Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Clever Time Saving Tricks!

This is a busy time of year for me at work. Couple that with Holiday Cheer and Holiday Chores and that makes for one tired Mama. But I don't want to throw all my hard work out the window. In the last week I have discovered two things that make my life a little easier.

First off, I have trouble making my pizza crust on a week night because the crust needs to rise for an hour before baking the pizza. I have tried refrigerating it, and the result was kind of gummy and gross. This really gets me because pizza could be such a great weeknight meal. I could chop up all the veggies in the morning, and that night I could crumble the cheese (I have been using a chevre style cheese rather than mozzarella), dust with veggies and olives and voila! It would be dinner on the table in 20 minutes. But with no easy crust, how am I supposed to accomplish that??

So last Friday I tried making my Whole Wheat Pizza Crust (Haha-That was like post number 5 and I am STILL making that recipe!) before I walked out the door in the morning. I mixed up all the flour, yeast, honey oil and water and......I just let it sit on the counter. Anticlimactic, no?

Well, before now I was pretty scared to let food sit out all day. But now that I am more comfortable with cultured food, I know that letting the dough rise all day, rather than the hour called for by the recipe, will just make the yeast flavor more pronounced. DH asked me if the dough was twice the size as normal (he was working late and didn't get to eat it). It worked and I came home to a lovely pizza dough. Thing 1 helped me punch it down and roll it out. I am now getting them in the kitchen about three days a week to help with dinner, instead of just turning the TV on while I cook. Let's hope I can keep up with that. But long story short, the crust was good. It was easy and I will now include homemade pizza among my other weeknight meals.

And secondly, I made homemade beef bone broth in my crock pot. A while back when I made beef broth I did it on a week that our babysitter called out from work. I labored over the pot on the stove all day. I left it running, but fortunately it was a rainy day, so it was no problem to be inside with the kids. What would I do on a normal week?

This time I put my bones, veggies, herbs and vinegar in the crock pot before I went to bed and put it on a low 10-hour setting. The following morning before I left for work I unplugged the pot, then plugged it back in and started it on another 10 hour setting. That night after the kids went to bed I strained all the veggies, squeezed out every last drop of stock that I could get and refrigerated it overnight. The following morning I took the tallow off the top and boiled it down, froze it into cubes. Looking back at the week, I don't feel that I worked especially hard for this bone broth. I didn't wake up extra early to do it. I had the time to get it done. It wasn't especially hard.

I am thrilled that both of these things worked. I am always happy to find neat clean and orderly ways that I can pay attention to my health without having my life revolve around food preparation. It already does to a certain extent, so as I add each new thing, I need to find more balance. I never though I would be the kind of person that makes their own stock, and yet here I am. I don't buy bouillon anymore. Not to mention the fact that half the reson I make the broth is for the tallow, which I fry alot of things in now. Using the tallow is so much better for anything beef, plus I know it can handle high heat frying. I feel like I am getting it for free!

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