MUCH BETTER

Not a lot happening on the farm on this mid- summer weekend. The weather is hot and drier lately so John has been baling the straw left over from the wheat crop. As the cover crop of clover begins to take off, I think the straw will become hay! Next year will be corn and then corn stalks so we need to get as much straw as possible. A few years worth.

The loss of Sheila still sits beside me. Like a good old dog I must let her go now but I not ready yet. We all must let go our pets eventually. Pet is such a small word that does not cut it. It is interesting the connection between man and beast. How strong it is, yet how short. And why do people have to live so long when our dear companions only have such short lives.

For a while I felt like a child’s balloon with the string cut. You know the feeling. It takes a little while to come back down again.

There is just so much going on and big parts of a persons life are not for a public forum such as this. I often remind myself that everyone has silent struggles – we will never know of them – so we must try to be kind.

Today I send another 40 Bake Your Own Bread in a Box Kits to Chicago. I am told they have been well received by the households we are donating to through IGrow Chicago. I think they will do even better as the summer lifts and the Autumnal cool slides back in.

The Janie’s Mill bakers and you all, have donated 408 kits. And that does not count this weekend. I am so proud of this.

Not one duckling hatched – once again. I took all the ducks off their nests; made under trees, in long grass beside the track, in the gardens and sheds and barns. They were ( and still are) everywhere. At least 15. The stink of rotting and popping eggs is pervasive – getting into every corner of the farm. Some have remade the nests and laid more eggs and are sat again. There is only one drake now and I wonder if he is just too young to be fertile. Or these ducks are like mules and cannot re-produce.

The pond continues in it’s construction at a pace. John and his friends keep scouring the local farms for piles of rocks. The ducks are not waiting for completion though. There is always a little water in the bottom of the developing pond and the ducks hobble down the rocks and in for a good swim. I got on the back-hoe myself the other day and deepened their puddle pond in the corridor paddock but they prefer the new pond already.

WaiWai was appalled that I deepened his puddle. He lost the shallow drinking edge – ( though I made him a better one) – Wai is a creature of habit. He has spent all summer covered in zinc cream. His skin is way too thin for the sun. Such a grumpy pig.

Well, it is Sunday here. And a beautiful day. I need to make more bread today.

I made a lunchbox loaf yesterday (specifically for my breakfast at work) – two loaves.

1000 grams of whatever flour needed finishing up ( Glenn, Red Fife, Bono) + 800g water. ( whip or sieve to combine the dry ingredients before adding the water). I gave this a good two hours autolyse because of the Red Fife. During this time I soaked two cups filled with cracked rye, raisins, flax seeds, sprouts, assorted nuts and seeds, a lemons worth of zest, plus two cups of rough cut oats, all in warm water with molasses. After one hour I strained the oaty, fruit and nut mixture and added 200g sourdough starter. After another hour I added the oat and sourdough mixture to the flour and mixture. I turned it out on to a floury counter and pressed in 20g salt.

I gave it a couple of folds over an hour or so – this is a very wet dough so I used the bench scraper. Divided and rolled into shape and set the dough in two loaf tins to rise for the day.

Sprinkle with rolled oats.

Use a lot of steam in the oven. Bake at 500F for ten minutes then 450 for ten minutes then 375 for 40 minutes. This is a dense bread designed for nutrition during the work day, not prettiness, so the loaves will need a good long cook.

When the loaves are very cold – slice and freeze. My house is not air conditioned so freezing is best. Every day I bring out a couple of slices, slather the frozen slices with butter then wrap them and stow in my lunch bag for my breakfast at work.

I start work at 5.30 in the morning so by 8am, when all my teams are up and running, my sandwich is perfectly thawed and ready for a munch with the last of my coffee.

I hope you all have a good day.

Take care

Celi

36 Comments on “MUCH BETTER

  1. I’d say that a pet is better described as a family member maybe. it seems more fitting for the connection and levels of attachment made over time. p.s. you are a bread master, that is clear )

  2. Good Morning, Celi! The bread looks wonderful! I’m glad you’re feeling better able to cope, and I hope the silent struggles in your life resolve themselves as well. I’m always glad to see your emails in my inbox. Have a good day!!

  3. That bread looks pretty professional and tasty! One of these days I want to come to the mill. Are you right behind the gas station?

  4. There are so many better descriptors for the lovely Sheila: crony, confederate, confidant, companion. She was utterly sympathetic, utterly discreet, the ultimate one-woman pig. No wonder the hole she has left is even larger than her considerable bulk. I am glad you are busy so that you don’t feel the hole every second of every day. That sprouted bread sounds wonderful, rib-sticking stuff. Stay well, Miss C.

  5. Your bread is a wonderful sight! Beautiful! I don’t do sourdough, but I aspire to loaves like that with regular yeast. Sorry that the ducks are not cooperating, maybe you need a new drake.

    Yes, we all have our private and very personal struggles, most of which are not easily solvable in a neat and perfect way. But hopefully we all keep on going and dealing, one day at a time. So good to hear that Wai Wai is grumbling his way along as usual!

  6. Do you know where the baking kits get distributed? It is a good idea.

    This morning I just finished making my first batch of pesto of the season. mmmmmm!

    • I take them up to a neighborhood community pantry in Chicago called IGrow. They are more than a pantry though. They are having an amazing kids summer program at the moment.
      pesto!!!

  7. Between your baking bread, food donations, daily chores, images of the farm and stories, these could be a metaphor for this year. Helping where you are able, working through one day at a time. Encouraging others. A tough year for so many, but a farmer knows that hardship refines and strengthens. Be well

  8. The perspective of the cat at the edge of the pond shows the size of your John’s endeavor! I just finished my own breakfast, but I would not refuse a slice of that bread covered in butter 🙂

  9. Yummy bread! You are an artist with flour! The rhythm of making the bread is so soothing. I think Sheila will always occupy a little corner of your heart and ours too. Thanks for sharing her with us.
    The duck egg quandary. Would bringing another drake in cause too much drama? I know chicken eggs show a blood spot when they are fertilized but it’s been years since I’ve lived on the farm and I am not familiar in the lives of ducks. Good luck with your pond, baking and ducks.

  10. There is a lot of feeling here. So sorry about the duck eggs not hatching. I could NOT bake anything without AC. Way too heat sensitive but your bread looks SO very good.My wrists quit being able to kneed bread so many years ago. I bought a bread machine but haven’t used it either in 15 years or more. Getting good flour is probably the best thing we can do for our health. We have Bob’s Red Mill here in Portland but I’m not sure about that flour either. I’ll have to check it out. I’m counting the days till fall so I can turn on the oven again. It will be 100 today and tomorrow. I’ll pop over to your mill site and see what I can order and maybe learn to bake something easy. 🙂 Hang in there.

  11. Hi, Ceci! Your photos are gorgeous! And what a variety! Sure have been missing them, and I’m looking forward to many more! Do you have an art gallery or albums? And your bread photos with decriptions – to die for!! I cheat once in awhile with bread products…hyper-sensitive to gluten – but I live vicariously through your photos of your gorgeous breads!

    Is there anything you can’t do? I truly doubt it !!!

  12. Hi, again! The photo with sliced bread on the counter with your coffee cup behind it…gorgeous! But MOST fascinating is the shadow of your hanging pots and utensils over the table and cast on your lovely pastel yellow wall. Fascinating!

    BTW, how do you get you slices cut so evenly?

  13. I have always thought of our four legged buddies as part of our famiy…..pet just isn’t the right word. Ah and lovely Sheila….we all miss her- hugs to you over the miles.

  14. That looks like a beautiful duck pond. I wonder if somebody would lend you a fertile drake to test your girls. Can Tima tell if a duck egg is off, or does she bite into them?
    I’ve been cycling down to Borough Market to buy bread – I might have said so previously. The St. John remains closed – Fergus caught the virus early on and they are very wary about reopening. He’s a very gentle person, with Parkinson’s, so I’m relieved that he’s recovered. His wife Margot, has reopened her restaurant (the Rochelle Canteen) recently. The St. John bakery has reopened, but it’s close to Tower Bridge and even further to go than Borough. The place I buy the bread from is Bread Ahead – one of the partners (Justin) was the original St. John baker, who created their bread mother. Bread Ahead makes an enormous loaf (perhaps 3 feet long) called a Doorstep and they get it blessed by the Bishop of Southwark, annually.

  15. I LOVE bread with butter. Have been thinking about you and the loss you are experiencing. And too bad about the ducks. Always something to figure out it seems. But you almost always do. Have a lovely week, Celi.

  16. I am working on expanding my bread repertoire… chipping away at the bread mystique… your loaf looks amazing… lemon zest makes everything wonderful imo. Pet? For some maybe but for me, our dog is our fur-child. Love your photos, and that pond is beautiful, the rock work is excellent. Clever John, lucky ducks.

  17. ‘Much better’ sounds good under current circumstances . . . as long as most days end on that note . . . c’est la vie and best for the morrows . . .

  18. I remain mad-jealous of your bread; so far none of mine have turned out ‘good’ enough. Perhaps I have to practice a lot, like the piano, before I get a good one like yours.

  19. Goodness! A 5:30 am start — I should start doing that, so I can fit other things in (studying, reading, exercise…) before my actual work day starts. I must stop turning off the alarm and snoozing!

    I read an article about this impressive woman who has just retired from baking bread at 100 years old. She ran a bakery, working from 5 am to 5 pm, for almost 70 years: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/jul/24/experience-retiring-at-100

    Your post about dear Sheila made me cry. I was so sorry to hear of your loss.

  20. Good morning, Miss C.

    I started my morning with your post and a cup of coffee. It is such a lovely way to begin my day. I am glad you are much better.

    I am waiting for the day when you round up your bread “musings” into a lovely book of recipes! But until then, I think I must give today’s bread a try. It looks delicious. I happen to have Glenn and Red Fife flour from the mill that needs to be used.

  21. Oh C, I am so sorry. I disconnect for 10 days – no electronics. Just me, husband and the dogs at the coast. Yes, we took the dogs to the coast with us and during this time you had to say farewell to Sheila. Such a character she was. Sending you huge hugs and comfort. Pat

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