almost exclusively. It’s much cheaper than buying drinks, and it’s super healthy too.
  • Look for deals. As I said, I like to buy organic where I can. I wish I could get everything organic, but I can’t. Instead I look at what organic produce is on sale each week, and get those. Then, if I have ‘spare’ money, I also buy a few select other things organic. When I do buy meat I almost only get organic (can’t bear the thought of eating growth hormones and antibiotics by the mouthful!). I also try to get fruit and veg with softer skins organic, as the pesticides are absorbed into the fruit more easily on these.I also look out for other kinds of deals and coupons. At Tesco right now they have a ‘spend £40 on this week’s shop for £5 off next week’s’, which is a great deal for me. I have also seen ‘get £10 off your first online shop’ promotions and things like that, which are good to take advantage of if you are eligible.

I hope these are helpful for you. So far, they have been working for me 🙂 Tomorrow I will share the last part of the Five a Day series, with some ideas for getting kids to eat your yummy, healthy, accurately budgeted food!

Five a day: part 1, my experience

Five a day is a slogan I’ve heard since I was a kid. It refers to the recommendation that each person eats at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. I’ve never been terribly good at this, for a variety of reasons: creating a meal full of veggies can be time-consuming with all the cutting required; although I’m not a fruit hater, there are few I enjoy just picking up and eating by themselves; my first child, Prince, has a strong aversion to the texture of most fruit and veggies; fruit and vegetables tend to be expensive. But more than any of those reasons, I lacked a strong enough motivation.

Recently my mother-in-law started talking to me about the immense health benefits of eating raw, living foods. My interest sparked, and I decided to look into it a bit for myself. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time for research, so I can’t provide you with a 100% accurate and detailed report of my findings. However there were two things that came up in my limited research which I will share:

  • When you cook fruit and vegetables you can lose a large percentage of their nutrients (note that sometimes certain nutrients are enhanced by cooking)
  • Fruit is easily, quickly and effectively digested when eaten in isolation from other categories of food (e.g. fats).  Their benefits can be compromised if eaten alongside other food.

Armed with inspiration and motivation, I decided to make an effort to improve the diet of my family. I haven’t made any drastic changes, as I would need to do a lot more detailed research before doing anything major. Still, we have made some changes, and overall I am much happier with our diet now. Here are some of the simple things we do to take advantage of the things I learned:

There are many exciting ways to get your ‘five a day’!

  • I start the day with a hot honey and lemon drink every morning, before eating anything else.  This was not directly inspired by my recent research, but by stuff I had read a long time ago. I find this to be a deliciously refreshing way to start each day, and it (in theory!) is a good detox drink.
  • I try to eat mainly raw fruit or veggies until lunch time. When I’m hungry (usually 1/2 hour to an hour after my drink) I mix up a homemade ‘green’ smoothie for breakfast. They are called green because I add in celery and some green leafy veg like spinach, rocket or Romaine lettuce. I also put in frozen berries, banana, kiwi, apple and water.
  • The kids mostly have a fruit breakfast (Princess likes whole fruits, Prince shares my smoothie). If they are hungry I will give them bread, cereal or porridge after that.
  • Lunch is mostly veg based, though I often have fish too (tinned mackerel, sardines or tuna). I usually give the kids some raw veg  like carrots, cucumber, green beans etc., followed by bread or nuts or something similar if they are still hungry (depending on how hungry they are I try to space out the veg from the bread by about 1/2 hour)
  • I keep nuts and seeds in bowls around the house to snack on, as a healthy source of protein and fat. We also snack on rice cakes, popcorn (not the mircowave bag type, but rather fresh kernels popped on the stove and mixed with some coconut or olive oil), fruit or veg.
  • I make the last meal of the day a cooked one. This varies, but some of the meals we have more regularly are eggs, pasta (wholemeal) and fish.

This list is not a set of strict rules. There are times when I skip my honey and lemon drink, or have toast for breakfast. Rather, this is a general trend, and the way that we eat most of the time. Whilst it may sound silly, I really have found that I feel much healthier after having kept this up for the last month!

The most noticeable difference for me has been that I have a lot more energy. I have always found myself lacking in energy, and needing a minimum of 10 hours of sleep at night to feel even vaguely alert during the day (and I preferred 12 hours if I could get it). I was someone who would be always yawning – many times a day, and even when I didn’t feel tired. But over the last week I have noticed that I don’t yawn much at all now. I have been getting up earlier, too. Instead of forcing myself out of bed at 8:30 or 9am, I am getting up at 7 or 7:30am easily – and this on top of going to bed at the same time or later than before! Whereas I used to be constantly tired, the past 3 days I have not felt tired at all during the day.  This is a major change for me, and a wonderful benefit of this new lifestyle diet.

As you can see, I have no precise science behind my new love for the ‘five a day’ slogan.  I don’t even count my fruit and veg portions!  But I have found that eating this way is a really great thing.  Tomorrow, I will share some advice on the costs of eating like this, and ways to make it economical.

Nothing like kneading

I recently decided to change from buying store-bought bread to only having homemade bread. I’m not sure what first made me decide to do this. I think it was a combination of wanting to eat healthier, seeking to spend less money, and starting to re-watching Little House on the Prairie! The first thing I did was look at an old bread recipe book that was left in our old house by an elderly couple. It had lots useful tips and interesting information, for example:

  • Yeast is a living plant that gives off bubbles of gas, which is what causes the rising of the bread. There are different kinds of yeast used to make bread and you need to make sure to find out what kind you are using, and use it correctly.
  • Flour (especially strong bread flour) contains gluten, which stretches like an elastic network to trap the gas bubbles from the yeast. There are also different kinds of flour, with differing amounts of gluten.
  • Sugar (or honey) can be used to help activate yeast, as well as adding a nice flavour to the bread.
  • Different liquids can affect the bread in different ways. Milk makes a softer crust than water.
  • Salt adds flavour, but is also useful in helping to control the yeast’s action.
  • A ‘preliminary mix’ is useful for developing the gluten in your dough.
  • The best way to knead bread is to push it away from you, using the heel of your hands, and then fold it back over itself, turn a quarter turn, and repeat. Kneading should be done until the dough is smooth and elastic. Kneading done by hand should go on for at least 10 mins (yes, this is exhausting, but fun too!)
  • The dough needs to rise in a warm, draft-free spot. It should rise until doubled. A good test to see if it has risen long enough is to make about a 1/2 inch indent with two fingers. If it bounces back, it needs more rising; if the indent remains, it’s ready.
  • To get the dough out of the bowl easily, punch in the middle and pull the edges in, then turn out.
  • To test if it is ready to bake, gently touch the dough. It should feel light and springy.
  • To test if it is baked through, tap the loaf – it should sound hollow.
  • Cool bread on a wire rack.

After gaining this useful background knowledge on bread making, I checked out the recipes. There were many exciting varieties, but before getting adventurous I wanted to start with a basic wholemeal bread, suitable for everyday use. Unfortunately, there was no such thing! The closest recipe in the book was a part white/part wholemeal loaf, which used quite a few different ingredients – not what I was after.

Perusing my goal of a simple, easy and healthy wholemeal loaf, I called up my Granny! She has told me many times before that she can’t understand why she – and everyone else – doesn’t make bread more often, as it’s so easy. I also knew she only uses wholemeal flour. Over the phone I jotted down some quick instruction and ingredients. If you know my Gran, you know that she NEVER follows a recipe, or even measures her ingredients, so as you can imagine my directions were a little vague! Still, excited and determined I went ahead and followed them.

I loved the simplicity of the recipe from Granny – she uses just water, wholemeal flour and salt. Nice and cheap, nice and healthy. My first attempt at making a loaf was…. interesting! The dough was definitely too sticky, and I ended up throwing away about half of it which was stuck to my hands, my arms, the bowl, the board, and more! It was also too floppy to properly shape into a loaf, but I cooked it, and it tasted okay. I tried the recipe again another 3 times over the next week or so, each time with slightly different results. They all tasted okay, but none of them were easy to work with, which made the process very long (due to extended clean up time) and awkward. So I decided to turn to Google, and look for something which used Granny’s ingredients, but gave me more specific instructions!

As usual, Google had just want I was after. I found a few good-looking recipes, and have now made two loaves (well, almost – the second one is in the oven baking as I type!), with great success. The recipe I settled on and I like best is this one. Although it calls for sugar, I expect that could be left out. I haven’t experimented with it yet, as I wanted a few successful tries just following the recipe exactly so that I gain experience and know what the dough is supposed to look and feel like. I’m looking forward to trying out some variations soon, and will probably start with fruit bread and cinnamon rolls.  YUM!

Homemade Wholemeal Bread

Latest successful loaf of bread!

If you are thinking of making bread, all I can say is: DO IT! It’s fun, it’s healthy, it’s cheap (though you can buy ready-made bread at about the same price if you are buying the cheapest, but then that’s not healthy), and it’s really good exercise too! My arms are killing me today, but I look forward soon boasting bread making muscles as fine as Ma Ingalls 🙂

%d bloggers like this: