Perfection After a Gazzilion Failures

Hand-milled fresh wheat flour is very different from the flour we buy in our grocery stores, even if it is organic and whole wheat. I will go into the differences when I post my recipes. I spent hours hand grinding grain just to have my freshly milled grain products turn into hockey pucks or a gooey lump. Why not buy an electric grinder? I didn’t want to spend $400 to $800 dollars for an electric grinder. What if the electricity goes out? Plus I am frugal, that’s a lot of money. Bonus, hand-milling is an upper body workout, no need to go to the gym if you grind your own grain! You will burn off all the calories you take in from the bread you are going to eat.

Today I made perfect bread and buckwheat lemon bars for Thanksgiving.

I will share the recipes after Thanksgiving. I’m still cooking as I write this. I needed to show off two years of practice! I saw an article online about lining bread pans with parchment paper. Hand ground wheat products are fragile and delicate. I crumbled so many loaves of fresh bread trying to break them out of the pan. Now all I have to do is lift them out of the bread-pan, no extra lubricant!

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Fall Cooking Adventures

Every evening I steam a bunch of squash for part of our chickens food called mash, which I make the next morning. I mash-up the steamed squash and add dinner leftovers plus grain. I set the grain in water for two hours, rinse and let sit overnight. This starts the process of sprouting and is easier for our chickens to digest. The chickens also free-range for their greens and protein, grass and bugs are their favorite food. I’ve never had a healthier bunch of chickens. Much of the food my chickens eat is free from our garden and lawn. I buy bulk grain from our local organic farmers and share it with my chickens, buying bulk saves a lot of money. When it starts snowing I will also share our garden greens. Chickens need greens as much as humans do. We also use squash and pumpkin pulp for stews, soups, noodles, bread, cookies, and biscuits.

I read that squash and pumpkins are a super food because of the orange color, fiber, micro nutrients and minerals. I think this is why our chickens are so healthy for the last 3 years. My first year, out of the 4 years I have raised chickens, I lost many chickens to the flu. I did some research and found their food sources have become polluted just like humans with herbicides and pesticides that kill gut bacteria. Gut bacteria, yeast, fungus help break down the food we eat, this is the same for any animal including my chickens. Their immune system is in their gut just like humans. I haven’t lost a chicken to illness since I started feeding them organic and from my garden.

Once a week my Husband and I take turns grinding grain for bread, biscuits, and cookies. He will grind grain without complaining for cookies. I think it’s an excellent trade! I am still figuring out the proper ratio of yeast and other ingredients that will make a great yeasty bread. I found adding fruit pulp, vinegar, yogurt really help the yeast thrive and helps the flour soften and stretch when kneading. Making bread from fresh hand milled flour is different from store-bought flour. I think the difference has to do with the extreme processing factory flour goes through. All the nutrients are stripped out through chemical processing and the grain is ground very finely, so fine that the flour will turn into cement like goo in our digestive system if we can’t digest it. Also fresh ground grain will go rancid within a few hours if left at room temperature. If I have any wheat flour left over I pop it in a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer. I also make flour from buckwheat. It is much easier to grind and sift, plus the flour does not go rancid like wheat. Although the buckwheat flour will mold if it has any moisture. I usually place buckwheat flour in a jar or bag and store it in the fridge if I don’t use it right away. It also makes a great thickener for sauces, stews, and soups.

Still working on perfecting a pizza. My husband loved this one made with sausage, peppers, tomato paste, garlic, onions, mozzarella and cheddar cheese. I strained out all the liquid from some steamed canned tomatoes and made a lovely tomato paste. Our Garden tomatoes came in a variety of colors. The paste and sauces aren’t bright red like store-bought tomato products. After I add all the spices the end product taste better than the factory processed item.

Thank You Nature

Nature has blessed us with a lovely garden, wonderful chickens, and warm, misty, rainy, mushrooming weather. Found some more yummy wild mushrooms to add to our chicken soup. Our winter garden is coming along fine. The slugs love this weather as well! We go through the garden and squish them. With nice neat rows it is pretty easy to spot the little buggers.

Fall & Back In The Garden

Working on the garden today as I did yesterday as well. Winter garden is almost finished. I still have to set the poles for row covers. I made really yummy chocolate lemon bars yesterday. My own recipe which I have produced consistent results 3 times. I post the recipe this week.

Pumpkin and Pepper Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 Tsp of salt or salt to your taste. I like salt, it makes everything taste better.
  • 1 medium sweet white or yellow onion diced
  • 3 large cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 Jalapeño peppers
  • 2 Tsp. of curry powder
  • 1/2 Tsp of ground ground cumin
  • 1/4 Tsp of cinnamon
  • 6 cups of baked pumpkin, one medium pumpkin should be enough
  • 1 quart of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of greek yogurt (the thick stuff)
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 1/2 cup of sugar

Cut in half and seed pumpkin removing all the seeds and stringy meat. You can cut the halves in quarters if you want. Add some water to the baking pan and place pumpkin skin side up. Place peppers around the pumpkin if you want. I like my peppers roasted to a dark brown color. Roast pumpkin until soft at 350 degrees. I think that takes less than an hour. You can use a fork to poke through the pumpkin skin to see how soft it is.

Tasks

1 Melt coconut oil, add diced onions, salt, and spices. Watch the onions turn translucent. Scope out the baked pumpkin meat and set aside.

2 Have your blender ready and add pumpkin in batches with baked peppers, onions, and spices. Blend until smooth with your chicken broth.

3 The last batch of pumpkin add your yogurt, sugar, garlic, and molasses, blend until smooth and transfer to a soup pot

4 Cook on medium low until the soup is at the temperature you like, don’t boil or you will curdle the yogurt. Plate up with your favorite kind of tortilla.

If you wanna be fancy you can add a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle more more peppers or pumpkin seeds.

My husband said please remember this recipe. He said he could eat this soup once a week. The tortillas are made with our hand milled red wheat, stuffed with cheddar cheese and pickled sweet peppers, topped with Salsa Verde made from our own tomatillos! I’m so happy I could grow most of this meal in my backyard. The wheat was bought from one of our areas local organic farmers. I wash the grain and dry it before hand milling. I find if I don’t wash organic grains I still have an allergic reaction that mimics gluten intolerance symptoms. I am guessing something is sprayed on the grain to dry it out and inhibit fungus and mold.  I have no allergic reaction to wheat when I make my own organic wheat products.

It’s Pepper Canning Time!

I’ve never grown peppers. Back in 2013 I saved a lot of seeds from the peppers I bought from our local organic grocery store. Sprouted the seeds this last spring, planted the sprouts and prayed over them all summer long and this is what I got! Lots and lots of sweet, hot, spicy, yummy peppers. So far I’ve made salsas. With this last batch I am going to make pepper jelly and pickled peppers. Let’s get our canning on!

The Last Of Our Tomatoes

Rain is coming and  bringing  the cold weather with it here in the foothills of the Oregon Cascades near Eugene. I can feel it in my bones.  We, that is my husband and I, picked all our tomatoes, red, green, and in-between! After we picked our tomatoes we pulled half the bushes leaving the other half for the flea beetles. If I pulled everything the flea beetles would move into my green leafy veggies like collards and kale. I pull the rest of my tomato plants after the first frost. Next year I am growing a small garden at the other end of our property just for the flea beetles. They love radishes. If they have radishes to eat they leave everything else in my garden alone!

My husband doesn’t get involved in the canning process but he is a big help with the garden. He is doing pretty good being a city boy and all. He has learned a lot about gardening and caring for chickens these last four years. I bet next year I’ll get him in the kitchen as my prep-boy. He is so cute, I will have a hard time staying on task!  We have also grown closer working on our little garden projects together. Working as a quality engineer my husband has also helped refined some of my gardening and food preserving processes. I am very grateful for his help and his keen interests in all things healthy and organic. We both have become so healthy together, working out in our gardens and eating organic foods we look and feel like different people. We are so happy and man do we sleep good! Out like a light as soon as our heads hit our pillows.

As the tomatoes ripen I will be making tomato sauce and having ripe tomatoes to eat through the end of November. I check the green tomatoes every day for mold and fungus. Pulling the ones that are ripe for processing. If I keep the green tomatoes in a cool room they ripen very slowly. I wash them in vinegar to prohibit bacterial and fungus growth. I also will be drying the cherry tomatoes as they ripen. Dry Cherry Tomatoes make excellent toppings for pizza and ground to a powder a wonderful tasty addition to soups and stews. You can see my garlic braids hanging over the green tomatoes. We had a bumper crop of garlic, both braiding and hard neck varieties.

Some of Our Oregon Garden Harvest and Fall Is Here!

Hello everyone! Fall is here and my gardens are transitioning from late summer to fall. Today I am canning salsa. I will be pulling tomatoes for the compost pile and storing green tomatoes for ripening. I have a ton of pictures and recipes to share with you this fall. I also will be starting a separate page for my art. My family projects for winter and fall will include learning to read and play music on our piano and little Melody Lap harp, learning some Spanish, planting and tending our fall and winter garden, articulating a chicken skeleton, and of course painting! We have a huge reading list as well. This fall and winter will be filled with family, food, art, and laughter. So much fun can be found while working on things we love to do.

Last Years Backyard Garden Dent Corn

I made corn tortillas from scratch. I mean really from scratch! I grew the corn myself. Dried the cobs, pulled the kernels from the cob. Now that’s really from scratch. Growing corn to feed a family of two is just too much work. I need a bigger corn bed and someplace to dry the corn. From start to finish corn takes a lot of work. Potatoes are much easier to grow and store here in the Oregon Cascades.

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I found out through research you need to do several things before you start grinding the corn. One, you need to soak the corn in quicklime. If you don’t you will get a horrible tasting flour that makes really brittle nasty baked goods. I found out the hard way. Secondly, the quicklime process releases important life saving nutrients and vitamins. If the majority of your calories comes from corn and you don’t use quicklime or another alkaline substance for Nixtamalization you will suffer from Pellagra. It’s a horrible condition in which one’s body slowly falls apart and one’s mind goes crazy. This condition can be brought on through other types of poor nutrition, genetic problems, and drinking too much booze.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pellagra

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixtamalization

It’s Raining Out-What To Do?

It’s raining out. In fact it’s been raining off and on all weekend. I’m happy about that because I don’t have to water the garden. Also I cleaned out all my closets and storage room. Getting ready for canning season this August and September.

Now that the gardens need less work, all I have to do is water, weed, and clip stems on the hundreds of tomato plants I can now finish my paintings. I admit I went overboard on tomato plants but I didn’t plant near enough tomatoes last year for canning. My goal is to grow enough food to last my husband and I through the winter.

Juice is from 4 long thick stalks of our garden’s rhubarb and an organic mango. I juice by running the fruit and rhubarb through out blender till smooth and squeezing out the juice through cheese cloth. The color is beautiful the taste is smooth with the tart slightly bitter taste of rhubarb. I found out through experience Rhubarb curbs your appetite. Not only is rhubarb full of minerals and micro nutrients that help balance gut flora and fauna and run our electrical system there is something in this that cuts cravings. I’ve read Rhubarb ramps up your metabolism and will curb your appetite but I didn’t really believe the data. Nothing curbs my hunger cravings! I was proven wrong.

The painting I’m finishing is the story of Gotama Buddha helping a grieving woman who lost her child deal with her grief correctly. Look for “The Mustard Seed” story. You can look the story up online.

Gardening, Organic Food, Rest, and Weightloss

Gardening, Organic Food, Rest, and Weightloss

First of all I don’t weigh myself. How do I know I’ve gained or lost weight? How my clothes fit. We moved to our little hobby farm back in 2010 I couldn’t fit into these shorts. I gained even more weight the first year we were here because I became very sick. I have read since then when you start eating organic food, drinking clean water, breathing clean air, getting more sleep, dropping most stress you will go into detox. That’s what happened to me. Every old injury from my bad back, my stressed thyroid, gallbladder and pancreas decided to act up. I was in pain all winter and couldn’t move. My guess I gained about 30lbs and kept it on for the last 3 years. Through these last 3 years I continued to work in the garden, moving into my pain and through it as I did my chores. I didn’t lay around and feel sorry for myself.

This year my body decided it’s time to drop the weight and it’s flying off. All my pain in my back, right leg, feet are gone. They left after that first horrible winter, slowly fading with the summer of 2011. My thyroid, gallbladder, and pancreas are healthy and pain-free now. Although I am in my mid-50s so I am going through the change of life. Weight is harder to lose because of hormonal changes and loss of energy that comes with the change of life. Mental clarity comes and goes along with my energy. Hot-flashes aren’t too bad compared to the other stuff I’ve been through. I can happily say if this is what the change of life is all about, it’s not too bad!

If I stay away from sugar, highly processed foods, refined grain products, and alcohol I am migraine and headache free. Nothing worse than a gallbladder or pancreas headache or migraine. When the pancreas or gallbladder act up I get incredibly horrible back pain that takes my breath away. When the thyroid isn’t functioning correctly it can feel like pre-menopause symptoms. You gain weight, cognition is fuzzy, emotions are wacked out and you lose energy. You can also experience skin problems, hair loss and your immune system doesn’t function correctly. I had these symptoms, which are all gone!

I will post another picture the end of summer to see where my garden yoga and organic diet take this body. I don’t have any expectations with body shape, size or weight with this experiment. All I want is to be healthy, have lots of energy and mental clarity. I am letting my body decided what shape it wants instead of trying to force it into a shape that is pushed by the media advertising, entertainment industry, big pharma, and our corrupt medical system.

I Love Lemon Balm!

My first harvest of lemon balm I tie in bundles and hung in my dark, cool, drying room, which is also my laundry room. Perfect for drying my herbs. I hang the bundles from my drying rack. The smell of drying herbs chases negative vibes out of our house and lightens the spirit with it’s divine scent.

This bunch of herbs I will dry for tea and cooking spice. The next harvest will be this August and used to make lemon balm oil.

Produce Garden Done Onto The Herb Gardens!

Some pictures of finished garden projects and projects that have not been started. Most of the produce plants were started from seed indoors the end of April. Here in the foothills of the Cascades near Eugene Oregon nights stay very cool until the end of June. We can get a freeze up to the end of May. The poor herb gardens have been neglected, I usually jump into weeding early spring but I was in the middle of several paintings and didn’t have the time. It is a beautiful early June day here in the foothills of the Oregon Cascades. The gardens have kicked my ass, I am so tired. It’s a good kind of tired, happy-thrilled I have finished planting and I need a nap! All that needs to be done until harvest time is weeding, pruning, tying up, and watering. Lots of trellis and pruning work with the tomatoes.

Planted: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squash, tobacco, tomatillos, basil, bush beans, (still need to plant pole beans),peas, leeks, onions, carrots, a few cabbage, collard, kale, bok choi, and chard. I will be planting the turnips, beets, collards, kale, bok choi, broccoli, and other cold weather crops in late August as well. Usually winter gardens do well here except this last year when we hit minus zero weather for a couple weeks. Totally wiped out my winter garden.

Almost Finished With Planting Produce Gardens!

Almost done with planting produce. I will be planting the last of my lettuce today. Bean beds are done and ready for planting. Once I finish this I will start weeding my poor neglected herb gardens. I love this kind of work. I’ve lost about 15lbs of fat but gained about 10lbs of muscles in my shoulders, arms, back and stomach. What a workout!

Spring Pepper and Basil Beds

I love to journal through taking photographs from the beginning to the end of a project. I love to sit and figure out the steps of a project, plot all the details and get up and do it! It’s the most amazing feeling in the world to see things grow, to feel that symbiotic connection to the food I eat. The plants and animals I raise for food need me to protect and continue their species and in trade they feed me and continue my species. This world is one big symbiotic relationship, growing my food I can truly experience this relationship first hand. I will be taking pictures as the summer advances. It’s amazing how fast these little plants will grow!

As I’ve been working on my garden’s this spring I dream of salsa and basil pesto. This is why I toil away in the blazing sun, super tasty food! Industrial grown food has lost all its taste in trade for shelf life.

From my labor I can eat what I grow and I know it’s organic. I feel a great sense of accomplishment going through the process from seed, sprout, transplanting, weeding and watering, harvest and canning. Gardening is addicting but it’s a good addiction.

What is even better, the earth, animals, my chickens, friends, community, and family also get to share from my work. It’s my choice to work hard all day and there is no one telling me what to do, how to do it, or taking a part of my labor as a tax. For my work in my garden I am not paid in debt laden fiat currency that destroys everything by sucking the life out of it… This food is truly free, it brings healthy, happiness, and peace!

Rhubarb & Strawberry Smoothie

From our garden yummy strawberries and rhubarb stalks. I don’t like drinking all the fiber because all I have is a blender. My blender isn’t powerful enough and my smoothie is too chunky.  I blended both rhubarb and strawberries till smooth. I add a little water to the chopped Rhubarb stalks, around 1 cup of water to 3 cups of rhubarb. I strained both with a strong cheese cloth, squeezed out all the juice and added to a big gallon jar. I feed the pulp to my chickens, they love it! I added enough water to top the jar off. This is my favorite drink whilst I garden. I love it! Also Rhubarb and strawberries are super food for your immune system and digestive system. Rhubarb is also great at smoothing out PMS…I like it because it makes my old skin look new. It’s a great internal sunscreen because it makes your cells super healthy and strong.

Spring Gardens

I’ve been really busy with family and getting the gardens ready for my transplants. Sorry for not posting lately and I’ve slacked on my art projects. Everything is put aside whilst I prep gardens. I did all this work in my bare feet with a shovel, rake, and hoe. In my pictures you can see the 2ft edging around garden number one. I planted tomatoes in this space and will tie them to the fence. Why waste space? Last year I planted wild flowers, but you can’t eat wild flowers. All my gardens around the house are for herbs and food.

Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins, squash, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, celery, dill, tobacco, onions, garlic, chard, cabbage, kale, collards, basil, some herbs like savory and rosemary, plus a bunch of misc stuff I can’t remember right now.

My compost pile is full of weeds, it’s grown 3 feet tall! I should have taken a picture. I will when I finish weeding, it should be at least 5ft tall! I have 3 more gardens to weed before I am finished. My husband helped me weed the back garden bed for the pumpkins, squash, and cucumbers, but his chores are the lawn and tree care. I like digging, weeding, and planting and he helps when I ask. My husband is awesome because mostly he stays out of my way. Getting out in the sun and sweating, bending, pulling, squatting makes me feel like a new person. At first I feel awful and have to go to bed around 9:30pm because I’m exhausted and sore. Three days and I am up and running able to work all day with the shovel and hoe.

Backyard Potato Bed

I spent a couple hours a day these last 3 days working up our potato bed. I used just a shovel and a hoe and it’s a great workout. No gas spent driving or tilling, no gym fees and free organic food and washboard abs (just kidding) as an end product. I bought 70lbs of Fingerlings, Reds, Yukon Gold, and Russets from our organic grocery store last January. Bagged the spuds up in clean chicken feed bags and placed them in a cool dark closet until planting time. I usually put around 10lbs of potatoes per bag and check the bags once a month while in storage for any rotten potatoes. I didn’t get one rotten potato this year! I enlarged the potato bed this year and we should get around 300lbs of potatoes this year. I give a 1/4 of our harvest to our local community center. I did this bed all by myself and I am in average shape and in my mid-fifties.

Ready To Transplant!

All sorts of tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco, squash, and pumpkins ready to plant this coming week. It’s raining today and I think we’ve had our last frost this last week.  To be safe from frost I will be putting up plastic row covers over my new transplants. We could get a frost up till the end of May.  I’m so excited, this is my favorite time of year.

Most of my squash and pumpkins are long keepers that store well for chicken feed. I can some for pies and cookies at the end of October. My husband loathes fresh tomatoes but he will eat salsa, soups, and sauces made from tomatoes. He says fresh tomato texture is slimy, he gets the gag reflex and wants to puke.  Oh well, more fresh tomatoes for me and I give 1/4 of my harvest to our local community center. My potatoes are reds, Yukon gold, russet and fingerlings, all store very well and last through the winter until spring.

You know you can buy organic potatoes, story them in a bag in a cool room in the fall. By spring the next year your potatoes will have sprouted and you can plant them in bales of hay, a bucket, or small patch in your backyard. Growing your own spuds is super easy.  I usually grow around 300lbs of potatoes a year. One of the easiest crops to grow and process.

My peppers still haven’t gotten their true leaves, they need lots of time and warmth to get going. Sprouting peppers is always slow up here in the foothills of the Oregon Cascades. I also have cucumbers, melons, and bitter melons coming on, they just sprouted and I am in the process of transplanting sprouts into bigger pots.

It Is May!

I’ve been busy this month with the gardens and chicks. Getting my seedlings ready for transplanting. I have thousands of little seedlings growing like crazy. The garden’s are going to be bountiful this year. Here in Oregon the weather has been wonderful for working outside this month. It just started raining tonight after many days of warm dry weather. This has been a wonderful spring, it could be snowing now rather than 80 degree clear skies. It’s like that here in Oregon, some years cold and wet other years warm and dry. My Mustard Seed painting is sitting patiently waiting for me to get back in the painting groove and I need to say hello to my friends too.