Category Archives: cooking

Want to become an Instant Chef? Just Add Booze!

For decades, my daughters, friends and family members have been asking me to write down my recipes. I just can’t do it; at least not yet. This is because I don’t measure, I splash. In Julia Child fashion, I add a little brandy here or a little white wine there and voila’, instant savory dishes!

Instead of a cookbook and the labor involved, I have been assessing the simple techniques I use to make quick and easy entrees with whatever libations happen to be on hand. What follows are some of my standard recipes. Hopefully, you will get the idea by the end that this is not brain surgery; it is amazingly easy and the meals taste amazingly delicious! Feel free to add your booze laden recipes in the comment section too!

SOME BASIC RULES FOR BEST RESULTS

* Whether it be fresh fish, chicken, tofu, beef, turkey or pork (not prawns because this process will just make them tough), the key to flavoring the meat, fish or tofu is to first braise it, brown it in a little oil (oil type depends on primary flavor of the meal) in a pan on a high heat. The crisper the outside before cookinG on the inside and the drier the pan, the faster the meat will absorb the flavors of the alchohol and other flavorings.

* Have other meal sides, table set and all other ingredients cut and ready to go and set aside beforehand and make sure there is a cover for the pan handy (or cover/tinfoil if this is an oven cooked meal).

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1. SALSA CHICKEN-Beer & Salsa

Mix equal parts of red salsa of any type, beer and 2 fresh garlic cloves. (about 2/3 cup salsa & 1/2 beer)

*Optional-Monterey jack cheese or other mild white cheese, grated.

If you have time, marinate chicken pieces in salsa/beer mixture; if not, no worries.

Brown chicken pieces in a pan with just enough hot vegetable oil to keep from burning.

When chicken pieces are brown on both sides and pan is hot, pour salsa/beer mixture over, turn to low, cover pan and let chicken absorb flavors and cook for about 15-20 minutes (depending on whether it is boned or not).

Just before serving, sprinkle jack cheese on top of all, cover and let melt.

Serve over a bed of cooked brown rice. If there is too much liquid, you can turn up the heat for the last few minutes before you add the cheese, take off cover and cook over some liquid.

Yummm!!!! This is a recipe I have used over and over and over and everyone loves it!

You can substitute salmon and white wine or just use beer for a slightly different, yet equally tasty and very fast meal! (I always make sure I have some type of salsa around either fresh or canned, and of course beer, so you always have this meal available.)

2. ROAST TURKEY or CHICKEN (whole, leg, or breast)- Brandy & Apple Juice ej

In a hot oven (450 degrees), brown turkey, uncovered with nothing else in baking pan. When skin is darkly browned, pour a mixture of 1/2 brandy & half apple juice over browned meat and instantly cover pan & meat with cover or tinfoil so no steam can escape.

Adjust temperature to about 350 degrees and cook for about 1 hour until meat is tender ( or longer if it is a whole turkey).

*You can also add onions and potatoes to pan when meat is browning initially so they also get brown before the liquid is added.

This is a very easy and so tasty meal and you don’t need to wait for Thanksgiving to eat it.

3. MUSHROOM CHICKEN-Beer or white wine & mushroom soup

This can be done with chicken or meatballs, canned mushroom or chicken or celery soup and a handful of fresh thyme or oregano (though dried can work too.) * I often use a few fresh ingredients and booze to a canned flavoring to make it taste homemade. A few fresh herbs and some fresh garlic will also help create a ‘fresh’ flavor.

Brown the meat in the hot pan with a tad of vegetable oil. When meat is browned, turn heat down to simmer and add the 1 can of mushroom soup, water down with beer or wine. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of fresh or dry chopped thyme or oregano and a few chopped garlic cloves if you want.

Stir gravy mixture in pan and scoop over meat. Cover and simmer until meat is tender. Add more beer or wine if it is too thick. Serve over a bed of brown rice or pasta.

4. SPAGHETTI SAUCE-Fresh, jarred, or canned spaghetti sauce & red wine

Add red wine, and if you can, a few fresh garlic cloves and some fresh herbs to bottled or canned sauce. It will make the difference between a processed or homemade flavor.

5. CHILI- Chili Beans & Beer (Dark, Microbrewery Beer is best!) nmn

Add beer to chili recipe and some honey if you want.

6. SPECTACULAR SOUPS- Just add booze!

For minestrone, add red wine; add white for lighter soups.

7. SUPERB, SODIUM FREE BALSAMIC GRAVY-Red Wine, Balsamic Vinegar, Maple Syrup

Braise whatever meat or tofu in a pan until cooked inside with a bit of oil, sprinkle with pepper. Add about 1/4 c. of red wine, 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp. maple syrup. Cover and let simmer for just a few minutes. Serve over rice or pasta or potatoes.

6. SAVORY TOFU- White wine, soy sauce

Brown small squared pieces of tofu in a pan with hot oil (sesame oil if you want an asian flavored meal), when all sides are browned, turn down heat, but before pan is cooled down, sprinkle a few cloves of chopped garlic, and douse tofu pieces with soy sauce and cover pan so tofu soaks up soy sauce. (Take care not to let pan get dry.) Add white wine as needed, but don’t let it get too watery. Add fresh vegetables to the pan, mushrooms, onions, etc. using soy sauce and white wine as needed.

7. FRENCH TOAST, CREPES, PANCAKES, WAFFLES WITH FRIED BANANAS-Firm Bananas, Brandy, Butter, Walnuts, Whipped Cream (vanilla).

Okay, this is not a dinner entree, but it can be a dessert or special Sunday Brunch and is just as quick and super scrumptious!

Make french toast or pancakes and keep warm. In a separate pan, 1 tbsp. butter. When pan is hot and butter starts to brown, add sliced bananas on high heat to brown quickly so they don’t get mushy. When browned, add chopped walnuts, and a bit of vanilla. Then add a big splash of brandy (watch for fire) and shake pan (cover for a moment). Pour over french toast and top with whipped cream. This all takes about 2 minutes so make sure everything else is already done!

*You could also use mangoes in season, peaches, apricots or other fruit instead of bananas.

Bon appetit! I will share the other recipes. I hope you enjoy this and remember that

oldAny booze you have lying around is best suited for creating that fabulous meal while gaining rave reviews and clean plates from those you feed! 

*** As long as you cook the alcohol 2-3 minutes, the alcohol burns off, leaving only the flavor.

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Food Banks: Highly underrated

POTAGE DE LAITUE

by Christina Ivazes 

Movie stars, millionaires, and well-known musicians of Mommy’s past were light years from that moment as she leaned over the grocery store dumpster with resolve, pulling out rotting vegetables she called “treasures.”  In a subtle paradox, there was not a hint of disgust in her facial expressions while even the non-descript clothing draped over her tall, lithe body could hide that she had once been a radiant beauty.

Roanne Lindquist

My mother seemed accustomed then to what hipsters would later call “Dumpster Diving.” I felt peculiar, silently watching a human being—my own mother—forage for food in a dumpster. However bizarre, nothing would spoil this rare moment to have Mommy all to myself. Earlier that morning before our adventure, I was both surprised and thrilled when she chose me, the eldest of her five children, to go “shopping.”

As if she discovered exactly what she’d been seeking, Mommy pulled a box out from under other refuse, blurting, “Voila!” My eight years of life experience couldn’t fathom the usefulness of this “treasure,” a box full of brown, slimy wilted heads of lettuce. Nevertheless, she plopped the box into the trunk of her mint green 1956 Dodge and we drove home.

Now there’s another confusing term. Even today at fifty-two, “home” is wherever I am laying my head to sleep on any given night. It’s hard to erase the patterns of an entire childhood. Until I got married at sixteen, we usually didn’t live anywhere for longer than a few weeks or months; all of our belongings fitting into the trunk of our car. cvb

At this particular juncture, our two-week home was a motel room with kitchenette on Huntington Boulevard, not far from Disneyland. Perhaps this earliest cooking recollection was where my kitchen creativity began.

I remember Mommy speaking to me like her apprentice, “First Christie; you have to remove the outer leaves.” Like disclosing an ancient secret, she peeled back the rotten layers to reveal a miniature, yet perfect head of lettuce.

I was in awe. How did she know this stuff? It was like she knew this lettuce was behind that specific grocery store, and we didn’t even have to pay for it! How absurd that people actually threw away good food. Yep! One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Inspired this new apprenticeship, I devotedly dropped slimy outer layers of lettuce into the other half of the wooden produce box sitting beneath me. It was only the white flesh remaining we would use.

While I worked, Mommy started her preparations by pulling out a huge, white soup pot. Regardless of what else we left behind, every time we moved to a new location Mommy still had to figure out how to feed seven people three times a day, every day. It puzzles me that I was completely unaware of her gargantuan challenges at the time. She never complained about these seemingly impossible tasks. She just plodded along until they were done whether it was cooking or laundry or packing everything up, once again.

More garbage than food remained after removing the inedible parts. Next Mommy showed me how to wash the soiled heads under cool water, taking care to remove any residue. I was thrilled when this final cleaning process revealed sparkling little gems of iceberg lettuce, juicy and fresh.

But another surprise ensued when Mommy removed the hard cores from each of my gems. She cut them in fourths, and dropped the quarters into the big pot of boiling water. My hard work ruined! Now the lettuce would be wilted again. “You didn’t cook lettuce!” I thought, never daring to speak my mind.

mastering renchAs planned, Mommy read her faithful cookbook: Julia Child’s, MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING while I observed with scepticism. She demonstrated how to add salt and pepper and other ingredients I can’t recall today. Finally, I became receptive when she explained; “This is a French recipe Christie. They serve it in the finest restaurants.”

Soon, my brother, three sisters and I sat down to eat, watching Mommy ladle Potage de Laitue into our bowls. I don’t remember where our father was; probably out looking for work. My empty stomach was anxious to fill up on this unique creation, yet I cautiously tested the broth; still in disbelief that it was possible to make soup from lettuce.

It was delicious! Silently, we sipped her delicate, creamy soup. Mommy’s eyes lit up. Even mismatched spoons and bowls of different sizes and colors couldn’t diminish the pride in her work as we hastily finished and asked for more. I felt proud too.

After being raised in Woodside, California, one of America’s wealthiest communities, Mommy never alluded to the tragedy or humiliation of life events that plunged her into this poverty. (Tidbits of information from relatives through the years have given me clues to deeper thoughts and feelings that must have played through her mind that day.)

For that moment in our tiny motel room, like so many other moments, Mommy didn’t focus on what could have been. She had just successfully fed her five children—a la Julia Child no less—in a feat transcending wealth and glamour. Nothing was more important to her than us kids and we knew it.

While relishing our miraculous meal, I reflected on my amazing mother and the story of Stone Soup I had just heard in school. You could make a meal with scant ingredients. A good cookbook helps too. Today, I often send a prayer of thanks to Julia Child for giving my mother dignity in her darkest moments. And even though my mother escaped this daily suffering with her premature death at thirty-five, I send a prayer to her for giving me the gifts of determination, a positive attitude and an undying resourcefulness, no matter what may face me at any given moment.

Perhaps that is why when someone tells me, “There is nothing to cook,” I know better!

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Number 8 is Just as Great!

I have to announce the latest wondrous occasion in our family: the birth of Dayton Simone, who came to us on July 30, 2010. She has the longest, most delicate fingers I have ever seen on a newborn and she uses them frequently to express herself. She smiles at everyone and NO, it is not just gas bubbles! 

Dayton Simone

Dayton Simone- Grandchild No. 8

Now this may seem like an ordinary story, but it is not. Yes, babies are born every day and have been since the dawn of time, yet I am always flabbergasted as to how miraculous birth is, no matter how commonly it occurs. 

This last birth of my 8th grandchild, was an at-home water birth in the true and gentle Leboyer style. It was about the smoothest and most beautiful birth I have ever witnessed in person or otherwise. I had my last 2 children at home in the care of experienced  midwives, though I always learn something new from each midwife I observe. Our last baby in the family needed to be transferred to the hospital during labor due to some risky signs because the midwife was being responsible. There IS a time for the hospital and RESPONSIBLE HOMEBIRTH means ensuring that there is a hospital close by (about 20 minutes) if it is necessary to transfer during labor and that there is a qualified and experienced birth professional there to monitor mother during labor & assist during delivery and post-partum.

This last midwife had delivered 750 births and had never lost a mother or a baby, which is probably a better record than most any OB/GYN could say. She knows that birth is a normal process, yet there is a time when medical back-up is necessary. THIS is RESPONSIBLE HOMEBIRTH. No responsible person would insist on birthing at home if there were risk factors or signs of fetal or maternal distress during pregnancy and/or labor. 

Yet, remembering that ANY medical intervention itself, especially unnecessary medical intervention, increases the risks to both mother and baby, is also a key to any RESPONSIBLE BIRTH, whether the birth is in the hospital or at home. Responsible choices increase safety by minimizing risks.

THE FOCUS OF CHILDBIRTH SHOULD ALWAYS BE “WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBLE THING TO DO OR NOT TO DO? ” NOT “WHAT IS THE MOST CONVENIENT THING TO DO?” Convenience is where we have made most of our mistakes with childbirth today. There are thousands of studies and articles to support this point so I will not belabor it. 

For THIS latest birth in our family, there were 2 midwives who worked as a team. They were absolutely wonderful, wise, and warm to everyone; especially in caring for our little angel, during and after her birth. What I loved most was that they encouraged Mom (my daughter) to breastfeed for almost an hour at the outset, as soon as the baby was able. This expelled the placenta naturally and created the stimulus Mom needed for milk production, while cleaning out Baby’s intestines & nourishing & protecting her with nature’s perfect newborn meal: colostrum. They were also very careful to ensure baby was latched on appropriately to prevent sore nipples. The correct help and advice makes all of the difference!

Hery family

The Morning After

You can read the whole birth story on my daughter’s blog: MamaHery.BlogSpot.com 

However, there is one thing you won’t read in my daughter’s birth story: What an absolutely blessed experience it is for a mother to watch her own daughter give birth, becoming a mother herself. There really are no words for being allowed to participate in this blessed event of bringing a new life into the world. Even though I have been lucky enough to witness this event 7 other times with my 3 amazing daughters and am so honored by each of their maternal bravery and instincts, and this was Sara’s 2nd. baby, it was much faster than any others in our family. It was practically effortless compared to all the others, including my own. It was a smooth and graceful water birth. The midwives were attentive, skilled & adept, working together like two experienced dancers. Sara was poised, receiving guidance from us all, resting on Dad’s body throughout the birth and cherishing the time with her new daughter on her chest afterwards, the natural location for any newborn.  My 15 year-old granddaughter, Tayler video-taped the entire event & witnessed this most humane form of childbirth. It really made an impression upon her because she has also witnessed the hospital births of her 3 younger siblings & commented on how easy this was in comparison.

One of the biggest benefits of homebirth, as I also experienced with my own, was to be able to naturally include big brother when he awoke the next morning. No mother-child separation. Our family was around, offering all of the peripheral support needed such as meals, care of big brother, laundry, etc. 

Yes, this is the 21st. Century. We have many many advances to make life easier. These advances are best served in our family, not with medical intervention to take the inconvenience out of childbirth, but to share these stories and photos of a natural normal process that is not necessarily better served with interference.

This was my 8th grandchild, my 12th birth experience, and my 3rd. homebirth experience. It was the most natural and smoothest birth experience of them all as we put technology in its place and refused to let technology take the place of the best humanity has to offer.

I take my hat off to my daughter Sara, her amazingly supportive husband Andrew, and Marlene and Kaleem, the two midwives from One Heart Midwifery. I trusted them implicitly and am so grateful they were there to make this birth of my 8th grandchild so perfect. I am also so grateful and impressed with their follow-up care of both my granddaughter, Dayton Simone, and my daughter, Sara. I have had no worries about incorrect advice because I know they are in good hands with qualified professionals that understand the true needs of  both Mother & Baby. They allowed Dayton Simone to enter the world nurtured & loved, not traumatized with unnecessary medical intervention or separation. 

This Grandmother is grateful, happy & blessed once again!  

me

My 3 daughters, newest granddaughter & myself: Granny Pants

You can follow my Granny Pants’ Daily Parenting Tips on Facebook or find out more about my services at ChameleaProductions.com

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STAY AT HOME DADS- UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES?

Today, our fathers are more important than ever! We are grateful they are taking on these new roles in caregiving, providing our children with an awesome opportunity for the first time in American history! Yet, with these economic driven changes taking place, there are also some current considerations.

In my profession, I observe diverse family systems, the changes they go through, and the effects these changes have on children. It doesn’t matter whether the children are in the United States, Finland, Mexico, or an other country I have experienced.  Children all have the same basic needs and when these needs are not met, they communicate this imbalance to us in a variety of ways. Imbalance expresses itself differently for each child. It may look like withdrawal from the world in one child or acting out in another. It may show up in the form of insomnia in one or stomach aches in another. Because of all of these different “shouts for help” coming from our children, there is one new need that children will be suffering from in the future that we should all be aware of and work towards handling so we don’t see a new form of preventable childhood problems.

My focus has always been on the preventive. It is more cost-effective and harmonious for all concerned to prevent a problem rather than ending up with a host of problems that not only torture all involved, but also become very costly to treat.  I urge you to keep this in mind when I communicate the following:

bnbWith the new trend of Stay At Home Dads, largely in part due to our current economic downturn and high rates of unemployment, many Dads are embracing unemployment as a gifted opportunity they never had before. Children are also benefitting from having their fathers more present in their daily lives than any other previous generation in the U.S. (Though many European countries already recognize the importance of Paternal Leave.)

As we witness this beautiful evolution in our fathers, which I see on a daily basis, and most personally, with my own son-in-law right now, many fathers are showing themselves as capable caregivers, and in some respects, even better housekeepers than their wives. I say Hallelujah for this!  When the mother does not have the burden of working, cooking, shopping, caregiving, and housework entirely on her shoulders, she will be more balanced in her own life, and perhaps even more available emotionally and physically to her husband!

However,  just as unplanned suburban sprawl has created numerous unintended consequences to our culture and planet such as isolation, over-consumption of resources and energy, obesity, and addictions, we need to prevent unintended consequences from this current trend in Stay At Home Fathering. We need to have a plan and consider all ramifications before we have a spiraling out-of-control situation that we did not foresee or know how to stop.

There are two specific  issues I am bringing up with this post to consider, regarding this modern day phenomenon:

#1. When fathers are not trained as caregivers from birth as mothers are from generations of gender stereotyping, experience, and role-modeling, it is important they have had good role modeling, and/or training and support in basic healthy practices and effective child rearing methods in order to prevent the further deterioration of our children’s nutritional, emotional, and cognitive states, especially in the U.S. Granted, our children have a  host of problem these days, regardless of who their caregivers have been. However, since most fathers are not known for their focus on nutrition and vegetable consumption, we have the potential of a back slide from the current consciousness we need in this country to get our children back on track with the health, academic, and social skills they need for success in life. We need fathers to adopt and support a set of nutritional standards for their children so their daily care is actually strengthening our bnbj children’s physical health and immune systems.  How about: No foods purchased with sugar and high fructose corn syrup to start with. (Though nothing can replace the fun and satisfaction of a once in a while batch of homemade cookies.) How about focusing on more vegetables in meals. We all know that a large percentage of men, husbands, are not so keen on vegetables. In fact, it is usually a major issue of contention in many families and has affected the family’s nutritional state for generations. So, what will the effect be if our fathers today are the primary caregivers and meal makers, if they lower the vegetable intake of our households when we should be increasing this intake for our overall health.

Of course, there are many Dads who are doing a great job providing the best for their children, but aren’t they the minority? Prove me wrong please, and then I won’t take issue with this point. What I am saying is that if a father is now responsible for the nutritional standards and meals of a household, shouldn’t they be trained and committed to ensuring their children are getting their nutritional needs met? This is yet another case for a return to required Home Economics for all students in the U.S.!

The other consideration of point #1 is boundaries, limits, respect, emotional maturity, and physical exercise (instead of TV, movies, the internet, or video games). I know I am being very general about many things in this post and there are exceptions to every one of my points, but as a rule, we need to look at the majority of households, which will have the largest future impact to society, regardless of exceptions. When a father is caring for his own children all of the above considerations now become his responsibility to provide, along with the other daily needs of his children and household. To do it right, to ensure children have the best chance at success and happiness in life, all caregivers must be more, not less conscious of these aspects of caregiving.  Now is the time for all parents in America to step up; we cannot afford to push back the issues of our children’s physical, emotional, and cognitive health because life has thrown us changes!

Fathers bring many assets to provide our children with these needs. From my experiences, I have seen many fathers actually provide more hands-on opportunities and be more adamant about getting outdoor exercise than some mothers, which I personally believe comes from some genetic intuitiveness. The firmness (not cruelty) that some fathers bring to the table is probably a good thing for most of our children because they need a better foundation of respect for others and more limits to foster their emotional maturity. In this respect and numerous others, children need and benefit from more of their father’s influences, especially if it is firm, loving and infused with clear limits and consequences.

However, when some (not all) current popular father bloggers seek and succeed at high ratings from their witty, clever posts that boast poor parenting practices (Messed-Up Parenting Tips), we see the influences of popular internet culture becoming convoluted and potentially harmful to the future of our children and the idea of Stay At Home Dads, unless we have louder voices of common sense and consciousness prevailing, like the great father blogs like Natural Papa! Of course, I like my own Granny Pants’ Daily Parenting Tips, which always considers the present and future of the child over popular or market-driven trends.

We are stepping into new territory. Child rearing has not been very successful in the U.S. in the last several decades for a variety of reasons. Marketing pressures have influenced parents to choose convenience over what is best. Our current trend of kids raised on TV, DVD’s and video games has led to a country filled with hyperactive, physically unfit, obese, disrespectful, illiterate, depressed, and often violent children. Fathers who are at home with our children now have a new responsibility to embrace the preventive strategies to combat these challenges.

We cannot cvb afford to slip back into a nation of sheep, unconsciously allowing our children to self-medicate through TV, computers, movies and video games. We need fathers to take a stand and ensure they are not a part of the problem. We need fathers to disconnect those DVD players in your SUV! They are making our kids grow up illiterate and unable to communicate with their own parents or others! Their creativity is being extinguished because they have no time to listen to their own inner processes and expand their experience. They are constantly plugged into someone else’s creativity, not developing their own. We need all parents to kick them outside, teach them how to build, garden, paint, hike, explore, swim, care for animals, etc….

And, please teach them respect for others, all life, and compassion!

#2.  This next issue is something I have been pondering for a while. I am not really clear about what the solutions are, but I have some ideas, which are worth considering. Many of my approaches throughout the years, though seemingly radical at the time to others, have slowly become what are recognized as valid and proven preventives through numerous studies. I am heartened by knowing that common sense and pragmatism is seeping back into American culture, however slow it may be.

Have you ever had something you never knew you would like and then you had it, like a chocolate milkshake? (This reminds me of the story The Fonz told Richie when he was explaining to him how divorce’s were used to having sex all of the time because they had been married with easy access.)

This is the potential situation our kids will be in when fathers return to work. There are already fathers that have returned to work and already children dealing with this withdrawal feeling. They may not have been used to having Dad around, then they got used to it, then he left again!

So, how do we handle this emotional void for both Father and Child? We do it consciously. We do it by conversing with children about it, by carving out some very focused father/child time together every week, no matter how busy a schedule may get. With Skype, we can ensure regular communication during long absences, like military families and traveling business people have been using. We also do it by watching for the signs that our children are suffering these losses as in the ones I listed at the beginning of the post.

By all means, it is best for parents not to let guilt drive their responses to a child who is missing him/her.  Guilt is an unhealthy emotion that can lead to permissiveness, especially in inappropriate situations, where structure and limits are needed. Children pick up on and run with a parent’s guilt if they sense it, which can serve to drive even more symptomatic behavior and create a perspective of victimization.  Guilt and blame do not empower a child to deal with a situation. Whether it comes from the absent parent or the parent at home, what children need is adult maturity in these moments.

Honest conversations about changes and feelings are important, expressing that the adults too are missing their children. Working together as a family on healthy responses and solutions teaches a child emotional maturity and resiliency, not victimization.  Adults seeking solutions while expressing empathy are what children need to learn to deal with any loss, change or challenge.

Because a new position or career change can take off like a jet plane, leaving everything else behind, it is extremely important we acknowledge this reality while also acknowledging the need to maintain the investment in our children’s emotional security and maturity so we don’t lose the investments these fathers have already made if and when the family decides that the father take on an outside employment position!

Many baby boomer children and beyond look back and wish they could have had their own fathers more present and active in their lives. Today, so many fathers are realizing this awesome opportunity to do just that. Yet, because we have an unprecedented situation, we need to create a realistic and thoughtful plan. We need to go beyond market driven decisions and popular culture that throws fix-it remedies at parents like a pitcher to a batter. Most remedies strike out for the long haul because they are profit driven and do not consider the future of the child.

AND, many Dads already foresee their own heartache at returning to work and have considered the full-time stay at home alternative. We are at a precipice, a defining moment  in American family life. Let’s have the conversation on these important and valid points. When I see my whiny grandson missing his father, now that he is gone 3 weeks this last trip after months of being at home, when I remember a former employer and his son who used to act out frequently as a result of his father traveling, after seeing his Dad day after day and traveling with him for months, and when I have witnessed hundreds of fatherless children firsthand with their numerous behavioral and emotional problems, I can see the situation repeating from this completely different situation: The Stay At Home Dad Who Was Here Today & Gone Tomorrow

It really is all the same when a child is suffering loss. And toys and gifts and food and money thrown at a kid to soften this absence never fill the emotional void. It takes a conscious father to recognize the needs of his children and himself to make up that time by being present, even for 20 minutes a day or during a weekend excursion. Absolute 100% focused time with a child is 100% appreciated by every child!

What I am saying to all of the fathers out there is “Please don’t let life take over again, leaving your kids on the sidelines.”

And, for mothers and other caregivers, perhaps more hugs, more Mommy time, some male teachers, nannies, or relatives to fill that male void while Dad is gone, and maybe a little more tussle and outdoor play time is also in order!!!!!

For the Dads who choose to stay at home, please recognize this awesome responsibility and find support for making the best choices for your children! Recognize the powerful marketing influences of pop culture and steer clear for your kids sake as well as for your pocketbook! This 5 minute video is worth pondering: (Consuming Kids

Do you have any exemplary or despicable Stay At Home Dad stories to entertain us with? Please share them here with other readers in the comment section!

Are you a Stay At Home Dad by choice or necessity? Will choose to stay at home for a while or will you leave for a better paying position? Why do you enjoy staying home with your kids? 

Granny Pants

http://TheNewPhysicsofChildhood.com

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10 Things You Need to Know But Probably Don’t Want to Hear!

OF COURSE YOU ARE TOO BUSY TO READ THIS WHOLE POST!   

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Empowering Healthy, Capable Kids Takes Conscious Parenting!

HOWEVER, whether you are expecting your first child, or have a child of any age, I CHALLENGE YOU TO TAKE THE TIME TO READ IT ANYWAY! At times, the truth can sting a little, or even a lot, but isn’t better to know when it comes to the future of our children?   

1. If you live in the U.S., your child probably needs at least 2 more hours of outdoor activity a day in order to function normally (physiologically, mentally, emotionally). Children of every age need physical activity for 4-6 hours a day and the OPTIMUM is to have most of that activity outside, even in the cold (with adequate clothing, of course). When a child starts school, their body does not automatically reduce its need for physical activity. In fact, many of the behavioral, physical, and emotional issues of children today are a direct result of this physical, outdoor deficit! Don’t even think about medicating a child for any behavioral or emotional issues until they have had these OPTIMUM needs met for several weeks. Dramatically increasing outdoor physical activity (in a safe environment) will almost always guarantee positive results with challenges such as insomnia, attention, lowered immune resistance, emotional outbursts, physical  fitness, strength, large motor skill development, and overall life satisfaction.   

2. If you have a baby from this point on, any investment you can make that allows the mother (or yourself) to exclusively breastfeed baby for the first 6 months (no water, food, or formula), is the No. 1 best investment for both a baby and mother’s health. Exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months is the recommendation for OPTIMUM infant health by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the American Pediatric Association, and other health organizations, YET, all over the world, this recommendation is not being followed, especially not in the U.S. where even though 73.9 mothers start out breastfeeding at birth, only 13.6% of babies are    

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No doubt about it: the best!

exclusively breastfed at 6 months of age http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/report_card2.htm. This staggering statistic correlates with the rise in many childhood illnesses and allergies. Even mothers who breastfeed lower their own risk of breast cancer and diabetes, while also losing extra baby weight easily (as long as they are not consuming empty calories). http://grannypantsspeaks.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/excerpt-from-the-new-physics-of-childhood/ Instead of providing the minimum standards with processed, incomplete formula and heating it with a microwave oven, let’s start our children out with the OPTIMUM nourishment and disease prevention.    

3. Insisting that caregivers and/or you hover over your child to protect them is creating generations of wimpy kids! If you think giving your kids what you didn’t have for yourself is all good, you may be fooling yourself! Whenever an adult does something for an infant, child, or teenager that they can do for themselves, the underlying message is, “I know you can’t do this, so I will do it for you.” When these actions repeat throughout a child’s life, starting in infancy, children become dependent on others to make them happy. They do not experience the intrinsic motivation of autonomous accomplishment. They need the continual approval of others and they often have low-self esteem because they are not challenged to learn, to try, to fail, to adjust, to try again and to succeed!  Experiences of success with minimal interference by adults create confidence and independence. They develop with plenty of alone time to learn to play, to satisfy oneself and to accomplish difficult tasks. Infants learn these lessons, even as they sit in the yard or on a patio, observing nature by themselves, or by playing with a single toy by themselves. Attention and reinforcement are important components in parenting children that helps them feel loved. Equally, children need to experience their own ability to make themselves happy by increasing autonomous successes that allow them to become capable, confident, and self-motivated adults someday.   

4. If you feel that your household is out of control, your kids may be the ones in charge, not you! Children need parents who are leaders and mentors, not overly permissive best friends. Being a parent means running the family and training children to be functioning members of society. This is not the job of a child. Children are not supposed to choose their own schedules, pick out their own food from the grocery store, decide what and when to eat, when to go to sleep, or how much exercise or tv time they get, or whether or not they participate in the upkeep of the household they live in. The job of parents is to make sure children have the proper household routines for OPTIMUM sleep, hygiene, eating, exercise, homework & free time, proper, nourishing food,  proper respect for others, manners, accountability for behavior and age-appropriate contribution to the household. If a parent is not providing these needs for their children, the children will become disruptive to the household-plain and simple.   

5. Quick fix meals may actually be hurting you and your kids in ways you aren’t even aware of! Unfortunately, parents need to read the labels when they are shopping, no matter where they live because manufacturers are adding ingredients to foods continously. Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners should not be a part of any baby or child’s dietary consumption, yet they are included in many foods for babies and children today. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM ) The escalating rates of diabetes and obesity around the planet are a clear example that more diligence is needed from parents everywhere. Microwave ovens are also a seriously questionable method for heating ANYTHING for a baby or child. On the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services website of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), this is the statement they have regarding the health risks of microwave ovens, “Much research is underway on microwaves and how they may affect the human body.” http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/ResourcesforYouRadiationEmittingProducts/Consumers/ucm142616.htm. Will microwave ovens be another BPA nightmare as the FDA sits back and does research to substantiate the risks AFTER products are already being manufactured and consumed? Don’t make your child’s health a scientific experiment. Read labels, buy more fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables. Don’t buy foods containing sugar, and choose proven, safe methods of heating food. (Keep a tea kettle filled with water that can be heated quickly and a deep bowl or measuring cup to heat any liquids or foods by adding hot water to the bottom and inserting either the bottle or bowl. This  3 minutes or so may save your child’s health!)   

6. Creating peace of mind today by allowing kids to tune-out with technology could be destroying your family and your children’s intuitive and sensory-based communication abilities. When parents make numerous choices and non-choices to allow ways for their children to be pacified by technology throughout the day–so they can have peace of mind–children are losing the valuable minutes, hours, and days they need to prepare themselves for life in other areas such as physical creative, intellectual, emotional, and social   

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Technology- A Blessing & A Curse

 development. See each moment a child or teen is glued to a television, video game, or computer as a minute robbed from their development. When children and teens are plugged into music devices or cell-phones at all times, they are not learning to develop or fully listen to their own instincts and guidance. They are losing their ability to relate to and be aware of the world around them. They are losing their ability to communicate face-to-face. When anyone in a family is plugged into a device or allowed to use a cell-phone/IPod at the dinner table, they are systematically digging a wide communication chasm between family members that may never recover if it is underdeveloped. Why not create a tech-free zone for meals, a significant portion of commuting to school and other activities, after school, weekends and/or traveling. Of course, the kids will rebel at first, but in the end, they will have YOU and your conversations to reflect upon, not just a blurry memory of text messages and images on screens of people they don’t even know.   

7. Children identified with an illness, condition or disorder like ADHD, diabetes, migraines, etc. are debilitated by labeling. A label or an attachments does not really get anyone off the hook! Labels exacerbate challenges by limiting a child’s perception that they can have control of the many things in their life, starting with their attitude. The language that we teach our children either empowers or weakens their perception of their ability to create their own happiness and life satisfaction. First of all, if your child faces any physical, mental, or emotional challenges, refrain from using language like this, “Your diabetes” “Your migraines”  Shouldn’t children identify themselves and get more attention from things other than illness? Internal language produces physiological changes in the body, which either deteriorate or improve health. http://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Healing-Exploring-Frontiers-Medicine/dp/0553348698/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265880453&sr=1-18 Whatever the condition of a child’s physical or emotional state, he/she will still need adults in their life to emphasize that “They are not their body!” They are a bright and shining spirit that is meant to experience joy in many forms. It is up to parents to find these experience for a child and build on them, not on the culture of victimhood. Regardless of any situation, we always have the ability to change our internal attitude! Physical and emotional states will improve when they are nurtured by positive experiences and empowering perspectives!   

 8. Marketing shapes a child in ways you may not even be aware of!  Limiting a child’s exposure to technology will also limit their exposure to dangerous life altering influences. The cumulative effects of advertising and product placement promote a “me” driven, materialistic culture which discourages the development of a child’s intrinsic motivation, integrity and compassion for others.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maeXjey_FGA   

9. Children are learning more about how to be from what they observe you doing than from what you say! Although this is not revelation, isn’t it funny that we ignore this fact quite often? How many times have you done   

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IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO BECOME?

something inappropriate like using profanity, but then tell a child not to do it later on? These little hypocrisies throughout the day add up over a lifetime. The way we  feel about events and other people, especially any contemptible or fearful feelings,  are felt by infants, children, and teenagers, even if they do not say anything. These strong opinions and feelings, reactionary behaviors, and even disrespect towards others (even employers) is affecting how they too will view others someday.  If you would rather sit on the couch and watch TV all evening, they probably won’t want to go outside and exercise. They too, will become couch potatoes someday. Pretend a movie camera is filming you and outsiders are reviewing you on your own quality of daily life experience. This is what your children see. Then, adjust it so they see     

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OR THIS?

the movie you want them to watch!   

10. You may think putting off your own nutritional, exercise, or sleep needs are okay for now, but you are wrong! Not only are children learning how to take care of themselves by watching your example, your health and state of mind also effects your ability to care for your  children.  If you are exhausted, it is difficult to be consistent and firm. If you are tired, can you really be present for your children? If you are sick, how available are you for anyone? Perhaps this means limiting outside commitments, especially in the early years of your child’s life. Over time, the cumulative effects of neglecting your own health can also lead to many debilitating illnesses that will in turn, rob you of valuable, quality time with yourself and your family someday. This includes quality downtime for yourself with your partner and yourself to just do nothing, like taking a vacation. Who wants to spend their vacation time sick because they waited too long ot take on, or never be able to make it to enjoy retirement? Do it for your kids and you will also be doing it for yourself! When a parent is at their fittest and healthiest and rested, they are better equipped to care for their children and actually enjoy the experience!   

All of these preventive strategies among many others are contained in my book, The New Physics of Childhood: Replacing Modern Myths with Simple Strategies  You can purchase the book at http://TheNewPhysicsofChildhood.com, and follow me on    

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Author, Christina Ivazes (aka Granny Pants) w/ Grandchild # 7 Hudson Cooper

Facebook at “Granny Pants’ Daily Parenting Tips”   

I welcome your feedback and experiences with any of these issues! I am also available for Parent & Family consulting. Email me about the needs of your family @ christinaivazes@chameleaproductions.com   

Granny Pants

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Filed under 1, babies, Breastfeeding, children, cooking, exercise, insomnia, La Leche League, nutrition, Parenting, prevention, teaching

A True Cultural and Culinary Adventure

I am not the type of adventure traveler who dares to climb jagged mountaintops with ropes and harnesses or bungee jump from ominously tall bridges. Instead, when I travel, I brave the new territory within the families of other cultures and countries by living in their homes, participating in their celebrations,  and most importantly, by observing and participating in the preparation of meals in the kitchen–where much is revealed about a culture and its values. By following this adventure trail throughout my life, I have absorbed many amazing and valuable insights, including culinary and nutritional secrets. What follows is definitely a highlight in my cultural kitchen adventures, the making of traditional Finnish Rye Bread. (If you just want the recipe, skip to the CAPS; the rest of the text is the story.)

As I reflect on my experiences to date of this Finnish Adventure, I must acknowledge that this breadbaking process has to be the highlight. Many people live a lifetime in a country, or study its history—yet never experience what it was like for early citizens.

Of course, breadbaking and dark rye bread is not the sole experience of the Finnish culture, but actually, it was and still is in many respects, the sustainence of the culture, the people! I feel so grateful to have taken part in this vital practice and am so grateful to Ulla Engestrom and her family for providing it!

Coincidentally, it seems like this dense Finnish Rye Bread we spent 3 days making will also be the new vogue in the coming era of food trends according to a story on CNN this month: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/01/04/tips.eating.better/index.html. (I have to confess that I DO have a habit of being ahead of my time!) 

But CNN didn’t say anything about the value of sour, though there is sure to be a study coming out in 5 years that shows that bread made with sour dough starter has some kind of magical, medical quality too. And this was sour, dense rye bread, believe me. Wow! The taste comes from the 5+ generations this sourdough starter has been in the family of my dear friend Ulla-Maaria Engestrom, without “breaking the chain.” (Ulla was my cohort on this brazen culinary crusade. Neither of us would have even attempted it without the other.)

*A sourdough starter needs replenishing frequently to prevent it from dying. A fresh starter in the refrigerator needs new flour added about every 12 days. The longer a starter is alive, the more sour and flavorful it becomes. So imagine what kind of magic is brewing is in this sourdough starter after a few hundred years or longer!) These Finnish ancestors didn’t watch CNN or wait for a study to come out; they just knew what was good and they knew that the secret is in the starter! Due to the cold climate, the Finns have found an easier way to maintain starter (or what they call the “root”) by freezing it. This makes it less time intensive to maintain. 

Now, we get down to business. Where did I leave off? (If you missed Part 1-Please read first:  https://grannypants.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/a-finnish-christmas-dream-come-true/  

Next, I must qualify the inconsistency of what is to follow. Not only was this process stressful from the point of the pressure we were under to make 8 loaves of bread with a recipe we had never used before in an oven we had never used before, while being surrounded by little ones, a feverish baby, as well as my lack of knowledge of the language, I found out later a few things that make it veritably miraculous that we pulled this off! 

You see, I have been baking bread for over 35 years now. In fact, I used to bake and sell my homemade bread 25+ years ago in Loveland, Colorado. I had my own sourdough starter and rye bread recipe and prided myself on the taste of my bread. 

So, you can imagine the pressure I felt when my Ulla informed me well towards the end of the process that she was receiving the details of the recipe over the phone from two different grandmothers, sisters who were each over 85 years old, and who each disliked the other’s bread recipe! The comedy of this moment was all I could embrace because I found out about this at the point when it was too late to do anything; the bread was already in its final rising. I laughed and performed my third prayer that everything would work out. I had my doubts all along because it wasn’t looking like I knew it should, because I DID know how it should look, although I admit I even felt like a newbie bread baker in the wisdom and presence of over 5 generations from the homeland! 

How did we do it? I will post what we did and then I will post what I think we should have done in italics right after each step. I think these adjustments will yield a better, more edible product, even though we were actually able to eat the finished product. 

Dense Finnish Rye Bread 

Day 1 

  • TAKE 400 GRAMS (0.8 LBS.) OF STARTER DOUGH OUT OF FREEZER (If you don’t have this ancient starter, you can make your own with 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water, 1 packet of yeast, 1/4 cup of flour, and let sit for a day in a warm place, stirring occasionally. Then you would follow this recipe but consider and subtract the water content of your starter when measuring the water in day 2. Use the amount of yeast I recommend as well below  in the Day 2 step, which is in addition to your starter yeast.)  
  • LET IT MELT IN THE REFRIGERATOR (If it is frozen)
  • MEANWHILE BUY 5 KILOS (APPROX. 10 LBS.) FRESH RYE FLOUR- LIPERI GRAINERY, or grocery store, or buy rye berries and grind them yourself. (The Vitamix can do this, which is one of my very favorite, versatile and valuable kitchen tools.)

Day 2 

  • 8:30AM –TAKE UNWASHED/SALTED 5 GALLON BUCKET & RINSE SALT OUT QUICKLY (bucket comes from the grandmothers (Mummis)
  • TAKE STARTER DOUGH OUT OF REFRIGERATOR & PUT INTO
    Add 4 1/2 liters of lukewarm water

    Add 4 1/2 liters of lukewarm water

     BOTTOM OF BUCKET 

  • PUT 4.5 LITERS OF LUKEWARM WATER & 1 square of yeast (this is the equivalent of about 2 packets of dry yeast)  & MIX WITH ENOUGH FLOUR TO MAKE IT THE CONSISTENCY OF THICK SOUP (Okay, this is where we made the biggest mistake right off the bat! I didn’t have the full information at the time of Day 2. From my experience, I never put all of the yeast in the starter mix at this time. I usually put 1/3 of it or so and let that sour for the day before actual baking and then I add the rest of the yeast in the next day just before adding the remainder of the flour. But, I think the ancestors know best, so I would also add all of the yeast in this  step.  However, considering how absolutely dense the final product was, I would double the yeast. This is for 8 loaves, so I would add 2 squares of yeast or 4-5 packets of dry yeast. We actually did NOT add any yeast at this time and found out much later that we needed to add all of it. 
Eliel stirring 1st. mixture

Eliel stirring 1st. mixture

  • STIR PERIODICALLY THROUGHOUT THE DAY- SET IN A WARM PLACE- COVERED YET WITH A PLACE FOR THE AIR TO ESCAPE  Just a little background here. The stick I am holding to the left may
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    Ella, Granny Pants, and the Amazing, Ancient, Wooden Whisk

    resemble something a caveman used, and probably could have been! Today, it is actually being used as a powerful whisk, which is necessary when you are mixing what we were mixing in a 5 gallon bucket. I don’t know what type of wood it is, but it is very strong. 

  •    BY 3PM, IT SHOULD BE LIKE PORRIDGE (Now this is another place
    Sourdough Starter with Yeast, Warm Water & Enough Flour to Be Soupy like Porridge

    Sourdough Starter with Yeast, Warm Water & Enough Flour to Be Soupy like Porridge-Notice the Fine Mixing Tool!

     where cultural differences can really create confusion. What I thought was “porridge” was not what the Finnish know as “porridge.” In a comical revelation, I went to stir the mix later that morning and found it to be much thicker. Ulla and her father had added more rye flour because it hadn’t been like porridge–as they know it. You see porridge is oatmeal and the way my friends prepare porridge (purro) in Finland is much thicker than my own reference. When I heard “porridge” I thought of my own idea of a more viscous substance. Ulla’s father, Pekka was the only real witness to this process that we had available. We were in the house he was born and raised in. Who knows how many times he saw that bread being baked throughout his life. We hailed to his wisdom! Do not question authority!  Due to the science this bread baking and the fact that there is no additional sweetener for the yeast to feed off of, I assume this is the reason the mixture needs more flour added than I have added to my own mixture in the past. I usually add a little molasses to help darken and feed the yeast, but this would still interfere with the sour quality, so I guess I have learned something here. The yeast needs more flour in this bubbly, first sitting, which it will feed off of instead of any added sweetener.

  •  Day 3

  

  • MORNING- ADD (3 Tbsp.) SALT & ENOUGH FLOUR TO BE STIFF. LET   SIT FOR 2 HOURS- COVERED WITH CLOTH (This begins the process when you really value the strength of this wooden whisk. Actually, Jyri-Eliel’s father had to step in and help with this mixing while I held onto the bucket. The grandmothers had been concerned with our ability to handle this process and at that moment, I understood why!) 

    3rd. Day after adding more flour

    3rd. day after adding more flour

  • ABOUT 1 1/2 HOURS AFTER THIS LAST STEP, IF YOU ARE USING A BRICK OVEN, START
    Eliel

    Eliel helping mix the flour on 3rd. day before mixing required 2 adults

    HEATING THE OVEN WITH A LOT OF WOOD-BIRCH IS HOTTEST 

  • TWO HOURS AFTER SITTING. THEN, TURN OUT ONTO FLOURED BOARD. This was not as easy as one would think.
  • TAKE OUT A ½ LITER approx.(1 1/2 c.) OF THE DOUGH & PUT IN FREEZER TO SAVE FOR NEXT BATCH
  •  KNEAD THE BREAD UNTIL IT IS BOUNCY (This is kind of a joke because rye flour doesn’t really have as much gluten as some other flours and because our dough was so dense, it never really got bouncy, though we tried. It takes about 15 minutes. Maybe this is another reason that rye bread is so good for you because it doesn’t contains a lot of the gluten that seems to irritate the bowels of so many people these days. (However, if you want a bread that is a bit bouncier and lighter, use some white flour at the time of kneading, but not too much; maybe 2 cups. This will produce a lighter bread as well, though not as original.)

  

Kneading

I really upped my game with this ball of dough! This is how women used to keep their guns packed!

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Someone had the brilliant idea to split the work in 2. Partners in crime while Ella supervises.

  • FORM LOAVES AND SET ONTO PARCHMENT, COVER AND SET TO RISE IN WARM PLACE-NO DRAFTS (Divide dough into 8 equal parts and make each loaf a similar shape for even cooking.)  I was so nervous about this step and just praying that the loaves rose properly. I didn’t feel as if there was nearly enough yeast to do the trick. 

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    Rising loaves on parchment

  • ABOUT 15 MINUTES AFTER LOAVES HAVE SAT, CLEAN-OUT THE OVEN TO PREPARE FOR COOKING LOAVES. (The brick oven retains the heat in the bricks, which eventually bakes the bread. This was a very interesting process I had never experienced. In fact, when the larger oven was stocked properly, it kept the house warm for about 3
    coals

    Scoop coals into bottom compartment of oven to retain heat and make room for loaf pans. P.S. I am not THAT heavy, just layered with winter clothing!!

    days, even in the 20 below temps we were experiencing at the time! Of course, this also has to do with how incredibly insulated these homes are to keep this heat in. How’s that for saving energy!!!! Once again, the wisdom of the ancestors is worth learning from.) 

  • WHEN LOAVES HAVE RISEN, PRICK EACH LOAF SEVERAL TIMES
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    The loaves actually rose with that familiar crackly look!

     WITH A FORK TO ALLOW AIR TO ESCAPE WHILE BAKING. (Okay, this is where we really messed up once again! We forgot to prick the loaves before we put them in the oven. Because the heating of the brick oven is so 

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    Ulla carefully picks up the loaf pans with the traditional woden paddles

    choreographed with an exact temperature needed to form the hard crust and cook the inside slowly, we ruined our heating mechanism when we pulled the loaves out of the oven to prick them properly with the fork. When we checked the temperature after returning them to the oven, it had dropped significantly. (Because I was not raised with this brick oven method of baking bread that obviously dictates much of the breads wonderful, chewy, crustiness, I was taught to spray or lightly brush water onto the crust of the loaves a couple of times throughout baking after the crust has formed, which gives the bread a thicker, chewier crust as well. This is recommended if you don’t use a brick oven like this. I would also add a little salt to the water for a salty crust if you like that.) 

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    Properly pricked rye bread

  • PUT LOAVES IN OVEN AND COOK BEFORE OVEN COOLS, ROTATING AS NEEDED. Thank goodness for the modern oven! We actually used the small electric oven in the house for the 2 loaves that couldn’t fit–just in case we really messed up the others.
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    Not decorations, but useful wooden paddles for moving objects in the oven

    It turned out we had to use this electric oven for all of the loaves eventually, as we rotated them between the two ovens to get the brown effect of the bricks too. 

    loaves

    Loaves cooling

    That was the stressful part for me, to make sure all of the loaves were cooking evenly and thouroughly without burning completely. While Ulla cared for little Ella, who was sick with a fever, I diligently focused on this rotation process. 

  • AFTER THE BREAD HAS A HOLLOW SOUND WHEN TAPPED, IT IS READY TO REMOVE FROM THE OVEN. TAKE CARE TO CHECK BOTH BOTTOMS AND TOPS THROUGHOUT BAKING TO ENSURE EVEN COOKING OF ALL LOAVES. The brick oven as we found out has many hot spots that produce a dark bottom crust, which is good, as long as it is not to burnt.
  • AFTER THE BREAD COMES OUT AND THE TANTALIZING SMELL OF BAKING BREAD HAS INCREASED EVERYONE’S APPETITE, ABOUT 5 MINUTES OF COOLING ON A RACK IS NECESSARY TO PREVENT THE BREAD FROM BINDING UP INSIDE WHILE CUTTING, even though no one will want to wait.
  • TIME TO SLICE & ENJOY!!!!

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    After about 5 minutes of cooling, slice & enjoy!

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Enjoy your fresh-baked Finnish Rye Bread with real butter, of course

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Eliel is the first taste tester!

  • HAPPILY, THIS BREAD CAN NOW BECOME THE MAIN PART OF THE CHRISTMAS EVE FEAST- which it did! We found that due its sourness, it is best savored by cutting the sourdough rye bread very thin. Wonderful with freshly churned butter or salmon roe & cream!!!!! Yummmm…..

For me personally (after breastfeeding), breadbaking has become one of the most endearing ways of nurturing my loved ones. I suppose it does stem from these ancient Finnish roots of mine. There is no other comfort food quite like freshly baked bread; especially after it has taken 3 days to make! Making the sweet cardamom bread (pulla) has been a tradition in my family that I learned from my own grandmother and mother. Now, I have another Finnish breadbaking tradition to pass on to my family. (Psst. Wish me luck getting some of that ancient starter back to my home in the states!) 

This experience would not have been possible without the wonderful support, partnership and encouragement of Ulla, Jyri, and Ulla’s dear family, and her father Pekka, who helped us retrieve the starter, the salt, the famous bucket and whisk, and who kept the coals going in the oven. Also, I personally want to thank the grandmothers (Mummis) who gave us the use of their starter and their recipe/recipes! It was funny that in the middle of the rising, we actually had to heat the oven some more and one of the Mummis showed up to help us out with advice. She was so sweet and I only wished I could have understood her, but I was there listening and watching, and questioning everything she said afterwards like a curious child. Her warm and supportive eyes and smile are a priceless memory I will always cherish. 

After the baking was all said and done, we shared a loaf with each of these Mummis. And of course, the one who likes a denser loaf said the bread turned out perfect, while the one with a different recipe said the loaf was too dense! This was worth a chuckle, now that the stress of making sure it turned out at all was over. What an incredible experience immersed into the culture of people who are not my blood relatives, but from the country of my blood relatives.  I highly recommend it for anyone who really wants to understand the Finnish winter culture!

  • OOOPS!!! FORGOT THE LAST STEP. WHEN THE MIXING BUCKET IS EMPTIED OUT, SPRINKLE IT WITH SALT AND LET IT DRY. DO NOT WASH THE WOODEN WHISK EITHER. WIPE IT OFF, DRY IT, AND COVER BOTH THE BUCKET AND WHISK AFTER THEY HAVE DRIED TO KEEP THEM CLEAN. Evidently there are some magical ingredients to be maintained in these items that magnify the savory qualities of the bread. (This is my favorite part!!!!)
  • PLEASE COMMENT ON THIS POST!!!!!!!

Thank you!!!!!!!

Granny Pants

P.S. If you are interested, please sign up to receive regular posts on the adventures of my life, both in thought and form.  You can also visit my book website to learn more about my book about children: http://TheNewPhysicsofChildhood.com

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