Sunday, October 4, 2009

What Would Grandma Do?

Today, like many Sundays involved working on the farm. Really, we're just beginning work on fall clean up type tasks in the garden and winter readying the yard. Yes, today I lovingly rolled up and put away the hammock.

It's been very blustery and we've spent some time indoors too, working on kids homework (which I think will be it's own blog soon), and listening to WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio). On today's "To the best of our knowledge" there was a great piece on getting back to the land. It goes into great detail on this movement, which we seem to be a part of.

In a nut shell, more and more people are migrating more toward the country life, even in the city. Growing their own food or participating in farmers markets and CSA's. An interesting question was posed in the story: would my grandmother recognize what's on the food label? Does bread really need a laundry list of ingredients? The loaf in my fridge has 32! When I make my own it has 4-7 ingredients. Yes, I know the ingredient list is all in the name of preservation, but how long does a loaf a bread last your family? For a small amount of effort, you can take back control of what your family is consuming.

The next segment was on reconsidering crafts. This was an interesting discussion on how there seems to be a resurgence in many creative outlets, like knitting. There was a story about a young woman who had moved to New York and began a new job. She had sat down with a number of women at work and asked if anyone knew where she could learn to knit. Almost every woman in the room with her knew how or did knit. Yes, they were all closet knitters and surprised one another when the revelation was made. Almost like it was something worthy of hiding, making you somehow anti-feminist to craft.

Places like farmers markets, art fairs and craft fairs give us an eclectic mix of creativity in our world steeped in mass production. You can find wonderful examples on how so many people are creating on etsy. Overall, any of these activities also bring family time back to the forefront. Sidney and Charlie love to help with cooking in any way shape or form, and they love to craft. Such simple things, many of them that you would do anyway, now become an easy family activity that make the kids so happy and learn a little bit in the process.

Easy Crusty Bread In 5 Minutes a Day (compliments of Mother Earth News):
3 Cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp. granulated yeast
1 1 /2 tbsp coarse kosher or sea salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached all-purpose white flour
cornmeal for pizza peel

Heat water to just a little warmer than body temperature. Add yeast and salt to water in a 5-quart bowl. Mix in the flour by gradually adding to water mixture, use either a wooden spoon or a food processor with a dough attachment ( I use my kitchenaide mixer with dough attachment). Don't kneed. You should be left with a wet dough, loose enough to conform to the container. Cover loosely. Allow mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (about 2 hours). Refrigerate dough for at least 3 hours before using.

Prepare pizza peel by sprinkling with cornmeal (I just use a wooden cutting board). Heat oven to 450 with pizza stone in oven. Dust your fingers with flour and take out a 1 pound ball of dough. Dust the top with flour and gently stretch the dough around to the bottom on four "sides" until the bottom is a collection of flour bunched ends. Let it rest on the peel for 40 minutes. Liberally dust top of loaf with flour and using a knife slice the top in a grid pattern (4 slices). Place broiler pan on shelf under pizza stone and pour in 1 cup hot water. Slide loaf onto pizza stone in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

This creates enough dough for 4 loaves and is good for 2 weeks. If you leave little bits of dough on the sides of the bowl and then scrape them down and incorporate them into your next batch, you'll begin to create a sour-dough like starter. Enjoy!

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