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Category Archives: DIY

Easy Sourdough Bread for the Smaller Family – Part 2

As stated previously, most Sourdough Starter and Bread recipes I’ve seen are far too big for my family and/or my dough kneading equipment.  So I revised and tweaked the Nourishing Traditions Sourdough Starter and Bread recipes for manageability and success.



2 cups Sourdough Starter

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

3 Tbsp warm spring or other clean water (not distilled or ozonated or anything weird)

1 Tbsp raw sugar (I use palm sugar, do not use honey)

1/4 tsp sea salt

3 – 4 more cups of flour.  For a denser loaf use whole wheat, rye or spelt etc.  for a lighter fluffier loaf use unbleached white flour


Throw everything except the flour into the mixer, blend for 1 min.

add 1 c. flour and blend for 3 min

now switch out to your dough hook  or start stirring with a wooden spoon and start adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until you reach a solid dough.  This dough will be more sticky than other bread doughs.  just as long as it’s not runny.  Most of the time I don’t use all of the 4 cups of flour as it just makes the dough way too stiff.   You want it to be workable.   If using a dough hook, let knead for 7 min. adding flour a Tbsp at a time if necessary.  If stirring by hand turn the dough out onto a floured surface and start kneading adding bits of flour everytime the dough gets too sticky.  Knead for about 10 min by hand.


Then form into a loaf and place in a well greased loaf pan.    here’s where it gets hard to say what’s going to happen.

It takes my dough 2-3 hours to rise to a nice poof above the loaf pan.  Next time I do it I’ll have to take a picture.


Bake at about 350 for 40 – 50 min depending on density and crunchiness desire 😉


How it looks when you put it in the bread pan.  As you can see it’s stiff like dough, but a bit looser than regular bread dough.


In this picture you can see I proof (rising) the dough in my oven with the light on for warmth, and a pan of hot tap water under it for moisture.  This is after it’s been rising for about an hour or so.



This is a picture of after it’s been rising for 2-3 hours.  It has more than doubled in size and I think it’s time to turn the oven on!  I just leave it in the oven while it preheats, and i leave the pan of water in there too as it creates steam and a lovely crusty top.


Here is the final product!  Yum.  As you can see, the family has already been at it 😉  The crumb (texture) is a lot larger than a regular two rise, added yeast, bread.  It’s got a lovely chewy-ish texture and that nice sour tang you expect from sourdough.  The older your starter (don’t forget to keep feeding your starter! ) the more you will detect more and better sourdough flavour.



well, I hope that helps, please post any questions in the comment section.


Easy Sourdough Starter and Bread- Part 1

Easy Sourdough Starter for smaller families


Usually the sourdough recipes I see are huge and make enough starter to make bread for an army.  So I’ve revised a Nourishing Traditions recipe to make smaller amounts, with a few tweaks to ensure ease and success along the way.


a bag of light or dark rye flour, the fresher the better.

clean water (if you have chlorinated tap water let it sit out for 24 hrs before using it to prepare your starter, or just buy natural spring water)


seriously, that’s it.

in a metal or glass bowl

1/2 c. rye flour

1/2 c. water



do this every day for 7 days


add another 1/2 c. rye flour and another 1/2 c. water and stir

If at anytime your mixture gets more thick than soupy and runny, add a bit more water.

This activates natural yeasts that are present on every plant, fruit and in the air.  Rye flour has the least amount of some scientific thingy that I can’t spell so it’s better for the yeasts.

Use a new bowl as often as every day, but I don’t bother, I just use a new bowl every week and scrape down the sides with a spatula every day.


In this picture of my starter you can see the bubbles forming as the natural yeasts are activated.



Going away for a bit?  No problem.  Just put your starter in sealed jars in the refrigerator and resume feeding it and baking with it when you come home as usual.


Stay tuned for many recipes that use this sourdough starter.

Satisfying? yes. Picturesque? no.

Many of the things I’ve learned over the years had a romantic haze of Ingalls/Wilder fog obscuring the reality of the thing.   I read and dreamed about a pioneer life and thinking how wonderful it would have been to live on this continent when things were untainted and undeveloped.   Each time I learn a new thing I realize that it was a pile of non-stop hard work (which I knew in theory) the resources of energy and the drive of need just aren’t there to sustain.  I think we have devolved from these strong minded women who did what needed to be done with no other options to ones who run to the store for a frozen pizza when we just don’t feel like cooking.   I’m not saying that’s wrong, I’m just saying that it’s a far cry from our pioneer and immigrated ancestors.

Where did all our strength go?  Is it mostly in our thought process?  Our plethora of inundating paralyzing yet useless information and news?  Too many issues and not enough real life?

Anyway, this post started because I’m rendering pig fat into lard.   While most of you might think “YUCK”  I had a rosy wholesome glow in my mind about it.   It hasn’t been hard work, but it’s not been a “have to” it’s only been a “want to”.  I’m thinking about the women who HAD to to this in order to have soap to wash their family and their clothes, house, dishes.  They didn’t have the luxury of running to the store for detergents and/or even handmade artisan goats milk soaps that smell so lovely.   They had a pig, fed it the slops, and used every part of it in the fall when they butchered it.   They didn’t even buy feed.   Sometimes they would just let it go in the woods and eventually find it in the fall.  But if they couldn’t find it, they were out their lard for soap, and much of their fat for cooking.

With the lack of fridges, freezers and trucks making daily trips from Mexico and California, the fat was a very, very important and necessary source of calories, vitamins and minerals.   There’s a passage in Farley Mowat’s  “People of the Deer” where one of the guys is so sick from eating so much lean meat (ie. NO FAT as there was nothing for the elk and rabbits to eat except twigs) and no veg that the only thing that helps him is to drink a pound of melted butter or lard ( I can’t rightly remember).  The settlers had to have that fat to survive.  We have no such feeling of need.   Well, I don’t anyway.  My need is mitigated by the ease of running to the store.

While I love all of this pioneer, make-it-from-scratch, do-it-yourself stuff, sometimes it’s just not pretty and romantic (okay, 90 % of the time it’s really not romantic and pretty).  I’m driven to learn it though, so I keep trying.

so, here’s a pot of rendering pig fat… nice hey?


Cherry Season

nothing more luxurious than having SCADS of cherries at your disposal, for free.

until you have to pit them all 😉

any hints?  any recipes?

DIY Garden or Craft String Dispenser

If you are like me, you hate it when your twine or string jumps off it’s nice clean surface and finds the dirtiest corner to roll in when you are unraveling it in long lengths.  Or in the garden when you are tying up your vines it seems to always find the mud puddle to roll in.

So today I’m going to show you how I make my string dispensers that I can not dispense with or without *groan*

You will need:

A skein or ball of string or twine

A jar that your string fits into easily with a two part canning lid

mod podge or even white glue will work (not tacky glue)

a foam brush

a crop a dile big bite or other clean hole punching device (no burrs allowed)

a bit of fabric you love, a thin tip sharpie or other marker

a pair of fabric scissors

First trace the size of your canning lid insert onto the wrong side of your cloth and cut it out:

Generously coat your canning lid insert with your glue of choice:

And then place your circle of fabric over the canning lid insert and press it down with your gluey foam brush to get it all gluey and stuck.

The edges might be a bit of a challenge to get completely stuck down but, not to worry too much as the edges will be hidden by your canning jar ring in the end anyway.

let it dry for at least 30 minutes, and then punch your hole(s) in the fabric covered canning jar lid.  The key here is to not make your hole too much bigger than the string or it will always fall back down into the jar making it annoying to retrieve it every time.  For bakers twine I use a 1/8″ hole and for jute I use a 3/16″ hole.

String your thread through from the bottom of the canning jar insert

insert your string into the jar, place the insert on and tighten the ring… VOILA!

now you can get really creative!  use all kinds of different jar sizes and amounts of different string.  in one I have 4 different colors of twine wrapped around clothespins and 4 holes on the top … looks adorable, uses up the canning jar lid inserts you can’t reuse and is fun to make.

Thanks for reading!

If you would prefer to purchase instead of buying all the materials please contact me through either of my etsy shops noJOisaverage or 42things or through my Facebook Fanpage.

two things

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!



and super cute vintage pop bottle crate shelves.


Do it Yourself Backpacking Food

This is a lovely little recipe that I revised from “Simple Foods for the Pack” byClaudia Axcell, Diana Cooke and Vikki Kinmont.

“This is a great dish or, for a complete meal, serve it with cheese and pocket bread.”

1 c. quinoa

2 T dried onion flakes

2 T yellow curry powder

1 chicken bouillon cube or equivalent powder or my fav. “better than bouillon”

1 t garlic granules or 1/2 t garlic powder

6-8 sundried tomatoes chopped

At Home: combine all ingredients in a ziplock bag.  Write on the bag your in camp instructions.

At Camp: Empty contents of the bag into your pot, add 2 c. water and simmer for 12-15 min until all the water is absorbed.  Let sit for 2-3 min.  stir and serve.  This recipe serves two.


MEC.ca \

Pot assembly, stove and tank available at MEC.ca

I recommend a dash of salt over the bowlful of food 🙂


>Run out of Shampoo?

>No worries.  Here’s a very simple, cheap alternative to shampoo made from something everyone probably has in their home and works like a charm.

1 Tbsp Baking Soda
1 cup warm water

dissolve baking soda in water

Pour on the roots of your hair and scrub with your finger tips for a few seconds.

Do not use more baking soda, if you have a lot of hair, like me, you can just up the water, not the baking soda.

rinse well.

use a tiny bit of conditioner.

My hair looks awesome today!  No shampoo!  Squeaky clean.  amazing.

I should also shout out the awesome conditioner purchased here: Maplecreeksoap

>Soap Adventures

>I’ve wanted to make soap for a LONG time.  I even bought a large container of lye at my local hardware store about 4 years ago.  It seemed daunting and I was intimidated by measuring stuff so carefully.  And what if I wasted a litre of precious fats???  NO! 

So, what changed my mind you ask?  I visited my friend Ashley down in Calgary where she was touting the fabulousness of her own homemade laundry soap.  (see her blog about it here:  Cleaning ‘Eco-logi-nomically’ don’t worry, she’s a clever and interesting writer)  Having made my own laundry detergent in the past, that sucked, I stated that with my water I’m sure it’s just not gonna happen for me.  She then proceeded to tell me about castile soap, which among it’s many virtues, apparently does not leave any residue and that I should try again with castile soap. 

In our discussions I discovered that traditionally castile soap uses ONLY olive oil as it’s fat.  Nowadays the term has been diluted to also include other vegetable fat sources.  But learning more about it I was again inspired.  I had all the ingredients at home already and I was going to try as soon as I could. 

Thinking that since I didn’t want to go the “weighing carefully” route, I looked and found a recipe with cup measurements!  YAY! 

It was so fun!  It worked!  I stirred for an hour!  I felt so old-worldly and connected to my ancestors.  I patiently waited exactly 48 hours to check on my soap in it’s cozy mold wrapped in towels.  I looked.  It was gorgeous!  A creamy yellow colour.  I cut into it… it was soft as custard.  WHAT??? what went wrong?  (stop laughing all you pro-soapers) 

That was when I decided to get a little more serious about it and asked for advice on several forums that I could find.  They were all so kind and gracious to me even though they had probably said this a million time to many other naive, silly people like me.  “Always run your WEIGHTS through a lye calculator and RUN RUN away from any recipe that uses cup measurements” 

Some of those nice folks said I may be able to fix it if I weighed all my ingredients again and then ran it through the lye calculator.  After I weighed it I found that the recipe had told me to use nearly 3x the lye that I would have needed for that amount of fat.  Yikes!  And the recipe had also said that the soap was good to use immediately.  Good thing we didn’t or our skin would have burned off! 

On a different forum a lovely person helped me with how much other fats I could add if I grated the existing soap and rebatched it.  In following her advice I came up with a batch of soap that looks like this.  Not bad…especially considering they won’t burn my skin off once they are cured.

Before the advice I found a stick blender and a proper scale at a thrift store and decided to try a proper recipe, with weights and everything.  That batch turned out beautifully and I get to use it in a few weeks.

Also in the meantime I found a really cool recipe for liquid laundry soap.  Well, it turned out not liquid so much as a scoopable thick cream.  But it works quite well if I use 1/2 c. vinegar in the rinse load.  With our hard water I need the vinegar to get rid of the soap scum.

So that’s that.  It’s been fun.  And now I know why people say making soap is addictive 🙂