Thursday, October 31, 2013

1 Hour Whole Wheat Bread

I have a small secret to share. I bake bread a few times a week. OK, that's not the secret.
 The secret is that I am able to bake bread so often because my recipe bakes up in an hour. An hour from grinding the wheat to pulling it out of the oven.
This is a miracle in the world of large family baking! I can have fresh bread baked up for lunch or dinner in a snap!
Because many of my friends and customers are so mystified by my abilities to milk cows, churn butter and bake bread, while homeschooling 7 kids, I feel it only time to set the record straight!
I am not super woman. I do not slave over bread baking, or any chore for that matter.
In fact, if bread required that I spend half my day tending to rise times and punch downs, I would be buying those cheap store brand loaves at the grocery store. While we are at it, lets' set that record straight too. If I am having a crazy week, You will find store loaves on my pantry shelves:-)
No super powers here, but if I can keep my attention focused, the house will run smoothly and I will be baking bread in the evening while the kids clean up the dinner dishes.
So here is where I will share my recipe, developed by my fabulous big sister...who also has quite a household to manage.
I grind my wheat up first. I prefer hard white wheat, but hard red wheat will do. Red wheat is more dense and I do not like it alone as my only bread flour. Sometimes I will use half whole wheat and half bread flour, such as those times I need a new wheat bucket opened and my strong husband is not home to pry the lid off for me. Sometimes I will throw some oats in too because it will really add a nice crunch to toast.

This bread uses about 10-12 cups of flour, so you have to have a sturdy way to mix it up. I use my trusty (and old) Dimension 2000 mixer with the dough hook.

First I add very warm, almost hot water. 4 cups of water. Then I add 2 TB of instant yeast. I buy my yeast at Costco, and if you start baking bread several times a week you will buy it in bulk too.
I also add 1/4 C gluten and 4 cups of flour. I mix the dough quickly for about 10 seconds and then let it rest while I gather the rest of the ingredients.

Gather 1/3 C oil, 1/3 C honey and 1 TB salt. I use olive oil, but you can use whatever oil you want. Again, I buy my olive oil in bulk because we use it so often.
Your dough is starting to look a little bubbly now. Pour in the oil, honey and salt.

Start the mixer and start adding four, one cup at a time. You will add 6-8 cups, depending on the season and weather. Add flour until the dough pulls from the sides of the bowl well, then keep mixing it for another 5 minutes.

Get your pans ready by lightly spraying them with oil. I use two large pans I bought from Bread Beckers. These are 2 lb loaf pans. If you use regular loaf pans, you should be making three loaves of bread.

Take your dough out and divide it into 2 pieces (or three) and shape it into a loaf and put t in the pans. I do not stress too much over making these loaves look perfect. I just smooth them out and around and put them in the pan.
If you are feeling creative, you can roll the dough out into a rectangle and cover it with honey, butter, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, apple name it! Then roll it up and seal down the edges for a loaf of specialty bread!

Now for the rising part. Your oven should be cold. Place the loaves in the oven and turn the oven on to 170 degrees for 20 minutes. Do NOT be tempted to open the oven door while the dough rises. This is the beauty of this bread. It will rise in 20 minutes. Set the timer.

When the timer goes off, bump the temp up to 350 and set the timer for 30 minutes. DO NOT open the oven door:-) Turn on the light and see how the dough is rising. Now we bake it! Set the timer.

                                            ***Dough after 20 minutes of rise time***

When 30 minutes is up, remove the pans and let them sit for a few minutes on a cooling rack.

Remove the bread (carefully) from the pans and let them sit on the cooling rack. Take some butter and rub it all over the tops and down the sides. This will soften the crusts and make your sandwiches yummier! :-)

I usually let them sit on the racks overnight, and we have fresh bread for toast in the morning.
I suggest using an electric knife to slice the bread too. A regular serrated knife will work but and electric knife allows you to get even and smooth slices quickly.

After a day and night full of Halloween candy tonight, I bet a slice of fresh whole wheat bread would be delicious!
 If you have an hour this afternoon, get to baking!

One Hour Whole Wheat Bread

4 C very warm water
2 TB instant yeast
1/4 C gluten
1/3 C oil
1/3 C honey
1 TB salt
10-12 C whole wheat flour

In large mixer combine water, yeast, gluten and 4 C flour. Allow to rest 5 minutes. Add  oil, honey, salt and start mixer. Add remaining flour one cup at a time until it pulls from side of bowl well. Allow to mix 5 minutes.
Remove from bowl and divide into 2 sections.  Shape dough into loaves and place in lightly oiled pans.
Place in cold oven and turn oven on at 170 degrees for 20 minutes. Do not open oven door.
Increase temp to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven to cooling rack for a few minutes. Carefully remove bread from pans and rub butter over tops and sides. Allow bread to finish cooling on rack.

Yields: Two 2lb loaves or 3 regular loaves

Happy Halloween Ya'll!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Morning Interrupted

It only seemed appropriate that we throw all schedules to the side for a few hours.

I stumbled upon a kite tucked away into my closet and the wind asked us to play.

We had a sweet poem to learn this week, so we wrote it down on white butcher paper and the kids colored fall scenery all around.

Who Has Seen the Wind  by Christina Rosetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

The wind asked us to head outdoors to play.

This morning the wind was passing through. It is leaving a cold chill that beckons us to load up firewood onto the porch and get the wood stove started.

The wind today was passing by and convinced me to stock up on hot apple cider and popcorn.

A full few hours of running and playing and laughing with the wind turned a morning interrupted into  a morning of memories.

So tonight we are bathed and getting ready to crawl into warm beds after a day of activity.
Tomorrow we will recite and read and talk about our week's poem, and the kite will be tucked back into the closet until that day comes again.

The day the wind passes through.

Happy Fall Y'all!

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Egg Mobile

It is finally finished!!!

Devin spent his entire stretch off building the egg mobile, and I must say the hens love it.

It started out as an old jet ski trailer we got for free.

We put a solid board in the center but we left the sides covered with only chicken wire. The roosts will be above those areas and we want the poo to fall to the ground.

We originally had wood on all four sides, but we decided tin would be lighter. We have tin on two sides and wood on the sides with doors.
Chicken wire is at the top for ventilation

As you can see, some poo stays on the framing boards, but most of it falls through to the ground

.We have a ramp door on one side that folds down so the birds can easily get in and out. The back side is a door that opens regular. I have two nest boxes hanging on it.

We placed our large nesting boxes on one side, so the birds have many places for egg laying.

Yes, this egg mobile is pulled around with our riding lawn mower. We do not own a tractor so we had to work with what we DO have, which is the lawn mower. Devin put a ball on the hitch area and the trailer hooks right up. So far we have moved the egg mobile to two spots with the hens inside and it all went very smoothly.

This morning I moved the egg mobile to a spot the cows occupied a few days ago. It was loaded with cow patties. You can see above what the hens will do to a cow pile. Within an hour almost all of the patties were scratched up and spread out. The hens eat the bugs, larvae and spread the manure out so that it can fertilize the grass.

This young pullet is one very content bird, and we are one step closer to a salad bar beef farm.
Next I will paint the wooden areas of the egg mobile to help it hold up a bit longer in outdoor weather. and then we start looking into some fencing!

Hope you have a great weekend!!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

This Morning

Don't you just love it when you awaken about 2 am with a really itchy foot? Yesterday I inspected bee hives, placed in them a grease patty, and then placed entrance reducers on them. All of this resulted in a few stings on top of my left foot.
I was wearing my bee suit and.....flip flops. I didn't expect the stinging ladies to notice my bare feet and plan a direct flight path to my toes.

I scraped the stingers out and my feet were fine. The entire rest of the afternoon and evening they were FINE. Come 2 am my foot was invaded with a serious case of the itchies.

Being awake in the middle of the night encourages my brain to ponder the next day's events that are planned and the long term goals for the season and year.

This morning the weather was cool and foggy and the cows were out of their fencing quietly munching on dew covered grass.

Lucy will be calving in a month and a half. Belle will be headed to a neighboring farm for a month to *hang* out with a bull.  I will miss her while she is gone. She's not as friendly as Lucy but her cowgirl antics are fun to watch. She is much younger than Lucy and her youth shows when she comes running and bucking, excited over a treat of grain in a bucket.

This winter we will start accumulating young bull calves to raise as steers on this same pasture. Fencing plans are the most daunting, but I am sure we can sit down one day and figure out a good plan.

Devin is finally off a stretch so he is going to build a chicken coop a top this trailer. This will be my egg mobile to move my hens across the pasture, following the cows. It will not be huge, but we do not have a tractor to pull a larger egg mobile. We work with what we can and this old jet ski trailer was a freebie. I am excited to see what Devin builds.

In the meantime, my hens are still enjoying their time out on pasture and currently they are scratching up the garden and eating bugs.

It's amazing at the amount of work they can do in one day, digging and scratching. Their egg production has picked up too. The only drawback here lately is that the hawks are returning looking for food. Yesterday a nice sized hawk swooped down at a rooster just feet from Devin in the back yard. It was a brazen hawk, no doubt. The rooster made an escape and was safe. This spring we will order a couple of goslings. Joel Salatin keeps two geese with his flock to help protect them from aerial predators.

***This is my early morning rooster who enjoys crowing us awake at the crack of dawn***

Duke was in an especially relaxed mood this morning. He posed nicely for his pictures, almost half asleep. He was up during the night barking away coyotes....I heard him:-)

Yes it will be fine day, despite my sleepless, itchy foot night. The itch is gone this morning and my list of chores is quite expansive. I was able to make  a mental list of my "to do" list while scratching my foot red. It wasn't a total waste of time awake. I pondered. I problem solved. I even made a couple of decisions.

One being that next time, every time, I will wear boots when inspecting the hives.

Happy, happy Friday! This weekend we will attend the annual weanie roast at the Martin homestead. What are your weekend plans?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

American Meat

It was a great night for a community film. It was a great night to meet local farmers and consumers.

It was a nice night to sit under the stars and see how the food system is in crisis and how we can help.

We shared desserts, popcorn, coffee and cocoa. We visited and discussed and learned a lot about each other.

Kids played and had fun and made new friends.

By the time the sun set and the film started, we had over 100 folks here to watch and partake.

I know any who left inspired to learn more about grass based farming and Joel Salatin.

By Sunday I was wiped out from the very busy weekend and had to take an afternoon nap. Ditto with Monday.

Today I am refreshed and ready to get my farming plans down on paper so we can be prepared for spring pigs, chickens, lambs and calves.

If you missed it, you can buy a DVD copy of the film American Meat here. If you need a great resource book, just order anything by Joel Salatin, especially "You Can Farm."

If you ask me about hosting another community night next year, I will say, "YES!"

It was wonderful to host this event and I will happily do it again!

A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who came out and to everyone who brought a dessert or snack to share! It wouldn't have been a success without you all and your contributions and participation.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Portable Outdoor Movie Screen

Tonight is the community screening of American Meat!

In preparation for this event, we decided to take our outdoor down from the back deck and place it on a portable frame. We have it situated in an area of the back yard that will accommodate more viewers.

I will post a You Tube video and hopefully this will help some you all who want to make the same type of screen.

We bought some of the parts from the local hardware store and some (including the tarp) from Creative Shelters

If you are in the area, please stop by and enjoy this very informative documentary featuring Joel Salatin. Starting time is 6:30, but the film will not start until it dusk, about 7:30.
We will have lots of homemade desserts and kettle corn popcorn.

Have a fabulous weekend!!!!

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