Wednesday, January 28, 2009

RECIPE: No-Knead Honey Oatmeal Batter Bread

Just out of the oven.  Another original recipe from Kay's Kreative Kitchen

This bread requires no kneading and can be made without getting out the mixer.  Makes a sweet, moist, chewy flavorful loaf.  For a crunchier crust, mist the oven with water just before putting bread in to bake.

  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 pkgs Active Dry Yeast (equals 4 1/2 tsp)
  • 5 cups All-Purpose Flour, divided (I use unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • 1 cup Apple Juice*
  • 1 1/2 cups Water*
  • 1 cup Quick Cooking Oats, Uncooked
  • 1/2 cup Honey**
  • 1 Tbs Butter (plus additional to grease pans)
  • 2 Tbs Sesame Seeds (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together salt, yeast and 2 cups flour.
  2. In 2-quart saucepan with spoon mix water, apple juice, oats, butter and honey over low heat.  Heat until very warm (120-130F)
  3. Gradually add liquid mixture into dry ingredients and whisk together until blended.  Whisk an additional 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl.  (This can be done by hand or using an electric mixer)  Beat in an additional 1/2 cup of flour to make a thick batter; continue beating 2 minutes.  Stir in about 2 1/2 cups additional flour, enough to make a stiff, sticky dough that leaves the side of the bowl.
  4. Cover bowl with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place (85-95F) about 1 hour, until doubled.
  5. Stir down dough; divide in two and turn out into 2 greased 5x9 inch rectangular bread pans.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).  Let rise in a warm place about 45 minutes, until doubled.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F.  Bake 40 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.  Remove from pans immediately to cool on a wire rack.
* May use 2 1/2 cups of water in place of water and apple juice for a bread that's slightly less sweet.
** May use either honey, maple syrup or molasses to sweeten.

(c)2009 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sharpie Luggage

2 hours to wait in an airport + 1 silver sharpie marker + 1 cheap carry on bag = TADA!  Art on Wheels

Would have done more but the sharpie was already mostly used up and ran out of ink.  Will pack a fresh one for next time.

As it was, I so focused on what I was doing that I nearly missed the boarding call for my plane.

While I worked (played), the public address system intoned repeatedly:

"Attention airline passengers.  Increased security measures require that all passengers maintain close personal contact with their items at all times.  Unattended items will be promptly removed by law enforcement personnel.  Additionally, report all suspicious items or activities immediately to airport personnel.  Your safety is our priority."

Close personal contact with my items?  Hmmm.  

Though I certainly was attentive to my carry-on bag, did this qualify as a suspicious activity?  

Got some funny looks as I sat on the floor scribbling on my bag, but no one reported me.

(c)2009 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Friday, January 23, 2009

Turntable Turns the Tables on Time

I've just returned from a trip to California for a family visit and work on a special project.

I dug into the stacks of old 45s, 78s and LPs we listened to as kids.

Took my ION portable USB turntable and converted childhood memories into digital audio files (wav and m4a), complete with all the nostalgic crackle, pop and hiss.  We played those records by the hour, way back when.

The turntable is durable and lightweight, fit easily into my carry-on bag, raised no eyebrows passing through airport security, and was easy to set-up when I arrived.

When I got back, I found an amazing website that has dozens of Kiddie Records and their associated artwork (jackets, books, etc.) from the mid 1940's through early 1950's available for free download.

[I should make it clear that I wasn't around to hear these records when they were new.  They belonged first to my older brothers, my parents and grandparents--already scratched and well loved by the time I came along.]

What does all this have to do with the creative process or living a more contented life?

It's all about reclaiming the vividness of happy childhood memories.

Creative art making is dependent upon the ability to tap into childlike playfulness and curiosity at will.  What better way to access this mindset than to revisit joyful times from ones distant personal past?

For me, the pull of these old recordings was irresistible.  As I played them I found myself wearing an unsuppressible smile.  I finally had to get up and gave in to the urge to dance around.

For me, living a contented life is all about enjoying what is.  Happy memories from my childhood are things that will always be mine to enjoy.   They cost nothing and offer a guaranteed high.  

They also have the added benefit of helping to free my creative work in the present.

When I revisit the things I enjoyed as a 5-year-old it becomes impossible for me to take myself or anything else too seriously.  This sort of time travel enables me to approach my art with the  spontaneity and fearlessness I felt back then.  I can transport those feelings into the here-an-now on the scratchy strains from an old 45.

Now if you'll, please, excuse me.  I'm going to go listen again to my favorite well-worn recording of "I'm a Little Teapot," then the "Hukilau" song,  followed Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians playing "Stumbling" (link to an original piano roll MIDI file).

(c)2009 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Saturday, January 10, 2009

ECO ACTION: 2009 Green Goals

The Crunchy Domestic Goddess Blog  has encouraged readers to share their Green Goals for 2009.  Here, I've included my 2009 ECO ACTION goals as well as 2008 accomplishments.

As I write this out, it looks like a lot, but I realize how much I was able to comfortably do in 2008 even though I was quite sick for about 4 out of 12 months.

I hope this inspires others to try a few things.

Winter Energy Saving - 2009 GOALS:
  • Use humidifiers more consistently to make the house feel warmer (even though it's cooler)
  • Reduce heat loss by using window drapes and insulation kits (in addition to mini-blinds), and door draft stoppers
  • Decide on a place to put up clothes drying rack indoors in cold months to air dry more loads of laundry
  • Continue to do the things started in previous years
  • Use or preserve all the winter veggies root cellared in the basement
  • Go get a lap blanket and a cup of hot tea, rather than turning on a heater, if I get cold while doing sedentary work in my studio
Winter Energy Saving - 2008 DONE:
  • Replaced the thermostat with a programmable one and set it to lower temps
  • Dressed more warmly, even indoors, to tolerate lower thermostat settings
  • Brought out extra blankets and quilts
  • Used the woodstove only as needed, wood cut sustainably from our own property
  • On sunny days used box-fan to pump warm air from the sunroom into living areas
  • Kept doors to unused rooms closed
  • Shifted sleeping and waking hours to maximize use of daylight for illumination, and let the house cool off during darker, colder hours
  • Learned and used root cellaring techniques to store fruits and veggies in our unheated basement
Food and Household - 2009 GOALS:
  • Select, buy and use a solar rechargeable reading lamp
  • More food and goods purchased from local producers, at farmers markets, etc.
  • Set up and use rain barrel to catch water for veggie garden
  • Mulch garden early to minimize water loss and weed growth, using leaf/grass mulch from our property
  • Learn about simple cleaning solutions to make and use at home
  • Reduce the amount of non-recyclable packaging that comes into our house
  • Go to the town's toxic waste day to dispose of non-rechargeable batteries, and other items safely
  • Use rechargeable batteries from now on when ever possible
  • Establish routines for taking out the compostables (If it sits inside for too long, yuck!
  • Take cloth bags into all stores, not just for groceries
  • Phase out use of Britta Filter system (non-recyclable unless the company changes its policy) and find a way to make drinking tape water more palatable  (Allowing a pitcher to sit so chlorine taste evaporates?  Adding lemon?  Or just getting used to it?)
  • Use a glass for water around the house rather than a Nalgene bottle.  Use Nalgene bottle only for time away from the house or work outdoors.
  • Maybe get a stainless steel water bottle to replace my old plastic Nalgene bottles.  Water that sits in them over night acquires a taste that makes me uneasy.
  • Find my grandmothers handkerchiefs and cloth napkins and start using them.
Food and Household - 2008 DONE:
  • Replaced all light bulbs in the house with energy savers
  • Continued to compost most of our food scraps
  • Learned to grow veggies from seed started indoors and set out when the weather warmed
  • Reduced standby power consumption by rewiring studio with all equipment grouped on outlet strips to be turned off when not in use
  • Dried some loads of laundry on large wooden rack (want to do more but lack privacy)
  • Cooked most food from scratch using non-processed ingredients
  • Started using 7th Generation cleaning products and other eco-friendly cleaning products
  • Used the library more or bought used books, fewer new book purchases
  • Almost all new-to-me clothes purchases were gently used, second hand (Except undergarments.  Ick!)
Transportation - 2009 GOALS:
  • Run more local errands (1-2 miles from house) on foot or by bicycle
  • Modify a used stroller with large wheels or get a "granny cart" to transport groceries home on foot
  • Use bicycle more, have seat post adjusted for a better fit, find the most comfortable way to carry purchases or library books
  • Learn to use regional bus lines for errands and outings as possible
  • Get comfortable using trains for trips to cities 1-3 hours distant, instead of driving
  • Remove unnecessary junk from my car to improve mileage
Transportation - 2008 DONE:
  • Took a summer vacation without air travel, patronizing mostly locally owned restaurants and more local lodging
  • Combined errands on single outings to reduced driving
  • Drove at or slightly below the speed limit in the slow lane on the highway
  • Used cruise control more
  • Kept to a leisurely pace on surface streets
  • Ignored the hotheads who wanted to speed around me
  • Did better about leaving early for appointments so I could drive more efficiently
  • Opened car windows in warm weather at speeds below 45 MPH rather than using air conditioning

2009 Intentions

Things that are calling to me for 2009, in no particular order:
  • learn to bake bagels
  • record the next CD
  • finish the garden fence and arbor
  • plant lots of flowers and veggies, and enjoy them
  • get a first draft of the writing project done
  • be healthy
  • bake lots of bread and desserts (not mutually exclusive with the previous item)
  • have adventures
  • sit and do nothing more
  • sing and play
  • make stuff
  • read
  • listen
  • digest
  • live in gratitude
  • love and do good where I can
  • love and let go where I can't
  • breath
  • continue to reduce my ecological footprint through ECO ACTIONS

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Little New Year's Things 2009

Happy New Year to all!

Here are a few ways I've marked the ringing out of the old year, ringing in of the new:
  • In anticipation of Spring, the first seed catalogs began to arrive on Tuesday.  I've started marking things I'd like to grow this year.
  • A blanket of snow wrapped up the end of 2008, falling all day.  We worked together to keep the woodstove going.
  • Baked apple brownies and oatmeal raisin cookies while the snow fell
  • Continued with the studio reorganization
  • Took time to reflection together about the best parts of 2008 and things to look forward to in 2009
  • Celebrated with a toast of locally grown sparkling cider and a SciFi movie night at home