Monday, April 15, 2013

Farm Girl's Journal ~ Lambs!

The sheep are officially due today - the 15th.  Rosie decided to go early, though, and had her lambs sometime early Saturday morning (I missed the birth - *sniff sniff*)!  She's a 1st time momma, but had twins!  They are so cute.  The girl is just 5 pounds and the boy is around 7.  They weren't doing as well in the beginning (Rosie hasn't quite figured out this mom thing yet!) but after some TLC, (and some dropper feeding for the girl, bottle feeding for the boy!) they were making lamb bounces in the pen this morning. :-)  We have two, possibly three (not sure if the third one is pregnant or not) more ewes to lamb.  Yay!

The boy :)

The girl - sooo tiny but she's fattening up now :)

The boy again ;)

Any name ideas for our twins?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Goat Kids & Syruping!

Blondie gave birth to twin bucklings last Wednesday!  :)  We were hoping for boy and girl twins because we were going to name them Billy & Nadine after my Aunt and Uncle that just got married.  But...Blondie had different plans, so it's Billy & Willy.  ;-)  Billy looks exactly like his dad, and Willy takes after his mom!  Blondie went into labor early Wedneday morning, I noticed her acting strange when I went out for chores, and voila! we had twins within about an hour. :D  I'm hoping to get the birthing video posted soon, but I'm having some trouble with movie maker, so we'll see.... :)

The run is starting!  Ben & Jonny tapped about 100 trees about 2 1/2 weeks ago and the run has been pretty good.  There is about 3 gallons of delicious boxelder syrup sitting on the counter right now. :)
Dad straining sap

Jonny is really excited about this! :)

Jackson guarding us all while we collect ;)

The boys & I heading out to collect from the trees by the road

Jonny & I

Jonny collecting sap

Me collecting :)

More Fun With Sourdough Starter

I make my family sourdough waffles once a week, usually on Wednesday, and I make sourdough pancakes once a week, usually on Friday.  Both recipes are simple, quick and delicious! 

I have also make sourdough herb rolls.  These are yummy!  You make them the same way you make your sourdough bread only you add herbs to your dough and shape them into rolls.  The recipe is below.
Click here to learn how to make sourdough starter

Sourdough waffles in my waffle iron

A large platter heaping with sourdough waffles


Sourdough Waffles
4 cups sourdough starter
4 eggs
1 cup of butter, melted (or 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil)
2 cups flour
2 tsp. and 2 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk

Mix ingredients well and pour into a waffle iron.  Makes about 20 waffles.

Sourdough Pancakes
4 cups sourdough starter
4 eggs
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1-2 cups of flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Mix ingredients well and pour onto a hot griddle.  I will often make either banana or apple pancakes.  For banana pancakes I just add a mashed banana or two to my batter.  For apple, I grate up the apples and add them to the batter or just add the grated apples to the top of the pancakes.  We also like adding blueberries.   Enjoy! :)

Herb Rolls
To your sourdough bread, add the following: (Click here to learn how to make sourdough bread)
3 T. Parsley
3 T. Dill
2 T. Caraway

Adding herbs to my bread dough

Dough shaped and ready to rise

Ready for the oven

Finished herb rolls

Yummy herb roll, fresh out of the oven! :)
Experiment with your starter and have fun!  Let me know what you come up with. :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sourdough Starter Tips

About every 3-4 weeks, you will want to change the jar that you keep your starter in because the starter on the sides of the jar will begin to go bad.  If you notice a putrid smell coming from your jar, do not throw away your starter.  Chances are that you just need to change your jar.  If you pour your starter into a clean jar and it still smells off, throw all but half a cup away, and feed your starter.  It will get active and bubbly and smell fine by morning.

Here's how my jar looks after two weeks.

Remember to feed your starter daily. In the hot summer months, you may need to feed it twice a day to freshen it up because the warm weather makes it sour faster and go bad faster. The more you feed it, the less sour it will be.

Sometimes your starter will look dark and watery if you have missed a feeding or two.  No worries.  Just feed it and keep it going.  You may want to feed it again a few hours later.

Give your starter at least 10-12 hours to sour (after the last feeding) before you make your bread.  Otherwise your bread will not have much flavor.  If you like it really sour, let it sit longer. :)

Never use all your starter.  Always leave at least half a cup in the bottom so that you don't have to go through the process of making your starter again.

As I said in my first post, I do not measure my water and flour when I feed my starter.  I just use a wooden spoon and put a few scoops of rye four in my jar, and then hold the jar under the faucet and add some water.  I mix it up really good, and that's it! :) 

If you are going on vacation and need to refrigerate your starter, feed it first before you refrigerate it.  When you take it out, feed it again.  Then wait until the next day to use it.

I grind rye berries about once a week and fill a container with the flour.  I keep the container of ground rye flour in my freezer to prevent it from going rancid.  I get my rye berries in 25# bags from Country Life Natural foods.

Any questions? :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Babies on the Way!

We will be having some little goat kids running around soon!  :)  Blondie is getting really big, and she was due yesterday!  We have a poll on the side of the blog many kids do you think Blondie will have? We'll keep you updated!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Making Sourdough Bread

Click here if you want to learn how to make sourdough starter

I make bread about once a week and leave my jar of starter out all the time. If you are not going to be making bread, you can put your jar in the refrigerator. The cold temperature will cause your starter to "sleep". If you want to take it out and use it, you will need to wake it up again by adding more flour and water. Then by the next day, it will be bubbly again. At that time it will be ready to use.

If you want to make bread, but don't have enough starter, you can feed your starter every few hours to build it up. But wait until the next morning to make your bread or it will not taste very sour.

Decide what morning you are going to make your bread.  Consider that the bread will take about 8 hours to rise. I make it after breakfast and then bake it after dinner. 

So it's morning, and you are now ready to make your bread.  Do not feed your starter until after you make your bread.  You want your starter to be bubbly, active, and sour.  My simple bread recipe has the following three ingredients:
1. starter
2. salt
3. flour

My recipe makes three regular sized bread loaves (or you can shape them to go into different pans).  To do this I add 6 cups of starter to my bowl, 2 tablespoons of salt, and as much flour as I need to get a good consistency.  I like to mix my bread in my Bosch mixer.  You could use a KitchenAid or do it by hand.  The rule of thumb with the Bosch is, you know you've added enough flour when the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.  With sourdough, I usually end up adding a little more flour than that.  So just keep adding and mixing until you have a nice dough ball.  It will be around 6 cups of flour.  Once you have enough flour, kneed it a few times, shape it, and put it into your pans.  It's that simple! :) 

Six cups of starter

Two tablespoons of salt


Mixing it up

I do not use bleached flour.  I use a flour called Golden White.  It has the bran taken out, but the germ left in, therefore it is more nutritious.  You can also use other flours.  I like to add two or three cups of rye flour and the rest white.  I have used wheat occasionally too, just for something different (although I have found that the bread takes longer to rise with wheat).

It is OK if the bread is a little sticky.  When you are ready to shape it, put some olive oil on your counter and coat your dough with it.  Cut it into however many loaves you need, and then roll it and shape it to fit into your pans.  Cover your pans with a towel and let the loaves sit until they are the size you like, about double.  Your dough will rise very slowly, so be patient.  I've had my dough rise in 6 hours and have had it take as long as 10 hours, but it's usually ready in about 8 hours.  Bake your loaves at 350 for one hour.  That's it!  You will love this bread!  Now don't forget to feed your starter again.  Always feed it after you use it.

Sourdough is not as picky as yeast bread.  Every loaf turns out, but not every loaf is the same.  Some will be more dense, others light and fluffy.  Some will taste more sour than others.  You are catching bacteria from the air, so it will not always be predictable, but my family will tell you, it always tastes good! :)

Bread loaves rising in pie plates

The finished product

Bread that was bake in a stoneware bowl

Shaped to fit  a long dish

This bread dough is in a basket lined with a towel that's coated with flour.  This works really well.  You can find narrow baskets at Walmart and use those for make sourdough "french" bread. 

Here are the two loaves ready to go into the oven.  I flipped the loaves onto my hand and forearm and them put them on a rectangular stone that was already preheated in the oven.  One loaf was served to company on Friday with spaghetti hot dish.  The other loaf was served for Easter brunch along with quiche, fruit salad, sausage, and banana bread.

Email me or post any questions that you have.  I will try to find time this month to do a video for you, so you can see the whole process.

Next I will post on some other things you can do with your starter! :)  It will become your best friend! :)