Creativity Leads to Self Sufficiency

Every article I write is aimed at this realization.

By suggesting that “traditional skills” are indeed important to cultivate in our modern day, I hope to inspire others, especially the less inclined to be creative type people, to learn a craft. If every person would just experiment and find a craft or skill that they could develop a talent for, then every person would be able to feel that they had something to offer to the world.

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The “end of the world” proclamations and jokes are ever abounding. More and more people are seeking out how to live outside of a city, how to grow gardens, how to make food from scratch, and essentially to adapt into a lifestyle of homesteading or “prepping”. None of these are unworthy goals. All are indeed wonderful and essential skills and goals to have. The threats and the “what-ifs” are always there and even seem to be increasing as time passes.

Computer Sciences are also a very real skill that is required in this modern day. It is nothing to sneeze at. But imagine, we lost the ability to use our modern technologies? Having a trade-skill in that scenario would be priceless. The great thing is that while we have it…we should use it! Learning and gaining knowledge has never been easier. The internet is a valuable tool for those that seek to be educated.

Will it ever happen? That’s in God’s hands.  If I (and suggestively “you”) don’t take the steps to cultivate some of these skills into my (our) everyday living and teach them to friends, neighbors, children, and grandchildren, then the traditional skills that our ancestors built this nation on, will die out. In the event of an “end of the world” scenario, too many will not know how to build it back up again. We have forgotten how to be creators, how to imagine something and then have the skill set to be able to build it.

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Our best friend’s recently built their own home from the ground up. It is the cutest little dry cabin in the woods ever! My husband and I helped a bit with the construction, and all of us learned what it takes to build a home as it was constructed piece by piece. We had the worst winter in years, and that little hand-built, owner engineered house withstood it all and kept a family of seven warm and cozy. I have to say we are all feeling pretty good about that, and it proved that we really can do things ourselves. 

 

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

P.S. I was lucky enough to chat with writer and Youtube hostess Esther Emery of Fouch-O-matic Off Grid on her homestead wife channel about how yarn and fiber arts are relative to homesteading, preparedness and survival. Watch it below or go here!

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The Treasure of Handmade

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For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also..” Matthew 6:21

Before I truly begin this posting I need to insert the link to this fabulous article written by Camille Curtis Anderson in a 1996 issue of a magazine that is published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that I am a member of, called the Ensign. I cam across this article just now as I was researching some quotes and scripture to add words to my feelings on the topic I wanted to discuss today. This article said exactly what has been on my heart, I could literally post this link and be finished with writing for today. No doubt, I will be quoting Camille a few time throughout this posting.

The idea of this website is not just to share historical tidbits of days past, but also to teach how to implement them for ourselves in our modern society and truly  create a home that we love, and to treasure the work of our own hands. You can read the article by Camille here.

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Reading the other articles on this site you will notice that most of my learning has come from books. The internet adds to the variety and modernism of this knowledge, while the books tend to be more of historical content.

Some of the skills such as basic sewing, crochet, and even a bit of weaving were witnessed during my childhood while spending time with crafty grandmothers and aunts. My mother was also a very creative individual. She has always been very skilled at “making do”, and using the materials available to create the things needed. I know for certain that these women in my life played an important role in the development of my talents. It is clear in many of my projects how the talents of these women has influenced the way that I create.

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The above picture shows a hand/dish towel I made this past week. It has a bit of a story to it. The blue cotton yarn that makes up the edging came from a sweater I deconstructed (unraveled) to recycle yarn. It was my first fully successful frogged sweater! The body of the towel did not begin with the intent that it would be such. Actually, I had started it thinking that this weeks topic was going to be a tutorial on how to combine needle arts with sewing to make cute curtains. This cotton yarn did not balance well with the fabric I intended to use, so like-mother-like-daughter, I did  not let my efforts go to waste but transformed it into a useful item after all. Just this afternoon it was put to work sopping up spilled peach juice from my son’s lap.

In speaking about pioneer ancestors and the hard labors they endured, Camille wrote:

These domestic labors were their way of weaving discernible threads of accomplishment throughout the unrelenting elements of their world. The austere surroundings of many women moved them to create beauty with simple objects.

Creating “beauty with simple objects”, does provide a respite from the mundane. It was much more enjoyable to clean up a spill with a handmade towel. I was able to think “something I made is useful” instead of : ” <sigh> more laundry to do…”.

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My oldest daughter (15) is currently helping to bless our home with handmade items by embroidering flour sack towels. We made a goal, after our fire and the kitchen remodel, that our kitchen would be strongly influenced by the handmade arts. She has completed 3 of 13 by working on it a little here, a little there. They are beautiful and know we will treasure the completed set.

When women have something tangible to show for their labor, it reinforces feelings of worth. -Camille

I would argue that the same should be considered for men as well. All people feel accomplished when their labors count for something.

My husband helped me with this peg loom.

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I wrote about it a little last week and the rug that I made and then gave to him for his side of the bed. He is reminded daily of both of our efforts to create more and buy less. And I think it would be safe to assume that he “treasures” that rug.

This week I experimented again with the peg loom. The goal was to create something small and useful. Potholders have a high importance in the kitchen and I have wanted to begin replacing the store-bought ones we have with handmade. I remember using the little plastic looms and stretchy loops as a kid to weave potholders-in fact my girls now have one of those kits, it was time for me advance my potholder weaving skills.

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Honestly, my first attempt at a potholder was not as satisfactory as the rug. But as I set it up for photographs to share, I realized that satisfactory to my standards or not, it is still a useful tool in our kitchen.

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Just how the crocheted towel came to be and all of the other projects that have been completed to beautify our life:

There is joy that comes….to make one’s home shine. As my hands shape the environment of my family, I love even more that place in which I labor. -Camille

Creating a home we love to live in doesn’t have to be difficult. It is most often the simplest of items that tend to the feelings of satisfaction and happiness.

Add some handmade to your home. A little here, a little there. Made by you, someone you care about, a purchase from an artisan on Etsy or even a thrifted handmade item . It will make a difference in the atmosphere that influences your family daily, and make the day to day chores like dishes, cooking and laundry a little more enjoyable.

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

p.s.

There are some free patterns on this site for knitted dishcloths. More patterns will be added so make sure to subscribe so the pattern announcements will make it to your inbox or Facebook feed.

To subscribe by email click the button on the side bar.

To stay connected via Facebook go here and like the page.

Journal Your Way (part II)

The snow is falling on our little log cabin in the mountains of Idaho today. In fact, there is a winter advisory in affect until late tonight-we could be standing knee deep in snow tomorrow!

For me, this is the perfect time for projects. With Christmas just a few weeks away there are plenty of projects to choose from. Today, I hope to inspire you to work on a new project this winter.

In Part I of this journaling series I asked the reader if they were recording their life and then went on to share why keeping a record is important.

Something that helps me is to have materials available to inspire me in whatever my goal is. For journal writing this means a book/notebook that pleases me and a pen, that works.

Here are 10 ideas, so you can Journal Your Way:

1. Altered Composition Book 

I love these ones because they are so inexpensive and easy!! This is an option I use for my different planners and kids journals we use for homeschool and such. Type this search into google, Pinterest, or Youtube and you will find a plethora of ideas. To get you started here is just a couple of ideas for altering a composition book:

**This one is just a simple way to decoupage the cover to make it cute. I picked this example because I loved the motivation behind the creation. They were prepping for a  MOPS group craft under the theme “A Beautiful Mess: Embrace Your Story”. I have also seen this process using fabric: http://www.craftytexasgirls.com/2013/08/make-it-beautiful-mess-notebook

**The next one is how to make a “junk journal”. So, basically you put all sorts of random items and papers creating an interesting collection of stuff plus journaling. This is the first video in a 3 part series and is just the intro into what it looks like:

(*If you like this one you might also like to search: smash journal)

 

2.Bullet Journaling “track the past,organize the present, plan for the future”

Pay attention to the make-up of this system of journaling. The current system (Life Journaling) that I use is a personalized version of this and I will be sharing it in Part III of this series.

There are now fancy “bullet journals” you can buy, but it also works to get the composition books that have graph paper. View the original “How To” video below, but if you look there are many more videos of different versions on the Tube and Pinterest.

 

3.Repurposed Book

This is one I really want to try. My daughter and I love old books and they always draw our attention when we are at the thrift store.

**This first example demonstrates how to completely remove and replace the pages:

https://itsalisa.com/2013/06/08/how-to-turn-an-old-book-into-a-new-journal/

**The next one is more “artsy” and this is what I want to do…it involves painting the pages. I have also seen examples where several pages are glued to gather to make them thicker. This is a popular choice of methods when making an Art Journal which is next up on our list. This method could also be used when altering a composition notebook.

http://www.punkprojects.com/2012/04/salvaging-book

4.Art Journaling

If you have a creative soul and need an outlet this would be a perfect pick. Many people use it as a method of therapy.

This is a sweet little video explaining what Art Journaling is. Simply put: it’s anything you want it to be. After watching this video I was inspired to create an art journal as a collection of my favorite quotes, thoughts, or ideas that are in my completed Life Journals. What a fun way to go back and be visually reminded and inspired.

 

5. Blogging or Vlogging

These are the tech versions of a journal, and while the purpose of this series is to inspire you to pull yourself away from the social recording of events, I understand there are some who express themselves best through a keyboard or video. In this case I do encourage you to follow your heart BUT, somehow, someway make something that can be held in a hand, or found in a box.

If you keep a blog: consider getting it turned into a printed book every few months to a year (depending on how often you make entries). I have an old homeschooling blog that I really need to do this for. Time did not allow me to watch the whole video-but this looked like a good explanation on how to do it:

For the Vlog journal (a video journal) I would suggest that you keep some sort of written log of your content. Making an Art Journal of your titles with some quotes, or creating a topic log in an altered composition book, or bullet journal style that has alphabetical tabs or perhaps by months would be a simple way to keep a written life record.

6. Recipe Journal

I could not find a good example that I liked for this one. Really it is because none of them fully implemented the idea I wanted to suggest. There are however, many ideas out there on making personalized cookbooks. The idea I wanted to suggest was to take this a step further, leave space or even pages on or between the recipes to record memories that are attached to them. Especially if they are those treasured recipes handed-down from Grandma. What a great way to record the stories behind the food. I know at our house-life happens in the Kitchen-oo I think I just found the title of my Recipe Journal! Perhaps there is future series in it….

7.Genealogy/Family Tree Journal

This one I actually thought up over the summer during all of the family reunions. I thought “I should totally bring some sort of scrap book or large journal to the reunion. There should be a picture of each person/family and then everyone should write memories/stories associated with them.” It didn’t happen because as usual, my ideas are more that my time, but now that it has had some time to hang out in my idea center-it could be one of those projects I pull out and prep for future reunions!

If you are really zealous about family history, you could compile old photos and create more of a scrapbook style record. Then try to interview family members for the stories and memories that should be added with the photos. Here is an example of someone who has done this:

http://dreams-of-days-gone-by.blogspot.com

8. Scrapbook Journal

Similar to the idea above ,this journal involves photos of events or just in general. At the beginnings of our family I did well to print photos and add explanations into scrapbooks. Several kids later and the pictures are just in boxes or worse-on a hard drive. Here is another inspiration for you from my idea center that has been sitting collecting dust: Pick an event, a month, or other category. Print just those photos. Have scrapbooking materials available. Give the kids the pictures and supplies. After they have created their own scrapbook pages-you write the explantation or memories on the page. Or if they are old enough, they can ask and record the stories themselves! Tahdah! Everyone’s scrapbooks get filled up and they can have fun with photos of themselves. When one group of photos is completed order the next set!  Someday I will do this!!

9.Birthday Journal

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This works for yourself or to create for your children or grandchildren. It is for those who really aren’t inspired to write often but can manage to write something once a year. When my first daughter was born I was given a journal that had a spot for a photo on the cover. It inspired me to put a photo of her, and then recored events of her life in it. At first it was fairly often as babies change so quickly. Then gradually it has turned into a once a year record on her birthday. I tend to sum up our year, and how she has changed. Often telling her of the accomplishments she has made and how her father and I are impressed. I plan on giving this to her when she ventures out of the nest-which isn’t that far away.

I just had a thought-if I were to start over I would add a story from my life at the same age for a fun comparison and record. I suppose I could do that now with future entries.

10. Life Journal

Last of all, this is the style of journal I am currently using every day, and was the inspiration behind this series. It compiles needs of everyday life-such as grocery lists, planning, and notes, with journaling. We will take a look at it in the next post of this series.

Until then, think about and research which type of journal suits your personality and needs.You might be like me and compile some of these ideas into one. Remember:

It doesn’t have to be just words on a page-you really can Journal Your Way!

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Read Part I of this series to learn how taking the time to journal can benefit your life.

The Best Way to Eat Oats

 

th.jpegGoldilocks knew what she was doing when she searched out the best bowl of porridge on the Bear’s table.We really should pay more attention to the Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales that have been around for decades. There are many lessons to learn, and they aren’t all morals. In the case of Goldilocks, she did not turn her nose up at the meal available in the cozy Bear cottage. In fact, she tried each bowl until she found one at the perfect temperature and then gobbled it all up!

Oats are a grain that have one of the highest physic acid measurements. Meaning, it is hard for our bodies to digest it unless properly prepared. Like wheat and other grains, it simply takes a pre-soaking to prepare oats for easier digestion.

Our family of 9 uses oatmeal as a main course for breakfast most days. The biggest complaint used to be that it did not last, and tummies were growling before lunch. Now that we are prepping our oats the night before however, the hunger monsters are kept at bay a little longer.

We buy our oats in bulk and keep it in a 5 gallon bucket with a gamma lid:

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The night before oatmeal is on the menu for breakfast, we simply fill a pot with the amount needed (about a 1/2 cup per person), enough water for them to swim and then add a large dollop of plain yogurt (about a 1/2 cup to our whole pot). This is all mixed, lidded and set on the countertop or stovetop overnight. The yogurt has those fabulous live cultures that begin breaking down the the oats for us. This process can also be done with apple-cider vinegar for those that are dairy intolerant-but it is recommended to rinse the oats before cooking them to lessen any flavor of vinegar that might linger.

When the morning comes we add more water, enough for the oats to swim again, and then heat the pot on a medium-low heat or low heat for a longer time period, until the oats are soft and the porridge is thickened. To further aid our bodies in assimilating the nutrients found in oats, we add in some animal fat-usually in the form of butter and a splash of milk. Then a variety of toppings are welcomed to the bowls as desired, such as: raisins, coconut flakes, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, ground flax etcetera. Somedays we really mix things up and add some pureed pumpkin to the pot or apples and cinnamon before cooking. Porridge has become such a a favorite staple that when the toddler doesn’t like what’s on his dinner plate, he asks for porridge!

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I wanted to fill this bowl with oats for the photo prop-but the gamma lid was stuck! sigh.

It is something worth trying. Put it on rotation with eggs, yogurt and muffins, and cream of wheat, and you will never miss the boxed (or bagged) cereal.

Now for a few words on animal fats: butter and lard

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It was mentioned above that animal fats added to the oats help our bodies to absorb the nutrients available. This is also true with not only other grains but other foods such as sweet potatoes. The make-up of these fats are such that they grab on to the nutrients and carry them appropriately throughout our bodies. Butter, lard and fat in general have gotten a bad reputation for a long time. Most people now avoid them as much as possible…and look what has happened to our digestive systems and ability to assimilate foods-especially grains. Instead, we are using highly processed, chemically engineered substitutes that do nothing for us but trick our taste buds and brains into thinking it is food.

Two years ago we found out that I have a soy allergy. With the removal of soy from our home it has brought back in these healthy animal fats. We also use olive oil, and coconut oil-each have there purposes in the kitchen. Lard has been a big discovery. It replaced vegetable shortening in recipes and is what we use to grease pans. There was some concern at first that it would leave an “icky” taste, but that has not been the case. Granted, it is not something I would use in a frosting recipe or even cookies-butter and coconut oil do their jobs well in those areas. It actually creates a delicious crust on our bread and pizza’s and makes wonderfully tasty biscuits. A friend of ours has also reported that it makes the best tortillas, which we plan on trying soon.

We should also note that my husband I have not gained weight on this diet change-but actually lost weight!

So there you have it, truth found in the stories of our youth.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

 

The Story of Wild Yeast (a.k.a Sourdough Starter)

mmmm. bread.

IMG_1844.jpgSince the air is chilly and our furnace has decided to not warm us, I decided that today would be a fine day to bake. The warmth from the oven and the calories burned from rushing around the kitchen did prove well to keep my fingers and toes with feeling.

Last week I shared the recipe for my Basic Bread (pictured above), with the promise to feed your bread cravings more this week and delve into the topic of sourdough.

Let me first start by saying that bread is the most basic of foods. It has been around for ages-literally! The very first mention of bread that has been found dates back to Biblical times, Genesis even. Of course, the first forms of bread were unleavened, meaning they were flat and dense. As man experimented with foods, the discovery was made that when a mixture of flour and water is left out for a few days it begins to create a gas. This mixture then when added to a recipe of bread dough causes the bread to rise-enter in leavened bread.

We call this change: fermentation, and it results because of what we have named yeast. Yeast is actually in the air around us all of the time. The white stuff that accumulates on the tops of apples or other fruit is wild yeast! So when the flour and water mixture is left out, yeast from the air is attracted to it. Yeast loves the wheat flour because it is sugar-and yeast thrives on sugar!

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While you can now buy yeast commercially, once-upon-a-time, the only way to make a yeast or leavened bread was by keeping a sourdough starter. This starter was so cherished that it was passed down as an heirloom! This type of yeast can be kept alive indefinitely as long as it is fed and kept in it’s preferred temperatures.

There is lots of really great information I could ramble on about sourdough starter and its benefits, but there are also many many great books on the subject. Instead, I will just list the books on my kitchen shelf at the end of this post. The same goes for the process that wheat should go through in order to become a nutritious part of our diet. Wheat has really gotten a bad reputation the past couple of years, and that is largely because we have forgotten how to be slow in our processes in order to allow our foods to fully benefit us and become digestible. My friend Esther Emery had some video time with our other friend Angela who has been teaching us all how we can come to a full appreciation of wheat through adding back in the steps that have been removed through commercially processed wheat or bread. Check out their video here.

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My sourdough starter was recently resurrected from certain death. This household has been a crazy whirlwind of all things that take all time. Which resulted in the neglect of my starter. I was doing so well at caring for it, I even took it on a two week trip this past summer! That is where it ended and was forgotten. But, thankfully I have this really great book (listed below) that walked me through what I needed to do to save my wild yeast. I will be honest, I was not a believer that it could be saved. But after following the step-by-step process over the course of a week, my stater is alive and happy in my refrigerator once again!

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This bread was made with natural wild yeast. I used my tried and true Basic Bread Recipe but omitted the commercial yeast. Instead, I used two cups of my sourdough started. When you do this it does add extra liquid not accounted for in the original recipe. You have two choices on how to combat this. A: reduce the liquid by about a cup or B: add more flour.  My chosen method is usually B. The only reason I might choose A, would because I don’t want to increase my dough yield. But with a family a 9, having more dough is never a problem-especially when it is this delicious!

The next thing that is different when baking with wild yeast vs. commercial, is that it takes longer to rise. I have read however that you can reduce the rise time of sourdough bread made with wild yeast by increasing the amount of starter-but I have not experimented with that yet. I am actually very happy to mix up our family bread before I go to bed at night, tuck it into the bread pans covering it with a clean towel, and turning off the kitchen light until the next morning. Yes, this particular method can result in the bread taking up to 12 hours to rise. I only do one rise, as soon as the dough is mixed and kneaded it goes right into the greased pans. The first time I experimented with this method I kept checking to see if it had risen yet, and I was certain that my wild yeast was not alive and happy as it should be to rise bread. But when I returned to it in the morning it had indeed turned into the perfect loaf, ready to bake. To bake, I have been following the advise in Nourishing Traditions (listed below) to bake it at 350* for 1 hour. It comes out beautiful every time! And what a wonderful thing to have the bread for the day done an hour after I have pried my eyes open.

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Not a fan of sourdough? That’s okay, this method could still work for you. If you are using your started at least every other day I have found that the bread is not very sour. Now, if you do enjoy a good sour bread-you should take out the amount of starter for your recipe and let it set for a couple of hours before you use it-or even over night. Adding that fermentation time will give you a more sour bread.

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Right now as I type, this lovely ball of dough is rising upstairs and waiting for me to turn it into  yummy dinner rolls to go with our tummy warming vegetable-beef soup that has also been simmering on the stovetop all afternoon! The rolls where made with my sourdough starter, but due to the time-frame in which I needed them to be edible, I added a wee bit of commercial yeast. My family will be glad that I did, I think they would prefer to eat dinner at 6p.m. not 1 a.m.!

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And in the morning we will get to dive into this bowl of pumpkin muffins that baked and warmed the kitchen today. If I had starter that needed used, I could have put some into this batch of muffins as I sometimes do, but today my starter was busy enough. There are 32 of them, even so, I will need to stand guard that there are some leftover after breakfast for snacking on later. We love muffins around here!

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Don’t forget to check out the titles below and to go watch the awesome video my friends put together! 

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Both of these books can be found easily on Amazon:

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (she has a few other titles on my book list as well)

Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast Recipes for Whole Grain Health by Melissa Richardson (she also has another book: The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast of which she recommends reading first if you are new to sourdough. I may get it in the future. The one I ordered is because I was interested in the listed recipes-but it proved to me much more valuable since it saved my starter from being thrown out!)

Check out Esther on her other channel and also on her website as well. She is an amazing woman!

Next week: The benefits of Pig Fat and Porridge……trust me

Four-in-One Bread Recipe

In my opinion, there is nothing better than the  yeasty warm aroma of fresh homemade bread.

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My bread adventure began with a desire to make and indulge in my own yummy breads. Having no experience in baking much at all, I started with a bread maker. While it got the job done, it never really fulfilled my homemade bread craving.

During a visit, I enlisted my sister-in-law to walk me through the steps of bread baking and to share her basic recipe.After several dense loaves and doughy centers, I did succeed at making a delicious loaf of bread. Once, that happened there was no stoping me.

How could such an important staple skill be so forgotten? How quickly mother’s and grandmother’s opted for buying bread instead of making it at home, and thereby neglecting to teach their children that it could be done.

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It was not uncommon long ago before even the advent of the electric oven, that by age 10 girls were tasked with the baking of the family bread. At our house, the ten year old does indeed help, but she has not yet been released to make it on her own. Partially because, I enjoy baking the bread myself so much!

There is something about being able to say “I made that.”.

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For our family of 9 (seven kids, two adults), we need to bake two loaves of bread every other day. Two loaves is the standard recipe amount, so this translates into making bread about three to four times per week. This is also just for our standard-use bread. If we want to have french bread or rolls with a particular meal, then that is made the day of.

Every Friday is Pizza Night!

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While it does take time-it doesn’t take so much time that it isn’t worth it. In fact, when I get into the rhythm, I wonder why I ever buy bread. Of course, there are seasons in life that demand the convience of store-bought. Babies, illness, and remodeling the kitchen are just a few examples of times when we slow our bread baking and supplement with store-bought. Also there is a cost-savings when it come to the grocery budget of a large family.

Here is my most basic of bread recipes that lives in my head always: 

The recipe is a jpeg file photo so you can click and save it or print it easily! If it is difficult to read as-is double click and your device should enlarge it as a photo.

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Next time we will learn all about Sour Dough and the benefits of being patient!

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

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