Category Archive:

Helping our Hens Stay Cool in the Summer Heat

ThermometerHere in New England, we spend more of our calendar days with frigid temperatures than intense heat. Yet, we can count on several days above 90 degrees each summer and seem to see more of them each year. Today, our temperature is predicted to exceed 90 degrees and summer won’t officially begin for nearly a month.

On the first truly hot day of the year, we’ll be employing strategies for helping our animals to cope with the heat. We’ll make regular rounds to the coop, barn, hoop house and garden with fresh, cold water to help everyone and everything cope with the heat. We’ll also utilize the design of our coop and share a few helpful, cooling treats with our flock. Together, these actions will help them to deal with the high temperatures.The Hens at 1840 Farm using the BriteTap

The hens spend their days outside in their shaded runs.  We take full advantage of the cross ventilation we built into the design of our coop.  The back vent will be opened to the full position, the front window opened wide, and the side door secured in the open position to capture any fresh, cooling breeze that might pass by. On a day with temperatures in the 90s, even the slightest breeze blowing through the nearby maple tree is helpful.

On my regular rounds, I will replace the water that has grown hot in the goat stall and top off the BriteTap Chicken Waterer that keeps our hen’s water cool and fresh. On a hot day, the volume of water consumed by our animals is staggering. When I freshen the water, I can count on the chickens and goats to line up for a sip of cool refreshment. As they help themselves to a drink, I make sure that everyone is accounted for and not struggling too mightily with the conditions of the day.  When I visit the coop with frozen yogurt, fruit, and vegetables, the hens gather at my feet as if I am a rock star.

Frozen Berries and Yogurt for the Hens at 1840 FarmSeveral years ago, I discovered that these frozen treats could help our hens cope with the brutal heat. Since then, I keep a few freezer bags with frozen healthy treats in our barn’s upright freezer. Small berries, tiny cherry tomatoes, diced vegetable scraps, and cubes of frozen yogurt are at the ready and make a welcome snack on days when the temperature is uncomfortably hot. When I have healthy kitchen scraps to share with the flock, I simply freeze them, add them to the bag, and keep them for the next hot day.

As soon as the frozen pieces hit their bowl, our hens clamber for a prime spot to grab a bite. The frozen treats only last a few seconds. The girls happily help themselves to a bit of cool refreshment and then return to the business of scratching at the ground, making happy hen sounds, and patrolling their run. Cooling them down from the inside out seems to bring them immediate relief from the heat.

Summer will officially be here in less than a month. It’s time for me to restock my supply of berries, frozen vegetables, and yogurt cubes for the hens. If this spring is any indication, we’re in for a hot summer and the hens are sure to be looking for their frozen afternoon treats!


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/05/hens-cool-in-the-summer-heat/

Lemon Drop Cookies with Lemon Buttercream

LemonCookieWMSpring couldn’t arrive soon enough for me this year. It was a brutal winter with snow piled so high that it was difficult to believe that spring would ever arrive to our snowy landscape. While I wait for winter to release us from its firm grasp, I find myself dreaming of the garden and the fresh meals that it will provide for our family table. That first harvest of crisp radishes and greens seems both close at hand and miles away.

The garden won’t produce anything for us to enjoy at our family table for a few more weeks. We’re still waiting for our last frost date to pass on the 29th of June. As I wait for the danger of frost to pass, I find myself craving something fresh and bright.

Enter the lemon, which is synonymous with spring in my book. First, there’s the striking beauty of the lemon’s yellow color. Then there’s the lovely punch of fresh flavor that a lemon brings to a recipe when its tart nature is perfectly matched with just the right balance of sweetness to highlight its distinct flavor. It’s no wonder that I turn to the lemon to help me bridge the gap between the end of winter and beginning of our gardening year.

This recipe is one of my favorites each spring. The bright, tart lemon flavor and earthy vanilla are delicious when combined with just enough sugar. The end result is sweet enough without ever masking the lemon’s lovely acidity. The fluffy lemon buttercream ups the ante and adds even more lemon flavor with a creamy texture that provides a lovely counterpart to the crisp cookie.

To be fair, we don’t consider this as a spring only favorite. We enjoy them year round and they never disappoint. I hope that your family and friends will enjoy them as much as ours do!

 

Lemon Drop Cookies with Lemon ButtercreamLemonButtercream
makes 2 dozen 3” cookies

You don’t need specialty equipment to make these beautiful cookies, but a few simple tools will help to make the job easier. While you can use a simple box grater to zest the lemon, a microplane grater/zester makes quick work of the zest. A set of inexpensive rolling pin rings will ensure that all of the dough is rolled to an even thickness. The resulting cookies will bake more evenly and have a beautiful appearance.

I reach for my WonderMix Kitchen Mixer when making this recipe in our farmhouse kitchen.  With two sets of whisk/whip attachments, I can easily cream the butter and sugar for the cookie and blend the buttercream into a perfectly smooth, satiny texture.  You can learn more about The WonderMix and get my recipe for Multigrain Brioche by reading my review.

Lemon Drop Cookies

1 cup sugar
Zest of one large lemon
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained to remove seeds and pulp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 cups All-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Lemon Buttercream

4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained to remove seeds and pulp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar

ZestRubbedSugarWash and dry a large lemon. Using a fine grater or microplane, remove the zest from the lemon, taking care to remove only the yellow zest. Leave the white pith intact as it can be incredibly bitter. Place the granulated sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl. Mix the sugar and zest together by rubbing the grains between your fingers. Mixing the sugar and zest in this manner will infuse the sugar with the essential oil from the lemon peel.

Using a mixer or food processor, cream the butter and sugar mixture until it combines completely and makes a smooth paste.  Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Mix to combine.  Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until completely smooth.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the batter and mix briefly to fully incorporate.  Take care not to over mix as this will develop the gluten in the flour, resulting in dough that is chewy and tough instead of light and delicate.

Remove the dough to a sheet of parchment paper or freezer paper.  Cover with a second sheet of paper.  Using a rolling pin and rolling pin rings (if you have them); roll the dough in to a rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick.  Refrigerate the dough at least 2 hours or until firm enough to cut cleanly using a cookie cutter or sharp paring knife.

When the dough has been properly chilled and you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line two baking sheets with nonstick Silpat liners or parchment paper.  Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut into your desired shape.  Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets approximately 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating at the midpoint of the baking time, taking care not to overbake. TheWonderMix Kitchen Mixer cookies should be firm to the touch, but not overly brown. Remove the trays from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool completely.

To make the buttercream, combine the softened butter, lemon juice, and vanilla extract using a mixer or food processor.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and blend until the buttercream is completely smooth.

Buttercream can be piped or spread on the cookies as soon as they are completely cool. Two cookies can be held together with a layer of buttercream to make a delicious lemon drop sandwich cookie. Cookies and buttercream can be stored in separate, airtight containers at room temperature for several days.

Note:  This dough works very well when stored in the freezer.  Simply prepare the dough as directed above, chilling the rolled dough in the freezer instead of refrigerator.  Once the dough has frozen solid, it can be moved to a freezer bag for long-term storage.  When you are ready to bake the cookies, remove the frozen dough from the freezer and allow it to warm slightly as the oven preheats.  Cut the dough into your preferred shape before transferring them to the warm oven. Frozen cookies will require an additional 3-5 minutes in the oven, but taste identical to those made from freshly made refrigerated dough.


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/05/lemon-drop-cookies/

BriteTap Chicken Waterer

BriteTapSpring has been slow to show itself this year.  In fact, we were beginning to believe that it might never arrive.  Then, without any gradual warm up, our temperature hit 90 degrees on Sunday.  While we were happy to have warmer temperatures, such a big leap in the temperature was very unexpected and certainly didn’t give our animals time to acclimate to the change in weather.

In order to help our animals and pets deal with the sudden heat, we made sure that they all had shade to take refuge from the blistering sun and plenty of fresh water to drink.  We also brought our BriteTap Chicken Waterer out of its winter storage and reintroduced it to our flock.  As soon as they saw me placing the BriteTap in their run, they were gathering at its base to help themselves to a cold drink of water.

We first began using the BriteTap late last summer.  ChickenWaterer.com promised that their system would provide clean, cool water to our flock even on the warmest days.  I will admit that I was a bit skeptical that the water would remain cool and completely clean.  I also wondered if our four year old hens could learn a new trick and begin using the system after using standard tray waterers their entire lives.

BriteTapWaterThe Hens at 1840 Farm using the BriteTapI was happily surprised on both counts.  The BriteTap did indeed deliver clean water even in the dry conditions of the outdoor run that is attached to our coop.  When dust covered the outside surface of the BriteTap, our girls were still enjoying crystal clear water thanks to the ingenious design that provides protection to the supply of water as it fills and is made available for drinking.  The BriteTap also kept the water cool even on very warm and humid days.  By employing a water cooler as its tank, the water remained cool instead of warming in the way our standard waterers do during the hot summer months.

My concern about our girls learning a new trick were completely unfounded.  Within minutes, their curiosity got the best of them and they were inspecting the red nipples attached to the BriteTap.  As soon as the first hen pecked at the silver protrusion and was rewarded with a cool drink, the girls lined up to have a go.  They stepped up one by one and even the most timid bird in our flock pecked fearlessly at the nipple and enjoyed a fresh drink.

The BriteTap is easy to assemble and simple to clean.  The waterer portion can be attached to a several different brands and sizes of water coolers.  For larger flocks, it can be installed on a cooler with a capacity of 10 gallons.  In our case, the 2 gallon cooler provides fresh water to our flock of twelve hens for several days even during the warmest weather.

We love using the BriteTap almost as much as our hens love helping themselves to a drink of fresh cold water.  Thanks to our sponsor ChickenWaterer.com, you can enter their “Everyone’s a Winner Giveaway” for a chance to win a gift certificate valued at $100 to be used in the ChickenWaterer.com online store.  Better yet, they’re offering the members of The 1840 Farm Community a special opportunity to win one BriteTap Waterer valued at $29.95.

To enter, simply click on the image below to visit Hobby Farms and enter the giveaway.  Be sure to tell them that you heard about the giveaway from 1840 Farm in order to be automatically entered into our 1840 Farm Community giveaway for the BriteTap waterer.  Once you’ve entered, you’ll also receive a code that allows you to enjoy a 10% discount on any purchase in the ChickenWaterer.com online shop.

chickenwaterer-810bnr

Everyone’s a Winner with this contest, especially the birds in your flock who will be enjoying fresh clean water all summer long!  If you’re lucky enough to win one of the $100 gift certificates, we recommend the BriteTap Automatic Feeder as highly as we do the BriteTap Waterer and Tank Combo Pack.  Good luck to all who enter!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/05/britetap-chicken-waterer/

How to Make Homemade Kimchi

Kimchi at 1840 FarmI don’t remember when or where I first tasted kimchi.  I do remember how taken I was with the flavor.  As a person who loves sauerkraut and spice, kimchi was the perfect marriage of the flavor and texture that I so enjoy.

The flavors were so interesting and complex that I assumed that making kimchi would be a time-consuming and difficult process.  Then Sasquatch Books sent me a copy of their new cookbook Fresh & Fermented by the founders of Firefly Kitchens.  The book is beautiful and contains a recipe for their famous Firefly Kimchi.  I read the recipe and was surprised to learn that making kimchi was no more complicated than sauerkraut.

In the past few months, we have been making a lot of sauerkraut.  You could easily say that I have a new found obsession with fermentation.  I have been adding our Classic Sauerkraut to everything and making a fresh batch each week to ensure that we always have a steady supply of its bright, crisp flavor in the refrigerator and fermenting away in the pantry.

Fresh and Fermented CookbookAfter making several successful batches of sauerkraut, I felt like I could attempt a batch of kimchi using the recipe in Fresh & Fermented.  The instructions were simple and the method was the same as those required for sauerkraut.  Suddenly, I believed that I might be able to make my own kimchi right here in our farmhouse kitchen.

 I mixed up a batch following the recipe to the letter.  I secured the mixture using my Kraut Source lid system and set it aside to ferment for a few days.  Five days later, I removed the lid to taste our creation.  It was fantastic and every bit as delicious as the kimchi I had first tasted and fallen in love with.

I have made a few minor changes to the recipe since then.  Through a little experimentation, I have discovered that I prefer to use a combination of green cabbage and Napa cabbage.  Using equal parts of the two different types of cabbage results in a kimchi with a lovely combination of textures that I enjoy.  I also love the zing of the fresh ginger, so I triple the amount of minced ginger called for in the original recipe.

This recipe is very adaptable, allowing you to make changes to the seasonings in order to suit your taste.  As long as the ratio of cabbage to salt is constant and the vegetables are kept under the brine as they ferment, the results will be delicious every time.

This kimchi is so delicious that it has inspired me to create meals around it.  Just last week, we enjoyed burgers topped with kimchi and a fresh quick pickle.  That dinner was preceded by an evening’s dinner of dumpling soup filled with delicious fresh vegetables, brimming with flavor, and topped, of course, with our homemade kimchi.

Dumpling Soup with Kimchi at 1840 Farm    Burger topped with Kimchi and Pickles at 1840 Farm

Sriracha Seasoning BlendMy recipe uses one pound of green cabbage along with one pound of Napa cabbage.  I find that a half of a large head of green cabbage and one head of Napa cabbage usually delivers the amount I need.  I experimented with several different types of red pepper and red pepper blends when fine tuning this recipe.  My favorite was a McCormick Gourmet Sriracha Seasoning Blend that I found at our local grocery store.  You can certainly use all of one type of cabbage or a different red pepper to make your kimchi.

I use the remaining green cabbage along with a small head of cabbage to make another batch of sauerkraut.  Yes, I’ve become the person who routinely adds three heads of cabbage to my cart at the grocery store!

I hope that you’ll join me in making your own homemade kimchi.  In minutes, you will have a batch fermenting in your kitchen.  In mere days, you’ll be ready to taste your homemade kimchi.  I’m willing to bet that you’ll take the first bite and wonder why you hadn’t made your own kimchi sooner!

Kimchi
adapted from Firefly Kimchi from Fresh & FermentedIngredients for Kimchi at 1840 Farm

Lacto-fermentation takes advantage of the beneficial bacteria (including Lactobacillus) that are naturally present on the surface of fruits and vegetables. When held at room temperature and submerged in brine, these healthy bacteria convert the natural sugars in the  fruits and vegetables into lactic acid. The lactic acid will naturally preserve the kimchi and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.

Much like canning, fermentation requires clean tools and surfaces to safeguard against potentially unsafe bacteria. Simply washing all the tools and equipment along with your hands with soap and hot water before beginning the recipe is sufficient. This will ensure that you have begun the process with the clean environment necessary for successful and safe fermentation.

2 pounds cabbage (I like to use one pound of green cabbage and one pound of Napa cabbage)
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) sea salt
2 green onions, trimmed and sliced thinly
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons McCormick Gourmet Sriracha Blend Seasoning (or cayenne red pepper)
brine as needed (1 teaspoon sea salt dissolved in 1 cup cold, filtered water)

Quart-size Mason jar
Kraut Source Unit or Mason Jar Lid

Rinse the cabbage in cold water. Quarter each cabbage and remove the core before finely shredding. Place the two pounds of shredded cabbage in a large bowl. Add the sea salt, tossing to evenly distribute. Allow the cabbage and salt to rest for 20 minutes.  This rest will allow the salt to begin to draw the moisture out of the cabbage.

Massage the sea salt vigorously into the cabbage for about 5 minutes. Working the sea salt with the shredded cabbage will help to draw more liquid out of the cabbage and begin the process of breaking down the fibrous nature of the cabbage.  As you are working the cabbage, it will begin to shrink and release more of its liquid.  At the end of the 5 minutes, mix in the onions, ginger, garlic, and red pepper to the cabbage, stirring to work them into the cabbage mixture.

KrautSourcePack the cabbage into a clean quart-size, wide mouth Mason jar. Use a pounder or wooden spoon to really press down and pack the cabbage in to remove any air pockets . The top of the mixture should be even to the shoulder of the jar. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the cabbage by one inch, add enough brine to cover.

Secure your Kraut Source unit or lid on the jar. Take care not to tighten the lid too tightly. As the cabbage ferments, carbon dioxide will be released. If the carbon dioxide is not allowed to safely escape the jar, it can cause the jar to break or the lid to be forced off of the jar.

The innovative Kraut Source unit contains a spring and a press to hold the cabbage underneath the surface of the liquid while allowing the carbon dioxide to escape. If you are using a standard lid, a piece of the cabbage’s core or a small weight can be used to keep the sliced cabbage below the liquid .

The lid can be removed every few days and replaced to adequately vent the excess carbon dioxide. During fermentation, the cabbage must be completely submerged in the liquid to prevent spoilage. Additional brine can be added as needed to completely cover the submerged cabbage.

Allow the kimchi to ferment at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 5-7 days or until it develops the desired flavor. After 5 days, begin tasting the kimchi every few days to determine if the flavor is to your liking. When the taste is agreeable, transfer the covered jar to the refrigerator. Any lid, weight, or cabbage core used to keep the kimchi submerged can be removed and discarded at this point.  Kimchi can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months.

How to Make Homemade Kimchi at 1840 Farm


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/04/kimchi/

Repurposed Gardening – Seed Starting Containers and Feed Bag Weed Barrier

I love to find a new purpose for materials that would otherwise be discarded.  I enjoy the challenge of re-imagining the use of items found in our recycling bin or stored in the old hay loft of our barn.  I also much prefer using materials that I already have on hand instead of buying something brand new.

A few of my favorite repurposed materials are put to use here in our gardens at 1840 Farm each growing season.  We have found them to be incredibly effective and cost saving.  I hope that you will enjoy using these no cost, repurposed materials in your garden this year.

Dairy Carton Seed Starting Containers

 Recycled Seed Starting Containers at 1840 FarmWe give our garden a head start by planting seeds indoors long before the weather outside would permit us to plant directly in the garden beds.  Here in New England, our growing season is painfully short, averaging about 120 days from start to finish.  In order to have a successful harvest, we need to give our heirlooms a good start inside the farmhouse.

In the spring, we plant our seeds down in the old root cellar of the farmhouse.  With enough light and attention, they grow well and ensure that we will be able to harvest our beloved heirloom tomatoes before the first frost occurs in fall.  Because we grow our plants from seed, we are able to purchase a diverse variety of heirlooms.  For less than the price of one healthy seedling from a nursery, we can purchase a packet of heirloom seeds to grow at least 20 seedlings.  We also love having the ability to seek out extremely rare and interesting varieties that are not available at our local garden center.

We use many of our seed starting supplies year after year.  No matter how many trays and containers we have, we always seem to need more.  We discovered last year that we had the perfect containers for our tiniest seeds right in our recycling bin.

We like to broadcast plant the tiny lettuce, herb, and onion seeds and then divide them by hand as they are added to the garden.  We find that this saves time by allowing us to tend to the young plants for several weeks without needing to thin them or move them to larger and larger containers.  The resulting plants are strong and healthy with well developed root systems.

We discovered that paper dairy cartons made ideal containers for these seeds.  By removing the top surface of the empty cartons, we create fantastic seed starting containers for these crops. The money we save by using these containers easily covers the cost of the seeds we plant in them.

Simply rinse out the used paper container before removing one side of the carton with a sharp knife or scissors.  Fill the container two-thirds full with your favorite seed starting mix.  Scatter the tiny seeds over the top of the mix before covering the seeds with more seed starting mix.  Label the container and tend as you would any newly planted seeds.  After moving the healthy plants to your garden, the container can be added to your recycling bin.

Creating Repurposed Seed Starting Containers at 1840 Farm  Recycled Dairy Carton Seed Starting Containers at 1840 Farm

Paper Feed Bag Weed Barrier

I love to spend a summer day working in the garden.  We plant close to 100 heirloom tomato plants each year along with cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, and countless other crops.  With so many plants, there is always something that needs to be done.  I enjoy the work, knowing that my efforts will produce delicious, fresh food for our family table..

One garden job that I could do without is weeding.  I know that weeding is necessary, but I want to spend as little time as possible pulling weeds.  Weeding our raised beds helps our plants to have all of the soil’s nutrients instead of sharing them with the weeds that will happily take over.  Yet I find weeding to be my least favorite chore in the garden.  I love sharing the weeds with our hens as a fresh treat, but I can find plenty of fresh treats for them from the garden without spending hours pulling weeds.  I also find the prospect of spending a large portion of my gardening budget on weed barrier to be rather unpleasant.

Luckily, we have a steady supply of weed barrier materials thanks to our chickens and goats.  Our animal feed is packaged in paper bags that make a fabulous weed barrier.  I stockpile them all winter long in the barn for this purpose.  When planting time finally arrives, I can transform each large bag into a flat piece of paper weed barrier with a few snips of my garden shears.  Using landscaping staples, I secure each piece to the soil, covering all but the perimeter of the beds where I will plant onions, herbs, and zinnias to attract beneficial pollinators.

Using my shears, I cut holes exactly where I want to plant,  I then tuck the plants into the soil warm soil.  When we mow our untreated grass, I collect the clippings and add them on top of the paper surface. With very little effort and little to no expense, I have added an effective weed barrier to our garden and made use of materials that we have on hand.

The paper and grass mulch help our garden beds to retain moisture while minimizing weed growth.  Over the course of the growing season, both the grass and paper begin to decompose.  When we clear the beds in the fall, we simply remove the staples, reserving them for the next season, and add the paper bags to our recycling bin.

We also use this paper feed bag mulch for our garden paths.  We cover the paper bags in the paths with untreated wood chips and have a weed free path all summer long.

Empty Feed Bags at 1840 Farm  Empty Garden Bed at 1840 Farm

Feed Bag Mulch at 1840 Farm  PlantinginBagMulch

I’ll be sharing a few other tricks for using repurposed materials in the garden in the coming weeks.  Until then, you can take a photo tour of  the gardens here at 1840 Farm.  I’d love to hear about your strategies to use repurposed or recycled materials in your garden.  I’m always looking for new, great ideas to use in ours.

Repurposed Gardening at 1840 Farm

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/04/repurposed-gardening/

Book Review – Clean Slate: A Cookbook and Guide

Clean SlateWhen Clean Slate:  A Cookbook and Guide from the editors of Martha Stewart Living arrived in my mailbox, I couldn’t wait to give it a read.  Once I had, I couldn’t wait to get in the farmhouse kitchen to create a few of the delicious recipes it includes.

This book goes far beyond the reach of a standard cookbook.  Instead, it is a comprehensive primer on integrating fresh, whole foods into your diet.  The first section of the book contains nearly 70 pages of information about specific ingredients, suggestions for healthy flavor boosters, and detailed menu plans.

Once I progressed past that extensive information, I found myself at part two which was filled with more than 160 recipes.  The recipes were well written, easy to follow, and accompanied by gorgeous photos.  They were also clearly labeled with regard to four key categories:  vegan, dairy-free, not-free, and gluten-free.  As a person who cooks around food allergies every day, I appreciated these designations.  Each recipe looked more delicious than the last.  My biggest struggle was trying to decide which one I should try first.

I can’t wait to try the recipe for Poached Eggs with Roasted Tomatoes this summer when we have fresh heirloom tomatoes in our garden.  Until then, I decided to begin with the recipe for Swiss Chard Salad with Poached Egg.  Armed with a beautiful bunch of swiss chard from our local market and eggs fresh from our hens, I headed to the farmhouse kitchen to make myself a delicious and healthy lunch.Swiss Chard with Poached Egg

The recipe was easy to follow and included instructions for poaching the egg.  In less than 30 minutes, I had a beautiful plate of swiss chard ribbons topped with a light vinaigrette and a beautifully poached fresh egg.  It looked so amazing that I couldn’t wait to take the first bite, digging in without remembering to take a picture.  The salad was bright and fresh, perfectly paired with the richness of the fresh egg.  This is a dish that I will turn to often when our swiss chard is ready to harvest in this year’s garden.

I can’t wait to try another handful of recipes in this book.  Cauliflower “Rice” is intriguing and sounds delicious.  Roasted Mushroom Tartines with Avocado will be lovely when served with alongside our Sliced Radish Tartines this spring.  As soon as local strawberries are in season, I will definitely be making a batch of the No Bake Oat Bars with Strawberries.

You’ll find Clean Slate:  A Cookbook and Guide listed in our Amazon Affiliate shop along with a full collection of my favorite cookbooks. You can also learn more about the book and its author by visiting the publisher’s site.  If you’re on the hunt for a new great cookbook, you can read more of my cookbook reviews and recipes inspired by my favorite cookbooks.


The product reviewed in this post was sent to me free of charge by the Blogging for Books Program in order to allow me to evaluate its use here at 1840 Farm. The book that I reviewed was sent to me at no expense in order to allow me to evaluate it. The framework of our review process does not guarantee a positive review in exchange for the product provided. Our product reviews contain both facts about the product and my personal opinion of its performance while it was used at 1840 Farm.

Product reviews include my honest opinions about the product(s) reviewed. Products that do not meet our standards of daily use on our farm will not be reviewed. It is our goal to provide you with our personal experience using a product in a positive and informative manner so that you can determine its usefulness in your life. It is not our goal to negatively review a product that while not an ideal fit for our farm, might perform very well on yours.

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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/04/book-review-clean-slate-a-cookbook-and-guide/

Cast Iron Skillet Pork and Potato Hash

Cast Iron Skillet Pork and Potato HashWhen we sit down at our farmhouse table to enjoy a meal featuring Beer and Brown Sugar Braised Pork, I can count on someone to ask if there will be enough pork to make Cast Iron Skillet Pork and Potato Hash for dinner the following evening. I have come to expect that question, so I always buy a cut of pork that is large enough to ensure that there will be plenty of pork to make this hash.

Leftovers often get a bad rap, but this preparation can change that with the first bite. This hash is a star main dish in its own right. It is delicious, comforting, and full of flavor. Leftovers never had it so good.

This is one of those recipes that welcomes interpretation and substitution. You can add other vegetables to the mix or substitute another cut of meat you have on hand. No matter the ingredients, the results are always delicious.

Hash

 

 

 

 

Cast Iron Skillet Pork and Potato Hash

This recipe makes use of one of my favorite pans: a cast iron skillet. I like to use my Lodge 12 inch cast iron skillet when preparing this hash. If your skillet is smaller, you can reduce the proportions to fit your pan. I love to use the reserved cooking liquid from the Beer and Brown Sugar Braised Pork Roast, but an equal amount of bone broth or a good quality stock can be used.

1 Tablespoon butter
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ pounds potatoes, washed and cut into ½ inch cubes
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
12 ounces reserved cooking liquid from Beer and Brown Sugar Braised Pork or bone broth
8 ounces shredded pork
2 ounces heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces smoked cheddar, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter to the hot pan and swirl to coat the bottom surface. Add the onion and cook until almost translucent, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook one minute before adding the potatoes to the pan, stirring to combine.

Add the thyme and reserved cooking liquid or bone broth to the pan. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes undisturbed.

Remove the cover and stir the mixture. The potatoes should have begun to soften and absorbed some of the liquid. Add the pork and heavy cream to the pan and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Press the mixture firmly into the pan and top with the grated cheddar. Transfer the skillet to the warm oven.

Cook the hash for ten minutes. Check the potatoes for doneness before turning on the broiler. Broil for two minutes to brown the top surface of the hash. Remove from the oven and serve hot.  We like to serve this hash with a side of Classic Sauerkraut.

 

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Classic Sauerkraut

Classic Sauerkraut at 1840 FarmI enjoy the tangy flavor of sauerkraut paired with many dishes and also served on its own. For years, we have been purchasing a local kraut. Each time we served it at our family table, I wondered if we could make a homemade version.

The process of fermentation seemed a bit daunting. The recipes all made the technique seem so simple that I doubted it would be so easy. A few weeks ago, I finally decided to take the plunge and try it for myself.

As I searched for a foolproof recipe and advice to ensure success, I discovered Kraut Source’s blog and innovative lid system. They were kind enough to lead me through the process of making our first batch of kraut step by step. They shared their recipe for classic sauerkraut which I adapted further to include only three ingredients: green cabbage, sea salt, and filtered water.

After a week’s time on the kitchen counter, the humble shredded cabbage my daughter and I had packed so tightly into the Mason jar had been transformed into a delicious, tangy sauerkraut. I was equally amazed at how simple it had been to make and how amazingly flavorful it was. It was so delicious that weKrautSource made a second batch, doubling the recipe to ensure that we never run out of this delicious, homemade classic sauerkraut.

With gardening season fast approaching, we’ll be planting a few heirloom cabbage varieties so that we can make our own kraut using cabbage fresh from our organic garden. We hope that you’ll join in and try your hand at fermenting a batch of sauerkraut using the classic recipe adapted from Kraut Source below.

Visit Kraut Source’s blog, Facebook page, and Instagram feed to learn more about the art of creating cultured and fermented foods in your kitchen. They fill my newsfeed with a steady stream of delicious recipes and helpful tips. I know that you’ll enjoy following them as much as I do!

Classic Sauerkraut
adapted from Kraut Source’s Classic Sauerkraut Recipe

Shredded Cabbage for Sauerkraut

Lacto-fermentation takes advantage of the beneficial bacteria (including Lactobacillus) that are naturally present on the surface of fruits and vegetables including the cabbage called for in this recipe. When held at room temperature and submerged in brine, these healthy bacteria convert the natural sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid. The lactic acid will naturally preserve the kraut and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.

Much like canning, fermentation requires clean tools and surfaces to safeguard against potentially unsafe bacteria. Simply washing all the tools and equipment and your hands with soap and hot water before beginning the recipe is sufficient. This will ensure that you have begun the process with the clean environment necessary for successful and safe fermentation.

1 1/2 pounds (675 g) green cabbage
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) sea salt
brine as needed (1 teaspoon sea salt dissolved in 1 cup cold, filtered water)

Quart-size Mason jar
Kraut Source Unit or Mason Jar Lid

Rinse the head of cabbage in cold water. Quarter the cabbage, removing the core before finely shredding each quarter. Place shredded cabbage in a large bowl. Add the sea salt, tossing to evenly distribute. Allow the cabbage and salt to rest for 10 minutes.

Massage the sea salt vigorously into the cabbage for about 5 to 10 minutes. Working the sea salt with the shredded cabbage will help to draw liquid out of the cabbage and begin the process of breaking down the fibrous nature of the cabbage.

Packing SauerkrautIf you have time, allow the massaged cabbage to rest in the bowl as the salt will draw out liquid. If you do not have time to wait, simply pack the cabbage into a quart-size, wide mouth Mason jar. Use a pounder or wooden spoon to really press down and pack the cabbage in . The top of the cabbage should be even to the shoulder of the jar. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the cabbage by one inch, add enough brine to cover.

Secure your Kraut Source unit or lid on the jar. Take care not to tighten the lid too tightly. As the cabbage ferments, carbon dioxide will be released. If the carbon dioxide is not allowed to safely escape the jar, it can cause the jar to break or the lid to be forced off of the jar.

The innovative Kraut Source unit contains a spring and a press to hold the cabbage underneath the surface of the liquid while allowing the carbon dioxide to escape. If you are using a standard lid, a piece of the cabbage’s core or a small weight can be used to keep the sliced cabbage below the liquid .

The lid can be removed every few days and replaced to adequately vent the excess carbon dioxide. During fermentation, the cabbage must be completely submerged in the liquid to prevent spoilage. Additional brine can be added as needed to completely cover the submerged cabbage.

Allow the kraut to ferment at room temperature for 5-7 days or several weeks to develop the desired flavor. After 5 days, begin tasting the kraut every few days to determine if the flavor is to your liking. When the taste is agreeable, transfer the kraut to the refrigerator. Any weight or cabbage core used to keep the kraut submerged can be removed at this point.

We find ourselves enjoying this homemade sauerkraut on top of nearly every sandwich or alongside most main courses.  We love to enjoy a side of it with our Beer and Brown Sugar Braised Pork Roast and Cast Iron Skillet Pork and Potato Hash.

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Beer and Brown Sugar Braised Pork Roast

Beer and Brown Sugar Braised Pork RoastIf you happened to stop by our farmhouse on a Sunday afternoon, you might find that a Beer and Brown Sugar Braised Pork Roast was in the oven. This recipe is a staple for our family. It is simple to prepare, delicious to eat, and provides our family with enough shredded pork to be featured in multiple meals throughout the week, making the work of menu planning that much easier.

As the pork is cooking in the oven, it infuses the entire farmhouse with the delightful aroma of caramelized brown sugar. By the time we are ready to sit down to dinner late Sunday afternoon, we’re all clamoring for a bite. It’s rather like Thanksgiving Day when the aroma of roasting turkey has tempted you all day long with the promise of the meal ahead. While this pork is easier to prepare than our Thanksgiving turkey, it is no less satisfying to serve at our family table.

This year, we’ll be enjoying this roast as the centerpiece of our Easter feast, served with homemade sauerkraut, herbed new potatoes, and berry pie for dessert. It will be a delicious meal and sure to be followed later in the week by a dinner of Cast Iron Skillet Pork and Potato Hash. Now you can enjoy these three recipes with your friends and family. They’re sure to love them as much as we do!

 

Beer and Brown Sugar Braised Pork Roast

I like to use local pasture raised pork in this recipe which is readily available in Beer and Brown Sugar Braised Pork Roast Ingredientsour community. We have prepared this recipe using several cuts of pork. Each of them turned out beautifully.

Because the pork is braised at a low temperature with liquid in a covered pot, the resulting pork is tender and moist no matter the cut. Unlike most preparations, this pork is nearly impossible to overcook. The low temperature and ample liquid both play in its favor.

Pork shoulder (also referred to as pork butt or Boston butt), pork roast, pork loin, and pork belly are all good choices. A pork shoulder or pork roast are my favorite. I find that they have the ideal ratio of meat to fat and yield delicious results.

4 to 5 pound boneless pork shoulder or roast
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
12 ounces beer

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Rub this mixture on all sides of the pork.

Heat a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the butter and olive oil, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan

Add the pork to the pan and sear each side for approximately two minutes. The sugar will caramelize and add a beautiful brown color to the pork.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the beer to the pan, deglazing and scraping up any browned bits of sugar from the bottom of the pan. Bring the beer to a simmer before covering the pan and placing it in the warm oven.

Allow the pork to cook for two hours undisturbed. The overall cooking time will vary depending upon the size and type of the cut, but I find that 2 ½ hours is the average time needed to deliver perfectly cooked pork to our table.

After the two hours have elapsed, I begin checking the roast every half hour for doneness. The pork is finished when it will easily pull apart and reaches an internal temperature of around 160 degrees. At that point, I remove the pan from the oven and allow the pork to rest in the covered pan for at least an hour.

After the hour has elapsed, I shred the meat. I strain the cooking liquid, reserving it. I return the shredded pork to the pan and moisten it with a bit of the cooking liquid, holding it in the covered pan. It can be rewarmed over low heat if necessary before serving.

I use the reserved cooking liquid to make Cast Iron Skillet Pork and Potato Hash.   The braising liquid has a wonderful depth of flavor and can also be thickened into a pan gravy and served along with the pork or over mashed potatoes.  We like to serve this dish with a side of our homemade Classic Sauerkraut.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/04/beer-and-brown-sugar-braised-pork-roast/

Jewel Toned Easter Eggs

EggsEvery holiday has its own unique food traditions. Easter has many. Creating brightly colored eggs would be near the top of the list.

For a few years, we were unable to participate in this tradition due to a food allergy to eggs. Those egg free Easter celebrations were every bit as joyous and memorable. We made new egg free traditions.

Shortly after we had accepted that egg coloring would not be a part of our Easter celebration, we learned that the egg allergy had cleared. Chicks were ordered, a coop was built, and we entered the world of chicken keeping.

The following February, we collected our first fresh egg. A few weeks later, we had enough of them to make a batch of colored eggs. It wasn’t Easter, but we had plenty to celebrate, so we gathered in the farmhouse kitchen to make a batch of colored eggs together. Since then, we’ve been known to color a batch of eggs for reasons other than celebrating Easter. Why not? There’s no reason to relegate all the egg coloring fun to one holiday a year.

When we returned to coloring eggs for our family table, we decided to put our own spin on it, creating our own method for adding intense color to the shells. We have been making our own egg dye for a few years now. It is an easy process that yields incredibly colorful, beautiful eggs.Eggs

Our hens are all brown egg layers. We find that beginning the egg coloring process with brown shelled eggs results in a more deeply colored egg. Pastel colors are more difficult to achieve without a white eggshell. That’s fine with me. I love the look of these rich, jewel toned eggs on our Easter table.

Before we get started adding beautiful color to the shells of our freshly gathered eggs, they need to be cooked. I have tried every method and none of them work as well for me as steaming by following the steaming method from Fresh Eggs Daily. It is my preferred way to prepare hard-cooked eggs. It has never failed to produce beautifully cooked eggs that are easily removed from their shells.

Once our eggs have been steamed using this method, I like to cool in the ice bath for approximately ten minutes. After ten minutes, remove the eggs from the icy water and allow them to air dry on a clean kitchen towel. Once the eggs have dried, they can be dyed immediately or refrigerated overnight until you are ready to decorate them.

Spring2015_Post_FoodGather a collection of small bowls or coffee cups to hold the colored solution. In each cup or bowl, mix four to six ounces of warm water with a Tablespoon of vinegar and enough liquid or paste food coloring to achieve the desired color. More food coloring will create a deeper, darker colored egg. Make sure that you are using a cup or bowl that can hold your colored liquid along with an egg. A container that is too small will overflow when you add your egg and leave you with a very colorful mess to clean up.

Gently transfer an egg to each of the cups and allow them to rest fully submerged in the colored liquid. We usually set a kitchen timer and check the eggs in ten minute increments. When the eggs are colored to your liking, remove them to a paper towel and allow them to dry completely. Colored, dry eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for three days or until you are ready to use them.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/04/jewel-toned-easter-eggs/

The WonderMix Kitchen Mixer GIVEAWAY and My Multigrain Brioche Bread Recipe

WonderMix Kitchen MixerWhen I was offered the opportunity to try out the new WonderMix Kitchen Mixer in our farmhouse kitchen, I was thrilled. I have been using the company’s WonderMill Electric Grain Mill for several years now.  No matter how many times I use it, I am always astounded at how simple it is to use and how quickly it transforms the organic wheat berries I purchase through my local food co-op into beautiful, freshly milled flour. I couldn’t wait to see their new WonderMix stand mixer and put it through its paces in our farmhouse kitchen.

When the WonderMix arrived, I was taken with its unique design. I loved its square base and covered mixing bowl, knowing that dry ingredients would remain inside the bowl when mixing rather than ending up on the countertop.   After carefully measuring my ingredients with my food scale for a recipe, it can be so frustrating to watch as dry ingredients are flung from a mixer’s bowl and deposited all over the countertop.

The mixing bowl is large, with a capacity of 5.5 quarts or 22 cups. I don’t have a single recipe in my arsenal that requires that much capacity, but I’m glad to know that I can easily mix a double batch of bread dough with room to spare. Not only does this mixer have a high-capacity mixing bowl, it has the motor strength to handle heavy doughs and mixtures. The WonderMix has an impressive 900 watt motor. To put that in perspective, my current stand mixer has a 325 watt motor. The WonderMix has the capacity and the power to handle even the most grueling tasks in my kitchen and yours. With its innovative dough hook and dough divider attachment combination, I knew right away that this was a bread baker’s dream machine.

The WonderMix offers two different sets of whisk type attachments available for the WonderMix. A whisk is often the ideal tool for a recipe, but whisking egg whites into a fluffy meringue is quite a different task than mixing a batch of buttercream or cookie dough. I often find with my other stand mixer that the dough paddle doesn’t adequately beat a batch of buttercream or cookie dough into the smooth, silky texture I desire while the whisk isn’t strong enough to handle the thicker mixture. Having two different pairs of whisk attachments means that I’ll always have one that is well suited for the task at hand.

The WonderMix boasts a wide assortment of other attachments and accessories. They offer a full function blender, slicer/shredder, and meat grinder attachments. If you are interested in working with grain, both a grain flaker and grain mill attachment are also available. This sturdy, powerful unit can do the work of a multitude of appliances. Its rectangular footprint also makes it much easier for me to easily store it in our kitchen.

The helpful owner’s manual that accompanied my WonderMix was filled with helpful instructions for using the machine along with more than 40 recipes. I turned immediately to the section of bread recipes and learned that this mixer promised to fully develop the gluten in a batch of bread dough in five minutes. I couldn’t wait to put that promise to the test.

I make several types of bread for our family. My favorite bread to bake and to eat is brioche. I enjoy brioche’s texture and rich flavor. IMultigrain Brioche loaves at 1840 Farm love to toast a slice of homemade brioche, knowing that the enriched dough will yield the lovely browned surface that I enjoy so much. My family enjoys it just as much as I do, so I make a batch of two loaves every week or so.

The prospect of making a traditional brioche can be daunting for the baker and taxing for the baker’s mixer. Traditional brioche is baked from dough enriched by fresh eggs and butter. Each addition must be perfectly timed before advancing to the next step. If these steps are rushed, the dough will break apart, forming several small clumps that will resist coming back together into one congruous ball of dough. Yet care must be taken not to over mix the dough as too much mixing can ruin the airy texture that makes brioche so wonderful.

Once the eggs have been successfully integrated into the dough, butter must be added in much the same way. It is added a bit at a time, allowing the butter to fully blend with the dough. This process can take thirty minutes or more. All of this kneading puts a heavy toll on a mixer. As the dough is kneaded, the mixer must be monitored to ensure that it does not overheat or, worse yet, burn out completely. Kneading this dough for such a long time is a herculean task for a typical residential kitchen mixer.

Over the years, I have worked to develop my own brioche recipe. It delivers the same delicious flavor and airy texture without requiring so much precision from the bread baker.

In the past few months, I attempted to adapt my recipe to incorporate some of our freshly milled whole wheat flour into the recipe. I didn’t have much luck. The loaves lacked the airy texture I love. No matter how I adjusted the recipe, the resulting loaves were too dense. It seemed that no matter how long I worked the dough using my mixer, I fell short of creating that lovely smooth characteristic that my Farmhouse Brioche always delivers.

I did finally determine that I could use my stand mixer to work the dough for several minutes and then knead the dough by hand for between 5 to 10 minutes in order to create a dough that was smooth and elastic enough to pass the windowpane test.

I had almost given up any hope of creating a multigrain brioche recipe that could be worked entirely by a mixer. Then the WonderMix arrived and I returned to the farmhouse kitchen, hopeful that this powerful machine would have the muscle I needed to fully develop the gluten and create a loaf that was exactly what I was looking for.

As the dough came together, I set my kitchen timer for five minutes. The WonderMix worked the dough without straining. When the timer sounded, I turned off the mixer and removed the dough. It was smooth and elastic, easily passing the windowpane test. The WonderMix had delivered on its promise to fully develop the gluten in five minutes.

I have made several batches of bread since then. Each batch has been just as beautiful and delicious. From now on, I will be using the WonderMix to make this multigrain brioche and all of our other homemade breads.

Now you can use this recipe to make your own loaves of multigrain brioche. You can also enter to win your very own WonderMix! One winner will be randomly selected on April 21, 2015. All subscribers to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter and In Season Magazine will be automatically entered to win. You can earn additional entries through the widget below and increase your odds of winning this amazing mixer. Good luck to all who enter!

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1840 Farm Multigrain Brioche
Makes two loaves

12 ounces (1 ¾ cup) warm water
21 grams (1 Tablespoon) honey
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon Dough Enhancer (optional)
600 grams (5 cups) All-purpose flour
240 grams (2 cups) whole wheat flour
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, grated

If you are using a dough proofer, preheat the proofer following the manufacturer’s instructions as you prepare the dough.   Whisk the warm water and honey in the bowl of a large stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the liquid. Allow the yeast to rest as you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a medium bowl, combine the salt, dough enhancer (if using), and flour. Grate the butter and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth.

Add the eggs to the bowl with the warm water and honey. Whisk until combined. Mount the bowl on the mixer’s base and attach the dough hook and dough divider. Add the dry ingredients all in one addition before turning the mixer’s motor on low speed.

Mix for a few minutes, until the dough begins to take shape. The dough will appear to be slightly dry. With the motor running, begin adding the grated butter a bit at a time, allowing the butter to be incorporated into the dough before adding more. Continue this process until all of the butter has been added.

Stop the mixer and asses the dough. It should be shiny and moist, but not excessively sticky. The ball of dough should be smooth and elastic. If it is too sticky, simply start the mixer and gradually add up to ½ cup of All-purpose flour to the dough. Take care not to add too much flour as it will yield a finished loaf that is too dry. Increase the speed of the mixer slightly and work the dough until it passes the windowpane test, approximately five to ten minutes.

If you are unfamiliar with the windowpane test, the technique is quite simple but incredibly helpful when making a loaf of bread.  This windowpane test will help you to determine if your dough has been kneaded sufficiently to yield a wonderful finished loaf.  By using this technique, you will be certain that your homemade bread dough will produce a beautiful loaf of bread.

Conducting the windowpane test is simple.  After you have kneaded the dough to the point when you think that it has been worked sufficiently, take a small ball of dough and stretch it between your fingers until it is thin and translucent, allowing light to pass through it (much like a window).  If the dough stretches without breaking, it has been kneaded long enough to develop the gluten and is ready to prepare for its rise.  If the dough breaks, continue kneading until it passes the test.

Once your dough passes the windowpane test, transfer the dough to a large buttered bowl to rise in a dough proofer or a warm, draft free location.  Allow the dough to rise until it has nearly doubled in size. Using my dough proofer set at 82 degrees, this takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes.

Once the dough has nearly doubled in size, divide it into two equal sections. Form each section into a loaf and place in a buttered or oiled loaf pan. Be sure to oil the top rim of the loaf pan as this dough has a tendency to rise well above the top of the pan. Oiling the top rim of the pan will make releasing the baked loaf from the pan much easier.

Transfer the two loaves back to the proofing chamber or warm, draft free location for rising. Allow the loaves to rise until they have reached a height of more than one inch above the top edge of the loaf pans.  Using my dough proofer, this takes about one 60 – 90 minutes.

As the dough nears the end of its rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone, this is a great time to put it to use.  I like to use stones when baking bread in order to deliver even heat to the bottom of the loaf as it bakes.  I find that my loaves bake more evenly when I have the stones in the oven during preheating and baking.

Once the loaves have risen sufficiently and the oven has reached the proper temperature, transfer the loaves to the oven.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, turning near the halfway mark to ensure even browning.  When the loaves are fully baked, they will be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Remove the baked loaves from their pans to a wire rack. Allow them to cool completely before slicing or storing.

 Don’t miss my post about the best way to store fresh bread to learn how you should be storing your fresh loaf of bread.  You can also learn more about My Favorite Bread Baking Tools and Ingredients and share your own with me.

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Pi Day 3.1415

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When asked to declare my favorite food to prepare and enjoy with my family, I don’t have to ponder long.  The answer is simple:  pie.  I love to make pie almost as much as I love to eat a delicious, flaky pie crust filled to the brim with the best of what the season (or our panty and freezer) have to offer.

A homemade berry pie has the power to transport me to my paternal grandmother’s humble kitchen.  My grandmother was a wonderful cook and baker, but pie was her specialty.  Her schwatzenberry pie was my favorite.  It would not be overstating its power to say that those berry pies forever changed my life.

My grandmother’s homemade berry pie taught me that food had the ability to feed my soul. I now know that it also holds the incredible power of transcending time and space, bringing back memories of a grandmother long gone, but known fondly by my children who never had the opportunity to meet her in person.

Instead, they met her memory with the first bite of berry pie savored at our family table while listening to me share my fondest memories about her. Every summer, we carefully pick the schwatzenberries from our garden and look forward to the day when we have gathered enough to make the season’s first pie.

Throughout the year, we enjoy pies of every sort.  Our annual Kentucky Derby Day celebration would seem incomplete without a homemade Bourbon Peach Pie.  Summer would be much less sweet if raspberry season didn’t include the promise of a Double Crusted Raspberry Pie.  When fall’s apple season arrives at our local farmer’s market, I find myself dreaming of a slice of Brandied Apple Pie topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Each year, we celebrate Pi Day on March 14th by making and enjoying a homemade pie together here at 1840 Farm.  The day is publicized in the hope of inviting us to all learn more about the mathematical significance of Pi and the importance of math in our daily lives.  I’m happy to extol the virtues of math, especially if I can do so by spending time in the farmhouse kitchen making my favorite dish for our family table.

This year, we’re gearing up to celebrate a Pi Day of epic proportions.  In 2015, Pi Day falls on 3/14/15.  Given that Pi begins with “3.1415”, it seems like this year’s celebration should be extra special.  We’re still debating which of our favorite pie recipes should be called into service for our celebration tomorrow.

I hope that you will join in the celebration and add one of these pie recipes to your weekend plans.  I’ve included a few pie crust making tips for good measure.  I receive so many messages from readers who are intimidated by the thought of making a homemade pie crust.  Using these tips, you will make a deliciously flaky pie crust that will delight your friends and family, I promise!

You can view our special Pi Day Newsletter and add your name to our thousands of subscribers.  Our newsletter is the best way to make sure that you don’t miss our favorite seasonal recipes, giveaways, and posts.  You can subscribe in a few seconds and know that we will never share your Email address with anyone.

We have our biggest giveaway EVER coming to you in the next few weeks and our subscribers will be the first to know about it.  Believe me, you’re not going to want to miss out on this one.  Well, at least not if you’d be happy to win a fantastic piece of kitchen equipment that was tested right here in the farmhouse kitchen and has a value of more than $350!

Happy Pi Day!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/03/pi-day-3-1415/

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