From Scratch: Super Easy Homemade Country Bread

bread2

On my mission to conquer my irrational fear of all things yeasty, I recently tackled a batch of King Arthur Flours  “The Easiest Loaf of Bread You Will Ever Make.”  And guess what?  It WAS easy. I changed the type of flour, however, to organic bread flour instead of AP, just in case you decided to try this recipe yourself.

The entire family really enjoyed it!  It took about 3 hours from start to finish but that was almost all just proofing time.  If you’re looking for an airy, holed, chewy crumb, this is not the recipe for you.  It honestly reminds me of sandwich bread and made terrific toast with a tight coarse crumb and even texture.  At just over $1.50 a loaf you can’t beat it.  When is the last time you bought Wonder Bread for $1.50, not where I am from.

Tip: I did find that my Standard Kitchen Aid with the dough hook attachment was adequate for mixing but NOT for kneading.  I have a professional series Kitchen Aid Mixer 6 quart that might be strong enough, use your best judgment.  I turned out the dough and hand kneaded for the 3-5 minutes.  It was great exercise and makes the finished product that much more enjoyable and satisfying.

If you try out the recipe let me know how it turned out! Try not to be intimidated, it really was easy!

bread1

bread3

bread4

 

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

Advertisements

How to Start Meal Planning

sandwich1

Do you plan your weekly meals?  If not, you should!  Here are some benefits of taking the time to Meal Plan; saves money, less stress, fewer trips to the store, creates opportunity for healthier eating, eliminates the great family dinner debate, and is an easy place to start organizing your entire life.  Step by step, here is how we tackle this:

1. Create a Shopping List-
To get set up, first make a list of everything the family normally purchases at the grocery store, add to that other things you might cook with now and then.  Next, set up your list according to the aisles in the store and group the items accordingly.  Make sure to leave some blank spaces in each section to add items that may not be on your original list. Your best bet is to type this up and print out copies to use each week.  When our garden is producing we will be able to eliminate the produce section of this list and save even more $$.

thanks2

2. Create a Weekly Menu-
Use a simple spread sheet or get creative! Here is a basic sample you can type up and print out: Weekly Menu. You can also use a chalk board, magnetic board, your refrigerator, or any of the thousands of ideas floating around Pinterest.

3. Choose a Day to Plan and a Day to Shop-
For us, it works best to plan leisurely on Friday when we get a few seconds then do the actual shopping on Saturday mornings.  You can also plan and shop on the same day, whatever works best with your schedule. Also, you may choose to plan for the entire month all in one day then just shop each week accordingly.

sandwich1

4. Read your Local Sale Flyers-
When you are ready to sit down and plan, grab your local stores sale flyer(s). Take a look at their major sales and any other items you may need to purchase that week.  We try to coordinate whats on sale with what your menu looks like. For example, if ground turkey meat is on sale we might make chili, meatballs or minestrone soup.  After consulting the flyer and taking into account the weather, family activities, whats growing in your garden, special events, whats fresh this time of year and holidays, it is time to make the menu.

food1

5. Making your Weekly Menu-
Making your menu might seem daunting but its only 7 days, right? You can do it! For our family we use pretty much the same formula each week, with a few variations here and there: a soup, a pasta dish, breakfast for dinner, take-out, a major protein, vegetarian and something new.  We did not intend to do this, it is just how the process evolved and it works for us. We really just plug in the recipes for each items and give it a day and its done. Easy.

cart1

6. Check off your Shopping List:
Now, go through all of your recipes and highlight all the ingredients you need to purchase on your shopping list. Then check your pantry and refrigerator for every day items you need to replenish and mark those off as well. For example; we know every week that we need to purchase milk, eggs and bread, it is not on the weekly menu but we know our family needs it. You may also wish to go online and print any coupons for items your purchasing to save some extra cash.

7. Do your Shopping and Stick to the Menu:
All that is left is shop and cook.  Make sure to stick to your menu during the week because then all your hard work is for naught.

jw1

Supplementing with your CSA

Until our garden is, well first made, then producing enough to supply our family with the entirety of our produce needs, we will need to supplement with purchased products.  Last year, John William and I frequented our local farmers markets each week, although fun and enjoyable, it was time consuming and very expensive.  This year, we have enrolled in a local organic farms CSA program.

Credit: Local Harvest

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  How it works is that, in the beginning of the year local farms will sell shares in the upcoming seasons crops.  Customers will pay for full or half shares up front, in full.  Then throughout the summer and fall, each week you go and pick up your portion of that week’s harvest.  It is a large investment in the winter, BUT, it will pay itself back come harvest time, and depending on how well the farm does you can really get a lot for your money.

I love supporting programs like this!  It gives the farmers funds to start that years crops, supports local business, saves you money, and is a fun way to try new produce because you never know what that weeks share is going to contain.  We won’t receive our first share until June, but I will be sure to post pictures.

Visit Local Harvest to find a CSA in your area!  I am sure you won’t be disappointed!

From Scratch: Cinnamon Sugar Breadsticks

cinnsticks1

YES! They were as yummy as they look! Oh my goodness! Our journey of eliminating processed foods has led us to canning, preserving and from scratch foods, but homemade dough has always been an enemy of mine.  Even after attending the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and majoring in baking, bread will own me every time.  I don’t know what it is, we just do not get along. However, I know its a skill I must master to achieve our self sufficient lifestyle goals.

To practice, I researched and researched and after taste testing a batch at a playgroup decided I would dive into the yeasty world with these ooey gooey cinnamon breadsticks. Here is the recipe I used, all of mine from school yield hundreds of loaves and require machinery I just don’t have. So yes, I found a recipe on the internet 🙂

SUCCESS! It was easy, not fast at all because of the 3+ hours of proofing required, but oh so worth it! Give it a try and let me know how much you love um!

I think I CAN! You CAN too!

Cheesy Cheesy title, sorry guys.  However silly the title might be, it is still completely true.  I was always so scared of canning, until I recently decided to try it out and ended up with the gorgeous citrus segments that don our title page.  Before starting, I enlisted the help of seasoned canners and picked their brains.

Chalk full of new knowledge and encouragement I purchased:

What does one can in the middle of winter?  Why citrus of course!  Whole Foods had organic grapefruit and oranges in bulk bags on sale, score!

I followed all of the instructions that came with the canner, as well as in a few canning books I have recently fell in love with (Food In Jars and Canning for a New Generation), but ultimately ended up using these step by step instructions from Canning Granny. I am a visual learner and the pictures really helped.

_DSC0850

The finished product is both beautiful and delicious!  It really was not hard, but make sure to follow all of the directions exactly and you will be fine. Because if I CAN, YOU CAN!

I can

 

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

Our Mean Green DIY Compost Bin

IMG_0250 IMG_0605

Good Morning,

Would you look at that beauty!  That my friends is our homemade trashcan rotating compost bin and I cannot wait for spring to get here so we can use it.  I know, I know, you are supposed to start your compost in the fall when you have all of those nice fallen leaves, but we missed that season and now we start in spring. Oh well.

How did we come to own this wonderful contraption?  It was made by my husband… at 2am one night at his office.  Earlier in the day I sent him THESE plans, asking “would you be able to make me something like this?” and not twelve hours later we a have finished project.  What a man!

It is pretty much NOTHING like the plans, leave it to John to ditch the plans and just make crap up! If I get him to explain the step by steps I can write up a quick DIY for this one, stay tuned.

Even though we have about 12 inches of snow on the ground and over the next week expect to add 14 more to that, we are dreaming of wonderful, beautiful compost!  Any tips or suggestions from seasoned pros?

compost bin 1

Welcome to our blog! What is this all about?

oursshome

Hello! Welcome to our blog, our home, our family and a peak into our lives.  My name is Colleen, I have a fantastic husband named John and an adorable son, John William.  A little over a year ago, we moved from our one bedroom condo and are slowly starting our way towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle on our own homestead.

You may be wondering, what is this homestead thing all about?  Well, UrbanHomestead.org defines a suburban or urban homestead as, “a suburban or city home in which residents practice self-sufficiency through home food production and storage.”  Also, it is not only about food, but personal energy generation and getting “off grid,” as well.

On our list of homestead goals are:  find a house with land that allows for us to pursue this new life style, compost, start a garden or implement a lawnscaping plan, build and maintain a greenhouse, collect and store rainwater, can and preserve our own food, and build a source of self-supplying energy.

Join us on our journey as we try to make this dream a reality, while having tons of fun on the way! OH! and the name? Its a play on our last name, near and dear to our hearts 🙂