Monday, November 30, 2009

my blood test result

just got my blood test results back. i ought to do a medical check up every year but due to laziness... the last one was done in 2005! of which i lost the results. sigh... so the only reference i have is from 2002.

nothing unusual though the reading that concerns most is cholesterol as my family has not so colourful history in this aspect.

                           2002       2009
Total cholesterol     5.7   4.7
HDL                  1.12    0.97
LDL                   4.2      3.45
Triglycerides       0.8    0.63

overall, 7 years later, my overall cholesterol level has dropped significantly though the LDL is still a bit high.

i believe the diet of less meat, high grain, whole wheat bread, olive oil-instead-of-butter do work!

Monday, November 23, 2009

world meatless day

this wednesday nov 25 is world meatless day.

a bit about us.

we have been slowly reducing our meat intake over the past few weeks. this effort isn't a conscious decision, it's more of subconcious decision as we slowly veer towards organic food.

and choosing organic food is a result of my baking our own bread! hey, if you want to bake your own bread, might as well use the best ingredients possible. if you are going to have a go at it half heartedly, might as well forget it.

now after testing organic bread, you appreciate what's real bread is like and you look down at the commercial variety, especially what goes into it! armed with this insight, now everything we buy, we make an effort to scrutinize what goes into it.

and through bread baking, we got to know mustaffa (of mardia and mustaffa). mustaffa gave us a bar of his organic soap made of coconut oil. boy! this is the best soap we ever used so far!

it doesn't dry our skin. it lasts so long, it cleans so well and it lathers beautifully! so this is what real soap is all about! now we consider the commercial variety as detergent! (which isn't a far off description.)

think about it, out of all the food and consumer products we use every day, even the most basic - bread and soap, couldn't pass the test. what more other food products?

so going organic is for our own health. it's also for the environment as we really don't need all that chemical out there. there is such a thing as a "filler" even in soaps!

now if you care about the environment and your own health, going meatless is the way to go. if you find this too drastic a step, then reducing your meat intake is already going to do wonders.

we still take meat, but less so. when faced with a choice between veggies and meat dishes, we just go for more greens and way less meat.

over the past months, we feel lighter, sleep better and overall a lot more energetic throughout the day.

so it all comes together. go organic, use/eat natural food products, support the organic food industry, reduce your meat intake - and you have a healthier you!

a healthy lifestyle is wayyyy better than trying to cure a sickness.

so let's start off this wednesday with the world meatless day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

whole wheat shortbread butter cookies is quite an interesting site if you want to learn about eating healthy. the more you read about what goes into our food, the more you want to do it right - and cook/bake it yourself.

found an interesting recipe on this site, it's for a whole wheat shortbread butter cookies.

now i don't quite favour cakes nor cookies as it's usually really greasy (usually it's baked with the much cheaper and way inferior tasting margarine) and toooooo sweet. also, it uses baking powder, a chemical i hate to use. what's the point of going organic if you end up adding some baking powder in it?

anyway, that's just my thinking.

so this recipe is interesting as there's no baking powder. and it uses whole wheat flour!

  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
the recipe calls for all organic ingredients. i adhered except didn't go for organic butter, just regular variety. turbinado sugar is really expensive here! could have used raw sugar for the same effect.

mix everything, form into logs, then refrigerate for half an hour to help solidify it.

then cut into slices, place on parchment paper, on baking sheet and bake at 180c for 18-20 minutes.

all this is from the recipe on the site.

as you could see above, some of the sugar was a bit burnt. i overdid it but still liked the cookies.

not too greasy but whole wheat cookies just taste right!

go whole wheat!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

new findings

been baking bread for over a year. tried various stuffs, various recipes, various methods...

current favourite method is the "stretch and fold" technique on very wet doughs, learned from richard bertinent's book "crust".

one thing that i could never quite get right is that the holes on the bread tend to be a lot smaller on the bottom side compared to the top side of the bread. this is directly related to my baking bread with a cold, as in room temp, baking sheet.

ideally, would like to place the very wet dough on a very hot baking sheet and let it bake but could never get this right as how do you handle very wet dough? what kind of peel can do the job?

seems like we need to flour it a lot, but flouring too much destroys the delicate (and delicious crust) while flouring too little... might as well don't flour it.

this bothered for quite a while until i read on some italian pizza baker's forum, this suggestion to use rice flour!


nevertheless, you only know it works if you try it.

see made myself a wooden peel (just a piece of 2mm thin plywood), oiled it with food grade mineral oil, then let it dry. to use it, flour it generously with rice flour.

place the wet dough on it and...

works like magic! the very wet dough has no problem sliding in any direction i want it to!

so finally baked bread - for just the second time - on a very hot baking sheet and the dough responds magnificently!

the sides of the bread "curl up". it doesn't even stick to the baking sheet as the heat bakes and seals the base. inside, the holes are more evenly spaced and the whole bread seems a lot more tender. even better half commented it's much softer to slice.

above is rosemary raisin 80% whole wheat bread. goes very well with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

found this great bread spread too - black sesame spread. simply delicious! goes well with the multi seed, multi grain bread.

there you have it!

ps :  i like my wooden peel so much, if you tell me you need one, i may make one for you!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

a loss to the malaysian bread baking community

few months back, we visited mardia and mustaffa's artisan bakery. it was enlightening for me as we learned so much from a real bread baker!

so it's kind of sad when i got a call from mark (our mutual friend) that mustaffa is leaving malaysia and returning to his home country.

managed to visit him 2 sats ago, just days before he left!

like before, gave lots of good tips and advice on bread baking. i managed to bake 2 loaves the previous day so brought a loaf over to solicit his opinion on my bread.

phew! was glad the master said "it's okay". he mentioned it's a bit crumbly though and pointed out could be due to over-proofing. yes, he is right in this regard. i think i do over-proof the dough as i tend to use less yeast and let time do the rest. but as i'm so absent minded, many times i forgot i got a bread dough waiting to be baked!

so will definitely try less proofing next time.

oh yeah, was overwhelmed by this little gift mustaffa gave me.

it's a grain mill so i could mill my own flour now!

according to mustafa, bread baked with freshly milled flour tastes better and is more tender in texture.

can't wait to try this!

so thanks a lot mustafa for all the advice and this gift.

hope you and your wife the best of your endeavours. wish to meet you again some time in future.