Homestead Busyness

It feels like life is always busy around here. Funny because most of the time we are home. I just thought I would post what a day on the MonroePost might behold…Here’s what today was like.

LOTS of grass to mow.

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Fall seedlings sprouting.

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Chicken Bone Broth simmering on the stove.

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Pancakes soaking for breakfast.

Bread sponge and soaker awaiting tomorrow’s kneading.

Wheat Berries sprouting.

Blueberry Syrup Vitamixing for pancakes

Pizza dough soaking for dinner tomorrow.

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Scrubbing play dough off dining room chairs.

Endless amounts of dishes.

Surprise findings in the garden.

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Children to put to bed.

Hot tea to make because its downright chilly tonight. And maybe take a bath…

It has been a very busy day…and yes, I used nearly every bowl I own. 

My Favorite Banana Bread

If you are anything like me, you probably have some brown bananas on your counter. Its ok, I understand, this time of year its very hard to keep bananas for more than a few days before they start getting attacked by fruit flies and turning brown overnight. No worries. Never throw those babies away! I actually buy extra bananas just so I can let them turn brown on purpose so I can make this recipe.

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I absolutely love this recipe. I felt like a bit of a rebel from deviating from my moms famous banana bread recipe. I love  moms too, this one just holds a special place in my heart for some reason. I just like the crackly little bits so much. I seriously try to keep this around for more than a day, and I fail miserably every.single.time. If you decide to make this brace yourself and prepare your mind that you won’t be able to save any. Especially if your husband comes home from work looking for a snack. It’s all over, just eat the whole loaf. I have made some modifications to the original recipe, but feel free to tweak to your liking as it comes out similar!

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Crackly Banana Bread

  • 3 large ripe-to-over-ripe bananas
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, warmed until it liquefies
  • 1/3-1/2 cup organic sugar, or a combination of maple syrup and sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1 T molasses
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) sprouted flour (feel free to use whatever flour you want)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional…ha, as if!)
  • 1/4 cup (plus a little extra) (50 grams) uncooked millet

Heat oven to 350° and grease a 9×5 loaf pan. In large bowl mash the bananas with a potato masher or fork. Whisk in egg, oil, sugars, molassas and vanilla. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, & spices (Do not add millet yet!). Gently incorporate dry mixture into your banana mixture, being careful not to overmix! Add millet and chocolate chips and fold into batter. Pour mixture into prepared pan and sprinkle the top of the bread with some extra millet. Bake for 50-55 mins until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pan or wait at least 15 mins before cooling on a rack or plate. (I have been known to dump it immediately after it comes out and I usually loose its pretty shape and burn my mouth on melted chocolate chips…so it’s probably best to wait.)

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I love Smitten Kitchen by the way…she cooks up some goood stuff.

Sourdough Bread- Savory and Sweet

It’s rainy and cold here today. The kind of day where you wear fuzzy socks in the shape of animals (you know the one’s you get in your Christmas stocking?), snuggle with warm laundry out of the dryer, and bake bread…

And make spaghetti because its easy and it’s your husband’s favorite meal. However, I discovered early in marriage that you cannot have spaghetti without good sopping bread. You know…how you have to sop up the last of the sauce on the plate after all the noodles are gone? I didn’t know it had a name until I met Alex. If I really love him I make my own sauce. But alas, fresh tomatoes are out of season.

So…Bread.

I managed to get a batch of sourdough kneaded between juggling the two kids. I usually like to make my dough while the baby is sleeping, but I forgot to grind my flour before putting her down-that usually wakes her up. Soo, I managed kneading with both kids underfoot. Elly is officially crawling and pulling herself up on things. So big!

Anyways. So while I was kneading the bread- I had the grand idea of making a savory loaf for dinner (with Spaghetti) and a sweet version for breakfast. So after kneading I made a mix of Parmesan, and Italian herbs and then a cinnamon sugar mix. I divided the dough and rolled out and topped the savory one with olive oil then the spice mix/cheese and rolled it up, plopped it in the bread pan. I did the same with the cinnamon sugar mix, but used coconut oil instead of olive. Then they will rise for a few hours. Yummmm.

K. So here’s the low down.

Sourdough Bread

Adapted from gnowfglins.com s sourdough e-course
  • 3 cups active bubbly starter (means you fed it a few hours ago and its all bubbled up)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/4 tsp conventional yeast (optional)- I added this because I didn’t have a lot of hours to let this rise because I started later in the morning. I didn’t use this last time and it was fine.
  • 5ish cups of freshly ground flour

Making: Mix the starter, water, salt and yeast (if using). Add 3 cups of flour and mix with spoon. Add 1/4-1/2 cup increments of flour until dough is “shaggy.” I mixed with my hands at this point. Then let the dough sit for 15 mins or so to let the flour absorb the water.

Kneading: After 15 mins time, pull the dough out and begin kneading. I rarely add more flour- in fact sometimes I wet my hands with warm water to add a little moisture back in. Just gotta play with it. Knead for 5 mins. Let dough rest after first kneading to let it chillax for a few. Then repeat this process until you feel the dough ready. I ended up kneading for 15 mins . Note: this is hand kneading. If you had a stand mixer it would be a lot faster. However, as a caution, 100% whole wheat dough’s and stand mixers don’t get along to well…

Creating: Then the sky is the limit with the creative add-ins or toppings. I made my in like a swirl loaf fashion, but you could sure knead add-ins right into the dough! I would like to try to make a bread with some flax, millet, and sunflower seeds added in! Mmm!

Rising: Since this is a sourdough, the rising period will be longer. I place these in a warm location as it speeds the process greatly! Usually from 5-8 hours is normal. Although I am sure if it were a super nice warm sunny day you could get away with 4 hours or so. I put mine next to the dehydrator if it is running, in the laundry room, or warmed oven (just pop it on for a minute or two-don’t leave it on!!).

Baking: Bake the bread in a 375 degree oven for 50 mins. I will sometimes put the bread in the cold oven and let it rise a tiny bit more while the oven pre-heats. This is a trick that I learned in the e-course I did on sourdough!

 

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Here we go. Yes.

Can you smell it?

 

 

 

I would highly recommend the e-courses that gnowfglins.com offers. I learned a lot about how I cook and prepare food through these series of courses. Her site is also very informative, even if you don’t do the classes!

 

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Sourdough Cinnamon Buns

Wow. This morning we made cinnamon buns with the new sourdough baby. They turned out excellent. I whipped together the dough last night in about 5 minutes and it was waiting for me this morning all bubbly and nice. I had to add a few more ingredients and knead it for all of about a minute, then roll out and top with goodies! Super easy for such a delicious breakfast! These were light and doughy, not like the biscuit ones I usually make. These are more like the regular yeast cinnamon rolls. I wonder if I let them rise a bit after cutting them if they might get even more airy. Either way they were delicious! It feels so good to know that while they are a treat, they are fully digestible due to the overnight souring process which breaks down hard to digest nutrients as well as releases the enzymes for better digestion! We are also using a healthier sugar (Sucanat) and real butter, which I am a firm believer is good for you (in moderation of course!). In order for our bodies to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (think A & D) we need the presence of fat! Not rocket science! Either way. I feel ok about eating a few of these cinnamon buns and giving them to the kids too due to these factors. My batch even made enough to freeze a few for another day. I just froze the unbaked rolls on some parchment paper then pulled it off the paper when they were frozen and popped them in a bag in the freezer. Apparently (haven’t tried yet) I just need to pull them out of the freezer, thaw for a few mins and bake like normal. Wow, that would be an easy breakfast!

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Anyways. Here’s the basic recipe. Adapted from gnowfglins.com e-course and sourdough e-book materials.

For the Dough:

  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup milk (can be cultured, as in buttermilk)
  • 1/4 cup rapadura, honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (not too hot)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 to 3 cups whole wheat flour (I used fresh ground and it took a little over 2 1/2)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

For the Filling:

  •  1/4 cup butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup rapadura or maple syrup

For the Glaze:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup rapadura,  maple syrup or honey

The Method:

In a medium size bowl, mix until incorporated 1/2 cup sourdough starter and 1 cup milk. Add to that 1/4 cup
rapadura, 1/4 cup melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir well. Begin by adding 2 cups of whole wheat flour.
Stir to combine. Take note of your dough consistency. Add flour by the 1/4 cup and eventually by the tablespoon
until you have a dough that is not wet and a little firm. It is hard to put an exact description to what your dough
should feel like. Keep in mind that once this dough has soured you will be kneading in three dry ingredients and
then rolling it out.

Once your dough is ready, cover your bowl and set it aside to sour for 8 or more hours. I just did it the night before and leave it overnight. It was ready by breakfast time!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of butter or coconut oil to your chosen baking dish. Pop it in the oven as it preheats.
Take it out once the oil has melted and add to it an equal amount of sucanat or maple syrup. Set this aside.

While your oven is preheating, prepare your cinnamon roll dough. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon
baking soda, and 1 teaspoon baking powder onto your soured dough. Knead
for three or four minutes, concentrating primarily on incorporating the dry ingredients. Once you feel all is combined, place your dough ball onto a surface you think will work well for rolling out and rolling up. Roll your dough into a  rectangle about a 1/4 inch thick.

Spread your dough with softened butter or coconut oil. I find 1/4 cup is a good amount, but more or less will be
fine as well. Sprinkle your dough with cinnamon to your liking, and, if you prefer, scatter with dried fruit, nuts, or
chocolate chunks. Once your rectangular shaped dough is topped with your choice of goodies, carefully roll it up. I roll from the bottom up and from one long side to the other. Keep it as tightly rolled as you are able.  Cut up your log in whatever way suits you. Please use a serrated knife. Once cut, carefully move your rolls into the prepared baking dish(es). You want your cinnamon rolls to be touching but not crammed in your baking dish. The slight touching causes them to rise up and not out.

Place the cinnamon rolls onto the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes checking on them after 15 or 20 minutes just to make sure they aren’t already done. Different sizes cook at different rates.Once the cinnamon rolls are finished, immediately flip them onto a large plate or platter.

 

Mmm. Good to the last bite!

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Sourdough Pancakes!

I recently got a dehydrated sourdough starter from carlsfriends.net  which was free and arrived quickly in the mail! I followed instructions for re-hydrating it from the e-course that I am taking (basic instructions below). After a few days of feeding it and caring for it, it was ready for its first debut in food today! I make some sourdough pancakes. While they were very tasty, I think I still have some learning and some tweaks. First off, I think that a very young starter acts a little differently than a mature starter. Mine is still a baby and is learning how to do life in the real world. Haha.  Pancakes turned out yummy with a great taste, but they were a little dense and chewy. Sounds gross for a pancake, but Alex and I decided that we would put it in a different category than “pancakes” and then we were ok with it. More like a little tasty breakfast cake. We ate it with honey and fresh strawberry syrup. Anyways, I’ll try again soon!

 

Here’s how I re-hyrdrated my starter.

Day 1: pour dehydrated starter pack into clean mason jar and mix with 1/4 cup of WARM water and 1/4 flour. Let sit for 24 hours.

Day 2-5(?): add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup WARM water to jar and mix vigorously. Let sit in warm spot for 12 hours. Repeat this process for 2-3 days every 12 hours adding 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 warm water. Mix in any liquid that forms on top. Starter should look bubbly and alive.

Notes: Try to keep between 1-1.5cups of starter at any given time (so you will have to dump some out). When you think its ready, save one cup of starter and toss the rest. Then feed the starter again and use in your first recipe!

Here’s what Lizbet looks like just after a feeding! (Leandra calls her Emily Elizabeth)

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Soaked Overnight Pancakes

Since we are trying to simplify our lives in both our lifestyle and our eating habits we have been spending a lot of time researching and learning about Real and traditional foods. I wholeheartedly believe that this is the way to eat and live. It rids you of guilt laden diets and leaves behind all the diet debates. I am working on getting some information up on the changes that we have made and the progress of our health. For now, here’s a new favorite breakfast recipe.

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Soaked Pancakes

Adapted from thenourishingcook.com and Nourishing Traditions cookbook

  • 2 cups freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour (or spelt, kamut flour). We used Kamut and ground it in the Vitamix.
  • 2 cups buttermilk (yogurt or milk kefir work too), preferably homemade. We used homemade buttermilk (recipe below)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 T melted butter or coconut oil

Preparation

Mix flour and yogurt (or buttermilk/kefir) well in a glass bowl-metal bowls can leach due to the high acidic environment as well as disturb the natural bacterial action going on! Soak the flour in yogurt (or buttermilk/kefir) mixture in warm place (70-80 degrees) for 12-24 hours (overnight is fine!). After soaking time, beat the eggs slightly and add to wet flour mixture. Gently stir in other ingredients and add water to obtain the desired thinness. Cook on a hot, oiled griddle or cast iron skillet with some coconut oil. The pancakes cook longer than regular pancakes, and have a slightly chewy texture and mild sour taste, which is very pleasing. Serve with whatever your heard desires such as melted butter, real grade B maple syrup, raw honey, berry syrup, or fruit butter. We use our own homemade “maple” syrup and I used some pumpkin butter.

Homemade Buttermilk

  • 1/2 Gallon whole milk- Organic if possible, but not Ultra-Pasteurized (the stuff in the box carton) as this will not culture properly. I have found Organic regular pasteurized at Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s.
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk (use from a previous batch of buttermilk is your best bet or you can use store bought-although you usually can’t buy that little)

Mix the two together in a glass 1/2 gal mason jar and leave on the counter at room temp (70-80 degrees) for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Move to the refrigerator and TaDa! You have made buttermilk! This buttermilk is particularly thicker than the stuff you buy in the store. If this is unacceptable for your recipe add a little water or milk to thin it out. But you already knew that!