Grow Your Grain and Bake Them Too

Fresh baking and berries from the farm

“Know your food, know your farmers and know your kitchen.” It’s a quote from Joel Salatin that has been floating around social media for a while now. I do agree with it but what about know your baker? You probably should; especially when your baker is a farmer too! How handy is that?! Grown your grain and bake them too… or something like that.

Commercial bread is cheap and loaded with unpronounceable ingredients that really have no business being eaten. Their main goal is to keep the bread from going bad. I have a chef friend that bought a loaf of name brand commercial bread set it on his counter and forgot about it. Months later it was still soft, and without mold. Good food goes bad. It shouldn’t be allowed to but it should be capable. Needless to say the bread was never eaten. As a chef he was more than capable of baking his own bread but there was really was no time for him to do so. Hence the commercial bread purchase.

Bread is a staple convenience food. It’s a quick breakfast toast, a fast sandwich for lunch and how else are you going to sop up that gravy on your supper plate? Of the many ways bread can be enjoyed it’s really not that convenient when you have to make it yourself. At the least you need to set aside a few hours for mixing, rising, second rise, bench resting, forming, proofing and baking. By the time you’re done you’re hungry, you eat your whole loaf of bread and have to start over. Some of us love to do the work, some don’t and some don’t have time.

This staple food is really not that convenient when you have to make it yourself. The same could be said for eggs, chicken, bacon, beef, vegetables and so on. They are staples but could be quite cumbersome if you had to produce it all yourself. That’s why you should search out a farmer. They do the heavy lifting, feeding, chasing, collecting and so on, then you do the cooking and eating.

Knowing your farmer is the first step really. If you can talk to your farmer, you can learn about your food, where it comes from, how it’s grown and in some cases how to prepare it. That’s important! Did you know some people honestly believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows?! (For those in question, it doesn’t. Milk from any cow is white until it’s mixed with chocolate or cocoa to make chocolate milk.)

Knowing your farmer also means that you are buying local which directly helps the farmer’s family and the community because your hard earned dollars are staying in your community, strengthening your local economy. That’s something to feel good about. Way to help out your neighbor!

The more you know about your food the more mindful choices you will make… in theory. That doesn’t mean there is never a package of golden Oreos hidden at our house. But it’s a step closer to healthy eating.

“It’s a dinglehopper. Humans use these little babies… to straighten their hair out. See? Just a little twirl here and a yank there and voila. You’ve got an aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over.” –The Little Mermaid, Scuttle’s explanation of a fork.

If that is how well you know your kitchen you should probably attend one of my classes. (Join the email list below for class updates) I can help. Knowing the basics around your kitchen will save you money, it can save your health and be a great way to make family memories; even if it’s a “that time the fire alarm went off” kind of memory.

I get it you’re busy. We are all busy. Kitchen time can be limited, but good food made from real food can be quickly prepared easier than you think. For those foods that are a staple at almost every meal and you don’t have time to make yourself, know your baker!

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Wheat Harvest

Dream big or sit on the front porch…or… Dream big, grab your hoe and rolling pin and make things happen!

I love that the eggs in our kitchen came from our coop, the raspberries in my scones came from our berry patch, the honey from our hive, the wheat from our field and ground to flour in our kitchen and if I were ever not pregnant when it came time to start milking Lucy and Sweet Caroline there’s potential for fresh dairy products from the barn. That’s just the bakery side of the farm. To say that we are blessed is an amazing understatement, to say we are thankful is the same.

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My Straw-Chef Hat

Wheat Field

I had planned (we can pause here for a good laugh) to trade my chef hat for a straw hat when we moved to the farm. I had for a while and now I wear both and I’m not sure how it has happened. Slow garden and waiting to harvest the wheat field I guess. I still am out early doing chores with Mike and I’ve started to spend more time in the kitchen again too.

Saturday I had planned to do a little baking; fill a few orders, prep for the next farmer’s market and some bread for home. I had the oven on and the mixer running by 6:30 in the morning. I was off to a good start mixing and rolling and baking. Mike was going to pick up a couple gallons of milk on his way home for me but I ran out long before he was going to be home. I called my dad and he brought up the milk from their house so I could keep going until Mike was home. Mom was up the night before with a new block of yeast, as I didn’t realized I was a low as I was when I was at the store.

The kids were in and out and lunch time came, they ate and Mike put them down for naps. I kept right on baking. I guess I lost track of time because all of a sudden everyone was crowding my space in the kitchen looking for something to snack on. I’d find them something and send them on their way. Finally Mike asked “What’s for supper?”

I gave him a blank look and “I don’t know.”

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Jasper Raisin Toast

I made this toast for the first time last weekend. When I told Mike what it was his reaction was just what I expected.

“I know they called me Jasper Raisin Toast when I was little but I don’t think I actually like raisins in my toast.”

No surprise, most of my new recipes are met with this kind of excitement. It almost never goes to waste either. This was no exception. We prefer it toasted with extra butter and maybe a little bit of honey.

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Good but not Great Pi

Since the last Pi day (3.14) my math skills have not improved, in fact they have probably gotten a little worse. I know my fractions well enough to convert my baking recipes and I can balance the checkbook. Any more than that and I need a calculator at the very least. I still only know pi is 3.14 and a whole never ending list of numbers to follow. Not once have I ever knowingly applied the numbers in any life situation, but I don’t pass up an opportunity to make pie either!

This year I tried a new recipe. It was ok, not what I had hoped, but edible. I made a cherry almond pie with a heavier frangipane and frozen cherries in the crust from the Croatian Turnip Green Tarte. My biggest complaint is it needed more cherries and less frangipane. I really like both, but I was really hoping for a heavier cherry presence in the pie. A little more cherry “goop”. Instead it was almost a cake-like filling in a pie crust. Good, edible, but not what I had hoped.

All was not a complete disappointment with the pie though. It was the first pie I baked in the “new” wood stove. We (Mike is very excited to use the stove too) kept a steady temperature of 375 degrees. The pie baked for a little over an hour before we let the fire go out and the pie cool with the oven. It came out with a perfect golden crust, the filling was cooked through. It could not have turned out any better especially considering it was the second thing we have baked in the oven so far and the first pie.

While the pie was baking we set the percolator on the stove and made the best pot of coffee. Piping hot and delicious! I don’t know what it is but percolators but they make the best coffee and when it’s over a campfire or wood fire cook stove it has an even better flavor.

Cherry Almond Pie
Cherry Almond Pie
Hot out of the wood cook stove.
Hot out of the wood cook stove.
Too much cake not enough cherry "goop".
Too much cake not enough cherry “goop”.
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