A Wonderful Sight

For decades now I’ve received telephone calls, the caller says nothing, then, after a few minutes, the caller hangs up. Sometimes there is breathing at the other end of the line, sometimes not. This caller has followed me around through all of the places I’ve lived, calling all of the different telephone numbers I’ve had. Although it upset me at first, when I was first a single Mom I worried a lot about my kid’s safety, it is now part of the landscape of life, the mysterious caller letting me know he/she/they are there. Who is it? I couldn’t say, it began just after my divorce, the persistence is striking, and the caller’s number is always masked. Someone looking for attention, here you go.

We ordered our seeds online this year, and the first shipment is scheduled to arrive this week! It won’t be long now before we are out in the garden again! I am looking forward to working in my modest raised beds. If they are a success, I’ll be setting up more permanent structures for them in the future, but best to test the concept without much expense, before contemplating any significant investment. Who knows, the modest plastic tub beds might be a great success, to be continued indefinitely.

Today is bread baking day. I have enough flour milled for today’s loaves, then more flour will need to be milled. The 25 kg bag of hard wheat berries arrived this week, and are stored in the freezer. Eventually they will be moved from the paper sack in which they came, to food grade 5 gallon buckets, and returned to the freezer. The 25 kg bag is estimated to last us for 6 months. It cost $98.00, minus a 10% discount, plus tax, so the cost for our homemade bread is about the same as store bought bread, the lowest quality store bought bread available. If the cost is compared to high quality bread, the homemade will be much cheaper.

The bills are piling up, and we are not quite in a position to pay them all. Juggling is required, and thankfully juggling will suffice. Hopefully we will be back on track by the summer, after the huge repair bills for Tank over the last months. 2018 was quite a year if ever there was one, in so many ways, and the bills are just one aspect of that challenging year. Most of the expense was related to home improvement, new windows, new attic insulation, new garage roof, and some kitchen equipment to make life a whole lot easier (e.g. an Instant Pot). There are no major home improvements coming up this summer, some exterior painting, installing waterproofing to the north side of the garage foundation wall, organizing the garage, there are no big price tags on any of these projects. Perhaps we will catch up financially. I have no regrets about the 2018 expenditures.

Every day I kill several wasps, more on the exterior of the house, around the front door, and at least one every day inside the house. They are coming in around the front door, so we surmise there must be a nest somewhere near there. I do not feel bad about killing wasps, I hate them. When I was a kid I was stung on the tip of my nose by an angry wasp, and I’ve not forgotten it! I also remember my sister’s distress when one had crawled under the covers of the bed and stung her. They don’t belong on my doorstep, or in my house! We have had two very large nests here over the years, in the trees, both destroyed, but obviously they haven’t given up on this prime location.

The sun comes out occasionally, but right now the sky is completely overcast. The wind is roaring again, perhaps heralding the April showers we are expecting. There is a tinge of green in the yard, a wonderful sight.

Worldly

Weather

6°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Wednesday 3 April 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 6.4°C
Dew point: 1.7°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: WSW 29 gust 41 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Seeing ourselves as others see us would probably confirm our worst suspicions about them.”
Franklin P. Adams
1881 – 1960


March Wind

Well, here it is at last, the final day of March, 2019 has arrived. The first thing I saw when I looked out the window early this morning, was snow. Not a lot of snow, but enough to cover every surface with a blanket of white. Later in the morning, it was snowing again, but by this time the early covering had already melted in the rain. It has been above freezing since yesterday, all night long, and into today. March is leaving, and reminding me that it has winter-like potency right to the very end.

March was certainly windy. The roar of moving air seemed almost constant through March, and I commented to Attila, on several occasions, that some sort of wind mill would do well here in the month of March.

In primary school the we learned this rhyme, accompanied by pictures of gusty winds blowing children’s clothing about in March, and children with umbrellas in April:

MARCH winds and April showers
Bring forth May flowers.

In 1610 this concept was recorded as:
“Sweet April showers/Do spring May flowers”
Source: Northall, G. F. English Folk-Rhymes: A collection of traditional verses relating to places and persons, customs, superstitions, etc. 1892. p. 430


But the weather in England is so very different than the weather here in Ontario, Canada. While we are watching the snow melt, daffodils and crocuses are blooming in Merry Old England. So how does this rhyme make sense here, I wondered.

Well, it seems that in the late 1600s the weather patterns took a decided turn for the better, which by inference would mean that it was decidedly not so favourable in the early 1600s. Which would indicate a slightly later arrival of the signs of spring, and explain why the rhyme seems appropriate now in Ontario, Canada, as it was in England in the early 1600.

Since the weather was going to be so miserable on this last weekend of March, it was decided that a turkey dinner would be in order. Yesterday Attila prepared a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, which will provide meals from leftovers until Wednesday, further meals from the diced turkey meat that will be frozen in meal size packages, and further meals still with a batch of turkey soup from with the bones.

Worldly

Weather

1°C
Date: 3:26 PM EDT Sunday 31 March 2019
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 1.3°C
Dew point: 1.1°C
Humidity: 98%
Wind: WSW 16 km/h
Visibility: 5 km

Quote

“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
Oscar Wilde
1854 – 1900

It is difficult for me to reconcile the above quote with the man who said the following, unless Mr. Wilde is confessing to profound selfishness:

Oscar Wilde to Frank Harris, in “Oscar Wilde” page 69.
“The poor are poor creatures… and must always be hewers of wood and drawers of water. They are merely the virgin soil out of which men of genius and artists grow like flowers. Their function is to give birth to genius and nourish it. They have no other raison d’être… Don’t talk to me, Frank, about the hardships of the poor. The hardships of the poor are necessities, but talk to me of the hardships of men of genius, and I could weep tears of blood…”


Flour milling and bread baking.

Here is what I’ve been up to for the last little while, learning, experimenting, and having a grand old time!

hard wheat berries in plastic bag with gallon jar half full of milled flour from the berries.
The bag of hard wheat berries was purchased at the Bulk Barn, a retail outlet that sells all kinds of things in bins, where you use a scoop to fill your own bag of product, and it is weighed at the checkout. Behind the wheat berries is the one gallon (4 liter) jar of flour, milled using the WonderMill, from the hard wheat berries. Eight cups of hard wheat berries milled to between 16 and 18 cups of whole wheat flour. I have made four loaves of bread with flour milled from these hard wheat berries, and the results are so very wonderful that I’ve ordered a 25 kg bag to put in my freezer. It won’t last all that long, as everything here is homemade, bread, pizza dough, muffins for Attila’s lunches… the list goes on.
Gallon jar almost full of whole wheat flour.

Eight cups of hard wheat berries milled to between 16 and 18 cups of whole wheat flour.
Risen bread dough seen through bread machine window.
Getting a good first rise with 100% whole wheat bread dough, in the bread machine, using the dough setting on the machine.
Bread dough in bread machine pan.
A good rise! The 100% whole wheat bread dough has an excellent first rise!
Two small loaves of bread in the pans.
The bread recipe is for one loaf of bread. The loaf size is too large for Attila and I, and if I bake it as one loaf we find ourselves struggling to eat it all before it becomes stale. Homemade bread does not keep for weeks, as commercial bread seems to, and it is best consumed within a few days. My solution is to use the dough setting on the machine, and to divide the dough in half (ha! I tried, lol), do the second rise in pans, and bake it in the oven. One loaf is bagged and popped into the freezer as soon as it cools, and the other loaf is placed in a bag in the breadbox for immediate consumption. This much bread will last the two of us for almost a week, but not quite.

Worldly

Weather

4°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Friday 22 March 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 3.8°C
Dew point: 1.7°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: NNW 23 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

BOO! HISS! Snow is expected this afternoon. Oh well, it will soon melt away again.

Quote

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.”
James Oppenheim

First Day of Spring 2019

The first day of Spring! Long awaited, and not disappointing. Right now the sun is shining, and the temperature is above freezing. We still have a lot of snow, but there are also large patches of brown grass showing in the yard, and the driveway is clear.

When I went out to fetch the newspaper, always thrown onto the end of the driveway, I noticed some Robins “frolicking” on the front lawn. I walked a little ways down the road in front of the house, to see them more clearly. Just at this point one of the neighours walked by, and stopped to chat. We watched the Robins, and determined that we were observing a mating ritual.

During my chat with the neighbour, he asked me if Attila liked his job. I was confused. Attila has been working at this job for years now, it isn’t a new thing. Attila does like his job, and looks forward to retirement, like most people. Sometimes the things people ask are puzzling. It seemed an odd question to ask, out of the blue, no context, on a sunny morning out watching the birds.

While outside, I decided to sweep the front porch. It sits under a branch of the Crab Apple tree, now so popular with the birds. The birds eat the seeds, letting the flesh fall to the ground, and onto the front porch. It makes quite a mess. While sweeping the porch, I noticed four wasps crawling about on the deck. I dispatched them. Perhaps it is through the very drafty front door that the wasps have been entering the house.

I’ve found a source for Wheat Berries, the bulk food store in the city will order large 25 kg bags for their customers, and offer a 10% discount on each bag ordered. This may be our best option, but I’d like to do a little more research before making such a large investment, over $100.00 with tax. That quantity will make about 100 of the small loaves that I bake. That price is the equivalent of 40 to 50 store bought loaves, about double the size of the loaves I make. The cost for homemade versus store bought bread is roughly equivalent, but when quality is considered the homemade bread is superior in every way. And a great big bonus for me is that a homemade loaf is made with 1/16 teaspoon of salt, which is 145 mg of sodium in the whole loaf, which is the same amount of sodium that one consumes in one single slice of store-bought bread. I could eat the whole loaf and not compromise my daily sodium intake (500 to 1200 mg per day).

When I finished my crocheted blanket recently, I needed another pick-me-up-put-me-down project. Using some leftover cotton yarn, a 3.5 mm crochet hook, and a single crochet stitch, I started on a facecloth. This was completed yesterday, and it got a thumbs up from Attila. Today I am starting another one. The weave is much denser with the 3.5 mm hook, resulting in a very sturdy and serviceable facecloth.

So that is me, the first day of spring, enjoying the day no end. I hope you are too

facecloth
Single Crochet facecloth, 3.5 mm hook, #4 cotton yarn Bernat Handicrafter Lime Stripes

Worldly

Weather

2°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Wednesday 20 March 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 1.6°C
Dew point: -0.3°C
Humidity: 87%
Wind: S 13 km/h
Visibility: 18 km

Quote

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
Thomas A. Edison
1847 – 1931

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 –