Saturday, August 30, 2008

Not by Hand


A new reader recently asked me how I knead my bread NOT by hand. I use a Pro 600 series Kitchen Aid stand mixer that works wonderfully well. I had gotten it after reading a review that explained how it had a newer (and better designed) dough hook that actually kneaded the dough, rather than taking it for a ride. I bought it at - through the refurbished link. (You didn't think I'd pay full price, did you?)

I had had a 4 quart KA stand mixer that burnt out, and I had gotten the grain grinding attachment for that one years ago. The Pro 600 series mixer works so much better for grinding. It works more quickly, and without overheating. With my old (smaller) mixer, I could only grind a cup of grain at a time - and it took about 10 minutes to get flour, and to avoid over heating, I had to medium-grind it first, then let the mixer rest and then fine grind it. With this mixer, I can put a full 3 cups of grain into the hopper, set it to fine grind the first go through, and get fresh flour in about 12 minutes (depending on the grain, I get anywhere from 3 to 4 cups of flour from 3 cups of grain). I can also make more than one loaf of bread at a time (the old mixer could only handle kneading bread that contained no more than 4 cups of flour - a small loaf's worth)

I purchase my grains from Purcell Mountain Farms. They also sell bulk dried fruits, and bulk herbs, natural sweeteners and baking supplies. I only ordered from them once so far, but the order was processed and shipped very quickly, and was at my home within a week. They ship via USPS, and so the shipping is very reasonable (and capped once your order reaches $60 worth - which is much better than other sources where the shipping amount almost doubled my order!!)

While I know you don't *have* to freeze grains long term in order to store the, that's where I've been storing them. In Ziploc bags. I'd like to invest in some Rubbermaid type containers to hold the grains, and will be looking for sales. A 2 gallon container will hold about 10 lbs of grain. I currently keep Organic Oat Groats (whole - I crack them in my grinder for "steel cut" style oatmeal), Organic Rye Berries, Organic Hard White Wheat Berries (for breads), and Organic Spelt on hand in 10 lb increments. With my next order, I will be adding Organic Soft White Wheat Berries - which is better for use in baked goods other than bread (like muffins, cakes and cookies), and may try some Bulgur Wheat (rather than trying to soak my own wheat and drying it out), for those times when I want to bake muffins, cookies and the like but do not have the time / forthought for soaking overnight.

Well, this post got rather rambling, and it's time to take the baby Bees to finish purchasing their school supplies. School starts next week, as will (hopefully) my treatment for my hypothyroidism. I'm hoping that will increase my energy levels, and enable me to better maintain this blog (and my home!)

Blessings to you,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oh My Stars and Goiters!!!


Last week I went to the doctor for a case of mastitis. They started me on amoxicillin, and I was getting better. Then, Monday morning, I woke up with a sizable lump on my throat, just above my left collarbone. It hurt. A lot. I figured it was probably a swollen gland related to my infection.

Since it continued hurting through Tuesday, I called the doctor and made an appointment for this morning. Well, as soon as the doctor saw and felt it, she told me it was NOT a swollen gland, and that she thought it was thyroiditis, but she wanted me to see an ENT .... TODAY (and she was most insistent about getting seen today - which honestly, freaked me out a little bit). They also took a full thyroid panel.

So this afternoon, she called me with the name and number of the ENT she'd made me an appointment with - who was out of my insurance network. I called the office and asked how much the visit could cost so I'd be prepared. "I'm not sure. It would depend on what he decided to do. It could be as much as $500 - $600. If he decides to do a scope - that runs $445." I told the very kind receptionist, "Thank you, but I will be locating a doctor in my plan. I don't have a spare $600 lying around" - and called my primary doctor's office to tell them.

I got squeezed into an appointment with an ENT I'd seen about 2 years ago for some very bad vertigo (that caused me to faint at church once, which made King B insist on taking me to the ER). Anyway, he sprayed some novacaine up my nose and down my throat and scoped me out.

The good news.... no growth, and no vocal cord involvement.
The bad/ok news.... the ENT explained that when thyroids aren't functioning well, are "hypo", they tend to swell, and he concurs with my PCP that I have a low thyroid issue (especially after hearing my answers to his questions "are you often cold?" {um, only like almost always unless it's really hot out}, "is your skin ever dry?" {yes}, "is any of your hair falling out?" {I've been losing small dog's worth of hair for weeks now, and even before I started shedding this badly, I was always losing quite a bit}, "are you tired a lot" {ummm, yeah}.

This is bad news because it stinks to be sick in anyway.

This is good news because after YEARS of always being freezing, having dry skin, losing tons of hair, feeling lethargic and utterly exhausted, I will finally be getting treated. I've told the doctors for years that I think there's something wrong with my thyroid. I've always gotten told that my test are within normal limits, and that my exhaustion was from being a single parent / working / having too much on my plate; my dry skin was from dehydration; the being cold and shedding hair were ignored. When I get referred to the endocrinologist, I'm going to ask for copies of all my bloodwork to show him. I wouldn't be surprised at all if those "within normal limits" tests all were on the "hypothyroid" end of normal.

Blessings to you,

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Did It!!


I tweaked a yeast bread recipe and came up with one that results in a soft, fluffy bread that is great for sandwiches... and is still whole grain! Here it is:

Kid-Friendly Sandwich Bread

1) In a small saucepan, gently heat to slightly above body temperature:

  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups water
2) Add, then let sit until bubbly (about 5 minutes):
  • 2 Tablespoons yeast

3) Add in:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt (I use sea salt)

4) Add in and knead (I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer):

  • 6 1/2 cups fresh spelt flour
  • enough fresh whole wheat flour to make the dough come away from the sides and make a ball. (amount may vary, as flours may take additional moisture from the air)

5) Knead for about 15 minutes (this may take longer if kneading by hand), until the gluten is fully developed and the dough is nice and stretchy.

6) Place in greased/oiled bowl, turning once, and let rise until double in size (time may vary due to temperature fluctuations)

7) Punch down dough, form into 2 loaves and place into 2 greased stainless steel 5 x 8 inch loaf pans. Let rise until about an inch over the top of the pan.

8) Bake at 375 degrees Farenheit until done, about 30 - 40 minutes - it will sound hollow on the bottom when you thump it.

**** Let cool completely before slicing *****

Blessings to you,

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dietary Changes


Since starting to follow the NT type diet (whole, unprocessed foods, fresh full-fat milk, butter instead of margarine) rather than the US standard of using vegetable oils sparingly, devitalized salt, sugar and dairy, grain-fed conventionally raised meats, I've discovered that I'm not only feeling better (in general, my energy level is much higher than it was before), but I've also lost about 5 pounds this month ONLY by making that change. I think I may be eating a little less, but that's simply because in eating this way, I don't get as hungry, nor do I really get cravings for lots of junk.

I haven't ventured too far into the fermented foods arena as yet. I have made a punch using the NT recipe that Ben likes. I started it about a month ago, and King B has done most of the drinking of it. The other night he had some with dinner, and it has turned from a lemonade punch to lemon wine. It tastes different, but not bad! I also just recently made some cucumber pickles that Buddy likes, Pigeon said weren't crunchy enough (King B concurred). I haven't been brave enough to try them yet, after Pigeon complained that they were soft. I really should.

I've also been making Sourdough Drop Biscuits that are so yummy! They go so well with Chili and Spaghetti. Here is my recipe: (they are not totally NT, as the entire amount of flour is not soaked, although I suppose if I mixed it up early enough in the day and let it sit before baking, that would work... hmmm...)

1 cup sourdough starter
1/3 cup oil (I use coconut oil)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour (I've been using freshly ground wheat... I LOVE my heavy duty Kitchen Aid!!)

Mix all together. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 - 15 minutes at 350 degrees F


Blessings to you,

Monday, August 11, 2008


I've had a couple of questions about the safety of raw milk. I did some collecting of links to answer them. Basically, the better care that is taken of the cows, the less risk there is of any health problems relating to pathogens in milk. Pasturization actually makes it easier for dairy farms to get away with less-than-sterile practices - like feeding the cows poor quality grains and keeping them confined in pens rather than letting them graze free-range as they should. The links below all offer much more by way of information.

Blessings to you,