Thursday, February 28, 2008

Simply Whole Wheat

Here is a new recipe I tried last night. It's extremely easy and is a great way to utilize all of the honey in your pantry, as it doesn't call for any refined sugars. This bread is dense and holds together well for sandwiches and french toast.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Allow at least 4 hours for dough to rise (it's a 3 step process.) I put my dough bowl near the warm stove because the house was cold, and it took 4 hours.

3 cups warm water (110'F)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2-4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

*You could add sunflower seeds for some extra flavor.

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups whole wheat flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
Bake at 350'F for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Shooting Myself in the Foot

We plan to install landscaping and plant a buffer of tree seedlings this year. Because of this, we are interested in getting the old well in working order again. We can't tell if it has been "plugged" or not. The head of the well seems to be capped with a metal fitting and an old rusted pipe.
When searching for licensed well drillers (to possibly aid in our efforts to install a new pump,) I actually found our well listed on our local government website! You can find anything online these days!
I emailed the contact person and requested that they check on the status of our well. They informed me that the well is still listed as active. I was so pleased with this discovery until I read the following:

Dear Citizen:
If the well is truly abandoned, you have two choices: 1) You may want to rehabilitate the well and put it back into service, if it is possible. To do this, contact a licensed water well driller to come examine the well. He will probably run a tag line down the well to verify that there are no obstructions in it, then suggest how to go about reinstalling the pump, etc. Or, 2) If you do not want the well any longer, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has statutory authority (R.S. 38:3901–3098.8) over the plugging of abandoned water wells in the state. By statute, you have 30 days in which to plug the abandoned water well. Please contact a licensed driller to have this done properly. Please note that since 1985, all water wells are required to be inspected when drilled and/or plugged; this is done by one of our inspectors at no cost to the homeowner. When the well is properly plugged, the well driller sends us a plugging form (you get a copy) to us and we change the status of your well Use in our data base from DOMESTIC to PLUGGED.

30 days to comply. How nice.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Yumm... dirt.

I can skip taking my vitamins tonight!

but Martha has it all...

I just finished reading some of the blogs I frequent in the evenings after the kids go to bed. It was on blogs such as these that I learned about chickens and I've now started to re-read up on vegetable gardening. Because I'm the daughter of an engineer, I think I'm cursed with said DNA and therefore must analyze every possible way of mulching, planting, and designing a garden before I actually put shovel to dirt. The sad thing is that we have been here over 2 years now and I still haven't planted anything but tomatoes.

Reading these blogs inspires me, but the couture in my country isn't quite ready to go crunchy. I've always been a fan of the country life, organics, homesteading, and living simply but I just can't shake the inner preppy self. I'd like to make water-collecting barrels, but I just think they'd look so darn tacky!

Heck, I drive an SUV, not a hybrid. I collect fine art, not recyclables. I wear pearls not birkenstocks. I admire those bloggers who post about their homemade bread. I'd love to make homemade bread every day if I didn't spend so much time ironing designer clothes and reading magazines (love the InRegister!) While others are ordering their catalogue seeds for spring, I'm drooling over all-wood cypress windows with antique levers and copper awnings as we prepare to remodel the house.

Sometimes it's the other way around though. I may not believe in co-sleeping, but I've spent more time breastfeeding than I spent in high school. I'm the only person I know who left their son intact. I don't homeschool, but I chose to stay home with my children when everyone else from LSU went on to Grad school and Medical school and their eventual careers. I'm the only girl in my group of friends who doesn't carry credit card debt and go to the mall at least once a week. My kids complain that they're the only ones who don't get Lunchables for lunch.

Before I leave to pick the kids up from carpool, I always change from my farm threads into something a little more presentable. I always think to myself, "It sure would be easier if I could just let myself leave the house like this!" Perhaps it's just a southern thing to feel like you have to put your lipstick on before crossing over your property line (or in the case of a neighborhood, before you step foot out of the front door.) Geez, in Mississippi we couldn't go to the mall without rolling our hair first!

This last year I've found that my three wardrobes have morphed into two. I used to categorize my clothing into:

1) Bum. Clothes for washing the car and painting.
2) Socializing. Clothes for going to lunch at Silver Spoon, Calvins, dinner at Superior, or even our local Wal-Mart.
3) Church. Clothes I wear to church, weddings, or funerals.

As of 2008, I now only have Bum clothes and Church clothes. I've found that my nice stuff just keeps getting ruined by baby spit-up, hot grease from the stove, or general mishaps from outdoors. Gaining a lotta few pounds didn't help this situation either.

I sometimes wonder if I'll ever wake up and suddenly realize I'm just a farm girl. Is it possible to let go of my love for monograms, textiles, and handbags? Could I possibly ever choose canning over Crane stationery?

I realize that there is such a thing as balance. I've been balancing a lot of things up until now...or, -er playing both sides. Example: I had some extra eggs today, so I donned my *best* bum clothes, put on makeup and diamonds and brought several to daughter's teachers before school let out. It took 5 minutes before the art teacher finally realized why I had eggs with me. I guess I just looked like the type who usually brings cupcakes from WalMart.

I'd love to maintain this balance. Martha Stewart does it...with the help of a staff of about 400. One great blogger said this "Only one thing can be presentable at a time. It's either my house or me." In the last 2 years, I do feel like I've let go of a lot of the preppiness and primping. I haven't been shopping for myself in ages, and this past fall the kids went to church several times without matching outfits :) I just wonder how much will have to be let go if I'm ever going to be able to dive into a garden or compost bin. These days of "Honey, can you go feed the's humid outside, and I just flat-ironed my hair" can't last forever--or can they?