Dear (Yoga) Diary, Part 3

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Days 19-24

Forgive me if I jumble this whole week’s worth of experiences into one big blob of words.  I had a really busy week this past week at work.  Does anyone remember their elementary school book fair?  Well, that’s what we had happening in the library!  Fun times, but tiring as well.  And Carie, you are an amazing sport to be Clifford- thank you!!!

As a bonus for his week, my dad came to visit!  He retired 4 years ago and now enjoys telling everyone that he has Saturday every day.  He reads a lot, takes the dog for lots of walks, and also hunts for abandoned golf balls on the golf course right next to their house.  When he’s not doing those fun things, he helps my brother and I with projects and last week was my turn!  He replaced the door knobs and hinges on all of our upstairs doors, repaired my son’s closet door, repainted our baseboards in the kitchen and sanded and painted all of the window sills downstairs.  He also re-stained our deck as it was fading and needed a touch up from last year.  It looks great!  Thanks, Dad!  And my mom deserves the mother of the year award because she did 500 loads of my laundry when I went to see her.  Thanks, Mom!  ❤  I had fun with you this weekend!

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So after the crazy book fair days and parenting a teenager, I got to visit and catch up with my dad in the evenings.  It was so much fun and I can’t wait until we live closer.  What did all that activity mean for my yoga practice?  Well, I’m happy to say I did yoga every day except for one.  I find it easier after these 3 weeks to settle my mind and focus just on the mat.

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Sometimes I still whine in my head about “having” to do my yoga before I pull my mat out.  But I kind of think that’s just how I am about any kind of exercise.  The neat thing is, doing yoga has taught me that I can breath through discomfort and still move with (some) grace and a smile.  So I’m learning to notice those thoughts, recognize them for what they are, and then let them go and move on.

Okay!  So one more yoga update next week and then we will be back to the regularly scheduled kitchen updates!  Several things are brewing in the kitchen and I can’t wait to share them.

Namaste,

Keri

Dear (Yoga) Diary, Part 3

Day 12.pngDay 12– Another day of outdoor yoga at the campsite!  I still felt really strange doing yoga in “public” but I persevered, ha!   I keep thinking of what Adriene said at the end of day 6:  May we see the truth, speak the truth, and feel the truth.  Those words are still working in my head.

Day 13– Today was a very relaxing day at the campsite.  I spent a lot of time napping in the hammock and reading my book.  We had our friends out and they fed us a lovely dinner of chicken and potatoes in foil packets with lemon and rosemary.  Yes, I have friends who bring gourmet food out to the campsite and they even bring pie for dessert!  Isn’t that the best?  Thanks, Charity!  We bribed the teenager to play a board game with us after dinner and Stephen even hauled out his massive telescope so we could see some stars.  It was a great day, and the yoga for the day consisted of Charity and I taking a deep breath before dinner and saying Namaste to each other.  Ha!  I felt guilty over missing a day of yoga, but then decided to just roll with it.

Day 14– Wow, the goddess pose is fun but man, taking it so low was hard!  My legs felt shaky and I for sure worked up a sweat today.  And am I the only one who has a hard time hiking my leg up from down dog to a lunge position?  I can never smoothly bring my foot up under my chest without several readjustments and sometimes literally grabbing my leg and pulling it where it should be.  Sigh.

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Day 15– I really needed today’s yoga practice called listen.  It was just what I needed after yesterday’s vigorous practice of strength and harmony.  Even bending over my outstretched leg is a challenge.  I can do it, but certainly am not able to wrap my hands around my foot at the same time.  I definitely have a ways to go there.  But I really enjoyed the pretzel like pose where we were balancing on our bottom and afterwards where we rotated one leg around and massaged the glutes- amazing!

Day 16– Today Adriene talked about self-love on and off the yoga mat.  I really craved today’s yoga session and it didn’t fail.  I love taking the time to stretch and move my body.  It seems so weird that I didn’t do this before at all.  How was I even connected to my body before?  I was mostly just a floating head.  But with yoga, I feel like I give myself just a half and hour each day to honor the fact that I have a body and to care for it, to move it, stretch it, love it, and relish the fact that I am able.

Day 17– Today’s yoga was just what the doctor ordered.  I spent all morning cleaning out the flower beds in the front yard, and I have to say, I can really tell a difference in the awareness that I had in my body.  Not only did I feel stronger and move easier, but I actually enjoyed the bending and stretching and I found myself being aware of my breathing and integrating that awareness in to each movement.

Day 18- My dad is here today for the rest of the week!  While dinner was in the oven, I managed to sneak in yoga.  It actually ended up being perfectly timed!  I really enjoyed the stretches today, since I had a bit of stiffness after the garden work yesterday.  It felt really great to work some more of that out.

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How is your yoga practice progressing this month?  It’s never to late to jump in!  This challenge is NOT about perfection.  So what are you waiting for?

Namaste,

Keri

Dear (Yoga) Diary, Part 2

Day 6– True confession:  I watch the Bachelor every time it airs.  It’s kind of a ritual now between my mom and our friend, Traci.  We watch live and text each other the whole time- usually about how short the dresses are or how much cleavage the girls are showing.  In case you are wondering, it’s always too much cleavage, but I suppose that’s a matter of opinion!  Ha!  Because I worked late and had the Bachelor, I only had one hour from arrival at home to eat and do yoga and all the other getting home kind of things like playing with Charlie.  So, tonight I cued up a quick 5 minute morning yoga video on Adriene’s channel.  I’m glad I adapted the challenge to suit my schedule and pulled out the mat, even if it was only a few minutes.  Also, I noticed soreness in my abs from the previous planks, so yay!

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Day 7– After only doing 5 minutes of yoga yesterday, I wanted to catch up with the challenge, so I did day 6&7 in a row.  It was so energizing!  Day six was Kindle and I loved the breathing technique of audibly using the “sh” sound during exhale.  At the end, she said, “May we always see the truth, speak the truth, and feel the truth.”  Wow.  It almost brought me to tears.  I have loved how this journey has been so enriching to my body and my soul.

Day 8– I was feeling very tired after work today.  We are on the downhill slide to spring break and man.  Everyone is feeling it.  I’m not going to lie, I was dreading taking the time to do yoga today as I just wanted to veg on the couch.  But once again, I was so glad I did it, because today’s video with Adriene was perfect and restful.  Just what I needed!  I love the feeling my body has when I’m done- all energized and relaxed and centered at the same time.

Day 9– Today I was in a funk even though it was the last day of work before the break.  Hubby had to switch around some time and is not able to take off this week, so I was feeling disappointed, but I understood.  It was not the start to spring break that I had imagined in my head.  But yoga felt good and Adriene’s encouragement was just what I needed.  At the beginning, she said, “Day Nine, you are killing it!”  Even though I know she’s speaking broadly to everyone,  a part of me felt cheered inside at hearing her acknowledge that I was doing something right.  You never know when someone needs that small word of encouragement, so don’t hold back!

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View from our campsite- classic Texas.  It was a lovely setting for my first time at outdoor yoga!

Day 10– So, today was our first of several days at the campsite.  The weather was so warm and beautiful!  It was a joy to do yoga outside during such a sunny, gorgeous day.  But, I’m not gonna lie, I felt a little silly knowing that others in the campground could see me.  Oh well!  Oh, it was the first time my heels both touched the ground in downward dog, too!  That was an amazing feeling of progress.  I was sweaty when I finished but felt great.

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Moonlight Yoga!

Day 11– Tonight I did yoga in the dark at our campsite around 8:30 pm.  The good news is, nobody could see me!  I was grateful that it was one of the shorter sessions, at only 17 minutes because it was cold outside.  The wind was stirring and it was chilly, but even though I had bare feet they didn’t feel cold until the end.  I was very grateful that I made time today to continue my yoga journey.

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Charlie and Tim test driving our new hammock!  It is fabulous- thanks Mom and Dad!

How is your yoga journey doing?  I’d love to hear from some of you who are participating in this challenge as well!  Let’s encourage each other!

Namaste,

Keri

Dear (Yoga) Diary

Day 1:  I’ll be honest, a midweek start feels awkward, shouldn’t this start on Monday?! But on the other hand, I’m relieved I had some time to mentally prepare for the challenge earlier in the week, as I decided to jump in fairly impulsively. I have loved connecting with you all over Instagram, by text, and here.  Please reach out, it does make a difference.  Day one was fun because SURPRISE!  Adriene has a 30 day challenge already lined up that she started on January 2nd!  I had planned to do the beginner yoga series, but this already crafted 30 day challenge sounds perfect.  Day one was also fun because my friend Charity and I face timed while we did our yoga together!  Ha!  It was funny to see how her cat and my dog were both curious about what we were doing on the ground.

Day 2:  I had the day off, so yay!  Extra time!  That was a huge bonus and allowed me to do my yoga during the day when I would normally be working.  I continued in the same series with Adriene.  I have to admit that sometimes the plank (and other poses) made my legs tremble with effort.  But I absolutely love the way I feel after doing the yoga.  I became very aware and had to struggle with judgemental feelings toward my body today.  When we started with hands over heart, my boobs felt like they were in the way. When I was in child’s pose, my legs felt thick and I wasn’t laying as flat as someone thinner than I would.  I had to remind myself that yoga is for all body types and remind myself to be kind and loving.  Funnily enough, when I went to get my hair cut that same day, my friend and hair stylist, Sarah (Hi, Sarah! <3) commented that I looked like I was thinner, so there ya go.  We are always our worst critics, right?

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Day 3: I was feeling frustrated and hungry right before doing yoga today.  I also saw that today’s yoga workout was 34 minutes, which is one of the longer ones.  Surprisingly, though, time went very quickly.  I noticed tightness in my lower back again today and it feelt so good to spend some time working that out a bit.  I sit on a wobble stool at work, and I think my posture is not always the best, which is affecting my lower back.  The happy baby pose and rocking up and down felt so good!  Also, the breathing and just moving my body really helped with my frustration.  When I was done, I felt light and happy and so glad I started this challenge.  Yoga gives so much back!

Day 4:  Even though this was one of the longest sessions today, the time went so fast.  My mantra for these 30 days is simply 3 words:  Strength, Balance, Flexibility.  I want to increase all of these aspects of my body.  Being 42, I’m feeling conscious of the fact that I’m getting older every day!  I mean, I’ve got an almost 16 year old son and inside I still think “How is he 16 already, wasn’t I just in high school?!”  A few years ago, I lost my grandmother and it was very hard to see her decline as she aged.  My dad’s mom is in her 90s and still doing so incredibly well.  She’s my role model for aging well, because she is active and so mentally with it.  So these thoughts are in the back of my mind all the time.  What kind of an old person do I want to be?

Day 5:  Today’s yoga was so good!  I loved the emphasis today on connecting breathing to movement.  I got to Face Time with Charity and her little 3 year old tonight, it was so unbelievably adorable.  Already I feel myself being looser and more comfortable on the mat, so I’m excited to see what the rest of this challenge brings.  I struggle a little bit to make sure that I’m doing the poses correctly.  I find the breathing and the rhythm of yoga to be very grounding and stress relieving.

It’s not too late to join in if you want to join in!  Simply comment on any of my Instagram posts expressing interest and I’ll add you to each yoga related post to keep you motivated throughout the month.  See you on the mat!

Namaste,

Keri

30 Day Yoga Challenge!

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I’ve always wanted to have a regular yoga practice, but it’s something that I’ve never put forth much effort into.  Sure, I’ve gone to a few random classes and I’ve got a mat at home neatly rolled up and put in a closet somewhere.  Years ago, I bought the beginning yoga DVD with Rodney Yee and did it several times.  But I’ve never managed to implement yoga consistently into my life.

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There’s something about yoga that keeps pulling me back to try again, however.  It seems like a practical exercise that builds strength and flexibility, is cheap to practice, and doesn’t rely on good weather or going to a gym.   And it seems like something that I could start doing now that will pay dividends as I age.  I’ve noticed that my balance is worse.  It’s never been great to begin with, if I’m honest, and I’m only 42!  I picture myself at age 62 and 72 and 82, and imagine what I want my health and activity level to be.  Yoga seems like it might help me reach those ages in the kind of shape I’d like to be in.

So.  Are  you with me??  I’ll be starting out with my favorite local Austin yoga YouTuber, Yoga with Adriene.  She’s got a great beginning yoga practice playlist that I will start with.  I’m not going to set any time limits or major rules to this challenge.  I’d just like to do yoga for 30 days in a row.

I’d love to hear from you if you would like to join in.  Make sure you follow me on Instagram @kitchenwithkeri for updates and click Join on the upper right hand of this page so you can stay posted on my progress!

 

Adventure: Knife Class

I’ve always been one of those people who envy home cooks that use proper knife skills and can cut veggies quickly.  Just think of the time savings in the kitchen if you were better and faster at cutting and prepping the vegetables, right?!

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So, when my friend, Monica, suggested we take a Knife Skills 101 class offered by Central Market in Austin, I was totally up for it.  It was so much fun!  Next time, I really need to read the instructions for the class first, because my friends and I ate dinner together at the cafe downstairs and then headed up to the class… where they proceeded to serve us dinner.  Whoops!  My husband was happy with our stir fry leftovers, though!

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We learned so many great tips and cut an onion, a pepper, a carrot and a tomato.  It doesn’t sound like a lot of items for 2 hours, but we were really concentrating on using our new techniques.  Cindy, our instructor, came around to each of us and literally guided our hands and arms to use the right technique.  She was so patient and knowledgeable.

One of the things that she said was to go home and USE the new skills, otherwise we would forget.  With that in mind, I made this quick video explaining some of the most  helpful takeaways from the class.  I hope you can learn a few tricks to help you out in the kitchen as well!

 

This was my first video ever, so please be kind!  And I’d love it if you would subscribe and give a thumbs up on YouTube.  Julie, this one is for you!  Thanks for the encouragement.  ❤

Cheers,

Keri

Favorite Things 2017

For those of you who have been hanging around for a year, you may remember last year’s Favorite Things party.  If you are new, let me fill you in!

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Does anyone remember Oprah’s Favorite Things show where she would give away one of her favorite things to each audience member?  The idea is the same for the party.  All through the year, we think about what our absolute favorite thing is, and then we buy one for each of the other six friends who come to the party.  There are a few rules: the guest list does not change.  Everyone makes the party a number one priority on their calendar for the year.  And finally, there’s no dollar limit imposed.

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How much is that doggy in the window?

As the creators of Christmas magic in our families, we felt a smidge overlooked when several of us said we were even buying stuff for our OWN stockings.  In an effort to bring a little bit of magic to the season for ourselves, we started this gathering, and now it has been 12 years.  Some of us only see each other the one time a year, others, much more often.  But one thing that has been unchanging is our dedication to the event and each other.

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So welcome to the 12th annual Favorite Things at Sherry’s house!  I’ll give you an inside peek into the party.

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Every year, the table looks amazing!  My mom does such a great job with this part.  All the little finishing touches are just right.  There’s usually a small gift at the table for each person, and this year, there were two- the placecard picture frame and a custom made wooden hanger on the back of each chair.

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My mom’s house is always so beautiful.  I took several pictures.  Here are a few to enjoy!

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I love the “stay awhile” frame and the pine cone print in the entry way.

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Beautiful fall mantel decorations

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She has such a green thumb!  I wish I had inherited that!

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It was a gorgeous fall day, so even the outside was decorated!

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I couldn’t resist photographing my gift and my mom’s gift before everyone came over.

When everyone arrived, we put the presents on my mom’s bed and gathered for drinks and appetizers.

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Did I mention the other unspoken rule?  Everyone wraps their gifts beautifully!

We played a few fun games (no toilet plunger this year, darn it) and had a blast.  Then it was time for dinner.  I wish I had taken a picture of the entire spread, but it was amazing!

Here’s a snapshot from Instagram of the main course, though:

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Creamy Chicken Alfredo

So what was in those pretty packages?  Here’s a peek at some of the gifts:

 

 

 

Adventure: Austin, Texas!

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Get comfortable, because today we are headed into downtown Austin, Texas!  Austin is the best city in the state, and not just for the usual reasons.  You know, live music capitol of the world, great weather, lake and trails for fun outdoor activities… need I go on?

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But even though it is so amazing, it takes something extra special to lure me away from home.  I’m a homebody, in case you didn’t know.  I LOVE being home.  But when I heard that the new Austin Public Library Central branch was complete, I decided that it was just the nerd kind of fun that we all needed.

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And, I figured it would make a great excuse to visit one of my old favorite restaurants that I haven’t been to in years- Maudie’s, Too.  In fact, it’s been so long that even Tim has never been and he’s been here for 6 years.

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Everything is so built up along south Lamar, I didn’t recognize where I was until we were just upon the restaurant!  If you are visiting town, Maudie’s is a great place for good ole’ Tex-Mex comfort food.  This is the kind of deliciousness that Texans dream about when they are out of state.

Side note:  One time when I was living in New Jersey, I asked a new friend of mine where to get Mexican food in the area.  She thought really hard and…. wait for it…. she said, “Chili’s is in town.”  I’m just going to let that sink in for a minute.  Yeah.  All my fellow Texans are shivering in horror, right?!?

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Nothing green on this plate!

I decided to have migas, which is a breakfast plate that has scrambled eggs, onions, peppers, tomatoes, broken bits of tortilla chips, and QUESO.  Yep, queso.  So delicious!  And what’s a breakfast-for-lunch meal without a few beers, too, right?

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If you go, you have to sit out on the patio.  You can chill and watch the traffic go by on South Lamar.  And because it’s November in Texas, it was perfect patio weather for us at a balmy 80 degrees.  You’ll have an audience of pigeons, which actually adds to the charm.  Or maybe it was charming because of the beer.  Either way, it’s a magical place that you can settle in and absorb some good Austin culture.  Every now and then an acorn falls off the tree above the tin roofed patio and gives a satisfying clang and everything feels right with the world.

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Who are those crazy people in the reflection?

After filling up, we headed to the library.  Their parking garage was at capacity, so we parked at one down a few blocks and walked some pretty landscaped paths.  I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures of the boys, of course.

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We rounded a corner, and there it was!  The new library looking gorgeous and modern and inviting.  Tim said that the Seattle Public Library is better.  And I suppose to a mechanical engineer, it might be!  But this one looks perfect for Austin.

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The ground floor level will eventually have a cafe, and since it faces the lake, I’m sure it will be very popular.  The library is also home to an art gallery space and it opened featuring the work of Lance Letscher, a local collage artist who works on old books!  Here’s a few of my favorites on display:

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We enjoyed tromping around all 6 floors of the library and found some really neat work spaces, gardens, patios, and places to explore.  If you go, look up when you are in the atrium to the door on the 6th floor.  You’ll know which one I’m talking about!

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Gorgeous main atrium

This hands on art is in the children’s patio.  I showed Will, and his eyes lit up.  He looked at me and I looked at him and in that one glance we both knew without saying anything that that would have been his favorite place in the entire library when he was little.  So of course, it’s got a special place in my heart already.

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After all of the exploring, we were ready for our last treat of the day.  I’ve been hearing about Gordough’s food truck for a long time.  It’s practically legend, and I can see why.  It’s one of those unique Austin experiences, for sure.  It’s casual and unassuming like most of Austin and not to be missed.

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Who’s in that reflection again?

They have crazy, gluttonous donut concoctions, like the Elvis and even one called the Flying Pig with a nest of bacon on top and drizzled in maple syrup!  These are not regular donuts, so come hungry and ready to indulge. I told the boys we had to stop here “for the blog” ha!  I hope you guys enjoy my sacrifice.  I’m such a team player.

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We got ours to go, but couldn’t resist sitting down at the picnic tables and tasting a few bites before we headed home.  They were warm and gooey and delicious.  Every bit as amazing as everyone says!

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Mama’s Cake.  This donut actually has a hole, but you can’t tell because it’s filled with warm chocolate and cake batter drizzle.  This is the one I had and it was amazing.

 

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The ODB.  This was Tim’s choice, of course, ha!  Donut holes smothered in frosting and rolled in coconut.

 

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The Big E-Z.  This one was right up Will’s alley, with sugar and more sugar.  It came with literally mounds of powdered sugar and honey to drizzle.

I hope you enjoyed our peek into a classic Austin day!  What are your favorite local Austin hot spots?  I’d love to hear, and maybe I’ll head that way next!  And click follow on the right if you want more Austin features.

Adventure: Flour

If you’ve noodled around on my blog, you may have noticed that some of my recipes are very practical and easy, and some of my content is more… nuanced and involved.  This is because sometimes I just need to get yummy food on the table, stat, and sometimes I like to play a little and research a little deeper with some things.

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Flour is a topic that I have delved deeeeeeply into.  Like, fallen down the rabbit hole deep.  I realize that most people haven’t given flour much thought. And if you are one of those people who haven’t thought about flour or simply pick up a new package at the store when you run out, that is totally fine.  And probably very normal.  But I was curious about the nutrition aspect of flour and why it is so demonized by certain groups today when bread has been eaten for years upon years.

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The TL;DR answer is that I use freshly milled home ground wheat flour. But the flour is only one part of the equation for health. The oldest and most nutritionally beneficial preparation for bread is sourdough and other forms of fermented bread.

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Come to find out, sourdough isn’t just a flavor.  Authentic sourdough bread uses a wild yeast starter for the rise of the bread instead of relying on manufactured yeast packets.  Wild yeast fermentation is what’s been used for centuries upon centuries.

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I would LOVE to have one of these awesome NutriMill stone-ground machines for my kitchen.  Aren’t they gorgeous?!  If you have time, watch the video.  But I think my hubby might croak if I bring another appliance into the kitchen.  Ha!

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I’ve been saving my bargaining for a KitchenAid mixer soon, and I know there are attachments for that to grind flour.  I’m way too impatient to wait for that purchase, though.  Using the tools I already have, I decided to use my Vitamix for grinding my flour.  I had to buy the dry container for grinding wheat, which costs around $100 on Amazon.  

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Grind up to two cups at a time in the dry container.

I buy my  wheat berries in bulk at Whole Foods.  You can bring in any size container and fill it, so long as you get it weighed at customer service first.  So I’ve got one of my old Tupperware containers that we used for cereal to hold all my gorgeous wheat berries.  

It does a great job grinding the flour to a fine consistency.  I do lightly sift the flour afterwards to take out the larger pieces of bran that can puncture the bubbles in the bread dough and cause a denser loaf.  

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When I was at the Homestead Heritage a few months ago for my sourdough bread class, I got to see their historic wheat mill in action.  That was amazing!  I got to meet their miller, who gave us this interesting factoid:  The saying “keep your nose to the grindstone,” comes from millers, not blacksmiths and blade sharpeners.  It has to do with grinding wheat and making sure that the wheat doesn’t get too hot and destroy the nutrition.  Millers know how the wheat smells at various temperatures and that’s how that saying evolved.  Even when I was standing there in the creaky old wooden mill with those massive stones turning and turning, he could notice the difference in the smell of the wheat and made adjustments as we stood there talking.  It was a fascinating experience that I highly recommend.

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The Homestead Heritage in Waco is a great place to learn about traditional cooking techniques.

And speaking of heat and grain, whole wheat flour spoils more quickly than regular flour because it has all of the natural oils from the entire wheat berry.  Once I grind it, I store my flour in the freezer until I’m ready to use it.

If you are curious what research lead me to my conclusions, I can point you to several resources.  You truly must watch the documentary Cooked on Netflix with Michael Pollan based on his book of the same name.  He thoroughly explores the process of fermentation and its role in health.  Seriously, stop right now and add it to your queue.  

 

I would also highly recommend Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently by Dr. David Ludwig and Grain of Truth: The Real Case For and Against Wheat and Gluten by Stephen Yafa.  Both of these books provide a balanced, critical examination of carbs in general and flour in particular.  

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