Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hurry over and I'll share...

Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour Bread - Pure and Simple!

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I've been experimenting with using sprouted whole wheat flour in my cooking. Yesterday I made bread with it and the results are wonderful! Granted, sprouting, and then drying the wheat before grinding is a bit of a hassle, but I believe it's worth the trouble. The good news is, my husband loves it. The bad news is, my husband loves it. Hmmm.... What have I done???

I made enough for 2 loaves of bread, or in this case, 1 loaf of bread and 6 rather large buns. Here they are during the final rise:



Here they are just out of the oven:



And here you can see what it looks like inside the loaf. If you click on the picture, you'll get a closer look at the inside texture of the bread. It is soft, and in my husband's words, "not as coarse" as normal whole wheat bread.



SPROUTED WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR BREAD

6 cups sprouted whole wheat flour
1 scant Tablespoon active dry yeast
2.5 cups very warm water (110 - 115 F)
1 Tablespoon unrefined salt ( used pink Himalayan )
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Put 1/2 cup of the very warm water into a small bowl and dissolve the yeast in it.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, molasses, oil and the rest of the water. Add the water/yeast mixture.
Stir well to combine.
Turn onto lightly floured work surface (use more sprouted flour.) Knead well for 10 minutes, sprinkling bits of the flour under your dough if things get sticky.
Wash the bowl and dry. Oil the inside with more of the EVOO. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise, in a warm place, until doubled in size or to when if you poke it with your finger, the dough "sighs." Return it to the bowl for another 1/2 hour.
Divide the dough into two loaves, shape them and put them in 2 well-buttered medium-sized bread pans. (Or you can make buns, of course, or anything you want to!)
At this point, place the pans on top of your stove and set the oven at 350 F.
When the dough has raised until double, bake for 45 minutes (30 for buns) and then remove from the pans and cool on wire racks.

It is soft and very nice and made fabulous toast this morning, too!






Saturday, May 28, 2011

How NOT to make gravy (and how to)

I've been experimenting lately with sprouted wheat flour (that I make myself.) It seems to work quite well for most applications, and at least at the time of cooking, is more convenient than having to think ahead and soak the flour overnight or longer.

For dinner, I decided to make sausage gravy and biscuits (one of my husband's all-time favorites!) I hope he still loves me. I kind of ruined it today ~ but I did learn a valuable lesson.

Here is 1/2 pound of sausage cooking in the frying pan:



Here I am adding 1/2 cup sprouted flour - stirring it into the meat and drippings:



Adding 1 quart of fresh goat milk, a little at a time, and stirring to combine:



Then I cooked it, stirring, on medium heat, until it came to a boil and thickened. All was looking fine and suddenly, it curdled! Ewww. Well, I wasn't going to throw away all that food, so we ate it anyway. It was sort of OK. Only sort of.

But I did make wonderful biscuits and will tell you how I did that.



Oh, here is my little plate of the nice biscuits with questionable gravy:




Sprouted Wheat Flour Biscuits

2 cups sprouted whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
2 teaspoons Rumford baking power
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons kettle-rendered lard
1 cup milk kefir (or buttermilk, if you like)

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl.

Using your fingers, rub the lard into the dry ingredients.

Pour the kefir in all at once and stir only long enough to get it all moist.

Using a bit more sprouted wheat flour, dust your work surface.

Turn out the dough, pat to 3/4 inch thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place each biscuit upside-down on a baking sheet.

Bake at 450 F for 12 minutes. This makes 12 regular sized biscuits. They are tender and nice.

Ok, so how should you make gravy? In the past, I've used unbleached flour (and unsoaked) in my gravies, but I am trying to make everything as healthy nutritionally as I am able. That is why I tried the SW flour this time.

Here is a link to a video showing a wonderful method for making gravy. That, generally, is how I do it now.... so, next time I'll do the following:

Next Time's Gravy

1/2 # pork sausage
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup milk kefir (or buttermilk)
3.5 cups fresh goat milk

The day before, combine the whole wheat flour with the kefir, cover tightly and let it sit on the counter.

When you want to make the gravy the next day, cook the sausage, chopping it all up, in a cast iron skillet.

Mix the soaked flour with the fresh milk (however you like - blender, shake it up in a jar, etc.)

Stirring, add the milk mixture to the pan and on medium heat and stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring, for 1 minutes.

That's it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tiny Crisp Pretzels

One of my favorite blogs is Penniless Parenting. She recently wondered if there is a way to make your own hard pretzels. I looked and looked online for pretzel recipes, and all I could find are for soft pretzels. So, I took up this monumental challenge. ;)

Here is what I did:

TINY CRISP PRETZELS

Ingredients ~

1/2 cup sourdough starter
Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 teaspoon natural sea salt (unrefined)
A bit of sprouted wheat flour to work the dough

Put the sourdough starter into a bowl. Stir in the Whole Wheat flour, a little at a time, until the dough is quite stiff. Cover the bowl and allow to ferment for at least 7 hours. I think mine actually sat for about 12 hours.

Using the sprouted wheat flour to dust your work surface, turn out the dough. Sprinkle the salt on top of it, and then knead it for 3 minutes, using the sprouted wheat flour if it gets sticky.

Preheat oven to 400 F. I put a Silpat on my baking sheet, but you could use parchment paper. Don't grease your pan. You want to avoid added fat that might make these not so crisp, unless you don't care about that.

Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll them between your hands to make little "snakes" and place them on the baking sheet. Sprinkle liberally with more natural sea salt.

Bake for about 13 minutes. Watch them. You don't want them to burn, but check one now and then to see if they are getting sufficiently crisp.

Cool on a dish towel and store in an airtight container.

I only baked about 1/4 of them last night and put the rest of the dough in the fridge and I'll bake those today.

These are really rather nice. I think you could step these up by the addition of garlic powder, herbs and spices. I might try that sometime when I have grandchildren here to help roll them.

Here is the dough right after I kneaded it:



At first I thought I would use my pasta maker instead of rolling them, but that did NOT work. At least, not with the attachments that I have.



Here they are on the baking sheet covered with the Silpat. You can see 2 of them that I tried in the traditional pretzel shape. That was definitely more trouble than I was willing to take.



A closer view of some of my little "snakes."



Here are the two I mentioned:



Cooling on the dish towel:



Stored in an airtight container. In spite of our extremely humid weather, they are still nicely crisp this morning.



A yummy little treat!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Look what I found this morning!

I went out to the garden to see "what's up." Everything is "up" except the potatoes, and that is to be expected. I checked the strawberries and look what I found! Just these two. One for him and one for me, and mine tasted every bit as good as it looks. Yum.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Yellow Eyed Beans

Phaseolus vulgaris L. ~ I looked it up. This is the scientific name of the dry beans that we eat. I tried to find out an estimate of the number of varieties of these humble seeds, but couldn't. There are many. I recently bought 5# of these beautiful Yellow Eyed Beans:



I've never cooked with them before. Today I made some delicious baked beans with them!




Baked Beans


2 cups beans (yellow-eyed or Navy)
3 quarts water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 medium diced onion
1/4 cup Sucanat
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon natural sea salt
1.5 teaspoons dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 pound diced bacon

The day before, carefully pick over and wash the beans with cold water. Soak the beans in 3 quarts of water with the lemon juice added ~ at least overnight, or up to 24 hours.

Drain and rinse beans. Cover them with more water and bring to a boil. Then, simmer them until when you blow on a few, the skins split.

Drain and rinse the beans and put them into a cast iron dutch oven or a good sized casserole dish with a lid.

Mix together all the rest of the ingredients and stir that into the beans.

Pour in boiling water, just enough to cover the beans and stir again.

Put on the lid and bake at 250 degrees F. for 8 hours. Check them from time to time and add a bit more boiling water if you need to. For the last 30 minutes, take off the lid.

My husband said, "These are really good!"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Egg Emotionalism



My friend from whom I get eggs, often trading goat milk for eggs, has several ducks that lay eggs. Her DH is squeamish about eating anything other than a chicken egg, so she gives all her duck eggs to me! They are wonderful. An egg is and egg is an egg, I'd like to say. I find the duck eggs to be a little more tender when cooked. The yolk/white ratio is higher, so they, ounce for ounce, are more nutritious. They are delicious. People are so funny. I'm not complaining though!

It's the same sort of thing with the milk. Most folks that I know use milk from the grocery store. If I offer them some raw goat milk to drink, some of them will try it. It is interesting to watch. They take a little sip, and look rather confused, and say, "It tastes like milk." Imagine that!

UPDATE: Because of what Megan posted below, I am now wondering if eggs from different species of birds could cause problems to some people. Sigh.... "Pride goeth before a fall." If any of you know anything about this, I would greatly appreciate some feedback. Thanks, Megan.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Guess What?

video

This evening when I fed our goats, Suzie was not interested in eating. I thought something might be up, so before I was going to go to bed, I went out to check on her. She was obviously in labor! She had two sweet little buck kids, and everyone is doing well. This was her first birthing, so we were a little worried, but nothing went wrong at all. Here is a little film of the new family. :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Garden Musings...

At last! It stopped raining long enough that the soil was able to drain. My husband tilled the vegetable garden yesterday and today we planted. We planted the whole thing!

Here are some of the seed potatoes before we covered them up with soil:



Here is one of them. Fortunately, I cut them 2 days ago, so they've had time for the cut sides to dry. Theoretically, that will help protect them from rotting.



See the wee little green strawberries? :)



The Egyptian Onions are very happy this spring!



They grow in such an interesting manner:



Here is the strawberry patch:



Here is what we planted today:

Sweet corn
about 25 pounds of seed potatoes
2 pounds of onion sets
14 tomato plants
Flour (dent) corn
bush green beans
Swiss chard
Pak Choi
Pumpkins
Winter squash
Yellow summer squash
Zucchini squash
cucumbers

We decided to not plant so many things this year as we have in the past. We also planted things with more distance between the rows. Last year it turned into a jungle and made it so we could not use the tiller to do much cultivating.

I will still need to transplant sweet potatoes later and I also want to plant some basil, but did not grow my own this year. But it's nearly all done.

The first real garden I ever had was in 1976. I was expecting our 3rd child. We lived in rural Nebraska (USA). A friend brought some composted sheep manure and spread it for us and tilled it in. A neighbor brought me some bales of spoiled hay to use for mulch. After everything was up, I spread layers of newspapers and then put the hay on top to control the weeds. We had a fabulous garden that year and I canned tomatoes and green beans and pickles all for the first time.

I have so many fond memories of that year. Our oldest daughter, who was 2 at the time, loved the fresh tomatoes. She would toddle out there, pick a huge ripe tomato and eat it. 1/2 of it would land on the front of her clothing! She walked around happily saying "Mato. Mato." She was so sweet. Our oldest, a boy, who was about 4, was convinced that if it was windy, it had to be cold. It could be 90F outside and if the wind was blowing (it nearly always does in Nebraska) then he had to have his winter jacket on. One day, it really was quite hot and I refused to put it on him. After a while he went into the house an reappeared wearing his jacket, backwards. :) I had so few green bean plants that I actually knew them individually. But I picked beans every day and before we left there in August, I had canned 90 quarts of green beans. I remember sitting and nursing the baby, snapping green beans and watching the pressure gauge on the canner all at the same time. They lasted us for 2 years.

Most of the years since, I have been able to garden. I love it. It is a lot of work, but it is also very satisfying, and saves us considerable money. Plus, we have all the organically grown lovelies to eat! When I was not able to have a garden, it really bothered me. But we usually managed to have one.

Another memory.... When the children were young, and they were required to help in the garden... oh, the complaining and griping and whining that ensued was quite a show! One morning, at dawn, I got up by myself and went down to the river where we had beans and corn planted, and picked green beans all by myself. It was wonderful. Quiet, bird song, no fighting or complaining..... my idea of heaven!

If the potatoes do well, we could get as much as 250 pounds. If the sweet corn does well, we could have about 24 dozen ears of corn. Plenty to eat, can and share. My mind is busy with the hopes and possibilities!

Monday, May 9, 2011

It All Comes Together - TOMATO SOUP

My daughter invented this wonderful Tomato Soup and it is really excellent! In the throes of the usual "what shall I make for supper?" I decided to make her soup, but I used things I have on hand, many of which I have grown and preserved. At the end of this post you will find the complete recipe including the "tweaks" that I applied. In the meantime, here are the pictures.

1/2 cup of real butter melting in the 2 gallon stock pot:



Garlic cloves, being minced:



Egyptian onions taken to the chopping block:



Onion and garlic are sauteed in the melted butter:



Home canned tomatoes, chicken stock and goat milk:



Basil, home grown, chopped and stored in raw apple cider vinegar in the refrigerator since last summer:



Everything except the milk is in the pot and simmered for 1/2 hour with the lid on:



Add the milk and then blend the soup:



The soup is now in a 1/2 gallon jar in the refrigerator and I will reheat it for supper (and probably a lunch or two.)



TOMATO SOUP

1/2 cup real butter (I used salted)
1/4 pound cleaned and chopped Egyptian Onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart home canned tomatoes
1 pint chicken stock
1.5 cups canned goat milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons preserved basil
1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt

Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pan

Sautee the onions and garlic until soft

Add tomatoes, chicken stock, pepper, basil and salt. Simmer for 1/2 hour.

Add the goat milk and either using a stick blender or a stand blender, blend until smooth.

Serve. Makes about 1/2 gallon of soup. Like so many dishes, this is best the next day. It freezes well also.

I will serve this with "Erin's Muffins." This post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A word to my Gluten-Free friends



I have noticed, of late, that going "gluten-free" has become more and more popular. I would like to suggest an alternative. I have a dear daughter-in-law who has been diagnosed with Celiac disease. That is a condition where the body cannot tolerate gluten, and it can do very bad and serious things to one's health. Something curious happened that she told me about. Ever since her diagnoses, which was about 2 years ago, she has struggled (understandably) to keep the gluten out of her diet, and when she does, it makes an immense difference to her. But from time to time, she would eat a piece of pizza from Papa John's and she said that for some reason THAT kind of pizza did not make her sick, whereas any other kind would. Now, back up several years. Her husband, my son, used to work for Papa John's and I remembered that he said they let their pizza crust dough ferment for long periods of time before they use it. Hmmmm... so that got me to thinking... In the last couple of years I have learned about the importance of soaking grains and nuts and seeds of all kinds before we eat them, and I've been doing that exclusively for a while now. I notice that if I do eat something that has not been properly soaked, it feels kind of like I've swallowed a rock, but if it has been soaked, it doesn't bother my tummy at all. And then I read, somewhere, that some people who are sensitive to gluten can eat gluten containing products if they have been soaked. One day, when my daughter-in-law was here, I offered her a muffin in which the flour had been soaked. She told me that if she just took a bite or two, she would know right away if it was going to bother her or not. She ate the whole thing, loved it, and it did NOTHING bad to her. We were stunned! Since then, from time to time, I have been making other things for her and with the same result.

I would venture to guess that the trouble with eating gluten might not be the gluten itself, but rather how it is prepared. I urge those of you who feel you must be gluten-free, to experiment with this and see what you think. There are so many important nutrients and benefits to eating whole grains.

Not all of MY recipes are soaked, as I've been writing this blog for quite a while now, but some of them are... like my most recent tortillas.

I encourage you to look at the recipes on www.gnowfglins.com . She has lots of soaked recipes on there! I am linking this post up to Simple Lives Thursdays on Wardeh's website, AND the Farmgirl and Farm Friend Friday Blog Hop!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A blessing of fabrics!

Do you remember my "Little Dresses for Africa?" That project just about exhausted my supply of suitable cotton fabrics. I have been wanting to be able to make some more, and just hoping for a good deal on fabrics to appear. On Saturday, an acquaintance called and said that she had 3 boxes of fabrics that belonged to her deceased mother, and would I like to have them? I went there today and got them. Most of the fabrics are the old double knit that was so popular, probably in the 70's, but there are also a number of nice colorful cottons that I will be able to make into the dresses! I am very grateful and pleased. Can any of you give me suggestions for what I might do with the double knits? They are nice, but just not what people usually wear these days.
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