May 4, 2012

Back to the Basics and Having a Ball...

Hello!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the spring weather. We just had a huge hail storm, and our cars got a good beating, but other than that, the weather for the most part, has been just beautiful.

I thought I would share with you something I've been enjoying all winter long (well actually for many years, but recently picked up pretty much full time again).

And now that it is spring, going into summer, I find it harder to spend time in the kitchen with such beautiful weather. So to keep my love of cooking on the front burner (yes, pun intended), I decided to pull out some oldies, but goodies...Ball canning jars...and Atlas as well. I use these jars all the time to hold buttons (as you have seen), paper scraps, and all sorts of simple things that just seem extra special when viewed through the bubbled colored glass of these old favorite jars. So I decided why not use them to hold my ingredients that I use so often when I am cooking? I know, not an original idea, but for me, it felt fresh...and it keeps my ingredients fresh as well. Sometimes, going back in time feels right because, stepping back helps to slow things down a bit.




As I pulled out these old jars and gave them a good wash, I couldn't help but admire how they have held up over the years and how they must have served so many. I especially liked the wording on these jars....Strong Shoulders and Perfect. Just like the women who so long ago must have been...strong women who worked in the horrible heat (no comfy A/C) as they canned, and how they did it perfectly so to have wonderful, unspoiled fruit and vegetables in the cold winter. What creative talent combined with hard work.




I like how these very old jars not only did the job, the job was usually done by women. And I really enjoy the fact that way before the feminist movement, these women worked their butt off, working the garden, harvesting and canning to provide food for their families, and yet somehow, generations later, women who chose to stay home instead of working for an employer, were not revered as part of the "workforce." I am shaking my head with that last sentence in amazement. Women have ALWAYS worked...I think it is up to us (as individuals) to define for ourselves our own definition of "work" and not mix up "work" and "self-worth."


Those are very two different topics for another day.

Today, I just feel like showing off my jars and talking about jars and some bread....  :-) 


So, like I was saying, I love to cook. And I cook from scratch. And for me to do that, I need to have some very basic ingredients on hand and I have very little pantry space and it is very dark to dig into it and see what's what when I do my marketing -which I do once a week. So, here is my solution, borrowed from women of long ago and probably from some of you out there who already do this...you creative cooks...and so I will show you my little stash:











I like tying twine around the lid instead of the jar, if possible. That way, when I take the lid off, it is out of the way as I make my mess and the tag doesn't get messed up had I tied it to the jar itself.










Some of my everyday ingredients that I always have on hand are: organic natural white flour, organic whole wheat flour, bread flour, steel oats, long grain brown rice, local bread crumbs from the Italian bakery, powder sugar, cane sugar, and corn meal. I also always have olive oil, kosher salt, pepper corns, real vanilla, and many other things I will cover in another post some time soon.



I know you eagle eyes out there spotted my very cool blue/teal scale in the photo that shows the dish holder on the counter...




This little beauty came from a beautiful friend, Gretchen. She is one of those friends that always seems to know exactly what to get you when you least expect it. And best of all, it is ACCURATE! So, I can't blame the scale when my creation turns into cremation...hahahha!  But ain't she wonderful...old, worn, and just the right amount of rust (I'm talking about the scale here, not Gretchen....)









Well, did all those ingredients make you a little hungry? No? Well then, did the scale make you at least want to weigh something? Yes? Well, one thing we don't buy a lot of over here is bread. We try not to eat too many chemicals and bread is filled with preservatives. My barber husband loves my buttermilk biscuits and I even make the homemade buttermilk that goes in the recipe. Sounds all fancy-schmancy, but it isn't. Super-duper easy and will share that too, but not today.

But for now, here are two loaves of whole wheat bread. I had made so many loaves and finally took time to take a pretty picture for you and someday, I will remember to take the "process" photos of how it is done...when I think about it, I am usually half way finished and my hands gooey. But I need to take photos...I use a very old tin dough-rising bowl with a tin lid...which really works! I love my tin dough...now that I think of it, I should have taken a photo, it was just on the next counter. Oh well.

Here is one result that comes from the ingredients out of the old Ball jars sitting on my counter:



Whole wheat bread...very moist and slightly chewy when cut right out of the oven!














When taking a photo of the Ball jar you see in the forefront on the left of the photo, I noticed in the background our two cats, Tia (mamma), and Zoe (daughter). They are always close by, watching my every move - when they aren't busy boxing for the warm spot by the window. Never mind they always end up in the same position anyway...curled up into one giant fur ball.




But when I look at Tia and Zoe so content by the window, sleepily peeking their eyes open at me now and again as I go from room to room and about my business, there is a level of comfort in the house. Or as Tia sticks her head into the kitchen (she isn't allowed in the kitchen, but will crank her head aaallll the way in as far as she can to get a whiff of whatever I am making), she feels assured that I am there, and more often than not, she gets a treat, then heads back to the window seat...for... a cat nap.

But I think with my cooking by scratch, and seeing the ingredients on hand in glass jars, I am are forced to slow down. The jars are heavier, and made of glass, so I must carefully pick them up and carefully put them down again...no slippery hands allowed. And wiping them down is a must. Unlike the paper flour store bag that is so easily grabbed, dug into and then carelessly tossed back into the pantry. Time... just... slows... down naturally...and it feels wonderful (never mind the wonderful smell of fresh baked bread)!

And the time spent while the dough rises...is a time not to multi-task, but now it is MY turn to peek around the corner and look at Tia and Zoe curled up so tightly. I very often find myself walking quietly over to them and sitting next to them and petting their soft fur and enjoying the sound of their purring without them even opening their eyes. I realized one day that is why I rarely have the radio or TV on the house...

...it is in those moments when the dough is rising, I like to be able to hear their purring. And sometimes, I think as I sit and pet Tia and Zoe, I can hear myself purr with contentment too.

May you find your contentment during your day and find a way to make your heart purr with happiness. Who says we are too old to play with dough? And if dough isn't your thing, then I hope you find some time to figure out what simple thing makes your heart purr with contentment and then I hope you come back and share it with me. I would love to hear about it...and hear you purr too :-)

From my house to your house,


Signature

18 comments:

Alabaster Rose Designs said...

Hi Elizabeth,
What a lovely post!!~
And I love that you are using your old jars in the kitchen!! I'm definitely going to have to do that!
Your photos are simply beautiful and the ones of the wheat bread you made is so comforting and warm to the soul! I have a thing for bread, so those photos made me hungry! I love to cook from scratch as well. I don't get to very often with 2 little ones, but it always reminds me of my southern grandma. She made everything homemade and it was amazing!
I would love to have your recipe for the bread sometime.
I loved your words about your sweet cats as well. I miss having pets around the house, they always made me feel safe and content too.
Hope you have a lovely weekend and sorry for blabbering on! :)
Sincerely,
Melinda

Alabaster Rose Designs said...

Hi Elizabeth,
What a lovely post!!~
And I love that you are using your old jars in the kitchen!! I'm definitely going to have to do that!
Your photos are simply beautiful and the ones of the wheat bread you made is so comforting and warm to the soul! I have a thing for bread, so those photos made me hungry! I love to cook from scratch as well. I don't get to very often with 2 little ones, but it always reminds me of my southern grandma. She made everything homemade and it was amazing!
I would love to have your recipe for the bread sometime.
I loved your words about your sweet cats as well. I miss having pets around the house, they always made me feel safe and content too.
Hope you have a lovely weekend and sorry for blabbering on! :)
Sincerely,
Melinda

amy of four corners design said...

as usual, your photos, your thoughts and your words are beautiful...yes, slowing down to enjoy the quiet moments...today I spent time working on my art - tearing, glueing, sanding...it made my heart hum...

Cathy Penton said...

Beautiful post as always my friend...As you know I love to bake too and I too have some of those gorgeous old jars on my shelves...So just think even though we are on the other sides of the world we can still be having those beautiful moments baking together.... Love to you xoc

Kathleen said...

How funny, recently I've been using the old beautiful mason jars for storing supplies in the kitchen too. A couple of the lids were pretty rough so my husband buffed them with his wire wheel. Now they look like pewter.

Isn't it funny we can look at picture perfect homes and think wow, then we see cute animals and that's when our hearts melt. Well, at least it does for me.

Love your homey well used kitchen that reeks of atmosphere. Your bread is impressive. That's one thing I don't make. I know my limits!

Now I want to go back and admire your photos again.

Kelley said...

Mmmm. A delicious, fragrant post! To the eyes and the eye-deas. Love all the jars! Aren't Ball jars fantastic? And all your jars are sublime.

Missed ya... and sorry about the hail. MAN!

Mary said...

I have a display of blue Ball jars with original lids in my kitchen - perhaps I should fill 'em up too and make good use of them. Your jars look exceedingly gorgeous and I love the open shelves with your white china too Elizabeth - truly a kitchen after my own heart!

The bread! Wow you're a professional baker I'm thinking, those loaves look fabulous and I know must taste so healthy. I haven't tried bread baking in years but when (big when here!) I stop traveling so much, stay home and have more time, I really would love to try again.

Glorious pics, thanks for sharing as I always love to peek inside your own home!

Happy day to you and Randy.

Mary X

A Cottage Muse said...

Hello Elizabeth, how I wish I could taste that bread ~ it looks yummy!
Right now I am busy with my son getting ready to graduate HS and then off to college so I plan to slow down and enjoy the summer with him!
Take care,
Sandi

Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth--Your past posts of your home with Randy have inspired me to include wood pieces in my home--interspersed with the usual painted furniture. Wood is so honest and grounded. I love your photos and check in every day to see if you've posted something new. Thanks for your lovely blog. Allegra

Boxwood Cottage said...

Dear Elizabeth,
I found your comment on my last post last night and wanted to come over to thank you for it. Of course I find a fabulous post here too! Love the old ball jars all filled and lined up in your pretty kitchen and the sweet cats curled up together so cosy on the window sill. Your bread looks extremely yummy. Everything in your pictures says homey and cosy and I love that. Yes it's good to slow done and so healthy!
So back to your comment, you look swedish you know so your swedish roots explain that! Well somehow I knew that you would love Gua and her beautiful place too and of course I would love you to visit me and visit Gua together with you one day! She doesn't live around the corner, but it's not that far either. Approximateley 5 hours by car up North and the journey goes over 3 long bridges crossing the sea and through all of Denmark with wonderful places to visit like "Honnig og Flora" from Rikke Larssen which I'm sure you'd love too! She also has a blog with the same name. Unfortunately we did not have the time to visit her on our last trip so it's still on my "Places I have to see" list. This would be such a fantastic journey!
I'm off to catch some sun this week on the Isla de Baleares called Mallorca wohoo
Sending you very happy Spring wishes from Germany
Carola

la.maison.de.laure said...

Magnifique blog....
Une très jolie découverte.....
Je reviendrais.....
Belle journée
Laure

Jillayne said...

This post makes me purr with contentment, how it wanders from one thing to another and ties them all up in a beautiful thought at the end. Truly weaving a story.
I love cooking and baking, but I thing the thing that makes me purr is handwork - stitching with a needle in my hand, the shining glint that catches my eye as it moves back and forth, through the cloth. Taking bits and pieces and making a simple thing of beauty. Like cooking, just a different medium.
Like your joy in making bread, I think the plain stitching gives me the most comfort. Croissants are like lace, bread is like patchwork - all beautiful, but the simplest is the one that comforts.

Miss Gracie's House said...

Elizabeth,
Beautiful post...it must be the age...we are finally learning to
s-l-o-w down...and to appreciate the simple beauty around us.
Rene'

Margo@Legacy of a Single Girl said...

I love this post! The photos are stunning, as always! The cats are an added plus for me of course! And I really enjoy reading how you get such pleasure from the simple task of cooking...I don't cook. Don't want to. Don't like to! But, I do like to eat home cooking...so remember me at your next dinner party!!!
Hugs from Arizona,
Margo

Lexie said...

I love your post. I have been considering adding these jars to my kitchen for ease of cooking. My contentment right now is my beauitful back yard, every afternoon with my cat, a book and iced tea. I believe we should find our happieness, embrace it and grab it every moment we can. Thank you for a lovely blog reminding us of the important things in life.

Anne Lorys - Fiona and Twig said...

Here's the difference between you and me....as you will soon find out, as you get to know me better. ;-)

Your beautifully charming, country quaint kitchen is the genuine article, used to bake and whip up delicious treats for you and those you love. My charming, country quaint kitchen is largely for show.
Oh, the shame!!!

I need more than a little EM to rub off on me when we meet up next month. :-)

XO,
Me, the Imposter.

Dawn McVey (dawnsing) said...

Elizabeth, that scale is beyond gorgeous!! It's absolutely perfect.....what a dear friend you have, to give you such a treasure!

the wild raspberry said...

Lovely words and lovely pictures, Elizabeth. I'm sorry, I said Lizzie on the last one, but endearments should have permission!

Much love~
Debbie

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