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Personal Freedom vs Living Costs

We are brought up thinking that money can buy happiness, but freedom of time is what really leads to happiness. Yes, having money can give you the ability to choose how you spend your time, but this has more to do with your cost of living than it has to do with how much you make. If you can reduce your cost of living to the point that you are living substantially within your means, can stay as debt free as possible, can build savings and wealth, and can find ways to earn money that either doesn't require your time (like residual income) or is time you would be spending doing what you love to do anyway, then that will lead to true security, personal freedom, and happiness. Think of it kind of like a business. In business, you want to generate profits and invest those profits to build more profits. Here you want to generate time savings and invest that time to generate even more time savings. To generate that savings, you need to first consume less than you produce, then s
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Lunch Toast #1: Avocado, Sauerkraut, Pickled Jalapeno

I am a person of routine. Just like my morning workouts, I also try to stick to the same breakfast and lunch routine all week long. Why not eat something everyday that makes me feel great, is a super tasty, and provides amazing well-balanced nutrition? Just like Steve Jobs wore his same black turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance shoes to make him focus on other things that required more of his focus, I too do the same for my meal routine. For lunch, it's all about toppings on toast featuring my homemade sourdough bread. The base of the toppings is sauerkraut. It's critical for digestive health to have fermented food everyday. Sauerkraut is the perfect fermented food for me. It adds a veggie and a delicious tang and texture to savory dishes.  The first lunch topping featuring sauerkraut is avocado. It adds so much more flavor to a plain avocado toast. The final topping to set the dish over the top is pickled jalapeno. The brightness, pickliness, and spiciness is the perfect c

Importance of Rice Flour in Bread Making

A couple of the Sourdough Bread Resources that I found mentioned using rice flour at the final stage of bread making when you are putting the dough into a batard. I can vouge for this. At first, I didn't have rice flour so I was just using plain wheat flour. I would get a flour crust on the batard that got worse over time. And I was never really able to clean it. One day it dawned on me that I didn't need to buy rice flour. I have white rice and I have a flour mill attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. I realized I could easily make my own rice flour. From that point on, I started using rice flour, and it works so much better. The rice flour does not absorb water like wheat flour so the dough doesn't stick to the batard and it releases so much easier into the baking dish. When I started using the round batard, I made sure to only use rice flour. You can see from the picture how much cleaner the round batard has stayed compared to the oval batard even though it has been used

Driving Slower Saves Money

It seems the whole nation is clued into inflation now. The U.S. has had an extraordinary increase in prices in the first half of 2022, especially for staple items like food and gas. It is in environments like this that the tips and techniques on this website can really help families and individuals. Consuming less and saving more becomes even more critical. One of the key ways to save gas is to drive slower on the highway. The Department of Energy has done some extensive testing on how gas mileage performance declines the faster someone drives. According to the chart below, fuel economy decreases by 27% at 80 mph versus 60. Even just changing from a top speed of 75 mph down to the standard 65 mph can be a 5 mpg swing. Also key is to pay attention to your acceleration and deceleration. Accelerating faster takes much more gas mileage than accelerating with a lighter touch on the gas peddle. Also quick decelerating means you've wasted the gas it took to get to your current speed that

How To Cut Boule-Style Round Bread Loaf

Cutting a fresh baked loaf of bread can actually be a bit of a challenge. I have the cuts on my fingers to prove it. They are a little too wide for most bread knives and laying them flat leaves a thick crust on the cutting board that can be difficult to cut through. After watching the MasterClass segment with Apollonia Poilane , I learned a much simpler and safer way to cut a round boule-style loaf. The first step is to cut it in half. This is the trickiest part because if you lay it flat, it can be difficult to get through. You can stand it up on its side but then it is unstable. The real trick to this first part is to ensure you have a sharp serrated bread knife. American's Test Kitchen's top serrated knife is the Mercer 10" Serrated Knife . The best part is it's also very affordable at less than $30 and available on Amazon. I had a lousy bread knife before I had this one and I can honestly say it's definitely worth getting. It cuts through the crust like a dream

My Best Sourdough Bread Recipe

I've been making sourdough bread for over 2 years now since the start of the COVID pandemic. I've been averaging about one week a loaf so that is over 100 loaves. During that time, I've had some successes and failures with the goal of continuing to get better in the pursuit of an epic loaf of bread. In a way, it's my own "pursuit of happiness" since a goof loaf of bread is happiness to me. So it's kind of fitting to post this the day before July 4th.  My issues and struggles over the last 24 months had to do with not getting the right structure to allow the dough to rise up instead of out and create the coveted "ear" where the dough expands from the razor slit to create amazing lift and airy texture. If done right, you can get a tall loaf look without the need for support in the oven. I just couldn't get there. Instead I would use a cast iron loaf pan to provide structure. It worked but I knew it was a cheat. I kept researching different tech

Sourdough Bread Resources

I'm one of the COVID sourdough folks that finally used the time at home to give it a try. That included creating my own sourdough starter from scratch (which I still use today) and then venturing into the deep and complex world of creating an epic sourdough loaf. It has now been over two years and I've been baking on average about one loaf a week so that is over 100 loaves now. Pretty crazy how time passes like that. Each week I've tried to perfect the ingredient ratios, my technique, and all the other factors that go into great sourdough bread making. There have been several resources that have helped me on my journey that I want to provide to others on a similar journey.  These taught me (1) the importance of the various phases in developing structure (autolyse, bulk fermentation, folding/shaping, and cold fermentation), (2) ingredient ratios with a target of an 80% hydration dough, and (3) baking techniques like temperature, cookware, proofing and scoring tools, dusting

Interesting Names for Boys, Girls, and Pets

On this Father's Day, I wanted to share my list of unique and interesting names that I've been collecting over the years. I don't have kids myself yet but I do have dogs, and I enjoy discovering new names that I could see naming a boy, girl, or pet. I blended all the names together and sorted alphabetically because the delineation between names and genders is blending. There are also some incredible names not yet on this list. It is only a reflection of my own reality and exposure, which admittedly could be considered limited in breadth and diversity. When picking a name yourself, use this list as a starting point and certainly not an all inclusive list. Abbot Abigail Alana Alfred Amber Annabel Ansel Anton Archibald Arne Ashworth Augustine Benedict Bixby Bowser Bozeman Brady Breanna  Bugsby Buster Butler Calvin Carson Chancellor Chill Claire Clayton Clerit Coconut Collin Colt Conrad Coozy Copper Cornelius Corrine Cortessa Covington Cowboy Cricket Crosby Da Vinci Dahlaila Da

Chicken Tragedy Part 2

WARNING: this is graphic. The 2022 chicken season was not meant to be. It really all started in 2020 when I had my first Chicken Tragedy . After losing all my chickens to a predator just before summer got going, I was ready to start over. I had the time on my hand since it was still the early stages of COVID where I was home a majority of the days.  But even getting to the egg-laying chicken stage that year was difficult. I went through 8 chicks over the course of four months and only ended up with two that made it to adulthood. Some died of natural causes while chicks. Some found escape routes from the coop while they were small and my dog got them. The two that did make it were a joy. One was a Plymouth Rock breed and the other was a surprise Wyandotte (they both were supposed to be Plymouth Rocks). The Wyandotte had a beautiful feather pattern with an orange head and a black body but the feathers had a blueish green shimmer to them in the light. My nieces named that one "Eclips

Pickled Green Beans

Following up on my new found simple pickling method for Mexican Style Pickled Carrots, I decided to tackle pickled green beans. Again Costco, had a deal on two pounds of green beans that I jumped on, but needed a way to preserve some of them. What better way than pickling! Note, like the pickled carrots, I take some shortcuts in the preparation that don't leave the jars completely sterile. To minimize my personal risk, I ensure the pickled green beans are always refrigerated and I consume within 2 weeks. Please prepare according to your own safety preferences. Ingredients 12oz fresh green beans trimmed and washed 1 cup white or apple cider vinegar 1 cup filtered water 1 teaspoon salt 1 tsp dried dill or 1 tbsp fresh 1 garlic clove, crushed or roughly chopped (optional) 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional) Directions Wash and prep the green beans. You may need to separate them into two batches. Add the vinegar, water, and salt to a 2qt stock pot and add the first batch of gree

Mexican Style Pickled Carrots Recipe

I love going to authentic counter-order Mexican restaurants because they typically have a great salsa bar. And that salsa bar usually has pickled carrots and jalapenos. I love the spicy tang of the pickled carrots. It is such a compliment to the rich Mexican food. So when I bought 6 pounds of organic carrots in bulk at Costco for $5, I had the idea in mind to pickle at least a pound of them. That meant going on a recipe search. I found a highly rated recipe from the Kevin is Cooking blog. His secret is to simmer the carrots in the pickling liquid to soften them up. This made sense to me for how the carrots get their signature texture in this dish. But after trying Kevin's recipe, it wasn't simple enough for me. Just a few too many ingredients and steps. Instead, I found a cheat that works out pretty well. I grab some pickled jalapenos as a "starter" and then add a vinegar/water solution to cover the carrots. It is so simple.  My favorite pickled jalapeno to use is a

Make a Big Impact by Making a Little Impact

My drive in life had been to make as big of an impact as possible. But it seemed the harder a pushed for this goal, the further I got from it. As I got older and learned more about this world and our relationship with it, I began to realize that to make a big impact meant making a small impact. There are two parts to making a small impact. First, it is making as light of a impact on our environment as possible. It means being wise about your lifestyle and choices. It also means living by the Boy Scout principle of leaving any place you go better than how you found it. Humans are disruptors by nature. We need to harness this gift for repair and enhancement instead of destruction and extraction. We also need to craft spending and consumption habits to be in tune to the impact they have on the environment. I recently watched "The Alpinist" movie about the remarkable rock climber, Marc-Andre Leclerc. His girlfriend, Brette Harrington, said an inspiring thing. All they cared about

Ninja Fit Blender Review

I was not in the market for a new blender. I have a Vitamix that's been a staple in my kitchen for whipping up my morning smoothies or a quick salsa. But someone got my wife a Ninja Fit Blender as a gift because they knew she also liked morning smoothies. We decided to give it a try and it's been awesome. The first thing I like about it is the ease. Just drop the ingredients into the blender cup. Then screw on the blade top, tip it over, and press it into the blender base to fire up the motor. Within a few seconds, the ingredients are perfectly blended. The second thing I like about it is the reduction in dishes. Instead of needing to pour the smoothie out of the blender and into a cup, the blender is the cup. Just unscrew the blade cap and screw on the drinking cap and I'm ready to go. The only dishes are a quick rinse of the blade and then a rinse of the main blender cup and lid after I'm finished with the smoothie. The blender is also way less intimidating to whip u