February 25, 2009

Sourdough Whole Wheat Grain Bread

I have always enjoyed baking bread but recently my neighbor shared her sourdough starter with me. Before this experience I had only thought of sourdough starter as used in, well, sourdough bread, which I do love, but come on how many loaves of sourdough bread can one eat? So I figured I would use it for sourdough pancakes and sourdough bread occasionally. To learn more about starter, go here.
Boy oh boy, do I have a lot to learn about starter! A quick search on the Internet let me know there were waaaay more options than I realized. Starter is really just another way of saying yeast, albeit wild yeast in this case. Once you realize that, the sky is the limit. I really love sourdoughhome.com to learn about the basics and some wonderful recipes. The yummy whole wheat recipe above is adapted from the one my neighbor and her daughter-in-law came up with.

Whole Wheat Bread

4 c white bread flour
2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c wheat germ
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
1c starter
1 1/2 c warm water
1/2 c oil
1/3 c sugar
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds

Combine flours, wheat germ, salt, flaxseed in large bowl and whisk together. Add starter, water, oil and sugar and knead bread well either by hand on lightly floured surface or with a large stand mixer and bread hook until smooth and elastic. Let rise in oiled bowl (just spray well with cooking spray) covered with plastic wrap overnight (or around 12 hours) in a warm draft free place. The inside of your oven with the light turned on works well. Then gently deflate and shape into two oiled loaf pans. Lightly press sunflower seeds on top and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let those rise for 6-8 hours and bake at 350 degrees for 30 mins. Let cool in the pan for 5 mins and then tap out on a cooling rack. When cool cut with serrated knife and enjoy. 

Any bread made with starter will keep longer than a loaf made with commercial yeast. That's why the settlers and homesteaders like using sourdough!

February 15, 2009

Baby Shower

So a darling friend of mine is having a baby and I wanted to throw a cute baby shower. We had a lovely afternoon tea with chicken salad, spinach salad and fresh bread. Another mutual friend of ours made the cutest stacking toy for a centerpiece and matching burp cloths to use as placemats, perfect for decoration and presents for the Mom. Since the baby's room is going to be blue, green and brown, we decided that would be our color scheme for the party also, hence the obnoxious green teddy bear cookies for dessert!

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February 10, 2009

What a Chicken Really Eats

When a chicken is left to it's own devices, they will forage like there is no tomorrow. They enjoy eating every bug and worm they spot. So forget this nonsense about "vegetarian" hens. They like their protein. They will also eat seeds, berries, snails, grasses and other plants. In the coop we feed them laying pellets, but they really enjoy their time out in the yard.

We did finally name them all (yes I am getting a little attached). The brown one above is Lovey and she is very sweet. The brown and white one below is Goldilocks (guess who named her). The black and white one below is Petunia and the black one is Obsidian. I figured we could have a little geology lesson built into the naming project. 

February 6, 2009

Passing the Gene On

Ever since I had kids I'm a firm believer in the fact that they are born with certain tendencies (you know that whole nurture v. nature debate). I mean, it's not like I taught my 5 year old how to organize the pantry - not that I haven't been tempted. 
One day, I found him messing around in our snack drawer and I thought he was grabbing something to eat without asking.  When I asked him what he was doing, he replied, "I'm organizing the snack drawer Mom."  Duh!
Like these drawers?  We have one for snacks, treats, baby stuff (like extra spoons and sippy cups), an "instant drawer" for hot chocolate packets, popcorn and more and a cracker drawer. They are from the Container Store and labeled so everyone knows what goes where and it keeps all of those little things from getting lost in the pantry. It's also nice to have one place to contain all of the treats that come in from school, the bank, Halloween, etc.
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February 5, 2009

Building Nesting Boxes

Now that the Girls are laying eggs, we need nesting boxes. These are small boxes with a little pine straw or leaves that the hens will go in when they feel the urge. What a great chance to work on measuring and geometry with Dad, not to mention safety procedures.


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