All of these other moms are also stay at home moms, and boy do I have a lot to learn from them! I think every time we get together I learn something new.
Because of this, I sent out a cry of help among them. For Christmas this year, I received a KitchenAid mixer and a grain mill (both recommended by friends from this group). After I got my wheat berries, ran them through the mill, and made my first loaf of freshly ground wheat bread, I discovered that my bread was not nearly as good as theirs.
I tried and tried all kinds of different methods that I found on the You Tube and the internet, but it seemed like the harder I tried, the worse my bread got. So out came my cry for help, and to the rescue came my friend, Jennifer - on the left. (Check out her blog - she is great and cracks me up!)
In the middle of her busy schedule, she invited me over to her house to make some bread. I had a blast, and I learned a ton! She has the same mixer and grinder that I have, so she walked me through from start to finish. She showed me all of her tricks - things that I never would have figured out on my own or learned from the internet - things I had to see with my eyes and work with my hands. And then she sent me home with a beautiful loaf of bread and even a pan of hot cinnamon rolls (which she also showed me how to do!).
Ethan and I were in the middle of our our land buying process at this time, so I wasn't able to try bread at home right away. I did take notes though to help recall everything. When I finally got around to making my bread at home, it turned out beautiful!! I couldn't believe it. Neither could Ethan. He kept eating slice after slice saying, "This is amazing!" Hmmm . . . I guess my original bread was in need of some improvement!
So after much time on the internet, too many You Tube viewings of random people making bread, and countless loaves of confusion, I am now able to make a loaf of bread that "wows" my husband, thanks to Jennifer's help. This just goes to show, there is nothing like a good friend!
(I have both Red Winter wheat berries - which the bread shown was made from - and Prairie Gold wheat berries. I really like the taste of the Red Winter wheat, but it doesn't rise up quite as high as the Prairie Gold wheat - although it does now much better after my lesson! From my understanding, the Red Winter wheat is a bit harder than the others, but also has more nutrients. I'd like to try a combination of the two. Does anyone have anyone have any thoughts on varieties of wheat berries?)
Tools of My TradeMy Nutrimill will grind grains extra fine to course. It's main use is for grinding wheat berries to make wheat bread. Freshly ground wheat is so much more nutritious than the wheat flour that has sat on the shelves. It is also more economical to grind it yourself, minus the cost of the wheat grinder. (I put my wheat grinder on my Christmas/January birthday list and asked gift givers to go together on it.) In addition to grinding wheat though, it can also grind quite a variety of other grains including beans and corn. You can even make your own cornmeal (they say popcorn works best!). See here for more information about grinding wheat at home. You might be able to find a nice used one on e-bay, or you can purchase one new as in the link below.
My kitchenAid mixer was another jointly given Christmas/birthday gift. It's most common use is for making bread, 3 loaves at a time. The dough is worked entirely by the mixer with the dough hook, including the 10 minutes of kneading time. The only hand work is dumping in ingredients and then forming the dough to fill my loaf pans. I also use my Kitchen aid for mixing cakes, cookies, quick breads, for whipping . . . well, just about for all of my mixing! These can be found used on Ebay or you can purchase one new as in the link below. I would strongly recommend getting the 5 qt, 325-watt mixer. I have had friends get the smaller one and have been disappointed with the volume/motor capabilities.
When I started making bread, I just used basic loaf pans. After seeing how beautiful my friends bread baked up in 8 inch Norpro pans, I decided to put a set of 3 on my Christmas list. Not long after using them, I realized that I would really appreciate having 6 of them so that when one batch of bread is baking in the oven, I can get my second batch prepared, raised, and ready to go right into the oven too, without waiting for the previous bread and bread pans to cool. I like to make as many loaves as possible at once to cut down on the number of days of bread making kitchen mess. I received my second set of 3 pans the following Christmas, and when I make bread, I make bread! (I freeze the extra loaves so they are ready to go.)