Saturday, November 13, 2010

Serious Dough

Do you know where your spoons are??? If these look familiar, please contact

Caring for your sourdough starter:
In a quart jar, mix 1/2 cup water (if it is chlorinated "city" water let stand in an open container for at least 24 hours before use), 1 cup flour, and all of the starter you brought home today.

Loosely put lid on jar and store in refrigerator until ready to feed it again and/or bake bread. It must be fed weekly by mixing 1/2 cup starter, 1/2 cup water, and 1 cup flour in a clean qt jar and returning to refrig. What's left after you take out 1/2 cup for replenishing is what you use for making bread or flatties.
Here's Angelina's rendition of how we made flatties at the workshop:

You start with what is left of the sourdough mixture when you remove 1/2 cup for the starter.

Add a dash of sugar
1Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp salt
a handful of caraway seeds
enough flour to make it handle like bread dough

The mixture is very yeasty. And you should knead this dough a fair bit unlike the quick bread. Let it set for 10 mins to 2 hours.
Pinch the dough into balls and flatten or roll them into discs. Grill them on a cast iron skillet.

Here is a recipe for white sandwich bread adapted from Sara Pitzer's leaflet Baking with Sourdough published by Storey Publ.
In a large bowl mix:
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/4 cup white flour
1 cup warm water
Let stand in a warm place for 10-24 hours til bubbly.
Heat 1 1/2 cups milk and melt in:
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter
Let 2nd mixture cool to lukewarm then stir into bubbly starter mix.
Beat in approximately 6 cups white flour to make kneadable dough.
Turn out on floured counter, cover with damp dish towel and let rest 10-15 minutes.
Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
Place dough in clean greased bowl, cover with damp towel and let rise until double in bulk (probably 2 or more hours).
Punch down and let rise until doubled a second time.
Knead it down and shape into 2 or 3 loaves (depending on pan size),
place in loaf pans, cover, and let rise til double.
Brush tops with melted butter. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes
until loaves are nicely browned, pull away from sides of pan, and sound hollow when tapped.
Wrap in towel to cool.

Mature wheat plants.
Round Irish Soda Bread and rectangular Basic Bread from today's workshop.
Salt available from Selina Naturally or from Debra for $5/pound.
Wheat berries from Lightning Tree Farm in Millbrook, NY available through Debra for $0.50/#.
For cheesemaking workshops see New England Cheesemaking Supply Co.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pi = ?

A Standard Pumpkin Pie Recipe:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix in a blender:
1 large can pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. flour
2 Tbsp. water
4 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla.
Pour into two 9" pie shells and bake 45-50 minutes until firm.
On Oct. 9, 26 pioneers learned to make a pie from scratch:
picking butternut squash and milling it,
boiling down maple sap to syrup,
grinding and grating whole spices,
gathering eggs,
milking a cow,
grinding flour,
rendering lard,
skimming cream and making butter.
Visit this link for the recipe of a full and exciting day:
See for future Old Style Life-Skills Series workshops and other potential adventures.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

We CAN Do!!!

On August 14, Master Canner, Wyatt Whiteman of 1760's Farmhouse in Fairfield, CT met in Cornwall at Local Farm to impart his wisdom to 15 canning wanna-be's. As one happy participant noted, "The 'Yes, We CAN Can' workshop was just that; a demystification of the canning process and an affirmation of our ability to go home and can whatever. Even though there was little formal instruction and we were all so busy doing various parts of the process that no one had time to step back and observe all the steps, the group accomplished SO much working in such a primitive set-up, I now feel confident that I could find and follow a recipe to can almost anything." Wyatt recommends the Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning and Freezing for recipes and instructions. Other informational/experiential tidbits we gained were...

Even after carefully washing and examining jars for chips and cracks, sometime you lose one.

We learned that pre-boiling beets and scalding tomatoes and peaches made them much easier to peel with next to no loss of produce. The skins just slipped off with minimal effort. However over-scalding fruit cooked it and made a sloppy mess.

Wyatt emphasized packing the jars very tightly so that they would still be full of fruit even after it had cooked, softened, and settled into place. We used knife handles and plastic spoons to release as many air pockets as possible so that the jars would not have a large empty space at the top after processing.
To ensure a good seal, one must leave the specified space between the produce in the jar and the CLEAN top rim. Carefully wipe off any spillage before putting on the lids and rings.

One can can acidic fruits (like tomatoes or peaches) and anything pickled with vinegar (like our dilly beans and pickled beets) with the hot water bath method. Everything else must be canned with a pressure canner. Wyatt recommends heating the loaded canner until steam has been pouring out of the top for ten minutes, then put on the pressure valve and start timing according to your recipe. A big fan of pressure canning method, Wyatt says "It uses half the time, half the energy, and a great deal less worry."

We discovered the truth in the adage, "Many hands make light work."

Working with others makes the job so much more fun AND productive!

Wyatt's DVD, A Visual Guide to Canning, is available for $12 from For other Motherhouse workshops and events, visit

Monday, July 19, 2010


Jamming experts Brent Prindle and Joanne Wojtusiak.
Home kitchen jam and jelly makers of the best kind.At the end of the day we would go home with four types of jam and jelly.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
Blueberry Jam
Rhubarb Ginger Jam
Green Apple Jelly

Green Apple Jelly
3 1/3 pounds green apples
4 2/3 cups granulated sugar
6 1/3 cups water
Juice of one small lemon

Rinse the apples in cold water. Remove the stem and cat the fruit into quarters without peeling them. Put them in a pan and cover them with water. When the apple mixture comes to a boil, simmer for half an hour over on low heat.
Collect the juice by pouring the preparation into a fine chinois sieve and pressing lightly on the fruit with the back of a skimmer. Now filter it a second time though cheese cloth, which you have wet and wrung out.

Pour 4 1/4 cups of the juice into a preserving pan with the lemon juice and the sugar. Bring to a boil, skim, and continue cooking on high heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Skim again if necessary. Return to a boil. Check the set. Pour the jelly into jelly jars and seal.

This jelly is used as pectin for low pectin fruit.

Ginger Rhubarb Jam

4 cups diced fresh rhubarb
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine rhubarb, sugar, ginger and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Let stand until sugar is moistened by juices, about 20 minutes. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until thick and clear.
Skim off foam. Ladle into hot sterilized canning jars and seal immediately.

Blueberry Jam

Blueberries are low in acid and equal amounts of blueberries and sugar will not set without added pectin. Pectin packages contain recipes that are really sure fire and easy to follow. The one on the Ball powdered pectin product follows:

4 cups crushed blueberries (use a potato masher)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package of dry pectin
4 cups sugar

Combine blueberries and lemon juice and gradually add pectin. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Add entire measure of sugar and stir to dissolve. Return mixture to a rolling boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and skim off foam. Ladle into clean, warm jars taking care not to spill any jam on rim.Place hot lid on top and apply ring, but not too tightly. Turn jars upside down for 5 minutes to seal. Turn right side up and check for seal by pressing down on the lid, there should be no give.

According to Joanne there are three must have books.

It was a lovely day and much was learned by all.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

EGG-sperience Chickens

That yummy looking chicken on your dinner table? Did you ever wonder were it came from? Well we did and now we know.

First it's a little baby fuzz ball that comes in the mail. You can get mail order chicks from Murray McMurray and many other hatcheries The post office is always very eager to get them to you and will probably call repeatedly until you pick them up.
When you get them home you need to put them in a draft free box. They should have a light for warmth. Food can go on the floor for the first couple days. Water can go in jar lids. After about two days you'll need to start using feeders and waterers.
And in a few weeks they get big enough to go outside. Once they are ready to go outside there are many different styles of chicken coops to keep them in.
These are Buff Orpington pullets

and these are white broilers the same age.They are the same age but the broilers are much bigger then the layers because they are bred to grow big and fast. We would recommend that you raise a heritage breed like Kosher Kings. You can get Kosher Kings from Clearview Hatchery in PA 717-365-3234. The standard white broilers have all sorts of problems like they are prone to heart-attacks and leg issues.

If you don't like reading about slaughtering then don't read any farther.

After we had walked around and seen the set up for the live chickens we got ready to kill, pluck, gut and dress. You shouldn't feed your chickens for 24 hours before hand. When you go to bring your bird to where you're going to kill it, pick it up by its feet so the blood goes to its head and it doesn't struggle.

Then you hang them up by the feet against a flat surface. Another way that works really well is an up-side-down old traffic cone with the end cut off.

First you open the beak and then you stick your knife up through the roof of the mouth and twist it. Then you slit the bird's throat and let it bleed out.

You need to hold the bird still after you have killed it until its death throws have stopped.
If you're using cones you don't need to worry about this.

Once the bird is dead it's time to pluck it.
We scald them first so the feathers come out easier (it also makes the bird stink wretchedly, but it really helps with the feathers so it's worth it). The water should be about 180F. It helps to put some dish soap in to break the natural waterproofing on the bird's feathers. They're done when you can pull tail and wing feathers out. If you scald them to long they start to cook and then the skin rips when you are plucking.

Now it is time to clean and dress them.

The first step is to take the head off.
You cut a ring around base of the head cutting through the muscles and tendons. Then you grab the head and twist it off. DO NOT try to cut the bone. It kills your knife.

Once the head is gone next comes the feet. You put the bird on its back. Then you take one of the legs and bend it backward so you can see the joint. You'll see two sets of two round lumps and you cut right in between them.
The joint will separate, so you don't need to cut the bone.

Next flip the bird back over onto its front. Then slit the skin on the neck starting from in between the wings.

Use your fingers to separate the skin and gland from the neck and then the glands from the skin.
Then you make another ring like the one you made to remove the head at the bottom of the neck. Once again NO CUTTING BONE. And break and twist the neck off.

While the bird is on its front it's time to remove the oil gland.
They are on top of the tail.

Now it is time open the cavity. Flip the bird onto its back. You make a small cut across horizontally and then use your fingers to finish it. Be careful not to cut the intestines. Then you cut down and around the anus in a horseshoe shape.
Next you reach in with two fingers and loosen every thing from the top of the cavity.
Once everything's free from the top you reach forward to the front of the cavity. You'll feel a small hard lump. It's the heart. Grab around it and pull.

Everything should come out.

After all the guts are out you can pick out and save the heart, liver and gizzard. When taking the liver remove the gall bladder. Do not break it!! It will taint the meat and make it bitter.

The only thing that won't come out are the lungs. You need to reach back in and get them. The lungs are attached in the front of the cavity on either side of the backbone. Use your fingers in a hooking motion and they should come out.

That should be everything, just check and make sure. Then hose the bird out well.

Keep the bird in you frig at least 24 hours before you cook it.

Yummy dinner!