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Cookstove Baking Bread Attempt #1

..there is something simple on my list of needed skills that I need to be able to do..it is not flying a plane or catching a jabberwocky..it is baking bread. Baking bread always reminds me of my grandmother..she did it everyday and when we spent time with her it was always with fresh loaves of bread for meals. When I was a kid my mother would bake bread for the family and us kids would complain because it did not look the same as the other kids at lunch..soon she stopped making bread and we used store bought bread..what a sin!

Anyway, baking bread is something I keep meaning to do but never got around to doing it..I have all the things I need in my kitchen but my ‘bread baking’ has been making mini versions in the cast iron pan that are a cross between a pancake and a pita. So Sunday I decided I was going to bake some bread…once again, I was not looking for perfection just a finished product that I could then improve upon it. While baking is not an overly time consuming task it does go in steps that need to be followed in order to get a good end product. Mixing all of the ingredients is the first step.

.I used soy milk instead of real milk but otherwise we followed the recipe in ‘the joy of cooking’..which I highly recommend. I have a really old version I use and it has all of the usual recipes as well as things like how to cook porcupine..not that I have ever used that one.

great recipe book and for someone like me who has never baked bread it went into the details for the things I was confused about..how long for bread to rise, punching down techniques, etc..after mixing I followed the directions and kneaded the bread,

covered it and set it aside on the top of the stove to rise for an hour. An hourish later the dough had doubled..so I punched it down, flipped it over and let it rise again. One more hour and I kneaded, made into 2 loaves, put it in pans and let it rise up again ( 1/2 hour )…then into the oven. Cooking in a cookstove is a little harder then it is normally..I can get it to the temperature I need (450 ) but it takes planning, timing and patience. I cannot just turn a knob for 10 minutes on 450 then 15 on 350..I need to get the fire going good with the stove door closed then open it partially for a minute or 2 to get it down to 350. I use smaller pieces of wood to get maximum surface area on fire for the wood about 20 minutes before I want to put the bread in after the fire has been going for a while. Usually I burn logs that are bigger so I don’t have to tend it as much. Also, for the cookstove the corner near the firebox is hotter than the rest so I switched the loaves after 15 minutes. We usually leave the stove door open when not cooking to get the extra heat too.

20 minutes later..and I had warm, delicious, moist bread..I gotta say, for my very first attempt I am quite happy with the outcome..it looks and tastes like bread..hehe. I am going to try to do this at least once a week now so we have bread for the week..I was actually shocked how quick the actual work was and besides the waiting it took no time at all! If you have not done it yourself then go try it..it is really satisfying to have flour and other basic ingredients and a couple of hours later have 2 loaves of fresh bread!

..also as a note let the bread cool before attempting to cut. I mangled one of the 2 loaves because I wanted to taste it and could not wait!

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Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Construction, cookstove, heat

 

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Weekly Wood

Every weekend we have a chore to do..make sure we have enough wood for the week to assure we do not have to trek out to the master wood pile to grab a load. We have been using our cookstove since Nov 1 but last week was the first week we had to dip into the wood that we bought 2 years ago. For the last 2.5 months we had been using wood that I chopped down and chunked into 16inch lengths.. We had it stored under tarps so for the last 2 months we would grab the wheel barrel, bring it over to the ‘splitting area’ and I would have at it with a 10lb maul. A maul is basically a wood splitting axe..but its not really sharp. Mauls are duller and are really designed to transfer the energy of the maul into the splitting action, not to dig into it. It would take around and hour and a half to transfer, split and load the wood into our ‘pre-house’ location on our front deck. That is also how I totalled the nail on my finger late last year. As I mentioned, we reached the end of wood from the trees I chopped down. These days it takes 1/2 as long..some pieces still need to be split as they are too big for the tiny firebox on the cookstove but truthfully I don’t mind chopping wood. Great exercise and it really makes me feel like a strong-man at a carnival when I swing the maul and split a 16inch diameter log into 2 pieces. Its is also night and day when you split a properly dried piece of wood vs. a wet piece. These days if I take a swing at its too wet I just put it aside and move on..if it won’t split it usually does not burn well either so its a double waste of time.

..I need a new tire..

2 weeks worth of wood gone from a 5 month supply

pre house storage for easy inside loading

We also store at least a years worth at a time. ( but we usually have enough chunked for 2 years). The first year A* and I were in we only got 2 cords and ran out in Feb…and had to have it unloaded from the delivery truck 1km away, transfer it into our truck, transfer it to our place, unload it then stack it..in -10c weather. Needless to say we never want to repeat this!

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in heat, Purchases, todo

 

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which came first..I KNOW!!



OK..so some exciting news this weekend while we are varathane’ing the floor..our chickens are finally laying eggs!

my first egg..it didn't hurt me at all!

Its been 4 months since we got these little bad boys and now they finally start producing eggs..just in time for the winter so they can stop laying eggs. Its Dec now so its sort of a miracle that its been warm enough for them to lay in the first place. I was out grabbing a tool from the shed and I noticed that there was only 7 chickens..I thought that a fox or something had gotten tot he chickens so I went to the coop to look..and did not see any chickens feeding so I went to the back and opened up the nesting box…there was the chicken..and it moved outside..but when it moved I peeked over where it was sitting and there was our 1st egg! I had been waiting for this and every day or 2 but it was really nice when it finally happened. So I brought the egg inside to show A* and she thought I was trying to trick her..after I assured her that it was legit we did a small photoshoot..then I went to show her which box the hen had laid in..when we got closer we noticed that the hen was back in the same spot..so when we opened the roost she took off outside again..and there was another egg!! Wow..from none over 4 months to 2 in 1 day!

Well, that was on Sunday..Monday I fried up the eggs on the cookstove with some butter and had some toast with them for breakfast..delicious!

I was so proud when I ate these it was almost like I laid them..

I know that it will not be that exciting in the future but it felt great getting that new egg…like we had finally accomplished something with those little squawk boxes..now that I have something good to report I will also report the bad..the roosters will be crowing no more soon..I cannot take it..the can and do start up at anytime and can go for 2 minutes to 2o minutes..’COCK-A-DOODLE DOO’..that will spell death soon to guys..there IS too much of a good thing and the time for finding the noise amusing has passed. Since I do not heat the coop in any way I am going to try to replace the roosters with hens so the heat in the coop stays above freezing for the most part..and more eggs..but that may have to wait until spring…no, waiting for spring is not going to happen for most of the roosters…1 will survive..and I suspect it will be the final rooster I catch that is spared..I do love elusive fowl!

I also got another egg on the day I ate the first 2 eggs..I have 8 chickens..imagine if hey were all hens..I would be swimming in eggs!!

a birthday gift from A*..good timing birthday! ;)

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2010 in Animals, Fowl

 

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Wood Burning Disco Inferno

Don’t get your hopes up..disco is not back…nor is there an inferno…but we do have woodstove heat! A* had some late work to do so I came home and started up the first fire of the year..I am always a little apprehensive the first time I light a fire after a long hiatus…did I do a good job cleaning the chiminy this summer..is everything sealed back up, do these pants make my bum look fat..you know. As soon as the fire roars up and the eco-fan starts turning all of that angst goes up the flue with the smoke..I love wood stoves! As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago we had been using the propane heater to keep it warm and it got to 21C if the conditions were good and we did not go in and outside too much. Well,  when I started the fire it was 12C in the house. WIthin 3 hours it was 25C..NICE! As an added bonus I also brought home a pizza and threw it in the oven of the cookstove..it does not cook as rapidly as a regular stove..but when it comes out it is SOOO good.

Here is to a new season of heat, pizze, bread and prosperity..and safety of course!

 
 

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Wood Stove Prep Work

Well, we are only a day away from November..October really has been spooktacular hasn’t it?

Only 1 day away from the official woodstove season and we still need to do some prep work on the stove. The gaskets ( rope ) had been really loose at the end of last woodstove season so last week A* bout some new gaskets with adhesive. We had a halloween party and I am a little under the weather so A* decided to tackle the gasket. First thing you need is to determine what size gasket you need for your particular stove..we went with a 5/8 gasket since its a small stove and that is what the instruction manual told us to get…but that was SOOOOO last week. Today A* cleaned out the old gaskets and adhesive with a wire brush. Then she applied the new adhesive and waited 5 minutes for it to set. Next thing I knew she was cutting the gasket on the second door..and was done. the whole job took 10 minutes..Why can’t I get those jobs!..in this case I know why..and it had something to do with a zombie costume and bunch of beer and a peppering of jack daniels and diet pepsi.

After a couple of hours I poured myself off the sofa and attempted to fix a loose handle that made opening the front door impossible. I had to take off a piece of the dood to get access to the latch..but once again, 10 minutes later I was all done..it actually took me longer to find the proper drill bit then it did to do all the work. I think this might also mean that I need to oranize my shed before I put a motorcycle and scooter in there for the winter!

Bring on the burning wood!

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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October is Getting Cold

..OK so its the 3rd week of october the frost is now a recurring theme. Earlier in the month when we had our first frost we lost all of our tomatoes and cucumbers that we had left..We have a household standing rule..no wood stove until November. In previous years we sometimes used a kerosene heater to keep the place warm(er) but this year we have opted to use the propane heater. Last year we might have used the propane 4-5 times for the year and with that usage and our propane instanteous water heater we only used $20 worth of propane ( we have around $800 worth in 2 tanks ) so we thought we would have enough wiggle room to allow us to splurge a little. With the temperature outside at 3C the inside is 21C..nice. Don’t worry..we do have batteries in the carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector.

Looking forward to next month when we get the woodstove going…wood heat is so nice and since we use the cookstove for baking we can also start making bread and having pizza and such..not a minute too soon as I am running out of things to BBQ.

Yes, my back is still in terrible shape..booking an appointement with a doctor in a day or 2 so I can get a doctors note and then get into a chiropractor..if that is spelled right.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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