Easy Homemade Bread

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The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf) From “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois

The aroma of fresh bread baking is heavenly.  I always thought baking your own bread seemed complicated and too hard, but after really looking in to it and giving it a try… Turns out, it’s easier than I thought!  If you plan ahead, the steps are simple and won’t take a lot of time out of your day.

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What is needed?

  • All-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Granulated yeast
  • Lukewarm water
  • cast iron dutch oven
  • parchment paper
  • kitchen scale
  • oven thermometer
  • kitchen shears
  • mixing bowl and spoon
  • measuring cup
  • plastic wrap

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First, you mix the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl with spoon until you no longer see loose flour.

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Next, you let the dough sit out on the counter for 2 hours to let rise.  Then, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator over night (can keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks).

When ready to bake, take out your bowl…

  • dust the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour
  • rub some flour on your hands (so dough does not stick to your hands too bad)
  • grab handfull of dough
  • use kitchen shears to cut off from rest of dough

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Next, hold dough and quickly form it into loaf by tucking dough from each of the four sides underneath, making it smoother on top while the bottom will be a collection of bunched ends.  Add flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. This should be done in 20-40 seconds.

Then place your loaf on parchment paper and let sit out around 40 mins.  During this time, preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place cast iron dutch oven with lid in the oven while preheating.  I use an oven thermometer to measure the temperature.  I actually have to set my oven to 500 degrees F in order for it to be 450 degrees F inside.

Now, dust loaf with flour and cut 3 half inch deep slashes into the top.

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Time to put in the oven. Place parchment paper with loaf into the dutch oven. Put lid on and place in preheated oven.  Don’t forget your mitts since the dutch oven was preheated too!

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Bake 20 mins with lid on, then take lid off and bake 10 more minutes for crispier crust.

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What a cute little loaf! Let it cool, then you are ready to slice!

This is the book I used for my recipe:

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The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by: Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois

I got the book off amazon.com.  It is full of great recipes that I can’t wait to try!

 

My Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

2015 Pumpkins

It was Friday. I had just finished feeding the kids dinner. My husband, Phil, was not home yet. Caroline, our 3 year old, was cleaned up and clearing her plate. Our youngest, Libby (4 weeks at the time), was in her bouncy seat, and I was finishing wiping Weston’s mouth (our 21 month old). As I started to lift him out of his high chair, it happened. EXTREME PAIN in my back that knocked me off my feet! I set Weston on the ground and caught myself on the high chair for support. I literally could not stand up. Hunched over, I fell into the closest kitchen chair. The pain was intense. There I was, unable to move, hollering in pain, watching Weston drag a stool over to the kitchen sink reaching to pick up a knife, simultaneously Libby begins screaming, and Caroline was asking me, “Mommy? What’s wrong?”…I begin screaming at Weston to “Put the knife down!”. He then starts crying…One minute later Phil walks in the door to Libby, Weston, and I crying and Caroline running up to him saying “Mommy is hurt!”. He didn’t know what he just walked in to! I am SO THANKFUL this happened at the time it did, because I don’t know what I would have done if he didn’t get home when he did.

What I went through over the next 48 hours was one of the most challenging experiences physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I was unable to walk for 24 hours. Turning in bed was torture. This is really EMBARRASSING, but I could not get up to walk to the bathroom. Phil had to help me pee in a bucket at my bedside. Mentally and emotionally I was struggling…I could not sit up to nurse Libby, so I had to lay in bed and pump and then feed her a bottle. I was asking God, “Why did this happen? Where is this coming from?”. I describe all this to show you how low I was feeling.

I’ve had mild back pain before…on and off since teen years from my gymnastics and cheerleading days. But, never had I experienced pain like this! This was new and totally unexpected! During this time, all I could do was pray. The bible tells us to pray without ceasing. I don’t know if I ever prayed so fervently and desperately for healing as I did then. As I was praying, what kept coming to mind, was how thankful I was at the timing of these circumstances. Besides the fact that Phil got home immediately after the scenario happened, it happened on a Friday when Phil would be home all weekend to help me. In the midst of this disabling event, the Lord was taking care of me. I felt His peace knowing that my family was praying for me. My sister and her husband brought us dinner the next evening which was such a helpful blessing. Then, for the first time in a LONG 24 hours, I began having significant progress when Phil helped me get to the shower. Standing under the hot water, allowed me to straighten up to fully stand without pain. My hope of healing was becoming real. Our God is healer, awesome in power! I won’t go in to all the details, but the Lord healed me! It truly is a miracle the progress I made over the next few days. I did go to the chiropractor one time for an adjustment and have not had to go back since. Apparently, pregnancy hormones can cause sacroiliac joint hyper-mobility which allows the pelvic area to be more expandable during childbirth. My sacroiliac joint had some hyper-mobility and had gotten out of whack to say the least.

Through this experience, I was reminded to be thankful in all circumstances. Even in those low valley, devastating times. Scripture says,

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

This verse has been on my bathroom mirror this week. It is a powerful reminder of God’s will for my life every day.  When I question, “Am I living in God’s will?”, I can go back to this truth.  How awesome!

God says, When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. . .For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. -Isaiah 43:2-3.

Unglamorous

I sure don’t live the glamorous life.  I am in a season of my life where I might go one too many days without a shower and have my daughter tell me, “Mommy, you need to get dressed!”.  If you walk through my kitchen, you might trip on a toy or get a noodle or cheerio stuck to your foot.  It is quite impossible to keep the floor clean for more than 30 minutes.  But that is life when you have 3 kids, 3 and under.  It’s loud and messy and exhausting!  I know you other moms can relate…right?!  SOMEtimes when I am nursing our almost 11 week old, the older two will play nicely in the playroom with their toys…BUT often times, I am listening and praying that nothing too important is getting destroyed or that nothing really bad is happening because it would be really difficult for me to get up and tend to that right now, ha!

Sometimes I catch myself in these crazy days, rushing through the moments.  It reminds me of the lyrics in Alabama’s song, “I’m in a hurry to get things done. I rush and rush until life’s no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die, but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why”.  I’m guilty of being in a hurry to check things off my list and on to the next task without stopping to smell the roses.

The Lord is reminding me the importance of slowing down.  When we slow down, we have a chance to realize why we are doing what we are doing.  When I am hurrying on to the next thing, I am not able to really love those around me.  I’m not able to sit and really listen…I’m not able to serve someone else.  I get too focused on ME and what I need to do and what I want to get done.  Sadly it can be at the expense of rushing through what could be sweet moments with my little ones and precious time with my husband.  I easily lose sight of God’s calling and purpose of living a life of servanthood and humility.

In the gospel of Mark Jesus teaches His disciples what it means to be great in His kingdom.

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.  

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,  “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”  Mark 9:33-37

Matthew 18:4 says, Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

My job as a mom may not be glamorous, but it teaches me and reminds me to be humble and serve others.  I look up to my husband in this regard because he has the beautiful heart of a servant and is good at slowing down and enjoying every moment.

Tonight when I put my kids to bed, I think I will take the extra time to read that extra story and sing that extra song.  I don’t want to rush these sweet moments. I want to take the time to love, listen, and serve.  Lord, help me to do this each and every day :).

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My Birth Stories

I am so thankful for my three beautiful gifts from the Lord.  They bring so much joy to our family along with the many frustrations ;).  I’ll never forget the time that each of them were placed in my arms for the first time.  I wanted to share a brief overview of each of my birth experiences as they were each very different.

Story #1

Our first born is our sweet Caroline Grace.  She was born in February a couple days after my 27th birthday.  I didn’t really have strong opinions about how I wanted the birthing process to go other than I would rather not have a C-section if at all possible.  I am a nurse, so I had a little experience with labor and delivery in nursing school.  I got to be in on a couple births which were so amazing to witness!  The births I witnessed in school were done with epidurals and went pretty smoothly, so I was thinking this might be a good route to take.  I ended up being induced with Caroline for a couple reasons.  Honestly, the reasons were not a medical necessity and I probably would not have chosen to be induced if I could go back and do it again.  I had already started having contractions on and off with her and was dilated 3 and 1/2 centimeters, but I was not in active labor at this point.  My OB offered to let me be induced on my due date if she had not come yet.  I agreed because I was at that super uncomfortable end-of-pregnancy stage of “let’s get this baby out!”, and this would guarantee that this doctor would be the one delivering my baby which I wanted because he was the one I saw the most and I liked him best out of the doctors in the OB group.

I went for induction late morning on a Friday.  I got my epidural and my doctor broke my water.  The next several hours my husband and I waited with anticipation.  Other than a longish wait, things were progressing smoothly–slow and steady until late evening;  my epidural began wearing off and the pain was getting super intense!  One of my best friends was visiting at this point and I couldn’t engage in the conversation anymore because the pain was getting so bad.  The anesthesiologist came back and upped my dosage and the pain died back down.  Shortly after this it was time to start pushing.  The only thing  was that my epidural was stronger now, and I could not feel a thing.  I had wanted to still be able to feel when to push but it just didn’t work out that way.  I started pushing around 1:00am and Caroline made her debut at 1:20am.  I pushed really hard since I could not feel anything and I really wanted her out ASAP!  My husband was such a great encourager during this process.  When they put her on my chest and we saw each other for the first time, I thought she was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen!  The miracle of life is so amazing! What an awesome God we have!  They scooped her up from me kind of quickly because she was not crying and breathing well at first.  The respiratory team came in and quickly got her crying and breathing, and  she did not have anymore problems after that.  While Caroline was getting cleaned up and after the placenta was out, I realized I was out of breath and getting stitched up.  Apparently I had a fairly severe laceration (3rd degree out of 4 degrees).  The recovery process of this tear was what I was not expecting.  It was extremely difficult to get up and down for several weeks.  When I coughed or sneezed or even laughed, I felt like my bottom was going to rip open.  It was pretty painful the first couple weeks and quite discouraging, but after those first two weeks, I started to be able to move around better.  Praise the Lord!

Story #2

With baby number two, Weston Mark, things unraveled quite differently.  With this one I knew I didn’t want to be induced.  It was getting close to my due date and I was already 4 cm dilated at my latest doctor visit, but my contractions were not consistent yet.  I carried him very low;  I was constantly feeling pressure “down there” during my third trimester often feeling like he was going to fall out any time.

A couple days before Weston’s due date, my mom and I went on a long walk and my husband and I went on a date to an Italian restaurant that night where I ordered eggplant parmesan to try and get things going.  I started having a few stronger contractions on the drive home but they died down once I got home and ready for bed.  The next day when I got up and moving around, the contractions started coming back, but I didn’t feel like they were that bad yet.  I ate lunch and ran an errand with my mom and sisters and the contractions started to get a bit more painful.  I wasn’t sure if I should go in yet because they were not happening on a consistent every 5 minute basis.  My mom encouraged me to go ahead and go in, so my husband, one of my sisters, and I got my bag and headed in.

When I got there and got checked, I was already 7 and 1/2 centimeters dilated!  They got me in a room and I began to get excited that we would be having a baby very soon!  In the back of my mind I thought it would be cool to have an all natural birth, but I hadn’t really planned on it.  When the nurses said, “Are you sure you want to get the epidural?  You are almost there..”, I thought well, I am feeling the pain, and it hurts, but it hasn’t been that bad, maybe I should skip the epidural this time.  So I committed to going through all natural.  Ummm….Wow!  What was I thinking?!  My nurse was really great at helping me through this experience and the labor went fairly quickly, BUT the pain was out of this world!!  I was sitting in the bed at first, but the pain started to intensify and my nurse encouraged me to get up and move around to help with this.

I started off rocking in the rocking chair, then I sat on the birthing ball all the while things were progressively getting more intense.  I had a moment while sitting on the birthing ball of “what have I done?  why did I agree to this?  I don’t know if I can handle it!”.  The contractions were very intense and getting closer together.  I decided to get in a warm bath to help with pain and help things progress.  I was only in the bath a few minutes when I started feeling like I needed to poop!  The nurse heard me say this and immediately called the doctor, it was time.  The nurse asked me if I wanted a water birth and I was like “No!”.  I quickly got out of the tub and back in the bed as my OB was walking in the door.  When he checked me I was completely dilated and ready to go, but my water was still not broken.  My doctor broke my water and I felt the urge to push right away.  I felt so much pressure and I didn’t feel like I could do it, but my body just knew what to do and made me start pushing.  The pain was crazy, but it only took 3 pushes and he was out!  However, after his head was out, his shoulder got stuck on my pelvic bone, so the doctor had to do some kind of maneuver to help him get “unstuck”.  I felt so much relief when he was out.  When he came out and they put him on my chest, I thought he was so precious and looked just like my husband!  He had some facial swelling, but he was just perfect.  Now, he was bigger than his big sister Caroline was and did more damage on his way out.  Unfortunately I suffered a fourth degree laceration (this means you rip front to back) with him and had to be stitched up in the OR!  OUCH! This of course was a painful recovery too!  It was a very emotional time and I wondered if I would ever be somewhat normal down there again!  Thankfully my doctor did an excellent job fixing me up and with time I healed up very well.  After this experience though, I was nervous about giving birth again.  I wasn’t sure if my body could handle another severe laceration.

Story #3

So then comes number three, Libby Joy!  Even though she was my third, I was most nervous about giving birth to her for fear of tearing again.  Leading up to her birth, I spoke with all the OB’s in the group about how to prevent tearing again.  We had to come up with a plan because I could not go through that again! I also did a LOT of praying; after praying I would get a sense of peace from Him that it would be okay.  A big part of my plan was doing these perineal stretches with olive oil toward the end of my pregnancy to help things get stretched out down there.

We went to the hospital on a Friday during a date night with my husband.  We knew she would be coming soon, so my husband and I were trying to squeeze in one more date before her arrival.  Well, my contractions started getting a bit intense at dinner, so we had the server box up our meals to-go so that we could go to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, the contractions had died down a bit so I was sure they were going to send me home.  But, when they checked me, I was 4 and 1/2 centimeters dilated and apparently I was still having contractions I just couldn’t feel them.  They checked me in to a room and here we were again.  This time I knew more of how I wanted things to play out.

First, my husband and I walked the halls trying to get labor to progress faster.  My OB came in and checked me a couple hours later and I was 6 centimeters dilated.  I was a little disappointed because I was hoping to progress faster than that.  I had him go ahead and break my water and I walked around a little more.  I decided to get in a warm bath again this time since that helped last time.  It seemed to help me again because the contractions started feeling more intense.  At this time, I decided to go ahead and ask for the epidural.  My OB and I discussed that getting the epidural would be a good idea so that I could take things slow and not push baby out too fast and cause more tearing.  My epidural was at just the right strength this time, because it took the edge off, but I could still feel a little bit.  Less than 2 hours after I got my epidural, I started feeling pressure like it might be time to push.  I told my nurse and after checking me, she immediately called my OB because it was time!  I literally pushed one time and she was out!  I could not believe it.  Better yet, I only had a second degree tear which was a much easier recovery!  The Lord answered my prayers and I could not have asked for a better birth experience!  She was absolutely beautiful.  Our hearts were so full.

I wanted to share some links on how to prevent tearing during delivery so you don’t have to experience what I did!  There are different ideas about ways to prevent.  You just have to decide what you are most comfortable doing.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-blog/tearing-during-childbirth/bgp-20055765

http://www.modernpregnancytips.com/pelvic-health/5-ways-to-avoid-vaginal-tearing-in-childbirth/

http://www.giving-birth-naturally.net/avoid-tearing.html

Giving birth is not an easy thing but there is nothing like meeting that sweet new life for the first time.  It melted my heart every time to see my husband with each of our children for the first time.  I am excited to be an Aunt for the first time in a couple months!  I can’t wait for this fun experience where I don’t have to do the birthing part ;).

Caroline Grace

Caroline Grace

Weston Mark

Weston Mark

Libby Joy

Libby Joy