11 Sep 2017

ursulas_alcove: My favorite doctor (c is for civilized)
I signed up for a week long summit called Back to Basics, http://backtobasicssummit.com It is half homesteading, half prepping. Some of it doesn't begin to fit our lifestyle while other sessions seem tailor made for us. And yes, I have seen many of the presenters before. Sunday I learned how to make jam with the powdered pectin. I have never used powdered before. Mostly we add currants when we need pectin. But the currants were dug up/moved and are still recovering. I've used the liquid pectin before but not the powdered. It was a bit intimidating because there were no instructions with the pectin. The presentor started with 4 cups blueberries, puréed. Then boil the fruit for a minute, add pectin. Boil for another minute and then add 4 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil for another minute. Use a paperplate to test for sheeting. Spoon jam onto the plate. Place plate into freezer for 30 seconds. Take it out and check for sheeting. Add a knob of butter to keep jam from foaming. She also added a vanilla bean somewhere in there and removed it when ladling out the jam. Pour into hot sterile jars. Process 10 minutes. I need to do this with some mulberries.

Today I got the most out of the bread baking session. I learned where all my mistakes were. I need to knead the dough longer to develop the gluten. To check if its done, use a walnut size chunk and start making a pancake as thin as you can stretch it. If it tears easily, keep working. This is part of why my dough lacks structural integrity. The second part is leaving it to proof too long. Using two fingers, poke the dough. If it springs back, it needs to proof longer. If your poke stays visible, the bread is just right. Generally, my dough when poked, pops and crashes like a soufflé gone cold. So off I went to practise. I used less energy and was done baking much sooner. Great loaf and has structural integrity.

Recipe from Confessions of a French Baker

We've had two days of absolutely clear sky. The pantry was getting a little low. While I was taking inventory, I found a large jar of great northern dried beans. And you know, we've all those tomatoes. Plus we just restocked the molasses. So I got out the solar oven and baked beans. I got a little carried away on the tomatoes and I forgot to add onions, so today I fixed that and made more beans and sauted onions to doctor it up. Not too bad. I made them for the freezer.

Solar Oven

One of the back-to-basics presenters is Paul Munsen. His solar oven (Sun Ovens International) is pretty neat. He also gives a good presentation. He reminded me that I can partially pop the lid, and dehydrate my tomatoes. I also have an alcohol based dye that I do not want anywhere near an open fire, so I've stuck that jar in the solar oven too. Our solar oven is starting to show its age. Its made by a different company, Solavore http://www.solavore.com/contact-us/ I wrote to the company about a replacement cover. We compared the two ovens when visiting Lehman's. Paul's oven is smaller and more portable. Ours is bigger, fitting two pots in it at the same time but it does not travel well. Replacement parts if available, will allow us to work on lowering our electric usage. I really can't afford a new oven. I picked this one up about ten years ago. It took a good tumble in the wind out at Estrella one year. The cover has been damaged ever since. I really didn't want to build one from scratch to replace it.

Another set of presenters today covered how much food to store. Apparently certain religious groups promote this concept and have food calculators to figure out how much extra to store per person. There are plug and play spreadsheets. While I like the concept, we are under too tight of money constraints to buy extra food.
http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Basic-Plus-Calculator.xlsx

I quite enjoyed the Mississippi farmer who shared ideas/recipes for using all your canned foodstuffs. I think I'd like to try a pressure cooker. Potatoes, corn, meat, all preserve well this way. Despite glass being heavy and breakable, it would be so much easier to grab a few jars for traveling. I have too many allergies to eat out. This would solve a lot of problems. She also covered what to do with aging jellies and freeze drying as well.

I worked on hats today. Orders shipped. But no skeining. I need to get back to winding/skeining tomorrow and let a couple of clients know that their hats are ready. Dyebaths need to be run for Shenandoah Valley Fiber Fest. Too much to do!

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