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 –

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