Monday, February 3, 2014

feeding our families - february

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So yes, I thought it would be nice to have these monthly conversations about food. I could talk about food forever (as long as I took breaks to talk about sewing, knitting and books once in a while…) (gardening talk would count as food talk…) Apparently though I am not much good at writing about food.


I thought I might keep some food and kitchen notes throughout the month in preparation for this next "feeding our families" post, but all I ended up with was this…

monday kitchen 1-13
made granola in the morning, beans soaking and then cooking in the crockpot, cream culturing on the counter
dinner - leftover elk stew (simple and delicious, baked low in oven) served over mashed potatoes

thursday kitchen 1-30
next batch of cultured cream into the fridge
must bake bread this morning
looking for a pumpkin pancake recipe - discovered we have lots of pumpkin and eggs at the moment
broccoli soup?
wondering if jason took the elk steaks out of the freezer last night, will check soon

enjoying the jar of apple butter that we opened this week (also from freezer) - so so delicious, yummier than I remembered it being when we made it - this must have something to do with the fact that it is autumns goodness spooned onto fresh baked biscuits in the middle of winter…

Yes, I make cultured cream often these days. No, we do not always have venison for dinner.


Back to today…

I read my food post from last month and noticed I said we don't eat rice very often. But now we just ate rice and beans three nights in a row! I made a huge batch of Anasazi beans in the crockpot the other day. Two quart jars full went into the freezer. For the first night I made some spanish rice and we served the beans over it with spinach and corn. The second night it was the same ingredients layered in a dish with cheese and baked in the oven. Last night the last of the casserole was served with roasted sweet potatoes. You can imagine how happy my family is that the rest of the beans were put away in the freezer. I think the leftover rice is bound for the freezer too.

I never made the pumpkin pancakes. They sounded too sweet. We even skipped our usual "pancake sunday" because no one seemed in the mood for them. I did make pumpkin muffins though and they were super yummy. Still a little too sweet and I will do less sugar next time, maybe just a mix of molasses and maple syrup.

I am just about at a loss as to what to feed my thirteen year old daughter, who hardly wants to eat a thing these days. I mean, she does want to eat, she is hungry, but there is not a single thing that "sounds good", or sometimes something even sounds particularly unbearable. Kind of like how Chessa can now be nearly in tears at the though of having to swallow another bite of yet another bowl of oatmeal. (At least it took her five years or so to get tired of morning oats…) (And Chloe still likes oatmeal well enough, but now only sometimes…)
It seems like one answer to this issue would be to just take/keep matters in my own hands and serve up a good meal for her, hope she will eat it, which she likely will, cause she always does, this is how dinner is, but throughout the day…
I need to get better at lunches...

Today is quinoa porridge for breakfast. Much preferred over oatmeal lately. I love quinoa, but not sweet with honey how the girls like it. Rye is one of my favorite porridges…


Menu planning… I only menu plan about half the time! Just saying that makes me wonder how following a plan only half the time could possibly be a good idea. Hmmm. I do always have meals planned ahead of time, I just don't necessarily always know which night of the week we will have which meal…
More thoughts on all that later though...


I have considered sharing some of our bread recipes here before - one of the main things that stops me is that we live at about 7,000 feet, and altitude definitely affects some aspects of baking…

So how about a few little bread baking tips for now…

1. Bake bread - if you haven't but want to, then just go for it. You can definitely do it. Probably! For example, my mother may not be able to bake bread ;)

2. Use really really hot water when proofing your yeast. The only times I have had bread not work out well was when I didn't have the water/liquid hot enough. I use super hot water from the tap, as hot as it gets. The only time I have had my liquid too hot was once when heating milk, I killed the yeast.

3. Butter and honey!!! This is a more recent discovery of mine. For more than 10 years I baked our bread with only flour, yeast, sugar, and water. But adding fat and honey makes such a difference! The honey is just a few tablespoons in place of the organic sugar used when mixing the yeast. Then I cut thin slices of butter and let them melt in the hot yeast water. The bread is more moist, slices easier, and keep longer. And it's more delicious!

4. Knead well, for at least 10 minutes, and then an extra 5 if you can. You can feel the difference when you get to that 10-15 minute point.

5. If you are rushed and anxious for fresh bread you can shape your loaves and do a single rise. The bread will not rise as much or be as light as bread made with two proper risings, but it will still be very good.

6. If your oven should ever happen to suddenly break while you have bread dough risen and ready to bake (which I really hope it does not) then you can roll all your dough out into flat breads and bake them in a skillet on top of the stove. So you see, a broken oven can be a blessing in disguise, otherwise we would have never discovered how delicious yeasted flatbread can be! You could also try this out without the broken oven part happening first...

7. Consider setting an extra ball of dough aside for other uses… pizza, calzones, cinnamon rolls! I have finally caught on to the convenience of homemade pizza night…


And that's certainly enough food rambling for now…


Please feel free to share any food thoughts you may have…
and please visit my dear friends who were kind enough to take up this little project with me… A few new friends joining this month… Thanks to all who are participating!

11 comments:

Melody said...

I miss home made bread so much! Your pictures and words always feel some homey and wholesome.

Plain and Joyful Living said...

Renee,
I love how your writing is so conversational.
What do you use your cultured cream for?
Warmly,
Tonya

Mama Ash Grove said...

Hmmmm. . . my almost 13 year old seems to be suffering the same affliction as yours. . . and my ten year old can also be brought to tears over morning oatmeal!
In the end, she eats whatever it is, somewhat grudgingly. :)

Jules said...

Renee, despite what you think, I do know one thing for certain ~ you bake beautiful breads!!!! These are worthy of magazines...or pinterest (ha!). My gluten-free baking always comes out a little deflated and dense. :( But yours are remarkable! And I'm with Tonya, what do you use your cultured cream for? Is it like kefir?
xo Jules

m. said...

I have been baking whole wheat bread with honey for quite awhile, it really is quite delicious. But adding butter is new to me. I will certainly try it. Thank you so much for sharing...so enjoying these posts :) m.

The Provincial Homemaker said...

Oh, I want to try adding butter to our bread that sounds yummy. I must hunt out a good source of wholemeal bread flour; we have been using white flour up to now.

I have been very presumptuous and joined in your series on my blog, I hope you don't mind. I have so enjoyed hopping around your linking blogs.

Hullabaloo Homestead said...

Yay! I figured out how to comment!! I just needed to re do my google blogger account!

Your bread is SO beautiful. I think you are a master bread baker Renee. I love it!! And like I emailed you...what is up with these teenage kids of ours?! I try and try to sneak in as much good stuff as I can when I can. And just say yes to whenever she ask to eat anything...even at midnight.

:)Lisa

taisa said...

Your bread looks amazing! I am experimenting with wheat-free sourdough right now, and I can say my loaves do not look like these! (more like a brick that needs to be sliced very thin- but still tasty!) I have never tried rye as a porridge, I'll have to give that a try, as we are all tolerating it right now. Do you grind it coarsely?

Ock Du Spock said...

Your bread looks superb :)
I really love these feeding families posts you are all doing. It's something that's always on my mind with many mouths to feed!

The Milk Maid said...

Everything looks so yummy!

ducksinthepond said...

Thank you for this series! I really enjoy it. I love the idea of melting butter for bread in the hot yeasty water. I always want to use butter, but it seems to get cold and re-lump, so I have been using oil. I can't wait to try this tip today!