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I had a fun time making some chocolate covered nuts yesterday for Easter, so thought I’d share it here…

First, melt the baking chocolate in a double boiler, or a saucepan in a larger saucepan with boiling water…

Then, when its melted, turn off the heat and stir in your nuts – I used hazelnuts, pecans, and almonds.  Coat them well.

Spoon out clusters of nuts – maybe 3-4 nuts per cluster –  and place them onto baking paper/parchment paper lined baking tray and decorate with sprinkles or whatever your heart desires.  Place it in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Take them out to sit until brought to room temperature and don’t melt in your hand when you try to pick it up.

If they manage to make it – store them in an airtight container and share them with all your friends!  And Happy Easter to all! : )

We normally eat our home-made bread so quickly that we don’t have to worry about it going stale or growing mould.  However, I know the best way to keep bread is hanging in a cotton cloth or bag in a place out of direct sunlight, heat, and moisture.  You can either purchase these or take a cotton tea towel and fold it in half, stitch it up the sides, tie it with a string and hang it from that string.  I guess the idea is to allow the bread to breathe but keep it safe from the dry air and mould.
You can also use Furoshiki, a Japanese cloth folding method to wrapping items for storage or toting.  I really love using this to wrap cakes and things that are on a plate – it creates a sort of basket effect.  You can do so much using this method – its really easy, frugal, earth friendly, fun {great for kids to do} and attractive, too!  Here are some methods for folding your cloth:  http://furoshiki.com/techniques/ After you’ve got your bread wrapped up the way you want it, you can try hanging it by another cloth or string or on a hook.
Here’s my bread wrapping tutorial:


Another way to keep bread is in a bread box.  Unless you have a pretty good box, you may still want to wrap it up in a tea towel ro something just to keep it from moulding.
Freezing is another option.  After it cools, slice it and put it into a freezer safe bag in the freezer.  Pull out the bread you want as you want it and either toast it or grill it.

Mark and I love to eat…and we love to save money…but how do we reconcile the two together…??  Well, there’s another component that helps us to save in the kitchen – we both love home-cooked meals!  Making some things from scratch has saved us literally hundreds of pounds/dollars each year – and the best part is that its healthy, too!

We have tried to pare down our kitchen cupboard during our three years of marriage – and I think these are the three main ways we have and will save in the long-run:

Porridge Oats/Oatmeal for breakfast each morning.  A 1Kg bag of oats costs 56p and will last the two of us 5 days.  Multiply that across a year and its roughly £40, or about $65.  Compare that to Fruit & Fibre – a basic bran cereal with dried fruit – where a £1.45 box would last the two of us 3 days – a total of £175 {$280} per year!

Porridge Oatsmorning’s porridge with pecans, cinnamon and honey

Hand-baked bread instead of store-bought.  Making a multi-grain whole-wheat loaf at home in our bread-maker costs about 60p compared to £1.20 per similar loaf in the bakery at our grocery store.  Loaves last us from 2-3 days which means over a year that brings our bread consumption to £90 {$145} per year instead of £180 {$290}.  We’ve been grateful for a new bread-maker that we were given for free – but even if you bought one, it should pay for itself in a year.  So we save – and we love the bread {and its wonderful aroma}!

Oaty Bread

Grains, legumes and pulses in place of some meats.  This one is a little harder to calculate – but based on the prices of each – 8p for 2 servings of Crabeye {Pinto}beans compared to £2-3 for 2 servings of ground beef, we save £2 per meal and have the health benefits of eating high-fibre beans.  If you do this twice a week you end up saving £200 {$320} per year.  This is just a rough calculation – but you can experiment yourself with different grains to get the most savings with your tastes and needs.
Beans

Crabeye {Pinto} Beans

That’s somewhere around £425 {$680} each year we save just from making small, consistent changes to our eating lifestyle.  How are you working toward a frugal + healthy kitchen cupboard?  Share your ideas – I would love to hear them!

Fresh bread

Here’s my version of the fresh loaf’s honey whole wheat bread that I promised to post…

Oaty Bread Delight

Ingredients

1lb. whole wheat flour
12 oz. hot water (110F, 45C)
8 oz. bread or all purpose flour
5 oz. milk (or rice/soya milk if you’re afraid of cow juice)
2.5 oz. or 1/3 cup of honey
*2t. salt
*3 t. instant yeast
porridge oats, as necessary, to achieve the desired consistency

*t =teaspoon, T= tablespoon {for non-americans}

1. In a large bowl mix yeast and honey in the 12 oz. of hot water to activate.  About 15 minutes, or until frothy.
2. Add all ingredients except the oats and stir until pulled together well.
3. Add oats until it is dry enough to knead, but moist enough so that some still comes off on your hands – a tacky consistency. Knead for about 8 minutes, adding oats when necessary.
4. Add oil to the bowl and wipe the dough and bowl with it thoroughly and place a damp towel over the bowl and leave to rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 45  minutes.
5. Line bread tins with parchment (grease proof) paper or grease by your normal method. Divide dough evenly between two medium-large tins or three smaller ones. Cover tins with towel to rise till doubled again.
6. Heat oven to gas 4/350F/180C and place tins {on a baking tray} in the oven.  Bake, turning tins occasionally, until golden on top and hollow when tapped on the underside.
7. To retain moisture and soften bread further, wrap finished loaves in tea towels tightly and place on a cooling rack.  For best keeping, store in those towels tightly or a zip-locked bag.  Enjoy! : )

Honey Whole Wheat Loaves

It was bread making day in our house yesterday!  We love fresh, homemade bread – and definitely prefer it to store-bought!  My man grew up on homemade whole wheat – and I am so glad he’s not a Wonder Bread boy…!  I have a few recipes that I like, but I have given The Fresh Loaf’s Honey Whole Wheat Bread a second go and {with a few changes…!} I think its actually our favourite yet!  Its moist, sturdy and full of fiber!  Great as toast too!  It reminds me a lot of Milton’s Bread…if you’ve ever tried that.  Mmm – maybe I’ll have that for breakfast this morning…forget the porridge! ; )

Will post my version of the recipe soon…

Our Little Family

today at the nest

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Pattern Challenge