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Posts tagged ‘pan’

If there is one thing that makes me happy, it is finding ways to simplify my life. One of those ways is using parchment paper.

Maybe you’ve seen it in the store next to the aluminum foil. Maybe you’ve even used it to bake cookies. But I’ve found several uses for parchment paper beyond the obvious use of lining my cookie sheets to cut back on oil and save scrubbing later.

In fact, the thing that motivated me to first purchase it was not for baking cookies. It was for making lasagna.

Lasagna?

Yes, lasagna.

Let me explain.

When making a lasagna, you are supposed to bake it covered. But unless you have a glass or metal lid for your casserole dish, you probably just use aluminum foil. But there is a problem. The acid in the tomato sauce eats at the foil. So unless you use a really deep dish or make a shallow lasagna, you need something to protect the foil.

I worked for a couple of months in a cafeteria, and I learned that they would cover the pans with plastic wrap before adding the foil. This effectively protected the foil, and it wasn’t hard to remove later.

So I did that. Until my husband pointed out that the hot plastic was probably just as bad as the aluminum.

This left me with few options. Until one day I had the brilliant idea of using parchment paper! I cut it to fit the top of the pan and covered it with foil, and presto, problem solved!

Of course, I started using the parchment paper to line my cookie sheets, and was pleased that I didn’t need to use the oil spray that my husband didn’t really like me using in the first place. I wasn’t so worried about cutting back on the little bit of fat, but those sprays are actually not good for you, being processed and refined and mixed with aerosol.

I also discovered that recipes for kale chips say to line the baking sheet with parchment paper. After making them, I can see why. Oh, and if you haven’t ever had kale chips, get some kale and make some! They are delicious. Even my son likes them! Too bad he is allergic to kale.

Here’s another use for parchment paper. I like making my soy souffle once or twice a month, but it is always a bear to clean the pan afterwards. Greasing the pan does nothing. It sticks something fierce, and no amount of soaking will make any difference in the amount of elbow grease required to remove it. And I hate scrubbing and scrubbing.

So I got creative. I decided to try lining my baking dish with parchment paper.

And you know what? It worked! Yup, by cutting the paper to fit and creasing it a little, I was able to make it sit in the pan while I poured in the batter. Then I baked it as usual. The result? I still have to wash the pan, but it takes about as much time as it does to wash a plate or bowl. See?

Now, I probably won’t line all my casserole dishes with parchment paper for every use. But of course, most casseroles don’t stick half as badly as my soy souffle.

Have you ever tried parchment paper? Have you found any creative uses for it? Please share!

 

This post is participating in the link-ups at The Modest Mom and Works for me Wednesday.

Well, about a week ago I decided to make rye sourdough. I found a very simple sourdough starter recipe, and after about a dozen exchanges of emails with the author of that site, I came up with a starter that I had to refrigerate last Thursday because Manny had a doctor’s appointment Friday morning and I knew I wouldn’t have time to work on it.

Without going into all the details of exactly what I did (just read the instructions in the link above if you want to know), I mixed up more flour and water and a little salt with a portion of the starter that I had revived by doubling it, kneeded a bit (which was hard, because it was a VERY stiff dough), then divided it into roughly half. You see, I wanted to compare how it would look and turn out in a round loaf verses a bread pan. Half went into the bread pan and half onto a cookie sheet (I would have used a clay stone or pizza stone if I’d had one).

About 3 hours later it had risen a little, but it was almost 9:00 pm, so I gave up and baked it for half an hour. Knife inserted in the middle came out clean, so I knew it was done inside. The round loaf came off the sheet right away, but the one in the greased glass bread pan didn’t want to come out right away. I had to let it sit a few minutes before it would release without sticking too much (in spite of all the oil I smeared the pan with before putting in the dough).

Oh, you want to see pictures? But of course! This first one shows a bird’s-eye view of the two loaves, plus a portion of the 100% rye bread I made a few days ago (yeast-risen–this recipe). The pan I used to bake both that and the sourdough to the right is on the far right.

Top View - Middle loaf is not sourdough

This picture shows the sides of the three loaves, with the bread pan in the back for size comparison. The funny edges on the top of the middle one are because it overflowed the pan and I had to break those pieces off, so it looks a little funny. It was a 4-cup loaf of bread, but surprisingly rose well–melting butter soaks through because it is so light, comparatively. I’m not exactly sure how much flour went into the other two loaves in cups–it was somewhere around 700 grams, if that means anything.

Side Views - Sorry, but I ate them before I got the camera!

Now, for crumb views. Sorry the flash makes it so bright, but I don’t have optimal lighting nor a fancy camera, and I was too much in a hurry to dig up the tripod. Click on pictures to enlarge.

As you can see, the first two, the sourdoughs, didn’t rise much, but they did rise some. The last one was yeast risen and really rises a lot. It has a very wet dough, too wet to kneed, but very stiff to stir (which is what you are supposed to do with it anyway). I should try baking it in my bread machine pan sometime, just to see how much it will actually rise (because it likes to overflow the glass bread pan, which is much shorter). I couldn’t possibly kneed it in the bread machine, though!

Yes, I didn’t get pictures of the loaves before cutting. Why? I was hungry. I had baked it the night before and taken it out too late to eat any. So as soon as breakfast rolled around, I ate several slices. Yummy! It has a nice sour taste that reminds me of the kefir bread I made over 2 years ago. It’s even better toasted. It’s been a long time in coming, but now that I have a working starter, I can keep working with it, so I can make all the sourdough I want. Yay! Whole grain and wheat free.

Now if I can just get it to rise a bit more… But if not, I can use the yeast rye bread for sandwiches and this for, well, all other bread cravings. Wonder if it would go over well at potluck once I perfect the recipe… which means getting a better scale that weighs in at least¬†5 gram increments and is more accurate than the one I have (which could be off by as much as 20 grams or more).

Yeah, making bread by weight is a whole new level of breadmaking. But I like it. It means I don’t have to worry about having or doubling a recipe–because weights are accurate–if the scale is.

Okay, enough. Go make a starter. Or come visit and I’ll share a slice with you. If there is any left!

Yesterday was not a good day. At least, that’s how it started out.

First off, I woke up late. Not terribly late, mind you. Probably only an hour late. But on a Friday, that’s just asking for trouble. Sundown shows up at the scheduled time no matter what time I rose in the morning.

Not to mention that I have been making a commitment to spend time with God each morning. Now, if I get up early, that isn’t so hard. But if I get up late, then I am under pressure.

By More Good Foundation on Flickr

Another problem with getting up late is that it seems whenever I sleep in, I feel more tired than if I had gotten up earlier. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I have more time to really connect to God’s strength when I get up earlier, but all I know is that for the past few months whenever I get up late, I have a worse day. Of course, if I go to bed late, it doesn’t help at all!

So I was tired. Really tired. The I-can’t-focus-on-anything kind of tired. I found myself not knowing what to do next and grabbing my iPod to check email or my to-do list (usually both) more often than I really should have. That made me get more and more behind, until I realized it was 10:00 am and the breakfast dishes weren’t even done. At that point, I began to slip emotionally as well.

Of course, emotions are harder to control when one is tired. And mine were just all over the place. I fought hard to control my attitude and not fall into negative thinking, but it was so hard. I would find myself saying things like, “Why am I so tired today of all days? I mean, I got to sleep in this morinng. Why am I always more tired on days when I sleep in a little?” Or, as I lumbered up the stairs to change a diaper, “Why am I sore? I’ve been exercising at least every other day for the past couple of weeks, and sometimes more. I shouldn’t be sore. It’s not fair.” Or, “What is my husband doing on the computer on his day off? Why doesn’t he come help me?” [I knew the answer–he was working on essays in his attempt to get some scholarships to get his Master’s–but you know how the mind tends to focus on the negative anyhow!] Then something would go wrong, and I would whine to myself about it.

But as I sensed my spirit becoming negative, I also sensed God calling to my heart to surrender the feelings and thoughts to Him and to focus on something positive instead. Several times I turned my thoughts away from the negative direction they had been going toward something positive, claiming a promise or counting a blessing.

Finally, a little after noon, I just couldn’t go on. I had put Manny down for his nap, and I decided it was time for me to take one too. My husband was planning on going to town soon, and said he would take Gislaine with him. So I went to try to take a nap. Manny wasn’t asleep yet, so I put in earplugs, just in case.

I had just started to drift off–I know because my thoughts suddenly made no sense when Manny’s crying woke me up. Glancing at the clock, I figured I couldn’t have been asleep more than a couple of minutes. As his cries escalated, I decided that I might as well feed him; it was a little early (he’s on a two-meal-a-day schedule right now, partly since he takes his nap around noon and wakes up late in the afternoon, and partly because it gives his irritated digestive tract a bit of a break). So I got him up, much to his delight, and tried to fix him a lunch.

I say tried, because I was only slightly refreshed from the 2-minute nap. I still couldn’t focus. I had cooked him a sweet potato for breakfast, and planned on giving him the leftovers for lunch. But I needed a little more to make up the meal, so I cut a few slices from an unused sweet potato and started to cook them. Then I started toasting rice in a dry pan to make Spanish Rice for today’s lunch and seasoning beans I had pressure cooked earlier. Those two things took all the focus I could spare, until suddenly it dawned on me that the sweet potatoes were not bubbling in the pan behind the rice anymore. So I lifted the lid.

Sure enough… the pan was black inside.

And since I had sliced them thin–only about 1/4″ thick–I was able to salvage very little.

I forgot to mention that I had burned his sweet potatoes at breakfast too–not as badly, but still, the pan had blackened.This time was much worse. And I still hadn’t cleaned the pan from the morning. So now I had two blackened pans to clean.

It was just too much.

I didn’t think I could take it anymore.

Not to mention that my husband still hadn’t gone to town. Was he going to go or not? I had forgotten to put a book I sold on eBay in the mail box, and now it was too late; if it didn’t get to the post office, it wasn’t going out that day. And it was supposed to go out that day. Of course, I didn’t bother to consider that what my husband was working on was something he wanted to go out in the mail that day too.

Then the pile of dishes was starting to look overwhelming. And they were all dishes that had accumulated after the breakfast dishes had been washed. Sure, a few things hadn’t been washed after breakfast–my daughter had helped and hadn’t been able to handle them. And I had made teff milk and soy milk and still needed to make nut milk with the nuts soaking in the window…

I had a sort of headache, and noise was bothering me. I found myself starting to snap at the kids. Knowing that I needed divine strength, I dropped to my knees behind the kitchen island and pleaded for help. I actually did this several times throughout the morning. When I found myself dwelling on negative thoughts, I made a point to stop and ask for grace to change, and more than once I had knelt to pray. Somehow, those prayers gave me strength to fight back the tears  that would come up and helped me change my focus.

But after the sweet potatoes burned, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I went down to the office where my husband was working and my iPod was charging and sent a text to one prayer partner and a Facebook message to another, briefly describing my exhaustion and out-of-control emotions and asking for prayer

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After that, I went back to lunch prep. I soon had Manny fed and sat down to eat myself. By the time the meal was over, I was feeling better. I got everything done just in time for Sabbath, and after worship went down to walk on the treadmill, reading a chapter from The Gift while I walked. This refreshed my body and my spirit, and I felt so much better the rest of the evening. Of course, I made it a point to go to bed early!

What did I learn from this day? Several things. First, our thoughts direct our emotions. The things we allow ourselves to think on affect what we feel. If we think negative thoughts, we can work ourselves up into tears very quickly. By the same token, if we resist the negative and focus on the positive, we can change the course of our emotions.

The second thing I learned is that it is important to firmly resist temptation. I had to choose to change my thoughts. Of course I asked God for help, but He couldn’t choose my thoughts for me. He could only point me in the right direction. The choice was up to me. Refusing to break down in tears–even when they were welling up in my eyes–was very hard and totally foreign to my nature, but I did it in Christ’s strength. And when the devil realized that I was determined to choose Christ, he got tired of trying and relaxed the temptations–no doubt planning the next one, but at least giving me a break for a while.

The third thing I learned is that I need the prayers of those I love. The temptations didn’t begin to lessen until my friends started praying. Now, I know they pray for me every day, in a general way, but on days like this if I ask, they can pray specifically for the trial I am in, and that is even more powerful.

So thank you, prayer partners!

Have you had a trial lately that you found victory in? Do you have a prayer partner that you exchange requests with? Please share how this has been a blessing to you.