Monday, April 30, 2012

Whole Wheat Artisan Bread

I'm so glad to have found this recipe! Recently, I've purchased a (hand crank) grain mill, and have been grinding my own wheat. Since we've been cutting out processed foods, this has included buying store bought bread.

For the time being, I've been buying organic wheat berries from Amazon. This 25lb bag cost $27 and FREE SHIPPING.

My favorite part about this recipe is that I just mix the ingredients, and that's it -- no kneading, no nothing. When I'm ready to bake, I just scoop out what I need, let it rise, then pop it in the toaster oven to bake (this way I don't heat up my house.) The rest of the dough sits in the refrigerator till the next meal. The longer it ferments, the better the flavor too!
Bun sized, for individual sandwiches








1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup honey
5 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
6 2/3 cups whole wheat flour

Mix all the wet ingredients in lg container or stand mixer.. add dry ingredients and mix well.. cover (not air tight) and let rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses or flattens on top.. approximately 2 to 3 hours.
Can be used right away but easier to handle when cold. store covered (not air tight) up to 5 days. after 5 days can be frozen portion sizes in air tight containers.. to use frozen dough thaw it out overnight in refrigerator..

This dough is very sticky and best handled with wet hands.. keeping hands wet quickly shape into grapefruit sized ball and place in greased loaf pan.
Lightly flour top of loaf and slash with serrated bread knife.. let rest in pan for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Bake 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until deeply browned and firm.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Germany and Beyond

Neuschwanstein Castle
Don't you just love it when you accidentally erase emails, or blog updates? I did that last night, so this is my MINI condensed update from yesterday. (If you saw the update pop up for a fleeting second last night, and then disappear, now you know what happened!)


I've been working on trying to get caught up on my blog updates, but have been distracted and extremely busy -- well, to be entirely honest, I'm distracted with my garden.

This past month my husband and daughter have returned from their trip to Germany.

Since we've tried to integrate travels as part of our home school, I wanted to turn this next trip into an opportunity for my daughter to practice some math and life skills. With a very tight budget, my daughter was to pick ANYWHERE she wanted to go in the world, and PLAN, RESEARCH, BUDGET, as well as select her itinerary. She could go ANYWHERE (well, within reason.) She had to read travel reviews and select hostels or cheap hotels, look up the currencies pertaining to whichever country she selected, compare flight tickets, research the history, languages, transportation, visa requirements, etc.

We have to count pennies, so I was holding my breath. This was a trip that would make me wait for another year to replace my carpet, skimp on certain repairs, and shop second hand.

She wanted to see castles!

I asked my husband if he'd like to take her backpacking (so he could share in the home school travel experience) and to my surprise, he agreed! He already travels plenty for his job, so I knew he was being a trooper to take this trip.


Berlin Wall

Each day I looked forward to them calling me via the computer on Skype. I enjoyed hearing about the meals they ate, their train ride from Munich to Berlin, (how my daughter's backpack came open when they were walking down the street and a gentleman handed her back her underclothes) as well as them getting lost in Berlin during a snowstorm. What an adventure!
 After they arrived home I congratulated my daughter on a job well done. They had spent less than she'd budgeted. I looked at my worn carpet and knew we'd made the right decision.

Fifty years from now, I wouldn't have remembered the carpet I had replaced, but the memories that my husband and daughter shared together in Germany will last them a lifetime and beyond.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Wild Edibles and Natural Remedies - Disclaimer

As I collect wild vegetation and introduce it into my family's diet, I am keenly aware of the importance and responsibility involved in making sure that each plant IS safe to consume. Not relying on just one source for my information -- verifying, reverifying the info, and using sound judgement, with a sprinkle of gut instinct. I am also keenly aware that not all foods and medicine come from the grocery store and pharmacy  - THUS why I'm educating myself on wild vegetation and herbs.

So with that said, here's my disclaimer ;-)

*Any herbal information you gather from my site, please verify from other sources, take at your own risk, and do your own research. All the information I share is over my own experiences and opinions. What I learn to be of value for my family's health, may not be appropriate for your own.

As I delve into wild edibles, I find that I mix company with people of various backgrounds and faith. I do not worship creation. I am in awe of the Creator.

 Today, I gathered some Sow Thistle, and wild onion/garlic at the nearby park. I was careful to collect this where there were no chance of pesticides. After feeding the chickens, and the rabbits part of the bounty, I washed and finely chopped the remaining Sow Thistle/wild onions for a pot of chicken soup.

The best soup in the world (in my book) is homemade chicken soup! Take a whole chicken and boil it till tender - carefully removing the whole chicken intact - cool and debone. Chop the meat and return to pot that is full of chicken broth. In this particular pot, I added what I had available - Rotel, greenbeans, onions, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and the Sow Thistle/wild onions... I know I'm forgetting a few other things, but you get the idea. It's the perfect dish for a cold day, feeling under the weather, or just wanting to go easy on the tummy after eating heavy foods all week.

I've created a new category - Wild Edibles and Remedies - to keep things better organized. Tomorrow, (weather willing) I'll be joining another group on a wild edible field trip.

Wild Edibles III


The GREENBRIAR is a vine that many consider invasive, but for those who appreciate their medicinal and nutritional values, will find them edible as raw, or cooked as spinach (leaves) and asparagus (stems.) The best thing about this plant is that it can be found plentious year-round. The Native Americans valued this plant. 
Sow Thistle
 SOW THISTLE was brought over by the Europeans as a garden vegetable. This plant is widely confused with the Dandelion as they look similar in appearance. I have on many occasions confused both the Sow Thistle and Dandelion as being the same. The difference is that the Sow Thistle has several vining flowers, as well as a green stem that leds to the flower. The Sow Thistle is rich in vitamin A, C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Phosphorus, and Iron.
Sow Thistle
*Harvesting the roots of both the Sow Thistle and Dandelion can be used as a coffee substitute. Another amazing benefit of the Sow Thistle (fast becoming one of my fav wild edibles) is that the white sap has an opiate-like effect and can be used as a pain reliever.

Unlike the Dandelions that prefer a watered lawn, the Sow Thistle will thrive under drier conditions. I have noticed since we've mowed our lawn that this "weed" is popping up throughout my yard, towering above my freshly mowed grass. Yesterday, I took a bucket and picked all the Sow Thistles I could find and gave them to my chickens. Now that I've learned the value of this European garden vegetable, I'll be finding ways to add this to my family's menu. What a gold mine I have growing in my yard!  (Stay tuned for part 4 of Wild Edibles.)

Wild Edibles II

Continuing to the second part of Wild Edibles, the next plant we had studied is the WOOD SORREL. This plant is high in vitamin C and A, and is great for spicing salads.
Wood Sorrel
Many of these plants have medicinal properties (too many to mention) but I will mention some highlights that we had covered during our class. Also, for additional references, I've located a Texas website where many of these edible "weeds" are listed.
The Clover is high in protein and can be used for salads, cooking, and tea.

It was a great feeling to learn the identity of the  Cleaver. This is the sticky "weed" that I had mentioned in an earlier post on what I had been feeding my chickens! Cleaver has been growing like a jungle around the yard. Since my chickens are confined to a coop, it is my responsibility to bring them fresh greens each day. My hens look forward to me picking them Cleaver each morning and have been happily providing fresh eggs in return.


Oh yes, the dreaded RAGWEED. This is what causes many here locally to suffer allergies. On the bright side, the seeds of Ragweed are incredibly 47% in crude protein. There are many benefits to Ragweed, and many claim that eating Ragweed actually helps lessen their allergies.

EPAZOTE is grown on a large scale for medicinal purposes, and is widely used to treat parasites. Epazote is also known as the bean herb, as it reduces gas. Just add a spruce or two to a pot of beans for flavor and for anti-flatulence.

Before I finish Part II of Wild Edibles (Part III coming up), I wanted to mention that we had learned in class that ALL grasses are edible to eat. With over 400 varieties to choose from, it is hard to believe we can ever go hungry.