Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sourdough Pumpkin Muffins

Surfing the web for new ways to use sourdough, I came upon this blog and recipe for Pumpkin Nut Sourdough Muffins.  You will note that I titled my muffins a bit differently.
Yes, I changed the recipe a touch and hence the change in title. Really, I didn't alter it too much. I just thought with a little tweak, this recipe could fit my goal for lowering phytic acids in my whole grains. 

My sourdough was bubbly and ready to go. Below is the recipe from the site.
Pumpkin Nut Sourdough Muffin

In one bowl, thoroughly combine the following ingredients with a whisk:

1 c. active sourdough starter
2 c. pumpkin puree (This is about the small 15 oz. can)
1/4 c. applesauce
1/4 c. olive oil
3 eggs
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. brown sugar

In a separate bowl, whisk together:

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (you could use all whole wheat, but the cost is in texture and the
1 t. salt overpowering of any pumpkin flavor)
1 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 to 2 T. cinnamon

Add the dry ingredients to the moist ones and mix together until just combined.

Stir in 1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts.

Spoon into greased muffin tins, filling about 3/4 of the way full.
Allow to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the centers are done. Cool completely.
I had a little Khorasan wheat by Kamut left over from the whole wheat bread that didn't turn out the other day sitting in the refrigerator. I put 1 cup of sourdough, 1 1/4 cup of wheat flour, and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a bowl and covered it.

The next morning, I mixed the dry ingredients in one bowl minus the 1/4 cup more of whole wheat that the recipe called for. I didn't have anymore and didn't want to grind just 1/4 cup. If I needed more flour, I thought I'd use white.

In the sourdough, I added the eggs, applesauce, pumpkin, sugar and stirred.

Folding in the dry ingredients into the wet, I wondered if the mixture would be too moist so I tested by making a few muffins.

It worked. I didn't need the extra wheat flour after all. And so it is when you are working with fresh ingredients. You have to adjust for the visibilities. The pumpkin was froze and from the garden. I spent some time draining it because it was really soggy. The applesauce from a home canned jar in the basement was just right. But then I don't know what store applesauce it like and I'm rather partial to mine.

How are the muffins? Good. They aren't a real sweet muffin like I'm use to and the texture is a bit more chewy but they are healthy and tasty enough to add to my family sourdough recipe notebook. I would recommend the wait time to eat them. She's right.

Pop on over to her site and give the recipe a try. But don't forget to tell me what you think. Meanwhile, I'm headed out to deliver Girl Scout cookies.

Next week, I'll tell you how my next whole grain experiment goes. This sprouted Khorasan is in the dehydrator and I'm going to attempt to successfully adapt my already altered oatmeal cake recipe, making it healthier.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Where The Buffalo Roam

One of the things I love about where we live is all of the wild life.
 And even though these bison are on a ranch, don't mistake them for a domesticated animal. That would denote characterstistics that these animals have not evolved to.

The cow, bison, are really big as they will soon calve. They are easy to spot because they are de-horned, horns removed, though I see a few that still have theirs. They could of been purchased that way or somehow missed out on the hornicure day. No, there isn't such a word except in my vocabulary but it is colorful and I like it.
 Look at those big, big round bellies.
The horns are left on the bulls. When the bulls usefulness is done, they are processed for their meat, their beautiful leather, and their skulls and horns are dried and sold for decor. I would guess that their bones are processed for fertilizer. 
Each animal has a look of their own.
  And the prairie wind gives them even more humorous character. As I look at each of these cows, I have to wonder if Jon, the owner, has a little black book. My dad did when he managed a cattle and sheep ranch. The book was full of numbers. No, not phone numbers but the tag numbers of the cows, along with a brief history. What vaccinations they'd had, their age, their calves, etc. Call it genealogy if you will. 

What some fail to realize about these bison that we locals call buffalo, is that even though these bison are on a ranch and raised, they are a wild animals. Handling them is a whole different ballgame. The post in the bison corral has large round pipe cemented in the ground. The tall fences that line the highways, are a suggestion of containment. It's probably why the pastures are HUGE to help keep them happy. Happy animals stay in their containment.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sourdough and Planting

My sourdough breads, whole wheat and white flour were just too dry. I need to make some bread crumbs or dressing out of the bread.
 Remember the start, that hadn't been fed as often, well I've given up on it. It is really tart and it isn't getting any better with feeding, throwing part of it out, and cooking. I made rolls with it yesterday and baked them last night. Kirk took one bite and said to feed it to the chickens. I threw out the start today. I've wanted an excuse to just have one start anyway and I've got one now.

The other start, I made pancakes with and the next plan is for pumpkin muffins. I'm determined to learn to become skilled with sourdough. Yes, I've made English muffins, bread, biscuits, and pancakes some but I wouldn't say I'm skilled.

I hope it won't be as challenging as the hat band I'm doing for the knit along. I've ripped out one-fourth of the length, three times and smaller sections more times than I'd like to count.

Why is it that I'm such a sl...o...w learner? Good thing the Lord blessed me with extreme stubbornness. If it weren't so, I'd never learn anything.

I also have some Kamut wheat sprouting in the kitchen waiting to be dried and ground into flour. It is going in to an oatmeal cake. So... many projects, so.... little time.
I started some tomatoes and some peppers a little while back. Most have sprouted, all but the Washington Cherrys, my favorite cherry tomatoes. Oh how I love those cherry tomatoes. I'm not sure that you can call them a cherry tomato they are so... huge and yummy. I opened a newer package and started again last weekend when I added some lettuce and broccoli to new pots. But I spent most of my planting time separating sprouts and replanting them. 
My favorite tool to play in the dirt is a spoon, just like when I was a kid. It helps to spoon the dirt that is around the tender roots without touching the even more delicate stem. If the stem is bent, the plant most of the time dies.
I've run out of small, traditional containers, so I opened up some Dixie bathroom cups I'd bought for another occasion and never used. I poked holes with a pen in the bottom for water to drain out and air to circulate in. 
The plan is to sell the extra plants on our local town's Facebook page, just started recently. The page has turned out to be really handy. I'm hoping to sell a few chicks  on the page also. I've a few people already interested, so I'll try and put in as many eggs in the incubator as I can this weekend. I'm going to even try sexing the chicks when born. Wonder how hard that is?

 But until then, I've lots of transplanting to do and watering.

 Tomatoes and peppers aren't all I started. I put in broccoli, some spices to go along with the sage and oregano, that have sat in our living room window all winter along with some lettuce. 

Part of the onion seed, I took from an onion plant last year, I planted also. It is part of a three year experiment since you have to put onion bulbs back into the garden the second year and save seed. Then the third year you grow the seed. Onion seeds are only good for one year so I'm going to have to repeat this experiment this year with putting bulbs back into the ground once again.

I've never put lettuce transplants in the garden before and I don't know how it will work out but I'm going to give it a try. Yup, spring is in full swing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cable Hat Knit Along

Well, here we go, let's get started on that hat band. I've a feeling I'm going to need all the hats, scarves, mittens, and gloves I can get made. Look what the weather is fore casted to give us next winter. The worst winter in years and years. Likely something similar to the 1977-78 winter. I've some bad memories of that year. Some good ones too for that is the winter I met Kirk. So if you are anywhere near Wyoming, or anywhere else in the Northern USA, let's get knitting folks.

Since I want to add an overlapping flap on the cabled band, I cast on with waste yarn because I haven't decided what button I should make for this hat.

Just in case you don't know, waste yarn is nothing more than yarn you don't mind cutting away and putting in the garbage because that is what will happen to the blue yarn.

After a few rows of knitting, I ended by finishing on the knitting side so as to add the green color by purling with it and that puts me ready to start the Knit Pick pattern on the RS, or knit side. Confuse? Me too. When the band is done, then I will go back and take off the blue yarn, picking up the green on my double point needles and knit in the opposite direction as before, adding a button hole with the overlapping flap.

But if you wish, just follow the free pattern below and skip my add on's or add some of your own and let us know what creative direction you're headed in. This is a sharing project.
 Truthfully, before I began the band, I did do a bit of a swatch. Not the full 24 rows but just enough to know if my gauge equaled the 20 stitches per 4 inches the pattern called for with a size 7 needle. But there was a hitch. I used a 6 instead because I don't have size 7 needles.

I've been slowly buying Knit Pick double point needles and cables for the past two years in the smaller sizes and now I need larger sizes too. That's this years goal. The size 6 needles gave me too many stitches, the size 5 needles just right but when I knitted up a few inches of cable it looked too tight. Yup, I'm a good ripper. Back to the size 6 needles I went knowing it is better to be a little bit loose than tight while doing cables.

Until this year, I've made the same knitting patterns over and over with a tweak here and there to change them so the needle sizes didn't change much. It's how I sewed most of my kid's clothes too. Doing something new takes time, something I didn't have much of when our kids were small. I sewed much of their clothing, knitted hats and mittens or spun yarn from wool fleeces as I sat at the table helping the kids with their homeschooling books. Besides that, we raised a garden and livestock too.

 How did I do it all, I can't figure it out. But looking back, one thing I've come to realize is that when I sewed and knitted, most of the time I did the same basic thing over and over just adding a little extra something to make it different and new. 

This led out oldest daughter to think her mother actually knew a whole lot more about knitting than she does. She's since been enlightened and has taken up the task of teaching her ole mother a thing or two since she has far surpassed me in knowledge. Her goal this year is to teach me to read a pattern. So when I say I'm taking you along with me, I mean it literally. I'm not leading, we're walking side by side. You are probably a step, or even much more, ahead of me.

I'm cheating a bit though, because the upper hat part is nothing new but the band I've never done and I'm actually reading the pattern do do so stretching my abilities without becoming too uncomfortable. That's what life is about, growing. Of course I can't completely leave the pattern alone so thereby, I'm adding the flap and button.

If you are a beginning knitter or just want an attractive hat that is relaxing to make, join me. You might just get a good laugh or too. This is row 3 shown in the above picture.
 Best not done when you have so... much help. LOL The best picture of all is on Facebook, at The Calico Bush. Share your photos there and comments too on your favorite and worst places to knit.
 The second cable begins like this.
And then progresses to this.

Even if you aren't a knitter, check out The Calico Bush on Facebook for a smile or a laugh. I've some crazy ideas of places to try and knit and I love a challenge.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fun, on The Calico Bush on Facebook

This is going to be so.... much fun. I've Facebook account for The Calico Bush, my new business. This week, I'm starting a knit along with a link for a free hat pattern from Knit Picks.
Ring of Cables Hat Pattern

Ring of Cables Hat Pattern

by Kim Cameron
I've been wanting to make this pattern and what better way to do it than with my friends. It has to have a few changes though from the original. You know I was going to say that.  
The pattern calls for two skeins of worsted super wash Merino wool; 110 yards/50gram balls for cable A design.

 I want to make my hat from this hand wash, merino, alpaca, possum yarn BUT...
 I only have one skein of green and one skein of brown.

And because I'm not using just one color of yarn like the pattern, it will need to be stripes since there is only 114 yards in each skein. Not a lot to do pattern work with but I want a little interesting transition between colors. With just eight yards extra, if my knitting is the same tension as the original hat, then to make the stripes a little different and add on a overlap in the band I'm probably cutting it close to running out of yarn by the time I'm done.

Oh yeah, that's the other change I want to make. I want to have a small overlap in the band and add a button hole and hand-made button to class it up.

No, I haven't made the button yet. That is coming last, so I'm starting with waste yarn so I can make accommodations for whatever size button I decide to create at the end. It will be easier to know what would look best at this point, a button that accentuates or steals the show. Can't wait to find out.

To add another interesting twist to the knit along, I'm going to knit in some pretty interesting locations. Feel free to share photos of what yarn you choose to knit with, something fancy or something inexpensive and simple. It all depends on where you want to wear your new hat and what suites your fancy. As for me, it's this yarn that was a gift and has been calling my name rather loudly, "Use me, use me!" I'm itching to see what possum feels like. Oh how I hope it doesn't do that.  LOL

Feel free to follow the pattern or ride along with me as I make changes. Show me where you knit, even if it isn't this particular hat that you are working on.

Let's have some fun. Join me Monday afternoon on Facebook at The Calico Bush for all the action.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Re-activating Sourdough

No, this is not sourdough, I'll get to that but first I want to show you this dried pumpkin. Some of you may recall that I dried zucchini, tomatoes, spinach, beets, and carrots to put into noodles, soups, and maybe even tortillas but I've not gotten around to making the tortillas. Now, I've added pumpkin. Exactly what I'll do with it, I'm not sure but this busy brain will think of something. 

To make the powder I first baked one of the last pumpkins from last falls crop, dried the pulp, put that into the blender and then sifted the larger rock hard pieces out. Using such a pumpkin meant it had lost a great deal of moisture over past months and I knew I would have a lower yield of usable product.  Have you any suggestions for it's use. I've lots and lots of frozen pulp in the freezer and I can always dry more.
I have two sourdough starts in the refrigerator but years ago I grew mixed up which was which. One is a start from a miner dating back over a 120 years ago. The other is over 10 years old and came from California, started from some grapes.

Originally they had a subtle difference in flavor but I can't remember what that was. You see my starters have a tendency to sit in the refrigerator for months before I drag them out and liven them up. Too many things to do and to many irons in the fire keep me from being concentrating on any one thing. So with a renewed urge to make whole grain breads I pulled out both starts and fed them a little water, a little unbleached four, and a little sugar. Measurements - what are those, I just dump in a little this and that until it looks good.

This start sat longer in the refrigerator and had a very strong, sour smell. To tame down the bite, I fed it and then the next day I dumped the majority of the start out. Then I added more flour and water. By doing this several days in a row, the starts sourness was diminished. After the first day, I didn't add sugar just flour and water. The adding of sugar gives the start a boost with a quick fuel for the natural yeast in the start.  

The second start, more milder, I didn't throw any start away, just added flour and water.
On the third day, it at first didn't appear to be as active but when stirred wow. When your start looks like this, it is ready to use.
To make bread, I added a drizzle of oil, 2 eggs, a small handful of sugar, a little sugar, and a tiny pinch of yeast.  Then I added flour.
The tarter start I made white bread.
The milder start, I ground some Kamut, thinking it was perfect for sourdough since the elastic strands are more delicate and can't tolerate as much kneading as a modern wheat. I also added some wheat gluten.
Sourdough breaks down the phytic acids in the wheat opening up the nutrition for digesting. To know if your bread has risen enough, poke two fingers into the dough.
If the dough has doubled in size, the indents will remain. If not, the holes will soon go away.
I'll let you know how they turned out next week. For now I'm ready for bed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Need a Laugh?

 Yesterday, was a sad ending to a difficult day where my thyrroid had crashed leaving me battling to keep up with our youngest grand daughter who was spending the day while her mom was at the doctors and a delivery of a dead kid.

After our extremely busy grand daughter left, I layed down a while and then a neighbor dropped by and said he'd just delivered a dead kid and had to leave for work and the doe wasn't done kidding. I agreed to go and take over. I grabbed my birthing bag full of towels, iodine, and a nursing bottle, and headed out thinking the doe would have had time to put the next kid in position by the time I arrived. The poor doe was licking her first born, despite the lack of life in the still form. There was no signs of labor and no feet peeking out from the doe's back end.

 I decided I'd best check inside. Confusion met my hand. Was it the hind end made pointed and sharp because of hind legs extended toward it's front legs or was this the head with the front legs bent and tucked under it? As small as the kid was, it wouldn't matter which way I pulled it, breach or correct as it should slipped out without much trouble so I went for the legs to straighten them.

 It ended up being the kid had it's head in position and front legs tucked and bent back. My heart sank as I pulled  the brown form and saw its tongue hanging out. There was that feeling that speaks to you and whispers that death has captured this soul. It felt as if like had been gone for a while but not wanting to give up hope just yet, I did a few chest compressions and blew into it's lungs. Oh how I wished I could of given my neighbor good news but raising livestock isn't always full of smiles.
 I woke up this morning with a heavy feeling and needed a lift. After my visit with my doctor, I anxiously headed to therapy. Animals have such a wonderful ability to create peace and healing. 

I needed to spend time to gentle down the yaks and the younger goats. After sitting on the ground next to the feeder, just outside the fence so as to give the yaks an added security measure, I reached through the fence as they stretched down toward the grain. Gracie ate out of my hand and Jasmine allowed me to stroke her nose, yeah, progress.

Next, it was off to the mare's pen, she got a good grooming, which she loved. Then it was off to give a little relief to Chicory. She is milking up a storm and I milk her out a little morning and night when needed. I think I'll start taking a small amount home. The kids are nursing well and don't need it so Chicory has been drinking the extra to help with her calcium issue. I milk into a bucket and then feed it back to her. She can't wait to get to it. Nothing but manners can stop her as I'm milking her squatted on the ground in the middle of the pen, no restraints. She's anxiously to get to the yummy part and curls around as I milk, trying to reach the bucket. She can't quite reach unless she tips the bucket. So with a sly shine in my eyes, I tried squirting a stream into her mouth. She drank it just like a cat crouched near a milking stand.
Meanwhile, Bella kept trying to climb up my back, vying for attention. Who couldn't help but laugh. I couldn't.

 Then I sat and watched our dear Rosie, queen of the feed pan.

Who can not smile when watching this Energizer Bunny.
 She is so... full of it.
 How can you not smile looking at this little cutie.

Need a smile?  Come visit.

Check back tomorrow, I've got two sourdough breads brewing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Howling Winds

 One look at the neighbor's flag yesterday and I knew it wasn't going to be a clean the chicken coop day.
 Nope, the Wyadotte rooster we put in the hen house Sunday just about got his feathers blown off. So chicken coop cleaning will be reserved for another day. I don't relish being slapped with chicken manure in the face as I'm shoveling it into the pickup even if the garden is waiting for it.
I know it is a bit early according to our usual spring schedule but the Canadian geese have been coming north in droves for a good month now. I heard a Meadow Lark sing a few days ago and the Horned Larks are back too. Early, yes, but it must mean spring is right around the corner for surely the birds wouldn't lie and that must mean I need to up my schedule for hatching chicks and starting plants for the garden.

 And if the birds weren't enough indication, Sherman (the rooster)  {note how he is sidled up to Bella (kid goat)} has now all but abandoned the goats for our one black hen that runs loose. He also challenges the roosters through the wire of their coop, something he didn't do before. Yup, the rooster that didn't pay any attention to the neighbor's hen, Goldy, when she made advances is now all a flutter with hormones, so it's got to be time to put in a rooster in the hen house.

We house our roosters separately from our hens because they pester them unmercifully and they pull out feathers which the hens need with our cold winters. We kept three roosters this year to give eachh other company and warmth for the cold winter we didn't get this year and I'm grateful for.The extra two roosters will end up being chicken noodle soup soon and as for the one in the coop, he'll eventually go to the same fate. The older the rooster, the less sperm. One year old hens and one year old roosters being the most fertile.

In a couple weeks, I'll start putting eggs in the incubator to hatch. Just one batch this year if all goes well. The grand kids will be thrilled. It is one of their favorite things, watching chicks peck their way out of the shell. Got to love Grandma's house. LOL
 And while I'm speaking of critters. Chicory gives a big thank you to all those willing her a speedy recovery. She is feeling much better and is back to standing upright, though still a bit tender on her feet. The total of medications ended up being two anti-biotic shots and three doses of calcium drench given 12 hours apart. She must not of suffered too much because she is milking up a storm. I credit that to her being in excellent condition before this occured.
And what were her kids doing while the wind was howling, not playing on the upturned rubber watering pale, nope, hiding out in the goat shed. Big ole ears like these take flight in such howling winds and who knows who they might take with them. LOL
What are the bees doing in all the warm weather? They are doing spring cleaning. This is the time they remove all the bee poop, dead bees, and the like from their hives. I've given them a little sugar water as a refreshing snack. But yesterday they stayed tucked inside as the wind would blow them into the next county, so instead they just tipped toed to the entrance to grab a quick sip.  

Is spring early where you are, or for those of you down under, is fall early this year?