Enjoying Self-Depreciating Humor (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

My emotions have been rough the last few days; there is a point of anxiety I sometimes reach where I have to take some time for self-care before plunging back into action, otherwise, I will make rash decisions without thinking them through. Television and movies have been a traditional escape for me, but I find I cannot handle anything too serious right now. Because of this, a new delight has been watching episodes of the show “Nailed It!” on Netflix. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard.

My favorite moment each episode is the split screen between the dessert masterpiece and the ubiquitously failed attempt the home cook has produced. I like people who can laugh at themselves, and most of the contestants are good sports. The host slips in observant narration that moves beyond the farce at times and keeps me entertained. What’s your latest TV binge?

Yesterday’s Labor (Today’s Moment of Gratitude)

I made homemade pizza yesterday, preparing both the crust and sauce from scratch. The pan I used didn’t work very well so the bottom of the crust was not cooked to my liking. Today, I toasted slices in my toaster oven and what had been unappetizing became one of my best pizza bakes to date: crunchy, with just the right amount of sauce, dough and toppings.

I’ve written about this before, but I feel a renewed sense of appreciation for having enough time in my schedule and funds to be able to make meals from with fresh, unprocessed ingredients. I used to detest having to eat leftovers as a child, but now, as an adult, they feel like a gift I created for myself that brightens my day. When they are of the “junk food” variety, it’s even better. I’ve gotten to the point where I feel disappointed when I haven’t planned well and take-out is my only option, which is so different from how I used to think about food. What’s the last home-cooked meal you had? What was your moment of gratitude today?

A close-up of the center of a loaf of soda bread with an X cut in the middle.

Soda and Seed Bread (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

For several months, I’d been making sourdough bread. I loved the taste but got tired of the amount of time it took to feed the starter and proof the bread. I’ve since been experimenting with soda bread, which requires no rise time at all. Anything I can make in less than a hour has to be a winner!

Ingredients

500 grams flour (1/2 white, 1/4 rye, 1/4 whole wheat)

300 ml 2% milk + 2 TBS apple cider vinegar

2 TBS each raw sesame seeds, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds

1 TBS baking powder

1 tsp. salt

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pour the vinegar into the milk and let sit while you mix the dry ingredients.
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. If you’d like, you can toast the seeds and nuts before adding to the flour, salt and baking powder.
  4. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Wet your hands if needed and pat the dough into a flattened disk.
  6. Cut an X into the middle of the dough.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes.
  8. Let cool before slicing.

This recipe makes a dense, hearty bread that is great with soups, jams and plain butter! If you’ve made soda bread, what is your favorite recipe?

Creating Pup-Pie Treats (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

My poor pup has been getting a little overlooked between my return to work and my illness, so I decided to make him some homemade treats today. I’ve never attempted to do so before, even though I let him have tiny “people-food” snacks far too often. I settled on a baked treat being the safest bet.

I first measured and then cooked 1 sweet potato by cutting it up and boiling it in water. It came in at 260 grams, so I measured out equal parts of that in rolled oats as well as in dry roasted, unsalted peanuts. I pulverized the peanut-oat mixture in my Vitamix until it formed a loose paste. Once the sweet potato was cooked through, I used the Vitamix to puree it. I mixed the wet and dry ingredients together along with two eggs. I then pressed the dough into a greased ceramic pie pan and baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for twenty-five minutes.

After the initial cook time, I cut the pie into one inch by one inch squares, and baked them at the same temperature on a sheet for 10 minutes so that they would be as dried as possible. I think they could have gone longer but I was too lazy to experiment. Weirdly enough, I unintentionally created the start of a gluten-free biscotti for humans, were I to add perhaps coconut butter and a source of sugar. All in all, not bad for a spur of the moment experiment!

A white ceramic pie pan containing a light brown cookie with chunks of sweet potato. The cookie is cut into small pieces.
Mid-way through the bake process.
A small purple bowl sits empty on a couch cushion. In the upper part of the photograph, a blurry image of a Yorkie is visible.
The empty bowl after offering the treat.
A Yorkie dog is standing on white carpet eating a treat.
Nibbling away!