Bread Making

So my ingenious friends bought me a bread maker machine a few months back and I have been making really good use of it. My boys love the bread from the bread machine and they could easily finish a loaf within 2 days. I don’t really eat them because I am on a low gluten diet but the boys eat them for breakfast and they bring them to school for snacks.

Before this, I have been contemplating whether to get a bread maker but I was worried that it would be cumbersome to use and the bread wouldn’t turn out nice and I would end up with another white elephant in the kitchen.

I fret about what bread to buy. You know how being a mother (and aging) makes one conscious about what goes into her food. I read my food labels and I try to avoid food that contains ingredients that I can’t pronounce. You find plenty of those on the packaging of bread you get off-the-shelf.

The bread maker is one of my most frequently used kitchen appliances now and it’s good that I know exactly what goes into my bread. I wish someone told me earlier that every family who eats bread should own one, much like every family who eats rice should own a rice cooker!

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To make your bread, load the ingredients, choose the type of bread you want, choose the size of bread, choose colour of your bread and press Start.

3 hours later … Voila!

The recipe book that came with the machine was great but I find the bread a little too dry. Apart from flour and yeast, the recipe called for water and vegetable oil. I talked to a friend who is experienced in bread making and she recommended Brioche which is essentially a French pastry made in the same way as bread.

The recipe for Brioche uses milk and butter in replacement of water and vegetable oil and the final product turns out to be richer and lighter. I love it so much that I now use it as my basic recipe for different bread.

I throw in chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, oat, nuts or seeds to vary the flavour. All it takes is a couple of minutes to gather the ingredients, press a few buttons and the machine will do the magic!

Here’s my friend’s recipe for the Brioche.
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
70g butter
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1.5 teaspoon yeast
2 cups 2 tablespoon high protein flour

For families with kids who are lactose intolerant, you can use 1 cup of water and 2.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil in replacement of butter and milk and 1 egg instead of 2 eggs.

If you use a bread maker, do share with me your recipe!

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Running Again

So my husband who is currently overseas had taken the liberty to register me for a half marathon before he flew off. The date is set in April, that is less than a month from now.

The last time I did a half marathon was about 2 years back. It was painful but crossing the finishing line gave me a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, unlike the kind you get from scrubbing 2 toilets and polishing the floor. I guess my husband got that figured out, thus he had been very enthusiastic in signing me up for running events. For a while, those were our regular dates where we would sneak out for weekend morning runs before the kids wake up.

Then few months after the last half marathon, I busted my knees during skiing. I was devastated and thought I wouldn’t be able to run again. My husband however thought otherwise, he assured me that I would hit the track in no time and manage a 21km soon.

I still cannot fathom the kind of faith he has in me. Perhaps it was his way of comforting and encouraging me but trust me, when your holiday had been cut short and you were on crutches and had to be wheeled onto the plane, that kind of encouragement didn’t quite work. It almost felt annoying to hear him go yadi yadi ya without having to bear the pain and think about taking the next step.

He’s been away for 2 weeks now and apart from holding down the fort, I have been training quite a bit for our upcoming run. This was what it looks like last week.

Monday – run 13 km

Tuesday – rollerblade 10 km

Wednesday – run 5 km

Thursday – 1.5 hour pilate lesson

Friday – cycle 42 km

Sat – rock climbing with kids

Sunday – rest

2 days ago, I did an impromptu long run.

I started off with 10 km in mind but by 8.30 am, the weather was still breezy and cloudy. It was a sunless morning, a rarity, the perfect kind of weather for running. Unfortunately I was also very ill prepared. I had just switched to a new phone and didn’t have my Runkeeper and music installed. Those were my necessities!

The stretch I would be running was deserted, with no water point and I didn’t carry any water with me. I have never attempted that kind of distance on my own, especially not without proper hydration, but on the other hand, I was feeling energetic and felt I could go on.

I text my girl friend and my husband, seeking advice on whether I should continue. Obviously, my husband was like ‘go for it, all stars are aligned!’ (see, he is my best cheerleader). My friend however thought I should turn back.

The text messages went back and forth a couple of minutes and I finally went ahead and completed 20 km that morning!

My thighs and calves hurt and my foot was so sore but it felt soooo good to push myself, and did more than what I set out to do. I came home and pampered myself with a good salt scrub, gulped down 3 glasses of those healthy green smoothie, took a nap and headed off to pick up the kids.

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Now I can’t wait for my husband to be back so that he can join me for a good run, hopefully by then I would be able to keep up with his pace!

 

 

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This entry was posted in Fitness.

How To Keep Our Children Safe

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Sometime ago, I was asked to write an article for a parenting magazine on how to keep our children safe in today’s world.

I was hesitant, because through the years, I have come to realise that being safe can mean very different things for different people / parents.

What is meant by safe? What do we want our children to be safe from? From hurting themselves? From other people? How safe do we want our children to be? Is avoiding risk the same as managing risk? Will avoiding risk make them less ready for the real world?

I think these questions alone are worth a couple of essays.

I remember how my ex-neighbour held back her child when she came over to my place and saw my toddler playing with a frying pan and spatula. The ones I used for cooking, the real stuff made of metal, no less.

No, we didn’t child proof our kitchen, in fact my toddler often hangs around in the kitchen when I cooked. He had a cabinet of his own with all his cooking tools so that he could cook along with me. The old frying pan and spatula were some of those tools.

When we first became parents and lived in our apartment on the 10th floor, my parents strongly urged us to install window grilles. We have since moved multiple times, staying at various high rise buildings, but we never installed window grilles for our home.

In the last 10 years, we have relocated our home for like half a dozen times? Both local and overseas and my boys grew up tinkering with real tools helping their Dad fixed up furnitures. When my elder boy was about 3, we bought him a craft hammer from Jo-Ann. He loved it so much and carried it everywhere he goes. He knew how to use it and he learned about things that would break and those that could withstand hammering. Needless to say, we got disapproving looks from strangers and even friends who thought it was too dangerous for a preschooler to be walking around with a hammer.

No, I am not a risk taker. When it comes to the physical aspects of raising my child, I often fall into the overprotective side. In fact I come from a family where falling down is not ok and safety has to come first and children are often too young to try anything ‘dangerous’.Because of that, letting my kids do dangerous things creates natural anxiety inside of me. But thankfully, I am married to a husband who believes that it’s never too early to start teaching our children how to manage the dangers in life. And we have come a long way since the day we hiked up Schilthorn and Eiger Trail.

Recently, my neighbour found out that I allowed my boys to play with fire. She was appalled. I struggled with whether to tell her that her son has been splurging on fire crackers and sparklers at the minimart near our place and has kept them in a ‘secret’ place so that she wouldn’t find out. She would probably ban her kid from coming over to my place if she found out about the blow dart my boys made using PVC pipe.

It’s often easier to lock away dangerous tools than to let our kids experiment under our supervision. Some of us will start very early with great caution and some risk. Others will wait until the risk has diminished and they have more confidence in their children.

I find it fascinating to watch a normally active and restless kid settle down, focus intently with a tool held in hand, determine to accomplish a given task. It’s amazing how kids given freedom learn their own limits, develop a sense of safety and respect for “dangerous” tools, objects and learn to trust their intuition and instincts.

‘Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet’ noted Helen Keller. Children need to find ways to cope with difficult situations; they need to learn that they can. Building character and emotional resiliency is a lot like developing a healthy immune system. We know that our children need to be exposed to a variety of bugs and viruses in life. Not only is it impossible to avoid, but this exposure is necessary in order to build up their own protective immunological front.

The skills that we need to be successful in the world aren’t entirely learned in a classroom. The most valuable lessons are learned through experiences both good and bad. Unfortunately, fear is also a normal part of the parenting experience.

When should we let go? How do we know they are ready to do it on their own? Should we stick around to watch them?

On top of our own fears, we sometime have to deal with judgement of other parents. ‘What! you let your kids play with fire?!’ The implied judgement in statements such as this is that I am an irresponsible or negligent parent.

Our parenting instincts can work for or against us. On one hand, only through our instincts will we ever know whether they are ready or not. On the other hand, our parenting instincts, in their rawest forms will prevent us from putting our children in a position where they could possibly get hurt.

If we think we have done our part to spend time with our children, to supervise them and teach them the skills to keep them safe, we should trust our instinct, take a deep breath, let go, watch them try, strive and grow.

 

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