It’s A Good Day to Bake Bread

Oh my! Living in the Midwest at this time of year is a one of a kind experience. One day, it’s hot, muggy, the humidity level is so high one can barely breathe, the next day is cool, crisp and fall-like, just inviting you to be outside savoring the fresh air and sunshine. Today, we’re blessed with rain. The storms moved in yesterday afternoon and drenched our parched earth, the crunchy grass with a blessed drink of liquid that it all so desperately needed. It’s still cloudy and cool outside, so being the farm wife that I am, it’s a good day to bake bread and finish canning the tomatoes and peaches.

I want to share with you a recipe that I’ve used for quite awhile.The original recipe came from http:www.restlesschpotle.com and I’ve used it for the last couple of years. About the only change I made from her recipe is that we leave the ginger out and added or tweaked a couple of the other ingredients to suit our personal taste. It’s wonderful, light, and has a delicious taste of honey and buttermilk. I’d advise using raw honey if you have it available. The stronger the honey flavor, the better the taste of the bread.

Honey Buttermilk Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast granules  (1 packet)
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups buttermilk heated gently to lukewarm
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup natural raw honey
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or margerine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • approximately 6 cups white bread flour. Plain (not self rising) flour may be used, but the end product is not as tasty and light, nor does it have quite the same texture.

Instructions

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water, then add sugar. Set aside until you see bubbles forming.
  2. After the first mixture bubbles, add buttermilk, honey, salt, and baking soda.
  3. To the liquid, add about three cups of flour and mix until smooth and elastic feeling. This can be done by hand or with the dough hook on an electric mixer.
  4. Add butter to this mixture, making sure that it is completely incorporated into the batter.
  5. If you are using an electric mixer, when dough pulls from the sides of the bowl remove the dough a floured surface and add enough flour to make a pliable mound of dough. Knead this dough until it is elastic and smooth.
  6. After kneading, place it into a greased bowl and allow it to rise until it is at least doubled in size. (About 60-90 minutes)
  7. Punch down, cut in half, and roll each half into a rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Then by hand, roll each rectangle, starting from the short end into a “log roll”. Pinch seal the long side. With your hands, gently mash the short sides down, tuck under the loaf and place in greased loaf pans. Allow loaves to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 400F. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top and hollow sounding when tapped with the fingertips.
  9. Remove loaves from oven
  10. Allow to cool in pans for 5-10 minutes. Brush tops of loaves with melted butter or margarine.
  11. Turn out onto wire racks and allow to cool completely before cutting or tearing bread.
  12. Enjoy!!

A Canning We Will Go…

Hi ho, to the garden we go…a canning we will go! If I only knew how to add musical notes to the post… Oh yes, and thankfully and giving thanks to the Lord, our garden has been a magical menagerie of clover, weeds, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, green beans, squashes of all sorts, cucumbers, potatoes…and a host of other wonderful vegetables this year. Now that the garden is producing full swing, we’ve pulled out both canners, the boiling water bath cookers, jars, you name it. My counter tops are a delightful mess of jars and completed canning projects.

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I just finished canning 14 quarts of pickle relish, these, and there are more than likely double this amount of tomatoes waiting in the refrigerator to be made into salsa and tomato sauce.

There’s nothing better than growing and preserving your own food. There’s no greater sense of accomplishment and pride than seeing a pantry full of your home canned food. I follow the USDA site and receive notices of recalls and notices from multiple food processing companies to pass along to 2 yahoo groups I own. We are so thankful that we’ve chosen our self sufficient lifestyle, raising our own meat, growing and canning our own vegetables and fruit. We support our local farmers, our friends who have roadside stands, local farmer’s markets. We know that their standards of farming equal ours and, quite honestly, when we purchase fresh, we purchase from them. I know that our garden is raised organically, no chemicals, no GMO products, nothing but a lot of hard work, fresh compost from our own farm, and big, juicy produce in return.

I won’t say that canning is easy. In fact, at times, it’s far from it as you pick fresh food from your garden, prepare and package it for the canner. Sometimes it’s tedious, sometimes one’s back and fingers ache from the preparation process. But, I can think of at least a half dozen or more positive notes to canning one’s own bounty. Think of the benefits.

Benefits you say? Absolutely!! We advocate “grow your own” and “DIY”. Why?

1. You know what is in that home canned food. You process food safely. Do mass merchandisers do this? Most likely not, considering the number of recalls that are posted weekly.

2. You know how it’s been handled and processed. No one’s hands have touched the contents of the food other than yours.

3. Lower your food bills. Have you noticed the rising cost of fresh food and meat in the grocery stores? It’s outrageously high and will only increase in price as time goes on. We’ve not purchased meat in almost a year. I was shocked at the sticker price of simple, cheap 70/30 ground beef at being close to $4.00/lb. When did that happen? 98 cents for a can of asparagus? I think not!!

4. It provides a cushion against store outages, short paychecks or no paychecks, Create your own stockpile for “in case of” and sleep better knowing that your family will be fed if times are rough.

5. You can be assured of the food quality and taste. Canned properly, home canned is much healthier, maintains it’s fresh taste and nutritional value.

6. For many, canning and preserving one’s own food is a necessity. In remote areas, access to grocery stores is not always an easy task and at times, not do-able at all.

7. A sense of pride. You grew it, you processed it, you eat it! 

8. Gifting and sharing. Nothing says love more, than sharing a jar of homemade jam and a loaf of fresh baked bread from your oven.

9. It provides you with a link to the past. Our grandmothers and mothers most likely preserved their excess. I can remember playing store in my grandmother’s root cellar, picking and choosing mentally, which food I was going to buy for that day. Granted, I didn’t know what everything was, but the colors were certainly pretty lined up on her shelves. My mother didn’t can, other than to make our winter batch or three of jams or jellies, but she stored food in the freezer. I have reverted to my grandmother’s lifestyle on her farm, and every time I open the pressure canner and remove those hot, boiling mason jars, I wonder if she’s smiling down from heaven at me. Somehow, I think she is.

   Grandma and Grandpa New, me and dad 1957 this is my dad and I, Grandma and Grandpa