The fire is lit in the old stove slowly warming the oven for the day. I’ve got a day of bread baking planned. My coffee is hot and the flour mill is grinding away. Morning is my favorite time of day. Once I’ve got enough flour ground for the first batch I can get started. For now I’ll steal away a few quiet moments and tell you why I love to use my home-grown, home-ground, whole wheat flour.
I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse that honey has so many uses beyond putting a little in your tea.
After extracting forty pounds of honey during the first harvest this year we were asked by many what we were going to do with all that honey?! Well to be honest we go through that in a year relatively easily just in our daily meals. In place of syrup on pancakes, all sorts of baking, peanut butter honey sandwiches are a favorite among the kids, to sweeten oatmeal and tea and so on. Of course we also set some aside for selling and gifts beyond what I squirrel away for our home stock.
If you are looking for more uses than the common kitchen ones these are some that work well and not so “out of the box” crazy. You know, ones that you can tell your co-workers without them thinking you’ve lost it. Placing a garlic clove up your nose to cure a sinus infection or in your ear to ease an ear infection or this is a good one, white onion slices on the bottoms of your feet in your socks over night to cure an upper respiratory cold. They may work, but not at work.
Here’s a short list of what you can do with honey:
We started the 2017 honey harvest this weekend. I was really hoping to have more to write about with the bees over the summer. I probably would have if we were a little more hands on with our beekeeping. We weren’t. We checked the hive about every other week and from talking with others, they were checking theirs if not daily at least weekly. I could make excuses like we work in town full time, have young children, farm animals, a garden, grain fields, hay fields and the farmers market. Yes, we are busy but it really doesn’t take that much more time to light a fire in the smoker and take a walk across the field.
Most trips to the hive when the kids were awake were uneventful. They would all line up on the edge of the field and watch from a distance. There was one hive check after it had rained that we came back to the kids playing in mud puddles, one dressed, one in their underwear and one… well she’s our free spirit but she was wearing a flour sack dish towel for a cape. All were a happy, muddy mess and the bees had survived the storm. Little happenings like this are probably the best reason we didn’t make it out weekly.
Long before my flour mill died I had picked out a new one. It could do everything from cracked corn all the way down to cake flour. It had a hand crank with the option to add a motor. Made in the USA, cast iron beauty! My current mill was older than me and worked well. There was only one setting-flour but it made nice bread. There was no need to get a new one with the current one still working. It finally had it’s last day (story found here) and I no longer had a mill, nor the money to spend on a new one. My baking dropped off pretty quickly after that. Not that I couldn’t buy flour, I did buy some even when I had the mill, but there is something about taking the whole grains, grinding them and then turning them into something delightful.
This year for Christmas my husband decided I needed a new mill, not only a new mill but the one I picked out! I swear he works just as hard as I do to make my dreams come true! What a great guy! He ordered the mill and it arrived just in time for Christmas. The next surprise was he already had a motor for it; one of better quality than what could have been purchased as a mill package. He has a much better understanding of pulleys and belts than I do and was able to figure out what he needed to do to get the mill running at the correct RPMs. If the mill were to run too fast the flour would easily heat up and taste burnt or cause problems with the mill itself. Also flour dust is highly flammable to the point of possible explosion! Personally I prefer to avoid kitchen explosions whenever possible.
It wasn’t too long after and right there on my kitchen island was a flour mill ready for grain!
The plan was to put it in the basement until we remodel the kitchen (ten years from now). We are currently in the middle of a smaller remodel project that has left us with a couple file cabinets temporarily in the kitchen. I moved the mill to one of the file cabinets and decided that was to be its permanent home. My uncle suggested we could use a set of upper cabinets on legs as a base, topped with a countertop. That’s the new plan. One cupboard (maybe two) will be a grain bin and the other can hold specialty grains and flours.
I’ve been grinding flour like crazy and began baking on the weekends again. Grinding my own flour, even when I am buying the grains, is so much cheaper than buying it ground already; assuming you don’t figure in the cost of the mill. There is just nothing like baking with fresh ground flour. There is also nothing like the Little Boy wanting to make pancakes in the morning and seeing him stand in front of the mill waiting for his flour. If nothing else I will have taught my little man to feed himself and others. He’s getting to be quite the little baker!
I really like to use semolina for making pasta and am now searching that out as well as some other whole grains to grind and bake. The other day I thought for sure there were oats in the barn. I grabbed a bucket and headed out there planning to make a mill version of steel cut oats. I prefer the steel cut over the old fashioned. They take longer to cook but have more texture when done. A wonderful winter breakfast comfort food. I was wrong though, we were out of oats so there was no experimenting with that as of yet. Yes, for those wondering, I had planned to take a bucket of oats from the animal feed bin and turn them into my breakfast. They’ve been cleaned just the same as the wheat I you would grind.
The goat houses we built this summer are super cute and work really well to keep their hooves dry and their heads out of the rain. Once we settle in for another long, cold winter their summer homes aren’t going to be enough to keep them warm. So every Friday, while I have been at work in town, Mike has been at work in the barn.
He built “kids” an insulated house that all four can share while still keeping Hank on his own side of the fence. He made the pen inside temporary because of our plans for a hay loft over the cows next summer, that would allow for a larger cow pen and shift the goats down a bit. What he has came up with will work great for now. They all still have access to their outside pens so they will have plenty of room to run. Their inside house is the perfect size to keep them warm in the colder months.
The mini water tank from outside has been moved in and placed between the two pens so I only have to run heater for them and one for the cows.