Yeast bread

I had earlier already talked about my problem with baking with yeast. The last few times have been successful and I have had a big confidence boost. So I decided to try out the basic yeast bread that has never ever worked out. I’m starting to think that I might not have to buy bread from the store that often anymore.

Yeast bread

There are a few things that I have noticed while working with bread or should I say with yeast.

1. You really have to knead knead and knead. Do not underestimate this!

2. You have to let it rise well.

3. You have to knead and rise more than once.

4. The flour balance is important in the dough. Too much is too much and too little is too little. I think this might be something that will only be learned through experience.

5. Put a bowl of water into the oven to keep the air in it humid while the bread bakes.

6. Once baked put a cloth over it straight away. After it has cooled down keep it in a air tight container to keep it soft.

These points are only things that I have noticed that make the bread better. Even when I take these points into account and other once as well it always does not just work out. Don’t let that get to you. Try again! I did. The price that I got was worth the effort. The combo of by own bread and the growing my own peas was all that I needed to make me happy.

Growing peasBreadI could live on this. Maybe I should get my own cow and start making cheese and butter as well.

- Alina

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Soft Easter eggs tutorial

At least here in Finland pussy willows are an essential part of Easter decorations and without them there is so no Easter for me. We went to pick some with the girls a few weeks ago already and after coming home I noticed that some of the fluffy little catkins had fallen off. So I got an idea. Soft fluffy Easter egg decorations.

Soft Easter egg

So I decided to make this into a small tutorial for you guys as well since I haven’t done one in a while. Here we go then! Note that the egg that I use here is a real egg that I had already a while back emptied out by punching carefully two holes at each ends and then blowing out the contents.

Materials you need to make the soft Easter eggStringSoft Easter egg tutorialSoft Easter egg tutorialSoft Easter egg tutorialSoft Easter egg tutorial

Actually pretty easy but needs a bit of work to get one done. I decided to use my clever little girls to help me out with this project by making them take off the catkins from the pussy willows. Sounds boring to us adults but the kids loved it. Here’s a little tip if you want to do this with the kids and it’s still cold outside. Lay an old bed sheet on the floor and this way you can just easily tidy up when you are done.

Picking catkins off the pussy willows inside I can’t wait to make more. If you want you can always a add a splash of color to the finished egg by tying a colorful ribbon to the string. I decided to go the earth tone colors. Goes real well with the spring I have going on on my dining table. Look at how the branches are blooming.

IMG_0856Catkins

Got your Easter decorations up yet? Hurry, it’s nearly here.

- Alina

 

 

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Spring in my kitchen

The wait for actual light green spring can be long but to lighten up your home you can bring spring inside a bit earlier. The time between actual winter and spring is quite grey and colorless so therefore I really start to crave for color. I gathered some branches from our cabin a few weeks back and put them on our dining table. In no time these branches started to bloom. Ah….spring at least in a small scale.

Spring Spring SpringI bought a new table cloth as well last week. I think it might have been my first ever since I’ve never been a big fan of table cloths. My current life situation brought this upon me since I live with small children and own a clear glass table. I decided to ease my life by buying a table cloth which is coated fabric. Nowadays they aren’t as plastic like as before and they almost seem like normal fabric. Love it!

Table clothSince getting the new table cloth and the branches to bloom I decided to also grow some peas. This is such an easy way to get a little bit of extra into your own salads or as garnish or just a bit of green on your bread.

Peas PeasThe way they strech out towards the sun you can almost feel the need of growing in the peas. Perfect start for spring!

- Alina

 

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Carrot soup with fennel and star anise

I found a lovely carrot soup recipe. The carrot is paired up with fennel and star anise to bring a flavor of its own to the soup. This soup is worth a try. I haven’t really been a big fan of fennel and this soup is a great way to get acquainted with it. The distinct smell and taste does not overpower the other taste and therefore I loved the balance of star anise, carrot and fennel.

Star anise

CarrotSoupTitle

600-700 g carrot
1 onion
250 g fennel
50 g butter
3 star anise
5 dl water
1/2 teaspoons salt

1. Peel and chop the carrots and onions. Chop the fennel. You may save the stem of the fennel for decorating.
2. melt the butter in a pan. Add the vegetables and the star anis and sweat them for approx. 5 minutes. Add the water so that the vegetables are covered and cook them so that they are soft, approx. 10 minutes.
3. Pick out the star anis and puree the vegetables. You may now add some of the stem of the fennel on top if you want for decoration.

Carrot soupHave a lovely Tuesday everyone! I have a dessert coming up also where I used star anise and carrot as the stars. Great outcome!

- Alina

 

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Leather bracelet meets stones

You might have seen my posts on the leather bracelets that I did. Both of these bracelets were only of leather and metal findings but I clearly remember thinking to myself that I would love to add some stones to these. The first bracelet wrapped around my wrist 4 times and the second bracelet twice. This third one is the same as the second one. So I did.

Braided leather bracelet with amazonite, glass and freshwater pearls Braided leather bracelet with amazonite, glass and freshwater pearls Braided leather bracelet with amazonite, glass and freshwater pearls Braided leather bracelet with amazonite, glass and freshwater pearls

I did start with very subtle colors but it is a start and one of my favorite combos. I used freshwater pearls, amazonite and glass beads. I’m really happy with out it turned out and  can’t wait to make some more with other colors. But which colors… that is always the hardest question!

- Alina

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Egg carton fun

Egg carton

I’ve lately ordered my organic eggs straight from the farms and they come in batches of 30. Therefore the carton itself is also pretty big compared to the store bought egg cartons.

I didn’t have to heart to through them away since they were just perfect for the kids to do some crafts.

I decided to go for colorful bugs since I noticed I had some pipe cleaners, puff balls, cupcake baking cups and some googly eyes.

Cut out egg carton pieces

So I cut out the egg carton into little cups you could say to use them as the bodies of the bugs and then I made the girls an example.I’ve noticed that this is pretty crucial for them since a concrete example is the easiest way to explain to a 2 and 4 year old.

So the craft wasn’t complicate. I poked 4 little holes into the egg carton cups and the girls got to practice their accuracy by putting the pipe cleaner legs through them. The baking top was glued onto the back and then the head was done. That’s it. So this was my example which actually turned out pretty dull compared to the once that the girls did. I love the imagination of children. It is so free and open to everything.

Bug crafts

This is what the girls got done:

Bug crafts Bug crafts Bug crafts

This craft session turned into such a fun time. My four year especially loved it. She really got into the designing part. We started out by using just normal craft glue but in the end we ended up using my glue gun. It worked real well with the kids when we just went through the rules about the glue gun. The gun made it able for us to finish the bugs and not wait for the craft glue to dry. So much more fun for adults and kids.

So any of you looking for a fun time with kids..this is it. You need only a few simple things and you can do this. Then let your imagination fly!

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Earrings into a necklace

This piece I finished a while back already but if I remember right I had not starting blogging yet. I still do want to share this with you since I love this necklace. I was asked to create a necklace from a pair of earrings that I was given. Underneath is a picture of one of the earring pieces.

Agate and lapis lazuli sterling silver necklaceI combined the earrings with some 18x13mm large faceted dyed blue agate with quartz beads. The stone in the earrings seem to be lapis lazuli but I can’t be sure.

Agate and lapis lazuli sterling silver necklaceThe earrings were ear studs so I sawed off the studs from the back and drilled holes at the both ends of the earrings. Then I just had to bring life back to the dulled silver by polishing them. After the earrings were ready I just attached the row of agates to the earrings. I used a sterling silver metal wire to string the agates and to get the stones to stay in the wanted arc.

Agate and lapis lazuli sterling silver necklace Agate and lapis lazuli sterling silver necklaceThe agates and the earring pieces were pretty  large so therefore I felt that the chain part could also pretty showy. I ddin’t want to create just a chain from 1.5mm wire or larger but decided use my favorite sized chain made from 0.8mm wire. I doubled the rings in the chain and put two rows of the chain together. I like the outcome. It is in balance with the front of the necklace.

Agate and lapis lazuli sterling silver necklaceOnce again I’m happy to see how to reuse old pieces of jewelry and I think the outcome is beautiful. There is always hope for the forgotten pieces!

- Alina

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Smootie time

Smoothies are the greatest! You can put all this healthy stuff into a blender and just by pressing the button you can turn it into a wonderful tasting drink. I, as an adult, love to drink these for the healthy reasons but I noticed I can get all these healthy ingredients into my girls as well without any problems. Here are a few that I did for me and the girls last Sunday.

Spinach, peach and ginger smoothie

This green smoothie was more to my taste due to the ginger. I think I put a little too much of it, at least according to the girls, so as a caution: Be careful with the ginger. Too much of it is just a too powerful. Otherwise I loved it. Spinach, peach and ginger smoothie
This light yellow smoothie was more to the girls’ liking. I love to add oatmeal to smoothies to give them some richness and they keep the hunger away a bit more longer. Oatmeal in a smoothie is also great for kids who really have a problem with eating porridge (the everyday breakfast at our house). Peach and oatmeal smoothiePeach and oatmeal smoothieIf you are wondering about how much I put of each ingredient then I’ll just have to say that I went with what felt good and tasted good. Trust yourself and always remember to taste. Enjoy!

- Alina

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Might be quartz

So this is just a wonderful chunky long necklace. It just shouts spring due to the bright colors. These stones I actually bought years ago (at least 8 years) from Thailand at the weekend market. I was not familiar with stones much yet but the man at the shop did say this was some  sort of quartz. I decided not to care if he was talking the truth or not. They were just so yummy! So after all these years I just then combined the stones with white leather and silver.

Long quartz necklace Long quartz necklace Long quartz necklace

 

Lovely isn’t it?

- Alina

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Licorice Mud cake

I posted a picture of licorice powder on my Facebook page and I finally got to post you what I went and did with this wonderful powder. A Licorice Mud cake! Here’s what the licorice powder looked liked and the bottle you can find it in here in Finland (a plus is that it is an eco-friendly product).

Licorice powder

The cake consisted of two layers. Underneath was the mud cake and on top was a cream frosting. The cake was oh so good but a little too intensive for my taste so combining it with vanilla ice cream was the right move for me. I thought the licorice gave a nice little twist to the taste but it wasn’t as powerful as I would have expected.

Licorice mud cake

Mud cake
200 g dark chocolate (e.g. 60%)
100 g butter
4 eggs
4 dl powdered sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon licorice powder
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
pinch of salt

In addition
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon crushed almonds<

Frosting
150 g dark chocolate
1 tablespooon butter
100 g cream cheese
1 1/2 dl whipped cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2-1 tablespoon licorice powder
6-8 of cookies of your own choice

1. Preheat the oven to 180 celsius. Grease an 20 cm springform pan thickly with butter. Turn pan on its side, place almond crumbs in the pan and shake so crumbs stick to sides. Keep turning and add crumbs as needed until sides are well coated. Set pan upright and coat bottom of pan.

2. Carefully melt the chocolate and cut up butter, mix until smooth and let it cool.

3. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Froth the egg whites.

4. Froth the egg yolks and powdered sugar. Combine the corn starch, licorice powder and vanilla sugar and sieve the mixture into the the egg yolks foam. then mix the butter and chocolate mixture and a pinch of salt into the foam. Then carefully mix the egg whites foam into the mixture.

5. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for about 20 mins. The cake is still soft in the middle when taken out. It stiffens when cooled down. Let it cool down for at least 2 hours. Then take the cake out of the pan.

6. Make the frosting. Melt the chocolate and butter carefully. Let it cool down.

7. Mix the cream cheese flexible with a mixer. Froth the cream in another bowl and then mix into the cheese. Flavor the mixture with powdered sugar and licorice powder. Then add the melted chocolate.

8. Spread the frosting straight away onto the cake since it stiffens up quickly. Decorate the cake with cookies. Put the cake into the refrigerator until serving.

Licorice mud cake

I would have liked to bake it in a 20 cm pan but unfortunately I had left all my pans at my cottage. I did this in something that I was not that satisfied with. Luckly there is alwys a next time! The other great thing about this cake is that since the pan is covered with almond crumbs it makes this cake totally gluten-free as well! That’s it for tonight’s cake. Something more ‘healthy’ coming up next time.

- Alina

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