Funny Little Cow

It can be humiliating to be outsmarted by an animal…March 2017 ice cream and bread 019

Ever since Ebony arrived here on the homestead I’ve been trying to gentle her and get her used to me. She’s half Dutch Belted, half Jersey and is maybe a little more stubborn than her mom. She will be a year soon and will be bred sometime later this year, time to train her up to be a milk cow.

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my future little milk cow

Her halter was becoming very tight, I definitely think she’s had a growth-spurt lately. Farmer Hick thought it was restricting her movement so off came the halter without having a replacement handy. Ebony went without a halter for about a week…and maybe learned some bad habits.

Once the new halter came in the mail I tried to get it on her…..I’m still trying now. She’s a very smart little cow. I know some people don’t think that cattle are smart, but I’m telling you different.

Farmer Hick had locked her in the stanchion once without her being used to it. She remembers the stanchion as a horrible place….a prison perhaps. I have not been able to coax her near it again, not even with cow cookies!

I know how important it is to work with her, so I have to be more determined than she is.

Every day I try to give her a cow cookie through the stanchion. She won’t enter it, but today she finally came close enough that I could have locked her in. My plan is to feed her some goodies right in the stanchion every day, then when she’s very comfortable there I’ll try to lock her in. Once I’ve got her locked in I can then place the new halter on and her training can continue.april 2017 006

Wish me luck.

Just an Ordinary Day

Good Friday today.

I mentioned before that we don’t do much celebrating, however…the weather today was enough to celebrate. We had a gorgeous day, couldn’t have asked for better.

We started with a bit of frost on the ground but within a couple of hours the temperature was climbing rapidly and we got busy working. There’s no lack of work on the homestead at any time, but springtime has got to be crazy busy.

First of all I got the necessary chores of the day done, feed the cows, lift their patties and dump them on our ever-growing compost pile. Feed and water the chickens, got breakfast ready, ate and put some laundry on while doing dishes.

Once all those things were taken care of I started working in the back garden. It is so good to feel the warm sunshine on the skin again, I missed that.

We need to move a lot of compost around, so if I have places ready to receive compost it makes things that much easier. I cleaned out the asparagus bed, prepared 4 rows (beds), just raking the wood chips aside and pulling a few weeds. Oh yes…weeds have started growing already!

Then it was time for a break and some cow attention.april 2017 003

Aren’t they beautiful?april 2017 004

Ava is going to have her calf soon.

More laundry and hanging it all out on the line. That’s going to smell good tonight.april 2017 021

All this time the guys were busy in the shop, they were building another gate to hold back the cattle.

The Writer has been given a very big job; moving one wood pile to another location, there’s no rush, but she’s to do one row (a big row) a day. She’ll be building some muscle.

For lunch we had a lovely egg dish, just several fresh eggs with some cream and cheddar cheese added, flavored with the lime basil from last years’ garden. It was tasty…and filling.

After lunch I set out my little broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants that I started from seed about 6 weeks ago. They need to harden off, it’ll be time to plant them in the garden soon.april 2017 022

Then it was back to work. This time I worked on the flower beds in the front of the house. Cleaned them up, pulled some weeds and raked the lawn. Looks good. The daffodils are starting to bloom….just in time for Easter.april 2017 020

Some more time with the cows…(and chickens).april 2017 032

Then time for supper…homemade pizza, grilled on the rocket stove barbecue.

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pizza on the grill

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the rocket stove barbecue…works great

YUM!!!

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Just an ordinary day, but it was a splendid one!

Hot Cross Buns for Easter

This morning I felt like baking something special for the upcoming weekend. We don’t get carried away by any holiday much, but I do enjoy preparing some special food when there is time.

The teens around here love cinnamon bread, so today I modified the bread a little and turned it into Hot Cross Buns.

They turned out pretty good.april 2017 032

Here’s the recipe if you like:

  • 1 1/4 c warm milk, fresh is best
  • 1 T yeast
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 egg from the chicken coop
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 3/4 t cinnamon
  • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 c unbleached flour
  • 1/2 c currants

Dump all ingredients in your stand mixer and knead for several minutes.

Put the dough into a greased bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.april 2017 001

After an hour the dough will have doubled in size and is ready to be shaped into buns.april 2017 026

Punch it down and roll into 16 balls and place on a greased baking sheet.

Cut a deep cross in each bun with lightly greased scissors or a sharp knife.april 2017 027

Cover again and let rise until the buns are doubled in size. Slide them in the oven…april 2017 028

Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes.

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the wood stove bakes things so nicely

Brush with butter and cool on a cooling rack.

To ice the crosses, wait until the buns are cool, then mix:

  • 1/2 c icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 t water
  • 1/4 t vanilla extract

Pipe or drizzle into the crosses.april 2017 030

While these buns don’t look as perfect as the packaged ones from the grocery store, I guarantee you’ll like these better.

They make a nice gift too.april 2017 033

Happy Easter!

The 3 Phase Generator

It’s been a while since I mentioned the 3 phase generator Farmer Hick has been working on, and today I’d like to give an update.april 2017 003

Since we’re completely off-grid here, we depend on the solar panels and our trusty old generator to keep us supplied with electrical energy. The old generator with its Volkswagen engine has worked very well, other than an engine swap several years ago, regular upkeep and maintenance.

Trouble is, when Farmer Hick and the boys work in the shop with the welder, it was all the old generator could keep up with. Farmer Hick is efficient in many trades, which comes in so handy on a homestead, however, he has often been limited in his projects by the lack of our electrical energy supply.

After 12 years he figured this was enough and bought a used 3-phase generator.

A 3 phase generator versus single phase you might ask? Single phase is what runs in households. 3 phase power is what’s used in industry, however a 3 phase system can be tapped to work in a “normal” household.

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the brute

The thing’s a monster…in my humble opinion.

It took quite some time and the help of the tractor to get this unit off the truck.

It had been run hard by a Mennonite, who did not believe in maintaining a piece of machinery, he cooled the thing with water instead of antifreeze/coolant and ended up with a seized engine. Farmer Hick knew the generator had issues, he also knew it could be made to run smoothly again.

During the test runs it was smoking heavily out of 2 cylinders and it was determined that the engine block needed to be rebuilt. Luckily in Farmer Hick’s youth this was just the sort of thing he did, so he had contacts to help him out with this huge project.

Once the engine block was rebuild (new pistons and rings and one new cylinder sleeve, for those who like details) then reassembled and put back into the generator, the unit wouldn’t start! Farmer Hick had to order a new starter. Problem solved. (thanks Ebay)

april 2017 006

new starter

Yesterday they had to bend a pipe for the exhaust and once that was in place this huge unit was put to the test again. And voila…this time it ran like clockwork. It runs so smooth the exhaust doesn’t even vibrate, this is rare for a diesel. Imagine how happy Farmer Hick is. A top of the line, Canadian made, Yanmar powered 3 phase generator at one-third the cost of a new one. Truly Farmer Hick style! It accompanies this Kubota powered air compressor nicely, which was, of course, all rebuilt by Farmer Hick as well.

The new generator has so much power (kilowatts) we can run everything at once where before I could only vacuum if the washer wasn’t in use…so I’m happy as well. ­čÖé

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a snapshot from the back

An added bonus of this generator is that it can be programmed to start-up automatically at specific times. Up until now we’ve always had to monitor our battery bank closely, if the energy levels get low (and there is no sun) we have to manually start the old generator. This generator will keep track of the energy levels and start up automatically when more power is needed. Phew!

All that’s left to do on it now is build an exhaust and move it into place. Without the exhaust I need earplugs to be near it, it is SO loud, it sounds just like a tractor-trailer on the highway.

That same evening still Farmer Hick started welding a support frame for his next project…the restoration of our 1969 Chevy pick-up….but that’ll be for another post. (if you’re curious you can see a glimpse of this project in the background of picture 2 above)

PS This post was co-authored with Farmer Hick. lol

Of Gardens and Wood Chips

Most organic gardeners struggle with weed control. It’s so time-consuming to keep the garden beds (and paths) clear of weeds. A little weed here and there is not a problem, trouble is weeds rarely stay small and rarely grow just here and there. If you are a little too relaxed about weeding you’ll soon have a big weed problem on hand….unless of course you use a thick layer of mulch.

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Early summer 2015

Enter wood chips.

Several years ago we had the good fortune to see a short video clip about a guy who gardens extensively in a climate with very little rain. Maybe you’ve heard of Paul Gautschi and his “Back to Eden” gardening methods. If not you may want to google either his name or the title of his film. To preserve what little moisture he gets in the soil he covered his gardens with a thick layer of wood chips. Added bonus….less weeding. His plants are phenomenal, big, lush, juicy and sweet.

That all sounded very good to us and we started incorporating this method a few years ago. Farmer Hick bought a wood chipper006

…and the boys started scouring our property for fallen tree branches and brush. Once those were chipped they started chipping small dead trees.011

The chipper makes a glorious noise, not a quiet moment activity to be sure, but it makes quick work out of dead trees. The wood chip piles around here are plentiful.001

You’ve got to start somewhere, even if you just wood chip one section of your garden or just the raspberry row this year. We certainly didn’t cover all gardens that first year, but probably within 3 years all the garden areas were covered. In the picture below, which was taken last week (March 2017) you can see the different stages of decomposition at work. Some rows have just received fresh chips last fall, in other areas the wood chips have been well decomposed already, adding to the richness of the soil.

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The chips wick away moisture when it’s wet and rainy, allowing us to work in the garden earlier in the spring, and they also provide moisture when there’s a drought, keeping the plants happy.

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Late summer 2015

Our soil was originally very poor I think. Over the last 12 years we’ve added decomposed cow patties and bedding to the soil every spring (and sometimes in the fall too, depending on how much compost we had on hand), ┬áand the soil is really nice now, dark, moist, crumbly with a good earthy smell, and it’s full of worms. Of course we compost our chicken coop bedding too, but it seems much “hotter” than other compost and needs a good while to decompose, we prefer to have a smaller, separate pile for that stuff, boy does it make the crops grow!

A big warning to all who’d like to try this method…make sure you’re soil is very fertile before you add wood chips. Once wood chips start decomposing (and they will) they use a little nitrogen from the soil which is not great if you’re growing vegetables, it could stunt their growth. The best way to counteract this is to apply copious amounts of compost before you add wood chips.

If you are short on compost then I suggest just mulching your paths with wood chips, that’s how we started.

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the ‘herb and berry garden’ paths covered with fresh wood chips

For crops that need digging, like carrots or other root vegetables, it’s wise to rake the chips to the side before digging up your vegetables, a bit of a pain but doable. We’ve learned to heavily chip the paths on both sides of root crops, but leaving the row itself free of wood chips. It does mean more weeding in these rows but at least all the wood chips that would have been on that row don’t get mixed up with the soil at the end of the growing season when digging up the root crops. This is only of importance during the first or maybe second year after adding wood chips. If the wood chips have been added several years ago then this is not a problem anymore because they’ll have been nicely decomposed.

In the beginning when we started using the wood chip method I had mixed feelings about it. The weeding definitely became less time-consuming, the garden looked cleaner most of the time so that was all positive. But there was the added work of moving wood chips to bare areas and raking wood chips off a row before planting could commence. Small issues really, but I remember being a little bothered by them. Now that the wood chip method has proved itself I don’t even think about these small issues anymore. Adding and moving wood chips around has replaced pulling weeds (for the most part anyways) and digging the soil, there’s none of that anymore, the only digging we do in the garden is if we want to harvest root crops.

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freshly dug parsnips, we kept the chips off the growing row

Another helpful suggestion for those not wanting to use a rototiller (and please don’t because it destroys the soil structure), is to cover a particular weedy section in the garden with a tarp, in the first picture of this post you can see one in use, it doesn’t look very nice but it gets the job done. Make sure you weigh the tarp down with some heavy stones or rocks because the wind loves to play with tarps. Within six weeks the weeds will be gone, you can remove the tarp and plant that section.

If you’re starting out from scratch, making a garden where there is grass now, collect a huge amount of cardboard, newspaper, compost and wood chips. Outline the perimeter of your future garden, cover the inside of this perimeter with a layer of cardboard or thick newspaper and wet the paper and cardboard down. Follow with a thick layer of compost of 6-12 inches, then apply your final layer of wood chips of at least 4 inches thick, more is better. You can start planting immediately….if you’re not exhausted at this point because this is a huge job. If you can arrange for heavy equipment to help with this job…DO IT, you’ll thank yourself. To plant, scrape the chips aside, put in your plant and cover the chips back around the plant. If you’re planting seeds, scrape the chips to the side, put your seeds in the compost, once the seeds have germinated you can put the chips back around each seedling.

Earlier I mentioned that rototilling your garden destroys the soil structure. This of course goes against all farming and professional garden advice. They’ll tell you that the soil has to be turned and give all sorts of reasons for that. Maybe they’re right…maybe not! Have you ever seen the black soil of the forest floor? Who’s been tilling in there? Nobody! The forest floor receives a rich blanket of leaves (compost) every fall, feeding the soil and at the same time covering it. People like Ruth Stout and Patricia Lanza have preached about their successful mulching methods for years and have written books on it. Wood chips are not the only mulch you can use, hay, straw, leaves, grass, coffee grounds, coconut coir can all be used. Why not start with what’s readily on hand or easily gotten and go from there.

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raspberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes and small trees all benefit from compost and wood chips

To sum up the wood chip benefits:

  • provides mulch
  • adds organic matter
  • reduces weeds
  • balances moisture
  • prevents soil erosion
  • protects soil structure

…and I’ve probably forgotten about some other benefits. I just know it works!

 

Eggs Benedict

It’s SO good to see the sun more often these days, and I’m loving the longer days again. It seems spring came early this year.┬áSo exiting!

I’m not the only one who’s enjoying early spring…the chickens have started laying better and the need to watch our egg consumption is now over. Yeah!!!025

Eggs taste so good and are good for you, especially the ones from free range birds. The chickens here on the homestead haven’t been outdoors much this winter but in the last few weeks they’re venturing out again and it’s fun to watch them scratch the ground and enjoying the sunshine…just as they should be.029

On slow mornings I love to make special breakfasts, one of these specialties is ‘eggs Benedict’. If you think this is difficult to make, let me tell you that if you get everything ready before you start, there’s nothing to it. Well, there’s nothing to preparing these eggs, but the taste is wonderful. It tastes tangy and light, but also creamy and smooth and it’s very filling.

Mar 2017 003

Let’s talk about the name. Funny name that, why Benedict anyways? It seems there are several stories that claim the origin of these special eggs, I don’t know which one’s true, but anyhow, the name comes from either the inventor, or the name of the cook, or the place where they were first served, someone honoring pope Benedict, etc. I’ll let you decide. More interesting is how to put this egg dish together.

Like I said, have everything ready before you start.

Kitchen tools:

  • whisk
  • double boiler
  • frying pan
  • toaster (or the wood stove if you’re off-grid like us)

Food list:

  • 2 English muffins, toasted (for my recipe check┬áOff-Grid Baking) or 4 thick slices of bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 T lemon juice (fresh pressed is best)
  • 1 T water
  • 1/2 c butter, cut into small pieces
  • bacon or a thick slice of ham, optional

First fry your eggs, the true recipe calls for poaching the eggs, but we prefer them fried.

Mar 2017 001

While the eggs are frying you could start your sauce and toast your English muffins. English muffins are what you’d usually put these eggs on, but I’m using my whey-out bread today, it needed to be used up.

Combine the 3 yolks in a double boiler and whisk in the lemon juice and water, then just as the sauce comes together (it thickens slightly) add your butter.Mar 2017 002

On each toasted muffin half, place one fried (or poached) egg each. (If you’re using bacon or ham place that on the muffins (or bread slices)┬ábefore adding the eggs.) Drizzle the sauce evenly over the fried eggs.┬áSprinkle the whole works with some sea salt and pepper and it’s ready to eat.Mar 2017 004

What’s your favorite egg recipe now?

 

Garden Time Again

Yesterday I spent a nice afternoon in the garden! It’s quite amazing in our area to be able to be on the land this soon, but the snow has been gone for a week or so, day temperatures have been above freezing and the robins have definitely come home.

There was this to-do-list that was bothering me. Last summer and fall was such a busy one I didn’t have quite enough time to finish things in the garden. What a nice surprise to be able to get an early start.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing and a new gardening season has begun.

The biggest job was digging parsnips. I don’t plant that many because the rest of the family isn’t crazy about them. But what good is spring without at least a few fresh parsnips that have withstood winter’s barrage.march 2017 003

Next on the list was removing all dead broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage stumps. I left them in the ground last fall because we were having such nice and mild weather, I was hoping to keep harvesting, however the snow was soon too deep to bother.

I also cleaned up all the Swiss chard and kale stumps with the exception of two kale plants. I want to grow a crop of seeds this year, hopefully it’ll be as easy as growing Swiss chard seeds was the year before. I blogged about that here┬áSwiss Chard

After an hour of clean up the garden looked pretty good…but empty! Well, mostly empty.

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The garlic came up really good, it’s always nice to see those green little shoots poking their way through their wood chip cover, way before any other green even thinks about growing.

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And another shot…march 2017 005

The spinach held its own. Looks like there are a few green tidbits to enjoy before the new crop is ready.march 2017 008

The next thing I want to do is plant peas, spinach and mache (corn salad).

Oh, and do something with these parsnips of course!march 2017 015

 

 

Fresh Butter on the Homestead

Before we became official homesteaders, (whatever it is that defines you as one, for me the defining moment was when we moved to this off-grid location) I tried my hand at making butter. I used a blender and thought there was nothing to it. The butter was fine, and because I’d used store-bought cream (the only cream I had access to back in the days) the butter tasted just like store-bought butter…which was just fine.

Butter making wasn’t a skill I needed to develop, it seemed simple enough and because we had no goats or cows at that time I let it go and got busy learning and practicing the skills I did need to develop (that and being very preoccupied with raising 3 kids).

Moving ahead quite some years I tried making butter with fresh Jersey cream from friends, the experience was quite different, the cream was thicker, tastier, much better quality, hence the butter turned out much better. Better butter. ­čÖé

Move ahead a few more years, I now have my own milk and cream to deal with from our sweet cow Ava. First of all, I’ve mentioned before that she’s not a heavy cream producer, we get about 2 cups of cream, maybe a little more per gallon of fresh milk. That’s nothing to shake your head at, but it takes a few days of saved up cream before it’s worth the trouble to make butter. The fat globules in her milk are very fine, much like goat’s milk, the cream takes longer to rise, the milk is naturally more homogenized than a Jersey cow’s milk. I like that, because it may be easier to digest.

So this is what I do now…I separate the cream from the milk two to three times in a row (whenever the fridge already contains quite some milk jars for drinking), and a day or two later I make butter. I wait an extra day because cream whips into butter much quicker and easier when it has ripened a bit. I also set out the cream on the counter several hours before I actually make the butter.

So I take my jars of slightly warmed up cream and dump them into my KitchenAid mixer. I put a towel over the mixer (this model doesn’t come with a splash guard) because this procedure may be messy, what with all that cream sloshing around, the towel prevents a mess on the counter and beyond.butter 005

Turn the mixer on 1, then 2 and after a few moments turn it to 3 and maybe 4. Sometimes on speed 4, if the bowl is more than half full, things become too messy, the cream wants to come flying out of the bowl, but that may be different for you and whatever mixer you’re using, just experiment with this.

After a few minutes you’ll see the cream come together and thicken.butter 006

Keep whipping, next you’ll get your old-fashioned whipped cream.

Keep whipping and you’ll see little flecks of butter in your bowl.butter 007.JPG

A few moments more and you’ll see clumps of butter swimming in a liquid.butter 008

Once the butter comes together you can strain off the liquid, but do save the liquid!!! This is your awesome buttermilk which you’ll want to use for pancakes, biscuits, or in any baking you are doing.

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old-fashioned buttermilk

Now wash the butter in cold water several times, for me that entails letting the cold water tap run and squishing the butter into flat patties over and over until no more milky liquid seeps out. You’re supposed to use a butter paddle on a board, and you certainly may, but who can be bothered when (clean) hands alone will do. I also let the cold water cool my palms once in a while, because as your hands warm up while manipulating the butter, it’ll soften the butter. You want cold butter, it’s easier to work with.

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Once you’re happy that your butter is clean, push it into a container and you’re done.

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my flexible butter mold

Because I’m anticipating being without any milk and cream this May and June when we need to dry Ava up before she calves, I’m making as much butter as I can and I’m freezing it, so that we don’t need to buy any butter during this time. I’m using a silicone mini loaf tray that fits up to 6 sticks of butter. Each stick holding approximately half a cup of butter. I place this tray in the freezer and once my sticks of butter are frozen I pop them out of the tray, wrap them in parchment paper and place the sticks in a freezer bag labeled with the date. Hopefully we won’t run out.

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frozen sticks of butter

See how easy making butter is? Nothing to it. But using this butter on your sandwiches and in your baking won’t be “nothing to it”, it’ll be delicious!

Homemade Pizza

Do you have a weekly food tradition in your family?

For quite some years our family has enjoyed homemade pizza on Friday night…like,┬áevery Friday night! I better not plan anything other than pizza on Friday night because it just wouldn’t be right (with the family that is), it wouldn’t work. If I made pizza any other night that would be just fine with my pizza-loving family too, but they’d be fooled into thinking it is Friday. lolpizza 007

We start from scratch with the crust. After playing around with some more health conscious ┬áchoices of flour, and flour preparation we’ve come back to the straight up, traditional, unbleached, all-purpose flour, but we go for the organic variety. None of us here suffers from gluten trouble (as far as we know) so the white flour doesn’t seem to be an issue in that regard. This pizza is not a health food anyways, but a weekly treat as we rarely go out.

For the crust we use:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 – 1 cup water
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T Parmesan cheese
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 t yeast
  • 1 t pizza seasoning (see note)

Dump the whole lot in your mixer and mix for several minutes until the dough forms a ball, adding more water if the dough is too dry or more flour if the dough is too sticky.

Cover your mixer bowl with a clean towel and let rise anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Here we try to let the dough rise for an hour, but if we started the dough late because we were busy and still need to eat at a specific time we just cut the rising time short. It won’t matter.

Once you decide the dough has rested and risen enough you can punch down the dough and roll it onto your favorite pizza stone. I love using the Pampered Chef baking stones for this. Square, round, rectangular, whichever you have, just be sure you grease the stone a little with olive oil or butter first.

Now you can prepare you pizza sauce (or you could use canned pizza sauce from the store).

Pizza Sauce:

  • 2 cups salsa (or tomato sauce, or a can of tomato paste with 1/2 c of water added)
  • 1 t pizza seasoning

Once your crust is rolled onto your pizza stone you can go ahead by spreading the pizza sauce right up to the edge.pizza 002

Next to prepare are the toppings, for this your imagination comes in handy. Have you ever tried adding some different toppings on your pizza? I’ll want to hear about it.

Our family, well, I should say Farmer Hick and the teenagers here, eat very traditional foods and are not known to experiment with their food too much, so I keep things simple for them, sometimes as simple as a pepperoni and cheese pizza. If it was for me I’d make a pesto pizza, oh my…you really have to try that for yourself sometime. In place of tomato sauce spread your crust with basil pesto, or use both, you can’t go wrong with pizza in my opinion. Like I said, use your imagination and top that pizza with some of your favorite things.

pizza 003

half a plain pepperoni pizza the other half has chunks of last night’s meatloaf

For the cheese you can use whatever cheese you enjoy, our favorite is Mozzarella, but Colby Jack works too, homemade cheese curds are wonderful! As for the amount, that all depends on how cheesy you like your pizza. We use a fair bit, probably around 3 cups, just sprinkle it all over the toppings.

Bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes, but you gotta watch it, things may burn quickly if your oven is too hot.

pizza 006

the wood stove really bakes a nice pizza

YUM!!!

Enjoy your Friday night….or whichever night this is for you.

Note: you can buy many good pizza seasonings, but you more than likely have most the necessary ingredients sitting right in your kitchen cupboard. This is how I make my pizza seasoning:

  • 6 T oregano
  • 3 T basil
  • 3 T garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 T thyme
  • 1 1/2 T fennel seeds, crushed (optional)pizza 001

Mix well, I actually like to run all the spices through an old coffee grinder but this is not necessary, if you don’t you’ll end up with a coarser mix. Store in a spice jar!

 

Whey Out Bread

On the weekend I got a compliment from one of my teenagers, from the one who’s palate prefers “junky” foods, (not that he always indulges, just saying). He liked the bread I had made and asked me to make it more often.004

That got me thinking…the recipe is good enough to share.

Since I’ve been trying my hand at some cheese making (I’ll post about that some day), there’s been lots of whey sitting around. Whey is a by -product of cheese making, it’s the liquid that’s left behind once your cheese takes form.

Whey is a great thing to feed the pigs…if you’re lucky enough to be feeding some. We don’t have pigs yet, they’ll probably come in July after Ava calves again.

Without pigs to toss the whey to there’s always the compost pile, but I wanted to try using some of it and came up with the idea to replace the water with whey in bread making. And you know what? It really works. Whey has lots of nutrients that water doesn’t, so I’m sure the bread is more nutritious for it.

My test was on white bread (a delicacy here, and surely enjoyed). I thought if it works then I’ll try it in our regular spelt bread recipe. Like I said before….it works, and it’s super easy, it only takes several ingredients.

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that’s the whey in the mixer bowl, enough for two loaves

By the way, if you don’t have access to whey but would still like to make this bread you can just replace the whey with water, or milk or a combination thereof, it’s still a good bread.

If you have whey and would like to try this out, you’ll need the following for one loaf. I mention the one loaf because in these pictures I’m making two loaves.

So, for one loaf:

  • 1 1/2 cups whey at room temperature (this is important)
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t yeast
  • pinch sea salt
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Combine the ingredients in your stand mixer and knead for several minutes, you may have to add a touch more flour if the dough is too sticky, or a dribble of water if the dough appears too dry and crumbly. This is one of the rare bread recipes where I didn’t have to play around with adding slightly more flour, but it may be different for you.

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Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and set in a warmish place. I like to set my rising bread on top of the warming oven above the wood stove, but I always place a pot holder underneath so the bottom of the bowl doesn’t get hot. Warm is what we want so the yeast can do its thing. Let rise for about an hour.March 2017 ice cream and bread 036

Punch the dough down, sprinkle your counter with a small amount of flour and dump your dough on it, knead it a couple of times, shape the dough into a loaf and put it in your loaf pan.001

At this point you can slash your bread with a knife, about 1/4 inch deep, some say this creates a way for the steam to escape the bread as it bakes, maybe it’s true but the bread still bakes if you forget this step, today I remembered my vents (they could have been made slightly deeper). LOL Let rise again, just for 30-40 minutes this time.002

Bake in a hot oven, anywhere from 350 to 400 degrees F for 28-35 min. checking occasionally, until the loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped.

Turn out on a cookie sheet, brush with some butter and let cool.003

Now call the family and do a taste test. Actually you may not have to call at all, the wonderful smell will have them begging in place (at least that’s what happened here on the homestead).