Thursday, October 30, 2008
I have a friend that's very into healthy eating. She makes all her family's bread, to the tune of five loaves a week, though she usually gives one away. She also makes tortillas, waffles, pasta... all that stuff. And she uses her own fresh ground wheat. She heads up a shopping group that orders wheat berries (that's what you call the grains) from a company and has them shipped bulk to save money. There are quite a few people in this group. They order hard and soft white and red wheat, spelt, kamut, and I'm sure several other grains. These usually come in 50# bags or 45# plastic tubs. Now, you have to have a grinder in order to use this stuff. My friend has a grinder. It's niiiiicccee! Expensive, but nice.
Let me pause here and answer a question you may have.... One loaf of bread takes about three-and-a-half cups of flour. The grinder grinds about 8 cups of berries at a time, which yields about 12 cups of flour.... That's a lot of flour! Doesn't it all go bad before you use it up? (There, right there, that was the question. Did you catch it?) First of all, you typically don't grind it all at once, because it would lose much of its vitamin content due to time. However, you can prevent this by freezing the flour. More on that later. But no, the wheat and grain berries don't go bad as long as you keep them dry and pest free (no bugs please). When archaeologists uncovered the tombs of the Pharaohs in Egypt, there were some tombs that contained pots with wheat berries in them. Much to the scientists' surprise, these berries were STILL viable and sprouted when planted, after centuries in a tomb! Some of the folks in the ordering group went a little overboard with the Y2K scare and ordered a BUNCH of wheat berries. I guess some of them are still using the last of that supply with continued good results. Now, didn't God just know what He was doing?
Anyway, this friend of mine, Tomi is her name... she called the other day and said that there was an extra 50# bag of hard white wheat left and wondered if I'd want it. She said she'd grind it for me if I could put it in my freezer. Um, let's see... fresh, whole wheat flour.... 50# of berries for $27..... Yeah, I'll take it. So I went yesterday and she let me use her machine to grind the last little bit of berries so I could have the experience using the machine (it's a Nutrimill if you want to know...http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/nutrimill.asp). She also gave me about 12 cups of soft white wheat flour for use in no-yeast baking, like for cookies or pastries. So now I have a ton of whole wheat flour in my deep freeze which should last me well through the winter.
I've been using store bought whole wheat flour for my baking up to this point, but even the 'whole wheat' from the store isn't really whole wheat. It doesn't contain the bran or the germ, which is where most of the nutrients are. So I've been adding wheat germ when I bake. NO MORE! I was so excited about this flour that I came home and baked a new loaf last night, even though we still have part of a loaf left. This loaf baked up so high and nice, it's amazing! I think I'm ruined when this flour runs out. Maybe I can be like the widow that fed Elijah during the famine and it'll never run out......
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Other than that, I have a sinus infection with some accompanying chest congestion. I feel poopy.
Have a day.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Something you may not know about me - I'm a Superman fan. I've always like the Man of Steel and enjoyed reading his comics (though I rarely bought one as a kid). But I just think Big Blue is cool.
I've been doing some reading lately. A week or two ago I finished a book by an archaeologist/philologist (a person who studies languages). The book was written in the 80's. I actually forget the name of the book, but his two other books on the same subject were called 'America B.C.' and 'Saga America'. His position is that Bronze Age Europeans actually traversed the Atlantic and visited North America centuries before Lief Ericson did, as our modern history books tell us. There are actually numerous sites in Canada and the U.S. that are near copies of European Bronze Age dolmen, stellae, burials, etc. These folks would have come over before the last ice age would have made that kind of sea travel impossible. Many of these are inscribed with early Celtic, Scandinavian, and Basque writing, called Ogam and Tifinag inscriptions. Most archaeologists have dismissed these inscriptions as mere decoration or 'wear and tear' of centuries of weather. However, to the trained eye, they tell a very real story, relaying the voyages and accomplishments of European traders and kings - most notably, a Norse king named 'Woden-Lithi'. Sorry, but I can't even remember the author's name right now. Good reading with a lot of pictures to illustrate his points, though.
Another book I'm looking at right now is called 'The Irish in Ireland'. It's a brief history of Ireland from pre-Celtic peoples, to more modern history. It's VERY brief.
I've got my eye on a couple of other books to read when I'm done... A new book just out called 'Liberal Fascism' which shows how many of the policies of liberal politicians through American history are actually rooted in Fascism. It's a scholarly work, and not the ravings of a craze 'Right-Wing Bleeding Heart'. The author doesn't leave off without a word or two about the need for some caution and care by the more conservative side of politics.
And finally, 'The Good Old Days'. It's a collection of interviews, diary entries, testimonies, letters, etc. of Germans involved in the real front-line killing of the Holocaust during WWII. I understand it's not for the faint of heart. But I'm always fascinated by peoples' personal stories, and especially when I can find out the answer to, "What in the world were they thinking?"
I get these books at the library. Good thing too, or I'd be flat broke, have no space in my house at all, and have a very unhappy wife.
All of these right along with the two or three other books unfinished on the shelf to pick up at leisure, several books borrowed from a friend, some homesteading magazines, and a couple of other books I checked out at the library. Go figure.
Well, I guess I did have something to say.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
After the apples are good and soft, you run 'em through a food mill. I got mine from Rural King for about $20. It's an invaluable tool and it's a whole lot easier than pushing it all through a strainer/sieve.
This, then, is what you get. Add some cinnamon to taste and put it into hot jars with hot lids and stick it in the hot water bath.
Process them babies for twenty minutes......
And voila! Applesauce! If you're curious (and more for my own information as much as anyone else), 3 pecks of apples -or 3/4 bushel - will produce 10 quarts and one pint of applesauce, give or take. I had a small tragedy during the hot water bath. One of my quart jars cracked along the bottom. I heard it happen but didn't know which jar it was. So I had to take them all out at the end. I found the broken one. Unfortunately, all the applesauce in it ended up in the water as I pulled it out of the pot. Well, live and learn. It could have happened because I didn't have the jar hot enough for the water, or maybe there was an inherent flaw in the jar during manufacture. Oh well.
Today, I'm making apple butter (sorry, no pics - it took forever just to upload these pics). I'm using one peck of apples (the left over from the bushel I bought). So far, 5 pounds or so of apples have produced 5 1/2 pints of the yummy dark brown delight. I've got another 6 pounds or so of apples in the crock pot cooking right now. By the end of the day, I'll probably have another 5 or 6 pints. Boy, is it yummy... sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. I love this stuff!!!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Well, after about two or three days of writing, revamping, and rewording, I finally put together a letter to the land owner that I thought was professional, appealing (as in "Please give me this property"), and tasteful. I had Melora read it and she thought it was good. So it went in the mail on Monday. He should get it tomorrow or the next day. Here's hopin', ya know?
As for everything else... Since our house is one of the drop spots for our CSA, any boxes left over at the end of the day are mine. I hit the jackpot yesterday with three boxes! We split our share with a friend, so when there's an extra box, we give her one whole one and we keep one. So today, she got a box and I got three (ours plus two extras). I've been a busy boy today. I put up three freezer bags of broccoli, five quart bags of green beans, and probably six or eight bags with two Corona di Toro peppers cut up in each. Of course, except for the peppers, I had to blanche everything before freezing. PLUS, I still have some beets to pickle tomorrow. I also have two HUGE turnips. What the world am I gonna do with those? I don't eat turnips. I remember my dad taking one and eating it raw with salt... yeeeccchhh. All of that, not to mention the bushel of apples I bought yesterday to turn into sauce and applebutter. Yeah, I'm busy, but it's worth it.
Not much else to say. That's all for now. I hope to have something to report soon about the farm.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Isn't she purty? That's a Guernsey cow. Not my first pick of a milk cow, but nice to look at nonetheless.
No news about the farm. Haven't even written the letter yet. I suppose it's probably because it requires me to sit and think for a while and I can't even come close to that with my three raving lunatics running around.
We're headed to the apple orchard on Monday, where I'll buy my usual apples for applebutter. But this year, there'll be an additional purchase as I intend to make applesauce. My boys can go through a whole jar in one sitting, so I think it behooves me (no pun intended) to look into ways of cutting that cost a bit. Making my own unsweetened and cinnamon applesauce might just do it. Gonna be busier'n snot.
Also of note, Grant turns 4 on Monday. He's quite excited.
Melora got another "A" in her Masters' work. She's doing exceptionally well and I'm quite proud of her. She stresses out so much about stuff though. I do try to help her see things more clearly and rationally. HA! Listen to me!! Ain't dat a hoot!?!
Well, that's all for now. Until next time, be well, do good work, and keep in touch. (Thanks Garrison Keilor).