The yeasty, earthy smell of bread wafts through the house. The sourdough rye will be perfect to sop up the soup I am making. A little butter on the still-warm bread is worth every step of breadmaking. A small glass of cold wine pulls it all together. We eat outdoors while watching the swallows swoop and call. The mountains in the distance are beautiful in the summer light. Our homestead is safe and comforting and filled with many balms for the soul- homemade bread being one of them.
On our first homestead, we bartered for a hand grinder. It was equipped to attach to a bicycle, which certainly would have been easier than the seemingly endless cranking, but I do like things that are non-electric in every instance I can. Off grid is the goal here. I do wish we still had it, but there are other great choices out there.
A Vitamix is a must-have on any homestead. This small car engine of a blender makes delicious smoothies, purees soups, makes non-dairy queso, and pulverizes tomatoes for canning sauce so that I don’t have to peel them! There is a separate container that I have under-utilized thus far. It is for grains and nuts. It makes nut butters and grinds grains in an instant. Our Vitamix is a dozen years old and is rather tired, the engine puttering along. We will probably invest in another one next year. It is a great way to have one machine that does many things.
My friend recently gifted me with a Whisper Mill grain grinder. It sounds like a jet engine, but in seconds gave me the most velvety soft and fine flour for my bread. I really like this mill. You can choose how fine you want the grain ground and it works very fast. I highly recommend this one.
Bread is easy enough to make once you have the feel for it and there are many ways to make bread faster. Jim Lahey revolutionized the bread making world with his techniques in his book, My Bread. And from there, you just make your way. Always use 2 parts white flour (organic, unbleached please) and 1 part whole grain. Any whole grain can be used. Try oats, or corn, rye, barley, or whole wheat. They are very inexpensive in bulk at the health food store or online. A vendor at the farmer’s market gave me a bit of his sourdough starter and that is making our bread all the more wonderful.
Grains have always been a part of homesteading. They are a source of valuable nutrients that fight cancer, provide fiber, and carbs for energy. Protein isn’t energy, carbs are! You need a balance of foods to keep up on a homestead, y’all. There are escaped goats to catch, a chicken coop and barn to muck, gardens to weed, straw to haul, and hours at the stove canning. That warm bread is just one of a million things that make it all worth it and wonderful.
Some of my bread recipes: Grain Mills and Rye Bread, Basic Quick Bread Formula (and Cranberry Walnut Bread), Maple Molasses Whole Wheat Bread