Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sourdough Communion Bread

It appears to be my turn to make communion bread.  I always delay it as long as possible, hence.... December is usually the month I am pulling it together.  This year, I want to try a Sourdough Communion Bread, more like a cracker than we usually have.  The recipe that I ended up with:

1 cup starter
1 cup flour
let sit overnight 
(I always have a sponge going.  I just pulled two cups out and went from there)

2 cups sponge
approximately 1 cup flour 
(1/2 white, 1/2 fresh ground wheat/barley)
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp honey
1/3 cup butter
1/4 tsp salt

(you could also add about 1/4 tsp baking soda, if desired)

This came together in the mixer with the dough hook until it had the consistence of pie crust.  I then let it rest for a couple of hours before working it into crackers.
Cracker Formation:

Work in small batches.  First, separate the dough into 4 equal chunks.
Roll out very thin

sprinkle a little salt on top and press in, if desired
pierce all over with a fork

use a pizza cutter or something like that to score
 bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes

This recipe made approximately 300 pieces of communion bread.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Lance's Bear Hunt

We have a friend, his name is Lance,
he likes to hunt for bear......
and when he hunts, he really hunts,
and then he loves to share  :)

 Our sweet friend has blessed us abundantly with bear meat and bear fat from a very local source.  OK, I have been up and down on this one.  It really has some..... smell to it.  Not bad, just different.  I'm working on it.

We bottled up several quarts of beautiful, rendered bear fat.  How do you do that, and why???? you might be asking.  Well, here are directions and some of the reported uses and facts for rendered bear fat.

Take the bear fat, clean it, chunk it up, put it in a big pot, put on a stove (we used the wood stove) and liquify.  Strain while it is warm and bottle up.  Store in a cool place.  It looks like hard shortening when it is cold.

I confess, I did not know I should clean and chunk it before rendering it for this batch, but it seems like it turned out fine.  I'll let you know how the different process works out.

So, the uses, in no particular order:
(I have only tried a few of these, but we plan on trying out as many as possible this winter)
  • Boot oil / Leather conditioner
  • Wood conditioner
  • Apparently makes the finest croissant, biscuit and pie crust you can make
  • A concentrated energy source
  • Soap making
  • Candle making
  • Hair grease (we will not be trying this)
  • Oil lamp
  • High quality gun oil
  • Pemmican
I will let you know how it goes.  If it goes rancid, I'm thinking boot oil.


Here are a couple of great web sites Mrs. Survival  and Grandpappy's that have a lot of basic information on soap and candle making.  Can we use some modern ingredients instead of this wood ash thing?   Still in the experiment phase.  I have never actually made either of these items in my life...... but that does not mean it is not on my radar.  :)

ye olde style

If You EVER want to try this, please check out this very helpful web site.... How To Make Soap
 Here is a link to the history of soap making.  Maybe.  :)  Soap Facts 

Ingredients: bear fat, white wood ash

  1. Sift ash into cold water. Let sit overnight, then strain through a cheesecloth, saving the potash water. 
  2. Render bear fat in a kettle over medium heat. 
  3. Boil a quantity of the potash water and rendered bear fat while stirring constantly.
  4. The mixture will react. Continue adding potash and rendered fat until you have a suitable quantity of soap. Ensure there is no excess lye by tasting the soap. If it tastes sharply of the potash water, add more fat and stir some more.
  5. Remove from heat and ensure saponification has halted. Pour into molds or suitable containers before it solidifies.


    Ingredients: bear fat, bees wax, cod liver oil
  1. Take equal parts of rendered bear fat, beeswax and cod liver oil, heat together slowly until thoroughly liquefied and blended.
  2. If you use just bear fat, it will eventually degrade the leather.
  3. Pour off into containers and allow to cool to solidity. 
  4. This can also also be rubbed in to protect wood.
Here is a product advertisement from Finland for Bear Grease leather conditioner.  I think it has other ingredients added.   "Bear is simply the best leather dressing on the market. It nurtures leather. It softens leather stiff with age. It waterproofs leather. It restores leather's warm glow. Use on work boots, hunting boots, hiking boots, saddles, harnesses, leather furniture, baseball gloves and leather jackets."

RECIPE #3 - Pemmican

Grandpappy has pemmican information all organized as well.

Native Americans used rendered bear fat, dried preserved meat, nuts and berries and ground everything up/mixed in the fat to create pemmican.  Pemmican is a compact source of energy that contains protein, fiber, fat, carbs, sugars, vitamins and minerals... an advance protein bar perhaps.

I just wonder how this tastes. 

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Another new baby

    Our daughter had a healthy baby girl two weeks ago.  She is sweet and very healthy, despite being almost four weeks early.  Sweet Gracie brings another grandbaby in the mix and I am so happy!

    They came home two days after her birth, only to have us haul them to our son and daughter in law's house a couple of days later.  We were slammed by a big snow storm which brought down trees and power lines everywhere.... along with generally creating havoc within our county.    Exhibiting a sweet sense of hospitality, our "Dirtbikes and Dollies" kids hosted them for several days, and also hosted our family Thanksgiving..... they were the only ones with power.  Their story of this time is here

    During this time, a dear friend took some wonderful pictures of the baby.  Thank you Jodi for the great pictures.  She also did a mini-session with my other sweet grandbabies.  What a sweet blessing. 

    I almost feel like I can begin some routines again.  Our days are beginning to settle down as the snow slowly melts.  Yesterday I was able to drive into town in my car.  The internet and power are back on.

    I confess, I miss my garden.  We were picking until the bitter end.  I am trying to learn how to make bear meat taste good.  (another story for another day).  I realized anew that clutter is not helpful, we can live with less, you can make wonderful meals on a wood stove, sourdough is amazing stuff when you have no power.  (crackers, bread, pancakes, muffins).

    Today, I am just trying to remember how to organize my thoughts.  Thanks for being such a big part of our life.

    Best of health to you

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Boiling Quail Eggs

    I mentioned in previous posts that my sister's quail are producing about 20 eggs a day.  We are experimenting every possible way to eat quail eggs... here is our favorite so far - hard boiled.

    Step 1 :  Place your eggs in cold water with a couple of tablespoons of vinegar (to help dissolve the shells) and a pinch of sea salt.
     2.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer gently for 4-5 minutes.  Stir gently to keep the yolks in the middle of the egg.
     3.  Add cold water and then soak for a few minutes to cool.  After they are cool, roll on the counter to break the shells apart - they peel easily.
    4.  Serving suggestion.... a little salt and pepper, some fresh apple, a few sourdough crackers and some fresh cheese curds.  So good.
     5.  The perfect snack for a anyone....including the upcoming grandbaby!

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    A good helper

    The lifestyle we are choosing to live requires community effort.  It is difficult to manage everything yourself.  Everyone from the youngest to the oldest gets into the act. 

    One of the things that we have been making is yogurt.  I didn't get pictures, but the process we have been using is:

    1. Heat your milk (gently) to 180 (I know - it is not raw anymore)
    2. Cool the milk to 120
    3. Add your starter
    4. Put it into some device to keep it about 110 for about 8 hours.  I have been using my dehydrator.  I have a box one and my glass pyrex baking pans slide right in.  I can do about 2 gallons at a time.
    5. We like a custard type of yogurt, so I pour the whey out using a big colander and a dishtowel with a catch pan underneath.  I drain for about 10 minutes, then move the yogurt to a bowl and whisk it with a wire whisk.
    6. Add fruit (I cook mine and sweeten with honey), a bit of salt, some vanilla and YUM!  It will set up a bit more as it chills.
    7. Bottle it up for lunchboxes.  We found 4 oz. glass jars that work great.
    Tonight my helper worked with me sampling, bottling up, lidding up, washing and finding room in the fridge for all the yogurt.  We made fresh peach/honey and some white chocolate/raspberry/honey.  Tomorrow it will be divided up and delivered to the four households that we garden with.
    Everyone plays a part.  It is a good way to live. 

    Be blessed

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Quail Adventures

    My sister loves the quail.  Her hubby, a guy who enjoys building stuff out of nothing, built her what we are fondly calling the "Quail Condo".  It is amazing, organized and downright cute.  He even painted it - and the brooder box - a beautiful red.  This is downright awe inspiring.  He devised a self watering system where fresh water is continually coming into the cages using a recirculation pump, a five gallon bucket, a bunch of pipe and some...... stuff.  Above is a cool picture of my sister, SHOWING OFF her quail condo :)  I think I would show it off too!
     The Bucket.....

    The Brains.....

     ......and the system!

    The upside to this is that her VERY YOUNG quail are good for meat and are laying about 20 eggs every day.  Tomorrow's adventure.......


     Be healthy and well

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Fall is here

    It has been a great summer.  We planted a garden, swam almost every day, made new friends, learned a lot, began using raw milk, preserved lots of stuff and generally stayed busy and happy all summer.  We learned how to butcher chickens and made gallons of cultured salsa. Most days began early and ended late.  It has been good.
    Fall has officially started around here, even though the weather is wonderful.  The pool has been allowed to go green and the garden has sections being finished up.  The chicks which hatched on the first day of spring have begun laying (it is about time!).  We took a vacation to the Oregon coast and went crabbing.
    School and soccer began and the kids are being brought back into routines (it is not easy).  We were blessed by a coffee can of rendered bear fat.  I am going to make pie dough with it.  I'll let you know how it goes.

    Today we had a discussion on cultured foods.  I am re-energized on sauerkraut, ginger ale, kombucha and sourdough bread.  My sister found a great web site that she loves and she is trying out tons of new recipes.  I hope you enjoy it as well.

     This stands for "God's Natural Organ Whole Foods Grown Locally In Season"

    We are all about that :)


    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    The return of the Peasant

    My favorite definition of peasant:  son of the soil
    On a recent news program there was a discussion of China and India - in these countries peasants are rapidly moving away from their subsistence type of lives into an industrial or middle class lifestyle.  Oddly, the discussion revolved on the certainty of a massive increase in diabetes, cancer, obesity and which pharmaceutical company was best positioned to take advantage of  this well known phenomena.

    I almost puked.

    .........instead, I contemplated how my sister and I - well trained in legal secretarial, sales, education and medical careers (neither of was content with just one career :( - have instead incorporated large portions of being a peasant into our lives.  We are going backwards and are happier and healthier than ever.  I guess the pharmaceutical companies will have to go elsewhere to make their next million.

    My son in law says we are peasants who can read.

    Really, what has been happening around here is a heart change.  We want to produce more than we consume, make the most of the resource we have, be content with what we can produce, be willing to accept that an idea might not work out like it did on paper, and be grateful for what is here at hand.

    This effort includes learning to like new foods (quail, our own chickens, wild game, rendered fat from odd animals).   Also, it involves spending time and energy acquiring "live foods" that you do not produce yourself...... then turning it into something else (raw milk, bear fat, grass fed beef)  It is harder than it looks to not run to the store for what you want.  Instead, head out to the garden and use what you have.
    A garden like this is high maintenance.  Tying up tomato and cucumber plants, watering, weeding, trying to find a pathway through the overgrown melon patch (my sister in the picture above continues to try to make a path) is a daily struggle, but it is a good struggle.  When you pop something into your mouth that you have raised - organically, with care, and realize that you cannot buy that kind of flavor, all you can do is enjoy.  The enzymes feed your body, the work feeds your soul.
     All in all, it is time consuming, but good.

    We are now peasants..... that can read.


    Friday, July 30, 2010

    The Quail Experiment Continues......

    Yum!  Quail on the grill, cucumbers and roasted squash from the garden.

    The first batch of quail didn't hatch very well:(

     But we had enough to learn a few things.  They start out very small.

    They can "fly" pretty young.

    This is where we learned to "process" them for the grill.

    Right now we have 65 Cortunix chicks in the new Brooder Box. 

    We have 140 Texas A and M eggs ready to go into the incubator. 

    Our first Cortunix should start to lay eggs soon, and we can hatch our own as soon as the males learn what they are supposed to do once they get ahold of the females.

    All in all, a success.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    Homemade Play Dough

    Playdough Recipe

    2 cups flour
    1 cup cornstarch
    1-1/2 cups salt
    2 Tablespoons cream of tarter
    3 Tbsp oil
    Food Coloring
    3 cups water 
    (colored ahead of time with the food coloring)

    1.  Mix all ingredients into a large pot.  Be sure to add the food coloring to the cold water before adding to the other ingredients.  This will give you a better color. (We used approximately 20 drops - the water should be quite dark.)

    2.  Cook on medium/low heat stirring constantly until it begins to form into a dough.

    3.  Turn out onto a cutting board or other surface and knead for 1-2 minutes until it is the right consistency.

    4.  After it has cooled, store in an airtight container.  It should stay good for 3 months in an airtight container (does anyone believe this?)

    5.  Have a lot of inexpensive fun!  Even though these are somewhat edible ingredients..... don't let anyone eat it.  There are edible playdough recipes available....... if you want to teach your children and grandchildren how to eat playdough... I wouldn't think it is a good idea, but that is your call!


    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Meanwhile....back at the ranch....

    we have been busy, happy, working, loving where the Lord has placed our footsteps.  Obadiah is next to our mongo amaranth plant.  They are usually about 4' tall.  Good compost makes all the difference.

    Note to self:  If you plan to use Diestel's compost, make wider rows.  This is our melon patch.  We are a little unsure how we are going to harvest it..... Joey is trying to come up with some strategies.  It is as thick as it looks and there are hundreds of melons set.

    The tomato and cucumber patches need tied almost every day.  The cucumbers are coming in strong and the tomatoes are just beginning to come in.  Again... next year wider rows.

    The guys made us a mama hen house that can hold four chicken families in separate areas.  We have 18 healthy, strong chicks from the ever turning incubator - 9 copper morans and 9 leghorns.  They should begin laying around Christmas time - Chocolate brown eggs for the copper morans and white for the leghorns.  The two mama hens are doing really well.  We have room and mamas for the next batch getting ready to come out of the incubator.

    Everyone eats squash..... EVERY DAY.  Enough said.
    The corn and pumpkins are thriving......
    The Lord has blessed the work of our hands.

    Be healthy and well

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Life in the Summer

    Hello my long lost blogging friends.  Since we last talked it has been insane busy around here with gardening, chickens and chickens and chickens and some ducks and

    SWIMMING!!!!!  Yeah for swimming.  Otherwise, all I would be doing is weeding, watering and tying the endless rows of tomatoes :)

    ........ except that maybe it got a little too busy - I seem to have lost my voice.  This is an old, old, OLD injury from my babyhood through my whole life - but I have been free from this problem for quite a while.  I have actually had to take a week off - not for something fun, but just to sleep and NOT TALK!  Anyone that knows me understands my dilemma.  I am also trying every remedy I have ever tried, heard of, or persuaded anyone else to do.  I appear to have maxed out on a few remedies - today I am trying something else.

    DETOX might be hitting next :)  but my voice is coming back.  It is not gone for months, but weeks.  This is good.

    While I was doing nothing but sleep, our oldest son was teaching his son to wakesurf.  I totally missed it, but thanks to friend Melissa, I saw some pictures.  His folks said I could share them.


    First, you have to gear up.....
    Wait a minute, just what are you geared up for???

    Next you need to learn how to fall off the board.... 1-2-3-Jump

    Dad is there waiting.
    .....and he's UP!

    Yep.... I'm totally cool  :)