I spent about 10 minutes this morning kneading my bread dough thinking about what I had just said to my husband. It all started with me idealizing about making all of our own bread all the time, so when I declared to him this morning, "Don't buy any more bread, I'm going to make all of our own bread from now on."" if you're at the store just buy Bob's Red Mill, whole wheat flour, rye flour, and unbleached white flour, please." He looked at me sideways and said, "Are you sure?" He knows I have good intentions, but lately I've turned my routine upside down, learning to make soap, reading, studying, and practising making it. I haven't made bread in several weeks, we've been buying Dave's bread, which is very good, but expensive.
I am making a commitment to bake bread consistently, not sometimes when I feel like it, but everyday until I get 10 loaves in the freezer. Then I'll just make it 2 or 3 times per week and make 4 loaves at a time. I decided as a homesteading wife I wanted to make this a priority. Plus this next month I want to learn to make crackers and bagels, which I've always wanted to try and never have. The biggest thing with making bread is to get into a routine. I always make sourdough bread, and have gotten my starter back going strong again over the last few days. Last night I added about 4 cups of flour and enough warm water to make a good dough, and added my cup of sourdough starter, by this morning it was bubbling away.
This morning I removed a cup of the starter, and created another batch for tomorrows baking. To the 3 1/2 cups of starter I added, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1/4 cup of sweetener (preferably honey, and molasses)I also use sugar sometimes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 1/2 to 3 cups of flour added in slowly(I use whole wheat, and some rye) I add these all together, knead for 10 minutes and then put in greased bread pans, let them rise for 2 or 3 hours, then bake. Sometimes I make the loaves free form, they're just longer and flatter.
It feels good to have my day started with bread and rolls rising, chicken stock simmering on the woodstove, animals all fed, and tucked inside to wait out the rain and wind we're having today. The dishes are done, the laundry is going, and I'm taking a few minutes to write, before I start my next batch of soap.
Fast forward now to dinner; chicken vegetable soup with lentils and rice, fresh bread, and a seasonal cabbage and root vegetable salad. Homemade honey mustard dressing, with salt and cayenne for spicing the soup. The good news, we will have enough soup for tomorrows lunch and an after school meal.
I have also been wanting to talk more about the herbs in my life. I grow mint, both peppermint and spearmint, the spearmint is usually the one I dry for making tea throughout the year. I grow and dry thyme, parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, tarragon, basil, and lemon balm. I also freeze the herbs in pesto sauces. In addition to these I have a good collection of dried herbs I can't grow, ones I've gathered from here and there, mostly PCC, our local Co Op. Various herbs for health and healing. I have gone through phases of regularly using herbs, mostly in herb teas, I just brew the loose leaf herbs in pint and quart jars just like loose leaf tea, then strain into a teacup. Remember the scripture in the bible where He says' I give you the leaves for the healing of the Nations. Well I believe there is healing in the herbs.
I am going back to the basics of regularly making herbal teas, they are both delicious and nutritious. We all had some herb tea tonight after dinner, even the kids love herb tea. Tonight I made mint, licorice, nettle, ginger, lemon and honey. Jason has a minor cold, so I added golden seal and wild cherry bark to his, both are to aid his body in healing.
Here are a few of my herbs lined up on a shelf in the kitchen. I have these small jars to store them, and then a larger container that is kept cool and dark for longer term storage, I then just refill the smaller jars when they need filling. The many health benefits of herbs is something I've found interesting, and studied for years.