Tag Archives: homemade

the perfect bread recipe

In my quest for eating better it’s hard to abstain from certain favorite foods.
A staple in my diet has always been bread. I love german bread, the crunchy crusts and the rich taste (seriously, you have to try german bread!).
As a result of my changed diet however I’m trying to stay away from gluten, lactose (often added to bread) and empty carbs as much as possible.
I had already switched to grain/seed bread but I wanted to try and see if I could find a recipe for baking a nice grain bread at home. I love baking at home and it would give me full control over the ingredients. I looked up some recipes and found a winner quickly!

easy grain bread. little home by hand blog.

I deviated very little from the original recipe but since the source is in German, here’s my translation:

  • 500ml lukewarm water
  • 600g flour ( I used half whole spelt flour, half normal spelt flour)
  • 200g seed of your choice (I use a mix of oats, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and flax seeds / linseed)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (can be substituted with honey or other sweeteners)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packages dry yeast (in german packages that would be enough for 1000g flour)

Dissolve yeast in the warm water with the sugar. Add the flour, seeds and salt. Mix throroughly (the dough is quite wet) and let rise for 30 minutes. Form into a bread shape or fill a loaf pan with the dough and bake at 200°C (ca. 400°F) for 45-60 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Yes, it really is that easy!

easy grain bread. little home by hand blog.

Let the bread cool before cutting and enjoy a filling homemade bread!

So why is this better than storebought bread?
a. The taste of freshly baked bread is divine
b. I used spelt flour instead of wheat flour. Spelt flour is not gluten free but it is much easier to digest than wheat for most people. I also like the taste better.
c. No additives, no added lactose
d. You get to choose the seeds you like best in your bread

The recipe resulted in quite a large bread, so I froze half of it and ate the other half within 6 days. I don’t know how long it keeps but it was fine for the week.
Ultimately I want to try making my own sourdough starter but right now this recipe feels like a great start!

easy grain bread. little home by hand blog.



baby gift – star pillow tutorial

It seems at a certain age all your girlfriends start getting pregnant. Which in turn gives me an opportunity to think up handmade gifts for them and their babies! Cue this little star pillow I made for a friend’s baby boy:
star pillow tutorial. little home by hand blog.
Inspired by star pillows on Etsy I decided to make my own. It’s a nice little evening project.
star pillow tutorial. little home by hand blog.
Draw a star form on paper in the size you want your pillow to be, add seam allowances and cut your template. Cut two pieces from contrasting fabric. I chose some green fabric I had in my stash which also makes it gender neutral.
star pillow tutorial. little home by hand blog.
I also added a stitched face to make it look friendlier. The lines are drawn on with a pencil and then stitched with embroidery floss.
star pillow tutorial. little home by hand blog.
Sew with right sides together, leaving an opening in one of the star legs. Ahem, yes my stars were cut pretty roughly and don’t fit together perfectly. Just cut away any excess fabric once you’re done sewing. I chose to handsew because a. I love me a little handsewing on the couch and b. I couldn’t be bothered to get the sewing machine up for just a few seams.
Clip the corners and curves and turn the pillow inside out. Stuff with polyfill and handsew the opening shut. Et voilà! A sweet, handmade baby gift made in one evening.
star pillow tutorial. little home by hand blog.

handmade advent wreath

Advent wreaths are tradition here in Germany and are usually very colorful and most of all green. I posted a glimpse of the one my mom gave us last year here. The idea is to light a candle each sunday before christmas for 4 weeks, so when the fourth candle is lit it will be christmas.
This year I wanted to make our own advent wreath and make it very simple and elegant and scandinavian inspired. I put a lot of thought into it (my work colleagues will tell you I spent all lunch breaks for weeks pondering on the colors and decorations of this wreath) and in the end nearly everything about it is DIY.
handmade advent wreath. tidytipsy
I first thought of buying a wooden ring, but couldn’t find one I liked, so I made my own using willow twigs collected in the woods.
It’s easier than it looks and secured with wire holds up really well.
handmade advent wreath. tidytipsy
Next were the ornaments. I knew I wanted beeswax candles, so stitched red felt ornaments sounded right and I was itching to do a bit of handstitching anyway.
stitching. tidytipsy
stitching. tidytipsy
stitching. tidytipsy
The candle holders were only available in silver and gold, so we (meaning the boyfriend) simply spraypainted them white.
making christmas ornaments. tidytipsy
It turned out just the way I hoped and I love our handmade wreath which we will be using for years!
handmade advent wreath. tidytipsy

elderflower syrup

It’s that time of the year again where there are elderberry bushes in bloom at every corner. These bushes (or sometimes trees) grow wild pretty much everywhere around here and it always amazes me that hardly anyone knows what they are or “uses” them.

I made elderberry syrup two years ago but found that we didn’t use the rich syrup very often. So this year I wanted to try the lighter version – syrup from the flowers to add to cold drinks.
Making elderflower syrup is very easy, as attested by the fact that I made it between working late and hurrying off to yoga class on a monday evening.

You’ll need a couple (maybe 20-30 at max) elderflower heads, lemons (I used three), sugar and plain water.
I think everyone makes their syrup differently, but here’s how I did it: I stripped the flowers off the plant as well as I could, placed them in a pot and covered them with water. It’s important not to wash the flowers before or you’ll lose the pollen that makes the syrup so yummy.

I left the flowers to soak in the water overnight (this also gives the creepy crawlies time to escape) and then strained the now bright-yellow water through a coarse sieve first and through cheesecloth afterwards. Somewhere in between I added the juice from the three lemons

Now you could use that water to make the syrup right away but I didn’t want to boil it long in case it lost flavour. So instead I boiled down 1 litre of plain water with about 1.5-2kg sugar until it thickened into a nice sticky syrup, then added the elderflower water and brought the mixture back to the boil for a short time.
Now all that’s left is fill the hot syrup into canning jars and bottles (I usually give them a spin in the dishwasher first or, as in this case, sterilize them in boiling water). And you’re done!

The syrup is very sweet and the flavour is heavenly. Add to ice water on a hot day and enjoy.

eating homegrown a.k.a gardening 2011 – part 4

Our balcony is overflowing with green and it changes so rapidly all the time that I barely get a chance to photograph it all!
The peas and beans and strawberries are done for the year but the melons and zucchini and cucumbers fill every available space with pretty yellow flowers.

The big surprise success have been the sugar snap peas. Boy, were those delicious! I have never been a big fan of peas but there really is nothing comparable to the taste of a freshly picked sugar snap pea, their sweetness is out of this world!

We will definitely be growing 3 times as many next year.
A big motivation for growing a balcony garden this year has been that we want to eat better and fresher. And we find that we do which is a bit of a surprise to us. We don’t so much try fancy new recipes but we tweak the simple dishes we know with homegrown produce. The snap peas we ate raw or cooked with pasta and parmesan cheese. Topped with fresh italian parsley it makes a simple dish a delight.

The addition of fresh herbs makes a lot of difference I find and we are trying out lots of new things this year. My favourite to look at and smell is this real italian peppermint plant, brought all the way from southern Italy by a friend whose family is from there. Even just brushing against it the scent is intense and wonderful. It’s a perennial too so we will have lots of peppermint in the years to come 🙂

The zucchini plant has all but succeeded in taking over the whole balcony, it’s that huge!

We ate the first giant zucchini last weekend, putting it in the oven with some tomatoes, onion, garlic and topped with cheese…yum!

And last but not least, all the tomatoes are carrying fruits and while it will be a couple of weeks still until they are ready they are just gorgeous to look at!

I’ll try to get a full balcony shot in the next couple of days, after I get it cleaned up a bit. Right now it’s a bit of a mess, due to having been sick followed by a couple of pretty hectic days at work. But another long weekend has just started over here and I have next week off, so plenty of time for gardening and other stuff.
Wishing you all a great weekend!

homemade elderberry syrup

Our woods are full of wild elderberry bushes and, like I mentioned in this post, this year I wanted to try my hand at making elderberry syrup.
I picked a little more over a kilo of berries which wasn’t an awful lot. I could easily have picked three times that much but I have limited freezer capacity.
To make the syrup you first need to pick out any green and not completely ripe berries, as they are toxic. This will take quite some time and is pretty tiresome but necessary work. Go cuddle the cat before the next step (ok, so this isn’t mandatory but he deserved a cuddle, having patiently watched me pick out the berries for half an hour).

Place the rest of the berries in a stainless steel pot and pour in enough water to cover them. Bring to the boil and boil for a few minutes, until the berries get soft and squishy and release their juice. Then you can strain them, using a wooden spoon to press all the good juice out of them.

Weigh the juice and add the same amount of sugar to it. This will make it very sweet but as the sugar helps preserve the syrup (or so I think) I didn’t feel comfortable reducing the amount of sugar. Let simmer for a few minutes.

Fill the hot syrup into clean bottles to the brim and let the bottles cool upside down to seal them (if you are using twist-off caps).

Done! The syrup is sweet but has a very rich, fruity taste. If you have never tastes homemade syrup you don’t know what you’re missing (I certainly didn’t)!
I plan on taking a teaspoon of syrup with my morning cup of tea each day. If you want to read more on elderberries and their medicinal purpose have a look here and here.