Traditional Romanian pretzels

Pretzels... ah those Romanian pretzels. Every time I go back to Romania I cannot resist stopping in front of a little patisserie that sells pretzels. We call them "covrigi". They are just a simple dough with all kind of toppings. My favourite version is with poppy seeds and coarse salt. Probably because of me, my daughter started to love them as well. She loves them now so much that last time when we have been to Romania she told me: "Mommy I would like to take our house, my daddy and my little brother and move to Romania". I was astonished about this remark so I asked her why. Her answer was as simple as this one "Because in Romania we have pretzels".
With this comment from my daughter, I couldn't do more than putting pretzels on my TO DO cooking list. So now it is the perfect moment, as on the 1st of December is the Romanian national day. Happy National Day my dear Romanians!

10000... well this number has nothing to do with the reasons mentioned above, but with something that I love very much.
A bit more than 3 years ago, when I started to love to make sourdough bread, I was looking for a place where I can learn, share and be in contact with people having the same passion as me. As I couldn't find the perfect community of bread baking on the web, I decided to make one myself. It is called Bread lovers. Since then, in this journey of learning and sharing, I've met a person with who I simply "clicked" on the same passion. I didn't know him before but I have found out that we were living in neighbour counties. One day he made a trip to Belgium and we have finally met face to face. His name is Rick and he was happy to join me as a moderator in this community. He put a lot of effort in inviting members to this community, to back me up every time I was in holidays, maternity leave or just busy and, at a certain moment the community has grown its own identity. Now, the community has reached an incredible number of 10 000 people. I wouldn't have thought that so many people are interested in bread baking and this makes me very happy. One person more loving to make his/her own bread is one person less buying the low-quality bread. Thank you Rick from all my heart, this community wouldn't have reached so far without you. Thank you to all the active members who were sharing all their beautiful bread creations, thank you to all "listener" members who are here to learn and admire the bread posts.
We've learned together so much, thank you to you, all 10000. This community belongs to you!

After post remark: Please note that G+ platform was closed and the group does not exist anymore under this platform. The group was recreated on Facebook under the same name Bread Lovers.

Homemade fabric softener

When I was pregnant with my second child, one of the smells I couldn't stand was the one of the freshly washed clothes with a well known fabric softener. In fact I couldn't stand any artificial strong smell. That made me thought of changing some habits. To solve the problem back then, I simply gave up using a fabric softener. After that period has passed I restarted to use it but not for long.
I have in mind a totally natural fabric softener and I'll do it one day. Till then I tried another simple recipe. The thing that convinced me started with a laundry accident. Without noticing I washed a brown wool pull of my husband at 60ÂșC. Imagine that later he wanted to wear it and ... surprise... the sleeves were to short, the pool was also too short and too narrow. Thinking that I managed to ruin it completely I started to wear it myself. In the meantime I found out about a trick to stretch back a wool pull with hair conditioner. It was hardly to believe it but I didn't have anything to loose so I tried it. I put the pull in cold water with hair conditioner and let it there for 30 minutes. Then I rinsed it gently and stretched it slowly on a flat surface. Unbelievably it came back to its shape after 3 days slowlydrying at room  temperature. If you think a bit, it makes sense, as wool comes from an animal and normal laundry detergents are not made for washing hair.
What this story had to do with the homemade fabric softener? Well, that made me thought that ahair conditioner might work as a laundry softener so I tried it.

Tartine buckwheat flaxseed bread

After all the tests with the basic country bread. it was the time to experiment some variations with other types of flours. Buckwheat was the choice for this one. It is not an easy flour at all. It gives also a heavy taste and a change of color to the bread. But is healthy and I like its taste. Let's see...

Clove bath bombs

Let's continue the adventure with bath bombs. This recipe is more compact as it contains more liquid compared to my previous recipes.
With a lovely spicy aroma of cloves, do you think you can resist using them with your next bath?

PS: My daughter tried one and although she liked the color given in the water she disliked the oily trace. We also found that the fizz was really reduced and that's why my daughter lost the interest in them.. I have then used them myself and although the oil content was indeed too high when bathing, the good thing was that there was no need of using a moisturizing cream after the bath. So one downside but an advantage and a gain of time in the end ;)

Homemade tooth paste

It is well known that sodium bicarbonate makes wonders for your teeth. The coconut oil comes as an antimicrobial enhancement and the eucalyptus essential oil keeps the infections away from your mouth.
I have tried before to use just sodium bicarbonate but it is getting a bit messy everywhere. I loved the results but not the mess. So, here it is, a more concentrated homemade paste with a lovely taste that is perfect to wash your teeth with. It is also 100% natural. Try it....

Homemade laundry detergent

I had in mind for a long time to make my own laundry detergent so here it is, 100% natural.
It took me a while to arrive here but I finally did it.
First, I had to do the laundry coconut soap and let it end its saponification process. Then I had to struggle to find the washing soda and the sodium percarbonate, and believe me it was not an easy task in Belgium. Although they are such basic ingredients I could find them only in some organic shops stored somewhere in the back. Even the lady selling them had no clue what to do with them.
With these 3 ingredients gathered, I managed to make my homemade 100% natural laundry detergent.
I had this recipe already from my friend so all I needed was to test it.
I washed the clothes (those of my kids included that are usually full of stains) in the washing machine and when I looked at them, I did not notice any difference compared to my older expensive bought detergent. So, why should I continue to buy detergent from the supermarket that has a lot of harmful ingredients to us and to the environment when I can simply make my own, 100% natural?
Later, I've test it on all kind of clothes... white, colored, dark and even for delicate ones. Impeccable !
The only difference I found was the smell. Instead of the strong smell of the bought detergent I've got a fresh natural smell of cleaned clothes.

If you do not dare letting your old detergent or if you still have some bought, do like me, combine it with this homemade detergent until you finish it and after that use only your homemade one. Take a big jar or a bucket and go to a proportion of 1 to 4, mix the 2 well and use the same dosage.

Why these 3 ingredients?
The soap is an obvious ingredient, because it cleans.
The washing soda reduce the hardness of the water and helps your soap attack the dirt from your clothes. It successfully removes stains of grease, tea, coffee or fruits and vegetables.
The sodium percarbonate comes with its properties to detach stains and dirt, to disinfect, to remove odor and not at last, as a whitener.

Tell me then, what else do you ask from your laundry detergent?

Tartine whole-wheat bread

I have tried this recipe dozens of times lately hoping to reach to a good combination in the wood fired oven. The author of this recipe recommend baking this bread in a dutch oven but I wanted to use the wood fired oven.
First, I have tried to make the bread in one piece so I ended with a big loaf. While trying this, I ended up 2 times with an unwell cooked bread: burned on the outside and sticky in the middle of the crumb. I have tried putting a metallic cover on top of the bread to take advantage of the trapped steam but I didn't find any difference. Also, using the original recipe, with 700g of wheat flour instead of 800g as mine was leading me with a dough that was falling quickly on the peel and was very difficult to slide it down in the hot oven. Adding 100g more flour solved the issue but I remained still with an unstable cooked bread. So I gave up on doing a big bread and split the dough in 2. That solved the issue of the uncooked bread.
As it is a high percentage whole wheat bread you should not expect to have an incredibly tall bread with big wholes in the crumb.
The most important thing is that with these trials it didn't happen at all for me to throw away the bread. Everything was completely eaten.
Now that I have reached to this acceptable recipe from all points of view, I am read to present it here. Another nice trial would be to use the conventional oven and follow the author's recipe by the book. Until then, here it is my well tested recipe.

Laundry coconut soap

This is a very simple recipe that can be easily a normal hand soap or a laundry soap.

This recipe has no fancy oil and no essential oil. If your intention is to use it to wash your hands then the recipe can be enriched. However, for laundry, I needed just a simple recipe.
This soap gets hard very quickly, so needs to be cut in 2 hours after was poured in the mold. In one week is already cured and can be used.

Why laundry soap? Well, I had in mind for a while to make my own washing detergent and one of the basic ingredients for this detergent is a soap like this. So, first on the list was the laundry soap. As you can imagine, by now,  I have already made the washing detergent and use it, but this will come in another post.
I am not usually washing clothes by hand unless there are very delicate clothes. I did this when I was very young and the washing machine in our house was used mainly for bed sheets. Since then, the technology advanced and the difficult things like washing clothes was taken by machines. It is a wonderful invention that saves a lot of time and energy for anybody. But this doesn't mean that we have to use only the "recommended"detergents that are full of chemicals and could irritate your skin. The point is to use basic, natural ingredients and take advantage of the technology. Let's see ...