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Thursday, October 29, 2015


I LOVE BREAD.  No matter how you slice it, rip it, soak it, toast it, or slather it.  Sure there are some that are a little lower on my scale than others, sourdough - I'm looking at you. But for the most part, it is a miracle of nature that I am happy to partake.

Every country, and every group of people on Earth have some form of bread.  We have sayings that revolve around it.  Industries built around it. Diets banning it. Clubs devoted to it. Whole isles of the supermarket dedicated to it.  It isn't the staff of life for nothing.

I've become much better over the years.  Sure, I crave it, but I behave myself.  But come this time of year (after the fresh picked apple cravings have passed), the reduced hours of daylight and the cooler air, kick in some primal need to load up on energy giving carbohydrates.  Sometimes, you just have to give into your ancient Neanderthal bread shop owner urges and bake yourself a loaf of bread.

My favorite breads are those that fight back, a more technical term would be breads with 'chew'.  White, squishy flavorless American supermarket bread isn't even on my radar unless I'm in the mood for a smashed peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Then there is the other end of the spectrum, the super health nut, all grain, pebbles, and sunshine.  These loaves are usually gratuitously full of chunks that purport health, but somehow seem to manage to be void of both flavor and moisture.  I enjoy hearty, chewy breads, preferably with a crispy crust that "speaks" as it cools.  Sandwich loaves should have a flavor array that can both stand on its own and support the fillings.

I have a collection of community cookbooks that are loaded with time honored traditional recipes, like angel biscuits, and "mom's" best potluck rolls.  As technology advanced, I've slid over to the unfathomably large number of cooking and baking sites, some dedicated to everything - some only to breads.

Usually the recipes found on these sites are nothing more than a passing fancy in my baking world.  They either take far too much effort and time for what you get out of them, or they require some odd, hard to find, ingredient that makes the whole project... well... a project.  As you can plainly see from this blog, I don't have time for things that take TOO much time.  I certainly do NOT need more projects.  What I do need are reliable, repeatable great recipes that make the work I need to accomplish in the kitchen fast and fabulous.

I have my normal recipes which are as comfortable as an old pair of sneakers or well beloved jeans- Italian, pizza dough, Bavarian pretzels, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, buttermilk biscuits, and garlic monkey bread.  And I have some that are newer to my world, but will quickly become memorized old friends- chocolate chunk bread, pumpernickel rye, honey whole wheat, milk bread, and oatmeal.

On afternoon I was looking for my copy of a well worn recipe in my great, old, scribbled, cookbook.  When I couldn't find it, I did what every one else does.  I hollered "OK GOOGLE."  Where upon realizing that my husband and child do not respond to that, nor does my phone when it is in the car, nor is it a nifty new swear word, I was forced to actually FIND an electronic device and open it.

I Googled the old recipe from the 50s as best as I could remember, and stumbled on something wonderful.  It was a site that wasn't just a post any old untested, untrue recipe that they came across to fill some need to burn 1s and 0s and draw viewers for advertising points.  No, this was an honest to goodness, site that was not only filled with amazing breads, but whose owner was wholly (if not holy) invested in both the ease of preparation, and consistent quality of the product.

I, with your gracious indulgence, present Fr. Dominic Garramone - better known on the internet as The BREAD MONK.

His version of Honey Oatmeal bread is amazing and pairs really well with ham and turkey.

The Chocolate Chunk is a remarkable thing!  We like it cold, we like it toasted with a light smear of peanut butter.  It has am amazing side feature.  It makes the MOST amazing plain bread! Simply leave out the cocoa and chocolate chunks.  I like to add a handful of my flaxseed mix - white and brown flax, sesame seeds, rosemary, granulated garlic and a pinch of salt.  You know that bread you get at restaurants that you dip in the olive oil with all the fragrant herbs mixed in?  Yup, it tastes just like that!

The American Pizza Crust does amazing things on a pizza stone or in a wood fire oven.  Rolled thin,  Brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with the flax mix and then served cold with fresh butter....droooool!

His site also has many tutorial videos for those that are still learning too!

So should you get the hankering for some great bread this week, mosey on over to his site and find something that tickles your fancy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Out Sneaks October

I honestly do NOT know where the month of October went.  Ask anyone around here, and they'll tell you it just flew by.  Being insanely busy; harvesting, cleaning, putting up, swapping seasonal linens, stocking up, winterizing everything BEFORE it gets too cold to do it, makes the time slip.  Falling into bed AFTER your eyes are already half shut and waking up before they can creak open for weeks on end takes a toll.

Couple that with the utter lack of light.  Luckily, Nebraska doesn't get socked in with clouds from mid August until Mid May like Ohio does.  I'd go bankers.  No, we've been cloud free.  Our lack of light is from the seasonal creep.  And what a bonus, we change clocks this weekend too. I won't bore you with my annual rant about abolishing the time change.  Let's just say I don't think we need it anymore in our 24 hour society.

I DO enjoy this time of year though.  The air masses from the north fought hard all summer long, and have finally won the right to stay.  The air is lacking the stifling qualities of summer.  The days are pleasantly warm, and the nights tease with a chill that requires a jacket, hoodie, and a bonfire.  The setting sun blazes as it sets, reflecting on the changing spectacle of leaf colors and sets the very air alight with gold and red.  The Earth seems to be giving off its last bit of heat and joy before the grey of winter take over.

The girls, despite their full blown molt, have remained moderately productive.  They have slowed down a bit, but I hope the light (on a timer) in their coop and run keep them going just a little bit longer into the chilly season.

I managed to snap photos of MOST of them this past week.  Most are past their ratty looking stage.  A couple still look like the wind blew through them through a knot hole backwards.  The coop looks like an outsourced pillow factory waiting for OSHA to show up after a workplace incident.  I giggle when I see one of the girls finish a dust bath and then shake.  They loose a silly amount of feathers.  I'm sure the neighbors downwind, wonder what on earth is going on over here!

Blogger is acting up, so I will continue this entry on the next page.

Hyacinth - pale,pink/brown eggs - Lavender Orpington

Violet - light tan eggs - Blue Laced Red Wyadotte

Rose - Light Brown eggs - Welsummer
She thinks she's an ewok.

Flora - sky blue eggs - Ameraucauna - she's my biter, can you tell?

Merriweather - light blue - Ameraucana My lovie broodie, snuggle buddy.

Blitzer - light olive- half Ameraucana half RIR
I call her an American Red

Cirrus - green- half Buff Orpington, half Ameraucana
I call her an American BuffO

Daisy - Sand Brown, usually with white speckles - Light Sussex

Donder - Light Brown - Another American Red
Blitzen's Sister

Lela - DARK chocolate brown eggs - French Blue Copper Marana
She's a little high maintenance, but fun.

Not pictured - Zap, the rooster - French Blue Copper Maran
Nugget- Dark brown with speckles - Splash Marana
Olive - Deep Olive Eggs - Olive Egger
Lucy - Dark Brown - Copper Maran
Ethel - Dark Brown - Copper Maran

One from each of the girls

Technology...can't live with it, can't find a teenager to fix it when you need to.

OK, back to what we were talking about, chickens.

The girls are happy.  I shut down the garden.  I used the tractor to load all the rich black compost into the garden.  I then waited until the wind shifted from the north so that I could spread it and throw it without wearing or breathing it.  I needed have bothered though.  Once the girls figured out the gate was open, they had an all out party.

It has been really fun to sit out and watch them go at the soil in the garden like drug addicts looking for their next fix.  I don't know what they are finding to eat, and I don't want to know, but they are having a blast doing it.

Last week we gave them the remnants of a pumpkin pie.  Have I ever mentioned how much my girls LOVE pumpkin. Mmmm...pie.  I think I'll have to make another this week. 

This weekend was spent winterizing.  I am spent.  I needed a day with NO wind to put up the winter panels on the run.  That's like saying you need a pink leprechaun to pop up in front of you when the moon is green, on the fifth Sunday of the month.  Remarkably enough, it happened!  I had a tiny window to work with of only a couple of hours.  Not only did I get the panels up, but just as I was walking the spare panel up to the barn, wooooosh, the southern winds picked up to 20.  Talk about timing. 

I'm using PVC clear panels on the long sides and a short one down low on the end, just to give them a wind break.  The upper third of the wall props open to allow for airflow, while allowing me to shut one or both for snow/rain control.  The short end is open and acts as an extension of the long woods coop.  The clear panels let the sun shine in and warm the run and in turn, the coop.  If I shut the windows in the coop, the run stays ventilated and keeps the coop ventilated and at about 15' warmer than the outside, which will be nice in the dead of winter. I can move air further in and around the coop by simply opening and closing different window sets.  It's a cool plan.

I also decided that the white panel I had placed over the upper window during the summer to block the heat was too much for winter.  I need the sun's rays to heat those upper windows and add heat and light to the coop, so I replaced it with a clear panel.  I secured it in every other location with screws, which will allow me to attach the white panel over top of it in the spring for the hot months, without taking OFF the clear panel.

The back vent hatch that I had to add to this plan earlier this summer also had to be shut for the winter.  For that, I simply made a plywood door, added foam insulation to the backside, and attached and secured with simple hinges and a barrel bolt.  Next spring I will add an eye and chain so that I can hook it open for the warmer months.

Yesterday the temperature was in the mid 50s and breezy.  A perfect day to scalp the yard down for the impending snows (long grass can mold in the spring and cause fungus problems.)  Of course I had to mow AROUND the fall blooming neon net plants.  Yes, the Snow Fences went up too. 
Then I drained and winterized the irrigation system.  But I'm STILL not done! 

I still need to fork 3000 pounds of hay into the garden.  I need good, strong north winds with out rain.   This will allow it to fly over the fencing with minimal lifting and throwing.  I tried moving it last week with light 15mph south winds.  Ever try spitting into the wind to fill a pond.  Ya, it was that bad.  Every toss, threw it back into my face.  So I switched to using the wheel barrow and fork.  Nope.  It wouldn't stay IN the barrow.  Work smarter, not harder.  This was twice as much work.  So I quit that project in a hurry!

I always have little projects to do; dust cover for some shop tools, DH has radio bits to fix, air duct cleaning appointment, furans cleaning, tree planters, chauffeur to The Boy, Driving lessons for The Boy, etc.   But it sure feels good to cross the big ones off that chalkboard list.  I'm looking forward to taking a bit of time to myself.  (That exists, right?)

I'm a member of wetcanvas.com and every year they have a portrait swap.  Artists from all over the world sign up, names and portrait photos are swapped and then every one gets to work for a month and creates their buddy's portrait in whatever medium they normally use.  I've missed out for years due to forgetfulness, bad timing, or moves.  Not this year! I've signed up.  I'm scared to death, but can't wait!  I don't normal do portraits, and have only done 6, but I work until I get them right or they don't see the light of day!

Next time... we talk BREAD!