Posts Tagged ‘Bread’

Making Homemade Bread

For a long time creating the daily staple of bread had escaped my grasp. My homemade bread was only good for eating when it was warm and slathered with butter. The day I finally made a loaf of good eating bread…so good you could use it for sandwiches…I very excitedly called one of my friends and told her.  She’s been a good friend through the years and one of my role models for homemaking, so she would understand my excitement over bread.

She congratulated me and told me she didn’t start making good bread till she was in her 40’s either. I hope those of you reading this, figure it out way earlier than us. I’ve been trying to make a good loaf of bread for a long time. Years ago, I asked the same friend if she’d show me how to make homemade bread. She welcomed me, just warned me she didn’t use a recipe, and I watched in awe as she made a loaf of bread entirely by hand.

I wish I could say my homemade bread was made in the truly old fashioned way of doing every bit of it from scratch. No such luck, I take a shortcut. I do use freshly ground whole wheat flour to make my bread, but I use the bread machine to make the dough. It takes about 5 minutes to put the ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order listed. I hit the option for dough and wait an hour and 20 minutes for the next step. (On my machine-I use the 1 1/2lb. setting)

After the timer beeps, I take the dough out and knead it just a bit on my well floured kitchen table. Next, I shape it in a loaf and put it in a stoneware loaf pan greased with olive oil. I put it in upside down so the top gets greased too, then just pop it out and put it back in the right way. The pan is covered with a towel, allowed to rise for 30 min. in a warm place, and then finally baked at 350 degrees F. for 25 min.(my oven, original recipe says 30 min.).

Beautiful Homemade Bread

Beautiful Homemade Bread

A trick I started doing is to lightly cover the top of the loaf with foil the last ten minutes of cooking time, so the top doesn’t get so dark. My family likes a light top loaf. The recipe I use is one I found over at the Money Saving Mom website in a post titled Homemade Bread for Beginners. It’s a great recipe! I use sea salt for the salt and extra virgin olive oil for the oil in it. Also, I love to cook it in a stoneware loaf pan.

The key to cutting the bread for sandwiches is cover the pan with the towel for 5 min. after taking it out of oven. Next, take it out of the pan, place it on a plate, and cover with the towel till it’s cooled. This is the really hard part and we can’t always resist cutting a piece of warm bread off to have with butter right away. Lastly, use an electric knife to cut into slices, then put the bread in a bag. I just twist the top of the bag and pinch closed with a clothespin.

*The electric knife is probably not essential, but I’d say if you don’t have one and intend to make bread on a regular basis, it’s worth the investment. The one I use, we actually found years ago at a thrift store. It makes slicing bread so easy.*

Squash, Zucchini, and Projects for the Day

Flower of the zucchini plant.

Flower of the zucchini plant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We finally had some much needed rain last night.  Some time after supper it began raining and it rained for hours.  I could hear it just pouring outside.  This is wonderful for the garden and I won’t have to water the garden today.  It’s also cooled it off nicely outside.

As you probably know, I planted the garden a little on the late side, so we haven’t had a chance to enjoy much from it other than a few salad greens and some herbs.  Well, we are finally getting a bit more from the garden.  Last night we had fried squash and onions with squash fresh from the garden.  It took a few days to get enough squash, but it was worth it.  There will be tomatoes and jalapenos soon too.

I have a couple of zucchini, which we decided not to fix in with the squash.  I’m thinking about making zucchini bread.  I love the taste of zucchini bread, I’ve just never made any.  This means finding a recipe and grinding some wheat.  The recipe will be easy and I’ll probably end up modifying it.  I usually do.  The wheat will take a bit more work.

I am blessed to have an electric mill, but the thing is so loud it sounds like an aircraft taking off.  It also spews flour dust in the kitchen even though I’ve changed the filter.  I’m not sure why it continues to do this.  The solution I’ve come up with to take care of both these problems is to grind the wheat outdoors.  I just plug the mill up to an extension cord outdoors and lug a pail of wheat out too.  It’s not so loud since it’s not in an enclosed space and who cares if you get a little wheat dust on the grass.

So I guess I have at least a few projects to work on today.  I’m going to add to the list, because I’ve realized I need to do a bit of garden research to answer some questions.  As I was doing my usual morning garden walk around, I thought of a few things I didn’t know the answer to.  One, would be if carrots and onions grow in the ground, how do you know when they are ready?  I’m also wondering how long do eggplant plants take to reach maturity?

If you’ve read some of my past blog posts, you might recall that the big garden is a bit of an experimental garden.  I’ve been playing around with companion planting and trying to grow some things I’ve never attempted to grow before, such as watermelons and pumpkins.  I’m going to try to keep notes, so I know what worked and what didn’t.  For example, I know in our garden dirt, beets and bunching onions don’t seem to like it.  Neither would grow this year.  One of the things I thought interesting about Thomas Jefferson was learning he kept journals about his gardens.

P.S. – How’s that for easy?  Found a couple of zucchini bread recipes(found below) as I was finishing up this post.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve learned while gardening?  Any experiments in your garden this year?…

Rainy Day Homemaking and Baking Banana Bread

Today started out a rainy dismal day with clouds looming overhead.  My daughter has been sick with a stomach bug, so she has been resting while vegging out watching cartoons.  She attempted to swallow a ginger root capsule to quell the nausea, but was unable.  She’s almost an adult and still has trouble swallowing pills, so we resorted to our good old standby of sipping peppermint tea.

It’s been a slow quiet day, but I’ve gotten quite a bit done.  I started this morning by taking the grain mill outside and grinding some wheat.  This is the first time I’ve done it outdoors, but it worked so well I think this is what I’ll do from now on.

There are two reasons grinding wheat outdoors is better than indoors.  One reason is my electric grain mill sounds like an airplane taking off, which is made worse by being in the enclosed indoors.  Secondly, even though I attempted to replace the filter in my grain mill, it still persists in shooting forth flour dust into the air and all over anything nearby.  Outdoors makes for easier clean up.

I used the fresh ground wheat and some over ripe bananas to make a loaf of banana bread.  I am peculiar over bananas.  Bananas only get eaten if the skin is yellow or yellow with a bit of green.  Once bananas start to get spots they are only good for putting in baked goods or feeding to the goat.

Here is a recipe for a nice moist banana bread I have perfected over the years(must use bananas with spots).  Pour 1/2 c. melted butter in mixer bowl with 1 1/4 c. sugar.  Add 2 eggs and 4 mashed up ripened bananas.  Mix all ingredients well.  Add 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Blend well and then mix in 2 c. wheat flour.  Finally add 3 Tbsp. milk and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Mix ingredients well and then pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Test to see if it is done by poking the middle with a clean toothpick.  If moist batter is on toothpick, then try to cook a few more minutes.  After it comes out of the oven, I rub the end of a stick of butter over the top of it.  Yum!

Besides baking, today has mainly been one of those slow days I have dibbled in a little of this and that.  I have played laundry catch up some, done some writing, and worked on a few other miscellaneous chores.  Well, the day has brightened up, my daughter is feeling better, and I must go try to accomplish a few more things.