The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Grinding Flax & Other Bread Making Lore

We finally used the ground flax we bought for our sourdough bread and have begun grinding our own. We found a place to buy bulk flax in 50 lb. bags that we pour into five gallon buckets with Gamma seal lids. This is explained in this article with our bread recipe, well what used to be our bread recipe, I have changed it somewhat - again.

We are grinding the flax using the KitchenAid grinding attachment. It is slow, but does the job. When making the last batch of bread, we switched the grind to a coarser setting than what we started out with, so it doesn't take as long and the texture is good. Some folks may want a finer grind, but we like it this way.





This grind is definitely more coarse than the store bought, and it also is more oily, which shows me that ground flax has some things removed to make it shelf stable, just like whole wheat flour. We are really happy to add our own ground flax to our bread.

The difference in the recipe came when Frank asked me to make biscuits and gravy one day for a treat. I dug out the sourdough biscuit recipe I had used before and realized the only real difference was the addition of two tablespoons of baking soda. I also didn't knead the dough with the KitchenAid dough hooks like I did for bread. The biscuits turned out really good, they weren't crumbly from lack of kneading, so now I make regular bread the same way. I stir it in the bowl with a spoon and my hands if needed, but no kneading. That's it. Doesn't take as long and reminds me of how I used to make regular whole wheat bread without the assistance of the dough hooks and a machine.

Everyday starter on the left, stored refrigerator starter on the right.

It was time to feed the extra sourdough starter I keep in the frig when I made this batch of bread, so I also put the everyday starter in a clean jar. I pour about half of the stored starter in the everyday jar, refresh what is left with more water and flour, then return it to the frig. It's then good to go for about a month or so. Did you know that the vertical ridges down the side of a half gallon jar have an indention on the inside of the jar? Me neither, until one time I was washing the sourdough starter jar, which takes more elbow grease than a milk jar. The starter leaves a film on the inside of the jar that needs to be scrubbed well. If anyone had ever asked me, I would have said the inside of the jar is smooth and flat. It's not, and starter wants to stay in those little grooves. An old toothbrush works well to clean the grooves.


One of our new buckets of hard red winter wheat ended up being white wheat, even though the bucket was labeled red. I knew the berries were almost twice as big as the previous bucket of hard red wheat, but didn't realize it was white wheat until we made a batch of bread out of it. It's okay, and some folks probably prefer the taste of white wheat since it is more like a store bought bread flavor, but we prefer the taste of hard red wheat. It is a hardier kind of taste and hard to describe. So we resealed the bucket of white wheat and marked it 'open' and 'white' so we can skip over it. If we need it someday, it will be there, but for now, we will continue to eat hard red wheat.



Do you know what you do when the squash starts producing? You eat lots of squash, even on your pizza. We use the same sourdough bread recipe for pizza dough that we use for everyday bread. The toppings change from time to time, depending on what we have available. This version has ground pork, frozen peppers from last summer, fresh crookneck squash, tomato sauce we canned last summer and our mozzarella. Well done, just like we like it. But the dough came out thicker than we like, so I'll leave the baking soda out of the pizza dough next time. Like Frank says, our bread and pizza never taste quite the same from batch to batch.

Enjoy what you have. Learn everyday. Appreciate the opportunities, talents and challenges you've been given. It's what makes life worth living.

Until next time - Fern

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Carrots on the Shelf

The carrots have been pulled and processed. We were very pleased with the amount of the harvest since it was more than we expected. We grow Danver's half longs since our rocky soil lends itself to non-straight carrots, even the short version.




That small dirt path down the middle is where the carrots were. As with most canning projects, preparing the food is the most time consuming part of the process.




Why is this one lonely carrot yellow? It was the only one. Interesting. By the way, about half of these carrots were grown from the seeds we saved last year. Two years ago, I planted a patch of carrots in the herb bed so I could leave them for two years to go to seed since they are biennial. It worked! This year, I put a small patch of beets in the herb bed that grew in the greenhouse all winter. I hope they will reward us with seeds as well.


Instead of cutting each carrot by hand, we chose to use a slicing wheel on the KitchenAid. It was much faster and easier on the aging bodies.


 



 We had exactly enough to fill up two canners - 32 pints.


One of those all purpose shelves. From left to right, top to bottom.
Row 1: Handheld radios we use everyday, work gloves, cookie sheet and bucket to dry eggshells for the garden, Frank's hat and gloves. 
Row 2: Towel lined shelf for hot jars to cool after removing from the canner
Row 3: Milk buckets, extra bucket for scraps
 





The next morning the chickens got the carrot scraps and the garden got the whey from the soft cheese that was making while we canned the carrots.


We are grateful for the harvest and the nutrition on the shelf. A very satisfying days work.

Until next time - Fern

Monday, June 3, 2019

What's Growin' in the Garden 2

Interesting that I was thinking of doing a garden update today since we had rain forecast. I have some pictures from May 25th and was going to add a few more today. Well, it is raining. We had and inch of rain in five minutes, then ended up with 2" in about 30 minutes and it arrived with 25MPH winds. Here are some pictures from the porch.

Our creek has extended into the backyard.


North side of the house, water running, now the corn is facing west laying over.



Our new creek through the turnip bed.

Lots of water - this is normally dry

I won't know if there is any permanent damage for a few days and will let you know about that in the next update. Message for me - always plan for the unexpected. Always.....always.

Here are a few comparisons from the last article. Then pictures and comments about what's growing out there - or was - or maybe is still growing. Time will tell.
 
April 22nd

May 25th

We are still using coffee grounds for acidity around some plants, these were for the blueberries. The eggs shells have made their way around the base of all squashes and tomatoes, so these were given to the peppers.

 

 
Pinto beans

The pinto beans are doing well and I have learned something. They vine like pole beans. I thought they were a bush bean, but they look just like the Missouri Wonders, except they don't have a trellis to grow on. Another thing we've noticed is that some of them appear to have the same type of curly top problem some of the tomatoes have. Because of that I think the person that commented about the soil being too fertile is probably right. Some of the beans look great and some of them are wrinkled up. Another good learning experience.



Missouri Wonder green beans next to the pinto beans

While we are in this corner of the garden, here are the two apple trees. In the past we have harvested about 20 apples altogether in the seven or eight years these trees have been here. This year there are many apples. We hope they remain on the trees long enough to ripen and harvest. I'm wondering if I will have enough to can a few which leads me to pondering the best way to do that without any added sugar or other ingredients. Any ideas?













Comfrey by the apples. The chickens get a handful each morning.


Sunflowers are planted at the end of each trellis and here and there in a couple of other places.


 I told you about the potatoes Frank bought for me in the last article. Well, right after we planted them it rained and rained and rained. Four plants survived the wet soil. They look healthy and vigorous, though, so we will see what kind of harvest we get.


We have had a few meals of the first small yellow crook neck squash. There is nothing like those first few meals, they always taste so good. Soon we will be overrun with too many, but that's not such a bad problem to have. We can always share with the chickens. We lost a few winter squash and one yellow squash plant to vine borers before I got the wood ashes around the base of the plants. I'll put some more out after this rainy week passes.




The carrots, and all of the surrounding weeds and crabgrass, are doing very well. I started the carrot seedlings in pot makers again this year which makes all the difference. They get a good head start and produce much better than direct seeding.

 
Our winter squash this year is Thelma Sanders which is a type of acorn squash, along with some seeds we saved last year. They are a mixture of five different winter squashes we grew last summer. We'll see what they produce.

 
There are a few pots of nasturtiums, marjoram and basil here and there throughout the garden.
 
The Japanese beetles really like the amaranth. Even so, it is growing well.


 The beets are doing well this year due to being seedlings in pot makers just like the carrots. I hope to can some this year.



The okra has not liked the cool, rainy weather. It is very slowly coming along.















The corn is doing okay. The 2008 Painted Mountain seed germinated very well, much to our surprise. It has tasseled first when the open pollinated sweet corn has barely begun. We hoped to cross pollinate them, but that won't be happening since the timing is off. And now, after the rain and wind, we'll have to see if any makes at all.
 












Our experimental patch of sorghum is coming up. It will be very interesting to see how it does, along with the amaranth. We're curious about the harvest, the labor involved and how we can add these to our diet. Learning, just can't do without it. There is always something to learn.

That small patch of dirt back there is the sorghum.
 













I planted some lettuce in pots on the porch to see if we can have some through most of the summer. Another experiment. This pot has a marigold coming up in it along with the Romaine.


What is surprising is how much the garden has grown in the last week since these pictures were taken. We've had sunshine and many things are really taking off. I realized when looking through these pictures that there aren't any of the tomatoes, but they're out there, along both sides of the carrots.
 
Well, that's it for now. We hear thunder not too far off and there is more rain on the way. Just hope it doesn't have any hail or high winds with it this time.

How are things growing in your neck of the woods?

Until next time - Fern

P.S. We have a question. Do any of you have experience with a corded electric tiller? We are reviewing this one. Please tell us what you think or if you have other recommendations. I have a Mantis and it works fine, but it just won't till. It is a cultivator, not a tiller. I need something vastly smaller than the tractor with the tiller attachment to help take care of some of these weeds. Please tell us what you think. Your thoughts are appreciated.