#ItsYourThing SlimFast

Recently, I received this box of goodies from @SlimFast and @Influenster.  I have to say, most products promoting weight loss taste really bad.  I was happy to try #ItsYourThing campaign though.  Surprise to me!  I really have loved everything!  While I have always liked the shakes, they are now improved with more protein and very little sugar.

The sour cream and onion chips were so tasty!  This will make an excellent swap out for potato chips lovers.  They are crisp and crunchy and you will love them.  The same is true for the sweeter version chips/crisps.  I also ate the protein bar as a meal replacement.  It was excellent and filled me up just fine.  So, the verdict is…all systems GO for trying these new weight loss products!

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Summer Is Over….Someone Tell the Tomatoes!

I just came in from our deck. It’s very cold and rainy today. As I looked over the edge of the deck to find our dog, I saw tons of green tomatoes and plants filled with blooms. The plants look as though they are thriving better than ever. I know about six plants are well over 6 ft tall from the ground to the top of the deck railing. They are hanging over and just loaded with fruit. You may be wondering why I am talking about tomatoes like it matters. Well, it does matter!
We have never had a successful garden before. This year was a first! We planted all the easy to grow seeds and lots of herbs. We have had buckets of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, yellow squash and zucchini. Today, on Oct 16, 2014, we still have buckets of tomatoes, bell peppers and flat leaf parsley growing. Sometimes, we just need to put the seed or seedling into the dirt and trust God to do the rest. He always blesses abundantly.
Tim had his annual tests and results this week. This is always a time for holding your breathe until you get the “all clear” that there are no signs of cancer. Once again, we are fortunate and blessed as “no signs of cancer” is now at the three years mark. Our trust is in God to provide us with that freedom that it is “gone for good”! Two more years to be at that mark….kind of like anticipating those seeds we planted to grow and be fruitful. We just don’t have to worry about it. You put it in the ground in May and here it is Oct and with abundance they are producing and we put our faith in the God that heals. He led us to an amazing doctor who took out the cancer and now we are blessed with the abundance of peace in knowing that healing is present. We don’t have to worry. For all these things, we are thankful.

Bread Quest! Sour Dough Lovers Unite!

The Sour Dough Kit from Williams-Sonoma

The Sour Dough Kit from Williams-Sonoma

Journey to the perfect loaf!

Journey to the perfect loaf!

After learning that those with gluten intolerance may be able to successfully tolerate sour dough bread, I have been on the quest to find and make the perfect loaf of sour dough bread.
I read where the sour dough starter actually cancels out the gluten. My sweet daughter, has an auto-immune disease which greatly benefits from a gluten-free diet. We learned that she does tolerate and digest sour dough bread. Of course, I am certainly going to do my part in helping her find quality foods that are within her diet.
My first attempts at making my own starter were from “scratch”. It took eight days to ferment the starter and begin baking. After six very dense, fair tasting loaves, I was able to make a pretty good loaf. My starter however, was a bit frustrating to me as it seemed to take about two days to proof a loaf. I also thought it needed to have a better taste.
I started searching for the best sour dough bread I could find. Topping the list was San Francisco Sour Dough Bread made in a bakery in San Francisco. I also learned you could purchase a sour dough starter kit from Williams-Sonoma. (I am not associated with Williams-Sonoma. I am just a customer.)
It arrives with a nice little crock to keep your starter preserved in.

I found the detailed instructions a bit difficult to understand but I ended up with a good end product so I suppose I came close to following it correctly. It begins by combining the starter with warm water and all-purpose flour.

[caption id="attachment_437" align="alignnone" width="300"]Combining the starter packet with warm water and flour. Combining the starter packet with warm water and flour.

Next, cover the bowl and allow to rest. Stirring the mixture at regular intervals is
important in the fermentation process.

Note the large bubbles on top of the mixture.  This is ready for division and feeding.

Note the large bubbles on top of the mixture. This is ready for division and feeding.


For the remaining 72 hours, you will be stirring at regular intervals until the mixture reaches it peak (lots of active bubbles), then you will reduce to 1/2 C mixture and add one cup of warm water and one cup of flour. (If it is bedtime, you will increase the flour and water to 2 or 3 cups and cover for the night) Upon rising, divide, reduce to 1/2 C and feed with 1 C warm water and flour.
The is the final division.  Fill your crock with starter and refrigerate.

The is the final division. Fill your crock with starter and refrigerate.

Beautifully Proofed Dough

Beautifully Proofed Dough


Two days later, I had to bake bread to see how the new starter would work. The recipe is easy. The night before baking, put 1/2 C starter in a bowl with 3 Cups warm water and 3 Cups flour. Cover overnight. The next morning, you will have beautiful starter called a sponge. It’s very bubbly! Take 2 1/2 Cups of the sponge and put it in your stand mixer, add 1 1/2 C flour and mix together. Allow it to rest an hour. Next, add one more C of flour, put on the dough hook, add a tablespoon of salt and slowing continue adding flour until you have a moist, non sticky dough. Put your dough into a bowl and allow to rise 8 to 13 hours! Yes, it takes that long! Yes, it will eventually work! Yes, it’s worth the wait!
Then the fun begins.
Shaping the dough into a round.

Shaping the dough into a round.

Creating a smooth loaf

Creating a smooth loaf


Once you have gone all the way around the dough and folded it upon itself. Place the round on a baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal. The dough is ready for a second rise. Allow the round to rise for 3 hours.
Finally, cut tic-tac-toe slits into the dough with a new razor blade. Brush with an egg wash, and place into a hot 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking an additional 45 minutes.
The dough round is rising for a second time for 3 hours.

The dough round is rising for a second time for 3 hours.

Brush the loaf you just scored with a razor blade with the egg wash.

Brush the loaf you just scored with a razor blade with the egg wash.

This is a huge, crusty loaf of San Francisco Sour Dough Bread.

This is a huge, crusty loaf of San Francisco Sour Dough Bread.


The end product was a very beautiful round of San Francisco Sour Dough Bread. It is a very tasty bread. Next time, I will be making it in loaf pans to see how it holds up for sandwich bread. I am very encouraged by my first loaf. I feel like it can only get better as I get better at making it! Hope you give the San Francisco Starter a try if you enjoy baking bread or want to start.