Four New (Old) Heirloom Wheat Berries. And a Boule.

In April I purchased four varieties of heirloom wheat berries from Breadtopia: Turkey Red, Rouge de Bordeaux, Sonora White, and Red Fife. UPS caused a bit of a hang-up when they delivered to the wrong address, but the customer service at Breadtopia was top-notch in sorting it out. I’m a happy customer.

I’ve read through both of the books I purchased (Leonti’s Bread Lab and Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads), and I’ve baked a little bit out of both. I’m at the point now that I want to try things that aren’t huge departures from how I’ve been baking to see how the finished products compare. With that in mind, a boule with 50% fresh milled Rouge de Bordeaux and 50% King Arthur Bread Flour:

Another added variable is the new Le Crueset Bread Oven. I’ll likely do a review after a few more bakes but so far I think it’s going to get a lot of use in the future. It was a very thoughtful gift.

Continue reading “Four New (Old) Heirloom Wheat Berries. And a Boule.”

Easy Sandwich Bread With Fresh Milled Whole Wheat Attempt #3. And Leonti’s Flour Lab Yeasted Loaf

First up, the weeknight sandwich bread with whole wheat:

The recipe: 600 grams total flour — 200 grams whole wheat (the picture above utilizes freshly milled hard red winter wheat), 400 grams bread flour (King Arthur), 420 grams room temperature water (70% hydration),12 grams kosher salt (2% of total flour weight), 1.5 teaspoons instant yeast.

  1. Place the whole wheat flour in the mixing bowl. Combine with all of the water and let rest and hydrate for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
  2. Add the other ingredients to the bowl and mix on low speed for 8 minutes.
  3. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  4. Fold the dough so that it will fit into a 9″ x 5″ bread pan. I used a fair amount of surface tension, which may have helped the dough rise evenly.
  5. Cover and let rise for two hours. At the 90-minute mark set the oven to 425F
  6. Slash the dough down the center.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes covered with another upside-down bread pan. Remove the cover and bake for another 35 minutes.

So it’s totally doable after work, assuming you get home at a reasonable time. All-up it’s about 4.5 – 5 hours and most of that is hands-off.

Continue reading “Easy Sandwich Bread With Fresh Milled Whole Wheat Attempt #3. And Leonti’s Flour Lab Yeasted Loaf”

Easy Sandwich Bread With Whole Wheat — 2nd Attempt

At least from an appearance standpoint, this one is closer to the truth:

The recipe was similar to the first attempt, but this time I gave it more total flour, yeast, and time.

The recipe:

375 grams bread flour, 125 grams (fresh milled) hard red winter wheat (500 grams flour total, which gives the following baker’s percentages), 325 grams cool water (65%), 15 grams honey (3%), 20 grams oil (4%), 10 grams kosher salt (2%), 1 tsp instant yeast.

Continue reading “Easy Sandwich Bread With Whole Wheat — 2nd Attempt”

The Mockmill 200 And Starting Up Baking With Whole Grains

I recently purchased a Mockmill 200 as well as four varieties of wheat berries. I also got a couple of books so that I wouldn’t be completely reinventing the wheel while trying to learn new skills for baking breads.

For me, the purchase decision on the grain mill came down to the Mockmill 200 or a Komo. When researching the choices they seemed to be fairly even in terms of performance and quality — there are a whole bunch of sites that review and compare the two. I settled on the Mockmill partly due to appearance, and partly due to an aggregate of thoughts from reading about the “pros” and “cons” of each, though frankly there was a good amount of conflicting / contrasting information on both. My feeling is that they’re both quality products and I’m not sure there’s really a “wrong” decision.

A picture from the Breadtopia site.
Continue reading “The Mockmill 200 And Starting Up Baking With Whole Grains”

Weeknight Flatbread With Rye Flour And Greek Yogurt

A weeknight flatbread recipe that looks and tastes like more effort than it really is-

As an example, an easy flatbread recipe might be something like:

Combine 300 grams AP flour, 185 grams room temperature water (65% hydration), 6 grams kosher salt (2% of the flour by weight), and 1 tsp instant yeast in a stand mixer. Knead on low speed for 8 minutes. Cover and let rest 1 hour. Divide the dough into 3 balls, cover, and let rest another 30 minutes. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Stretch the doughs out into loose rounds 6-8″ across. Brush each side of the discs lightly with olive oil, and cook 2-4 minutes per side until done and browned to taste. Wrap the finished breads in a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.

Continue reading “Weeknight Flatbread With Rye Flour And Greek Yogurt”

The Poker Chip Diet After Year One

One year into the Poker Chip Diet and I think it’s going pretty well. I lost 25.4 pounds this year, which represents a little less than 10% of my January 1, 2021 bodyweight. My goal was 25 pounds, with 35 pounds as a stretch goal:

A picture from January. 35 total poker chips representing one pound each. Weight to lose on the left. Weight successfully lost on the right.

It’s really nice having lost some extra weight. My joints and back feel better. I don’t snore as much, or grunt when I bend over anymore. I’m sure there are other internal parts of my body that are happier with less fat around too.

I’ve moved enough of the chips to the right that I think I’m feeling too much sense of accomplishment and too little motivation, so I’m going to reset the chips:

The new goal is 10 more pounds, with 15 pounds as the stretch goal. Even 10 pounds would put me at a reasonable and healthy sustainable weight that ideally I could maintain into old age.

The other new goal for 2022 is to try to go for a walk at least 4 days per week. Walking works well for me because I can’t get halfway through the exercise and then quit for the day. At that point I still have to walk home. I began 2021 by going for walks daily, then things happened and for a while walking was no longer a priority, and I never restarted the walks. I think getting in at least some walking will improve my muscle tone and hopefully make me less likely to get injured doing routine things around the house. It should make my joints feel better too.

For me the weight loss has been about food discipline — portion control and monitoring my total daily calorie intake. I’ve been weighing in at least weekly — if I’ve been slack the scale doesn’t lie about it. If I feel like I’ve leveled out then getting on the scale daily helps, too many cheat days become very obvious very fast.

So there’s that. At least one more update to come in the future.

Happy Holidays

2021 Container Garden Recap

Our yield for the year was 112.6 pounds from 10 EarthBoxes. This is a lower amount than when we started gardening, but higher than the last couple of years. I think the factors that have led to the lower yield include:

  • Aging potting soil. We’ve replaced a good portion of it over time but salts may be building up and/or the soil may be getting denser. How much this negatively impacts growth I’m not sure.
  • In 2019 and 2020 the weather included lots of wildfire smoke during the peak growing season.
  • We’ve been sourcing the plants from different places since the pandemic started. Historically it’s been the annual Seattle Tilth Plant Sale, but that hasn’t been a real option the last couple of years for us. We’ve been buying the plants from “reputable nurseries” instead, so I’d like to think the sourcing isn’t that big of a deal.
  • We might be cramping the plants on the patio. The right answer might be to grow more shorter plant varieties. It feels like the patio might be getting less sun than in 2013, due to trees growing bigger all around the property.
  • I think the early enthusiasm for gardening has worn off, and we’ve been relatively shorter on free time the last couple of years, so I’m not doting over the plants like I had been. I’ve sort of pivoted to “maximum output relative to work input.”

Overall it felt like everything “popped” sort of late but in any event we still got a decent yield by year end. The “pounds” amounts below are for the full box or boxes

Marketmore Cucumbers – 1 box, 4 plants, 21.1 pounds. This is lower than some years, though the fruits themselves kept good shape and taste all season. The quality was better but it felt like the plants were shorter than usual.

Black Beauty Eggplant – 1 box, 2 plants, 1.4 pounds. The first year we’ve grown eggplant of any type. My feeling is that the eggplant box could have been in a sunnier spot though at the height of summer it may have gotten to hot on the patio for the plants to be happy. They set fruit really late, so the fact that we got any at all was a pleasant surprise. If we do eggplant again we’ll move them to a different location on the patio and *possibly* try hand pollinating to help things along. Additionally: I think the plants themselves were mislabeled and they were actually Chinese or Zebra eggplants – they were relatively spherical and had stripes.

Carmen Peppers – 1 box, 6 plants, 8.8 pounds. This is right in line with the 1.5 pounds per plant we’ve seen from Carmen Peppers historically. They ripened well overall and we lost very few to critters. Our favorite peppers to grow come though again.

King of The North Peppers – 1 box, 6 plants, 3.8 pounts. These kind of got out-competed by the Carmens. They were adjacent to the Carmens but the Carmens flopped on top of them to some degree. Not a great yield but again we lost very few to critters — 3.8 pounds is “fine”.

Black Krim Tomato – 1 box, 2 plants, 12.5 pounds. This represents a below average yield for this variety. On the bright side almost all of the tomato plants either ripened on the vine or ripened after harvest. We grow these every year for the terrific earthy flavor and this year lived up to expectations.

Green Zebra and Tigerella Tomatoes – 1 box, 2 plants, 11.5 pounds. Planting to tomatoes that look that much the same next to each other wasn’t the best idea. The Green Zebra was the weaker of the two plants, so I’d guess the total yield is more Tigerallas.

Oregon Spring Tomato – 1 box, 2 plants, 20.2 pounds This represents a below average yield for what is always a top performer. They still ripened first, though I think we lost a few pounds to critters taking a chunk out of semi-mature fruit.

Roma Tomato – 2 boxes, 4 plants, 26.8 pounds. Below average yield again, but literally everything ripened. We ripened all of the unripe and semi-ripe tomatoes on cooling racks on the floor of the kitchen near a heater vent. I think the air flow and warmth helped ensure ripening rather than rotting. We grew plants from two different farms and they seemed to produce equally well.

Tromboncino Zucchini – 1 box, 2 plants, 4.3 pounds. Another downer year for a plant that is relatively more labor intensive than some other possible choices. It may be that we need to hand pollinate these for a better yield, or put them in a location where they get more sun.

We also got more basil than we could possibly use from the EarthBoxes, as well as a good amount of beans and scallions. The raised beds provided a nice amount of asparagus, rosemary, thyme, chives, and garlic chives.

Overall that’s 73 pounds of tomatoes and the freezer is full of tomato sauce. We enjoyed fresh cucumbers and tomatoes over the summer. If we’re going to spend “extra” time in the yard then producing our own food feels like a rewarding time-sink.