Something New

A few weeks ago, on a visit to the city, we purchased hard white wheat berries. The Bulk Barn sells hard white wheat berries, I haven’t found any other supplier as yet, so I thought we should give them a try. While there we picked up a small bag of sprouted spelt berries as well.

After struggling to consume about 3 gallons of whole wheat flour that was past being pleasant, I decided that i wanted to mill my own whole wheat, on demand, when needed. Wheat berries keep for a long time, and they will keep even longer in the freezer. To that end we recently purchased a flour mill, the WonderMill, for grinding our own flour. My expectations have been low for this project, as I’ve not had stellar results baking 100% whole wheat bread. My 100% whole wheat bread is acceptable, but nothing to write home about, particularly of late, baking with older-than-desirable flour.

The adventure began this morning. The wheat and spelt berries were taken out of the freezer early in the morning, to give them a chance to thaw before it was time to mill them. Hydro becomes much less expensive after 11:00 a.m., so using electric appliances is postponed until after that time. The milling process is simple, and it took a while because after milling the wheat, I let the mill cool down before milling the spelt.

After measuring out the amount of flour for the days bread baking, the remaining flour was stored in mason jars, and placed in the refrigerator. There is enough stored for one more batch of bread.

I’ve been using the dough setting on the bread machine lately, then shaping the dough into two small loaves, placing them in the pans to double in size, then baking. To my great surprise, the rise on the dough was perfect, far superior to that achieved by the whole wheat flour I had been using up until now. The second rise was equally impressive. And the aroma of this bread was wonderful, as it baked. And taste, well, what can I say, other than it was the best loaf of whole wheat bread I have ever made in my life. Perfect on every score.

While we were on our weekly grocery run tonight, we picked up some fish burger patties, pre-made, as an indulgence, along with some tartar sauce. This gave us an excuse to sample the first loaf of homemade bread, fish sandwiches. Oh my, they were so good!

Now I have to buy more hard wheat berries! I’ve finally hit my stride with bread baking.

Research into local, bulk quantity, wheat berries, or other whole grains, have yielded no good results. Only two sources have been found so far in Ontario. One, a farmer, does not respond to my email messages, and I think that is because he sells his product to bakeries, and I am too small potatoes to be bothered with. The other supplier caters to businesses, will sell to individuals, but is located three hours drive away. Shipping is impossibly expensive, so it is out of the question. The search continues.

Also on our shopping trip this evening, we purchased 26 lemons for $4.00, they were slightly aged, and had just been marked down. Attila is squeezing lemon juice, 4 full jars, which we will freeze for cooking and baking. He is having a good time, listening to his favourite music, saving money on high quality food, and adding to the food supplies. And last but not least 11 organic bananas were marked down to $1.00, I snapped them up; they will be peeled, set on cookie sheets, frozen, and packaged for banana smoothies and baking.

Food, preparation and preservation, is our main mutual recreation.

Worldly

Weather

-2°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Monday 18 March 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -1.5°C
Dew point: -2.6°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: SSW 10 km/h
Wind Chill: -5
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Her grandmother, as she gets older, is not fading but rather becoming more concentrated.”
Paulette Bates Alden
1947 –

Popcorn

Our Wedding Anniversary has come and gone. It is interesting how it played out. I had been thinking about it a week or so before the event. Attila says he was too. But on the actual day, we both forgot about it completely, until a few hours before bedtime, when we suddenly realized that it was our anniversary. I don’t know if it means anything at all, forgetting the anniversary, but since we both forgot there was nothing to get upset about, we laughed, then we ate popcorn.

This morning’s breakfast saw the last of the sugarless cookies consumed. It was surprising how enjoyable they were. They are more enjoyable with the inclusion of the scant amount of sugar called for in the recipe, so the next batch will find me following the recipe with great care.

Last week the garden seeds were ordered. Attila is expanding the main garden, and I am going to create two small raised gardens in giant totes. At first Attila had little interest in raised bed gardening, but the concept has grown on him, and now he wants to build a small wood raised bed to see how that works. The wood raised bed will be his project. My raised beds will grow things like spinach, strawberries, and green beans. Attila has also expressed an interest in building a cold frame. In a few weeks the weather will improve enough so that the projects can begin.

With all the melting, water is leaking into the garage along the floor. This year Attila will dig up around the garage floor perimeter and install a water barrier, and a French drain, which will resolve the issue. It was not noticed before, because there used to be so much water pouring in through the roof, that a leak along the foundation was completely masked. It isn’t a big project. The water barrier material we picked up at a restore for under $10. We are good to go without further expense.

I continue to fight the Asian Lady Beetles and the Wasps in the interior windows. The spiders I am leaving alone to do their thing, they must be finding some small insects to eat, or they wouldn’t be in here.

There have been a lot of heavy equipment transports lumbering up and down the street this week, bringing in the heavy equipment for road building, basement digging, and land clearing. The construction season has begun again. Perhaps they will finish the project this summer and fall, I hope so. There are ten units completed and occupied. The new residents walk up and down our street, which is the only access to their private road. Their presence is a game changer, they don’t interact with each other, or with anyone on the street. Their vehicles speed up and down our street, which used to be a quiet dead end street, and is no more. It is becoming very “city-like” here. There are pros and cons to that.

The weather is dismal again today, terribly windy, and clouding over, then clearing, then clouding over again. The snow is melting though. It is surprising how exciting it can be to see the snow slowly retreat, to reveal small patches of grass around the yard. Nature’s strip tease.

Worldly

Weather

6°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Friday 15 March 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 6.3°C
Dew point: 2.3°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: SW 29 gust 40 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It is the nature of ambition to make men [humans] liars and cheats, to hide the truth in their breasts, and show, like jugglers, another thing in their mouths, to cut all friendships and enmities to the measure of their own interest, and to make a good countenance without the help of good will.”
Sallust
86 BC – 34 BC

Dreary, soggy, white, and wet… for now!

Spring thaw has begun. The snow is melting into puddles, puddles everywhere. The yard is still mostly white, with pools of water reflecting the approach of spring.

I’ve had a quiet day. I left the cheerful living room lights on for most of the morning, until the day brightened and the curtains were drawn open. I am working on a new crochet project, a cotton facecloth. The blanket I have been working on for, gosh, almost two years, is now finished and keeping Attila warm at night. The blankets were good projects for me, because of the repetition my hands developed strong body memory for the the stitches, and the technique I use for maintaining tension.

There is lots of evidence that spring is coming. The ladybugs who have burrowed their way into the house are crawling on the windows, when the sun shines. I kill them, as they bite. Two wasps have also managed to enter the house, again, drawn to the sunny windows. I kill them. Their sting is seriously painful, and Attila is allergic. Their presence in the house inspires a plan to properly seal the house with caulking, at the bottom of the siding, around the perimater of the house. It is better to keep them out than to kill them. That project will need to wait for much warmer days!

We saw robins yesterday, flitting through the ornamental apple tree in the front yard. The tiny apples have been on the tree all winter. Now, as the barren season stretches on, and the ground is still covered with snow, the apples are suddenly appealing to the birds. They eat the seeds. Many of the plants on the property attract birds and wildlife, and mostly we enjoy their company. But the rabbits, well, the rabbits are fine as long as they stay out of the garden!

Worldly

Weather

-2°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 13 March 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -1.9°C
Dew point: -3.1°C
Humidity: 91%
Wind: S 16 km/h
Wind Chill: -7
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I don’t have goals, I have fantasies. They are exactly like goals, but without the hard work.”
Emily Levine

Cookies Gone Wrong

Who makes cookies and forgets to add the sugar! I mean, what use is a cookie without any sugar? Apparently I made cookies without adding any sugar! And you know what, they taste good anyway. I’m not sure just how that manages to be true, but it is. They are Turmeric Breakfast Cookies. I will say though, that even though I will eat all of them, the next time I make these cookies I will strive to remember to add the called for sugar to the recipe. I’d say that I’d learned my lesson and this wouldn’t happen again, but it has happened before, and I am sure it will happen again… I have an avoidance thing about sugar; only because I like it so much, and it is not good for me.

The kitchen is a busy place at Mist Cottage today. The weather can be thanked for that. Blowing snow and rain, and the temperature is hovering just above freezing. The roads are covered in slush and ice, and the wind is wicked. Home is the best place to be when weather like this comes to visit. And what better to do, on windy, wet and cold day, than bake cookies, and muffins (sugar was added), and cook garbanzo beans in the Instant Pot. Attila will make a large batch of Hummus this evening, which I love to eat for my breakfast or lunch, and he loves to eat for his lunch.

Things are quiet and peaceful today, and the house smells amazing.

Attila just brought in a plate, on which he stacked the silicone muffin cups to dry after they were washed. He brought the stacked cups in to show me that the three colours (four each) are stacked without two cups of the same colour touching. He knows how to have fun in the kitchen!

Soon it will be time to turn the oven on for dinner preparations. The menu for this evening is Roast Chicken Breasts, with Oven Roasted Potatoes, and Green Beans. Comfort food.

Yesterday was sunny all day, and a little bit chilly. Attila and I took advantage of the nice weather, and clear sidewalks downtown, to do a little walking tour. It was lovely to be out and walking about. I still needed my parka, boots, and gloves though!

Worldly

Weather

Date: 3:00 PM EDT Sunday 10 March 2019
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 1.3°C
Dew point: 1.3°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: S 24 gust 36 km/h
Visibility: 6 km

Quote

“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
1882 – 1945

I think the erratic and extreme weather has humans tying knots all over the planet! Hang on!

Daily Bread

Years ago I baked all of our bread, all of the time. Then we moved to the country house, and my job demanded my time for almost all my waking hours, and the bread baking just wasn’t possible. Then the job disappeared, and I began taking on a series of truly horrid, very low paying, local jobs with either long hours, or on-call short notice jobs that chopped up my time so that I couldn’t really expect to have open ended hours for bread baking. Bread baking became more and more difficult to undertake, and eventually I just gave it up.

Then we moved to Mist Cottage. Living in the tunnels-through-the-boxes in this tiny house, and working on downsizing, took years. There were also significant renovations going on the whole time. Then, just as the physical environment was stabilizing, Attila had a “midlife crisis”, and life upended in a different way.

Attila’s crisis has eased, 2018 was survived, life at Mist Cottage has stabilized, and I am able to return to baking all of our bread.

Years ago, before we moved to the country house, I purchased 50 pounds of whole wheat flour. If life had not had other plans for me, and my bread baking had continued, the flour would have been easily consumed before its shelf life had expired. But life did have other plans for me. The flour was not consumed. Some of it spent time in the cupboard. Some of it spent time in a 6 gallon bucket. Some of it spent time in the freezer.

The flour that spent time in the cupboard was thrown away a few months ago, when I began to organize the basement and finally checked it, after the garage roof project was completed. It was rancid.

The flour that spend time in the 6 gallon bucket was edible, not fresh exactly, but edible, and it has provided us with bread for the last month. I am glad it is gone, I did not enjoy baking with it.

The flour in the freezer was checked yesterday, it was fresh, not off at all, and so it will be used for bread baking until it is gone.

When all of the old whole wheat flour has been consumed, I will begin to mill my own flour, in small batches, from whole grains. Whole grains keep much longer than milled flour. The whole grains will be kept in the freezer, then thawed in small quantities, to be milled for our daily bread.

I will be experimenting with all kinds of grains, and hope to try Rye, Kamut, Spelt, Red Fife Wheat, and Einkorn Wheat. Currently I am searching for reasonable suppliers. Shipping is the real issue with grains, because they are very heavy, so that the cost of shipping is around the same as the cost of the grain itself. So far I’ve found only a few Ontario suppliers, who cater almost exclusively to the well off, and quite a few fantastic suppliers from the prairies. I”ve even found suppliers from the USA, with free shipping, and their products would be cheaper to import than products purchased locally, or in Canada. Decisions, decisions!

Worldly

Weather

-9°C (-19C last night!)
Date: 9:00 AM EST Friday 8 March 2019
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -8.7°C
Dew point: -14.2°C
Humidity: 65%
Wind: SW 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -13
Visibility: 24 km

Note: The predicted temperatures going forward are getting warmer, so that our Heat Pump will be taking over the heating from the forced air furnace, most of the time. The low humidity and static problems will subside. Heat Pump heating requires a different kind of wardrobe during the day. It circulates room temperature air, so that the thermal mass in the house does not heat to a higher temperature as it does with the heat from the forced air furnace, which blasts warmer than room temperature air. This means that objects, like the chair I sit on, will be room temperature, and cooler to the touch, thus cooling the body on contact. So, my autumn/spring wardrobe will be adopted. I will need slightly heavier clothing to keep comfortable.

Quote

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
Walt Whitman
1819 – 1892