Friday, March 18, 2016

New garden & new math, new bread recipe! YUM!!

This week has been an incredibly busy week for me on the home front. My parents have now officially moved from Florida to North Carolina, although their furniture is still in limbo, but that's a whole other story. Having them here means more going out to dinner this week, and impromptu visits during the day to drop stuff off and surprise my kids with lunch out at one of their favorite restaurants, Steak-n-Shake. I'm still trying to wrap my head around living in the same town as them again. Its been YEARS!

On the home front, we've been working on our garden. Last year we paid a local farmer to till up a good portion of the yard to have a garden. I've never had a garden other than my small raised bed garden in Georgia that measured a whopping 8 feet long by 4 feet wide. This new garden is more like 50 feet long by 25 feet wide. Its HUGE by comparison! We had great success with lettuce last spring, along with tons of squash and zucchini. Our tomatoes didn't do well, my okra died a slow and painful death, followed by my peppers. No idea what happened to our watermelons, but we did manage to get a few small cantaloups. I also had strawberries in our garden, but they didn't survive the winter. The one thing we had great success at growing in our garden last year was grass and weeds. This year we decided to suck it up and purchase a tiller. What a wonderful thing to have I tell you!! It makes short work of all the old grass and weeds, leaving behind glorious fresh tilled dirt. We tried to improve our red clay soil with a clay breaker type organic fertilizer mix. My wonderful hubby and son got that tilled in last Saturday, along with some chicken poop happily supplied by the girls, leaving the garden ready for our Spring veggies! Sunday morning my wonderfully helpful son, Adam, helped me plant tons of lettuce in four different varieties, along with broccoli, cauliflower, Georgia onions and a bunch of spinach. By some miracle, our kale from last year not only survived the winter, but its been thriving!  It kind of looks like little palm trees at this point.  All this planting only takes up about 1/3 of our new garden though. We're waiting until mid April to plant the summer stuff. Isn't it pretty?

I also made the huge decision to switch Haley's math from Teaching Textbooks back to Saxon this week. Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1 just isn't working for us. I purchased the brand new version of Saxon Algebra 1 and it arrived from Amazon on Thursday. Can I just say how much I love Amazon Prime? What an amazing thing it is!

Just working through Lesson 1 in the book showed me just how much my math hating girl needs Saxon. Teaching Textbooks encouraged her to use a calculator and focused solely on algebra. Good old Saxon doesn't work that way. It made her do long multiplication WHICH SHE FORGOT HOW TO DO, as well as fractions and long division. Its way harder and more intense, but I feel it is honestly a stronger program. So, as much as I hate to jump in with a new math program in mid March of her 9th grade year, we're doing it. I'll do a review of it once we've used it a bit more.

Another big exciting thing I did this week was finally perfect my favorite homemade bread recipe using freshly ground whole wheat. I have been messing with recipes for weeks now trying to get it just right. I have this tried and true recipe that I've used for a couple of years now. My kids love it, and frankly so do I. Its fool proof. However, it uses store bought flour and includes 1 1/2 cups of white bread flour. I'm trying to eliminate as much processed food from our lives. I especially avoid all things white...white bread, white rice, white sugar, white flour, etc. However, the all whole wheat loaves I made were either bricks or the kids just didn't like them as well as my old standby. I decided to tweak it a bit and change up a few things and found an awesome new recipe that we all love. Its also all whole wheat! Win, win!

Now before you get all "who has the time to bake their own bread" on me, give me a minute. I use a bread machine. Yes, I do. I don't bake it in though. I don't like the tough crust and the weird shape with the paddle hole in the center. Better yet, I use a cheap bread machine. My machine is an Oster version that I purchased from Walmart for maybe $70 or so. I have carpal tunnel and just can't knead bread. No way, no how. This recipe originally came from a blog that had several recipes where the bread machine did the mixing, kneading, and rising, but the bread is baked in the oven. This is such an easy process that it makes bread making possible for even the busiest of people. Ask me how I know! So are you ready for this miracle of a bread recipe? Here goes:

Honey Wheat Bread

1 cup warm water (I use the hottest water that will come out of the faucet)
1 tablespoon milk (I use Organic Vanilla soy milk, but that's just me)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar (I use organic Sucanat, but have also used Sugar in the Raw)
1 teaspoon salt (I use pink himalayan sea salt and just grind a bit in)
3 cups freshly milled whole wheat flour (I use 1/4 cup of hard red wheat berries and 1 3/4 cup of hard white wheat berries)
1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon soy lecithin
2 teaspoons yeast

 My machine wants all the liquid ingredients added first, then the non-liquid. I just dump everything into the bread machine pan in the order listed. I make a small well in the center for the yeast. Next, I set my machine to the dough setting and let it do its magic. I do watch and help it get started by making sure everything gets mixed in well and I almost always add maybe an eighth of a cup of warm water as it first starts forming a dough ball. The freshly milled flour requires more water and seems to soak it up pretty fast. I don't want the dough to get too stiff too fast, so I add the water. Once its all mixed up nicely, I basically ignore the machine until it beeps at me around an hour later. At that point I have wonderfully risen, nice warm bread dough.

I simply turn the pan over and give it a shake and the dough falls out onto my floured surface for shaping. Usually there is quite a bit of sticky dough stuck in the pan as well, so be prepared to scrape it out with your fingers or a scrapper. My boys love the raw dough and love to scrape out bits and pieces to eat. Once you have it all out, shape it into a smooth ball.

I don't do any further kneading and my only real goal is to smooth it out in order to shape it into a loaf sized shape. I do sometimes have to work harder to get it in a nice shape, but usually its fairly easy.

Last, I carefully pick up my loaf shaped dough and plunk it into a well greased standard size loaf pan. Cover that bad boy and place it in a nice slightly warm oven to do some more rising magic. This generally takes my dough about half an hour. You want the loaf to be almost fully risen. In other words, fairly close to whatever height you'd like the baked loaf to achieve. If it needs more time, put it back in.

Once you are satisfied with the rise, remove it from the oven and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake it for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Carefully remove your masterpiece and enjoy! Its best to let it cool before cutting into its yumminess. Slather on some butter on a warm piece of fresh bread. Heaven I tell you!

That's about it for happening around here.  How was your week?  For more great Weekly Wrap Up posts check out Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

1 comment:

  1. Your bread is lovely!

    Enjoy those g'ma and g'pa visits! We so miss ours after g'ma moved away 3 years ago.