Friday, December 7, 2012

The Bread of Life....and a little extra.

Well friends, it's been a while since I posted....and I'm sorry. But as many of you know my father in law has come to live with us. He's been here for about 2 months now and all of our lives have changed.

One of the good thing that has happened is I am now making my world famous oat bread ....well...okay, maybe it isn't world famous, but I do get a lot of requests for it around here. My father in law is a dialysis patient and his diet is quite strict. Here's a short list of what he isn't supposed to have, or at least he's only allowed a very small amount of these things. Dairy, tomatoes, whole grains, nuts, fresh fruit and most citrus. So as you can see, it can be quite a challenge to cook for him. But I don't cook his food separate, what ever I make for him is what we eat also.

One of the foods that he does enjoy is my oat bread, so I make it 2 or 3 times a week. He likes the buns best, which is good because I weigh them out to one ounce rolls so I can keep track of his carbs, calories and other nutritional values. They are easy to pack in his lunch to take to dialysis along with some tuna or egg salad, some canned fruit and something to drink. He's happy and so am I.

Even though he isn't supposed to have whole grains, and oat meal is a whole grain, I make this bread for him anyhow. It only has one cup of oat meal and 7 or 8 cups of white flour, which he CAN have, so it's a good compromise. He gets something better than store bought white bread and I control what goes into it.

So if you like to make your own bread, or if you've never made bread before this is an easy bread to make. I hope you enjoy it. The recipe follows the post, if you don't want to read the post just scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page.

First take one cup of old fashioned oat meal, not instant or quick oats, and put them into a large metal or glass bowl. Add some oil, honey and salt then pour boiling water over all this, give it a good stir and set it aside for half an hour.

After about half an hour, when the oat mixture is cool, sprinkle 2 packets or 4 1/2 teaspoons of yeast over one cup of very warm water. Let this sit for about 10 minutes to proof the yeast.

Add the yeast to the oat mixture and stir well. Next add about 3 cups of white all purpose flour to the oat mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon. Continue adding flour and mixing until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and continue kneading the flour in until the dough feels like a baby's bottom....soft but slightly firm. I know that sounds strange, but so many people have asked me "how do you know when the dough is ready?" And all of you bread bakers know this is probably a pretty good analogy of how the dough should feel. Not super stiff, (too much flour) and not squishy soft (not enough flour). Anyhow if you add the flour about a quarter cup at a time you should be able to knead it in about 3 or 4 good songs on the radio, or about 10 minutes. What can I say, I like to knead to the beat of the music, it makes the time go by faster.

After you have finished kneading the bread, oil a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl, give it a twist, turn it over and give it another twist. Now your entire ball of dough should be well oiled. Now cover the dough, in the bowl, with a clean lint free towel and place it in a warm draft free area until it is doubled in size. I use my oven with just the oven light on. It seems to be just warm enough and the dough rises quite nicely. The nice thing about this dough is if you get sidetracked and don't have time to mess with it when it raises, just punch it down again and do what you need to do. This dough can be punched down as many as 4 times before you have to put it in a baking pan. And the more you punch it down, the more sour it becomes so it picks up a slightly sourdough flavor.

Next punch the down the dough and weigh it, if you don't have a scale then just eyeball it into three pieces. I made two loaves and fifteen rolls, but you can do three loaves or about forty five rolls or any mix of the two. I usually make one loaf and thirty rolls, but I wanted to give someone a loaf so I made two loaves today.....Anyhow.....lightly grease your pans and then shape your dough into rolls or loaves and put them in the the pans and cover with your cloth. Put them back into the oven with just the light on until they double in size again.

Now remove your dough from the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake your buns or rolls for about fifteen to twenty minutes and loaves for about twenty five minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with butter if you like a soft crust or leave plain if you like a harder crust. Remove from the pans and brush with butter, or not, and let cool on racks before you put it away. I put mine in gallon storage bags.

The only thing left to do now is slice and slather with butter and honey and enjoy. That's all there is to it and even Squeek can enjoys a little bite every now and then.....isn't that right Squeek?

The Recipe:

Honey Oat Bread.

1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 Cup Pure Honey
2 Cups Boiling Water
1 Cup Warm Water
2 Packets or 4 1/2 Teaspoons Yeast
7 to 8 Cups All Purpose Flour

In a large metal or glass bowl combine the oats, oil, salt, honey and 2 cups of boiling water. Set aside for about 1/2 hour our until cooled.

Sprinkle yeast over the 1 cup of warm water and let it proof for about 10 minutes or until frothy. Add to oat mixture.

Stir in 3 cups of flour to the oat mixture and stir well, continue adding flour and mixing until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and continue to knead in the flour until a soft but firm dough has formed. Continue to knead for a total of about 10 minutes.

Place the dough into a well oiled bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover and allow to rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in size.

Punch down and divide into three equal pieces. Make each piece into loaves or one ounce rolls and place into will greased pans. Let rise until doubled in size again.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Placed rolls and loaves on the center rack and bake until golden brown on top, or about 15 to 20 minutes for rolls and 25 to 30 minutes for loaves.

Remove from oven, brush with butter if desired, turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely before storing in plastic storage bags.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Step Away From The Buffet......NOT!!

I wrote this blog post a week ago and posted it at one of my other sites. It received such a great response from people that I though I would share it here too. Since Mondays are all about health and fitness. I hope you enjoy this post as much as others here it is.

I ate Chinese buffet this weekend, whoohoo! I ate a lot of Chinese buffet this weekend and ate until I was stuffed ......And you know what? I didn't ruin my healthy eating plan.

Doesn't eating out sound like a great idea, no cooking, no cleanup.....just good food and great conversation. Someone says....."hey, let's do chinese buffet." and everyone else likes that idea.....except you. But you don't want to ruin everybody elses good time so you groan inwardly, put on a big ol' smile and say..."Yeah, that sounds great."

On the way there, you mentally go over what a typical Chinese buffet looks like. Fried rice, fried wantons, sweet and sour chicken.....oh, things look bleak and you just know you're going to absolutely kill your diet today. All that fat and sodium, just thinking about it makes you feel bloated.

As you enter the restaurant, all the scents of stir fried foods hit your nostrils. You begin to sweat....well you could always eat just steamed rice and drink water with lemon and hot tea....Yes, that would work! (Groan)

Suddenly you see a Chinese chef at a large flat top grill. And surrounding this grill are tons of fresh veggies and lean meats. As your hostess seats you and your friends at a table you order lemon water and hot far so good.

As the rest of your table heads for the buffet of fried rice and sweet and sour pork, you meander toward the grill. You look over the sea of veggies and fresh meats and seafood. The chef sees uncertainty in your eyes, but allows you a moment longer to survey the situation. "What would you like today?" He finally asks. "I'm not sure how to do this." You humbly reply. Then you proceed to tell him that you are trying to eat healthier and could these veggies and meats be cooked with minimal oil. You chef just smiles and says. " What would you like for lunch today.

You choose several of your favorite veggies and paper thin sliced chicken, and of course to make it authentic chinese you add some bean sprouts and water chestnuts. The chef ask you if you would like spicy oil, garlic oil or plain oil. You choose spicy.

Now with the utmost care and faster than you can say fried rice, the chef whips up a stir fry that will be the envy of all your friends. Beautifully prepared, wonderfully seasoned, and a plate that is so full, there isn't room for steamed rice.....which you really didn't want anyhow. You tip the chef and return the smile he sends your way as he hands you your lunch. You return to your table with your head held high.

As you sit back down at your table, your friends just stare in amazement. "Are you going to eat ALL that." They inquire. "Aren't you on a diet?" They say almost in unison. "Absolutely, and absolutely." Is your answer as you put the first fork full of this wonderful low fat, high fiber, within your calorie range, stir fry into your mouth... and just smile as you savor each bite.

It is possible to eat Chinese buffet.....or any buffet for that matter if you just make healthy choices. Most Chinese buffets have a chef who will cook your food to order and help you make your healthy choices. Many steak house buffets now have a very nice salad bar. Our local steak house has one of the most awesome salad bars I've ever seen. It's full of mixed baby greens and dozens of fresh veggies from tomatoes to peas. It also has sunflower seeds and other nuts to top your salad with. I always use the large plate for my salads when we go there, because this will be my meal. I don't even look at the hot bar because it's mostly oily, high fat processed foods. Oh, and the price for this steak house buffet for lunch with a big glass of lemon water....$5.49 plus tax. How much is a value meal with a burger, french fries and a drink at a local fast food chain?

See with a little homework it is possible to eat at a buffet and not destroy your diet. Just make sensible choices and yes, sometimes you need to step away from the HOT, TRADITIONAL buffet in order to do that.

Me, step away from the buffet.....Never.      

Monday, October 8, 2012

Finish What You Started

My friend San did a post today that really got me to thinking. You can read her post here You can also see my reply to here post and this is actually a continuation of my reply.....because I really needed to put this in writing.

I am a quitter.....I am a person who never finishes.....And I don't know why. Or maybe I do.

I do my dishes, but don't finish washing the silverware. I wipe the table, counters, stove, fridge and do everything else but don't wash all the silverware. Why? I don't know.

I do laundry, I sort it, wash it, dry it, fold it......but I don't get it put away. It just sort of piles up on top of the dryer or on top of the dresser.......Why? I don't know.

I go on a diet and lose 20, 30 even 40 pounds....then quit and gain back twice as much. I quit working out, I quit eating right and I watch the pounds creep back on and just sit back and allow it to happen. Why? Why? Why?

Okay, there's the background for this blog.....and it's true. What is it about some of us that just doesn't work right. Seriously! Many men and women who are overweight just seem to have this switch that turns off when we are doing so well. It's self sabotage and it's oh so hard to fix.

You should see all the craft projects that are almost, but not quite done. Several needlepoint projects that are 75%  finished. Crochet afghans that have all the squares completed they just need to be joined together. A quilt that I started for my husband.....7 years ago and all I need to do to finish it is to finish the quilting. Maybe another 15 hours of work. All these things are beautiful......or they will be once their finished. Right now you can see the beauty in all these unfinished works of art, but they are still rough around the edges and of no use to anyone. And they will continue to be of no use to anyone until they are finished,

Is this how I see myself? Now that I put those words on the page.....yes, I would have to say....yes, this is how I feel about myself. Now please don't worry about me....I know what's wrong and I know how to fix it. Putting your feelings into words is a powerful healing medium. And sharing these words with the entire world makes it more important to deal with and fix any problems you have, because your audience is waiting to see the end of the play.

From this day forward, I will FINISH what I start. From putting my clean clothes away....where they belong to doing all my dishes and not leaving anything in the sink. These may sound like little trivial things.....but their not. I guess I could describe it as OCD in reverse....not that I'm comparing it to OCD so please don't take offence. But people with OCD have to have everything in order, my life is more like organized chaos. I know where everything just might take a while to find it.

I know why I sabotage myself, somehow I just don't feel worthy enough to be what I want to be. Oh, don't get me wrong. I've traveled all over the US while I worked in the equine industry. But I quit a job I loved.....for no real reason, other than I just quit. I became an accomplished chef and worked at some very fine restaurants.....but I quit those jobs too. I taught myself to can, bake, quilt, do needlepoint and cross stitch and just a host of other things. I can talk to the guys about rebuilding a 350 Chevy motor or I can tell you all about herbal teas and wild craft foraging. I've done a lot in my 50 years on this earth and I will do a lot more. But the one thing that just keeps falling from my grasp is the ability to finish.....finish anything.

I have to finish something....anything. Finish this blog post and post it....without deleting it and thinking nobody really wants to read this stuff anyway. Because I know you do want to read it. Maybe there are only a couple of you who read it, but I know you want to read it so I will publish it. I have to finish anything and everything I start. I can't keep starting and not finishing. I have to quit sabotaging myself and force myself to complete what I started. I have to train myself that yes, I am worth it. I have done this for the better part of the past 50 years and I don't want to continue doing it for the next 50.

Well good friends, I have to leave you for now because I have to go finish my dishes, put my clean laundry away, and do my exercises for today. I don't want to do these things......but I have to. I have to finish what I started and quit making excuses for why I didn't get things done. I can lie to all of you and you wouldn't know any different, but the one thing I can't do is lie to myself. So off I go to get some things done and begin something that I started a long time ago.....and really need to finish. Until next time have a wonderful day.....and go finish something you started. It's good for the soul.

The Real Happy Homemaker

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Walking Girl

I'm one of the walking girls. There are a group of us who are doing a virtual walk....for the month of September I walked 67 miles. Not too bad for a 50 year old, out of shape, overweight woman. That averages about 2 miles a day. You can read a little more about us here. I'm glad my friend is keeping track of my miles, because I'm simply not organized enough to do it. Some of these girls may be joining me on my Appalachian Trail hike, I hope so.

My goal for this month is to build up to 5 miles a day and to lose at least another 10 pounds, which is how much I lost in September. As some of you already know, I'm planning a hike on the Appalachian Trail starting next June. I already have some friends who I have never met, except on Facebook, who are going to try to meet me somewhere along the trail. I'm excited!

I bumped up my workout today, I now incorporate some at home strength training along with my cardio walking workout. I know I'm going to have to get to a gym and find a trainer soon. I really need to start using a stair stepper and elliptical to help build my legs and help strengthen my knees. But because of finances and some family matters that may not happen as soon as I had hoped.

It's a good thing I live in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I can hike anytime I want, and the nearest trail is only about a mile from my house. The trails are part of a State trail and not quite as rugged as the AT can be in places, but there is a lot of up and down hiking, and a lot of rocks. I can actually walk a loop that's about 10 miles long. Up the mountain, along the ridge and then back down the mountain. You end up back where you started but never walk on the same spot twice. And there is a really cool fire tower at the top of the mountain and you can see for miles from up there. In another week or so the mountains should be on fire with the beauty of fall as the leaves are turning. Maybe I can get up there and take some pictures. The fire tower is about 5 miles up the trail, I think. I've never actually checked the mileage on driving up there, but I will. Maybe this weekend. Maybe I'll try to walk it with my trusty pedometer. Yes, maybe I'll give that a try.

I need to come up with a trail name, and I know that will come with time. I have one in mind but need to talk to my family first. I have a name I would like to use in memory of my brother in law who passed away of a heart attack at the young age of 46. I really miss him.

I worked out extra hard today and hope not to be too sore come morning. Honey, one of my cats decided to help me with my crunches. She thought it would help if she jumped from the window to my belly while I was lying on my back, talk about tightening your abs. Wow, she only weighs about 8 pounds, but it was enough to make me tighten my abs really tight before she landed. She's such a good kitty. Then she proceeded to sit on my belly as I finished the other eight crunches, just staring intently into my eyes forcing me to give all I could without knocking her off balance. It was quite the workout, if I do say so myself. I hope she doesn't decide to help train me everyday.

If I can keep up this pace, I should be able to lose at least 90 pounds in the next 9 months. I'm hoping for more, but we'll see. That would take me to about 170 pounds before I hit the trail, I would really like to be at 150 when I start and down to around 135 when I finish. This is my long term goal and I truly believe it is an achievable goal. I just have to go and make it come true.

 Well friends, until next week, keep your spirits high, and your dreams even higher. And remember.....Always shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you'll still land among the stars.

The Real Happy Homemaker                                

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Blessing From A Fellow Blogger

Well Good Morning Friends,

This morning as I was enjoying my second cup of coffee and reviewing my Facebook page I saw a picture that made me stop mid sip. It was a Facebook page header. I thought oh, how cool is that, someone has a header just like mine.....they must be a really great person. After all they say great minds think alike.....don't they?

So, being the curious person that I am, I clicked on the link and that took me to a blog that I just started following......and I do mean less than 24 hours earlier. Much to my surprise, the reason this person had the same header as me is because this blogger had written about my blog.....this WAS my header!

Now I never thought of myself as being a good writer, but as I sat and read what had been written about me, and by me, I began to see that, yes, I could write. If it's something I'm passionate about, I can write pretty well. And now I know people are reading what I post......not many people, but some is better than none.

Recipes are easy to post, you just take a few pictures, make a nice description and post the recipe. EZ PZ....... but to actually write about yourself.......that's a different story all together......I mean who wants to know about me and my life? I never thought of my life as interesting, I mean I'm an overweight (obese) 50 year old woman who is a stay at home wife with 4 dogs and 2 cats. I am on a "diet" that is actually a healthier lifestyle regime because a diet is too hard to stick to. And I'm planning a 2200 mile hike down the Appalachian Trail, a hike thru is what they call it. I need to get in shape to do this because I'm the one who instigated this and now have at least one other person who want to make the trek with me and she has already lost a lot of weight. I need to lose about 150 pounds total, but would like to have my weight down to at least 150 pounds by next June when we are planning to leave Mt. Katahdin in Maine and follow the trail south until we reach Springer Mountain in Georgia. I'll keep you updated on that in future posts......

Anyhow, Granny took portions of my blog and posted them onto her blog and commented about me and my life. She hit the nail on the head, her words described me to a T and that made me cry. Not sad tears mind you, but happy tears. She actually took the time to read my posts and my profile and made an assessment of who I was and what I loved. This gave me great hope and joy. It lets me know that I am someone, and that even though life gets tough sometimes, there is still good in the world......I always knew this but I tend to forget sometimes.

My hubby is in West Virginia with his dad who is dying. He's been there all week and it's been hard with just phone calls several times a day for updates. I'm not able to go because of all the critters that we have. All of our dogs are rescues and they don't like other nobody, and I really mean nobody, can take care of them. They will bite anyone who comes into their kennel except me or hubby. We wouldn't trade our dogs for anything, but it can create a problem with getting away sometimes. Anyhow, this is how my week has been. I want to see my father in law, but can't get away, I do talk to him on the phone though. Hubby has to come home today or tomorrow because he has to get back to work, he has no vacation time or PTO days left and no work means no paycheck, so he has to leave his father and come home. Maybe he can go see his dad again next weekend.....maybe, if the worst doesn't happen before then.

So the words of encouragement from Granny were, like I said, a blessing and she didn't even know how much her words meant to me. I want to thank her and didn't know how except to share her with you and share her love and kindness for someone who she never met, but I hope to meet her someday. I don't know how far she lives from the Appalachian Trail but I'm hoping to visit with her when I hike thru sometime next summer. Please take a few minutes and go visit Granny her at her blog.....just to let her know that someone really does care and is taking the time to read what she has taken the time to write. Plus I really think you'll enjoy her posts, I know I do.

Thank you Granny for such wonderful words of encouragement.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Real Jewish Rye Bread

Adapted from "The Bread Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum

I wish I had my camera right now, but I don't and I didn't want to use a picture that wasn't mine. So you'll just have to imagine a warm crusty loaf of seeded Jewish rye bread with the slightest wisp of steam rising from it's soft tan colored crumb with the tale tale scent of caraway drifting softly through the air. Okay, close you eyes and inhale through your nose.....can you see it? Smell it??? Sure you can...and if you can't, well you'll just have to believe me, it's wonderful.

As mentioned up top, this recipe is adapted and has been changed from the original recipe. If you would like the original recipe you can find it here. This is a great tutorial and has some really good pictures of how this bread should look when it's done.

This bread takes some time to prepare, it's easy but time consuming. You'll spend most of your time waiting for the dough to raise so this is a really good rainy day recipe when you can cook up a big pot of soup and make Jewish Rye Bread too. Now for the recipe.

For the Sponge (dough starter)

3/4 Cup Bread Flour
3/4 Cup Rye Flour
1 Teaspoon Rapid Rise Yeast (or 1/2 packet of any yeast)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Molasses
3/4 Cup Whey (or water at room temperature)
3/4 Cup Warm Water (at room temperature)

To make the sponge combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth, scraping down the sides and making sure you get all the ingredients well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and sit aside.

For the bread flour mixture

2 1/4 Cups Bread Flour
1 Teaspoon Rapid Rise Yeast (or 1/2 packet of any yeast)
2 Tablespoons Caraway Seeds
1 1/2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
1 1/2 Teaspoons Olive Oil

In another bowl combine the bread flour, yeast, caraway seeds and sea salt. Remove the plastic wrap from the sponge mixture. Gently scoop the flour mixture OVER the top of the sponge mixture. Make sure you cover the entire sponge with the flour mixture. Cover tightly with the plastic wrap and let set for 1 to 4 hours or until the sponge bubbles up through the flour mixture. I put my dough in my oven with the light on, no heat, just the light. The longer you allow this to sit, the better the flavor will be.

After the 1 to 4 hour period add the olive oil to the flour and sponge mixture and with a wooden spoon mix until the flour is well moistened. Using your hand, knead the dough in the bowl for about 5 minutes to help develop the gluten. Add more flour only if you really need to, the dough will be a little sticky but not super wet. Cover the dough in the bowl with a towel and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Now for the most important step, follow this exactly and it will make the next 10 minutes go by quickly. Walk over to your radio and tune in your favorite radio station. Wait until the next song begins and start this for 4 songs. This should be about 10 minutes with the ads, if it's continuous play then knead for 5 songs. Believe me, this really works and helps you to pass the time while you knead your dough. I find kneading dough to be very therapeutic, it lets me work out my frustrations and then the gentle rocking motion relaxes me. My favorite radio station is K-LOVE, but you can listen to whatever you like. Lightly sprinkle your kneading area with flour only as needed if the dough is still sticky. After 10 minutes your dough should be soft and smooth. Lightly oil a 2 quart bowl and place the dough in the bowl, give the dough a twist and flip it over. Your entire ball of dough should now be covered with a light coating of oil. Cover and let raise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm draft free place.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top and press down. Now you can shape your loaf. I needed bread for slicing so I used my clay bread pan but you can make a round loaf or a torpedo shaped loaf. It doesn't matter what shape you make, as long as you're happy that's all that matters. If you do a round or torpedo shaped loaf sprinkle about a tablespoon of corn meal on your cookie sheet, this will help keep the bread from sticking to the cookie sheet.Cover and let the dough raise for another hour or until nearly doubled in size, in a warm draft free place.

When the dough is ready, you can make several slashes in it to expose some of the crumb. Or you can just leave it as it is. It's entirely up to you, it doesn't change the flavor, but it does look nice. To slash your dough you need a really sharp knife or a strait edged razor. Make cross hatch cuts or diagonal cuts on the top of the dough for a more decorative look.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mist the dough with water and place on the middle rack of your oven. Mist the oven walls and floor with more water and quickly close the door. After 15 minutes turn the oven down to 400 degrees and bake another 30 to 40 minutes. The loaf should be golden brown and if you stick a dry spaghetti noodle into the middle of it it should come out clean.

When your bread is done, remove it from the oven and cool it completely on a wire baking rack before cutting.....unless you're really really good at cutting warm bread.

And that my friends is how I make Jewish Rye Bread. Like I said, it isn't really hard just very time consuming. I started at 9am and didn't finish until about 7 pm this evening. One good thing about this dough is you can put it in the refrigerator anytime after you mix the sponge and flour together. So if your pressed for time you can make the sponge and flour the night before, refrigerate it after you stir it together and complete the bread the next day. Like I mentioned earlier, the longer this bread sits and ferments, the better the flavor gets.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comment section down below. I will answer them as best I can. Until next time have a day full of sunshine and a night filled with peace.

The Real Happy Homemaker

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another Week of Walking.

Well hello there friends. This week I bumped my walking routine up a notch. I'm now walking three miles a day with Leslie, and believe me that extra mile made a difference. It only takes a few minutes more to complete than the two mile walk, but it really does matter.

I watched a movie last night, it's an older documentary call 10 mph. It's a documentary about some people who rode a Segway from Washington state to Boston Massachusetts. By only going ten miles per hour they were able to see the United States for what it really is, a place of beauty mostly and rather ugly sometimes too. People for the most part are good, and want to do good. This got me to you already know, I'm doing a virtual walk from Johnstown, PA., where I live to Disney World in Florida. Wouldn't it be cool to walk there starting this Spring? I mean really walk there. I'm a happy homemaker, so I don't have a job to hold me back from doing this. And I could actually pick up the Appalachian Trail here in Pennsylvania and take it all the way to the Carolina's, I think, and then just make a route to take me the rest of the way to Florida. I need to research this more, but it sounds like fun. I always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail and if I spend the Winter training, as it were, then I think I could do this. Of course I would need to find someone to go with me because it's just more fun when there are friends to share the adventure with.

Will I actually do this? Well, I don't know, I would really like to but I tend to dream a lot. But then again, I tend to be the type of person who just does things on a whim. I really need to do some more research on this. Maybe I'll hike the entire trail, I think it starts in Connecticut somewhere. I'll be right back, I need to go check this out.

Okay, I just did a quick look up and found that it starts in Maine and goes all the way to Georgia, which is good because Georgia is right next to Florida. The trail covers about 2160 miles. I really need to give this some more thought and see if any of my Philadelphia Biggest Loser friends would like to go with me......really. It would take about four months to complete, I guess. I really need to find out more, because if we start in Maine and go south I wonder how early we can start without running into too much winter weather. I know here in the mountains in Pennsylvania, we can still have snow in May. I do know that most people who hike the trail, go from south to north, so they hit Maine in late summer or early fall. By going north to south it will be really hot by the time you reach Florida.

Just did some more research and found out that most people traveling north to south start in June or July and get to Georgia in November or December........Soooo.....I need to think about this. Most people go from Georgia to Maine because it's easier starting in the south, the weather is better and the southern end of the trail is said to be not as rugged. So as you progress north, I guess you would build up your endurance and stamina for the end of the trip. Starting in the north means you do the most rugged part first.....not that any part of the trail is easy. It's all serious hiking from what I've read.

Well, I'm off to do some more research on this and decide if I really want to do this. If I do decide to tackle this hike I have about 9 months to prepare for the trip, I think I can get ready in that period of time. So until next week I hope you follow your dreams and make them come true....even the little ones.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Artisan Herb Crackers and Horseradish Hummus

I was in the mood for hummus today, but really didn't want plain old hummus so I decided to kick it up a notch with horseradish.....Horseradish you say! Sure why not, I like horseradish and I'm always looking for new ways to use it and my friend Matt gave me a recipe similar to this one only his used olive oil and I wanted mine to be a little healthier soooo, Well you see later how I did this and it really doesn't chance the flavor or texture of the hummus, just the fat content.

Horseradish Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans or about 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2-3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
About 1/4 cup liquid from garbanzo beans

Combine everything except the liquid from the beans in a food processor. Process on high until pureed, slowly add the liquid until disired consistancy. Make your hummus SLIGHTLY thinner than what you actually want it to be because it will thicken as it sets. Refridgerate for a few hours to let the flavors meld. Enjoy with Artisan Herb Crackers. (Recipe Follows)

Artisan Herb Crackers

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons dried herbs/seasonings*
1 teaspoon sea salt plus more for sprinkling
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup of water, or less

* I used dried parsley, sage, rosemary and course ground black pepper.....and you thought I was going to say thyme. You can use any herbs and spices you like. Maybe you like things spiced up a bit you could use crushed red peppers, and cumin for a Mexican flare. Or maybe you like onion powder and dill. Use what ever you want. There is no right or wrong for this part.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and combine well. Add the olive oil and about half of the water and stir with a fork. Keep adding water until you have a rough dry dough that just holds together when you squeeze it in your hand. knead in the bowl until it all comes together then turn it out onto the counter top and knead it for a minute or so. Now divide the dough into 4 equal pieces place 3 pieces back into the bowl and cover with a towel. Roll the 4th piece with a rolling pin into a very, very thin piece. It should roll out to roughly the size of a full sized cookie sheet. Lay the dough in the cookie sheet and cut it with a pizza cutter or pastry wheel, or just a knife into any shape and size you like. I cut mine into squares with a pastry wheel about 2 X 2 in square. But you could do triangles or even cookie cutter shapes if you like. Once again there is no right or wrong way to do this. Sprinkle with course sea salt and bake for about 15 minutes. Check on them after about 10 minutes. If they are starting to brown anywhere, they're done. Remove from the oven and let cool before moving to a bowl to serve with your horseradish hummus.

That's it. It really is easy and making our own hummus is so much less expensive than buying it at the store. And you control what goes into your food if you make your own snacks. Hope you try these recipes and let me know how they turned out. Until next time have a wonderful day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Come Walk With Me

Well hello again,

Today I started working toward my 3 mile walk with Leslie Sansone. I've been walking 2 miles with her for about 2 weeks now and feel pretty good about that. The first day I started with her video series Walk Away The Pounds, I swore she was trying to kill me. Today I decided to share her videos with you. She will take you all the way from a 20 minute 1 mile walk to a 68 minute 5 mile walk. Can you imagine.......5 miles in just over an hour. That's my goal then I want to increase that to 10 miles a day by doing the video twice, once in the morning and once in the evening. Here's a link to Youtube 1 mile Leslie Sansone video. I hope you take the time to try it.



Even if you're obese, you can do this, 3 weeks ago I weighed 288 pounds, at 5' 7" as of today I weigh 279 pounds, that's 9 pounds lost in 3 weeks and I'm proud of that. Here's a picture of me for those of you who have never seen me.

Yes, I'm a pretty hefty girl. This is one of the photos I used when I tried out for The Biggest Loser last July in Philadelphia. I didn't get chosen for the show, but I met a wonderful group of people who have joined together and become a huge support system for each other and we have some new friends who have joined us too. We are now on a virtual walk, some of us, me included, are walking to Disney World in Florida, some are going to visit family in other states and one lady is even going to Italy, she'll be swimming part of journey. How cool is that?

I'll be sharing my weight loss journey with you on a weekly basis, I guess Mondays is just as good a day as any. So, if you want to keep up with me, you'll have to come back at least once a week to see how things are going. My long term goal is to lose about 150 pounds through eating healthy and exercise. I would like to lose all this by Christmas of 2013 as a Christmas present to myself. I cannot imagine what it will be like to lose an entire person. It's not about being on a diet, it's about making healthy decisions, do I want candy or fruit? Of course I want candy especially if it's chocolate, but I'll choose fruit most of the time. Chocolate will find a place once in a while, just not all the time.

Fresh fruit and veggies over fast food, meat from the local butcher, organic if possible. Subway over Mc Donalds or Burger King if I do want fast food. It means cooking real food instead of buying processed man made imitation food. It means commitment, commitment on so many levels that I can't even begin to tell you all of them. I'm sure I'll get to each and every one of them as time progresses.

You'll notice that most of my recipe posts are healthy meals or dishes. There is a reason for this, if I'm going to take you on my journey, you need to know what I'm eating and how to prepare it. Who knows, you may decide to try some of these yourself. Some of them will be from other sites or blogs and some will be original. I'll make sure to give credit for recipes that are not my own.

Yes, I think I shall make Monday my health blog spot for each week, not that some things won't creep in during the rest of the week, but Mondays will be about me and my journey. I hope it will inspire you to get fit too. Even if you don't need to lose weight, we can all use a little fitness exercise and walking with Leslie is just the way to do it.

I challenge all my readers to try the first video in her series, it's only 20 minutes long. I know you can squeeze 20 minutes into your busy day, I think you'll be surprised at how challenging it really is. And for those of you who can't do the entire 20 minutes, that's okay, just do what you can and then do more later in the day until you have the whole 20 minutes done....and keep doing it daily. It really will get easier, I promise.

Well, until next time good friends I wish you all a beautiful day filled with love and laughter.
The Real Happy Homemaker

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Filling and Healthy Dinner

Well, hello again friends!

You must be looking at that steak and looking at the title to this post and just shaking your head. That's okay, I'd probably shake my head too. This my friends is a 4.6 ounce rib eye steak.....yes, I didn't make a typo, it's a 4.6 ounce rib eye. (I should have taken a picture of the digital scale weight.) The trick was, it's only cut 1/2 in thick, so it looks really large on the plate, but was actually quite thin. The roasted sweet potato weighs only 3.2 ounces and the chick pea salad is only 3/4 of a cup. The nutritional information for this entire meal is as follows:


So this entire meal was well within my dietary guidelines. I'm so happy!! I like a good steak once in a while, but was worried about the fat and calories, but once I did my research I found out that I could eat 4 to 5 ounces of steak and not have to worry about it too much. This beef from a local butcher shop, I always try to buy local. The  sweet potato was baked and halved with hubby and the recipe for the chick pea salad is at the bottom of this post. It's really easy to make and is better made the night before, or at least a few hours before you plan to eat it.

Right now this blog seems to be more of a food blog, but that will change on a daily basis as soon as I get all the kinks worked out with my new blog page and my new Facebook page. Trying to get everything in sinc is driving me batty.

Chick pea salad

This is a wonderful and simple salad that can stand on it's own or as a side dish with almost any meal.                               
Number of Servings: 6


1 Can of Chick Peas drained and rinsed
1/2 Cup diced red onion
1/2 Cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/4 Cup red or green sweet peppers chopped


1 Cup Cherry tomatoes halved
1 whole avocado diced
2 Teaspoons sugar
1 Teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Juice and Zest from 1 lemon
Hot pepper sauce to taste
    Mix all the ingredients, except for the avocado, in a covered dish, you do not need to cook the corn, but can if you like. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, the longer it sits the better it gets. Remove from the refrigerator when ready to serve and add the avocado. Serve cold or at room temperature.
    That's it friends, quick and easy and really good, and good for you here is the nutritional information for this dish.
    Nutritional Info
    • Servings Per Recipe: 6
    • Amount Per Serving
    • Calories: 196.0
    • Total Fat: 9.9 g
    • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
    • Sodium: 416.4 mg
    • Total Carbs: 23.7 g
    • Dietary Fiber: 5.6 g
    • Protein: 6.2 g
Well good friends I hope you get a chance to try this recipe, and you could easily use your favorite bean, kidney beans or black beans would be nice, You can also use what ever veggies you have on hand. Some spinach or other hardy green would have been pretty in this salad. The nice thing about salads is you can do what ever you want, there are no rules. So have some fun and play with your food.......Go ahead, I give you permission.

Until next time good friends have a glorious day.

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    A Little About Tomatos and Seeds

    Today hubby picked some tomatoes, now we didn't grow any tomatoes this year, as a matter of fact, we didn't grow anything. I was away from home most of the summer, and I knew I would be, so we didn't plant a garden this year.

    Sooooo, I asked hubby where he got the tomatoes from? From the compost pile, he quite frankly replied. They're a pink, not red, cherry type of tomato, but the shape was oblong, every one of them. Not a round one in the bunch, but they weren't pear shaped tomatoes either. So after a quick brush on the ol' t-shirt I popped one in mouth, not quite knowing just how it was going to taste......or even if it would be edible. I mean, you never know when it comes to volunteer tomatoes. Well, it was actually quite tasty.

    It was meaty and not too sweet, maybe a little on the tough side, almost like a miniature roma. It had a wonderful tomato flavor, mellow and not too tart. I would have to say, it was the perfect tomato. I have no idea how this volunteer came to be, because I didn't grow or buy any tomatoes that looked, or tasted, like this. So this leads me to believe that this tomato is a hybrid.

    For those of you who don't know what a hybrid tomato is, it's a tomato that grew from a seed that carries the characteristics of two plants, we'll say the mother plant and the father plant. When the mother plant was in blossom, had a flower on it, some pollen from another tomato plant pollinated the flower either by insect or by wind. Anyhow what resulted was a seed inside the tomato that grew from that flower that carried the characteristics of both plants........thus a hybrid. Now, if I keep and plant the seeds from this plant, it may or may not produce a plant just like the one it came off of. It may produce something closer to the mother plant or the father plant.....or maybe even something entirely different from any of the plants. But.....if I'm lucky it just may produce a plant just like its parent plant.

    If I get at least one plant like the parent plant, I will plant those seeds and hope for another plant just like the parent plant.........and plant those seeds. And so on...... This is how different varieties of tomatoes become what is called open pollinated or heirloom after a period of time. Once a plant is stabilized, or produces the same plant year after year it can be given a name and the seeds sold or traded to help establish more plants.

    That's the simple version of how new tomato cultivars are produced. So if you're a tomato guru, I just wanted to make it as simple as possible for everyone to understand and I know there's more to it than this.

    Here's a few pictures of hubbys tomatos, we'll see what happens next year.

    Until next time dear friends, I wish you all love and peace. Have a wonderful day and a better tomorrow.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Kielbasi and Roasted Veggies

    This is what we had for dinner, and it was wonderful.

    This particular kielbasi comes from a local butcher shop and they make, and smoke, their own......and it is absolutely wonderful. Since it's smoked, you really don't have to cook it before you eat it, it's great with cheese and crackers. It's really quite low in fat compared to some of the name brand stuff you buy in the store, and truthfully once you eat this kielbasi, you'll never want to eat mass produced meat products again. And during the holidays, most holidays, like Labor Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, The 4th of July and Memorial Day this butcher shop makes what they call Holiday Kielbasi and it's even better.

    This is how I make this one pot wonder:
    1 pound extra lean kielbasi (you can use turkey kielbasi)
    1 large potato
    2 ears of corn
    2 carrots or a big handful of baby carrots
    1 medium onion
    1/2 red sweet pepper
    1 head of garlic cloves
    2 Tablespoons olive oil
    1 Tablespoon dried oregano
    1 Teaspoon sea salt
    1 Teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 quart casserole dish and set aside. Cut the kielbasi into 8 pieces and set them aside. Cut the potato into 8 pieces by cutting it in half length wise then cut those into half length wise and then cut them in half again cross wise. Cut each of the ears of corn in half, cut the onion into quarters, cut the carrots into chunks if needed, slice the red pepper into strips and then put all the veggies into a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and spices to the veggies and toss lightly. Pour all the veggies into the baking dish and place the kielbasi on top. Cover and bake for about an hour or until the potatoes are soft.

    This makes 4 servings. 2 potatoes, 1 corn, 2 kielbasi, 1 onion some carrots and a few red pepper strips.

    And there you have it, a one pot meal that only takes about 5 minutes to prep and an hour in the oven. If you like you can do this in a crock pot and let it cook on low all for around 8 hours. You can use any veggies you have on hand, celery would have been nice, but I didn't have any. Almost any root veggie could be added or exchanged.

    If you try this recipe, be sure to let me know how you like it.

    Until next time, have a wonderful day and thank you for taking the time to stop by and read my blog. I hope to see you again real soon.
    The Real Happy Homemaker!

    An Informal Formal Introduction

    Well Hello There,
    Since this is my first blog post.....ever, I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Debbie and I live in western Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, for those of you who know where that is. I've been blessed to be able to be a happy homemaker, as Domestic Engineer, as hubby would say.

    Most people write blogs about on thing, and one thing only. I am not capable of doing that, because I simply have too many interests. My life revolves, and evolves, around several different things, including, but not limited to, my Hubby, my critters (4 dogs and 2 cats at the moment, but that IS subject to change.) I'll introduce you to them later. I enjoy cooking and baking, I'll be sharing recipes and taste tests with you. I like to crochet, do needlepoint and cross stitch, and I like to quilt too. I have a quilt that I've been working on, well off and on, for 7 years now. (More off than on, but I'll get it done someday.) Now that I've told you about it, I guess I need to start working on it again. I garden, mostly veggies and can what I don't eat fresh or give away. I trade seeds and am a member of which is a seed traders forum at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I also buy seeds from The Sample Seed Shop and Comstock Seeds (which is a sister company to Baker Creek).

    I spend way too much time on Facebook, and my house is usually quite cluttered. Although I do keep the dishes cleaned, the house dusted and vacuumed, the laundry done, the beds made and the bathroom clean but.....we moved from a big ol' farm house to a 2 bedroom 14X70 mobile home and there just isn't enough room for all our, (okay, mostly my) stuff. I have a quilting frame which is wide enough to do a king sized quilt on, and a rug hooking frame which takes up too much room too, but I just can't get rid of them. (sigh) So they set along a wall taking up space. We just have too much, and I've given away so much already that I can't justify giving any more away.

    I hope to someday move back to the country and have a bigger home again. Hubby likes to do wood working and would like some wood working tools and they take up a lot of room too. Our dream is to have a cordwood home and live off grid. What? You don't know what cordwood is. Well, let me tell you a little about it. Basically it's a home built out of fire wood, you know, like what you burn in a fire place or wood stove. Now don't laugh, sometime in the next few weeks I'll probably do a post about cordwood housing. They're amazing and beautiful. I'll tell you more about off grid living too.

    Well friends, I have so much to share with you, but for now I need to let you go. You see, I am The Real Happy Homemaker and I have to get something started for Hubby, or he won't be happy when her gets home. I'll introduce you to him later too. He's quite the man and has a really interesting job, I think you'll like him.

    Until next time dear friends I wish you many blessings.