Friday, December 2, 2016

Inside Homesteading

If we mimicking homesteading or living off the land, and I do envision that often from raising some of our own food in garden, orchard and barnyard, there is the inside component, baking, cleaning, preparing food, cooking.  And so is today.

We've cut back on the baking, which is really hard to do because the products are so delicious, breads, sweet breads, rolls, cinnamon or grey rolls, pies, cookies, cakes, but so full of sugars, fats and carbohydrates.  But it's Christmas and we get to bake all these goodies for the special meals, as gifts and for parties when someone else will eat them.  We just get to bake them.

Today is in preparation for tomorrow when we give cinnamon rolls to the volunteers at the clinic.  Almost before my feet hit the floor when getting out of bed, I sprinkle the yeast over warm water and dribble in a bit of honey, honey fresh from the bees near Carson, North Dakota.  After a shower and dressing, and after the yeasty water is frothy, I add the other ingredients: molasses for a old-fashioned homemade delicious flavor, oil, milk (actually I add water and powdered milk), a nip of salt to enhance the flavors, about half the flour as whole wheat, it's healthier and it's adds to the old-fashioned flavor and some of the while flour.  I continue to add white flour until the consistency is right on.

Here's where I gleefully deviate from the "old-fashioned."  I have it all in the Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl and I turn on the mixer watching all the ingredients become one smooth silky batter.  Switching to the dough hook, I slowly add the rest of the flour until it appears to be a bread dough climbing the sides of the now dry walls of the bowls.  Onto the chopping board for kneading and adding flour for that perfect texture, about 100 folds in the kneading.  Into a large bowl so the batter, now called dough, can rest and rise to about double the size.

When it's doubled, the fun begins.  The dough is soft and silky and feels so good to knead.  Once the gases caused by the growing yeast are all kneaded out, it's divided and rolled out on the chopping block, about a quarter to three-eighths thick.  Spread on the soft butter, crumble on the brown sugar and sprinkle a coat of cinnamon.  Roll up, slice into inch and a half pieces, and place on their sides in a oiled pan.  We like the glass pans.

After another 15 or so minutes of resting and rising, it's in the oven, gas not wood, with a thermostat set at 350˚F for about 13 minutes.  Then it's out with an old-fashioned pot holder, dumped upside-down on the chopping block and dig in.  Oh no, these are for gifts and so we only get the one that broke or fell apart or was distorted or was damaged [intentionally] when coming out of the pan.

Did I mention that during the rest periods a cake was mixed and baked?  It's an eggless, marble cake to be served at church as a test for the upcoming wedding cake.  And so the day's routine is gloriously not routine.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Not Much Yard Work

There are parts of the US who yard work now means shoveling or blowing snow; feet of it.  Here in Oregon it means emptying the rain gage and mowing the lawn one more time before Christmas.  I did rake the last of the leaves yesterday and lit the burn pile of yard debris, twigs and branches.  That's because there was no rain accumulating in the gage.

Today might have been more routine for this time of the year.  Mix and heat some water and sugar for the humming birds.  Put seeds in the bird feeder for the jays, chickadees, juncos, and dove.  The quail can share also but they were out back searching through the lawn.  The deer wondered into the yard until I asked it to leave.

There's the route to feed the dog, Sheba, to feed the cats, Dr. Skittles and Toby, to feed the chickens and gather any eggs if there are any.  Actually yesterday there were two, the first ones in about a month and they were pullet sized.  The filter in the fish pond will have to be cleaned tomorrow.

We did pick the two squash and six pumpkins a couple days before Thanksgiving so we had real pumpkin pie and froze the squash for another day.  The forecast talks about snow in the mountains, even down to a thousand feet but we're at less than 500 and the valley floor is somewhat lower than that.  We're safe; maybe some scattered rain showers.  A great time to write, paint and do some woodworking.