Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Projects in the Works

Oh, how the calendar is full and I'm craving some sleep. Sleep, that isn't interrupted by menopause that awakes me at 3 or 4 in the morning wide awake, yet exhausted. Sleep, that isn't filled with the pitter patter of little feet drumming into my back and sides. If our youngest grandchild were a pancake, she'd never get done for all the flipping sides she does. Let me rephrase that for she does sleep soundly at times but only if she's on top of me weighing down upon my chest. And oh how she moans in her sleep. By the later part of the week, my prayers are filled with pleas for just one nights un-interruption slumber where I can awake not aching all over and dark bags under my eyes that don't make me look like something the cat drug in. Though actually since I have Addison's disease, my eyes don't go puffy, they look like they'll disappear into a large sink hole instead.

Lest you think our youngest never sleeps by herself, she does. Just not for two to three nights after having spent the weekend with her father or for that matter a night with her mother. That blissful night or two where she occupies her OWN bed, right before she's gone again is heaven, that is if one of the other girls doesn't come creeping in to crowd me nearly out of my bed and elbow or jar me with a knee. Sometimes like last night, we share the luck as grandpa and I had bed partners.
Nothing like doing without to make something more dear and precious. So the reason you haven't heard from me for a few days isn't because I'm not doing anything. It's because exhaustion has left me working on automatic mode, barely getting things done. That doesn't mean that I haven't done anything new. It's what keeps me sane. I just haven't had the energy to write about it. But lest you think I'd forgotten you, I thought I'd best make contact today.
I made a new kind of sourdough bread yesterday. One that uses yeast also. I've come to the conclusion if I want to get to the point where I'm making all my own bread again, I need some recipes that are quick and some that raise over night. Sourdough bread recipes are especially appealing after I read they are isolating the bacteria that makes sourdough and have found it has cancer fighting properties. Second, on my priority is low yeast breads. They are better for you and during the depression, even yeast was hard to afford. Yes, more challenging times are sure to come for this nation and I'm taking lessons from The Great Depression Era.

All the rage are the mix up a big batch of dough and leave it in the refrigerator pinching off a bit now and then to use, but it won't do for me. My refrigerator is full of jars of milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, etc. Not to mention the two jars of sourdough culture and food. That's not counting the normal things in a refrigerator like lettuce, tomatoes, oranges, apples etc. And I haven't even begun to start making my own mayonnaise yet. One project I'm sure to do sometime soon.
And while I'm talking about starting things, I've all the research done and the materials to do my own baking powder. I know lots of you are doing it. Let me know what you think. Does it matter whether you mix up double action or single action? And do you like it as well as the store kind?

This weekend, I plan on doing thermophilic and mesophillic cultures. I've been lazy before and I've used the instant kind for cheeses but it's long past time I moved on from there. My next dairy experiment will be cream cheese and a mesophillic culture is needed. I did learn that you can use the left over milk substance after making butter to create buttermilk and I might try it but I'm so thrilled with my present results, it isn't likely.
Today, I'm culturing some more sour cream from the batch I made a while ago and I've done buttermilk three times now from the original start. Oh how I've grown to love my buttermilk. My next move is to get out the ice cube trays again. Instead of the Alfredo sauce they once held, I'm going to freeze starts of sour cream, buttermilk, and after this weekend, mesophylic and thermophilic cultures. Yep, milk products is my main focus this year and how better to utilize my goat's milk,not just feed the cats, chickens, pigs, and calves with the excess though the garden has seen its share lately. Ever since I learned milk is a wonderful fertilizer that boosts calcium levels and causes a population explosion of the micro-organisms in the soil, I've often put my separated milk into the garden. I've come to think one just can't live without a dairy goat, especially one as sweet as Chicory. And if I'm going to have a milk separator, I need to utilize it to the fullest. They aren't a cheap piece of equipment.
I do need to use more of my butter for baking and everyday use. So many goals, so little sleep to energize my body to get them done.
Last night I moved forward on one of my experiments. I was going to have corn bread with the ham and beans but I ran out of steam, energy wise, and we had the new kind of sourdough bread instead. I found it interesting that I was heating corn to go with hamburgers for the kids (small children aren't fond of soup)
and just before that I had taken the same kind of corn, sweet corn, and ground it into flour.
I know if you have a stone grinder that you are suppose to grind a little corn and wheat to clean the stone but my old grinder of thirty years is a Magic Mill and I've ground popcorn but never sweet corn or field corn. Yes, I did say popcorn. I knew a lady that used it in breads. You might be able to use it in cornmeal. I don't know why not. As for the question about how did I dry my corn to keep it from molding. Well, I just shucked mine after it had gone fairly dry on the stalks. Then I laid it on newspaper in the basement. The instructions I read said to pull the husks back and hang it in a dry place. I didn't have a place to hang it. As for mold. Most of the time there isn't much of a problem. All of Wyoming is dry most of the year. Our humidity yesterday was 14%. Oh we do get some humidity now and then but nothing like those of you down south. That makes me a poor resource to ask how to dry corn. Right now I'm wishing for some moisture as I'm having to water trees and raspberries etc. because it has been so long since we've had moisture.

So in conclusion. Tonight, if the beef doesn't get out like he did last night while the bread was baking and the kids were in the tub and I can find an ounce or two of energy, corn bread will accompany our pork chops for supper tonight. Then I'll report back to you on how well it turned out. Meanwhile, I'll try and sneak in a minute or two to finish the mittens for our youngest grand daughter. The ones I put two thumb holes in last weekend. Yep, I was real tired then too as our oldest daughter and I worked on updating her resume.

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