Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag

Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + Co

I wanted to hand sew a drawstring bag to store my home baked bread when these Tenugui with cute animal prints caught my eyes at Daiso.  Made of 100% cotton, these hand towels come in a dimension that is perfect to be turned into a drawstring bag with a few simple folds and blanket stitches without cutting the fabric.

These bags are also in the perfect size for buying in bulk stores for nuts, grains, onions, potatoes, carrots etc.  No more bulky containers when grocery shopping!

Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + CoHand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + CoHand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + Co Hand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + CoHand Sewn Drawstring Bag // Mono + Co

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Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// these hand-sewn cotton bags for shopping in bulk, sewing more out of excess tea-towels I have at home.

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// this meat-free request at a cafe, it’s getting easier nowadays.

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// shopping for eggs, look ma, no disposable plastics!

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// a foot soak update, less than $2 spent.

Simple Pleasures // Mono +Co

// this sourdough toast, best eaten plain.

Tartine’s Country Bread

Tartine's Country Bread // Mono + Co

This sourdough bread almost didn’t make it to the baking stage as I found it too sticky to shape at room temperature.  After going bulk fermentation overnight and 4 turns at 30-minute intervals to carry out a series of stretch-and-fold action,the dough became more and more sticky as it returned to room temperature.  By the time I had reached the last turn, the wet dough obviously looked like it won’t survive beyond my somewhat still botchy shaping skills.

Tartine's Country Bread // Mono + Co

But my natural starter has been surprising me pleasantly for the past few bakes, so I was curious how this bread will turn out, with a nice shape or not.  Plus the recipe I referred to also bake the bread straight out of the fridge.  So I placed the dough back into the fridge overnight to firm it up again, swiftly removed the entire dough out of the container it while it is cold the next morning, shaped the dough by creating a tight gluten cloak, sprinkled some flour on the surface, created a deep slash before sending it into a preheated oven at 220C for 1 hour.

Tartine's Country Bread // Mono + Co

True enough, my starter did not disappointment me this time either.

Tartine's Country Bread // Mono + Co Tartine's Country Bread // Mono + Co

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Natural Starter Taro Chia Seed Bagel

Natural Starter Taro Chia Seeds Bagels // Mono + Co

I bake bread fervently for two reasons. One. To have control over the ingredients that goes into mine, that means no artificial flavors or unfamiliar additives that I can’t pronounce.  Two.  To avoid packaging, especially the plastic ones from commercial bakeries.  I have taken an extra step to buy as many ingredients as possible without packaging by sourcing them from dry goods stores at wet markets.  I am so glad that I have found plain flour, sold in bulk.  Being the main ingredient of bread, that’s a lot of plastic bags avoided, but there is still no avail for wholemeal flour.

Natural Starter Taro Chia Seeds Bagels // Mono + CoNatural Starter Taro Chia Seeds Bagels // Mono + Co

I am not a great fan of bagels but I am intrigued by that overlapping end that gives bagel its signature handmade look.  Some recipes suggest simply poking a hole through a dough ball and shape it further like a donut.  I found the method of flattening one end of a cylindrically shaped dough and wrap this end around the other end most useful.  For more shaping techniques, check out here and here.  The method I adopted is demonstrated with photos in the recipe section.

Natural Starter Taro Chia Seeds Bagels // Mono + Co

After proofing, the size of the hole became smaller as the dough expanded.  It was reduced further to resemble a belly button after boiling in water before baking.

Natural Starter Taro Chia Seeds Bagels // Mono + Co Natural Starter Taro Chia Seeds Bagels // Mono + Co Natural Starter Taro Chia Seeds Bagels // Mono + Co

I boiled these bagels in a small pot of water with honey added to get these golden brown effect after baking.  As this recipe yields 6 bagels, I boiled them one by one for 1 minute on each side, so that I won’t waste a big pot of water as well as honey, which is expensive.  Alternatively, cheaper malt syrup can be used.


Natural Starter Taro Chia Seed Bagel

160g fed starter
200g plain flour
100g steamed taro, mashed
3 tablespoon milk powder
45g water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
30g cold butter, cubed
1 tablespoon chia seeds

In a mixer bowl, add fed starter, plain flour, cooled mashed taro, milk powder, and water. Start mixer to knead on its lowest speed with a dough hook until all the ingredients come into a ball.  Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid better.

After 15 minutes, sprinkle the sea salt on the dough and start the mixer again to knead for 1-2 minutes before adding cubed butter one by one.  Knead until the dough reaches window pane stage.  Add chia seeds to incorporate.  Stop mixer and leave the dough in the covered mixer bowl to bulk rise at room temperature for 120 – 150 minutes, until the dough expands and passes the poke test, a sure sign that the first fermentation stage is completed.

After the dough has risen to double its volume, punch down the dough to deflate and transfer to a clean worktop.  Sprinkle worktop and palms with flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.  Divide the dough into 6 portions, mine’s around 100g each.

Take one of the dough and roll it on the worktop to get a cylinder shape, about 30cm long.  Using a roller pin, flatten about 5 cm of one end, then join the two ends to make a loop with the dough and overlay the flatten end to wrap the other end.

Natural Starter Taro Chia Seeds Bagels // Mono + CoNatural Starter Taro Chia Seeds Bagels // Mono + CoNatural Starter Taro Chia Seeds Bagels // Mono + Co

Arrange on a baking tray.  Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.  Proof these for an hour.

Fill up 3/4 pot with water, I used my smallest 16 cm diameter one to save water, and add 1 tablespoon of honey.  Bring the water to boil.  Gently pick up a bagel dough, and transfer it into the pot of boiling water, with its top side facing down.  After 1 minute, flip the bagel and continue to cook for a further 1 minute.  Remove the cooked bagel from the pot, and drain on a sieve, before arranging it on a baking pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 8 minutes. Turn the tray and bake for a further 7-8 minutes till the surface turns golden brown.

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Natural Starter Pumpkin Pullman Loaf

Natural Starter Pumpkin Loaf // Mono+Co Natural Starter Pumpkin Loaf // Mono+Co

I am so addicted to the height my natural starter gives to all the homemade bread.  The dough might take longer to bulk rise or ferment, but the magic they do once they are in the oven is amazing.

Natural Starter Pumpkin Loaf // Mono+Co

I sprinkled a mixture of white + black sesame seeds and slashed the loaf top lengthwise for decorative effect because I know the natural starter will create an oven spring that gives the loaf a beautiful split top look.  And I was not disappointed.

Natural Starter Pumpkin Loaf // Mono+Co Natural Starter Pumpkin Loaf // Mono+CoNatural Starter Pumpkin Loaf // Mono+CoNatural Starter Pumpkin Loaf // Mono+Co


NATURAL STARTER PUMPKIN PULLMAN LOAF


150g fed starter **
245g plain flour
100g steamed pumpkin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
17g water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
20g cold butter, cubed
1 tablespoon black + white sesame seeds

** I used a starter made from raisin yeast.

In a mixer bowl, add the starter, plain flour, cooled and mashed pumpkin, and brown sugar.  Start mixer to knead on its lowest speed with a dough hook, and add water in a trickle until a dough ball is formed.  You might not use up all the water or you might need more, depending on the hydration level of the ingredients, especially with pumpkin.  Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid better.

After 15 minutes, sprinkle the sea salt on the dough and start the mixer again to knead for 1-2 minutes before adding cubed butter one by one.  Knead until the dough reaches window pane stage.  Stop mixer and leave the dough to bulk rise at room temperature for 120 – 150 minutes, until the dough expands and passes the poke test, a sure sign that the first fermentation is completed.

After the dough has risen to double its volume, punch down the dough to deflate and transfer to a clean work top.  Sprinkle worktop and palms with flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Flatten the dough with a rolling pin to push out air bubbles trapped inside during the bulk rise stage.  Shape the dough into a long roll that fits inside a Pullman tin, mist the top of the dough with some water, and sprinkle black and white sesame seed mix on top evenly.  Then place the dough in the tin and proof for another 120 – 150 minutes, till the bread height rise to reach the top of the tin.  Make a deep slash across the top of the dough, lengthwise, before baking in a preheated oven at 200C for 25 minutes.

Remove bread from tin immediately after baking and cool completely on a rack before slicing or serving.

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DIY Scented Vinegar Cleaner

DIY Scented Vinegar Cleaner // Mono + Co

White vinegar is one of the natural cleaning products I use at home to replace toxic household cleaners.  Mix it with equal parts of water, it becomes an all-purpose cleaner that removes grease wonderfully and disinfects effectively.

While it doesn’t smell as good as it cleans, vinegar actually has deodorizing properties, after drying up, that is.  I have since learned a neat trick to transform my bottle of vinegar into a more pleasant smelling eco-cleaner, by simply infusing the vinegar with ….. orange peels!  My family devours bags of oranges weekly, so I have no problem cumulating enough peels for this eco project.  You can use essential oil too, but this is a cheaper method, using citrus peels that would otherwise be discarded.

I have since upsized my vinegar purchase to a 5-litre version which is way cheaper so that I can make this all-purpose vinegar cleaner in bulk, in 2 weeks.

DIY Scented Vinegar Cleaner // Mono + Co

What you need:
// Get the cheapest cooking vinegar you can get your hands on.
// Reuse an empty glass jar/plastic container, you can make as much or as little as you want.  However, being a really effective multipurpose cleaner (except on marble, granite and hardwood surfaces), you may find yourself running out of it very soon if you make too little.  I use it mostly on ceramic tiles in the kitchen, bathroom and glass surfaces.
// Citrus peels.

How:
// Fill the container with citrus peels.
// Pour vinegar to cover the peels and leave aside for 2 weeks.  You will notice the color of the vinegar will turn dark gradually.
// Strain the peels from the infused vinegar which by now will smell more like store-bought orange oil cleaner.  Store the liquid in a clean container, away from the sun.

To use:
// Mix equal parts of water with the citrus infused vinegar. Fill up a spray bottle with the diluted vinegar and use it as an all-purpose spray cleaner.  Just remember to avoid marble, granite and hardwood surfaces.
// I use the concentrated version to scrub/ wash bathroom floor.  Love the smell.  And since it does not lather up like standard detergents, I need not rinse with a large volume of water.

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Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// this morning ritual that saved a lot of yeast packaging being discarded.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// this repurposed Nutella glass jar,  so the kids can see their savings grow, instead of a number.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// this diy all-purpose citrus vinegar cleaner.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// this glass pot to replace my 9-inch baking tin cum food saver, because it comes with a cover.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// reading for pleasure, 15 minutes every day.

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Carrot Cinnamon Raisin Buns

Carrot Cinnamon Raisin Buns // Mono + Co

These are basically cinnamon buns with the sugary fillings and glaze removed.  I thought it was a good idea to add mashed carrots into the dough since they go so well with cinnamon and raisins in my carrot cakes.

Carrot Cinnamon Raisin Buns // Mono + Co

Because I did not spread butter and sugar on the surface of the dough, there were no pretty swirls on my cinnamon buns. If you prefer to see that on your rolls, brush a generous layer of melted butter, followed by another layer of cinnamon grounds, brown sugar and raisins before rolling the dough up.  The layer of fat will keep the dough from sealing up during slicing and proofing.

Carrot Cinnamon Raisin Buns // Mono + Co

I baked these buns in my 9-inch/ 23cm clear glass pot instead of my round tin as I wanted to utilize the pot more.  It also serves as a great storage container for the buns since it comes with a heavy glass lid.

Carrot Cinnamon Raisin Buns // Mono + Co Carrot Cinnamon Raisin Buns // Mono + Co Carrot Cinnamon Raisin Buns // Mono + Co

I feel great seeing carrots in my breakfast rolls!


Carrot Cinnamon Raisin Buns

235g plain flour
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon grounds
1 small egg, beaten
95g carrots, steamed + mashed
25g water
25g cold butter, cubed
50g raisins **

** Soak raisins in a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes.  Drain and gently squeeze dry to remove excess liquid before use.

In a mixer bowl, combine all the dry ingredients together (plain flour, yeast, sea salt, brown sugar, cinnamon grounds) with a hand whisk.  Then add beaten egg, cooled mashed carrots and water.  Turn on the mixer to knead with a dough hook.  Once a dough ball is formed, stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Start the mixer again to knead for 1 minute before adding cubed butter one by one, and knead till the dough reach window pane stage.  Stop mixer and leave the dough to bulk rise at room temperature for 60 minutes.

After the dough has risen, punch down the dough to deflate and transfer to a clean and lightly floured work top.  Sprinkle worktop and palms with flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Roll out the dough to a rectangle sheet, spread raisins on the surface.  Roll up the dough from the longer edge and pinch to seal.  Slice the roll into 8 pieces and arrange them in a 9-inch pan.  Leave this aside to proof for another 60 minutes, covered.

Preheat oven to 170C, and bake the bread for 25-35 minutes.

When done, remove bread from baking tin immediately and place on a rack to cool completely.

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Natural Starter Walnut Boule : Overnight Fermentation

Natural Starter Walnut Boulet // Mono + Co

This homemade bread is by far my best attempt to use ingredients that I can purchase sans the packaging.  The dry goods stores in wet markets and Victoria Wholesale Center are my best bet for sources of bulk food. I simply plan in advance to know how many reusable containers or bags to bring along.  I buy plain flour, brown sugar and walnuts packed in my own containers.

The best part about buying from these unofficial bulk stores is that I can buy as little as I need, I usually don’t require that much.  Thanks to the flexibility, for example: I can purchase just enough dried Chrysanthemum to make a day’s supply of Chrysanthemum tea, without the need for storing the unused portion.

Natural Starter Walnut Boulet // Mono + Co

Another important ingredient that I have been making my own is this natural yeast starter.  This also helped me to do away with packaging from the instant dry yeast.  Simply feed it with an equal amount of flour and water, it will actively multiply itself in the next few hours and I will have enough to bake a bread and some balance that I can keep feeding subsequently to maintain a continuous supply of natural starter for homemade bread.

Natural Starter Walnut Boulet // Mono + Co

Once the starter doubles its volume and passes a float test (see photo, above), it can be added to a favorite bread recipe in place of instant yeast.

Natural Starter Walnut Boulet // Mono + Co  Natural Starter Walnut Boulet // Mono + Co Natural Starter Walnut Boulet // Mono + Co


Walnut Boule

160g fed starter **
295g plain flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
50g water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
25g cold butter, cubed
75g walnut, chopped roughly

** I used a starter made from raisin yeast.

In a mixer bowl, add the starter, plain flour, and brown sugar.  Start mixer to knead on its lowest speed with a dough hook, and add water in a trickle until a dough ball is formed.  You might not use up all the water or you might need more, depending on the hydration level of the ingredients.  Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid better.

After 15 minutes, sprinkle the sea salt on the dough and start the mixer again to knead for 1-2 minute before adding cubed butter one by one.  Knead until the dough reaches window pane stage and add chopped walnuts to mix.  Stop mixer and transfer the dough into a covered container, leave this in the fridge overnight for its first fermentation.

Take out the container from the fridge and leave it on the counter for 2 hours to return the temperature of the dough to room temperature, it will expand its volume at the same time.  Transfer the dough a floured worktop and do a stretch and fold step like this.  Sprinkle worktop and palms with more flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.  Leave the dough aside, covered, for 1 hour.

Shape the dough into a boule like this.  I arrange it on a floured baking tray and leave it to proof for one last time for 2 hours inside the oven.

When ready to bake, take out the bread from the oven, and preheat the oven to 220C.

Sprinkle a coat of flour, then make a few slashes on the surface with a sharp knife just before sending the bread into a preheated oven to bake for 35-40 minutes.  I also place a small metal cup with 3 cubes of ice at the corner of the baking tray to create a “steaming effect” during the first few minutes of baking.

Cool on rack completely before slicing to serve.

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