Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

This is my Moms bread recipe- she's been using it for 30 years and its the one she taught me. My Mom is a very talented and dedicated homemaker, I respect her a lot! (She makes bread, keeps her own goats for milk, meat, cheese-but that's all another story for another time!)
You will find it is very different baking with whole wheat flour than with white flour, especially when it comes to bread. Whole wheat will naturally produce a very dense loaf, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many people are used to fluffier bread, and this can only be accomplished by adding things. A little bit of unbleached white flour helps the bread turn out fluffier.Some people also mention "dough enhancers" or "gluten flour" to help the bread rise. I don't know what to make of these products. I do strongly believe the less "weird things" you add to your dough the better it is for you. I get great results by simply making sure the dough is kneaded properly, making sure that the yeast is proofed (see tips) and by using a handful of unbleached white flour. And voila, nutritious, tasty, fresh, homemade bread!

* Start out with 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl.
* Add 1TBS sugar or molasses along with 1/2 TBS yeast
* wait until yeast is dissolved and very foamy
* add 2 cups more water
* gradually add a cup or two of flour (you can replace a cup of whole wheat with a cup of white unbleached flour to make bread fluffier) and 2 TSP of sea salt
* stir
* gradually continue adding cupfuls of flour (up to 6-8 cups of flour total, no more than that) until the dough no longer feels sticky on your fingers (or, if you are using a kitchen aid, until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, stickiness rule also applies)
* continue kneading the dough for no less than 10 minutes (I usually find it best to set a timer, because 10 minutes feels like a long time when you're doing it by hand!)
* put dough back into greased bowl, cover bowl with a wet towel
* put in a warm, draft free spot and let rise until it is doubled in size (about 1 hour, but it will depend on how warm the spot is)
* once the dough has risen, pre heat your oven to about 350C
* punch down the dough: from here you have some choices. You can form a loaf, put it in a loaf pan, or form little buns- it doesn't matter.
* If you form a loaf, let it rise for another 15 minutes, if you formed buns only let is rise about 5 minutes (basically you're just letting whatever you formed "rest" a little bit before putting it in the oven)
* bake for about 45-50 minutes, only 20 if you made will know when your bread is finished when the crust is golden and when you knock on the front and back of the loaf you hear a hollow sound

-add a little bit of fennel into the dough when kneading. It adds a wonderful flavour and is also good for your digestion. If you love fennel, use up to 1/4 cup seeds, if you're not used to the
flavour use only a TBS or so.
-don't be afraid to
experiment! You can also add ground flax, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc to the bread
-I use whole wheat flour in everything I bake-including non-yeast things like muffins, cookies, pancakes. I sometimes mix in just a handful of unbleached white flour when I am feeling a bit more conventional, but its not even necessary to produce tasty results!


Proofing yeast:

Proofing yeast is a quick and easy way of making sure your yeast is still active. This way you don't have to go through all the trouble of getting your bread made, just to find out the yeast didn't rise your bread :(

All you do is measure out the yeast and mix it with the water called for in the recipe. The water should feel barely warm or lukewarm to the touch. Add just a pinch of sugar to give the yeast something to munch on.

Let the yeast and water sit for a few minutes. First, the water will dissolve the dry coating around the granules of yeast, releasing the active yeast inside. The active yeast will go to work on the sugar and a bubbly foam will start to form on the surface. This foam is proof that the yeast is active, and once you see it, you can add the yeast to your bread dough.

I hope to one day make a tutorial with photos and info for making whole wheat bread. Since I myself am not that experienced yet I felt like other more experienced people might have more to say on the subject! So for now, please peruse the following links- I found them quite enlightening.

Here is a website that answers some FAQ on whole wheat bread baking
This is a very helpful tutorial complete with a recipe, videos and photos on making whole wheat bread by hand

Good luck!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Its winter!

Daniel and I want to thank everyone so far for all the support you have given to us. we are thrilled to be farming, growing food for such grateful people that get as excited about food as we do! We are enjoying getting to know you an look forward to the deliveries over the course of the winter.

Things are finally slowing down for us. Its hard to believe, but its true. The snow is on the ground, the soil is at rest. It is a perfect time for reflection. In so many ways it has been a super year, and in a lot of ways its been a difficult one too. The spring weather, rain, mud and cold, made it hard to start. Transplants sat in the soil and said "this sucks! I'm not growing" for what seemed like weeks and weeks. We would go on our field walks alongside the rows of crops and do our best to encourage them, saying "come on, you can do it! It'll warm up soon, promise!".

Not only that, it was our first year in business. That in itself felt like a big challenge. Sometimes I didn't feel very confident in my own abilities- I was worried we couldn't do what we set out to do. I probably had a little bit more faith in Daniel than I did in myself! Its surprisingly intimidating setting out and being entirely and personally responsible for every single decision- the welfare of animals, the survival of we irrigate today? Should we plant this out yet, or could the night time temperatures still kill it? is this wheat ready to harvest- it still feels doughy- what is doughy suppose to feel like anyway?? and, we have a wedding to get to!! Lol. and so on.

However, despite the challenges- we feel like the year was such a success- of course we have all our fellow foodies, shareholders, family and friends to thank for that! Most of the plants did grow, we harvested what we hoped to harvest (for the most part). If we had more wheat shares available, they would be sold. Very exciting! Our ducks and chickens are healthy and happy. (look for updates soon regarding 2012 duck and turkey shares!)

We learned a lot (hulling oats anyone?! sigh...), but what is life without some mistakes and learning from them.

We will be spending our entire winter planning and looking forward to the coming growing season. Also, in case you are in Calgary, you can catch us every second Wednesday at the Parkdale farmers market from 2:30-6:30. You can purchase farmer Johns tasty veggies, and our flour, herbs,and crafts there.

Just wanted to let everyone know how happy and privileged Daniel and I feel to be here- growing food on this beautiful land and being able to give it to you. Thank-you! This is Anna signing off, and good night <3 <3

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2012 Duck and Turkey shares now for sale!

Duck Share:

Back in October Daniel and I purchased 1 mother and 20 ducklings. We, with the help of the mother duck of course, have been raising them with the intent of keeping them as a breeding flock. We are thrilled with how healthy they are and how fast they are sizing up. Once the ducklings are mature and laying eggs, we will leave those eggs under the new mothers. With a little bit of luck and lots of care, we will have a new batch of ducklings! These are the ones that we will then raise for our 2012 shares. (Christmas dinner, anyone?)

Our ducks are being raised in a compassionate way. They have lots of space. This includes plenty of outdoor space during the summer and winter-they really like scooping up mouth-fulls of snow in the winter. They also have enough space inside their cozy coop for the days when they feel lazy. We also inspect them daily to ensure that they are healthy and happy.

As you know, we manage our farm with the CSA system, meaning we will be pre-selling "shares" of meat for the year 2012.

If you would like to secure yourself a duck, (or two, or three) please contact us and we will put you on our list.

Here are the details:
You can email us to be put on our waiting list now.
We will sell the duck shares as they hatch. So, as soon as they are hatching (early spring) we will email you first and you will pay a deposit of $15 dollars, which secures you your very own duck. We will then proceed to raise these ducklings. Once they are finished, and have been butchered and frozen (at a provincially inspected facility), we will bring them to a pre-determined delivery point. Upon delivery you will pay $3.75 a pound. We will be able to deliver anytime in the fall- perhaps in time for thanksgiving and or Christmas 2012.

Turkey Share:

The turkey shares will function similarly, except we will not be able to hatch our own in the spring. Instead, we will be taking your names on our waiting list now and then purchasing as many poults (baby turkeys) as we need in the spring from a hatchery (. We will then raise these turkeys and sell them in the exact same fashion as the ducks. So, email us now to be put on our list. Then we will be accepting the $20 deposit in March 2012 when we are ordering the turkeys. We will then proceed to raise these turkeys, and they will be ready in time for thanksgiving- or Christmas 2012 (your choice! the Christmas turkeys will end up being slightly heavier).

All our meats (ducks, turkeys and chickens) will always be butchered at a provincially inspected facility. They will also be butchered close to the delivery date to ensure freshness.