Friday, January 30, 2015

January 30, 2015

Sourdough bread.  I am so excited!  I got a potato starter for sourdough bread from a friend.  I am going to experiment with it a bit (knowing that if I fail, she will be happy to give me some more.)  To feed the sourdough the recipe says to add 3/4 c. sugar, 1 c. water and 3 T. of instant potato flakes.  I am so glad to find a starter that does not contain flour.  Anyone who has done sourdough in the past will understand me when I say the mess that flour made in/on the jar really bothered me.  Having a small farm where we grow organic potatoes, the first part of the recipe that had to change was the potato flakes.  Also, as I am trying to be more sustainable and do not grow sugar cane, the amount of sugar will be decreasing to about 2 rounded tablespoons and will eventually be changing to honey, as our bees get established.  So, I got out the starter today and put it on the counter to warm up.  Then I washed, peeled, and cut up 2 small potatoes and put them in a small pot with water to boil about 15 minutes.  When they were soft, I mashed up the potatoes in the water and left the pot opened until they cooled down to room temperature.  At this time, I added the sugar, 1/2 t. salt (approx.) and the starter I got from my friend.  I then mixed it well and transferred 1 cup of it to a quart glass jar with a canning lid loosely fastened and put it in the refrigerator.  (Why would I put the rest in the refrigerator and eventually have to throw some out?  It seems to me that adding more than a cup of the starter to the bread would just add more yeast to the bread to make a faster rising time.  After all, aren't we just waiting for the yeast to multiply and make oxygen bubbles in our bread?)  I left the rest on the counter to bubble.  My friend said she lets this sit overnight, so I will mix up bread in the morning.  I can't wait to see what happens!  I remember my grandmother using potato water to make her bread, so I hope when I taste it that it reminds me of her bread which was delicious.  By the way, one year my scientist husband did a science project with one of our kids where they tested which sugars worked best for growing yeast.  They tested a natural sugar, a white sugar, and brown sugar.  The brown sugar and the natural sugar did great, but the bleach in the white sugar started out by killing some of the yeast.  We don't buy white sugar any more.  (Can you tell he's a brewer?)  Crockpot Experiment Update.  So this was a failure, the towel did not keep it warm enough, so I had to turn it on high for the last few hours to make sure my beef stew was ready for supper.  It was delicious, though.  It is so true that we often learn more from our failures than we do from our successes.  I will keep trying.  Solar Oven.  Yesterday my Countryside Magazine came in (March/April 2015) with an article on a solar oven by Jeff Hoard on page 20 and included the instructions to make it.  This one is so perfect to put on our back deck.  I can't wait to make it.  Using the base of a swivel stool to be able to turn it toward the sun is an awesome idea.  This is the solar oven idea I have been waiting for.  He made his with scraps on hand and has experienced using it almost daily for 10 years, so it has proven its worth.  You can find Countryside's website here, and Jeff Hoard's website here.

Friday, January 23, 2015

January 23, 2015

A shout out to Nerdy Moms!! This morning I decided to make use of leftovers and use my crockpot once again to make some white chicken chili (with a twist, as I have leftover chicken with barbecue sauce). However, I have always been dissatisfied with the lid of the new crockpot. It's too thin to be insulating (let's face it, everyone knows heat rises) and not heavy enough to stay down. I wondered if I put a heavy beach towel on it, would it cycle on less or if it even contained a thermostat. I talked to my husband about this and he thought surely it has a thermostat, but I would need to watch out that it did not overheat and start a fire (good advice). So I went to the web to see if I could find anyone who had done this before. I was dissatisfied with many articles I read about comparing crock pot usage to electric stoves or gas stoves, even though they had some good information, they didn't even inform me whether the test was done on high or low on the crockpot and what difference this made. (I crave the old detailed articles that Amy Dacyzyn used to write in the Tightwad Gazette). However, I did find one blogspot that mentioned this called The Analytical Mom. As I was looking around on her website, it looked like she quit writing in 2013, probably due to discouragement which I gathered from this article. This is such a shame, as she wrote good articles that I liked. It's also a shame that I didn't find it until now. I wrote her a comment, but we will see if she finds it by whether she chooses to post it. However, this makes me think that all of us nerdy moms (new or old) should get together and link our blogs. Not only could this help others of the same persuasion find them, but it will be a great encouragement to us as well. If you are a nerdy mom that blogs (crave efficiency, details, use vocabulary that some people can't identify with, always want to build a better mousetrap, etc.) please email me at if you would like to see this happen (or if you already know how to do this, as I will have to look up the best way.) OR if you are a viewer and know of nerdy mom sites you like to peruse, please send me those as well and I will contact them. Thanks for reading! Btw, on the crock pot, I put a heavy beach towel folded on the top and when it got hot after about an hour and a half, I turned it off. Around noon when I add the remainder of the ingredients, I plan to turn it back on, wait until it reaches a hot temperature and turn it off again (still with beach towel covering it.) I'll let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January 6, 2015

Holidays/clothing reconstruction. Well the holidays went by in a blur. We prepared the house, cooked, got everything ready for family to arrive. Only had 6 for Christmas, but we had a great time. I worked on some clothing reconstruction slightly before Christmas and after before my youngest daughter went home. Yesterday also. First, I worked on a jean maxi skirt for my oldest daughter. I wanted it to look like it had been a skirt all along instead of a pair of jeans masquerading as a skirt. So I chose some fabric that went with the colors of the jeans, straightened the inseams, and made a matching belt and headband.
For my youngest daughter, I took some old ties, an old pair of jeans, and a sweater we found at a thrift shop and made an outfit:
I used one tie for a piece of the skirt extension, the trim and the triangle that made the sweater more discrete. For my husband, I decided to patch the knees of his jeans. I wanted a patch that actually looked good, so I checked out some shapes that I could make the right size and would fit him. As he is an ECU pirate, I chose a skull. He always wears out his right knee, so two pairs of pants got a right knee patch.
For a more complete list of my clothing reconstruction projects, check out my pinterest page here. It's on the clothing reconstruction maximized board.