Thursday, May 13, 2010

In which I admit my ignorance...

I know you're all shocked, since I always act like I know it all! ;-) But this bread baking thing is throwing me for a loop. It's like Ghana. The more I know, the more I know how little I really know!

So now I've got a decent loaf of bread. Really good tasting, but not rising very high. I'm going to work on it...mess around a hopes that eventually it can taste good and be taller. If not, then we still like the short little loaf just the way it is.

Except that I don't QUITE like it just the way it is.

I know that my cheap all-purpose flour is the nutritional equivalent of chalk. So fine. I decide I will add some whole wheat flour to it. I've heard from others that you can replace some of the white flour with whole wheat, without it destroying the texture.

But then I read how store-bought whole-wheat is really still very nutritionally sub-par. Did you know that flour loses 40% of it's nutrients within a day of being milled? And 80% in 3 days? YIKES!

So is there any way for me to put a nutritionally dense piece of bread in front of my clan? Evidently not, if I'm going to continue buying run of the mill (ha, ha, no pun intended until I typed it) flour. I can make it better with whole wheat flour, but not really SUPER nutricious.

But do "normal" people really mill their own grain? I mean, am I transitioning over to some other level of food consciousness? I don't plan on letting my arm hair grow out and starting to sew all my own clothes. No immediate plans to start collecting rain in barrels and begin farming my little urban plot for all of the produce I can get. Mind you, I think these are all AWESOME endeavours (well, okay, not growing out your arm hair). I'm just not THAT mom. I'm the hamburger helper mom. Yes, I am the mom at the drive through window fixing to order a hamburger when instead "the hand" pops out of my backseat and convinces me that hamburger helper is really far superior to fast food! Ach!

I guess I'm not THAT mom anymore, but I'm not this NEW mom either. I'm stuck. I've got multiple personalities! I love to dream of living an Amish-style life, but can't go a day without my laptop! I only want to buy grass-fed organic beef from now on, but it was REALLY hard not to order a quarter pounder from McD's tonight! Hmm... Maybe I am a "genetically modified granola mom." [ probably only get that joke if you've know about organic and grass fed, and think GMO's are the root of all evil.]

Anyway.... I want to learn more about this thing called milling, and how I can do it in my little city kitchen with my little closet pantry, on my little debt-laden budget. Where do I buy grain? How best do I store it with limited space? And what is all the fuss about with the Bosch machine? Do I really NEED something like that? [I've got what I thought was a nice Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.] Then we get into stuff like "dough enhancer" and "vital wheat gluten." Really? This is sounding more and more like chemistry. Or Biology? Some sort of science, of that I am sure!

I feel all tingly and excited, because it's fun to learn something new. But I don't want my excitement to be a flash in the pan that ends up costing us lots of $$$$ only to find out that I really am not this genetically modified granola mom after all. I was just on a kick.

Must explore my true motivation. Must decide if this is a lovely little fad, or a real life change we're going to stick to. Must not waste the fam's money even if I really love the thought of a few really cool new kitchen toys!


Vicky 12:26 AM  

"Genetically Modified Granola Mom" LOLOLOLOL

Sorry, can't help with your question. I've never baked bread, let alone ground my own wheat. It sounds like fun though... and very yummy, too!

Andy and Jennifer 6:15 AM  

Personally, I think your enthusiasm is great! And as someone who made the switch to a more conscious level of food consumption, I would encourage you to start small, stay small for awhile, and make those small things a habit. That's much easier to do than to try a big, expensive more time consuming thing and make that a habit (and then fill guilty if you can't)

All of the little steps you are taking are wonderful for your family, even if they are not perfect.

Good Luck!

Myflybabyaccount 6:24 AM  

I am one of those weird moms who grind their own wheat, but I started out like you. The hardest part is getting used to making all of your own bread. Once you get used to that, grinding your wheat for the bread only adds an extra minute and is not hard at all.

As for the Bosch and wheat gluten and dough enhancers, I don't use them at all. All of my bread is made in a bread machine (from fresh ground wheat), and I only use water, oil, honey, salt, flour, and yeast. It took quite a few loaves to find a recipe that my family liked, but we have been using it for years now.

I know that this seems like a big, big change, but in a few years you will wonder why you thought that.

Renee 6:49 AM  

Stepping out of the pantry to confess.... that I do grind wheat.

I have been doing it for over 7 years and I have never once contemplated stopping shaving. I still wear gobs of make-up and think accessories are God's gift to women. I am a misfit hippie. ;o)

We buy most of our stuff from the BreadBeckers. We are part of their grain co-op (How Granola!) Check and see if they come to your area. You can save a ton on shipping. Here are some articles

that may help. You can also get a free CD. Sue and her husband are incredibly helpful if you want to call and talk with them. I think I heard they were in Latvia bringing home their new son but may be back now.

Do not be dismayed over bread made with enriched flour. It is so much better than store bought bread with all of it's ingredients. You are doing great!

thecurryseven 6:53 AM  

We grind our own flour here as well. (I also use a Bosch and all that, but I'm (well, my son), is baking for 11 people.) The mill is really easy to use. We'll grind a mill full of flour and keep it in the freezer to use whenever we need flour. With the freshly ground flour, I pretty much do a 100% substitution for white flour.

As for getting wheat berries...I found someone who bulk orders wheat every 6 months. I make the 1 1/2 drive twice a year and stock up. I bet if you do an internet search for wheat berry suppliers in your area you'll find something. My favorite wheat berry to use is Golden 86, which is a hybrid between red and white hard winter wheat. If it's not available I use just hard winter white, though I know many people prefer the hard winter red.

The whole wheat-thing does feel like a pretty steep learning curve at first, but it's really not that difficult. And the fresh flour tastes so good. We do make all our own bread, and while the grinder is expensive, I think I figured that it paid for itself within a year with the difference in price for buying flour...much less bread.

Have fun in your new venture!

Bingaling 8:18 AM  

I don't grind my own flour...and I only use vital wheat gluten because I use the healthy breads in 5 minutes a day recipe and that doesn't require kneading. I like to buy white whole wheat flour. I am picky about which flour I buy...and only buy King Arthur flour (or flour from my local co-op).

Have you tried making any breads by adding other grains? You can add a whole lot of nutrients by adding other grains to the mix.

Also, you might want to check with your local food co-op to see if they have locally fresh-ground wheat and other whole grains. Then you wouldn't have to grind yourself, but you could still get stuff that was super fresh.

Now...if you start talking about roasting your own coffee beans I can tell you where you can get some really good green coffee! LOL!

waitingarms 10:06 AM  

Oh no, you made me start checking the ingredients listed on bread and I can't pronounce half the ingredients! I thought I was doing good by getting double fiber whole wheat bread, but now you have me day dreaming about baking my own bread!

I have not researched bread baking, and I am not sure which nutrients are lost after milling. If you are going towards milling your own flour because of the lost nutrients, will these not be lost as well during the baking process?

I am enjoying following your journey towards healthier food and I am gettign re-motivated to do better. I try and avoid most processed foods and try to cook things from scratch, but looking at my pantry, I am still amazed at how many processed foods I have!

Renee 12:56 PM  

I forgot to say that I have the Whisper Mill which they don't sell anymore it is similar to the Wonder Mill..but I think the Nutrimill looks awesome.

We have the Electrolux Mixer and it is amazing.

The recipe we make is-for 5 loaves

5 cups of HOT water
1 and 1/4 cup of olive oil
3/4 cup of honey

WE mix these together

Then add

3 tablespoons of self rising yeast.

1 tablespoon of gluten
1 tablespoon of lechitin
5 teaspoons of salt


Then add 12-13 cups of four.
Let rise to double.
Transfer to pans
Let rise to double.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes