Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Private Blend 7 Grain Bread

I'm a bread snob.  
There I said it.  
Really it's true.  
I make bread at least twice a week.  
I have 5 kids and get to make 5 sandwitches every school day.  
Plus we eat French Toast, toast-milk-and-sugar, garlic toast, and just plain old bread and butter regularly.  
That equals a TON of bread.  
I guess you could say my family is spoiled.  They only prefer my bread too.  
We got some free recenly that someone gave us, the expensive kind with all kinds of crazy stuff in it, and my kids asked when it was going to run out so I could make them my bread again. 
 Really. Scouts Honor! 
We also sometimes bring the bread to church for the sacrament.  
Everytime more than one person tells me that they knew it was mine.

I just looked through my blog post list and found no fewer than
17 different bread and bread-ish recipes.
Ok so why am I telling you all this? 
 Because this bread is my new favorite. 
 That's saying alot!
Since I discovered Buckwheat, I'm addicted.
 I love the amazing flavor it adds to your food and 
the nutritional benefits are just Awesome!  
The original recipe came from Shar's, and while it's a good whole wheat bread, 
it was a little dense and didn't really stand out to me. I needed to put my own spin on it. 

So here's my new favorite bread.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

Here's my private grain blend:
2 cups hard white wheat
2 cups hard red wheat
1 cup soft white wheat
1 cup kamut
1 cup spelt
1 cup buckwheat
1/2 cup quinoa

The only thing that could boost this nutritional value would be to sprout it.
I will do that soon, but I needed bread right then and didn't have time.

Pour all of this into your grain grinder and grind it up.  It makes a beautiful flour that is soft and light.
These three are what I call my triple threat.  
It greatly improves your whole grain bread so it's soft, light, and not like a brick.  
Eww.  I don't need to waste all that whole grain goodness on a door stop.
All right.  All the preliminaries are done.  Let's make bread!
7 Grain Bread

In your Bosch mixer,
(If you have a Kitchen-Aid, 1/2 the recipe)
put the following:
6 cups warm tap water
2/3 cup applesauce
2/3 cup honey
3 Tbsp Dough Enhancer
3 Tbsp Vital Gluten
3 Tbsp Potato flour

3-4 cups fresh ground whole grain flour
3 Tbsp yeast

Mix and let sit for about 5-10 minutes.
This is usually when I put my ingredients away.

Turn mixer on and add flour one cup at a time until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.
Put the lid on and mix for 6 minutes.

Open bowl and add:
2 Tbsp salt
More white flour if needed to get right consistency.

Put lid back on and mix for another 2 minutes.

While it is mixing for the final 2 minutes, get out your bread pans and grapeseed oil.
Since this is whole grain bread, you don't need to let it rise twice. 
Yeah!  I'm all for homemade bread quicker!
Spray your pans with cooking spray.
Drizzle counter with grapeseed oil, (olive oil would also be a good option).
Turn dough out on oiled surface.

Divide into 4 pieces.
Shape into loaves and place in your bread pans.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise.
It takes about 25-35 minutes.

When the dough is about 1/2 to 3/4 inches above the pan edge,
preheat oven to 400 degrees.
When the oven is ready, remove the plastic wrap and place pans in oven.
Drop temperature to 325 degrees.
Bake for 33 minutes.
Remove from oven and place on wire racks.
I brush the tops with shortening and let cool.
Store in airtight bread bags.
I usually keep 2 out and 2 go in the freezer.
Since I make this with applesauce instead of oil, 
while it greatly decreases the fat content,
 it does shorten the shelf life.  
Not like that would ever be a problem at my house, 
but if you have a smaller family and don't eat much bread, 
keep the one you are eating in the fridge, and put the rest in the freezer.
I either take it out the night before to defrost, 
or stick it in the microwave for 3 minutes.

Time to make sandwiches again.
Look at all that whole grain goodness in a light super yummy bread!
If you try it, I hope you will leave me a comment to let me know how it turned out. 

 I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Vegetable Barley Stew in a Jar

My local Ranch Market has had some fabulous deals on produce lately.  I'm curently doing my applesauce from two 40 lb boxes of apples that only cost me $16.  That's $.20 per pound.  Awesome!  This time I'm sharing a vegetable barley stew that uses some potatoes that I got for 10 lbs for $1.  I don't know. I think $.10 a pound for potatoes beats the apples.  Either way, my pantry is stocked and I'm happy.  I like this recipe because it's so versatile.  I can use the stew mix to make... well, stew, and chicken noodle soup, pot pie, really the options are endless. Plus you add some barley to increase the nutritional value.  If you have a food processor, this will be quick and easy.  If not, get ready to do some cutting with your paring knife.

Vegetable Barley Stew in a Jar

Gather your spices.  You will need the following:

Boullion (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
Garlic Salt

You will also need some pearl barley.

Prepare your jars.

In each jar layer the following:

1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp boullion
1 Tbsp pearl barley
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Wash and cut your veggies.

I cut mine like this so it was easy to put into the food processor.

 I'm using my Bosch Slicer/Shredder.
There are 2 blades I'm using, one is the large slicer for the
onions, carrots, and celery.

And the fry cutter for the potatoes.  I could have done discs
with the potatoes, but I thought the fry shape was more fun.

Layer a handful of onions, celery, and carrots in each jar.
Top it all off with potatoes.

5 lbs of potatoes will fill 7 jars.

Fill each jar with water.

Heat the lids in simmering water.
Fix lids and rings on each jar and place in a Pressure Canner.
You can't do vegetables in a steam canner.
The one I use is on my sidebar from Amazon.

Pressure for 25 minutes at 12 lbs pressure.
Let pressure drop naturally.

Let jars cool on wire rack for 24 hours.

Lable with date and add to your pantry.

Filled jars on your pantry shelf.
It's a beautiful thing!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

T-Shirt Skirt in under 15 minutes

This Saturday was the first time in lots of weeks that we didn't have any where to be or a ton of things to do.  It was so nice to just be lazy at home for once.  And what did I do?  Sew.  I've missed it actually and a while ago I was brousing through the Clearance rack at Old Navy and came across this striped t-shirt.  I knew it was destined to be my skirt right then and there.  This is a super easy project and only takes minutes to make.  Plus you can make it as tight or as loose as you want.  I like a little breathing room but not too much.  This one was perfect.  I think I'm going to make another one... or 10 more, but who's counting.

Since the white stripe is kind of thin and I'm not much of a slip girl, I picked up another plain white T at Goodwill. Totally optional depending on the thickness of the T-shirt you're using.

(The real thing, not a member of the band, which is really good by the way.)

The two t-shirts are sewn individually then pined together and both attached to the elastic together.
I figured out what the length would be and cut a simple A-line like shown.

 Sew or serge the side seams together.
I still have some 2 inch elastic left so I'm using that.
Pin in the 4 corners and stretch the elastic as you sew it in place.

Turn the whole thing right side out and you're done.
Easy Peasy!

Here's a few quick pics of me in my new skirt.

It was freezing outside when we took these and I was trying not to shiver.

It is a very happy stripe-y kind of day!

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Urban Garden Part 3 - A Tour

Let's go on a quick tour of my back yard.  I have a tiny urban plot, but I want it to be as productive as possible. I have learned a lot about growing stuff and I'm happy to share.  We eat a lot of fruit and veggies, and would love to be able to provide that for ourselves and not be dependent on the stores.  I have a large family, 5 kids which include 2 teenage boys so I'm trying my best to provide for them wholesome nutritious food.  It will take time, my trees won't be productive til next year, but I can be patient.  Well sort of.

It's tiny, I know. Only 20 by 44 ft.
But I have the following growing in that tiny space:
Apples, Anna and Golden
Sweet Potatoes
Grapes, Thompson Seedless and Red
Navel Oranges
and Grapefruit.

I wasn't sure if Blackberries would grow in AZ, since they grow like weeds in WA, but I was assured by the great people at Root Phoenix that they would.  That's where I bought them, along with the apple trees, strawberries, and seed potatoes.  I also bought their tree food which is shown here.

The schedule for the fruit trees is to water 1 time a month during the cold season, and
every 2 weeks in the warm season.
He said don't use a soaker hose, but just fill the basin around the tree.
The feed schedule is every Valentines Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.
Follow the directions on the package for feeding the trees.

These are the grapes.  I'm going to build a structure for them to grow on that will eventually cover my south window with grape vines.  I definitely can't wait for that!

These are the 2 apples with Sweet Potatoes planted around the circle of the basin.
I know they look really close together and close to the wall, but you can keep them small and train them
to grow into a bush, rather than a tree.
I'm going to keep my trees small, about 4 ft by 6-7 feet tall.
They don't need to be dwarf trees either.
Any tree can be trained and trimmed to be the size you have room for.
You can also plant them in a hedgerow along your property line.

Here's the south side of the house.  The apples are in the background, with the grapes under the window.
This was before the the citrus were planted.

These are my citrus trees, Navel Orange and Red Grapefruit.
The grapefruit actually is already bearing fruit, but it did cost more.
Bare root trees are around $12-$25 dollars.
Fruit bearing trees are closer to $100 dollars.  
Most of mine are bare root trees and
I will have to wait a year before I get fruit from them.

Eventually I would like to add a brick or stone border to the trees and strawberries. 
I'll have to get back to Craigslist and see what I can find.

Last is my grow box.
After planting, I realized I need more, well want more grow space.
I'll have to go on another hunt for wood.

The sand/sawdust mix is pushed up on either side and a trough along the center.
There will be a PVC pipe along the center with holes in it.
I just haven't done it yet.  For now I'm using my hose.
I also did the strawberries the same way, only
they are on the ground by the apple trees.
Doing the trough method, the water goes straight to the roots where they need it most.

I've kind of set a personal goal with this Urban Farm.
I would like to see if I can grow 1 ton of produce.

Come harvest time, I'll put together a weight tracker to see if I can accomplish my goal.
I think its possible, it just will take time.

All good things come to those who wait!

Be sure to come back as I get back to canning, recipes, and quick upcycles.

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Urban Garden Part 2

Today it's potatoes.
I took a class at Root Phoenix recently and learned a ton about my fruit trees.  

One of the gems I took home was that Apple Trees love Sweet Potatoes.  

What?  Yep. 

There is something perfect for Apple trees in the leftovers from groing Sweet Potatoes.
They are super easy to get growing.  
You have to get Organic Sweet Potatoes first.
Regular Sweet Potatoes are sprayed with a growth inhibitor.  
I know I was skeptical at first
because I thought all produce you buy at the store is not self propigating. 

 I was wrong.

So I went to my local Sprouts and picked up 3 Organic Sweet Potatoes. 

I also got 8 seed potatoes from the amazing people at Root Phoenix. 
They said to leave them in a window sill for a couple of weeks or until the eyes start to grow.

When I brought them home, the kids asked how I was going to grow potatoes in a window.
I told them to just trust me.  I know I do weird stuff sometimes but it will be OK in the end.

I promise.

I also scoured Pinterest for ideas on how to grow potatoes. 

 I loved the Wire basket lined with straw idea but decided to change it just a bit.

I totally scored on this project because I still have some scrap 2x4 pieces left from my gleaning from my local construction site.  I also picked up some 1x1 pieces.  
Plus nearly every house in AZ is built with chicken wire. 


They cover the foamcore with it then spray the stucco on top.  
I lucked out and got a large roll of left over chicken wire that 
was exactly the size I needed for my potato basket.
So here's the pieces I cut for the structure.  
The 1x1 pieces are 36 inches long.  
In hindsight I could have cut them smaller, 
but it was exactly the width of the chicken wire so I didn't have to do any extra wire cutting.  
I cut 4 pieces of 2x4 to 25 inches, and 4 pieces of 2x4 to 30 inches.

I made the square base with the shorter 2x4's and the 1x1's and screwed it together, then
staggered the longer 2x4's around the outside of the base to make it more stable and screwed it all together.
I used my staple gun to attach the chicken wire to the upright 1x1's.

I also needed some straw.
I went to my local feed store and asked if I could glean some of their loose straw.
They said yes.
So I got all my straw for free.
I did spend $4.50 on soil, and $0.25 each for the seed potatoes.
I can't remember how much the organic sweet potatoes were.  
Not much because I only got 3.
I layed the straw down and pushed it up the sides as much as possible.
I will probably get more as the potatoes grow and I need to keep them covered.

 I poured most of the soil into the cage and arranged the seed potatoes like shown.
Then I covered them up and kind of pushed them a little deeper into the soil.

I gave them a good soak and they are done.

I put them between the blackberries and the grow box.

Next I planted the Sweet Potatoes.

They have been sitting in the window along with the seed potatoes.
The eyes are also just starting to grow.  I cut them in large chunks.
They look like I washed them, but I didn't.  
It's just the juice from the Sweet Potato that got on my hands as I was cutting them.

They got planted in a circle around the base of my apple trees, kind of like
numbers on a clock.

Now I have apples and sweet potatoes growing in a space about 4 ft by 6 ft.

I'm so excited.
I just wish I could speed up the process.
I'm ready to harvest now!

Come back tomorrow and I will take you on a full garden tour with a schematic of
how big my yard is and all the things I packed into it.
I think you'll be surprised.

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