Strawberry Bliss

Feeding Myla in the middle of the strawberry field

We finally made it to a strawberry patch over the weekend! I’ve been itching to make homemade jam. Not only does it taste delicious, but it will also help us save some money. I love the jam that I get at the farmer’s market, and I dearly love the little old lady who I get it from (she’s filled with all sorts of excellent gardening advice!), but we go through a pint every other week (it’s yummy in homemade yogurt) and it’s hard for me to justify spending $4.50 per pint when I know I can make it myself for much less. So, Ryan, Myla and I went on Father’s Day and picked eight pounds of strawberries. I can’t think of any other word besides “contentment” to describe our adventure- out in the field with Ryan, showing Myla the strawberry plants and watching her explore the outdoors, wearing Myla in a wrap while picking the berries, smelling and munching on berries, and feeding Myla in the middle of the field. I admit I felt very at peace with nature sitting in the field breastfeeding Myla. It was bliss.

I made four pints of jam on Sunday night and then another six pints of jam on Monday morning. I had a pound left over which I froze to use in other recipes. I was excited to find (and use) Pomona’s Universal Pectin. Most pectin’s require a lot of sugar (white), but with Pomona’s I was able to make jam and use honey as the sweetener. If I wanted to, I could have used sugar (or alternative sugars) to sweeten the jam, but Pomona’s doesn’t call for nearly the amount of sweeter as other pectin brands do. I could have even made jam without any sweetener at all! The berries we picked were already quite sweet so I only ended up using about 3/4 cup of honey per four pints of jam- and it turned out beautifully (and is SO tasty!).

In other news, Ryan pointed out yesterday that we have significantly more dishes to wash now that we are making everything from scratch. I hadn’t realized it, but he is absolutely right- on any given day, I run the dishwasher twice during the day, and usually I still have some dishes sitting on the counter. I doubt there is any way around it, since I tend to do numerous projects (especially baking projects) all at the same time. I tend to think of it as a good thing though- it is satisfying to know that we are using our kitchen (more than just once a day for dinner…)!

In closing, I have to admit that a lot of things are going well in our wholesome venture. My garden is growing (mostly) and I’m getting better at prepping meals in advance when it is required, but one thing that is still a trainwreck is breadmaking. Last night I mentioned to Ryan that I was going to make a batch of bread on Tuesday, and he groaned. I had thought that my breadmaking skills were improving, but obviously not. We’ve limited our bread consumption to sourdough only, and I have made around seven or eight batches of bread since my starter came in the mail. I’m guessing it is because we use mostly spelt or whole wheat flour, but our loaves are incredibly dense. Ryan hates it. I tolerate it (because it is the only option for bread in the house), but know it definitely needs improvement. Ryan asked me last night why we don’t just buy sourdough bread. We very well could buy it. But, I refuse to quit breadmaking just yet. I am determined to figure it out. So, if anyone has any suggestions (or sourdough recipes- I’ve already tried several, but I’m open to trying others….) for how to improve my breadmaking skills, I’d LOVE to read them! In the meantime, here are some breadmaking questions I’ve been pondering (any thoughts you may have in response would be most appreciated):

  1. So, what exactly (besides mixing the ingredients) does kneading do?
  2. If I let the bread rise longer, will that make it more fluffy (or in general- how do I get fluffy bread)?
  3. When I feed the starter, should I always use water as the liquid? What would happen if I used milk or egg instead?

3 thoughts on “Strawberry Bliss

  1. taighbeag says:

    Nourishing Tradition’s Yeasted Buttermilk Bread always came out well for me. You may also want to try:

    Letting it rise longer
    Making sure the starter didn’t “die”
    Finding a higher gluten flour
    Letting your dough be a bit more sticky/watery

    I’m not that great at breadmaking myself. I should take it up again, though. I do like the Yeasted Buttermilk Bread

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