Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Unmexican Casserole

Some of my most delicious recipes come from cleaning out the refrigerator and substituting what I have on hand. Such is today's recipe. Originally, I had planned a fusion take on Mexican Quesadillas for supper. I had leftover pot roast in the refrigerator. I wanted something quick and easy for supper, and really feel like cooking. Quesadillas take a little of this or that for a meal. An excellent way to clean out your refrigerator of those leftovers.

How do you know it's time to clean out your frig? Well for me, it's a lack of Rubbermaid storage  containers. I bought a set of containers, just one. When they are all full, it's time to clean out the frig. Nothing is over a week old.

My rule of thumb for leftover is a maximum of two meals as it's originally prepare, and then making some new with it. It was time to create a new dish with the pound of leftover beef. I had pinto beans, rice, some chopped onions and celery,  black olives,and corn relish in the containers left in the frig so I pulled it all out. I had about 1/4 of a bag of of stale tortillas chips from the pantry that I could rejuvenate in the microwave. I had about an ounce of extra sharp cheddar and 1/4 bag (about an ounce) of mozzarella cheese leftover too. The only thing I was lacking was flour tortillas. They are easy enough to make. Did I mention that I really didn't want to cook? Okay, scratch the quesadillas.

What could I use in place of the flour tortillas. I'm searching the refrigerator. Leftover pie crust? No, it would be too heavy. Ah, phyllo dough leftover from when I made peanut butter and jelly baklava. That would make a light, crispy additions.

I grabbed my chili powder and a pint of tomato salsa from the pantry. While the beef was shredding via the Kitchenaid mixer, I sprinkled some onions and chili powder on the leftover pinto beans. I microwaved them for 3 minutes. These I'd hit with my immersion blender for "reftied" beans later. I took the leftover corn relish and mixed it with the leftover rice.

The Casserole
I emptied the 16 oz jar of my basil tomato salsa into a baking pan. I brushed two layers of phyllo dough with melted butter and laid it on top of the salsa. Next came a thick layer of shredded beef, onions, celery, olives, a mixture of grated cheeses, and all topped with a sprinkling of chili powder. I continued layering this way until all the ingredients were used up. I topped it all with 2 layers of butter brushed phyllo.

I baked it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. When the time was up, the phyllo dough was a crispy golden brown. I flipped the casserole out onto a serving platter so the salsa was on top. It was an unmexican feast fit for a king... unmexican casserole, unrefried beans and the sweet and savory corn with rice with rejuvenated tortilla chips. It got the Mel's seal of approval to definitely make it again.

Y'all have a blessed day!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A New Cockeyed Critter on the Homestead

We got a puppy this week. She's just what we wanted. She's half pit bull and half German Shepherd/ Labrador mixed. We had specific qualities in mind when searching for a running mate/replacement for Nnyus.
  • Female
  • Pit bull mix
  • Had to be a puppy that we could and Nnyus could train.
Pit bulls get a bad wrap from all the negative press about the breed. Personally, I've had experiences with both. Normally, when raised in a loving home, they are the goofiest, and most loving breed. They are good with children and fiercely protective. They are highly intelligent and are a working breed of dog.

On the converse side of the breed, I had a next door neighbor with two differently trained pit bulls. One was gentle. The only harm she would do was lick you to death. My three-year old daughter would roll all over her and have a blast.  If Jenn wasn't at home, she was at Mr. Howard's playing with this gentle giant (to her). There was no fence dividing the property in this old town (100+ year old houses) neighborhood. The children could go between the houses and play safely. Unheard of in this day and age, huh?

The other, was trained to hunt wild hogs. Mr. Howard had the dog caged and it was in his yard.This was a dog that I shot after he bit my young daughter's face. My daughter was too young to know the difference. I guess, I should have let it slide or at least given Mr. Howard the option, but I was so angry at this compact, killing machine.

This is why I don't mind pit bull mixes. There are different traits in their genetic make up.  Nnyus was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and heart worms three months ago. There are no treatments for either one. All that's left to do is love her and keep her comfortable until she passes or we put her to sleep. The reality is  a homestead needs a fairly large dog for security. So we started  looking for her replacement.

After several false starts, we finally found one. Please help us welcome...Kassity to our cockeyed critters!

In Gaelic, Kassity means she whose full of love.
So far, she lives up to her name. 

It's been a few years since either of us have had a puppy this young. At just 9 weeks old, she's a bundle of energy.  We had slightly forgotten how tiring young ones are. The sticker shock alone at TSC for the largest bag of puppy food set me back $30. The price has doubled in just 5 years. As young as she is, she'll be on this rations for quite a while.

At 15 lbs now, she'll be bigger than Nnyus when full grown. Just look at her paws. I wish I could tell you she received a warm welcome from our other household animals. I can't. It was three hours  until Nnyus stopped grumbling and bristling at the young pup. By the end of the evening, they were rolling around and playing together. Herbie is still growling at her when she comes close. The cats are giving her a wide berth. I haven't seen or heard any of them slap Kassity yet, but we know it's coming. Cats have their way of training dogs on what they will and will not tolerate.

Kassity's training began as soon as she got out of the truck. She'd never worn and collar or put on a leash before. She's a smart little thing. Just 24 hours later, she's heeling to the leash.

 Now, the "look at me" and "come" training begins as well as fine tuning her toilet training. 

We've run into difficulties with the dog door. She has already figured it out after chasing after Nnyus a couple of times. Nnyus wants to take the puppy out and about the five acres she calls her territory ( only two are ours). The puppy is just too small, and new yet.

We had to install the baby gate across the stairs on the porch to stop Kassity from following her. So far, this adventurous puppy has discovered our rabbits, chickens, and the barn/workshop! "Ooh! What's that?" and she'll scamper off to investigate. Only to be side tracked by some new and glorious thing which catches her attention. Then, she'll streak back to us. Her tail wagging so hard it throws her off balance.

While many new pet owners get this or that for their new puppy, experience has taught us to keep it simple. Kassity's "toys" are simple an old knotted hand towel, a real bone, and a stuffed animal for a cuddly is all she needs. They will keep her entertained for at least 30 minutes. Even longer if we spread peanut butter inside the bone.

Kassity got her first nose pop from Momma Jo today. She disappeared from my sight for a few minutes and only a little jingle from the tags on her hand-me-down collar. I immediately sensed she was up to no good. That little scamp had found Mel's angora fiber spinning. She had the end in her mouth and was pulling about 5 feet of it from the spool. I took it away from her saying "Bad girk" and "No." I rolled the yarn back on the spools. I turned to walk out of the living room. I saw her out of the corner of my eye use her teeth and tongue pull the yarn off the spool again. She was so focused on her efforts, that when the two finger thump of the nose followed by "no!" took by surprise. Kassity has given the spinning wheel a wide berth ever since.

Y'all have a blessed day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Dumplings

 Happy birthday, Daddy!

Say the word dumplings and people have different pictures in their mind of what you are talking about. If you grew up in the Great Plains area, you'll mentally picture fluffy clouds of steamed dough pictured to the left. Big, hearty biscuit like dumpling.

Here in the south dumplings are rolled flat. Cooks pride themselves on rolling the dough as thin as possible. They look like noodles. In fact, there's an egg pasta called dumplings called "dumplings" in the noodle section in the grocery store. Rather than me putting in some serious elbow calisthenics, or breaking out the pasta machine, I just buy them frozen. When you're a one-handed chef, I take the easy route when making these southern  style  dumplings.

And yet, pulling from my Asian heritage, there are two more dumpling recipes that I can pull from in my culinary repertoire. There's even wontons although this considered a noodle. One's a meat, bean, or vegetable filled dough ball you may know as a steamed dish in Dim Sun. Or the other, pot-stickers. From my German side there's Spatzle.  I think every country has their version of a dumplings to go into soups, stews, or a side dish as to stretch your food dollar and fill the belly.

So when it came down to picking one recipe for this blog, I had a hard time choosing. What do make most often? No help there, it depends on what I'm cooking. Something unusual to share? Then, I run into ingredients you might not have readily available. I ultimately decided on an off the wall fusion (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, American) recipe. It's way out there, but as usual, I'll offer substitutions and alternatives. It's a recipe I'm making this week in fact. This recipe is labor intensive but well worth it. You can use pork, chicken, turkey, or simply make it *vegetarian if you prefer

Deluxe Rabbit Gyoza in Soup
Serves 6-8 dependent on serving size
with leftover gyoza for freezer :o)

1/2 lb ground rabbit meat, ground
1 cup rabbit meat, roasted with salt and pepper
6 green onion, sliced thin reserve 3 stalks
1 carrot, large
2-3 large cabbage leaves, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 eggs
6 large  button mushrooms, finely chopped ( I usually use shitake and crimines)
1/2 block tofu, cut into 1" cubes
1/2 pint *kimchi, can use 1 cup chopped cabbage with 1 Tbs ground pepper flakes
1/4 c bamboo shoots, daikon, or white radish
1 qt and 1 pint broth  (rabbit, chicken, or vegetable)
1 Tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
Gyoza wrappers, or make your own recipe to follow to make 40 wrappers

As I said, this recipe is labor intensive, but comes together quick for service.

Gyoza Filling
  •  Put raw, ground rabbit meat in a bowl.
  • Add 1/2 carrot, grated
  • Add 3 stalks green onions, finely chopped
  • Add chopped cabbage
  • Add 1/8 cups bamboo shoots, finely chopped
  • Add 3 button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • Add 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Add pinch of salt & pepper
  • Mix well cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Gyoza Wrappers
2 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup + 2 Tbs water boiling water
1/2 tsp salt
Non GMO corn starch
  • Mix salt into boiled water, stir until salt is dissolved
  • Add water to flour
  • Mix until forms a ball
  • Knead 5 minutes.  Wrap in *plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • Cut dough in half, wrap half in *plastic wrap while working the other half.
  • Roll dough out thin on corn starch covered surface to keep from sticking. This sheet of dough is almost 1/16" thin. If you can see your hand through it, it's thin enough. Divide if space is limited. Cover with *plastic wrap so the wrappers do not dry out too quickly.
  • Cut circles in the rolled dough. A 3" biscuit cutter works well. I use a regular mouth canning ring.
Or, use store bought wonton wrappers. Roll the wonton wrappers until 1/2 the regular thickness. You will be able to cut as above. If Gyoza wrappers are not available. :o)

* I use plastic wrap, but if you are a zero waste household... use a piece of dampened parchment paper (it can be washed and reused again later) or a dampened tea towel works well.

Making Gyozas

Place a scant Tbs of filling onto the center of the wrapper.Dip finger in water and trace around 1/2" edge of wrapper. Fold wrapper almost in half. Pleat one side and press into other side. Press together to seal in filling. Stand gyoza up flattening bottom Pleated side up. Figure 2-4 gyoza for each serving of soup. Place additional gyoza on parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze for one hour. Vacuum seal for later enjoyment as an appetizers or for more soup.
Folding gyoza. Not me obviously. Googled image.
Take the gyoza meant for the soup and place them in a skillet brushed with oil. Cook until bottoms are golden brown. Add 1 cup of water to the pan and cover. Steam 3 minutes. Set aside. Cook frozen and thawed leftover gyoza the same way later and serve with my Thai sweet chili dipping sauce.

The Soup Base
  •  Slice mushrooms
  • Fine julienne (1/8" in diameter) carrots, bamboo shoots, and green onions about 2" pieces.
  • Roast rabbit meat and julienne and cut into 2" pieces. *Keep warm.
  • One at a time and stir fry vegetables with scant tsp oil until carrots, green onions, mushrooms and bamboo shoots are tender.  Set aside and *keep warm.
  • Lightly fry tofu squares until all sides are set and slightly golden. Set aside and *keep warm
  • Soft boil 3-4 eggs and peel.
  • Add 1 cup of broth in the skillet where you stir fried the vegetables, deglazing it to pick up all those yummy flavors. 
  • Add to broth. 
  • Add broth, garlic, meat, sugar, kimchi, and soy sauce to a pot.
  • Add gyoza 
  • Bring to a boil. 
  • Whisk 3-4 eggs
  • Gently stir in eggs in a thin stream. Being careful not to break the gyoza. The eggs will thicken the soup and put fine pieces of egg throughout the soup.
  • Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

 Ladle broth into bowls. Add gyoza 2-4 to each bowl. Divide and clump each vegetable on top of the broth as shown. Slice egg. Place half an egg on top of each bowl allowing some yolk to run into soup. This is a beautiful presentation that's wasted and may be too spicy on young children.


* vegetarian that allows eggs or substitute flax eggs. You will use 6 scrambled eggs or 1/2 a block of crumbled tofu in in place of the meat in gyoza filling.

* Keep warm- Place each ingredient except for gyoza in small bowls covered with *plastic wrap. Microwave and reheat for 30 seconds before service.

* Kimchi- can be store bought for milder taste, or make your own.

BONUS! Just FF through the peach salsa (unless you want that recipe too :o)) to get to my Thai Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce.


Y'all have a blessed day!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

New Gardening Patches for 2019

Greenhouse after winter storms
Well, Mel and I have had enough of recovering the hoop house greenhouse with plastic each year. No matter what we did, the winds whipping through our hollow just destroyed the plastic. No matter how often we patched it. In the summer months, it's too blasted hot in there for anything to survive inside. Even our few tropical plants whimpered for mercy. With the hanging of plastic on the back porch last fall, we have a 16' x 24' area to use for seed starting. It made the greenhouse obsolete.

We had thought of covering the greenhouse with shade cloth during the summer to continue growing tender crops like lettuces, micro greens, and spinach on the benches built inside. We'd even talked about dismantling it and moving it down in the orchard.As part of our heat the greenhouse in winter, we usually house a couple rabbits in there and practice deep bedding methods. So there's a few months worth in there already composting away. When mixed with peat moss in late winter becomes our seed starting mix for spring planting. This year, we are rethinking the whole kit and kabootle. Did I just age myself with that phrase? Ah, heck, y'all know I'm an elderly, albeit feisty, old broad anyhow, don't you?

We are tearing off the plastic for good off the old hoop house greenhouse. We are building a 3 1/2' wide grow bed on each of the long sides of the structure. On the side that gets the most sun will be our vertical melon patch with watermelon (sugar babies), cantaloupes and honeydew melons. All of these will grow and be anchored to the hoop house. On the opposite side, which is shaded by ancient apple and oak trees, will get a late planting of English peas and bunny green stuff. We are also thinking of climbing roses (rugosa variety) so we'll get the rose hips.

Old rabbit hutches
Mel is also tearing apart the unused rabbit hutches. At least the free standing ones. It's had four years worth of dead leaves, weeds, and rabbit and chicken poop on that ground. Can we spell a F-E-R-T-I-L-E plot ready to be planted? It's not a huge plot, but respectable at 10' x 30'. We can grow a lot of vegetables in that sized plot.The problem is two large oak trees which only allow partial sun at best. Maybe a little more during summer.  We've only talked about it since we completed the bunny barn. Still Mel is gonna do, what Mel's gonna do in her time.

Since we added the rabbit and chicken bedding from last year into the garden and orchard, this spring's clean out can go into these new areas as we expand our growing space. It will give these areas about a foot of extra nutrient boost. It will also raise the planting area so it shouldn't flood. Anything we plant there should not be deficient in much.

We don't add rock dust in our planting areas because you can't dig more than three feet without hitting granite patches. We don't test our soil neither. I'll save my money. We just sprinkle a light coating of wood ash, courtesy of our wood stove each winter, and some calcium, from ground egg shells, maybe a 50 lb bag of sand if drainage is poor over the area before we rake in the compost into our clay soil each year. How do I know we've got good growing soil? Well, ultimately the proof is in the produce. When I can grab a handful of soil and pull up worms and it smells great, it's good enough and it's alive. I don't tend to over think it.

We went through our saved seeds this week to see what we had to purchase for this year. In a couple of words, we don't need much. We need a couple of new items we want to grow like lemongrass, but other than a few annual flower seeds for pesticides and deterrents we are set. I think Mel was pleasantly surprised by this. I've even set aside some Red Bliss potatoes from our harvest to eye out for their March planting date. We'll be planting them in our old tires again. It's a if it ain't broke don't try and fix it kind of things. It's worked all these years, why change it?

So, how's your garden planning going?

Y'all have a blessed day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Cabbage- Use It or Lose It

Now, if you're like me, I've got whole heads of cabbages in my cold storage bins leftover from my late fall harvest. But after four months, they are looking a bit rough.

I could have dug a hole, placed my heads in them, and covered them with heavy mulch. They probably been good for a few months buried like that. But I didn't. It's one of those would of, should of, could of things. The one where you make the best choice at the time.
I haven't found an old, broken freezer to bury in the ground like I describe in my book, Are You a Survivalist or a Prepper? Shameless plug (grinning).  I had this set up on my old homestead. Instead, I've got a well insulated storage building. It stays cool during our extremely hot summers and well above freezing during long, cold winters. I can run the small AC unit or plug in a small heater if I need to, but I haven't had to yet.  

Even though it sounds like an ideal situation, it's not. We've had periodic rodent infestations and maybe a snake or two with food supply to boot especially winter. They are enjoying the climate controlled, dry haven we built. Though we are diligent, with ugh- poisons and traps, we still have losses due to this. Bins of over wintering fruits and vegetables are a prime target. I've lost an entire case of sweet potatoes due to this in the past.

I was going through my cold stores this week, when I noticed greater interest (droppings and chew marks on the plastic bins) around my container with my four remaining heads of cabbage. It's a use it lose it situation. You know me, I chose use it.

I detest the taste of boiled cabbage. So I never can it. I've never frozen just cabbage before. Mel will only eats cabbage in eggrolls or spring rolls. I peeled the wrinkly unappetizing leaves away (the rabbits will love them) and gave them a good soaking a brine solution just in case there was any dirt or creepy crawlies alive in them.

My first though was to make cabbage rolls and stick them in the freezer. Mel could always unwrap them before eating them. I found these foil tins in my Dollar Tree that made for a perfect serving for two and there are 3 tins for a buck. To me it makes cents.

If you've ever made cabbage rolls before, you only use the larger outer leaves to make them. That leaves the inner portion of the cabbage in tact. I made up nine pans. Once cooled, I put them in the freezer for three hours. As an extra measure, I vacuum sealed each container. I used ground lamb and beef as the meat filling in these because that's what I had on hand.

Next, I took one of the leftover cabbages and corded it.  I mixed 3 Tbs of soft butter, 1 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp black  pepper , a pinch of red pepper flakes , and a splash of Worcestershire sauce and stuffed the core space with the mixture. I wrapped it with foil leaving a quarter sized vent hole. I baked this in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes a pound. I let the cabbage rest for 5 minutes, and then cut into serving  size wedges. I poured the cabbage/butter mixture over top of each wedge. I froze the wedges on a parchment lined baking sheet for an hour, and then vacuum sealed them. Now I can nuke and eat them whenever I want.

The other three left over cabbages I shredded into fine pieces. This was destined to be half eggroll and spring roll filling. 

Jo's Fancy Eggroll/ Spring Roll Filling
4-6 cup finely shredded cabbage
6 pieces of shrimp, deveined and minced tossed with 2 Tbs corn starch
4 boneless chicken thighs, fat removed ground
1/4 lb red meat,(lamb, beef or pork) ground
3 garlic cloves, minced. Can substitute 2 tsp garlic powder.
1" knob of ginger, minced. Can substitute 2 tsp dry ground ginger.
6 green onions, chopped fine
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
 1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/4 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1/8 cup soy sauce
 2Tbs oil
Salt and pepper  to taste

  • Prepare meats and vegetables.
  • In large wok or pan, heat oil. Add garlic and ginger.
  • Add meats in the following order: red meat, chicken, shrimp. Stir fry until no longer pink (except the shrimp) about two minutes for each meat. Remove meat from pan leaving oil and some garlic and ginger in the pan. 
  • Add vegetables in the following order: carrots, onions, mushrooms, cabbage, bean sprouts, green onions. Stir fry about two minutes after each addition. Do not wash the pan after cooking the vegetables.
  • Add soy sauce, salt and pepper.
  • Cover and let cook for three minutes.
  • Return meat mixture to the pan. Mix well, cover, and remove from heat.

When the mixture is cool enough to handle, Place a 2-cup measured scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Place each mound in a vacuum seal bag. A 2- cup mound will fill 4 eggrolls or 8 spring rolls.

This mound of vegetable meat mixture can be added to three store bought ramen soups packages for a tasty dinner or lunch.

So that's how I handled my use it or lose it cabbage scenario. How about you? What dishes would you make?

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Cleaning Out the Junk Room

After 4 hrs!
If your honest, everyone has one, or one spot that everything ends up there that one day, you promise yourself, you'll straighten it up. This week was this room's turn. Originally designated as an office/crafts room...it hasn't been used as that in a long time.

The picture is after FOUR HOURS of pulling stuff out of the room. At least you can now see the floor. The room also has a huge walk-in closet at the back left of the room jam packed with stuff. We still have a long way to go. Mel had made a shelving unit in her bedroom a few years ago for her yarn stash. She actually built three of them to hold all her yarn and yarn stuff. Here's her video on building and installing her first one.

Between the dogs and the cats (especially Flynn), they pretty much knocked the yarn off the shelves daily. We started storing yarn in tote bags. These tote and paper bags ended up in the office/craft room. Right place, but not the ideal storage solution. We could never find what we were looking for. The shelves Mel built are now dismantled.

So Mel started pulling out all the big, plastic tote containers, boxes, tote and grocery bags of yarn out of the room. I couldn't even walk into the room without the risk of falling. I had cleared the table in the breakfast nook and started sorting the skeins by color. I'll worry about the different types ( bulky, worsted, dk, fine) later when I put them away in the new shelving unit Mel's building. In the meantime, each color was put in plastic totes and paper bags until it will be installed. Not shown are 18 gallon totes filled with green, red/pink, and green yarns. Four in total. One tote is designated for Mel's UFOs (Unfinished or FUBARed Objects). One bag has knitting, crochet, and other needlework gadgets. Another reusable grocery tote bag has scraps of yarn leftover from finished projects. This alone took multiple hours.

We have tried doing all of this systematically. Next was tackling the office stuff. Most of this was in order, but stuffed into file cabinets, cluttering the desk in a dozen piles or more, and in paper boxes. Still, it all had to be gone through and sorted.

Next all the cookbooks formed three piles on the breakfast table. If I didn't see 20 recipes I wanted, the book was placed in a donation bin. I might mention here that I only brought three with me. Those three still are in the keep pile. Mel had moved them into the office on one of her tidying sprees.

Each day we have tackled one area within the space. After that was sewing stuff and miscellaneous stuff. There is much discussion over what to keep and why. 98% of all of this is Mel's stuff. I did this all before my move here. I simplified my possessions to the bare minimum. Mel carried it all (hers and her mother's belongings) with her when she moved here. A three bedroom house with an attic does not equate into a three bedroom double wide trailer. But I understand the sentimental attachments things carry. Most of the keep or donate is up to her. It just needs reorganizing. Marie Kondo's Tidying Up series on Netflixs has worn on her.

We wanted to try either laying wood laminate on the floor or brown paper bagging the floor as the first attempt of ripping out the ratty carpet in this house. I'm searching for cheap wood paneling to replace the falling/sagging ceiling tiles. Once we remove everything out of the room to remove the carpeting, we'll spackle and paint the worn wood paneling on the walls too. It should be a bright, light, well organized space when finished. A joyful experience to be in rather than dump and run. A place to craft, sew, and spin in, or plan and do recordkeeping in.

I'm not under any misguided notions. This project will take months to accomplish with all the goings on with the homestead. But little by little, it'll get done. In the end, we'll have a gorgeous multipurpose room that we won't cringe when we open the  door to enter. Then, the challenge is keeping it that way.

Last winter, I had considered swapping bedrooms with this one, but changed my mind. I like my little room. There is less space for me to fall in. I only go in there to sleep and keep my clothes in anyhow. The bigger the space, the more possessions I feel I need. Also, the bigger the space the more you have to clean. Makes sense and cents to me.

Y'all have a blessed day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Cooking With Chef Jo- Homemade Sourdough Bread

Now I realize many of my readers aren't as back to nature extremists like I am. To make my flour, I'll buy Montana, non GMO wheat kernels from the Amish store or use my home grown Einkorn/Emmer wheat to start with. I'll soak it for two days in our spring fed water to sprout it, and then lay it out by the wood stove to dry completely before I hand grind it into flour. Yeah, I'm a dyed in the wool homesteading extremist for wanting to know where my food comes from. If this is not you, no worries any good quality wheat all purpose flour will do.

Do Not use municipal water supply in this. Use bottled spring water.

Day 1 & 2-To Make my sourdough stater is two ingredients 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water. That's it. I'll place the mixture in a half gallon mason jar. To cap it off, I'll use the ring and screw over a piece of cheesecloth. I'll leave it to do it's thing for two days. You may notice tiny bubbles in your mixture. This is a good thing.

Day 3- Stir the mixture. You might notice a slight yeasty smell as you do this. Add 1/4 c of water and 1/4 cup of flour to your mixture. Stir well. Replace the cheesecloth cover. Return it to its spot on the counter.

Day 4-6 Repeat day 3's instructions. You may notice a dark liquid forming in your jar. This is the by product of the yeast eating the sugars in the flour. You will also notice the yeasty sour smell getting stronger. This is very good thing.

Day 7- Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and water.

By now your starter is inflating and bursting to the cheesecloth. Pull out a cup of this mixture and make bread or rolls with it.

My recipe for sourdough bread is this.

Sourdough Bread
Makes 1 large loaf
1 cup of starter
1/2 cup of water, lukewarm if fine.
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 c flour

Mix all ingredients until a soft, elastic dough forms. Knead about thirty to fifty times on a floured surface. Place dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover. Let dough rest and double. Depending on the natural yeast in the starter, this can take several hours.

Once the dough has doubled, fold one edge towards the center and continue around the bowl in this fashion. There is no call to punch the dough in the center to deflate it. The dough did nothing to you to warrant this kind of violent treatment.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead it about thirty times. Flatten the dough with the heel of your hand. With a pastry brush lightly brush the flattened surface with water. Roll the dough into a cylinder shape. Place the cylinder into i generously buttered loaf pan tucking the ends underneath the loaf. Press the dough firmly into the loaf pan. Brush melted butter on top and cover with a damp cloth.

When the loaf has dough has doubled in size, it's time to bake your bread. 400 degrees for 20 minutes. You'll know your bread is done when you thump it with your knuckle and you hear a hollow sound.

Although you'll be tempted to cut into it right away wait. Let the bread sit in the pan for 5 minutes. Brush the top with melted butter. Turn it out onto a cutting board and lay it on its side for 10 minutes. After that, cut yourself a slice. Before you slather it with butter taste it. If the bread is sour enough to your liking slather away and enjoy.

I cut slits in the top of mine
If your want it more sour, Continue doing doing Day 3 for a few more days and try making bread again. Repeat until you get the taste you enjoy.

To feed your starter add 1/2 c flour and water weekly. If you do not make bread every day or every other day, your starter can be stored in the refrigerator.  If you do, keeping your starter on the counter is fine. Remember, your starter is a living organism. Feed it and care for it lovingly and you will be rewarded with years of sourdough.

Y'all have a blessed day.