Monday, April 25, 2011

No Knead? Yes, please.

Last week when I was looking for sourdough rolls or buns recipes, I came across a no knead recipe. Why hadn't I tried one before? In fact, a no knead sourdough recipe is what had inspired me to make a starter. An added bonus was that this called for the incorporation of flax meal. I had a bag of flax that was just sitting around begging me to do something with it before it went rancid.

Sign me up!

This is the recipe that I used - No Knead Sourdough Flax Seed Bread. I used half of the recipe since I only make one loaf at a time. I found that it needed a little extra salt so when I made it again this weekend, I added a little more salt and some garlic. (This garlic bread experiment is bound to be a failure though as I am currently over-proofing my loaf. I'm not home and it's way past the time for it to be baked. Oops!)

This was a very easy recipe to follow. I mixed, I let it sit, I moved it to the fridge, I folded once or twice, I tossed it in the oven. E A S Y. Try it, you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grocery List Apps

I like having my grocery list on my phone. I can update my list on the go and don't have to wait until I get home to add to a paper list at home. I started using Springpad's list function but it just wasn't giving me what I wanted. I downloaded a few apps and then settled on Grocery IQ.

I love Grocery IQ. I can create my list online and sync with my phone. I can use the barcode scanner; I can save items in favourites; It gives a running total of my shopping cart. I love it. The problem? The application takes up a lot of space on my tiny tiny Droid Eris. I've held on stubbornly but I knew that I needed to find something else.

Last night I downloaded Grocery Tracker. Grocery Tracker is feature heavy. It can do all the things that Grocery IQ does plus keep track of your inventory and a host of other functions. It's small and can be saved on the SD card. I really really really want to love Grocery Tracker. I really do. So why am I not head over heels? I just can't seem to "get it." There's just so much that it is ruining the experience for me. It took me forever last night to get the automatic reorder function to work. But I'm not writing this one off just yet. It does some things that I would really love from Grocery IQ - e.g. tracking price of items at multiples stores. If I can tweak things and get it running perfectly, it could replace my Grocery IQ. But for now, Grocery IQ is winning.

Today I downloaded Out of Milk. But it doesn't have a "by store" option. I guess I could create separate lists. It also doesn't allow me to put items in categories. It's just too bare for me. It does have the Pantry option. You can keep track of what's in your pantry but it's really not wow-ing me. I decided to just uninstall it.

Jamaican Easter Bun

Easter in Jamaica means bun and cheese. Yes, there's the true meaning of easter and all of that but it just isn't Easter if there's no bun and cheese. This year I decided to make my own bun and cheese. I had some trouble with the first recipe and needed to increase the moisture content. With the second recipe, I had some trouble baking it. It seemed like it was taking forever. However, the buns were delicious. So here I present, my Jamaican Easter Bun recipe. I think I may play around with the ingredients some more and if I make any changes, I will update it here.

Jamaican Easter Bun

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoon melted margarine
2 cups mixed peel & fruit
1 tablespoon mixed spice (you can use cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg or the mix)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup stout
1 egg beaten

Soak the raisins in wine or stout for at least 24 hours. The longer it soaks, the better.

In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, spice, salt, prepared fruit. Mix together sugar, margarine, honey,milk, stout and egg.

Add gradually to flour mixture. Mix and beat thoroughly

Bake in a greased loaf tin at 325 for 70 -80 mins.

Glaze with melted butter

One year later: I'm about to bake buns again and can't believe I forgot one essential ingredient on this list - BROWNING! You simply will not achieve this colour without browning. Add a teaspoon at at time at the end. You don't want to add too much or it will be bitter.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thoughts at 4 a.m.

4 a.m. April 21, 2010

I can't sleep. My alarm is going to go off in half an hour and I haven't slept. I think my mother and N are sleeping. I don't hear them moving. I need to sleep. Wait, do I? Won't I be sleeping through this ordeal anyway? Yes, I guess I'll rest then.

4 a.m. April 21, 2011

I can't sleep. My alarm is going to go off in 3 hours and I haven't slept. It's just like it was a year ago. Wait, no; it's not. A year ago I couldn't sleep because I was in pain. A year ago I couldn't sleep because there was no comfortable position that didn't cause pain. And let's face it, a year ago I couldn't sleep because I was scheduled to be at the hospital in 2 hours. For surgery. Brain surgery. Unreal.

I don't remember being nervous. My only care was that my mother would be OK. It would be hardest on her. I would be sleeping through it; she'd be waiting. Would she have enough food to eat? I had packed her a lunch bag. N cooked enough to last more than a week. A week was enough. Dr. Morcos said I'd be on my feet cooking my own meals in a week. I did not doubt him. (He was right. I made a pineapple upside down cake and brownies a week after I was released.) You have to be able to trust your neurosurgeon. That's important.

I truly never thought about it. I couldn't. Reality tried to creep in when Mn came to visit. He made me choke up. Damn him. But that's OK; MF stopped by next. He made me laugh. No, damn him too. Laughter caused pain.

"Not after tomorrow," he said.

Well, what about that lady in my support group who was still in pain post-surgery?

"There'll be no pain after tomorrow."

He was right.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My experience with Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy

OK. I took the plunge. Luckily, I hadn't done it on Friday night because during my walk on Saturday, I was soaked from head to toe by rain. I would have been upset if I had had the keratin in. Late Saturday afternoon, I started it.

First, I washed my hair with the pre-treatment shampoo provided. I loved the smell of the shampoo. It had a chocolatey smell. I washed twice, leaving the shampoo in my hair for a few minutes on the second lather as instructed.

Next, I let my hair air-dry. The instructions said that your hair should be about 80% dry. My hair dried so quickly that I actually had to spritz it a bit. Maybe too much.

I then applied the treatment. My first impression was that it was creamy, a bit thin and had no noticeable smell. OK, that's not true. It has a faint shea buttery smell. It's isn't unpleasant. I was expecting something unpleasant based on some reviews. It's hard to tell if you're over saturating your hair if your hair is too wet. The next time I do this, I will ensure that my hair really is 80% dry (now if only I knew how to empirically test this). Applying it was quick and easy.

I waited 30 minutes and then I started blow drying. I am no good at blow drying my hair - and definitely not with a brush. I blow dry my hair maybe once per year and I never use a brush. I think the use of a brush is essential here and it helps to start straightening the hair.

Next, I started flat ironing. My flat iron only goes up to about 375 and they recommend 450. Additionally, my flat iron doesn't get to my roots very well. I expected lots of smoking and a strong smell as some persons had described this. Additionally, the instructions state that it should be used in a well ventilated area. I had no problems with smoking or a strong smell until I got to the front of my hair. I knew the front of my hair was a bit over saturated. I am thinking that those persons who experience all that smoking and burning of the eyes have a lot of product on their hair. Or maybe, I had too little.

At the end, my hair felt good. It felt soft, smooth and silky. It even seemed longer. I was a bad girl and slept on the side of my hair that night. I just couldn't do the sleeping on my face thing. Sorry. So my hair wasn't perfectly straight when I woke up on Sunday morning. But I'm OK with that. I may have sweated a bit too.

Some persons mentioned a waxy buildup on their hair. I didn't have this. I did see some white flakes at the front of my hair - in the sections that I knew had too much product.

I am washing and conditioning tomorrow. Let's see if I can tell the difference. I will probably end up roller setting my hair for an upcoming wedding. Maybe the treatment will make my roller set that much sleeker? Frizz and fly aways are my main problems. If the keratin treatment can control that, then it's a win for me. Maybe down the road I will get better at blow drying and flat ironing. I won't purchase a new flat iron though - I only flat iron about twice or thrice per year so it's not worth it.

I think the results of this treatment are best seen on hair that is not already straightened and perhaps when one uses a flat iron that gets to the recommended temperature. All in all, I like the results. It's not perfect but I know I didn't do it perfectly. I still have some left and will definitely do it again.

ETA: Today someone asked me if I had lightened my hair. I guess this treatment does lighten your hair somewhat. I never noticed it but my house is pretty dark. I will look at it in brighter light later. They could also tell that my hair looked straighter and longer.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sourdough Waffles

Or How I became a Waffle Convert.

I'm Jamaican and I grew up eating very Jamaican breakfasts. Instead of waffles and pancakes, we had ackee and saltfish, callaloo and fried dumplings. So when I hit undergrad and people were flocking around the waffle iron in the refectory, I wasn't interested.

I used to buy frozen waffles occasionally and while I liked them, I wasn't head over heels. I tried making my own once but that was a disaster. I had no idea how to use the hand me down waffle iron. I never tried again because I rarely have milk in the house and waffles require milk.

On my last morning in Tallahassee, my friend made waffles and suddenly I had waffle fever again. They were good. I wanted more. I was about to text her for the recipe yesterday when I thought: what about sourdough waffles? I googled and recipe in hand, I prepped my sponge.

I halved this Classic Sourdough Waffles recipe from King Arthur. I halved the recipe because I didn't have enough starter. (And also because I wasn't sure that I would be successful).

Overnight sponge

1/2 cup starter (straight from fridge -no feeding necessary).
1 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk (I soured my own)
1 tablespoon sugar

All of sponge
1 egg
1/8 cup oil/melted butter
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

I made the sponge, left it overnight.
This morning I plugged in my waffle iron then I whisked the oil and egg. I added it to the sponge along with salt and baking soda. It was very bubbly. Light airy batter would mean light waffles, right?

I scooped about 2 ounces into each side of my iron (I have 4 x 4.5 inch plates) and hoped for the best.

Let me be honest, I screwed up the first two but I tasted them and they were so delicious that I soldiered on.

I made 8 total of the most delicious waffles I have ever tasted. Light and buttery with a hint of sourdough.

I'm in love!
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Brazilian Keratin Therapy

After spending much too long reading reviews, I decided to hold off on the keratin. There have been several warnings not to get the hair wet and that includes sweating. I have to walk about ten miles tomorrow so I'm pretty sure my hair will be sweating. I will do it after my walk if I'm feeling up to it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

To BKT or not to BKT

Over the weekend, I met up with a friend whom I hadn't seen in ages. She mentioned that she had gone natural and she was now using the Brazilian Keratin Treatment. Her hair looked good! It certainly wasn't for me because I didn't like the idea that you had to keep your hair straight - no clips, no anything - for the first couple days. I'm too lazy for that. Plus it costs about $300. No thank you.

The next day when I went to Walgreens to pick up some desperately needed moisturizer and Organix Conditioner, I saw that Organix had a new line - Ever Straight Brazilian Keratin Therapy. Well, what a coincidence. I was intrigued. At only $14.99, it was certainly a lot cheaper than $300 even if it only lasted 30 days compared to the 3-month duration of the salon versions.

I instantly looked up reviews and was intrigued. I've been poring over reviews all week. I bought a box and I think I am ready to take the plunge. But I am having second thoughts. My hair is recovering from a rough patch and is really enjoying the La Bomba conditioning and extra moisturizing. Should I just give my hair some more time then do this? It's tonight or who knows when.

I really want my hair to look amazing for a wedding next weekend. Since it's no longer feeling extremely parched, I know I can do a cute roller set for the wedding. But my hair gets so frizzy and messy easily that it might be cute when I leave the house but far from it when I get to my destination. BKT should help with some of the frizz.

Can I do roller sets after I do this treatment? Or am limited to straight hair only? Does it matter what kind of moisturizer I use? Those are some of the questions that I meant to ask my friend this week but never got around to. Sigh.

We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Product Review: La Bomba Deep Treatment

When I first started my hair care journey, I heard a lot about Dominican hair products but I never took the plunge. My hair flourished but I still never found staple products.

The last year was tough on my hair.  I'm almost back to where I started. Yesterday I stood in the drugstore desperate for something, anything to rescue my parched tresses. My eyes fell on La Bomba.

I had read great reviews on  the Anti Hair Slave but I had seen not so great reviews elsewhere. But I was desperate. It was a $1.64 cheaper than I normally see it for. I sat outside the store, read a few more reviews then decided to just do it.

I got home, cowashed, (I had shampooed on Saturday), slathered on La Bomba then waited. I instantly loved it. My hair had slip. It was drinking it in. I combed it through very easily.

The directions suggested 10 minutes with heat. I prepped dinner then I sat under my dryer for about 10 minutes. I did some other chores then rinsed. My hair felt good. I added my foam wrapping lotion, some moisturizer and then put my hair in braids.

This morning my hair still felt soft. I'm about 7 weeks post relaxer but my relaxer didn't take very well so there's a lot of new growth. La Bomba tamed it well.

Thanks La Bomba! Now what do you have to make my hair shiny?

Price: I paid $4.35 for the 16 oz jar in my Publix

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sourdough Bagels

While I haven't quite mastered sourdough bread itself, I was itching to try something new. I wanted to do rolls but I came across a bagel recipe and decided that I needed to try it.

The problem is that most bagels recipes call for high protein flour and malt syrup. I had neither. After lots of searching, I found one that didn't (link later).

But what I really wanted were cinnamon raisin bagels. I figured there was more to it than simply throwing a handful of raisins and cinnamon into my batter. While most of the recipes called for yeast, I did find one that didn't.

I combined features of those two recipes and this one and made a batch of plain, sesame and cinnamon raisin bagels.

The pics aren't the best. I'm much too lazy to charge my camera. But trust me, these bagels are delicious. I may never make regular bread ever again.

Here they are after shaping. I left them to rise.

Here they are after their alkaline bath and seeding.

Out the oven and cooled.


posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, April 8, 2011

Exercise Fail

I exercised a grand total of twice during the month of March. I think I've regained every pound and undone every bit of progress that I made with P90X.
I tried to start again last night and lost the motivation after 15 minutes of Core Synergistics. But my abs are on fire today. P90X is definitely no joke.
I think I will try to do core again tonight. Or maybe I'll do cardio. I just need to get moving again
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Friday, April 1, 2011

Pulled pork on sourdough bread

I have always wanted a slow cooker but was never sure what to make in it. I wasn't entirely comfortable with leaving the slow cooker going for hours either. But last May, my sister bought me a slow cooker. Months later I pulled it out of the packaging and I was immediately in love. I've done tons of things in my cooker. Yesterday I put a well-seasoned pork shoulder in and walked away. 10 hours later? DELICIOUS! It was falling off the bone. The bone was soft. It was just amazing! I had to pull myself away from the pot to go get ready. I can't wait to go home and eat some more over rice. For lunch I had some on my sourdough bread.

Great lunch. I was stuffing it down too fast to take a picture. This isn't food blog anyway, so that's ok, right?

My pork shoulder was seasoned with:

scotch bonnet pepper
chipotle pepper
smoked paprika
I blended all of that together and rubbed it over the pork. I had cut slashes into the shoulder to make sure it really went in. I left it in the fridge for about 24 hours.

I then added some ketchup, vinegar, bbq sauce & sugar into the crockpot.