A Family Affair

photo (19)

As you saw in my last post, I’m moving out of my comfort zone and going for my first triathlon. I forgot to mention that Little Man will also be competing in the kids version on the same day. So this morning we went biking and running together in an effort to get him ready. It was so much fun! We both had a blast. Perhaps we’ve found a new mother-son bonding activity….

 

 

Here we are, all sweaty and feeling good after our bike/run workout. Here’s to trying new things!

Trying it On: My First Triathlon

If you’ve spent any time at all reading this blog, you’ll know there’s nothing I love more than hiking. A couple of years ago I added trail running to the ever-growing list of outdoor activities that I enjoy. I never envisioned myself as a runner. In fact, I down right hated to run and thought people who did must be a special kind of crazy. And now here I am, a runner. Trail running has been the perfect mix of physical activity and “me-time” as a busy mom of three little boys. It’s like hiking on steroids. But as my endurance has increased, I’ve been itching to push myself a bit further. I’m may not be in my 20’s anymore, but I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life and I want to see how much I can accomplish. So I had a crazy idea. Why not a triathlon?

In June I’ll be undertaking my first triathlon. It’s a mini version, appropriately named a “tri it on.” So I’ve been gathering my gear and planning. I’m hoping to go for a true sprint version after I get this race under my belt.

tri

 

Tonight I have a swim lesson to brush up on some skills and I’ve started biking again, too. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a bike, I won’t even say how long! And I’ve never swam competitively before. But I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and see what happens. Like I tell my kids, I’m not out to win first place or to beat anyone. The only one I compete against is myself. I’ll post updates as I train. It should be interesting, haha!

 

Simply Sourdough: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Over the last year our family has gone through many changes. One of the most exciting is that I now have the unexpected gift of being able to spend more time at home with my family. That means that I’ve been focusing on making us all healthier and happier. First on my family makeover list was to do a better job of nourishing the family from the inside out. Somehow I came upon the idea to start baking my own sourdough bread. It turns out that I’ve become quite obsessed and I’m having so much fun experimenting with this style of baking! I’m going to share some tips and an easy recipe to get you started. Why not give it a try? Just a warning, it can become quite addicting to have fresh, baked bread in your house on a regular basis….

PicMonkey Collage

What is sourdough?

Sourdough is a bread made by long fermentation of dough using a naturally occurring bacteria and yeast combination, instead of cultivated baker’s yeast. These friendly bacteria are called lactobacilli and they take simple sugar and convert it to lactic acid, which is what gives rise to the slightly sour flavor.

Its history and use go back thousands of years and it’s the original way our ancestors made bread long before cultivated yeast was around. The mix of flour and water in which the lactobacilli and yeast grow and live is called the “sourdough starter.” This starter is maintained and used to flavor and leaven the bread.

Why would I want to make sourdough?

Besides the versatility and fun involved, it turns out that there are health benefits as well. You can read about the beneficial microflora in fermented foods like sourdough, and how they can help you stay healthy. If you’re looking for more than just bread, you should check out my pinterest board for all the fun things you can create from your sourdough starter.

Where do I start?

First, you’ll need a sourdough starter culture. When not in use, it will live in your fridge and you will have to “feed” it from time to time to keep it healthy (i.e. replace what you use with new flour, water and sugar.) You can see the frothy, foamy goodness in the picture of my fed starter above! You can get a starter with a pretty cool history for FREE from this nifty little organization: Carl’s Oregon Trail Starter. They have instructions on how to feed and maintain your starter and some great recipes as well.

Once your starter arrives, you’ll need to take care of your new bundle of yeast as if it’s your pet–because it is! You’ll need something to store your starter in. Glass is best (metal interferes with biochemistry of the yeast) and it needs a lid that doesn’t seal (gases that form during fermentation could rupture your jar.) You can find the one I use here.

While I normally mix, knead and bake my bread by hand, I do sometimes use a bread machine because, well, I’m human. My recipe today uses a bread machine since I figured it’s the gentlest way for first-timers to jump in. And if you’re interested in purchasing a bread machine, this is the one I use.

Sourdough needs a long rise time, so baking in a machine means you have to “cheat” a little and add a some commercial yeast for it to work. However, you still retain the characteristic sour flavor. So while I advocate making sourdough by hand and allowing it enough time to rise on its own, I know in real life that shortcuts can help a tired mama out. So without further ado, here is everything you need to do to crank out your first loaf of sourdough bread quickly and easily. This particular recipe is a kid favorite at our house.

Baking Sourdough in a Bread Machine

You can try out this recipe and omit the herbs if you’re looking for something more plain. This one is kid approved in my house, so I’m sharing it first. I hope to add some more recipes soon.

Sourdough Herb Bread Recipe adapted from the bread machine recipe in Carl’s brochure:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baker’s yeast
  • 2 cups Bread Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 1/3 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons Oil
  • 6 tablespoons Milk 
  • 3/4 cup Starter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil (less if dried)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, dried
  • or you can use any combination/amount of herbs you desire

Add the wet ingredients and herbs first, then add the dry ingredients (protecting the yeast from the wet ingredients.) Place the yeast in last, and make sure to place it in a well in the middle. Bake on Basic with a medium crust.

So there it is–your quick start guide to producing a delicious sourdough bread. Let me know how it turns out!

___________________________________________________________________________

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation or link to any products from this blog.

Hiking Mama is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. You pay the exact same price for any and all products you order through my links, but I receive a small commission to help offset the costs of keeping this blog running.

 

 

Luscious Spring

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

DSC_0663found in the bushes just outside my front porch

DSC_0641

We live in the woods but are lucky enough to have a little patch of land that receives pretty good sunshine during the day. So this year we planted a vegetable and fruit garden. So far things are going well. It’s quite miraculous to see new life springing up all around! Sometimes I find myself just sitting by the garden, staring at the beautiful green plants and soaking up the earthy smell. I think I might be a little obsessed.

DSC_0649 blueberries are growing!DSC_0651 DSC_0655 DSC_0656

Soon we will hopefully be enjoying tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, radishes, spinach, green onions, peas, carrots and spinach.

And my handy hubby created us a double rotating composter out of rain barrels. Pretty cool, huh?!

DSC_0659So tell me, what’s your favorite part of spring?

 

Mother’s Day Weekend for an Outdoor Addict

I spent my Mother’s Day weekend doing three of my most favorite things. Saturday morning I ran in a trail race (and finished 1st place in my age/gender division, yippeee!), I hiked alongside my family to a beautiful waterfall and enjoyed an evening of indoor rock climbing as well. It was great! Although it was a far from perfect weekend in many ways (my special needs son had many, many struggles and hard moments), it was imperfectly perfect to me. I hope all you mamas out there got to celebrate doing something you loved.

And unfortunately I didn’t bring my good camera, so I’ll bore you with cell phone photos instead.

photo (7) I’ve never won first place before, so of course I had to wake up the babe and make the kids pose with me! photo (9) photo (10) photo (12) photo (13) photo (14) photo (15) photo (16) photo (17) photo (1) photo (2) photo (3) photo (4) photo (5)The hike to Ozone Falls is short but the views are spectacular. Definitely a family favorite!

I promise I’m going to pick up the blog again. Really and truly this time!

Camping with Baby: Keep It Simple

This past weekend we embarked upon Little Baby’s first camping trip. He had a blast and was so, so good! The entire family enjoyed the trip. So much, in fact, that we’re going again next weekend. We prefer primitive style camping, so that’s what we did.

altDSC_0788DSC_0785alt1DSC_0794altWe’ve been camping with kids for years now, but this was my first time with an 8 month-old. My two big boys were older than that when they first came home. In preparing for our trip, I came across all kinds of tips and gear made just for baby. In the end, however, I decided to keep it simple. A tent, hammock, outdoor blanket, a baby carrier, some simple toys and lots of changes of clothes. That’s it.

So I’m not going to give you a list of “must haves,” “must dos” or extravagant outdoor baby gear that will be guaranteed to make your trip easy and enjoyable. My one and only tip is to keep it simple and to treasure each moment. You got this. You don’t need a ton of gear or stuff to have an awesome camp out!

 

A New Year

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
― Alfred Tennyson

DSC_0539We welcomed 2014 with a New Year’s Day Hike and with a sigh of relief we said goodbye to a tumultuous year filled with pain, loss, grief and one unexpected blessing. We’re still trudging along and dealing with some of the hardships we’ve been dealt, but we’re ushering in the new year with hope and optimism as well. We chose to start the year off with a hike as a way to solidify our resolution that this year will center on our family connecting on a deeper level with nature.  We look forward to the bonding, healing and wisdom that we will gain from our time together outdoors. DSC_0546alt DSC_0549alt DSC_0557 DSC_0565 DSC_0572

Happy new year to you all!

 

Nature’s Grand Finale

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ~Lauren DeStefano

Nothing makes my heart and soul sing more joyously than a hike with family through the autumn leaves! So grateful that I live in a part of the country where autumn is always breathtaking and the temperatures are just perfect. I hope you are enjoying the fall where you live as well. How do things look where you are today?

DSC_0331alt DSC_0327 DSC_0292 DSC_0324 DSC_0332 DSC_0305 DSC_0316

On the importance of getting out “there”

….no matter what “there” means to you.  While the past 8 months or so were quite eventful, stressful and busy for us, we did manage to enjoy some fun as well. In fact, the best and most peaceful times seemed to be while we were out enjoying our “there”–the great outdoors. Let’s play catch up:

Winter hiking (this past February) at Rock Island State Park:

hiking2

481103_10200550094740131_1162297966_n 72609_10200550095140141_1759153288_n 543554_10200550092660079_2050148115_n 556345_10200550095540151_417429882_n 529919_10200550096140166_1709973398_n 282755_10200550097140191_430176213_n

Early spring hiking in the Smoky Mountains:

DSC_0306 DSC_0307 DSC_0322 DSC_0323 DSC_0325 DSC_0338 DSC_0339 DSC_0348 DSC_0354 DSC_0359 DSC_0363

Summer coastal fun at St. Simon’s Island:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFort Frederica 1Fort Frederica 8DSC_0079

Jeannie Reeves Photography  www.jeanniereeves.com

And of course, Little Man was able to run the Columbia Muddy Buddy again this past summer:

MB3 MB1 MB2

There were also lots of Little Man-Daddy fishing and kayaking trips and visits with family. I’m so thankful we took the time to get outside, even during one of the craziest times of our lives. Despite a difficult pregnancy, a year filled with psychiatric breakdowns for one of our sons and so much more, we did it and I’m proud of us for showing our children what is truly important in life.  It was so worth it–to all of us!