Getting through life with a few spoons only – part 2: no machine? no knead!

This is the second installment to my series about low spoon cooking and it’s about using the no machine/no knead methods to your advantage.

Often times, “no machine” is used in the context of making ice cream. Regular ice cream recipes require a machine in which the cream mixture is frozen while being stirred. These machines can often be quite expensive and the process of making ice cream can be tedious. Which is why there are recipes that don’t require you to cook the mixture and then churn it (see below for my recipe of choice).

But I also use the term “no machine” in the context of not needing a standing mixer (like a kitchenaid) to be able to prepare something. Standing mixers, like ice cream machines, can be expensive. And not just expensive but also fairly bulky to keep on a kitchen counter. Plus: unless you bake a lot (or prepare very extensive recipes with a lot of steps to them), a standing mixer is not really necessary.

In fact, I had my first experience with owning a standing mixer/food processor combo about 12 years after my mom started teaching me to cook and bake; we only ever had a handheld mixer, which is something you don’t even need for the majority of recipes I’m going to be mentioning in this post. Most of them are using the “no knead” method, which is another step down from the “no machine” one, because “no knead” recipes add time and subtract the work part.

If you have a bit experience with yeast doughs (or even if you don’t), you might know they need love. The more love you put in through kneading, the better your dough. But let’s be real: even if the dough is relatively easy to handle and forgiving, kneading isn’t something everyone is always able to do. Or wants to do, for that matter. I like making a nice yeasty dough, but kneading is often the part of the recipe that makes me say “nope, not today”. And this is when the “no knead” method comes in, which uses less yeast than most regular recipes and adds 10-14 hours more rising time.

The only work you really actually do, is mixing the wet into the dry ingredients and only so much so that there’s no floury bits left. All ingredients have to be saturated. And that is it. Then you let it rise/ferment. (All recipes I mentioned feature videos that show everything step by step.)

Here are some recipes I love.

  • pizza dough: this is the pizza dough I mentioned in my other post. It is simply lovely. I’ve tried a few pizza doughs now and there was one that tasted quite like this one, but it required a lot (a lot!) more work and many more steps than this one. This dough, which I found on Gemma Stafford’s BiggerBolderBaking, is very forgiving and gives the baker a huge amount of time to prepare and finish it, which I adore because I sometimes simply need more time to go through the same steps.
  • donuts: these donuts aren’t just “no knead”, they’re also not fried but baked, which is certainly a nice step to be able to bail out on, because frying requires time and concentration. The donuts need to be cut out with a large cookie/scone cutter (and a smaller one for the hole), which admittedly can be too much work sometimes, but don’t worry if you’re not able to cut them out after the dough has risen because you can keep it in the fridge for up to three days which should give you enough time to recover.
  • Irish Soda Bread: this bread is considered a quick bread because the only thing you really do is saturate the dry with the wet ingredients and then simply bring the dough together into a loaf. And it is delicious- hearty and cozy. (Is that an acceptable word to describe bread? :D)
  • Supreme Pizza Bread: this is the bread I mentioned in my first post. I usually make it without the filling, because there’s less cutting involved that way, but it does taste good with it as well.

For all the recipes above you only need a bowl (I prefer glass, but that is definitely your choice) and a spatula or wooden spoon to bring the dough together. You can also use your hands, but due to my sensitivity issues I sometimes cannot stand the sticky dough, which is why I use my favorite wooden spoon. Then, you’re also going to need cling film (Saran wrap/plastic wrap) or a lid for your bowl, plus a towel or two to protect the bowl the dough from drafts.

 

  • no machine ice cream: this recipe is brilliant. You can whip it up in a pinch and I am not exaggerating. Granted, a handheld mixer is needed or, let’s say it this way, it would be advantageous but you could probably whip the cream with a whisk and a lot of elbow grease. Aside from that, though, you only need (whipped) cream and sweetened condensed milk for the base, then vanilla/vanilla extract (and, if you’re going for a different flavor than vanilla, also those ingredients)
    • If you are dairy-free, here is a recipe for you that uses coconut milk.

 

All of the recipes are from ladies who also have youtube channels, so you can also check out the videos on their sites to follow the recipes visually step by step.

Next up: more recipe ideas, including basic ingredients like pasta and how to use them in different meals.

Thank you for reading and happy baking. 🙂

 

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Getting through life with a few spoons only – part 1: mastering the art of freezing

I have often thought about creating a blog post like this, though not in this context. Let me start at the beginning. A few days ago, my best friend (who is about to move out and live on her own) asked a question on twitter that I’ve been dealing with for a very long time; “what are some easy meals I can cook that don’t require a lot of spoons?”.

Now, this might seem like a somewhat odd question since every kitchen should at least have a few spoons. That’s not the kind of spoon she was talking about however. She was referring to “The Spoon Theory” which was written by Christine Miserandino. It details what it is like living with illness (in her case it was a physical illness, but it also works if you’re explaining a mental one) using spoons as a means to explain it, ie “you only have a certain amount of spoons to spend on doing daily activities and when they’re gone, you’re done/cannot go on, so you have to pick your battles and what you spend your spoons on”. If you have never read it, I would highly recommend it, as it is a brilliant way to describe living with an illness, which can be a very abstract subject to explain and understand. You can find it here.

As someone who is dealing with this issue (“do I have enough spoons for this?”) every single day due to several mental illnesses/disorders, I have picked up a few tricks. Especially since I am actually a fairly independent person (aside from living at home), life with an illness can get tricky, to say the least. Cleaning, doing laundry, that’s something that can be left for the next day or the day after if need be, but cooking and taking care of yourself is not. So here is where we get back to the actual question: if I don’t have enough spoons left, what do I cook? And if I cook, will I then have enough spoons left to be able to eat it?

I love to cook. I love to bake. But sometimes I am just not able to.

Tip number 1: Meal preparation. And I am not talking about “meal prep” as in “what bodybuilders/athletes often do to control their food intake”. I mean meal preparation in the sense of cooking/baking on a good day and conserving/freezing it for days where you can’t (or just don’t feel like it/are lazy, which is also a valid reason).

  • Bread: my Mom has been freezing bread for years, which is where I learned it from. Some twenty years ago, when I was still a wee one, we lived quite a way out of town and a trip to the bakery would have taken about 35-45 minutes by foot (which is all we could do, since my Dad would generally take the car). So my mother would just buy a bigger loaf of bread (sourdough), cut it in half, keep one part out to eat fresh and put one in the freezer. It’s very simple, too. You just need to make sure that the bag you’re using is suitable for freezing/the temperature your freezer is at, make sure you get the air out as best as possible and close it tightly (or tie it up).
    • Since I have ventured into trying to bake my own bread, I have also made a bread based on a recipe by Laura Vitale (Supreme Pizza Bread) – I just left out the filling and sprinkled some Italian seasoning and sea salt on the top – which freezes/thaws out very well.
  • Pizza/pizza dough: pizza is delicious. Also very customizable to fit everybody’s taste. It’s definitely a staple in my cookbook. Plus it’s very easy to freeze. So far, I’ve tried three different recipes for pizza dough and every single one of them worked very well after thawing out. And if you freeze the dough in disks, it will thaw out even quicker.
    • Here is a no knead-dough recipe from Gemma Stafford. (The no-knead method is lovely and I will be talking about it more in another post.)
      • The same recipe post will also feature a great pizza sauce recipe that you can also freeze, maybe even as suggested in the post in ice cube trays.
    • AND HERE is a step-by-step recipe by Laura Vitale who shows you how to make homemade frozen pizzas (which are pre-baked) in case you don’t have the ability to make them with fresh or thawed out dough.
  • Cookie dough: a lot of cookie doughs love it cold anyway and some of them are even supposed to be chilled in the freezer before cutting and baking them. It only makes sense to keep some in the freezer for the occasion that you get peckish for something sweet. I absolutely love Leila Lindholm’s cookbook “A piece of cake”, that features some amazing cookie recipes.
    • This is the recipe for her Chocolate Chip Cookies, the base for any good cookie. I personally adore adding some more chocolate and (chopped or ground) hazelnuts. If you roll the dough into a sausage shape before freezing, all you need to do is slice and bake it.
  • Pie crust: I’ve never met a pie I didn’t like. And I’ve never met someone who didn’t like pie. And guess what? Pie crust is the perfect candidate for the freezer as it’s also a big fan of the cold, just like cookie dough. If it’s cold, it’s gonna be good. That’s what makes it buttery and flaky. One of my personal pie (and kitchen) queens is Cynthia Barcomi and the idea to freeze the crust actually came from her.
    • Here is one of her recipes for a simple apple pie, but unfortunately I could only find a recipe in German.
    • BUT I got you covered and so does my girl Laura Vitale. THIS is her basic recipe for pie crust. And the best thing about this: while you can certainly make this recipe with your hands, it works just as well (and quicker!) in a food processor.
  • Meat: I am not big on meat. At all. But there are two types that my Mom frequently freezes to have on hand and I thought the knowledge might benefit someone.
    • beef for making soups/stew/broth: this type of meat is usually quite robust and can take the cold, especially if you give it enough time to thaw out. Cooking broth is already quite easy, since there is little chopping involved and it usually cooks by itself, doesn’t need to be watched. But running out to buy beef when you want to make a nice stew or soup in addition to a busy day? Not the best way to relax.
    • minced/ground meat: whatever your preference meat-wise (pork, beef etc.), minced meat freezes well. Especially if you pack it into the freezer in portion sizes and flatten it. That way, it thaws out amazingly quick. And boom, there’s your spag bol ingredient number one.
      • you could also pre-make some burger patties and freeze those individually, separated with a piece of parchment paper
  • vegetables/herbs/fruit: while we’re on the topic of soup, why not talk about
    • vegetables for making soup: a lot of supermarkets in our area offer little boxes with an assortment of soup or stew vegetables (celery/celery root, leek, carrots, parsley) already packaged, which is usually convenient because you don’t have to buy all the produce separately, but sometimes it’s simply too much for one person or a single serving of soup. Dividing it in half, for example, making soup with one and freezing the other, keeps one from having to throw unneeded pieces out.
    • herbs, washed and chopped, are perfect for freezing. That way, you get the most out of your herb garden or potted herbs and don’t have to worry about running out of them when the plant dies (for example). Plus it keeps them fresh and doesn’t take away any of the flavor.
    • fruit: frozen fruit is lovely and versatile. Berries and bananas are amazing in smoothies or müsli. A leftover lemon or orange? Sliced or diced and frozen it’s a perfect ingredient for lemonade to keep the flavor going and the liquid cool. You could even do that with leftover juice. Freeze it in an ice cube tray and there you go – no watered down drinks. Just more flavor.
      • frozen yogurt is amazing, by the way. It’s easy to make and only requires a few ingredients. Here is a recipe by Gemma Stafford. I’ve made it with strawberries and blueberries before, it’s yummy.
      • back when we had an apple tree, we would make huge batches of apple sauce. But, as with the jam, storage can get tricky fast, so we started freezing it. Works amazingly well and keeps the color nice and yellow, as it should be.
  • Jam: if you make your own jam or marmalade, storing it is sometimes difficult because you should keep the jars in a dark, cool place. The freezer is actually perfect for it and ever since we started making our own strawberry jam (as well as strawberry puree to serve with ice cream), we’ve stored some jars in the freezer for the winter. It keeps the jam fresh and has the upside of not making it lose its color, which can sometimes happen when it gets too much light.

BUT let’s be real. Even if you do all these things, like I do, sometimes it just doesn’t cut it. I’m very conscious of what I eat and that I eat food that is mostly healthy, which is why I started cooking homemade meals and freezing them, or preparing foods that would only need a couple more steps to make them into a full meal, but even I, who loves to cook, can’t deal with “a couple more steps” sometimes. Sometimes, it is just too much and I don’t want to care about watching a pot boil. Not to mention that it usually doesn’t. So please take this advice as serious as anything I said before: it’s absolutely fine to use short-cuts. Heating up store-bought soup? Fine. Throwing some bought, frozen fries in the oven? Great. Making a frozen pizza? Awesome. Don’t beat yourself up because of that. People will tell you it’s junk and you shouldn’t. So maybe that’s true. But you know what else is true? You had dinner. Something to eat on your plate. And you made it yourself. So maybe you didn’t cut the potatoes and salt and pepper and drizzle them with oil, but you put them on a baking tray and you baked them and you took them out and then you had food on your plate. Let’s just take the win, okay? And don’t put yourself down because that happened a few days in a row. It’s fine. Better cooking and baking days are coming. I had fries, frozen, store-bought ones, on Sunday evening, Monday evening and Tuesday evening. And then I had enough spoons left again to make pasta with sauce on Wednesday. And you know what? That’s awesome.

So don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work out one night. Or four nights in a row. It’s going to get better and then you’re going to cook up a storm.

Be proud of your achievements, even if it is just throwing some instant soup mix in some hot water. Because sometimes life is tough and dark. Take your wins for what they are.

Thank you so much for reading.

Love,

me.

A few things I’d like the world to know. (On coping techniques and prejudice)

I suffer from several (diagnosed) mental disorders. With those often come along anxiety and panic attacks, which I also suffer from. A lot of people don’t understand what that means, what consequences for quality of life it brings and how crippling and disabling it can be. Personally, I don’t really mind them not understanding. It’s a very abstract concept, to be sick and not yet be physically harmed in any way. What I do mind is the fact that people judge what they can’t understand. They don’t take it for what it is or try to understand as much as possible, do research and talk to people about it, they simply judge and express an opinion that they are not qualified to have. They are allowed to have it, yes, but they are not qualified to speak on the topic. Especially when it comes to coping techniques, I have experienced seriously judgmental people.

And I thought I’d explain.

Here are some of my coping techniques and how people have reacted to them. It’s a tale of caution; trying to show my fellow humans to Think, then Speak and not to be too fast to judge someone.

I wear leggings a lot. I also wear them outside a lot. I wear them to go grocery shopping, to run errands. And I’ve seen the stares and the pointed fingers and looks. I’ve heard people say “Oh, wow. She probably had no time to do laundry, as lazy as she looks” or “Looks like a slob, that one”. Now, these comments might already be seen as rude, based on the fact that people judged me just because of my looks. They’re rude because people see the leggings or yoga pants and immediately think of laziness, even though that might not be the case. Maybe I could live with the rudeness. Say to myself “Well, sometimes you are, in fact, a bit lazy. Just let them talk.” But they’re not only rude, they’re also very hurtful to me. You see, there are a few reasons why I wear leggings. 1) Often times, I can’t wear anything else. Because my skin starts to crawl when I even think about putting the fabric on my skin. Because sometimes my skin is so sensitive that anything I wear makes me have itching fits. Because sometimes, my skin doesn’t feel like it belongs on my body and if I were to wear jeans, for example, which can be quite rough and stiff, would only amplify the feeling. Which then usually results in the aforementioned itching fits (scratching my skin until it turns red, raw or starts to bleed), anxiety and general uncomfortableness, like nausea and headaches. My legs, arms and neck are the zones that are affected the most, so I try to wear things that are comfortable to me. Hence the leggings. 2) I have an eating disorder and often feel “not at home” in my body. I’ve had issues with my thighs for years. Wearing leggings, outside, helps me to grow stronger in the belief that I am okay in my body. Whether parts of it jiggle or not. This is not a simple ‘Hrmpf. I wish my thighs weren’t as big, I should work out” life-improving thought. It’s more like a….”I don’t want anyone to see any part of my body oh my god I can’t breathe someone get me out of here” situation.

So yes. Maybe I am lazy sometimes. But I do have fresh clothes at home, I do laundry regularly and I am not a slob because I choose to be a bit more comfortable. This is how I cope and I will not apologize for saving myself.

Another thing that I often do, is listening to music while out and about. I will wear headphones so I don’t disturb other shoppers et cetera and I always only wear one earbud, so I can hear other humans who might be calling my name or saying hello. I also only wear one earbud for safety reasons. To be able to hear the traffic, for example. Now, I’ve often conversed with people wearing my earbud, listening to music. And I have just as often been asked to turn it off, take out the earbud or even had it taken out (ripped out) for me. Of course, these things happen while I’m simultaneously receiving weird looks or angered stares. Here’s my problem: I understand that people assume I am not listening. I understand that people think I’m rude or showing disinterest. I understand that people want my full attention and don’t think they’re getting it. But they don’t understand that the only way I am even able to listen, is by using this coping technique. They don’t understand that I am not showing disinterest but in fact showing all the interest I can, thanks to the music in my ear. They don’t understand that the only way that I am able to give them any attention at all, and without falling into an anxiety or panic attack, is by listening to the music in my ear. Now, you might be thinking “Well, how the hell should I know?” and you are right to do so. So I’d like to tell you that “I need this. Sorry”, if you ask me to stop the music or take out the earbud, like I’ve told quite a few people before. I won’t say more when you ask me during the conversation, for your and my own protection, but I shouldn’t need to anyway. Something I apparently still have to do though is to remind my fellow humans that I am giving you all I’ve got. I’m giving you all the interest and attention that I have got in me when I am talking to you and we’re having a conversation. If I didn’t, there would be no conversation. And now that you know that I’m giving it all I’ve got, please do the same instead of forcing yourself or your societal views on me, making decisions for me by touching my things (‘making me listen to you’ by turning off my music) or touching me. My decisions are not yours to make, my body is not yours to be touched just because it is there and can be touched. The same goes for my things, like mobile phone or mp3 player.

This is sometimes the only way to be able to have human interactions, carry out conversations or exchange niceties. I’m giving it my all and I am not being rude. And even if I was by your definition, I’d rather safe myself and be rude about it than drown in my own anxiety. This is how I cope and I will not apologize for saving myself.

Sometimes, I don’t drive. Sometimes, I only go grocery shopping or run errands when someone I know is with me. I have often heard things like “I wonder why she doesn’t drive, you think she even has a license? Old enough, though”, “Think she lost her license?”, “I know she has a license but it took a long time till she got it. Maybe she’s afraid?”, amidst laughter and funny looks. Not to mention the comments I’ve heard about going shopping with my Mom or Dad. “D’you think she still lives at home?” “Maybe she has no money.” Here are the facts: I do drive. And I drive very well. I’ve never had a ticket, never been stopped for speeding. I always obey the law and traffic regulations. I don’t speed. I’m great at parallel parking and I often manage reversing into a spot in one go. It’s true that it took me a long time to get my license – nearly 2 1/2 years – but that’s because of my illnesses – not being able to go to classes, take driving lessons, having to cut driving lessons short. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. Not to me. Not to my parents. It didn’t even matter to my driving instructor, who is very good at what he does and was an enormous supporter of taking it as slow as I needed to and taking the decision when to drive into my own hands. And believe me, he was there for it all. He was right there in the passenger seat when I suffered from panic and anxiety attacks or had a nervous breakdown or broke out into a crying fit. I appreciate him, his support and his patience. Because he taught me that driving a car comes with a lot of responsibility for myself and others and the feeling of not being up to it, whenever it may creep up, should not be treated lightly. So even though it took me longer to get my license, I do drive and I drive as well as anyone could, to be honest. I’ve never changed any habits learned during the lessons. I crawl through the zones that even the police are too impatient not to rush through. So there. Not driving doesn’t mean that I am afraid of driving. Or that I can’t do it right, that I am bad at it. It means that I have learned, through years of therapy, when to say that I am not feeling well and need help. So I might need someone to drive me to the drugstore or wherever, but at least I don’t drive with brainfog or a severe panic attack and am endangering others. I think that’s a pretty good thing.

Now for the part of going out with mental support; Mom, Dad, Sis. Yes, sometimes I can only go out when someone else is there with me. That has nothing to do with the fact that yes, I still live at home or how my monetary situation is. Not to mention the fact that that is a sore spot for me since I am not, in fact, even able to work or move out. But they don’t know that the reason I sometimes only go out with a companion, is that I’m often in such a dark place, that literally anything could throw me into a panic attack or itching fit. And I want someone there to help me out when that happens. I want someone there who sees the signs and will get me out of there as fast as possible, even when I might already have frozen in terror. Which is another facet of learning how to ask for help, courtesy of years of therapy.

So while you might say I am not grown up or independent enough, I’m answering with this: I am independent enough to ask for help and I think that’s a pretty grown up thing to do. I am independent enough to look for ways to live an adult life under the looming darkness of a crippling illness. And I think I’m doing pretty well. And if you’re still not convinced that it’s maybe a good idea for me to have someone with me, just imagine me saying this: it’s not my job to make you more comfortable with something you’re not suffering under. It’s my job to make myself comfortable. And if that means going shopping with my Mom or having my sister drive me somewhere, then so be it. This is how I cope and I will not apologize for saving myself.

I would like to mention that this is not an attack or a war cry. It’s an explanation for my fellow humans. I felt like there were a few things that needed to be said and explained. Thank you for reading this far. I appreciate it.

At this point, I’d also like to thank my friends Mel and C. who never push and never pull. Who see that I sometimes need to take the day second by second and never tell me to do it differently. Who support me and catch me when I fall. Thank you. I love you, guys. ♥ 

Back. Again.

Hey everybody.

Haven’t been around much. I’m not going to try for an apology because 1. I wouldn’t know what to say anyway and 2. I don’t want to.

I still don’t really know what’s going on in my head. I’ve been struggling a lot during the past weeks. Everything seems to be boiling in my body and I don’t know how to deal.

Thoughts are on fire. Body is burning up. Nightmares are getting stronger and weirder again.

I just don’t know.

Life itself is miserable, to be honest. There are some things on my plate that I don’t know how to even approach. Everything seems quite pointless.

Don’t worry, though. I’m still here. Still breathing. Still running.

I’ll keep going. For what, I don’t know. But I will.

I’ll hopefully see you all soon.

Well.

I’m a bit overwhelmed right now. Actually, I’m so overwhelmed, I’m near tears.

Just so you know what I’m on about:

For the longest time I have been talking to my psychiatrist and my therapist about getting back into the working world. And I know I’ve talked about it on here.

How I really want to move out. Earn my own money. Get my life back.

But you can only do so much when you’re being punched in the face by psych disorders every time you try.

So…yeah.

It’s hard to even think about it.

But I finally did something to…well…do something about it. I wrote to the nearest RPK (which basically is rehabilitation for people with mental disorders and difficulties). They help people like me.

And yet…I feel overwhelmed.

By it all. By my situation. By the world.

 

 

Too excited?

Boy, I didn’t think it was gonna be this bad!

My stomach is in a knot and I might even get (this might be tmi so don’t read if you’re afraid of that) diarrhea.

I hate when this happens. I mean…my stomach is upset enough or…easy to upset…on its own, but every time something big is gonna happen it gets overly excited (‘something big’ can actually be something small. Like meeting friends or something.) . And I mean in a really, really bad way. I get nauseous and a bad stomach ache and I don’t wanna eat, which, as you know, isn’t the best thing for someone who’s eating schedule is out of order because of an eating disorder…

I mean…we’re not even leaving Germany. And we’re going by car. And everyone’s gonna come. I’m not gonna be alone or something. So what’s the big deal?

Ugh. I hate this.

Someone know any home remedies?

Maybe I should try the rescue drops…they helped really well when I had my driving test. Mhm.

Yeah. That’s basically it. Just wanted to rant.