Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bread and Salsa

There is a hurricane headed into the Gulf. Fortunately for us, it is not headed this way. But we are praying for those who will be impacted. Hurricanes are no fun.

We will probably end up with some rain and wind and no more. But there is always the chance the hurricane will surprise the weather people and take a turn different than expected and end up in Alabama. So we are getting ready, just in case.

When you may have to do without electricity for an extended period of time, it is good to have food on hand that doesn't need cooking. So I spent this morning baking bread. I also made salsa while my dough was rising. I'd been given some yellow tomatoes and hot peppers from a friend's garden. I thought I'd try some peach salsa this time. It turned out great. The bread was delicious too.

I adapted a bread recipe posted in an online group. I use sprouted wheat flour because it is lower in gluten and can be eaten by my gluten intolerant boys. I make my own.

I start with a large bowl and fill it with as many wheat berries as I want to sprout - usually around 25 cups. I cover the wheat berries by a couple of inches with purified water. We have a reverse osmosis system. Then I cover the bowl with plastic wrap. I generally soak the wheat berries for at least 12 hours, adding more water as necessary. I pour off the water (the plastic wrap is quite handy for this) and let the wet wheat sit for another 12 or so hours until sprouted.

You can see the little sprouts looking like tails sticking out of the wheat berries. When the wheat looks like this, you are ready to dry them for storage or grinding. I simply take a large spoon with small holes for drainage of any remaining water and scoop the wheat berries onto fruit leather roll-up sheets placed in my dehydrator.

I turn my dehydrator to 105º and dry the wheat berries until completely dry. (I understand you can also use your oven, but I have never tried it.) They will no longer clump together when done.

To make bread, I start by grinding 4 cups of sprouted wheat berries into fine flour. Mix the resulting flour with 4 cups lukewarm water and 3 tablespoons of yeast to make a "sponge." Allow this mixture to sit until doubled, from 15 to 30 minutes generally.

Grind another 7 to 8 cups of sprouted wheat berries into flour. Add this to the sponge along with 1/2 cup (one cube) of melted butter, 2/3 cup molasses (or honey) and 3 teaspoons of salt. Knead the resulting dough until elastic. I generally start the kneading process in my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and finish kneading by hand on the counter.

Turn the bread dough into an oiled bowl (I use olive oil), turning to coat the top of the dough with oil. Cover with a clean towel. Let rise until double, about 30 minutes.

Butter 3 or 4 bread pans, depending on how big you like your loaves. Punch down the risen dough, divide the dough and place in the bottom of each bread pan. Cover with a clean towel. Let rise another 30 minutes.

Bake in an oven preheated to 350º for 30 minutes. Brush tops with oil if desired.

Yesterday I picked up a basket of peaches to go with the tomatoes and peppers Darlene brought over from Mabel's garden. (Mabel is out of town and Darlene was left in charge of harvesting while she is gone.)

In between waiting for the dough to rise and the bread to bake, I washed and processed peaches and vegetables for salsa.

[Peaches ready to be processed in my food processor.]

Right before pulling my bread out of the oven, I stashed a full gallon of the most delicious peach salsa in my refrigerator. I really wish I had written down what I did. It is so yummy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another Weaver in the House

Gregory is no longer the only weaver in our house. I finished my first [complete] weaving project. (I'd started another, but it was lost to Hurricane Ivan, along with the loom back in 2004.)

(Here is the blankie right after I finished twisting the fringe.)

I started this project a year ago with the idea of weaving a little blankie for Michael for his birthday. Margaret of Heritage Yarns sent the yarn as a shower gift when Michael was first born. (Michael will be 3 YEARS next month.) Over the course of working on this project, there were many hurdles to overcome, especially repairing hurricane damage to the loom. That tended to dampen my weaving enthusiasm. Recently however, I decided I needed to hurry and finish my project so I could put the loom into storage while we try to sell our house.

(Here is the blankie blocking last night on my lumpy bed.)

But something happened along the way. I really enjoyed the weaving. I got excited about weaving. I asked Kurt to lower my warping board to a more comfortable position since I am sure it will make the wall look nicer.

(Close-up of the weaving pattern.)

I've been puttering about on Margaret's website trying to figure out a way to squeeze some "Gulf Breeze Sunset" yarn into my budget. (After all, winter is coming and we have a budget for electricity and a woven throw could keep us warm and save money on the electric bill, but I don't usually use the heater already to save money on the electric bill, so that won't work, but maybe I could start cooking on an open fire pit outside instead of using the electric stove. . .)

I really like Margaret's yarn in the skein but oh baby! You should see it woven into a throw! Wow! Of course I do have some weaving yarn already in my stash and could probably come up with another weaving project with little effort, but then I wouldn't be able to move the loom out of the living room. But we don't have that many people looking at the house right now anyway and God IS in control and can sell my house despite the loom crowding my living room. . .

Michael wanted me to take his picture so here it is.

You can see where he attempted to cut his own hair right in the front. He loves his new blankie!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


We started homeschooling again. Between that and waiting for a buyer to sweep us back to the more southern reaches of our area with a fabulous offer for our present house, I think I may go insane. But I am fighting it with all the fiber/yarn I have.

I actually got back to my long standing weaving project. I finished warping my loom and started weaving.

I'm having great fun with this project now that I'm actually weaving and I am not discovering any more missing loom pieces to remind me of Hurricane Ivan. The yarn is a gorgeous and soft cotton from Heritage Yarns. I love the oceany sort of stormy sea colors. It is actually more blue than depicted by the pictures.

In addition to the pretty colors playing across Michael's future "bay" (as he calls it), there is a great pattern Margaret picked out for me to weave.

You can see the diamonds and Xs best in the second picture.

I'm still spinning and it still relieves stress.

I have quite a bit of homespun yarn as a result. Now I have to figure out what to do with it. My skeins seldom amount to enough yarn for the larger knitting projects I enjoy. But the yarn looks pretty sitting in the basket on our coffee table. Much better than the remote controls beneath the yarn I think.

I'm doing more knitting than I have done in the rest of 2008, though my hands hurt more than usual lately. I finished the socks I started for my sister early in the year and they are the only knitted project I have completed this year so far.

I immediately started another pair of socks for me.

I have quite a bit of this kind of yarn in my stash and unfortunately, it is not my favorite. But right now budget says, "stash" and though I don't care for the stripe effect, I remind myself how much I like greens and blues.

At the same time I started my new socks, I got back to some socks I started last year. I immediately frogged all I had done and started over aiming for a firmer fabric. I prefer this year's efforts quite a bit.

I like these socks, but fear I will never get to wear them. The white yarn is fine, but the red acts like moths have eaten at it. It breaks every couple of yards and is driving me nuts. This is the second skein of yarn from the same place with this problem. Though it has been in my stash for a couple years, I don't have any other yarn with this issue so I don't think it is me. But, I continue because again, it is stash yarn and that is a good thing and because I like the pattern and have nothing else suitable for it. I'll try to lightly felt the socks or something when they are done. Or they will just burst into holes during the first wearing and I will cry.

Gregory and I brought in what will probably be the end of the harvest this year.

We got lots of yummy butternut squash though we did not do as well with our other winter squash. I want to can up the squash and then use it like pumpkin since my pumpkins didn't produce any fruit this year. I do have a couple pumpkins from friends at church though and I want to can that up as well. I just need to find time.

Today I made 10 liters of salsa from Farmer's Market vegetables. Yummy. I like to ferment my salsa since lactic acid fermentation is so healthy. I've made gallons of it this summer. Because I never know how hot the peppers will be and because I like peppers, I tend to make the salsa too "hot" for my family. But I am sure doing a good job of eating it all by myself.

I've run out of soap so have been making soap again. I've had a couple of fragrance requests from friends that use my soap and figured it would be a good time to do requests.

We generally try to do things as healthy as possible here so I don't use any colorings, use high quality vegetable oil and mainly pure essential oils. Soap curing on the shelves makes the whole house smell good!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Boys' Sunday School Campout

This weekend, Gregory attended his first Boys' Sunday School camp out at church. He had so much fun. A friend of one of the church members has a large home on the water. He allows the young boys at church to camp out on his property each year.

The evening started with swimming, a cookout and a baptism. Michael and Gabrielle hit the beach first thing.

Gregory wanted to conquer.

"One foot on land and one foot in the sea." He told us, though he couldn't tell us why it was important.

Kurt had to take Michael exploring to keep him from running amok on his own.

For a kid who is basically shy, he got pretty adventurous in a short space of time.

In fact, I could only keep him in the chair next to me a few minutes. He refused to sit still long enough for me to discuss knitting with some new friends for any reasonable length of time.

Michael loves the beach. I mean he really loves it. We finally had to get him into his swimsuit to keep him from making his clothes unwearable.

Of course we had the same problem with Gabrielle who also loves the water.

All of the kids had their swimsuits on in record time and the fun really started for them.

I stopped the sand throwing game immediately.

Michael and Gabrielle made new friends.

And while Michael and Gabrielle played in the water

Gregory found a new love.

One of the families brought kayaks for the boys to use.

Gregory thought he would spend all of his time fishing, but instead, he learned to maneuver a kayak.

He got quite good at it but really learned about sore muscles in the process, though his legs hurt him more than anything (from running up and down the pier he says).

Darkness finally drove the kids out of the water and though a bonfire was kindled on the beach, Gregory went to the fishing platform on the end of the pier and learned to fish.

Well, he learned to cast. I understand no one actually caught anything. Too much noise with so many boys around.

Gabrielle and Michael wanted to fish so much. I think Kurt did too. But this evening was for the boys.

But Kurt and Michael did get hold of a fishing pole for a few minutes. And I put a stop to Gabrielle's efforts to get one as well. At one point, she had 2 or 3 of the boys looking for a pole for her.

We were one of the last families to leave. Relaxing in the pier house over the water was just so nice.

Kurt found a nice rocking chair and the kids took turns on the swing.

Even Michael liked the pier house.

Unfortunately, after watching Gregory, Gabrielle and even his Dad make funny posed smiles for the camera, Michael learned to do the same.