Loaf #3 from the no-knead series! I’ve substituted the majority of the water in the recipe for strong dill pickle juice, and then added a couple of teaspoons of fennel seeds as well. I love a good crusty bread just plain of course, but this added flavour version would be the perfect loaf for a sandwich. Who doesn’t love dill pickles?
The past few weeks have been spent playing with my budget and finding new ways to both save money and really just minimize in general. A lot of years ago when I first started packing up and moving all over the place (4 times now!) I got a gift from my Mom as a bit of a mantra reminder: a wooden carving of the word Simplify. This word to me is a way of reminding myself to stay minimalistic. I’ve now got it tattooed onto the inside of my right arm so it’s hard to avoid it’s nagging. In the last couple of years I feel I haven’t done so well at keeping life minimalistic. Once you settle down in a city again and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon, you start to fight the old dreaded accumulation. The worst! You don’t even notice it’s happening, especially if you’re a fabulous organizer such as I (really, I am!). But organizing is just another way of making excuses for your continued consumption. We organize and re-organize and make room for more. Cram it all into the nooks and crannies. And there are so many nooks and crannies!
My first minimizing project to tackle was weekly food planning and trying to lessen both the amount of money spend on groceries and time spent doing the physical shopping. I hoped to save at least 30% of the cash I usually spend on groceries but without sacrificing meal deliciousness or healthfulness. And guess what? That goal was reached, surpassed in fact, and it wasn’t even very hard! All it took was a little extra effort in the planning department, and all of a sudden half my budget is still sitting in my wallet screaming “yo! let’s buy a coffee, man!”.
So, now that that’s been settled and we’ve spent several successful weeks eating delicious meals for half the price and only going to the store once or twice – it’s time to tackle the next area: the closet. My clothing. Now, I’m not a massive spender when it comes to clothing. I do love quality items but in recent years I haven’t been able to bring myself to spend the bigger bucks on those pieces, and I don’t spend several hundred bucks a month on the latest trends – but, I still have a tendency to slowly accumulate pieces I almost never wear. Three and a half years later and I’ve got a closet the size of a regular person’s (which is odd for me in recent years!) and most of the items I put on… I immediately take off again for one reason or another. Either they don’t fit quite right, they’re itchy, static ridden, they’re falling apart because they were cheap, or they’ve shrunk or stretched out. Why bother having a closet full of crap you hardly ever wear? Do you really care if the people you associate with see you wear the same thing more than once in a week? I know I don’t, because I do it on a regular basis already! Instead of accumulating ‘just in case’ outfits in the dark corners of your closet: try purchasing items made of higher quality fabrics that fit you just right, that happen to also be versatile so they can be worn with most other items in your closet. Then throw away EVERYTHING ELSE.
That’s where I’m at this week. If you really look at what you have, you’ll probably notice there are a few key things you’ve “had forever”. The pieces you always wear that just keep on lasting. Those are the kind of pieces you should buy. The only pieces. But the mistake I seem to have made in the past which has led me to the “I don’t have anything to wear” roadblock – is impulse buying. You buy this item or that because it’s on sale and looks “nice”. Then later you realize that top/bottom doesn’t really look so great with any of the other tops/bottoms you have at home, and… BOOM! *Back of the closet it goes*
Just like the meal preparation and grocery shopping: plan, plan, plan. Know what you want or need. Know what works well together. Know what you love to eat (or wear!). Then plan for it and stick to it. Create a meal plan, buy the groceries, then cook those meals all week. Don’t change your mind and decide to make spaghetti when you’ve got the ingredients for chowmein! Create a wardrobe plan, know what makes you happy, buy those items, then wear those outfits. Don’t change your mind and decide you want to wear some new trend when you know it’s going to sit at the back of your closet after one use!
It’s really all the same principle. Minimize. Simplify. You’ll save money and not fear you’re becoming a hoarder!
In my life at least – I’ve always needed to be ready on a whim to pack up and move somewhere else, which obviously means living light. It’s not really that I feel I should stay in this habit, so much as I want to. I enjoy the feeling of lightness and clarity that comes with having less, but it takes serious effort to stay in that mind frame when you’re living regular day to day life. A serious effort to steer clear of the consumer temptations we face on a daily basis.
Today I am using up a big fat jar or leftover pickle juice (don’t throw it down the drain!) and making another loaf of no knead bread. A good way to use up some leftovers, and prepare an item I can incorporate into our meals for the next day or two. This recipe needs to be started the night before so the dough can rest (and so you don’t have to do any kneading), but it’s nearly zero effort, I promise you. The tastiest and easiest bread you’ll ever make. Once the bread’s all finished up it’s time to hit the closet once more! I’ve downsized by almost 50% so far, but hope to gut it down another 25% today. Wish me luck. Once I know what’s left still fitting – I will replace a few things that don’t fit anymore which were pieces I loved (*sob*). This concept is called having a capsule wardrobe if you’re not familiar. You can check out sites like Into Mind, Un Fancy, and The Every Girl. They are a great starting off point.
And don’t forget, as with any minimizing you might be doing, whether it’s meal planning or closet gutting – there’s no rules. Just keep minimizing until it feels right for you.
Pickle Juice No Knead Bread
3 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp dry instant yeast
1+1/2 tsp salt
1+1/4 cups warm or room temperature dill pickle juice! (plus 3 or 4 TB if the dough looks to0 dry)
1/4 cup warm water to dissolve the yeast.
-Blend together the yeast with the warm water and stir to dissolve.
– Whisk together the salt, fennel seeds, and flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water with the yeast and the pickle juice, and stir together with a wooden spoon or spatula until the dough resembles a shaggy, sticky mass. I actually used my hands.
-If the dough doesn’t come together enough at this point and there’s a lot of flour left unincorporated at the bottom of the bowl: add the other 3 or 4 TB of pickle juice or water and just squeeze the dough together a bit so that it’s a nice chunky mess, but without any flour in the bottom of the bowl.
-Cover well, and leave at room temperature overnight, at least 12 hours.
-Dust a countertop with flour and dump out the dough onto it. Flour your hands and grabbing the dough along one side; fold it over itself two or three times, cover again (with a floured towel or large bowl) and rest another 15 minutes.
-Dust your hands with flour again and carefully shape the mass of dough into a round ball, and with the seam side down place the mass onto another flour and/or cornmeal covered towel. Cover it with the original towel and rest at warm room temperature for an additional and final 2 hours.
-30 minutes before the end of your final resting of the dough; preheat your oven to 450F with a 3.5-5L dutch oven inside.
-Carefully lift the dough off of the towel, trying not to deflate it, and place it in the preheated dutch oven seam side up. Having the seam side up allows for a natural line of venting for the moisture to escape from the loaf during baking.
-Bake at 450F for 30 minutes with the lid on. After 30 minutes remove the lid and continue to bake for an additional 20-30 minutes. I baked mine for 1 hour total to get a nice dark crust.
-Remove the loaf from the oven and place onto a wire rack for 1-2 hours to cool before cutting. Do not cut into the loaf before it’s completely cooled, the crumb inside needs time to set up.
Note! – If your dutch oven does not have a stainless steel handle on it’s lid, be sure to remove it due to the high oven temperature. You can double check the heat rating of your dutch oven handle online if you’re not sure. Stuff a small piece of tinfoil into the hole to prevent steam from escaping during baking.