Friday, June 13, 2014

Total Mental Health Day

Well, it has been one of those weeks.  Work has been stressful for about 6 weeks.  When I'm stressed, I don't sleep.  I had three nights over the weekend where I could not fall asleep until 3 am.  3 am people!  I usually am asleep by 9 or 9:30 am.  It was a rough weekend.  We also changed our son's crib into a toddler bed, and he proceeded to fall out of it.  So here are my stats:

Saturday night: 3 am to 8 am
Sunday night: 3:15 am to 7:15 am
Monday night: 2 am to 8 am with a couple of wakeups for the kid falling out of bed
Tuesday night: 11:30 to 6 am (that was a good one)
Wednesday night: toddler woke up at 10:30, 12:30, 2:30 and 4.  Man, he was not liking the new bed rail (kept kicking it), so middle of the night my husband took it off, then at 4 he cried - he'd fallen out of bed and rolled UNDER it and then got stuck.
Thursday night: reassembled the bed into a crib, and he slept great.  I dozed from 9 to 12, moved to the couch and slept solid until 5, moved back to the bed and dozed until 6:30.  So, better, but not perfect.

Anyway, with the lack of sleep and the fact that my spouse left last night on a 5 day business trip...yes, over the weekend...leaving me a single parent...yes, over FATHER'S DAY WEEKEND.  Which, well, I didn't do anything for him yet, not sure what I'll do when he gets back... I decided to take a mental health day from work today.

I think work has been extra stressful, and I happen to need a week off every three months.  So my last time off was end of March.  I'm about due.  Instead of trying to work the day and survive the weekend, I took today off, kinda last minute.  The kids are at camp and daycare.  I did the grocery shopping.  I am going to do my weekend food-prep today:

wash and freeze blueberries
wash strawberries
wash spicy salad greens
wash and spin kale (for kale chips tonight, along with chicken nachos)
wash, peel, and turn carrots into carrot sticks (for snacking)

The rest of the day I may do a little work from home.  My older child is at YMCA camp, so I think I'll go an hour earlier than pick up, and work out at the Y, then pick him up, go get the little guy, come home and enjoy nachos/ kale chips/ movie night.

Now one day isn't quite enough, so I plan on taking a few days off at the end of the month for my birthday.  Probably won't go anywhere, just enjoy the days off.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Super Frugal and Delicious Tomato-Basil Soup and Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

I love baking bread, but rarely have the time. Even though it's not a lot of "hands on" work, it is "time sensitive".  I'm at work all day, so weekends are it.  So I have to set  my day in a way so that I can actually be at home for the various parts of kneading, shaping, baking etc.

I managed to do that last Saturday. I'm a fan of The Prudent Homemaker on line and on Facebook, and she had posted a pic of her Rosemary Olive Oil bread on FB.  That inspired me.  I generally try to follow bread directions exactly, but he batch was too big for me and I wanted to use my bread machine. 

I also had a bread recipe from America's Test Kitchen that I've successfully morphed into the bread machine.  My problem with their recipe is that you preheat the bread at 500F.  My oven is not so great at that temperature.  The Prudent Homemaker uses baking sheets, and I use a pizza stone.  America's Test Kitchen sprays the bread for 15 minutes to get a crust, The Prudent Homemaker uses a tray of water (and some other recipes bake inside a cast iron pot.  But I digress.)

So here's the recipe in the end, combining The Prudent Homemaker, The Bread Machine book, and America's Test Kitchen.

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread (adapted from The Prudent Homemaker)
2 c. bread flour: 0.52
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour: 0.46
1 3/4 c. water
2 Tbsp sugar: 0.04
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast: 0.04
2 Tbsp rosemary: 0.15 (usually this is free, but my husband killed my rosemary plant)
2 Tbsp olive oil: 0.18

Total: $1.39

Place all ingredients in bread machine in order determined by bread machine.  Put on dough setting and run.

After the dough cycle is done, dump out onto a flour dusted counter.  Dimple the dough with your fingertips.  Shape into a loaf:  Pull two opposite sides of the dough into the center.  Repeat 2 more times, going around in a circle, form it into a ball.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimless cookie sheet, and put the bread, seam side down, on top.  Cover with a clean towel or cooking-spray coated plastic wrap.  Put in a warm place to rise.  Let rise 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, until doubled in size and the dough springs back slowly at the touch.

Adjust oven: Put baking stone in the center and a rack below.  Preheat oven to 450F.  Let baking stone preheat for 30 minutes.  

Right before baking, place a shallow pan with water on the bottom rack.  Remove the plastic from the bread, and slice an "X" in the top of the bread with a sharp knife (I SUCK AT THIS).  Slide the parchment paper with the dough onto the baking stone.  

Bake at 450F for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 400F and bake for 25 more minutes, until internal temperature is 200F.

Transfer to a wire rack, discard parchment, and let cool for about 2 hours before slicing.

Enjoy.  My family LOVES this bread.

I made this with The Prudent Homemaker's Tomato Basil Soup.  I cannot believe I never made this before.  It was SOOO good.  I had a bunch of tomatoes in the freezer from a #10 can.  We have been collecting carrots from the CSA.  I found chicken stock from 2011 in my freezer (yeah, I tossed that).

Tomato Basil Soup (from the Prudent Homemaker).  Follow the link for the instructions!
2 Tbsp olive oil: 0.18
1 large onion, chopped: 0.50
10 carrots, peeled and chopped: 0.80
1. 5 Tbsp dried basil: 0.23
2 cloves garlic, chopped: 0.10
2 28oz cans diced tomatoes: 1.50
4 cups chicken broth: free (make my own)
1 can evaporated milk: 2.00

Total: $5.32 for 16 cups, $0.33 per cup