Monday, February 15, 2010

Bread and Butter

I have always found olden days prairie living intriguing. How did those women do it? They made all their own food and clothing, had no running water or electricity, schooled their children, and tended the home. In my quest for a healthier, thriftier, greener home and lifestyle, I have discovered this type of simple living is more attainable than I originally thought.

Today I made my first loaves of bread- whole wheat sourdough, from Bobbi's recipe.I loved the whole process: making a starter, seeing it bubble, mixing the dough, kneading it (10 minutes of wonderfully physical stress relief), forming the loaves, and especially smelling it when I came home this evening. There's just something special about making something from scratch and putting so much love into it that gives me a sense of fulfillment- kind of like having kids! And it's probably a good thing I found something like this to do because we are done making babies (once this one comes out, of course)! ;) Yes, I have become a bread-making lover. And of course, the Man loved it too!
Notes to self for next time: put bread someplace warmer to rise. Once I put the bowl of dough on the preheating stove, it rose so much faster. For a less sour-doughy flavor, make starter and bread the same day. I personally love this flavor, but I'm sure I will love it once it tastes more like sourdough too. Make this in the morning so the rising/baking process doesn't cut into dinner time.

This week I also made organic, raw, cultured butter. This too is pretty easy to do and yields such glorious results! It looks and smells like butter (unlike the yellow cultured mayonaise I made a few days ago, which took me a few days to work up the nerve to taste it and was actually pretty good), and it tastes so much better than store bought butter. I used cultured buttermilk to culture my cream because I couldn't find creme frache. The recipe is on Cindy's blog.

My cream after I cultured and refrigerated it

Looks like whipped cream

Starts to separate into buttermilk and butter chunks

Look at all that buttermilk!

Notes to self for next time: Save the buttermilk when you're done! Use it to make pancakes or bread. Save some of the cultured cream to culture the next batch's cream. Make a bigger batch! The health food store only had one pint of cream, so it only made about a cube or two of butter. Make the bread first! This butter is so yummy, it would've been nice to have fresh baked bread to go with it right away.

So as I have partially fulfilled my dreams of olden days "prairie living," I leave you with this encouragement: Make some bread this week. It is wonderfully fulfilling, and even gives you a good arm workout. ;)


  1. Great job on the butter, I am with you on the quest for simpler life. It is hard though because everyone here thinks I am crazy with all the things that I make. It is nice that you are on the same quest as me :)

  2. Nice job, Vanessa! I completely agree with the fulfillment of making bread. I LOVE the whole process. I will have to try making butter- thanks for posting pics, it takes a little of the anxiety out of it when you see pictures.

  3. Bobbi- I know what you mean! It can be a bit intimidating before you try it, but it is a pretty exciting process, and pretty simple. I loved watching the cream change before my eyes! It also gave me a new appreciation for my kitchenaid mixer!

    Nicole-What your mom is doing for us all is so great. It is nice to have a group of people all moving toward the same goal, and someone to lead us through the uncharted territory. We can all be crazy together with our yellow mayo, fizzing ginger, and cultured raw cream. ;)

  4. Looks really good Vanessa! Thinking about the "prairie life" puts things in perspective.

  5. I am just so glad I am not the only crazy lady in the room. Thanks for joining me guys!

    Vanessa, great, great job. Good looking guy there you are keeping healthy! The bread looks nice too :)

    Thanks for the pictures. It is so helpful to see it done. Since we can't go to each others kitchens, this is good!

  6. I know, he's pretty hot, right? ;0)