The Cat is in the Bag

Wait, that’s not right. I distinctly recall making… a bread bag! (Although I’m sure that won’t stop my cats from trying to get inside it whenever they get the chance.)

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After months of saying “I really want a bread bag”, I finally did it. My glucometer purse is still in the making and I have to check if the machine can actually feed the cotton fabric and the knitted fabric through at the same time, but that’s not going to stop me now.

I obtained two kitchen towels from the dollar store and some shoe laces and set to work after reading through this lovely tutorial. I quickly found out that I had massive towels at 65x65cms each (which is about 26x26inches). For my loaves that’s really just a tad too big. I measured around a little and finally settled down for just folding them in half. Which, coincidentally, turned out amazing because the pattern is divided into one half stripes, one half solid color. Instant double pattern!

To avoid a lot of heartache over wasted fabric, I used an old kitchen towel that was worn down with large holes and faded colors to try this on first. A good idea, because I made a handful of mistakes that I neatly avoided when it came down to the real thing!

That didn’t change the fact I broke two needles in the machine when I tried to sew the first part. I didn’t realize that the towel’s own hems, folded over twice already from the factory sewing and then folded twice again by myself was too much for the poor foot to handle. The fabric got stuck, the needle couldn’t go anywhere and SNAP, all sorts of mayhem all over the damn place. I’m grateful that I have a  whole bunch of replacement needles. After the second one broke I decided to snip off the hems and just go with a bigger needle, even though the rest of the towel was pretty thin and had no problem with the smaller needle. Lesson learned!

I happily sewed along and didn’t really run into any other problems after that. Feeding the shoelace through the fabric was a bitch, so I ended up tying it to my crochet hook and shoving that stupid thing through instead. No more headache for this gal!

I am super happy with the end result and the only thing that struck me as annoying was the length of it. Don’t get me wrong, I need a big bag for large loaves of bread. I do bake those. But I had this small loaf I made last night that had so much room in the darn thing it felt like throwing a loaf down a hallway. Very annoying!

Armed with pins and more sewing thread, I sat down and cut up the second towel after a bit of measuring. Fifteen minutes later my bread bag became a mommy to a little bread baggy!

This whole process was immensely fun and interesting with a tad of frustration on the side. I’ll never stop loving to knit, but there are just some things that are better off being sewn instead. (Plus it’s nice to take a break from each hobby every once in a while to recharge!) I’m on the path to learning both trades and utilize them for their own respective usefulness. Hurray!

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Loafing around

I’m finally sort of recovering from the whole ordeal I’ve gone through in the past couple of weeks. Appointment after appointment after appointment… And that’s only the beginning of a difficult time ahead of me. I have an appointment tomorrow with an insurance doctor to determine if I can get a different type of disability, next week I have a mandatory workshop and more. I’m so, so tired.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post. For the past 4 weeks I’ve been baking homemade bread almost every day and I haven’t gotten any store bought bread since. Not only is baking bread pretty therapeutic and motivating me to get things done, I also found that my bread fills much more! I can’t say for sure how much cheaper it is. The flour is definitely cheaper than getting a loaf from the store, but I’m also eating more bread because it doesn’t stay fresh beyond the second day, so for dinner I often have bread, french toast, toast with soup or whatever – simple and quick meals to get rid of the leftover bread.

On the other hand, I’m not throwing out a third of a loaf because it spoiled like I often had to do with store bought. I suppose that’s a nice trade-off by itself. Also no more plastic packaging. My oven runs on electricity, which is also largely generated by wind turbines here. There are many advantages to it.

And then there’s flavor and quality. If there’s anything I’ve learned this past month, it’s that you cannot beat a freshly baked loaf. That first slice while it’s still warm is the absolute best.

Bread rolls rising!

I’ve learned a lot since my first try in baking bread yesterday. I’m a fast learner with this type of stuff! Today I decided to make rolls from the dough. I began with adding warmer water than I did yesterday, somewhere between 30-35 degrees C instead of the 25 degrees from before. Added a tbs of sunflower oil and mixed it up with my electric mixer using dough hooks.

Once the dough was coming off the bottom of the bowl I took it out and kneaded it by hand for another half a minute or so. Sprinkled the bowl with some plain flour, put the dough back in, sprinkled that with flour too and then covered it with a kitchen towel. I’m not sure why people insist on using a different bowl for their dough, this works just as well for me and creates less mess!

Yesterday I let the dough rest on my kitchen counter but it really didn’t turn out so well. My kitchen is too drafty. So after scouring Google for tips and tricks, today I turned on my oven’s light and put the covered bowl in the oven. The light bulb gets just warm enough to bring the oven to just above room temperature and creates the perfect environment for the dough to rise in!

An hour later the dough had risen and settled in the bowl. I took it out and roughly divided it into four buns which I placed on my baking sheet covered with baking paper. Sprinkled them with some flour again, covered with the towel and shoved them into the oven.

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They look kind of rugged, don’t they? But I think that’s the charm of homemade baked goods. They have their own personality. As my boyfriend so eloquently put it when he saw my first bread…

“Dude that looks like the bread they ate in biblical times and shit.

So metal.”

I left them in there for an hour and when I took them out, they’d almost doubled in size. Hallelujah!

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I could tell that the oven light is in the back though. The back two buns closest to the light had become larger than the front buns, so I turned the sheet around and put everything back in for another 30 minutes. They didn’t rise that much more so I just turned on the oven to preheat it to the right temperature while they rest on the kitchen counter. I made some awkward attempts to score the buns, but I really lack a properly thin, sharp knife or razor to do the job, so the results are… uhm… charming?

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Well, I suppose that works! The oven should be fully prepped in about 20-25 minutes. The rolls are light and fluffy to the touch and I expect they’ll turn out much better than the previous bread. I’m estimating they’ll need to bake for 15 minutes at 200C, but I may bake them longer to make them crispier than the first loaf. I love a crispy crust.

Always churning

It’s just a little past 1am while I’m sitting here at my desk, drinking tea that is bitter from having steeped too long and admitting to myself that my anxiety and depression is catching up to me again. It sucks.

Sleep either comes in brief, multiple naps throughout the day or 10 hour minimum periods. I’m so easily tired that I sometimes crawl into bed at 3pm and don’t wake up until…. well, somewhere around now. Sometimes I go to bed at 10pm and wake up four hours later, wide awake and unable to sleep more, but still exhausted.

I have work to do. My friend needs me and it’ll earn me money I really need to feed myself with. Every time I sit down to do it, ready to type, ready to design, my brain stutters and shuts down. At the same time I’ve been blogging away furiously day after day on issues that make my blood boil, chipping in where I don’t need to chip in, effectively pouring my energy into a black hole. It doesn’t satisfy me to bitch and be upset, but small things send me flying into the world and yelling along with billions of other people without being heard. It’s hard to control so much churning anger and upset and put it to use on productive things.

Next week, a debt collector is dropping by to take possession of my things. Although I will be moving my valuables someplace else to avoid losing them, it still stresses me out that I’m unable to strike a payment plan with them because I’m still without disability. It takes 1-2 months for that shit to go through and it’s time I don’t have with all this on my roof.

I’m trying to validate my course voucher but the site has been unresponsive for the past hour or so. More stress, as it expires on the 23rd and it makes me panic.

My best bet is to take it day by day right now.

The loaf of bread I baked is already gone. It’s so delicious that not even feeling shitty could stop me from eating, which is good. Tomorrow (or today, technically) is the local farmer’s market, which means I’m getting some fresh fish for brunch. In the afternoon I’ve decided I’m going to try and bake buns with the ciabatta flour. One day at a time.