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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cooking from the Cupboards

Jonathan is now 1 month old, and I have been blessed by so many friends with meals this last month.  I have had over a dozen meals brought to us along with ingredients given for throwing together quick meals.  Many of these meals had leftovers as well to provide for additional meals.  We have basically been eating meals gifted by others for the last month.  It has been a blessing in many ways.  First of all, I have had more time to devote to our family, to keep school going, and to stay rested with the transition of a new baby.  We are also in the midst of a transition with Ethan's jobs - so the meals have been helpful there as well.

But another reason, it has been COLD out!!! One of the last things I want to do right now is take a new baby, 2 year old, 5 year old, and 6 year old out of the house to go shopping for groceries.  I think I have only had to go out shopping once since Jonathan has been born.  (Ethan is great and picks up milk and a few random things if needed.)

So now that I am back to cooking again, I decided that I am going to try to cook from our cabinets as much as possible.  Not only will this keep the grocerybills down for awhile, but it will also help to keep all of the kiddo's out of the bitter cold a bit more.

Among other things, some of the things that I have in abundance to work with are things that have been canned: ground beef, tomatoes, ham and ham broth, green beans, pears and pear sauce, and dried beans that have been canned.  I also have a bit of corn we have frozen, lots of noodles that I have purchased when on sale, eggs from our chickens, and quite a stash of wheat berries (to be ground for wheat flour).

Although the variety in our meals may lack a bit more than I would like, I think I can still have fruit, veggies, and protein for most meals.  Some of my meal ideas are soups, ham and noodles, french toast, pancakes, waffles, egg bakes, scrambled eggs, pasta dishes, enchilada dishes . . . I'm sure there's more. I'm hoping to cook through the cupboard through February, if Ethan can put up with it that long!

To start off, yesterday I ground up some wheat berries and made 6 loaves of whole wheat bread. (You can read about my Nutrimill wheat grinder and the Kitchenaid mixer I use at this post.) I used lard I had rendered from our pastured hogs, which I have quite a bit of too, in the bread for the oil. It really bakes and tastes quite good - no porky taste at all!  (You can read more about the health benefits of rendering your own lard here and here.) So yesterday we had french toast for supper and today we had sandwiches for lunch.

It will be interesting to see what all I can come up with to make the family happy at mealtime.  I hope that I am pleasantly surprised with how long I can cook out of our cupboards too, and hopefully it will get us to some warmer weather!

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Tools of My Trade
As mentioned above, my 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 homeYou 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.)

1 comment:

Donna OShaughnessy said...

I too have been using our pig lard in more recipes not to mention in our soap bars. Tastes good and washes up well too. The amazing edible, incredible pig !

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