Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Homesteading Goals............

I have read so many books on homesteading, self-sufficiency, traditional food/healthy eating over the past year.  I couldn't even tell you how many.  Dozens, for sure.

So, what to do with all that information?  I don't know.

Oh, yes I do!

I thought I'd try to learn one new skill each month.  Of course, I thought of this in February, so the perfectionist in me already feels a month behind! lol

I'm not great at following my own rules, so making a list of things to try/learn/do would probably be a dismal failure.  You won't hear me saying "February will be bread month, and March will be yogurt month, and April will be............blah, blah, blah."  I finally know myself better than that.  I already have ideas for the coming months, but really, it will boil down to doing what I feel like I can accomplish and being able to access supplies when I need them.  If I made a list I wouldn't stick to it.  Dismal failure, remember?  This is supposed to be FUN!!!

Here are some of my ideas:

Sour cream
Soft cheese
Vermiculture (worm composting)
Showing chickens
Raising turkeys (I have a lot of convincing to do with this one)

In February, I decided I wanted to make bread.  When I say I want to make bread, I mean I want to stop buying bread from the store because I can make my own better-tasting, healthier, cheaper bread at home.  And I want it to be easy.  Or else I won't do it!

I found a great recipe over at Homestead Revival.  Can you tell that's my favorite blog???  I'm always posting about Homestead Revival!  If you've never visited, get on over there and learn something new!  Amy is so great about blogging about what she learns, tries, and succeeds/fails at.  She is so honest and I just love her!  She also has better pictures than I do.

Oh, yeah.  Bread................right.

The bread turned out great!  It wasn't my first time to make bread, but I had not done it in a long time, and I was specifically looking for a bread that wouldn't disintegrate when I sliced it thin for sandwiches.

I made the recipe as written the first time.  Then, I made it again with half whole wheat flour and half organic all-purpose flour with some extra wheat germ thrown in.  This was the more popular bread, by far!  So, I made it again. 

Now, I would love to use all whole wheat flour, but I have yet to find a flour (in the stores) that doesn't have that bitter, whole wheat taste to it.  I sweet friend of mine demonstrated her grain mill for me and sent me home with several flours, one of which was Prairie Gold.  All of her flour was so delicious!  It was ground so finely and it made everything soft--WITHOUT the bitter, whole wheat taste to it.

Matt isn't completely on board with spending almost $300 on a grain mill yet, so I also thought if I began making bread regularly, he'd see how much I'd use it!  See how sneaky I am?

I haven't bought bread in 3 weeks now.  Yay!

Not only that, but I think I'll continue!  This recipe is nice and easy.  I use my Kitchen Aid mixer so there is very little to do by hand.

Here's the recipe, although you should still go over to Amy's blog to read it--she has lots of pictures and helpful tips.  I just copied and pasted her entire recipe, photos and all, into Word so I could print it and add it to my recipe binder.

The little notes by the ingredients are Amy's notes, not mine.

Whole Wheat Bread

2 C. warm water (110 - 115 degrees)

1/3 C. olive oil

1/4 C. honey (I like to use raw honey)

1 egg

3 1/2 tsp. yeast

5-6 C. whole wheat flour (I like to use Prairie Gold freshly milled)

2 tsp. sea salt

Combine water, oil, honey, and egg in mixing bowl.

Add yeast and then three cups of flour and salt.

Continue adding two more cups of flour. On the sixth cup, add only as needed. Starting timing your kneading process with a timer for 10 minutes. Watch the dough as it kneads and add just a bit more flour here and there as you see it getting too sticky and leaving too much on the sides of the bowl.

Transfer dough to a well greased container for proofing (rising). Roll the dough over to coat it with oil. Cover and place in a warm location. Proof until doubled in size.

After the bread has doubled in size, turn out, punch down, and shape into two loaves.
Place into loaf pans and brush with melted butter.

Proof again, letting the loaves rise to just above the top of the loaf pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and then turn out of the pans.
Now I just need to make a bread bag to store my loaves in.

FEBRUARY SKILL:  Make bread so I can stop buying bread

Check.  :D

Next month, I'm already spying making yogurt from the Raw milk we get.  We'll see..........

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