Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fresh Home Baked Sourdough Bread

A blog about simplicity, with a post on home baked bread? Yes indeed.

Believe it or not, home baked bread can be astonishingly easy with the recipe that my sister and I have been using lately, and surely healthier, lacking all those preservatives and the infamous imported from China contaminated wheat gluten. And, the taste of bread made without these unnecessary additions is quite remarkable...you will surely notice the lack of chemical smell and after taste in your first, warm from the oven bite ...rather like the difference in taste between a cake mix and a real, made from scratch chocolate cake...but that is for a future post, another endeavor that is much simpler than it sounds. My children are quite addicted to the taste and texture of home made bread these days...seems we always have some rising or baking to keep up with the demand.

While purchasing the ingredients to make your own regular yeast bread at home can be more expensive than buying bread from the grocery store shelf, sourdough bread is much more economical, producing much more wholesome bread for less than the cost of store bought loaves.

Sourdough starter is made quite simply by mixing flour and warm water, then letting it stand a while to allow the natural yeast in the flour and air to grow and multiply. Once the starter is ready, the recipe is simple as well, using just oil, salt, sugar, and flour mixed with a portion of the starter to make a delicious loaf of bread.

Here is a link to the source of the basic sourdough recipe and instructions we have been using with great success: Sourdough Baking: The Basics, by S. John Ross.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Simplify: Defeat Clutter

I’m a writer. I have papers, notes, books, pens, pencils, files that should be somewhere… And, I’m a mother of young children, young children who make drawings and projects and bring them to me while I am working, often while in the middle of a sentence, thus increasing the clutter on and around my desk Those children also have toys, paper, paints, crayons and scissors. Did I mention toys? And, more toys? I also have three Great Danes. They, too, have toys. They also have bones, blankets and cushions. Clutter. My eternal battle.

I found a wonderful blog today, though. I think it can help, if you – like me – have, sigh, clutter.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Welcome To Voluntary Simplicity and Simple Living Information

My name is Sharon Secor. I am a single parent, a freelance writer working from home, and a homeschooling mother. My path into these concepts began many years ago, with a casual wander into an Indian restaurant. The aroma of the spices was incredible -- and, for me, lifechanging.

One of my pleasures, inherited from my mother, is cooking ethnic cuisines as authentically as possible, so I embarked on an intense research project. While searching out non-Westernized recipes and cooking methods for Indian foods, I began to learn about the culture and its religion, Hinduism.

Then, in 1990, my first son was born prematurely – 27 weeks, 2 pounds and 2 ounces. We spent 14 months in the hospital before he passed away. His body outgrew his lungs, which, due to being born before they were fully developed, didn’t grow as fast as they should have. During those 14 months, with 8 to 12 hours a day spent at the hospital, I had lots of time to read and think. I had lots of time to think about what in life was truly important to me. And, very little of how we typically live today made that list.

I did go on to have more children, one more of which was lost, and I think that those I was fortunate enough to have survive and thrive benefited from the shift in my perspective during the time of Zachary. (The daughter I lost was stillborn, we had no time together other than the pregnancy.) They’ve benefited because I’ve come to realize that my time is worth more than money and that people are worth more than things. My relationships are the foundation of my life, and deserve more of me than does making money to buy a bunch of things which, in the end, are worth little. I have chosen to live my life, not let my time be eaten up in wage-slavery and an endless striving for more stuff, waking up one day to find my home is full of strangers -- children all grown up that I don’t know because I was always too busy.

Simplifying my life has been the key. While we do live simply, without an excess of material possessions, our simple living has allowed us to be wealthy in time. Voluntary simplicity has allowed me to reduce my expenses and devote less of my time to chasing the dollar. It has allowed me to do something rather rare in this culture… to be a single mother at home full-time with my children.

My children have benefited from this in countless ways. And, so have I. We live a good life and we have enough. Plenty, in fact, especially when compared to how most of the world beyond America lives. We are so fortunate, truly blessed.

My sister, Melinda Secor, also a freelance writer, single parent, and homeschooling mother, and I have partnered up to create this blog. We plan to offer practical information, useful tips, and interesting discussion as we explore the issues and topics related to voluntary simplicity and simple living.