Saturday, February 21, 2015

New Bread Technique and Daily Routine

We  are in a slight warm-up period but are getting a  mix of rain and sleet.  That means roads will be treachorous.  We had planned a WM run but will probably cancel.

 I did chores again yesterday morning and it was more uncomfortable at a windy 24° than it was the day before at no wind 10°.  I just did the puppies who are little wild things.  I stayed in the pen with them and petted them until they finally got over the thrill and settled down to eat.  Tito, the large male has very unusual colored eyes.  I tried to get a picture but wasn't very successful.  The are amber colored.  I hope they stay that color as he ages.
As  you can see, Daisy decided to eat while Bella (black)  is attacking my glove.

DH decided he would do the grain feeding.....I let him.


My new bread making technique was using a biga as a preferment or starter and reducing the yeast. May I say after one experiment that I am not impressed and once I use the other half of the biga, will probably not do it again. The biga is supposed to be improve keeping quality, taste and texture. Well, DH and I couldn't ascertain an improvement in the taste or the texture. It also seemed I did not get the volume I usually get. It may be that I am not really a bread connoisseur just like I am not a wine connoisseur. I strive for a light, tender bread more like store bread but better tasting. When I started making bread it was during the Artisan, no-knead craze and I had tried that but it wasn't what we wanted. This bread was similar in my opinion.   My Sis got me started again (she is going through my early  experimental- bread- making phase now). I will stand more ventures into bread that takes between two and 5 days to make while waiting for a perferment to you true bread making bakers can just shake your heads.  I am hopeless.


It wasn't quite as cold last night, 17°. I love it when it isn't 'leave the water dripping' cold which for us is l0°. We are in line for some freezing rain later today and tomorrow.

I fixed something different for breakfast. I made scones with our scrambled eggs. I have just made them once before. They are simply a sweetened biscuit with eggs and cream. I like using the leftovers for shortbread. I will do that for lunch using our frozen peaches.


Our farm hand (doesn't that sound inflated) he is just a 16-year old neighbor. Came and Max showed him how to use our tractor for feeding the round bales. If the weather is too severe he can use his truck that is equipped with a bale spike on the back. He turned his ankle getting off the tractor. I hope it isn't too bad. I will call and check on him this morning.

I am going out around 9 to do chores near the house. It was 24° but with wind.
 It was more uncomfortable than the day before at l0°.  My hands got numb before I was finished. 
DH did the grain feeding.  

Dragging through the frozen snow requires a rest period when I come in.......

Cooking 2

I decided to make our old-fashioned white bread  (no preferment or  starter!).  I did have to use Hogsdon  Mills flour since our local store wanted $6 a bag for King Arthur and I refused to pay that.  I may be slightly  prejudiced but I don't think I get as much  lift with other flours.  I added two eggs instead of the called  for one.  Just did it without thinking because I had two eggs sitting on the counter top from collecting that morning.  I like the color and texture and may keep adding two eggs.  You know now we don't have to worry about cholesterol in our food ! (did you hear the latest nutritional recommendations?)  My Sis and I got a good laugh.....she and I didn't believe that link between foods a cholesterol when they began pushing it.
I had thawed a surprise package from the freezer when it turned out to be strawberries that were past their prime, I decided to make jam.  I added l cup of the aforementioned  peaches to make the 5  cups.  It turned  out nicely.  The fruit was frozen with l cup of sugar so I reduce the jam recipe by that cup and proceed as usual.  I used pectin with this batch.

Note: no lids...yet.  In a cleaning frenzy I carried all canning supplies out to the milk parlor (jack of all trades work room).  I will retrieve them this morning.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Busy Day - New Bread Technique Coming


Another very cold morning. No more snow here but our current snow will be with us for the rest of the week and longer because we are staying very cold.  Today will be the worst yet with very high winds and temperatures dropping to zero tonight.

We may venture out to the local grocery today.  My supply of coffee, flour and bacon is getting too low.

We noticed our heavy duty mailbox was missing yesterday......evidently the road grader clipped it when he cleared the snow off. I bundled up before time for mail delivery which is around 10 am and took the hammer out and dug it out of the ditch. It was frozen to the grassy snow so it took some digging to get it out. It was a simple fix since it just slides very tightly onto the arm of the post. I have no memory of installing it that seems OK now but I think I will put some longer screws into the base to actually fasten it to the arm.....or maybe not. I think it would have broken the cedar arm and maybe the entire post if it had been fastened down.

I took care of the chickens. They are just giving us 2 to 4 eggs with this cold weather and I gave a neighbor two dozen so I am not doing much baking for a while.

DH finished the chores later in the morning.

The day turned into almost a frenzy of company.....which is very unusual. I was standing at the sink and saw our 'visiting' neighbor in the driveway talking with Max (he was just coming in from the chores on the ATV). I quickly put on a pot of coffee....but he drove off. I told Max that I expected him in for coffee and he said, he's coming back I made Flower Lady's “Create-a-Cookie” recipe.
I was just taking the last sheet from the oven when he came back. We sent him home with a bag of warm cookies for his wife to enjoy too.

Right after he left, our two  neighbor boys showed up to do some fence repair. One is 16 and the other is 21. The younger one had helped Max feed the day before. We have made arrangements for them to work for us when the weather is decent and they have the will be money well spent if it means we can keep on 'keeping on' a while longer. We will see how it works out......I have been wrong before with this kind of thing. I have known these boys since they were born and they come to check their cattle right across the road in front of our house daily so maybe this  will benefit us both.

After they left our granddaughter (who stays with us now and then) called to update me on her life. Things are going great and school (MU St. Louis) is keeping her busy.

The boys finished in about l.5 hours, visited for 30 minutes and then left.
Our son called next which is an occasion in itself! I let him know Mama would appreciate more calls. He thinks his daughter keeps us up to date.....I told him it wasn't the same! I doubt it will change his habits....I know I have to remind my mate to call his Mother more often!

I decided to call my Sis (so she wouldn't call me after I retired for the night)and we visited about our new 'preferment' bread making technique.

End of day! Whew......not many so busy out here on the farm usually.

I will post tomorrow about the new bread.

Monday, February 16, 2015

First Snow!

The weathermen got it right  this time.  We ended up with  about 5 inches and it is 17°.

DH has gone out to milk and I will follow shortly to process  it.  Willow does so much better with him than with me.  I wonder how Jewel (the Jersey)  will be when she calves???  Hmm, DH may become the permanent milk person.

I have put on a  pot of pinto beans.....done minimal house keeping (tided the bathroom, made the bed and cleaned up breakfast dishes).  I vacuumed yesterday.  I might squeeze in dusting today.


The seeds I planted the l0th are mostly up.  I have a full stand of cauliflower and Premium  Crop broccoli and another variety of broccoli from some older seeds,

I took a few  pictures this morning from the back porch and the kitchen window.

This is looking out the window over the sink to the east:
Male Cardinal  is not so red from the back,

I believe this is a juvenile White Crowned Sparrow,

This is an adult White Crowned Sparrow perched in the nandina bush by the window.  I noticed the red leaves of the bush were as bright as the red of the Cardinals.  You don't notice that so much without the snow cover.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter is nearing!

After several days of fairly warm weather  we are  headed  for the deep freeze. Temperatures near zero and 3-5 inches of snow promised.....The snow is supposed to start  tonight and continue  on through Monday.  I may not  venture out.......

I have  been keeping a daily journal but  much is just ordinary daily life here.  I will just do a few days at a time.

Beginning of journal

February 8

Up at 2:45. DH sets up the coffee the night before but I don't start it until just before he gets up so it will be fresh.....He was up at 3:00 so I didn't have to wait long.

It is very cloudy out this morning but also nice and warm. The next few days will be unseasonably warm but then our cool down once again.

Plans for today: Plant broccoli and cabbage in trays and put under lights.

Of course, I will have to unload the plant lights....I still haven't cleaned up that area! I keep putting it off.


Just came back from cleaning out the nests and giving them fresh water. I noticed fresh poop from some smaller varmint. I smelled skunk out there yesterday morning........also a broken shell in a nest.
We will have to keep a close watch on that situation.


I let the puppies out for a little while. They are getting farther away from the pen but came back pretty easily. I gave them treats once they were inside. They played with Sugar a bit. They howl when I leave them in the pen but not for long.

We checked the freezers before coming in. I got a package of green beans and peaches and I think blackberries out. We also found about 8 packages of hamburger left! Great news; I thought I was out. I will try to make it last until we butcher the white faced steer.

February 9

Well, I didn't get to the seeds yet. I went out early and did the chickens which just means I check for early eggs, check water and feed and decide whether to let them out or not. Since it was a cloudy cold day, I didn't. They have a nice long enclosed run so it isn't critical.
No eggs and we just got two for the entire day....they lay well for several days and then don't for a couple.

Did the puppies next. I let them out to roam for a while and won't be doing that again! I finally corralled one and carried her back to the pen. She was almost too heavy for me to carry. When I got her locked up they other two came running. I figured how much they are eating! Between the cats and the dogs, it is shocking.


I noticed the other day that the dining room window on the west side was extremely dirty with something that almost looked like spit dried on. I should have cleaned it the day before when it was nice and warm, but instead did it on the cold windy day. My hands were numb when finished but I feel better. I walk by and move the curtain just to appreciate it!


I made a recipe of hamburger and hot dog buns. It turned out OK but the technique is something I will not repeat......try mixing butter and egg into a finished dough.....not recommended. Also they are tougher than normal which isn't a good thing for my husband. The basis was a true French bread recipe which is probably the reason. I did find they are quite nice toasted (my breakfast with homemade apple butter) and didn't seem tough to me anyway. Note:  by the second day, the buns were just fine....very strange.

I made hot  dogs  with homemade fries for lunch.

I had to make an emergency relish so I finely diced onions,sweet pickles and celery and added some mustard and ketchup....worked  out fine.
to be continued.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Catch Up Again

It is very cold here this morning; 11°. We have decided to postpone miking until tomorrow when it will be a whopping 30°.

I haven't posted in a while. Winter seems pretty unexciting here.

I will list what I can remember in no particular order:

First Sugar and Mama beagle left and were gone for two days and nights. We had finally adjusted ourselves to that when Sugar showed back up alone. We still have no idea where or what happened to the Beagle. The stingy side of me is happy I hadn't just paid for a spay surgery on her.

Chores are plugging along in their normal winter dreariness. DH told me he has only recently tapped into last summer's hay. That surprised me. We had a good carryover from the previous year which is a good thing.

The puppies are thriving. I made a large batch of liver treats for them and they love them. I can see the hound in them when a treat is dropped and they 'trail' it nose to the ground until they find it. Sugar doesn't do that nearly so well.
Liver Treats (a good way to use the beef  liver we never eat)

Our granddaughter was down for a weekend last Friday. She had a formal dance to attend as date to one of her local 'just friend' boys. He is also a best friend of her BF. Seems kind of strange to us old folks but no one asked our opinion. She is such a joy and just received all A's from last semester. She is already a junior in college even though this is just her second year. Bragging finished!


The only thing I have baked lately is bread (twice since I got the mixer repaired) and two batches of cookies. I am thinking longingly of cheesecake..........that may be next.

The mixer worked great making my usual 3  loaf recipe.  I added l  cup of  white whole wheat flour and 1  cup of wheat germ  and the texture was still very fine  and  soft.
From cooking

Yesterday I used the KA mixer and made Pecan Sandies from my old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
From cooking

I am now using the guide to the mixer and the correct  speed for all things!  I may have caused its recent gear failure.....

Today is DH's birthday so he got his request of gravy and biscuits (and eggs and bacon) this morning.
We were laughing about his favorite food: gravy, and mashed potatoes, especially mashed potatoes with a dollop of buttered peas in a well on top. I will work that into lunch today.


I have sorted through all my seeds and listed them on a spreadsheet. After I test some very old tomato seeds, I will toss the expired ones and will finally be down to just newer seeds.