Bread baking battle

breadI used to make bread for my family a few years ago. Then life got busy and I resorted to store bought.  So here I am trying to make bread for my family again. Why? For the hell health of it.  Here goes another babystep towards feeding my family REAL food.

My attempts at making healthy, moist, delicious bread have not met with success, actually they have all been just ‘edible’.  Did I lose my touch? I’m even trying my hand at making sourdough starter in attempts to create the healthiest for my family.  

I love reading stories from the pioneer days, hear how things were done back then.  Some of their struggles were a lot like mine, but some struggles I can only imagine.  If you are like me and have yet to turn out a perfect loaf of bread, I hope you find the following an encouragement:

Taken from “Come ‘n Get It ~ Favorite Ranch Recipes” by Beulah Barss.

Bread making used to require the preparation of the flour yeast sponge the night before baking. If kept warm all night, the sponge would be nicely risen by morning, no small task in houses with wood-burning stoves and fires that died out.  Ranch wife Monica Hopkins wrote: “These evenings I wrap my bread in a blanket and Billie’s fur coat, put it in one of the wicker chairs and cover all up with a travelling rug and you should see it next morning, right up to the very top of the bread pan.” Monica Hopkins, Manuscript “Log Cabin and We Two” 1909-10.

Mrs. Short arrived in High River in 1884.  There was neither yeast nor a stove available.  She baked sourdough bread every day in an iron pot with a heavy lid, a Dutch oven. “A fire was built of dry willow wood, as it died down a hole was scraped in the ashes and a covered pot containing the large round loaf was placed therein, and the hole covered with coal and ashes.  In an hour or so the bread was cook. From the diary of Lulu Short

The First Batch of Bread

We had just moved to our place near Swift Current and mother had never tried making bread before.  There she was in the kitchen, banging the cupboard doors, slamming the oven of the new Kitchen Queen, tears of frustration in her eyes, angry words on her lips.  Dad heard the commotion and came in.  He took one look at those hard, brown blocks spread out on the kitchen table and then went over and put his arms around her.

Next morning he woke us children early and motioned us to follow him to the creek bank where he had only yesterday cut steps in the moist clay.  He stopped at the first step, fished one of the dry loaves out of his bag, set firmly on the clay step, marked its size, lifted it, cut a neat hole, then fitted the loaf perfectly into the hole to form a step.  Then he embedded the second loaf in the second step and the third loaf in the third step and right down the line until the six loaves graced the six steps as if they had been made for that purpose.

Then we fetched mother to share in the admiration of our new concrete like steps leading to the creek.  Well, we all laughed so hard we hardly had strength to make it back to the house.

But mother was not beaten.  She tackled bread baking again and again and soon was able to turn out six beautiful, golden crusted loaves.  Dad while munching a sample with obvious satisfaction said it was just as well since there were no more steps to make.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays, hosted by FoodRenegade.com

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Bread and tomatoes

Bread: This week I made bread and buns.  I used to make it all the time a few years ago when I was involved in the local Farmers Market. I used the same recipe but I tried soaking the flour a day ahead but I could only soak about 1/3 of the recipe as the rest I had to work in dry. Not sure how I’m going to overcome that problem. 

Sourdough Starter: I also tried making sourdough starter this week.  I think it might have worked?!  It was a really warm windy day and I set it outside. By the end of the day, it was all bubbly. 🙂  I had to put it in a larger jar.

Gazpacho: I used a recipe at cheeseslave.com but modified it a bit to suit what I had.  When we went to Spain we had gazpacho and I loved it!  My attempt at it didn’t quite taste like what we had there but it was still good.  I tried to make it smooth but turned out more like a smoothy than a soup.  Still tasted good.  It’s a good food to put in hubby’s lunchbox.

Shrimp Pasta Sauce:  This is a dish I created based on pasta dishes we would have in Italy.  Saute chopped onion in coconut oil, add sliced mushrooms, lots of minced garlic and lots basil.  When the mushrooms are just about done, add chopped tomatoes and shrimp.  Heat and serve over whole wheat pasta.  You can substitute the shrimp for any seafood.

Chokecherry Wine: Not pictured but I started a batch of chokecherry wine.  Not sure how “real” this is as I used sugar, but I did use an old fashioned recipe, the way grandpa would have made it.  Doesn’t the fermentation eat up the sugar?

This post is part of Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by GNOWFGLINS.com