Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Life-Altering Bread!

Okay, maybe it's not that dramatic, but I just made this bread last night, and the following recipe really changed the way I think about homemade bread. Of course, I love homemade bread, but after a day or two, it starts to get dry and crumbly, and that makes it hard to compete with soft-for-weeks store-bought bread. Believe me, I try to fight those thoughts, but they come unbidden!

Well, this bread had such an amazing, fine crumb, and is so soft... I can cut it and the slice doesn't fall apart. It's beautiful!! Try this bread out. I think the secret is the egg.

Rich Honey Egg Bread

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups (or more) of unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp. of salt
2 1/4 tsp. yeast (1 packet)
3/4 cup very warm water
2 Tbsp. oil
1 large egg
Butter, if desired

1. Mix the whole wheat flour, the salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add the honey to the warm water and stir until mostly dissolved. Add the water/honey mixture to the bowl with the flour. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Add egg; beat until smooth. Mix in the all-purpose flour and more, if needed, to make dough easy to handle.

2. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Place dough in a large, greased bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely and let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until double. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

3. Grease bottom and sides of a regular-sized bread loaf pan. Gently push fist into dough to deflate and knead a couple strokes. Pull dough into a tight log shape and place in the loaf pan. Cover loosely and let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until double.

4. Move oven rack to low position so that top of pan will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 375º. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190º and crust is a deep golden brown. Remove from pan to wire rack and brush loaf with butter; cool. AND EAT! Mmmmm!!!

*Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe.

Volunteering & A Soap Box

I just spent a couple hours at the Days End Horse Rescue farm this morning. Today I curried a beautiful chestnut horse and learned how to push him around (to get to his other side), and I mucked out two stalls. I really enjoyed these chores, lost in my own thoughts and enjoying the feel of my hand running across the horse's coarse hair as I brushed him. I even enjoyed the heft of the shovel, heavy with wet sawdust and dumped it into my cart. It's a good exercise, living in suburbia, to get a taste of outdoor work and taking care of animals. It gives me a glimpse into what I might want on our own homestead in the near future.

For a long time, it's been hard to look at houses for sale. It's this tortuous thing that my husband and I do every now and then. It's like we can't even help ourselves. After awhile I would get sick of that longing ache and tell my husband we had to stop. It's so hard to look at something that you can't have!

Well, the other day something changed in my thinking. Instead of focusing on what we don't have, what we can't do, I realized that right now is the time to be doing the research, to be finding out what we do and do not want in a home and land. At the Mother Earth News fair, I talked to one of the workshop teachers and her husband after her class ("Why Homegrown and Homemade"), and they warned me to be careful about buying land in the "country". Her husband said that a lot of times, farmers sell off bits of their farmland in parcels of 5 acres or so to people who want to live in "the country". But what you need to know is that a lot of these farmers have sprayed their fields with who knows what for who knows how long and when you buy that parcel of land neighboring a used field, who knows what they will continue to spray on it! I had never thought of that before and I am so glad they told me that. It's one more thing to add to our list of what to look out for as we're looking for a place to settle.

This morning on the radio I heard this advertisement for Monsanto (a big {evil} agricultural company) and
 it said "Monsanto - working with farmers in the U.S. and internationally towards sustainability". I yelled at the radio, "Yeah, RIGHT!" Monsanto is one of those big bullying ag companies that created the GMO crops out there - crops that aren't reliable, crops that cannot be planted from their own seed, crops that spread their contaminated pollen into unsuspecting farmer's fields that have saved their seeds for generations. I am all for GMO foods required by law to be labeled. Do you know why there's such a big fight against it? I think it's because 80% of what's in the stores would need to put "contains GMO food products" on their packaging. It's so scary and it is so sad that it's getting harder and harder to have pure foods. - Another reason to look for land away from farmer's fields so that my own plants won't be affected.

Okay... I'm off my soap box now.

Happy October!

Happy October everyone! I'm a few days late, but that's okay! October 1st for us was cold and cloud-covered - the perfect autumn weather! Just today on the radio I heard that in Sweden it's National Cinnamon Roll day. Hello! That's a day I'd like to celebrate. :-)

Speaking of bread, I'll be posting an amazing bread recipe I just found in a bit. But right now, I'm off to the Days End Horse Rescue farm!

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