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:
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,