Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sourdough Bread, yum!

Bismillah (in the name of Allah)

So, baking bread with regular store-bought yeast was not cutting it for me. I decided I would give one more try at sourdough (last time I did, about 2 years ago, I ended up with two rocks instead of bread) MashAllah this time with Allah's help and the informative details from Mike I'm succesfully baking sourdough bread. Smells heavenly, tastes deliciously sour and apparently is good to our health.

This is my culture

And this is my first loaf fresh out of the oven

If anyone is interested in details about this ancient art of sourdough making, I would gladly share; otherwise head over to Mike's website, he has an amazing amount of information on anything sourdough related.

It feels so good to eat bread the way it was eaten by our ancestors, whom without any knowledge of healthy bacteria and lactobacillious managed to master this method by trial and error, I imagine. It definately involves some work and time but I believe that anything that is wholesome and beneficial to us does.

I hope you all are enjoying these winter days and take advantage of it to learn the art of homemaking and while you're at it some sourdough making :o)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Happens in my Kitchen Doesn't Stay in my Kitchen

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

Some time ago I found a simple yet delicious apple sauce recipe when visiting Muslim Hippie and I got my hands on some apples, which were given the honour of becoming part of this sweet treat for my munchkins.

I am not a measurer thus you might want to head over to her blog if you need more specific measurements; I peeled, cored and chopped 7-8 apples.

Next I put them in a pot with just a bit of water, about 1/4 cup of honey and sprinkled cinnamon on top. I think next time I might want to put less cinnamon, but that really would be up to your individual taste.

And, after simmering this for about half hour you can mash this into whatever texture and consistency you prefer. It was a hit in my house and even my littlest picky eater had no trouble devouring a cup of this yummy treat.

Oh, and I can't describe the beautiful aroma that spread all over my house, I would do it again just for that, mashAllah.

As for my bread baking season, I have a lot to share in my upcoming post. I have taken the whole thing to a new level and am very satisfied with the results I have obtained so far :o) It's been time-consuming but I'm very thankful to Allah that he's allowed me to put my time and attention to it. I believe and hope that this will become a tradition of my family that will be passed down to the coming generations.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Home-made Bread

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

Since the bread baking bug got in my kitchen I've been very busy. The first night, without having the necessary supplies, I could not wait and decided that I was going to make bread with what I had at hand. And, this came out of the spur of the moment:


It was good but, of course, I could not stop there. It was only the beginning of a very satisfying new season of my life: The bread making season.

Next day I went on a mission to stock up my kitchen with what I needed to make bread from scratch. Fresh organic wheat, more yeast, some spelt and rye, amongst other things. And, without hesitation I moved onto making whole wheat bread from freshly milled wheat.


It has been an amazing experience; not only baking these breads but feeding them to my family as well. They love it and I love giving them something so nutritious. Especially because I'm milling my own wheat, so it's fresh and it isn't stripped off anything; all the goodness of wheat goes into my loaves of bread.

Have you ever heard of Ezekiel bread? It's a recipe that has been interpreted from the bible. I made my own version of this bread as follows:

3 1/2 cup of hard wheat, 1/2 cup of (kidney beans, lentils, chick peas and spelt) and I'm planning on interchanging the legumes that I add to this mix, and possibly making it 1 cup instead of just 1/2. Will update when that happens, and at this rate it could be anytime within the next few days :o)

 Let me get back to my recipe. All gets milled and it yields approximately 6 cups of flour which I mixed with 2 1/2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of oil, 1/4 cup of honey, 1tbs of instant yeast, 1 tbs of wheat gluten, 1 tbs of salt. I kneaded this till smooth, by
hand I would guesstimate it could take 10 min approximately. I let my machine do the work, I know I'm spoiled! It should be ready when you can stretch a piece of it, without tearing it, and see light through it. Then I formed into loaves, placed in a warm place till they about doubled in size and baked at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 1/2 hour. I skipped one rise that typically takes place when making bread, but it worked for me and it saved me time.

This is what I've been doing in these cold days. Perhaps this is yet one more blessing that Allah brings along with winter; we spend more time indoors and become more creative and even take up on new interests.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Name you....

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

A lot has been going on in this house lately; a lot of planning, baking, some more planning, and of course winter fun outside with the kids.

Meanwhile, I thought of a more suitable title for this blog and came up with something I liked. So as of today 'Profession: Mom & Wife' gets replaced by tatata.... 'The Art of Learning' which I believe suits more the reality of the author of this blog, that is me :o) It suits me better from every angle I look at it since I find myself learning every single day in every aspect of my life as a Muslim, wife, mom, homekeeper, etc. And I believe/hope it's never going to change; I am destined to learn for the remaining of my life InshAllah and am very pleased with this notion.
I want to leave you with this:

And will share more about baking on my next post inshAllah (God willing)

Friday, December 3, 2010

"Profession: Mom & Wife" sounds kinda corny doesn't it?

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

I've made up my mind and will change the title of my blog inshAllah (God willing) I want something less dry, more homey, cozier... And I would love any suggestions as to what I should tittle it. I want a title that says more about whom I am and what I dream of rather than some executive type of title.

In a nutshell, I am a convert Muslim (which means I was born something else and when I grew up and learned about Islam I chose it as my way of life), a stay-at-home-mom/wife, I currently live in the city but dream of one day moving my tribe to a more secluded region of, perhaps, this beautiful country (Canada) or somewhere in the middle East, I strive to live a simple life and love everything that relates to it, I love outdoors thus have a little misunderstanding with Mr. Winter, which happens to be very long in these lands.

Don't you agree that 'Profession: Mom & Wife' is a corny title.What y'all think I should title this blog of mine?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Home Business

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

I'm always thinking of jobs that can be done from home, and a few times have contemplated the idea of embarking on the journey of having a home-based business. I've had quiet a few ideas that have sounded promising but when I think about all that it involves and the sacrifices that need to be made I realized that at this point in my life it's better I stay clear from entrepreneuring.

The reason is I believe that I'm needed to support my husband in all he needs to succeed in his post-secondary studies and my children are still young to have a busy mom with little time for them. I know, I know many women manage to do it, and good for them! But in my case I'm very cautious to take such a step that may interfere with my duties as a mom and a wife. Perhaps the day will come and I will let you know, inshAllah (God willing)

Here are some of the business ideas that I have contemplated, in case you are looking for some new ideas:

A halal monitoring authority that grants halal certification to products that range from cosmetics to non-perishable foods, etc. This I believe is highly needed in North America, in the meantime Muslims rely heavily on Kosher certifications or else they have to call each company themselves to find out whether products are ok for them to consume or use.
A diaper service: More and more people are realizing that cloth diapering is the way to go; and I believe this trend is only going to become more popular as more and more people want to reduce their foot print on this planet. A lot of people would prefer to wash their own diapers but what about the busy parents that work outside of home and send their kids to daycare? And, what about daycares? Whom are going to be overwhelmed with the amount of parents wanting to cloth diaper their children and would need the services of such business. And, of course there would be the parents that plainly want to relegate the whole diaper-washing business to the experts and avoid it themselves; why do it at home when you can have your diapers washed and sanitized to a higher standard? And all that is required of you is to change the diaper and toss it in the bin provided by them. I see a great potential in this area but obviously it's an enterprise that requires a significant investment and could only be done from home if you're located in a residential/commercial area.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To All My Muslim Sisters

May you have a blessed Eid, in whatever corner of the world you happen to be, surrounded by those you love.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nighty Night Sweethearts

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

When it comes to homemaking, parenting, Islam, and whatever relates to it I believe myself to be an amateur in her very early attempts. And on top of that, I'm progressing at crawling speed-sigh.

Last night, though, I realized that there's one thing that I had mastered in the parenting arena: I have, alhamdulillah (praised be Allah,) got all my children accustomed to go to bed by themselves. Let me elaborate: I developed sort of a routine where my two older kids get in their pjs, brush their teeth, and go to bed just expecting from me "a warm hug and kisses." After tucking them in bed with 16-month-old in arms I proceed to her room where I nurse her, give her the same dose of hugs and kisses, put her in bed and they're gone to sleep. I know some of you might be thinking,"What's the big deal?" But to me it's a blessing. After I put them to bed after spending the entire day with them, alhamdulillah, I need my time to do whatever I enjoy and spend time with my husband in the evening; and I also believe it's healthy for children to have set bedtimes instead of just being up beyond tire until parents go to sleep. I know too many a case and I know how it can affect people's lives negatively.

I think we had to stop and thank Allah often for the things He blesses us and gives us ease with, and this is what I'm thaknful for today. We could become so pesimistic due to the challenges we face everyday and the difficulties we encounter as parents that our vision becomes so clouded and we can't see beyond the negative. I invite you to look at those little blessings that we are offered everyday. It sometimes can be as obvious as what I shared above but other times it could hide behind seemingly hideous things like a messy house or dirty dishes in the sink. A messy house, dirty dishes? Of course! Having a lively house causes mess, which could be cleared anytime you want, anyways. And, as for dirty dishes in the sink I leave this one up to you to ponder about ;-)

Alhamdulillah for the ease I've been given and all the blessings I am showered with everyday! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fitness Update and a Bit of This and That

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

I've been wanting a camera for almost three years since I left mine to a dear friend in Egypt, which I never regret, alhamdulillah (Praised be Allah) on the contrary, I can't be any more content with her having a little something from me. I thought I would get my hands on a new one as soon as I had the opportunity but time went by and, not being a necesity, I still haven't bought it. A couples of days ago my husband and I decided that it's about time to make the purchase since we're going to have some extra money for such a mundane thing. My husband is not overly fond of picture taking but he knows how much I want it and the joy it would bring to me. It's going to be a couple more weeks till I acquire it and, of course, I will inshAllah be sharing photos here of my surroundings and the little things that I find amusing. Let's hope good things come from it.

On a different note, I've been keeping up with exercising and everytime I find it more enjoyable, alhamdulillah. I'm going to be trying some new exercises that aim at strengthening joints and knees. I had three pregnancies very close to each other and my knees and hips aren't in very good shape, to put it in nice words. So I'm very excited about my new finding and will incorporate it into what I do now; I've been doing cardio, core and strength training recently.

A few nights ago, out of the blue, everyone in the house decided to do some gymnastics. Simple things: summer saults, front flips- I did them with some assistance, of course. You have no idea how much fun it was; I felt alive to be doing such things that used to be part of my everyday life as a child but faded away slowly as I grew older till the point of vanishing. Of course, all the flexibility is gone and so is the bravery but the fun it's still the same. I really recommend it to anyone provided it won't cause damage to their heatlh.

It's cold outside but sunny. Right now I'm trying to decide between doing laundry or going out for a nice stroll around the neighbourhood. I don't think it should be a tough choice...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Precious Time

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

Here I am thinking to write about time management- since this is an area I need to work on, who doesn't?- and I glance at the clock to see the cruel thing telling me that it's nearly 11pm- only because this past weekend we put our clocks back one hour or else it would really be nearly midnight.

I have to start by admitting that my reason for wanting to write on the subject it's not because I'm a pro in time management, on the contrary I seriously have to re-evaluate how I'm spending my time for a number of reasons. First of all, Islamically it's very important to be mindful of how we go about our daily activities and how much advantage we take of our time; in other words, wasting time is not taking lightly: it's sinful. Secondly, I have three little ones and a husband that depend on me for various things: meals, a clean and organized home, clean clothes, and just time to be together and have fun. Moreover, I'm planning on homeschooling and even though that hasn't as yet started formally the time will come very soon when I'll have to teach my son in a more structured way.

My goals are to have a more organized schedule as to how I go about my daily routines. I want to know well in advance what type of meals I'll be cooking, what type of cleaning to do on specific days of the week, and leave plenty of time for unexpected things; with little ones I don't want to have a very rigorous list of to dos.

I'm in the very primitive stages of wisely managing my time but I prefer to be here than to be in denial of my little problem. And one good thing I can learn from my poor time management skills is that I must instill early in the life of my children how to efficiently spend their days so that it becomes a natural thing for them to do instead of having to figure it out all by themselves when they're in the middle of raising a family. But I have to be good at it if I want ot teach it to them, don't you agree?

I grew up without being taught much about being mindful of my time. But it's never too late, it's a little more challenging but not impossible to teach onself good habits in adulthood. I want to incorporate good time management in my life and make it become a habit that stays for good. That's where I am right now; I'm trying to make planning and scheduling second nature. I believe it would make me and my family happier and more productive.

Here are my short term goals:
  1. Go to bed at around 11pm.
  2. Wake up before Fajr (the pre-dawn prayer) and stay up for the day. To read some qur'an and Islamic literature before the kids wake up.
  3. Monitor and limit my time on the internet and on this blog. *sigh*
  4. Rest for 1/2 hour after Dhuhr (the mid-day prayer)
If I can only accomplish these 4 little goals I believe I could make serious positive changes in the life of my family.

My long term goals are, to name a few, to make these routines a habit, to cook in the morning and leave the afternoon for some cleaning and playing with the kids, to spend the evening just being with the family and avoid the interruption of technology.

Now, my challenges are the phone, internet, sleep deprivation, laziness, low energy levels, procrastination, and I leave it here for now. I have very good ideas as to how I should address each one of this challenges; just need the discipline to put them into practise and make them work. InshAllah (God willing), I will work on them and keep track of the improvements and obstacles that arise on my path and post on this blog mainly for future reference and to share with whomsoever happens to come across my little corner.

P.S. I finished off this little piece of writing in the morning; I was a little bad by starting it at 11pm but made it up somewhat by putting it off till today even though my fingers were itching to type some more last night.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Working out

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

I worked out today for the second time in a very long time... It was hard, my body aches, and I felt I did a very lazy work out but, still, that was better than not exercising at all. So, why do I do it? Simply, I want to be stronger and keep healthy so I can have the energy I need to look after my home, husband and children; especially now that the winter days are coming and we spend a great deal of our time indoors.
I was considering joining an only-women's gym but came to the conclusion that I wanted to do this, mainly, to socialize with friends, not that there's anything wrong with socializing but perhaps I can do that without having to pay a fee. I have all I need to do a good work out at home: a treadmill, some weights, a bench press, some rubber bands, and the encouragement and coaching of my dear husband.
I'm going to keep pushing forward and see what type of progess I can make.
In the meantime, my body needs some well deserved rest...