Wednesday, March 30, 2011

back to the basics

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. 

One of my goals is to get back to the basics of being a homemaker, and keeping our homestead  humming with good smells from the kitchen, homemade bread, soups, stews, pasta's and salads.  To have a Spring cleaned home, filled with cleanliness, harmony, organization and peace.   To have the animals, clean, dry and well fed.  And to have my gardens growing to their maximum for food production.  I'm planning to plant more root crops before April 3rd, then the moon begins to wax or grow again, and it's time to plant above ground crops.  You can see how this whole planting by the moon rhythm works.  It reminds you to get the crops in regularly, and your successive planting just happens effortlessly. 

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. 


Sarah said...

Dinner looked delicious!!! It's my first time visiting your blog, and I love it! Can't wait to keep reading! :)

Benita said...

I really envy you your life. I grew up on a working farm, so I know the work that goes in to what you do. I'd trade it for my life spent in an office any day! At least your life is interesting and varied. And you see the immediate benefits to your family.

Jewel said...

Hi Sarah, welcome, I'm so glad you found us.

Benita, Thanks for your nice comments. The 12 years I spent as a realtor, I remember the longing to be home cooking, cleaning, gardening, and tending to my family. I was able to work from home a lot, but this is different, I don't have the cell phone attached to me anymore. That's one reason I'm so happy and loving every minute of being a full time homemaker.

I do want to make money from my homestead, doing what I love, so this will be the year of having farm products to sell. More on that in another post, have a good day.

Kimberly said...

Jewel, thanks for another fantastic read. I still have yet to try the sourdough starter. Heck, I would love to make bread from scratch solely too. I may have asked you this before, but with the ingrediants you use to make your bread, is it more cost efficient than buying already made bread?

Snohomish Shepherdess said...

I applaud your resolution to bake all of your family's bread. I find making bread for my family to be one of the more gratifying activities in my life. I also wish you lots of luck launching your soap making business!

Anonymous said...

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Jewel said...

Hi Kimberly, I would like to know myself the cost effectiveness of buying bread vs. making it from scratch. Much of it depends on the type of bread you normally buy. I like artisan bread when I can afford it. Most loaves I used to buy are anywhere from $3-5 dollars, depending on sales etc. If I just look at the cost of how much flour it takes to make a loaf, approx 3 cups of flour, you should be able to make around 4 loaves from a bag of flour.

If I buy wheat berries in bulk, and grind them myself it would be even more cost efficient. I will make note of costs and figure it out over the next month, and will give a more accurate answer.

Snohomish Shepherdess, love your cooking blog, and want to try some of your delicious sounding recipes. It's nice to hear others out there make their own bread regularly. Thanks for the encouragement on the soap, it will be my first farm product to sell, and is very exciting.