A Year of Living Breadfully – #2 – Pizza

Pizza dough was the second item I decided to tackle for my “Year of Living Breadfully”. Now I have to admit I am not a huge pizza fan, and the choice to make pizza came mostly from the fact that we had a lot of cheese left over from the holiday season. A LOT of cheese (as in, we must have been expecting a world cheese shortage or something!).

For this dough I decided to do a quick internet search and go with the first recipe I had the ingredients for. It has been super cold here, so I had no interest in having to run out to the store. Luckily pizza is a pretty simple recipe, so it took no time to find a recipe that matched my pantry ingredients.

The recipe pizza recipe I used was found on http://www.ricardocuisine.com , and the recipe can be found by clicking HERE .

Below is a pictoral account of our pizza making.

blog-mixing-dough-2017_1640-aMixing.

blog-dough-2017_1656-aFresh dough from the mixer.

blog-dough-2017_1665-aDough ready to be stretched.

blog-2017_1690-aAdding toppings.

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The finished cheese pizza.


The recipe was simple, the crust tasted very nice, and we had a ton of leftovers for lunch the next day (bonus!). Another successful cooking session.

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Photography by Debra Hunter

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A Year of Living Breadfully – #1 – whole wheat bread

This year I decided to embark on a new kind of project, not a resolution, but rather an exploration. I have decided for 2017 to experience a year of living breadfully. By now you are probably wondering what I am talking about, and it is, quite simply, a year where I explore making different breads.

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The goal is to explore baking bread at least once a week, trying new flours, new recipes, or new ways to incorporate bread into our everyday eating. Bread has such a history, it has sustained civilizations for thousands of years, and it was actually through watching historical documentaries that the idea came to me to spend the year exploring this humble food.

Ironically, focusing on bread seems so contrary to modern society, a society that maligns “carbs” and puts “gluten-free” upon a pedestal. However anyone who has followed this blog knows very well that I don’t mind being contrary, so celebrating a food that sometimes receives negative attention seems apt.

I am looking forward to a year of the smell of freshly baked bread filling my home, a year of eating warm bread out of the oven, and having the chance to photograph some amazing loafs too.

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#1 Whole Wheat Bread

The first bread of the year is whole wheat bread. I tweaked a recipe that I have used for years, and it will probably be the basis for many of the loaves I make over the coming months. I used a combination of stone ground hard whole wheat flour and all purpose flour for this bread. We enjoyed the bread sliced for dinner along with butter, cured meats and cheese….and it was amazing.

For those who are interested, here is a list of the ingredients to make two loaves:

warm water – 2 cups
sugar – 2 tablespoons
yeast – 1 tablespoon

butter (melted) – 2 tablespoons
saltĀ  – 2 teaspoons

whole wheat flour (hard stone ground from Bulk Barn) – 3 cups
all purpose flour – 2 cups

(***bread was baked at 400F for 40 minutes)

Now I will be the first to admit I am not new to making bread, the first loaf I made was actually 26 years ago, with bread made at least once a month….so that is a lot of bread. What I have found is that bread making is actually much simpler than many people make it out to be. Making bread also is not that time consuming, but rather more about time management. So instead of detailed information about how to scientifically bake bread I will give a quick run down as to how I do it.

  • measure out two cups of warm water, stir in your sugar, sprinkle your yeast over the water and let it sit 5-10 minutes….whatever it takes to get all bubbly. While this is happening I usually go and do something else and come back to check on it.
  • once the water and yeast are all bubbly I add it to the bowl of my stand mixer (best purchase ever!), add in the melted butter, the salt, and two cups of the whole wheat flour. Turn on the mixer (bread hook attached) and let it work for a couple of minutes. This is a good time to check your email, or Instagram accounts.
  • after a few minutes add in 1 cup of whole wheat flour and let the mixer work for another minute or two. Then add in the first cup of all purpose flour and again let the mixer work it in.
  • with the final cup of flour add it in a bit at a time. Part of making bread comes down to the feel of the dough, you don’t want it to be too wet (sticky) or too dry (crumbly), so adding in the last cup of flour a bit at a time will allow you to monitor the dough to be the right squishy dough consistency. Sometimes you need less flour, sometimes you need more, just go off the feel of the dough.
  • once all the flour is added, and the dough seems right, I let the mixer work away for at least another 5 minutes. Another great opportunity to do something else while the mixer works.
  • now that the dough is ready, I remove the bowl from the mixer, take the dough out, spray the mixer bowl with oil or cooking spray, and put the dough back in. You can also rotate the dough in the bowl once so that the top of the dough is oiled.
  • I then cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let the dough sit. (Rotating the dough in the bowl so the top of the dough was oiled means the plastic wrap won’t stick to your dough once it has risen, making things much easier.)
  • usually I let the dough rise for 30 minutes to an hour. I usually line this time span up with going for a walk , doing errands or picking the kids up from school. I don’t need to be around for bread to rise….making bread is all about time management.
  • one thing to note is if your house is a little on the cool side, you can let the dough rise in your oven with just the light on. Sometimes that added warmth gets the yeast working and the bread rising.
  • once your dough has doubled in size (30 minutes to 1 hour later), I punch down the dough and shape the bread into loaves. For the loaves above I divided the dough in half, shaped each piece into a ball, placed the ball of dough on an oiled baking sheet, and flattened the ball
  • I then put the loaves on the baking sheets into the oven to rise a second time. This can again range 30 minutes to an hour. I usually pop it in, go do something, and then just check back later.
  • once the loaves have risen, I take them out of the oven, then turn the oven on, and bring it to temperature.
  • the loaves then go in to bake for about 25-40 minutes. This particular recipe was 40 minutes at 400F.
  • a ready loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom
  • when I bake bread I always rotate the position the bread is in the oven part way through, swapping bread on the higher rack for the bread on the lower one. Also, I never bake on the bottom rack….no one likes burnt bottoms on their loaf.

As I said, this is a rough idea as to how I personally bake bread. It is actually a stress free form of baking with lots of waiting times. Usually bread is baked to go with our supper, so I start around lunch time to have hot loaves to go with our evening meal. It is all about time management.


I think my project of “A Year of Living Breadfully” will be an interesting one, with so many types of bread to explore……and eat.

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The Living Room – before, after, and all dressed up

Recently we have been doing a bit of work on our home, with one of the biggest changes being made to our living room. 

(Furniture. pulled out getting ready to paint.)


We were needing to repaint the room, and though we liked the bold color we had before, we decided that maybe it would be fun to try something different. We went to the paint store with some colors in mind, but while there we also chose a few random swatches. The color we ended up choosing was not at all a color I ever would have dreamed of painting a living room, but we did as we wanted a complete change.

The first few hours, I have to admit, I wondered “what have I done?”. By the next morning the choice seemed better. A few days in, I loved the color.

(living room after)


Our living room had gone from bright to grown up. We still needed to add pillows, a carpet and art work, but the room was coming together.

With Thankgiving this weekend, we decided to dress up the room in the festive spirit. A few decorations, and the room was dressed for the holiday.


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The End Of An Era

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It’s gone. There isn’t much more to say. The cabin we loved for just shy of a decade is gone. It was lovely. It was where we spent our best time as a family. Babies learned to walk. The kids caught frogs. We saw fireflies, owls, and pelicans. But it couldn’t be saved.

An insurance fight of epic proportions. Being led on that it could be repaired. All to end with a bulldozer.

We put off going up to see the lot as long as we could. We could never have been prepared for the sadness. Seeing parts of our life broken in the dirt. Little toy cars, a mug handle, some spoons.

Our kids tried to play as if they were “at the cabin”, but it was gone. It was strange, we still owned the lot but it was dead. People have said to us “this is an opportunity”, it isn’t, we have lost a huge part of our life and a huge part of our family.

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What people don’t realize is you can’t rebuild memories. The cabin wasn’t a building it was a memory maker. None of us have the heart to try to rebuild on the lot. It will never be the same.

We knew our neighbour was interested in the lot, but no official offer had been made. On Friday we went to see what to do with the property. Do we sell, rebuild, camp? We tidied it up as best we could, weeded the flowerbed, trimmed back some saplings, but it was like dressing the dead for a burial.

We pretended it was normal. Took pictures of the trees. It was all wrong.

We did one last picture of the family, like we had done every year since buying the cabin. The kids are bigger, everyone smiled, but the cabin was gone. A family standing in front of nothing.

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What an ending. We remember what we had and it is so sad to see it gone.

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Our little cabin was lovely. It was home. It was family. It felt right. Nothing else will ever be the same.

Pretending all was normal, pretending all was fine, we took one last look at the lake.

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On Saturday we received the formal offer. The lot is being sold. It is a very sad end to an era.

Refinish and Renew – The Story Of Our Table

It seems like March has been a month of renewing, we’ve been reorganizing, refreshing, and basically eliminating a lot of the rubbish in our life.

Our dining table was one of these projects. Still sturdy and strong, and a style we quite liked, the table however was showing the effects of heavy family use. Hundreds of dinners, plus many hours of working and crafting and playing, had left scratches and dents across the table top. I figured we were at the point where we had nothing to lose and that perhaps it was worth attempting to refinish the table top.

blog refinish 1Before refinishing. A well loved and well used table.

blog refinish 2The point of no return. A good couple of hours were spent with the palm sander. This is where you wonder if you had made the right decision.

blog refinish 3Sawdust EVERYWHERE! I must research dust collection systems.

blog refinish 4Sanded and looking better already.

blog refinish 5Praying that the wiping stain matches. I held my breath through this stage and through the topcoat stage as well. It was my first experience with wiping stains and I was very impressed. I was also able to refinish a small portion of wood flooring ( a parquet floor quick fix that actually worked!) and a south facing window sill at the same time.

blog refinish 6The finished table. I was completely thrilled with the result. Twenty-five dollars and a bit of time and the table is literally as good as new…….or better…….I think the topcoat I used is better than the one originally on the table so hopefully this will take a lot more wear.

blog refinish 7And now to research the next project, the 1946 the table is sitting on. Only by the table is it worn, the rest of the floor is in great shape. Does anyone have any idea what the finish on the floor is? Shellac? Varnish? I am toying with just stripping and sanding individual boards and refinishing them. The way the boards are laid I think it will blend well ( I did a blending on the parquet floor and it worked). If anyone has any thoughts let me know.

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Summer

blog summer 3Strawberries picked from our garden.

blog summer 1Freshly painted buckets decorate the back deck.

blog summer 2Veggies are growing in beds and planters while the fence boards wait for a cooler day.

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Summer Diversion

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I must admit my blogs have been scarce recently. It seems there have been lots of diversions. One big diversion is we are fence building. Of course to build this fence we have to remove the current fence that has been in place for 69 years. Digging up posts. Untangling roots. Removing huge rocks . Heritage properties bring challenges. We even unearthed a very old brick; my guess is from the building of the chimney of the house next door 110 years ago. It sounds like a lot of work, but strangely we are enjoying it. We have no doubt that completing the fence could possibly take the whole summer, but there are certainly worse things to be doing than working out in the sunshine.

(By the way, the wonky two by fours above the fence are our neighbour’s handy work….. we take no responsibility for that construction!)