I'm working on baking a really good artisan style bread (the country loaf kind you get at Panera) and yesterday was my first attempt at 'Classic Country style Hearth Loaf' from the wonderful book Bread Alone by Daniel Leader. It's a fairly complicated process of temperature taking (everything that goes into the bread gets it's temperature taken) measuring (he prefers to weigh rather than scoop) mixing and kneading (I cheated and used the Kitchen-Aid and tho he allows for this, hand kneading is preferred - but 15minutes! ...I'm too old for that) waiting (3 rises) and finally baking (which involved 2 mistings of the oven to create steam for a crispier crust).....whew!
I've been making sandwich bread for 9 months now and that is a breeze compared to this whole process. Though I'm sure as I continue to make this style bread it will get easier (and I want to make sourdough also). I'll try to post pics of the process next time, for now I will present the final product (there were 2 loaves, this one was prettier:)
I recently finished reading Farm City by Novella Carpenter. Good book and pretty much where we would like our yard to be in a few years...except not in a crime-ridden section of Oakland. For more info on her urban farm....check this out.
Actually it's earlier than usual and a record for the area. Tho the news stations treated it as though it were a category 3 hurricane, to most people it was a welcome relief. And we got to turn off the automatic garden sprinklers.....yea!
We took our two youngest children (15 and 18) to the movies last night. But not just any movie....a documentary (oh goodie:).
Food, INC. is a beautifully filmed, chillingly narrated treatise on our agricultural system. Steven and I were alternately frightened, inspired, and educated. Our kids were simply bored. At least they had the courtesy to wait until it was over to critique the film.
Wilson - "Mind numbingly boring." "Everyone who would come to watch this movie already believes this stuff."
Annie - "Too long."
One of my favorite parts was a segment on Joel Salatin (my hero) and Polyface farms, extensively chronicled in Michael Pollens Omnivore's Dilemma. Joel's farming techniques and belief in the interconnection of all parts of the farm.... from grass to cows to chickens and pigs to manure... is a throwback to America's oldest farming practices as well as a solution to what ails the industry today. He preaches a truly wholistic view of agriculture. His open-air chicken 'processing plant' was filmed, showing the actual butchering of the birds. Upside down in the cone, slit the neck, bleed them out....you get my drift. My daughter (loudly) exclaimed her revulsion and surprise.....repeatedly. When Dad told her, "hey you eat that," she answered, "But I didn't know they were going to show it!!! ....Tell me when it's over."
I will say that watching the slaughtering of chickens was a bit disconcerting but we want to raise meat birds someday and I think it was beneficial to actually see it (in all it's crimson glory). Most consumers today share the desire to remain uninformed about what happens to food before it appears on our supermarket shelves. It's hard to change the way we shop and eat, especially in today's economy.
Our food system depends on consumers' not knowing much about it beyond the price disclosed by the checkout scanner. Cheapness and ignorance are mutually reinforcing. And it's a short way from not knowing who's at the other end of your food chain to not caring - to the carelessness of both producers and consumers. Of course, the global economy couldn't very well function without this wall of ignorance and the indifference it breeds. This is why the rules of world trade explicitly prohibit products form telling even the simplest stories - "dolphin safe," "humanely slaughtered," etc. - about how they were produced.
..........from The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan
As far as our own little corner of the world and our children's contribution to changing the system as it is, our hope is that despite their less than enthusiastic reaction, seeds were planted (excuse the pun).
We have been growing Bell peppers all summer. They've been small but numerous and quite delicious. BUT....they rarely (no matter how long I leave them on plant) turn color. We did get several purple, but out of 18 total plants, we got 1 orange and 2 red peppers...
Green Beans ...............................21 lbs.
Cantaloupe .............................8 lbs.
Carrots ...............................1 lb.
...and 101 eggs!
Total for September .........................203 lbs.
But we still seem to be spending a fortune at the grocery store....kind of frustrating. Maybe this winter when we are eating all the canned and frozen produce we'll start to see some change. In the meantime I'm keeping records of all our food purchases for the month to see if I can find out what's up.
(maybe we just need to stop drinking wine.....nah)
I want to share more of our trip to Georgia (hi Sam) but thought I'd sneak in a bit of gardening fun as well. In the future we plan on doing most (if not all) of our planting from seed, but this year we will be cheating (again) by using transplants. It went from 100degrees to 80 this week so I'm starting to panic, which I always seem to do at this time of year.
Our first bed is devoted to broccoli, 8 plants went in yesterday. We'll probably be planting around 36 total; we eat a lot of broccoli. I think it's the only veggie that everyone likes (still arguing peas vs. beans even with just 2 kids left at home).
So, into the freshly-tilled dirt go the broccoli seedlings....
....followed by the ring of eggshells to discourage snails and slugs....
...and then some diatomasceous earth to further inhibit creepy crawlies, specifically pill bugs. Those little suckers are voracious!
Finally, the ever attractive cat-guards to restrain our feline friends from using the conveniently prepared bed as a litter box.
Solar Oven Solar Dehydrator Grain Mill Pressure Canner Soil Block Maker Pasta Maker Indoor Seed Sprouting Station Cast Iron Dutch Oven - thanks John and Ashley!!! Freezer -Sears...no interest for a year!