From masks to more free time: life in 2020

Who would have thought at the beginning of 2020 that it would be socially acceptable and perhaps mandatory to wear a mask to cover your face when going into the bank.

A year ago, you might have been arrested or at least seriously questioned. Such is the strangeness of our world since COVID-19 came to visit.

Little did I think I would be making multiple cloth face masks for my grandchildren to use as they head back to school this fall. Discussions on the best style, fabric and type of elastic to use have become part of the conversation when having a phone visit with my daughter or daughters-in-law.

A few tips we have discovered are that two millimetre floral wire bought at the Dollar Store works well in the top of the masks to shape and hold the mask around the nose. Thin hair elastics work best to hold the mask around the ears. Some prefer using elastic around the head instead of ear elastics. When sewing multiple masks, continuously sew the different pieces without cutting the thread to save time.

The Olson mask was designed by health-care workers and is a better fit than rectangular pleated masks. It also has a pocket for a cloth or paper filter. Free adult and children size patterns are available at www.sewcanshe.com/blog/simple-step-by-step-tutorial-for-the-olson-mask-pattern.

Not seeing our children and grandchildren has been difficult these past few months. Little did we realize how much we would appreciate a garden visit to pick raspberries and have a wiener roast. Or that we would go to the extent of sleeping on a foamy in the back of our van so we could share a socially distanced camping weekend with our daughter’s family. Precious moments to treasure.

With fewer outside-of-our-home commitments, I have felt a sense of freedom to choose how I use my time. We have both read more books, I have cleaned drawers and sorted and assessed my fabric stash, all ready for some winter sewing projects. And there has been a lot of time spent in our yard. I accomplished a long put-off project of creating a brick path to a shed near the garden. The reclaimed bricks were from my childhood church that had been burned by vandals.

My dad had spent many hours cleaning the bricks and hauling them to our place. Creating the path gave me hours to contemplate and remember. The shed, path and bricked flower beds now seem to be rooted as part of the garden. What a great sense of accomplishment.

With more time in the garden, I experimented with a few new plants. I bought some watermelon plants and have been rewarded with three good-sized watermelons. The broccoli and cauliflower that I started have been less successful. The first pickings of the broccoli were delicious, but now I am afraid the cabbage butterflies have moved in to feast on them.

Sharing recipes frequently happens in our family. My daughter-in-law, Lydia, started making her own yogurt and naan during COVID. Personally, I am really enjoying the homemade yogurt.

Naan

This is a wonderful alternative to regular bread that can be used as the base for a quick pizza, a wrap for a sandwich or taco.

  • 1/2 c. warm water 125 mL
  • 2 tsp. traditional yeast 10 mL
  • 1 tsp. sugar 5 mL
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil 45 mL
  • 1/4 c. plain yogurt 60 mL
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 2 1/2 – 3 c. flour 625 – 750 mL
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter 30 mL
  • 2 tsp. garlic 10 mL

Combine warm water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl, let sit for about five minutes.

Add olive oil, yogurt, egg, salt and two cups of flour. Stir until smooth.

Add enough flour to make soft dough. Knead until smooth.

Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Preheat skillet to medium heat.

Cut dough into eight pieces. On a floured surface, roll out each piece into a six-inch circle.

Add non-stick spray to the skillet. Cook each circle for two to three minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on the bottom. Flip over and cook for another two to three minutes, or less. As the pan heats up, it doesn’t take as long to cook each bread.

Brush the top of each naan with melted butter.

For a garlic bread, add minced garlic or garlic salt to the butter. Source: Lydia Deobald.

Yogurt

Making your own yogurt is cheaper than buying it and the recipe can be adapted to your preferences of butter fat, tartness, thickness and sweetness.

The plain yogurt can be sweetened and flavoured using fruit, honey, jams or syrups.

Whole milk or cream are traditionally used to make yogurt. I have found that lower fat milk, such as one percent and skim, work just as well but have a less creamy texture.

  • 1 qt. milk 1 L
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. purchased yogurt that contains active bacterial cultures 50 mL

For future batches of yogurt use the homemade yogurt.

In a large saucepan, heat milk over medium heat, to 180 F (82 C). Use a digital thermometer. Stir the milk frequently to prevent scorching and the formation of a skin on the milk.

Immediately remove from heat and quickly cool to 115 F (46 C) by placing the saucepan in a sink of cold water.

Remove a cup of the warm milk to a bowl. Measure yogurt and stir it into this cup of milk.

Add this mixture back to the saucepan of warm milk. Stir briefly to mix. Pour milk mixture into two two-cup (500 mL) sealers, cover with a lid and then wrap in a towel and place in a cold, turned-off oven. Turn on oven light and close oven door. Leave yogurt in oven for six to 12 hours. The longer the yogurt sits, the more sour and thicker it will get. Taste after six hours to determine desired flavour.

To make thick Greek style yogurt, place yogurt in a cheese-cloth-lined sieve over a bowl. Refrigerate for one hour while the liquid drips from the yogurt. Retain the liquid to use in baking.

Refrigerate thickened yogurt or serve with fruit or cereal or in a favourite recipe. Adapted from youtube/pRI5tTfW0LY.

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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