Catching Bees & Baking Challah

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 9.46.55 amScreen Shot 2017-09-13 at 9.47.29 amScreen Shot 2017-09-13 at 9.48.22 amScreen Shot 2017-09-13 at 9.48.56 amI’m going to give myself a big pat on the back here – for I wasn’t sure if I could do either these things before I gave them a try.

First I baked my first two loaves of challah bread.  They turned out wonderfully.  The best part about challah left overs – are the epic french toast that can be made the next morning.  I froze one loaf so Mike can enjoy some with us while he’s home too.

I used to work in the financial district of Toronto, and beneath this section of this city lay an underground network of cafes shops and passageways for workers to move between buildings without being exposed to the cold weather.  It is truly an ingenious system.  But I digress – what I found down there was a small bakery beneath my office that sold the most delicious challah buns.  They were golden yellow and would melt in your mouth in only a couple of bites.  They were a huge treat, and since I’ve left the city have not seen any where that sells these special pastries.  So, after what seems like now a decade I’m taking my challah love into my own hands and making it myself.  It’s surprisingly easy to make.  If you’re keen to try making them at home yourself – here’s the challah recipe I used.  I would love to show you a photo but sadly my camera is still broken – but I’ll be making these again and will endeavour to show you the results.

The other was briefly touched on a few posts back.

Bee capturing!  Mike talked me through it over the phone, and assured me I was safely protected by a bee suit.  The bees were full of honey and wouldn’t be able to sting.  Ok, I’m in!  That thrill of trying something new and scary was so rewarding.  We now have a second happy little hive!

They had been swarming on a branch in the yard so I put on the suit and placed a box underneath the swarm.  Then gently moved the branch to drop 70% of the bees into it and close it off.  You basically have to pray you caught the queen, otherwise they will just walk out and fly back to her.  My first attempt looked successful, but a few hours later I found them all back on the branch.  I gave it one more shot and woke the next morning to discover they were all happy and warm inside.  Moving beyond my fear of being stung, I knew it would make Mike really happy if I tried – so there it is, success!

What a week…

Tuesday a long time friend (my lovely, beautiful, Australian Emily) was due to stay with us for several days throughout mid week.  I began the day of her arrival with a headache.  Things quickly took a dive and became a living nightmare.  If I could explain the feeling…

“Someone’s punched the back of my eyeballs, the retinas burn in lights, and on top of that a splitting pain sharp and erratic from the base of my skull to the crown of my head”.

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Here I am laying in bed in my misery…hahah. 

I sat through a meeting with my eyes closed periodically for half of it…and had to keep taking deep breaths throughout the day to prevent myself from vomiting (hindsight: should not have gone to work).

I was at work for half a day before I succumbed and took my leave to head home and hide from daylight.  I’m on medicine to cure (hopefully) my lovely friend “mr stomach ulcer”.  He’s back again this year…  I’m not pleased, because this medicine causes these headaches…which can be quite severe and have sent me to the hospital previously.

Grrrr….

Anyway, it was hard my first day with Emily as I was very ill well into the evening.  Things improved the next day, thankfully thought I still was feeling a degree of pain.

I’m sooo so so so pleased we got to spend some time with my dear friend.  While I was working for the rest of her visit Mike made sure she got to see local sights. Our last night we played the latest game of Mortal Kombat for a few hours (I think?) and couldn’t stop laughing.  You can play headless or armless…which makes for a comical battle!

Well, I was bummed to see her leave on Friday morning.  We’ve planned to fly over to Melbourne to see her very soon!

The one thing that has lingered on since Tuesday, is this crappy headache.  I’ve woken up to day 5 of dull achy head pain.  I want to shake my fist at the happy brain gods and force them to give my my happy brain back!

It’s such a shame that medicine that’s meant to make you well, has side effects that can certainly make you feel worse than when you started…

Even though I’ve got a bit of a bad head, it’s raining buckets out today (Saturday), and I’ve decided to change things up and get creative by… baking!

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I’ve just improvised with some ingredients, and made what I’m hoping has turned out to be a slightly exotic apple crumble… with coconut, almonds, brown sugar, dried fruits (apricot, currants, raisins) and coriander (in place of cinnamon as my lover does detest that spice!)  It’s a nice comfort to sense the butter and sugar and spice baking warm as it disperses the beautiful smell throughout the house!

Lastly, I thought I’d ad another dish that I made recently (I ate it at a cafe and loved it!)… ground chicken, coriander, crisp peanuts, carrot, leafy lettuce, red cabbage, avocado, sesame oil and lime with balsamic dressing.Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 3.24.50 PM

Cling-wrap begone!

You could use that term in a rather humorous way if you found your partner to be particularly clingy…however, I’m quite pleased to say I’m using the term very literally.

Several weeks ago I was lured to a website called: www.abeego.com

I’m not sure if it was fate, random clicking, a shared interest in sustainability, or all of the above that led me to discover their environmentally friendly food storage options.  I contacted the owners with a few questions and immediately had a response.  Here is what I learned:

  • The product is strong, and is 100% biodegradable
  • Lasts up to 1 year, then you can chuck it straight into the compost
  • Is all natural, made of beeswax and a blend of organic cotton and hemp  fabric
  • Easy to care for: hand wash with cold water and environmentally sound soap for reuse
  • There are multiple sizes for a variety of uses, so essentially nothing is too big to cover!

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As soon as I received some samples last week, I tore the package open and held the waxed hemp fabric in my hands.  It is lovely to behold, and has a distinct smell of beeswax that is actually quite pleasant.  Mike was home when I opened the goods and so he too was handling and smelling the product.

Immediately I took a piece and wrapped some fresh mozzarella in it.  I also took a chunk of onion, and zucchini and wrapped them separately.

Throughout the week, I’ve used these items while cooking and here is what I’ve found:

  • My mozzarella has retained it’s perfect scent and moisture…absolutely no issues there.
  • My zucchini was still very moist and mould free where as the piece I left unsealed in the fridge was mouldy and dry.
  • The potent onion, also retained it’s moisture and scent.
  • None of these items smelled like beeswax, even the delicate mozzarella.
  • Even more impressive, the stinky onion did not fuze it’s strong odour to the fabric.
  • It was very easy to wrap and unwrap the items.  I am the worlds least fussy gift wrapper, and this product does it’s job even if you don’t make it look pretty.

I am really excited to stop using plastic to wrap our food, and feel really good that we’ve got a product here that we can use again and again…I’ve got peace of mind knowing it’s not going to harm the environment when we’re through using it.  In fact it will give back.  I’ll be ordering some large sheets in the very near future.

Many thanks to Abeego for creating such a thoughtful product!

If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about how much we use and waste as a society, please take a look at this really helpful video:

See if it doesn’t worry you…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GorqroigqM

Portraits of The Mob.

Poor guy (Jobey) was walking around with this in his ear all afternoon.

I did some baking this morning, and managed to pop out a decent loaf of bread.  Then upped the ante and baked a second loaf with walnuts and a little bit more sugar in it!  Both are equally delicious.  While baking I suggested to Mike that we should try and only bake our own bread from here on in.  1. It’s cheaper.  2. It’s actually fun!  3. It tastes better.

ps: new images are also up on the ol’ website (www.redterrain.com)