Category Archives: Recipes

Remote living skills: baking bread

I love fresh bread. About a year and a half ago, I started learning how to bake it myself. I was tired of soft, spongy, store-bought bread, which is not only bland, but also full of all kinds of completely unnecessary additives. Now that we live here, far from bakeries and grocery stores, I’m glad that I learned how to make my own. Here’s the secret to making your own bread at home: don’t be scared. It is easy and anyone can do it. And it doesn’t take much time either.

You don’t even need a recipe to bake bread, really. There are only 4 necessary ingredients, and as long as you have the amounts kind of close, you can bake a lovely homemade bread. I thought today I’d share generally how to make bread, and then over time, give some recipes that I like. (If you want to get fancy then you can follow recipes.) The four ingredients you need are: flour, water, yeast and salt. That is all.

Start by running water from the tap until it feels warm. Put one cup of the warm water into a bowl and sprinkle about a tablespoon of yeast in and stir until it is dissolved. (Just to emphasize that you don’t really need a recipe, any amount of yeast from one teaspoon to over a tablespoon would work). Add about a cup and a half of flour and about a teaspoon (or two) of salt. Stir this until you get a smooth, runny dough. Then add more flour. Probably about another cup and a half. Keep stirring and when it starts to come away from the sides of the bowl and the flour is all incorporated, it is about right. The dough should be kind of sticky (stick to your spoon), but not runny. If it is runny, or looks wet, add more flour. Make sure at least some of your flour is white flour – yeast really like it and the bread will rise better. If learning, I’d start by making a few all-white loaves before experimenting with different types of flours.

Now let it rise. You don’t have to knead it (gasp!). You really don’t. I’ve read so many recipes where people get all tied up in knots worrying about how long to knead dough (just long enough, but not overworked) that I think we should just forget about it all and not knead. So, to rise the bread, cover the bowl with plastic wrap tightly (if the wrap doesn’t make a seal, just put the whole bowl in a plastic grocery bag and tie it off with a twist tie. Leave the bowl in a warm place for an hour or two, until the dough has about doubled in size.

If you want, you can now get ready to bake the bread. If you’re busy and want to do something else for another hour, just squish the dough down, turn it over a few times until it is smaller, and let it rise again.

To bake the bread, first take the dough out of the bowl by pouring it onto a floured surface. Make it into the shape of loaf you want, and put it on a greased cookie sheet (I grease with either butter or olive oil). And let it rise again for a while. Preheat the oven to 450º and put the bread in. Immediately lower the temperature to about 375-400º. In about 30-35 minutes your bread will be done.  Easy. (You can get all more fancy than this, and be careful at a few steps to improve your bread, but not worrying too much and just trying it will pretty much always make a wonderful bread that is much better than anything from the store.)

Once it is out of the oven, let it cool on a wire rack (if you have one) for about 15 minutes. Enjoy with a lovely runny brie type cheese. Or with whatever you like.

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Filed under Posts by Hana, Recipes

A day on the West Side

Bamfield is divided into a West and East side. The Bamfield Marine Science Centre is on the East side. To get to the West side, you have to take a boat; there are no roads to get there. Today we decided to head over to the West side and visit the beach there — Brady’s Beach.

We called the local water taxi and the friendly captain picked us up within a few minutes. We shared the ride with two tourists who were carrying a map that showed a new trail to Brady’s Beach. The usual way to get there is to take a fairly round-about route on the West side roads, so we were decided the new trail might be a fun short-cut.

Along the wooded and muddy trail, we saw several exciting wildlife signs: two fresh piles of bear scat, and deer tracks that followed the trail for a good distance. To be conscientious visitors in bear territory, we made sure to make noise as we walked and kept aware of our surroundings. I grew up in BC bear country, so while bears don’t scare me (and I’m generally very happy to see a bear at a distance), I know the importance of staying aware. (As a side note, does anyone else remember this awesome BC Ministry of Forest video about bear safety? It was a legend among BC camp counselors in my camp days, and perhaps still is.)

Needless to say, we arrived on Brady’s Beach NOT eaten by bears, but feeling a bit hungry ourselves. We built a small fire and roasted some smokies. Yum! Then, we made bannock — another throwback to my camp counselor days. Bannock a la camp counselor is a very simple recipe. Get some Bisquick, and mix in enough water to make a sticky dough. Wrap the dough around a stick and roast slowly over the fire. When it feels hard (no longer squishy), it is pretty much done.

Almost always, there is still a little bit of gooey dough left on the inside uncooked, but that’s just the way bannock over a fire goes. Carefully pull the bannock off the stick, and drop a bit of jam into the hole from the stick. Enjoy!

After our lunch, we walked back along Brady’s Beach.

Once we got to the boardwalk, the centre of activity on the West Side, we got a few groceries at the store, and walked down to the Boardwalk Bistro and had a lovely afternoon snack. The boardwalk is beautiful because the rhododendrons have been blooming (they’re almost finished). A lovely finish to a relaxing day.

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Filed under Fauna, Life in General, Posts by Hana, Recipes

Mmmmmm.

We’ve got temporary accommodations for now. But they are lovely, just lovely. Here’s the view from the bedroom window.In other news, I amazed myself at being able to remember a recipe I hadn’t used in a while off the top of my head. Chewy chocolate chip cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 heaping tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 bag of chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Blend the butter and the sugars together until smooth. Add the egg and the vanilla, and blend some more. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and mix again. Make small balls with your hand and squish them down to make nice little disks. Place the dough disks on a cookie sheet, about 1.5 inches apart and bake for about 12 minutes. The cookies brown on the bottoms first, so they will not look brown when they come out of the oven.

We took these to our first potluck in the community, and it seems they were enjoyed.

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Filed under Fauna, Posts by Hana, Recipes