Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Daily Grind

Today was gonna be a big day - I was going to clean the kitchen, mill all the wheat and corn, clean out the fridge and freezer, maybe get a few hours at the local hunting grounds in, and take stock of everything I have stored for the challenge.

My plans came to a grinding halt on step 2.  Lucky thing I cleaned the kitchen first! Milling the wheat and corn took the whole rest of the day.

I have a small Corona mill I picked up before the previous challenge.  I started with the corn first, grinding it twice.  I sifted out one bag of flour/fine cornmeal and then just coarse ground the rest. Then it was on to wheat. That all needed ground twice and sifted. I got a little over 2lbs of what I am calling 'bran' for every 4lbs of flour. Basically anything that couldn't fit through the strainer after 2 passes through the mill is in those bags. I plan to cook this up as cereal in the mornings. Sharon and I will be baking tomorrow in anticipation of the challenge, now just 2 days away!

I'll sort that picture mess

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Can you beet that???

I pulled a few beets from the garden. There are a few more but they are small. I cooked them up and I will have them the first day of the challenge - You know the one that I am going to WIN!!!! You can't beet me!!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Awesome Project I Destroyed After Just One Use

I took the opportunity yesterday to head out to the local public hunting grounds. While I was there I saw 2 frogs, a fat mole, and a house cat. I spent some time foraging around. I found a black walnut tree (though I didn't collect any this time) a handful of soybeans scattered across a harvested field, and lots and lots of rose hips.

I had been meaning to build a press to extract oil from foods for some time. Yesterday I finally made that dream into a reality, and then after one use I broke it.

I wanted to make something simple and use my h-frame press to apply the force. I poked around for the biggest drill bit I could find, and I found one that was 1-3/4". I poked around in my metal stock and found a short bit of copper rod that, at one end, was the same diameter.

I make aluminum castings a lot, so I started with a bit of aluminum round stock I had recently cast. I use various steel molds, this particular casting is poured into a short length of steel stock and then pounded out when cooled.

Next I put the stock in my lathe (which required a bit of reassembly before use.) I bored out a 1/2" hole to the depth I wanted, then moved right on to the big 1-3/4" bit. The fit with the copper rod was quite good.

Next I drilled a hole into the side of it to allow the fluid to escape. I marked the depth on the rod with a sharpie marker and then gave both parts a wash.

I found a metal baking pan to work in so that the extracted goodness didn't just drip on the floor. I put it all together in the press, applied some pressure and, MAGIC! The resulting juice tastes just like fruit roll-ups.

And then a bit more pressure after that and everything - seeds, stems, pulp - started coming out the same hole as the juice. I needed a screen of some sort, and found one to salvage out of a water tap in my scrap pile.

I put the screen in the bottom and filled the cylinder with rose hips again. I pushed those contents down with the copper ram by hand and thought, 'hey, if I push it down like that I can fit way more in here.' This proved to be a fatal flaw to my plan. The copper rod subsequently wasn't sitting deep enough in the cylinder, and when I applied hydraulic force it bit into the wall of the aluminum cylinder and broke it. Boo.

The whole project, which included a bit of scrounging and machine re-assembly took about 3 hours. I do plan to make a second one and re-use the copper ram.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Wheat For Breakfast?

In the victory binding of the American Woman's Cookbook, they discuss the cooking of different cereal grains. For whole grains they recommend 4-5 times more water than grain, and suggests using a 'fireless cooker' to avoid prolonged stirring or sticking to the pan. I have a rice cooker I won on a bet (eating a burnt pizza that my friend discarded into the snow), so I gave it a go.

I don't reall know what I was expecting, but what I got wasn't half bad. I used a quarter cup wheat to 5/4 cups water. The final product weighed 5oz (from just 1oz of grain) and had the consistency of firm beans 0. The taste was rather neutral with a slight wheaty flavor. I added a bit of nutmeg, a dash of sugar, and a splash of milk. A few pieces of jellied toast and I had a satisfying breakfast.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Weekend

Hello Fellow Challenge Participants,

Sister (you know which one you are!) please bring my Corona mill to family dinner tonight.

Other Sister, would you be interested in getting together one day this weekend and making bread? I read about a concept called parbaking, which is how the thaw-and-bake bread you find in your grocer's freezer is prepared. I'd love to experiment with this concept.

Anyone want to head to the West Side Market soon? Or out to the hunting grounds? I would like to pick up some fresh ginger, nutmeg, and about 240lbs of game meat before the challenge begins.

...And, We're Back

In preparation of a trip to Mississippi, I have spent the last few weeks laboring over an old and cantankerous car. I've had no time to focus on the challenge at hand, and have taken no trips to the local hunting grounds.

The trip has concluded, and I can now turn my attentions back to the challenge (and not a moment too soon.)

Whilst in Mississippi, I was able to bring home a few extra catfish from the pond. 14oz of delicious fish, which brings our meat stores to a total of 14oz. You can see one of my lovely fishing mates, Sarah from Four Pounds Flour and her first catch of the day below.

My lack of hunting time along with the freezer disaster earlier this year will probably end in an unfortunate stint of vegetarianism during the challenge. Vegetarian or no, I will still defeat you all!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Garden is Moving In . . .

Some of the garden has taken up residence in the kitchen. I transplanted some of the leaf lettuce, mint (in the turtle pot) and two large planters of carrots. I'm not sure how they'll do but I think it's worth the try.

Christmas Soup

I used the carrot tops along with two of my potatoes, a couple small carrots, chives, garlic, parsley, some of my soup base paste (from my $10. allowance) to make magical Christmas soup. All of the ingredients above were added to the water I used to blanch my meager supply of beets and the water I used to blanch the carrots. After cooling, the soup seems to magically separate into Christmas color layers. I'm just sayin'

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

48 karat gold . . .

I picked carrots from my garden today. There are actually 49 (some very small). The tops were very beautiful and full so I looked on line to see if they are edible. I found this great website which includes several recipes using the greens.

I made some carrot green tea today. It was okay - tasted very "green." I saved most of the greens and will try my hand at the soup tomorrow. I have plenty more carrots in the garden but only wanted to pick as much as I could blanch and freeze while fresh. Exciting stuff!!!!!

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme . . .

Stevia, Lavender, Basil and Mint. The larger bags in the photo below are gallon size. These are the herbs from my garden that I had hanging between the living and dining rooms. I've also shared some of the fresh and dried herbs with other challenge participants.