December 17, 2013

Lesson 148: So About This Flour ...

I'm sure you've been dying to know the story behind this post and picture. 

It all began last summer when Mark and I decided to become vegans. We were in an almond-milking, nut-snacking, garden to table cooking frenzy! We felt amazing, light, energetic, motivated.

I even started another blog called "I Don't Have a Clue: Vegan." It didn't take off. 

Full-disclosure. We also felt a little hungry.

(My college friends were totally underwhelmed by these meal plans.)

No processed foods. No meat. No cheese. No eggs. No dairy, which means no yogurt and no ice cream. It wasn't difficult to up the portion size of our veggie / fruit intake. We already loved all those healthy foods, but we realized that if we wanted to remain vegans, we had to figure out a healthy (inexpensive) way to incorporate bread.

Ezekiel bread is not inexpensive. 

But according to all this glutten-free literature, isn't bread the enemy?

I don't know, I'm not a doctor. I think the main reason for going glutten-free is because people experience slight (or serious) allergic reactions to glutten. I'm not sure of the benefits of cutting it out if you do not have an allergy.

To be honest, when I cut out dairy, I stopped having stomach pains, slept better at night, and smiled more. (Just kidding about the smiling bit.) So, who knows.

Anyway. A good friend, Lynsie, has been a part of a group of women who mill their own flour and bake their own bread for years. Her eating story is here and is worth a read. I am writing about milling flour after one go at it. She is a real miller!

She directed me to The Bread Beckers, who offer a free cd (yes, it is literally, a listen in your car, cd) that explains a plethora of health benefits from eating bread products baked from freshly ground whole wheat flour.

(Sidenote: The Bread Beckers theologize a lot explaining their reasons for starting their company and baking bread. I have to say, I do not fully endorse the way they use Scripture. However, the health information is incredibly helpful, and I do encourage their desire to serve the Lord with their lives and business.)

All in all, I was sold.

Now about getting wheat berries, a mill, and learning how to bake bread ...

Lucky for me, I have a dear friend, Teresa, who lives in town, who has access to an organic co-op, owns a mill, and loves to teach wanna-be's like me.

(Her husband has been instrumental in helping Mark with our compost pile.)

(Oh, and he married us.)

Together we purchased 50 pounds of wheat berries for $25! I wish I could give you a visual of just how much potential flour that is. Well, so much.

Something went wrong ... I ended up covered in flour!
 Wheat berries are amazing for a couple reasons. First, a wheat berry contains within itself a perfect completeness of nutrition. I'm not really sure what this means in specifics, but it's definitely a good thing. Second, as long as the wheat berry remains unmilled, it will continue to retain its complete nutritional value.

The second the berries are milled, the clock starts ticking and it begins to lose nutrients. This means that once you mill, you have to bake soon after, or else freeze the flour.

I decided that milling, baking from scratch (I'm traditionally a boxed cake kind of girl), and learning to bake bread was too much for a weekend that also included a Christmas party and church play. So, I reduced the grand plan and ended up just baking enough pancakes and muffins for the week.

Using Lynsie's recipes, I put on C. Underwood's Sound of Music in the background (My cliche response is that the remake was a flop.) and got to bakin'.

After 50 pancakes and 36 muffins,


Only a few casualties.

I still had this much milled flour to freeze,

And 48 pounds of wheat berries left at Teresa's.

I'd grade this first experience an A+. Milling was fun, baking was surprisingly simple, and the food was a hit! We are still eating pancakes 10 days later. (Freeze pancakes immediately, and they hold their nutrition.)

Next on the agenda ... bread. I just need to get my hands on a bread maker. I tried the kneading approach once and have completely forgotten the steps.

To complete the update, we are no longer vegans. That phase lasted two weeks. However, we did learn a lot in that time and try to eat a veggie-heavy diet with less dairy, less eggs, and less meat.

Yummy whole-grain breakfasts help with that!


Lesson Learned: I, Katherine Ashbaugh, can in fact bake something from scratch for my family. I do not need to rely on the Little Red Hen for everything!



8 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Move to Clover and we can learn more together ... :)

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  2. homemade bread is awesome. we have a bread machine but rarely use it bc making it is pretty easy. but the bread machine did help me learn!
    this is the most delicious, easiest recipe i've found: http://www.simplysogood.com/2010/03/crusty-bread.html

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    Replies
    1. YUM! Amanda, we will definitely be trying this recipe next week!

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  3. Yay!! How exciting! Your flour looks great, and I'll bet everything tastes AMAZING. "The Book of Bread" by Judith & Evan Jones caused me to really fall in love with bread-making. It's poetically descriptive, beautifully illustrated, and includes many types of loaves (from baguettes to kolache to croissants to donuts) and a brief history of each one. I recommend it highly!

    We tend to use our electric bread-maker for weekly loaves - it makes fine, soft bread that's good for sandwiches & toast - but when we have time, we love making bread by hand. You can do SO many things with it, and it's so much fun.

    Be sure to have plenty of butter on hand! ;-)

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    Replies
    1. Katy, I should get that bread-making book. I will put it on the Amazon Wishlist!

      When you move to Charlotte, you can come down and teach me everything you know! It will be super, super fun, and we'll eat really healthily!



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  4. I have some really yummy bread recipes that I use too - I don't buy bread at the store anymore! And I don't use a bread maker. I have it in the basement but by hand is almost as simple and tastes better in my opinion. BUT I use flour from the store. Does self-milled flour work exactly like the flour called for in recipes? I don't have a clue... but I'm ready to find out! :)

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    Replies
    1. Meredith, I have to be honest. I don't know if it bakes the same, b/c I haven't really baked much either way. But, Lynsie McDaniel is definitely a good source for asking this question. Do you know her? Her blog is ... http://onmymind-lyns.blogspot.com/

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