Thursday, May 27, 2010

Everybody Wants Some (You Want Some Too) Cue The Dancing Hamburgers...Bad Better Off Dead Reference...

The theme of this week is: everybody wants a piece! I said this to my friend Nikol on sunday when she asked why I was half an hour late to Sunday School. Walking from the chapel to Sunday School I was stopped 5 times! I'm very in demand, in case you haven't heard. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been stopped 5 times on their way to Sunday School, or anywhere else for that matter. In addition to working with the teenage girls at church I was also recently asked to co-head a community garden for our church congregation. And I was informed on Sunday that I am a member of the activities committee by default since I work with the youth, shoulda read that fine print. Anyway, my house is a wreck because it seems like every waking moment is spent doing and planning and going to meetings and such things. I'm not complaining, just busy and excited about new things that are happening, especially that community garden! Still, the housework suffers. This morning I succumbed to the messy house and stopped begging Jonas to pick up the dominoes, and watched The Jane Austen Book Club while I made train tracks out of dominoes with Jonas, who, I might add, has actual train tracks but obviously prefers dominoes. My life can't be too busy if I can watch a movie on a thursday morning. Right? Actually I did run on the treadmill for 20 minutes during the movie, and we ate breakfast, so it wasn't a total waste.
I was in a meeting a few weeks ago, regarding working with the youth in our church and one thing that was said struck me, "some things matter and some things don't." Yep. This is my justification for not vaccuming all week. That's right. All. Week.
Aaaaaand, the phone just rang, I've been asked to go camping for a week in July with a million teenage girls. When you're hot, you're hot.

How's your week going?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I've been making our bread for almost two years! I still can't believe it's been that long. Anyway, I've learned a lot about making bread in the past two years, please benefit from my experience.

First and foremost, there is no such thing as good, homemade, entirely whole wheat bread. It can't be done. I don't care what you say about hard white wheat versus hard red wheat, etc. etc. It can't be done. It can't I say! I've tried damn near everything I can think of (and then some) and every single time it ceases to rise and I am left with a bread brick.

That being said, all white bread is not good for you, and as my good friend Ingrid points out, it's disgusting when it sticks to the roof of your superglue. Indeed. So, here's how I make bread, works like a charm every time:

Dissolve 1 Tablespoon of yeast in a quarter cup of hot water. I used to use a candy thermometer to test the water, until I realized it's not life and death, just feel the water with your hand, it should be warm enough to dissolve the yeast but not so hot that it'll kill it. I've never had yeast die on me so don't fret.

When the yeast is dissolved add two cups of lukewarm water or milk. I usually use water, unless I'm feeling fancy, it's so hard to get the milk temp just right. And by "so hard" I mean, It requires an extra dish...and dishes have to be washed (sometimes BY HAND! can you believe such cruelties exist? I've been washing by hand all week, it takes forever. The new dishwasher was installed today! HOLLA! It is a thing of beauty, but I digress.)

Add two tablespoons sugar or agave, or honey or molasses or whatever sweetener/yeast food you desire. Add two teaspoons salt, to keep the yeast in check.

Add 1 cup wheat bran, 1 cup flax seed meal, and 1 cup white flour, stir until it's smoothish. Add 1 more cup white flour and stir it for five minutes or so until it becomes stretchy and the gluten begins to develop. Contrary to what many believe yeast is not entirely responsible for the bread rising A LOT depends on the gluten in the bread, stirring at this point and kneading later develop the gluten and will give you a loftier, prettier loaf.

Add another cup white flour (or wheat flour if you want) and dump the contents of the bowl out onto a floured surface, knead in the remaining 1-2 cups flour, it's not exact just knead flour in until it's not so sticky, if you fear the dough is getting too stiff with flour but still is quite sticky then stop adding flour and use a little oil on your hands to knead the dough. This works brilliantly. Some people suggest that 20 minutes of kneading time is ideal, others say it's impossible to over-knead bread and that the longer you knead the better. Just knead the dough until it's smooth, if you have time (and desire) beyond that to keep kneading, go for it, otherwise move on.

Grease the mixing bowl (or don't. The world won't end if you don't) and put the dough back in to rise, cover the bowl with a wet cloth. The wet cloth is somewhat important because sometimes dough can form a thin crust type surface that inhibits the rising. After it's doubled in size (like a half hour to an hour) divide the dough in half and form it into log shapes, let it rise for another hour or so in greased loaf pans, when they're almost bread loaf size bake them, they'll rise a little more as they bake. Bake at 375 for 30ish minutes. They're done when you tap on the top and it sounds hollow. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's About Time

So, sorry the blog has been super lame lately but, well, these things happen. I would tell you that I lost the camera, and felt hesitant to publish pictureless posts (because that's the truth) but honestly how many times have I used that excuse? It's startin' to look a little thin. Anyway, found the camera! Things in the garden have been keeping me on my toes. Also I helped my BFF Nikol put in her very first garden, exciting stuff. And I was put in charge of a gardening bulletin board display at church. It's been a month for gardening, to say the least. We're beginning to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor, we had zucchini orzo for dinner last night, and jonas and I have been eating the first few strawberries and green (or purple) beans right off the plants. Can't wait til everything's coming full force. I broke down and bought a harvesting bucket (at target for like 2 bucks, you can't beat that) because the kitchen collanders we used last year were less than ideal. Now we eagerly await things to fill them with.

Here's our avocado tree that was started from a pit YEARS ago. Who thought things would turn out so well? Finally it's in the ground!
What a face!
Our herb garden in the works, I'm really pleased with the way it's starting to fill in. You can see the raspberries in the background. They've certainly taken off this year, 20 new plants at last count, and all from last years 1 plant!
Check out the size of this chard root. I finally dug up the super chard about a month or so ago. It was a sad day.
Our newest cleared spot. Eventhough it's halfway into May I have just gotten around to weeding and mulching this bed. Honestly it's not my favorite, eventhough it gets the most sun of anywhere else in the yard, a large chunk of it is riddled with fusarium wilt. Life's just not fair. But the tangerine tree is coming right along, as you can see all of the weeds went toward mulching said tree.
I'm staying my hand and allowing the lettuces to go to seed...hence I'll have seed for next year.
This is one section of our square foot garden, shown here are Sunberries, Sunflower, corn, beans and alyssum.
Here's our square foot garden from afar. It is a thng of beauty. I keep saying to my husband: LOOK HOW PRETTY OUR GARDEN IS! I just can't believe it, after living here for 4 years we're finally cookin' in the gardening department.
Our pitiful little three sister's garden. The soil in this area hasn't been worked as much as other areas of the yard. It sorely needs some mulch, maybe I'll get to that tomorrow.
A row of tomatoes, including: brandywine, beefsteak, yellow pear, jelly bean, speckled roman and other random heirloom varieties. I took this picture a few days ago and already the plants are much bigger. I dug a few out today and transfered them to my mother-in-law's garden. They were just too crowded.
Jonas kept saying "picture me by the strawberries, Mom! Picture me by the strawberries!" The kid loves his strawberries, and his awesome sesame street underpants...perfect for swimmin'!

Hope all is well at your homesteads!