Thursday, May 20, 2010

Is it Thursday already?

A drive-by post from the Greenhabilitator who is currently pulling her hair out, but promises to back in full force next week!

I'm in complete disbelief that we're almost half way through the year already. It could be all the snow we've gotten here in the mountains of Colorado in the past few weeks, yet my kids keep reminding me that they only have one week left of school, so summer must indeed be near.

Our household has been absolutely nuts with Mr.Greenhab back in school, birthdays galore, school plays, meetings, conferences, field trips and more.

We're still progressing nicely though with our goal of greening up our diets and kitchen this year. The photo above is a sampling of some of the foods I've canned already this season: a small amount of applesauce, strawberry jam, tripleberry jam and kosher dill pickles.

Our cupboards were starting to get bare for awhile there. We stopped stocking up on boxed foods, canned goods and instant side dishes and started making the same things from scratch with fresh ingredients. Surprisingly, our grocery bill went down and now our cupboards are slowly filling up with home-canned foods.

One processed thing we still eat a lot of is bread. I've tried my hand at making it and failed miserably. I'm not sure if it's our altitude, or if I'm just not doing it properly. I was thinking of searching Craigslist for a bread machine that could do the hard parts for me. Have any of you had luck with using a bread machine? Or do you prefer to make your bread yourself?

The kids and I had a picnic dinner last night of PB&J sandwiches. I smiled to myself thinking how nice it was to feed them both peanut butter and jelly that I'd made at home, but it just wasn't complete with store-bought bread.

Another thing we've worked on is eating seasonally. It's easy for Mr.Greenhab to do since he's cheap - he'd never buy a $6 box of strawberries out of season! It also helps to get our organic produce delivery because we can choose to receive local foods, so you always get what's in season. A little light went off inside my head yesterday. I was looking at another empty jar of jelly thinking I should have made much more than 12 jars of it. Then I realized in the fall we'd buy homemade apple cider from the local pumpkin patch and I could make apple cider jelly with it to last us until strawberry season again.

I won't say it's been a breeze. There have been many looks of disappointment at yet another meatless meal, or veggies the kids have never seen before, but we've also discovered some new things that we really love (like leeks!). We're all getting used to this new norm and, personally, I feel healthier than I have in a long time.

10 comments:

JAM said...

Have you tried using the recipes from Artisan Bread in 5 min a day? I think Green Bean was the one who first mentioned this book (at least that I saw, and I could be wrong about being GB!) but I read it and I think I'm going to try it. I've since read of quite a few people having success with it. Basically, you make a high moisture dough with no kneading that you keep in the fridge and keep baking parts of it, so it sounds like it is both a lot less work than the regular way, and also might work better if the altitude is a problem with traditional methods. It's at least worth a try before you buy a bread machine - probably you can get it out of the library. If you do decide to buy a bread machine, I'd search instead for a used stand mixer as they knead really well and you can use them for other things. I had a bread machine once and really didn't like the loaves I got from it. Good luck!

Robbie said...

Glad to see you're seeing the silver lining to it! This time is always hard since last year's produce is finally over. But it will be here before you know it--we've already harvested strawberries and radishes here!

As for bread, have you tried yeast breads or sweet breads? There are so many options to try even without a bread machine.

Julie said...

I used to have a bread machine. Just a basic Oster/Sunbeam one; it probably cost less than $50. It worked great. The recipe booklet it came with may have even had high altitude directions; I don't remember. I gave it away because my husband had been the main bread eater, and we got divorced. The only thing I would say is that (no surprise) homemade or bread machine bread is not like storebought bread. Maybe you could get a friend who has a bread machine to make you a loaf, just to see if it is acceptable. The one thing I found tricky with homemade bread is slicing it - sometimes, I thought that storebought bread was worth the cost, just because it was sliced thinly! I must have had a dull bread knife or something. If you get one, just follow the directions *precisely* as to measurements and temperatures. You can't be casual in those areas when using a machine.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I just opened up my bread machine that was a gift from my bridal shower 6 years ago. I had preferred to make bread by hand, though I'm no expert, but the machine is so easy and clean up is a snap! With a 10 week old, I just don't have time to knead by hand anymore, so I love the bread machine right now!

Jen said...

I love this recipe for no knead bread! I used to live in CO too and have used this recipe with no problems.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html

Djuna said...

I made bread using a bread machine on and off for a few years, and was never pleased with any of the 'plain' breads. As in, I couldn't make a tasty partial whole wheat loaf. Garlic-infused, sweet, other fancy breads, sure. I think bread machines just knead the dough too much.

For around a year I've been making the dough myself, and the last few months mostly varying the whole wheat basic recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 min your first commenter listed. I've been pretty happy with it - I love sourdough, and I love whole wheat. My latest improvements? To get a nice chewy crust I spritz my dough with water before dumping it in the oven, and I leave a cast iron skillet on the floor of the oven, that I dump a cup of water on just as I put in the loaf. The skillet stops the temperature drop, and the water makes steam.

I've also noticed that some flours just don't make tasty bread, you might want to experiment with changing flour.

We still buy loaves from the store plenty, though - I can't beat the depth of flavor and the really big open pores on professional sourdough (probably because I always have whole wheat flour in there...).

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

I would have to agree with everyone about the bread machine. I have been using mine for 6 months now and will never buy another loaf of bread again. Bread from the store is so dry and bland compared to homemade bread. I have a regular Sunbeam machine that I paid $40 for and it works just fine. Worth every penny and it literally pays for itself in no time.

Dea-chan said...

My mother had a bread machine that she used a few times. The couple of "pain in the ass"-isms about it that I remember: you have to remember to remove the bread from it's little container to cool -- otherwise it sweats and turns disgusting and wrinkled. We needed to buy "bread flour" as opposed to all purpose. They were kinda wide loaves -- about 6" square on the ends. It made making sandwiches a little strange (we cut them in half).

That's all that I remember. But it was pretty easy to have fresh bread!

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

I L-O-V-E my bread maker, bought it used (maybe once?) at a yard sale 2 years ago for $5.00 (w/o instructions, but certainly there are high alt instructions on-line). I have a lot of fun throwing stuff together. I use the flour measurement called for in the recipe + add 1/4 c of good stuff I have on hand: flax meal and/or hemp seeds and/or sunflower seeds and/or ground-up walnuts, etc. I've also improvised through trial + error (the dog gets the error) with binders + now use an over baked sweet potato + for the sweetener I use apple juice. I'm leaning towards vegan choices when there is an option.

This is the basic recipe I use:

http://laladexpress.blogspot.com/2009/10/fall-kitchen.html

Toni's Treehouse said...

I'm not a bread machine fan. Instead I use a very simple recipe I got from Tonya at Plain and Joyful Living. With her permission, I took pictures and added it to my blog at http://toniturbeville.typepad.com/tonis_treehouse/2010/04/recipe-of-the-week-simple-bread-making.html. I was successful with this particular recipe on my very first try!

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