"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What a Grind

This is our new grain mill. It's brand-spankin' new. But it's very old fashioned. The motor is my arm. To be completely honest, it's really my whole upper body. Believe me, when you've finished grinding enough grain for  a loaf of bread, you've had a little workout. But this is really a good thing. I can feel it in my biceps, triceps, pectorals, deltoids and the rest.

The real reward is the most delicious bread you could possibly have, and more importantly, it's far more nutritious than anything you could buy in the store, and that includes your local "fresh" bakery.  How can I say that? Because with rare exception, I'm betting even your local bakery buys its flour already ground in very large commercial bags of 50 - 100 pounds each. Flour that has been processed so that it can maintain a very long shelf life, having many of the best nutrients purposely removed.  In fact, you might not know that it is required that key ingredients be removed during the processing to render the flour "safe" meaning that it can't explode if rapidly dispersed.  But even back in the days before such factory processing was done, the mere act of grinding grain exposed it to rapid oxidation. Such oxidation means that the flour loses up to 90% of its best nutrition within a week of being ground.

Hard Red Wheat
I will warn you that you might run into websites that challenge that assertion. They don't back it up with any facts, mind you, but you should already know that you can't believe everything you see on the internet. Think about it.  If you break the skin on a piece of fruit, what begins to happen to that fruit? Did you know that whole grain kernels have been found in storage that are hundreds of years old that are still capable of sprouting.  Why is that?  The big food companies that produce flour have to add vitamins and other things to the flour to keep it from rapidly spoiling. Any microbiologist can tell you that enzymes and amino acids and other organic compounds rapidly deteriorate once they are exposed to air.  You can do your own research, and you can believe what you want to, but my scientific mind and common sense tell me that this is the most nutritional way to go.

Organic Quinoa
We will be adding several more varieties of grains and even legumes to our inventory, but the two that we started with are the hard red wheat, and organic quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah").  Because Twyla has a thyroid condition and fibromyalgia, she is sensitive to gluten, but my suspicion is that she is mostly sensitive to the additives in most processed, factory produced foods. The quinoa is something that she can eat instead of pasta.  Since I already had a manual pasta maker, that's going to be one of the things I look forward to making. It will be very economical compared to buying already made quinoa pasta (about $6 for a one pound box). The red wheat is much cheaper; it works out to about $1.50 per pound. Of course it's not tremendously cheaper than store bought bread, but it is cheaper. But more importantly, it is nutrient dense food that will keep that way right up until we grind it and turn it into bread.  One very cool thing about grinding the grain is that the volume of the grain about doubles when it is ground, so a cup of red wheat and a half cup of quinoa becomes about 3 cups of flour.

Why a MANUAL grain mill?
Maybe you've heard of "cap & trade"?  A proposed bill that the leftists in government would like to impose on the United States. Along with other nefarious and unconstitutional acts, this would pretty much destroy energy production in this country, and you could expect for us to become a third-world banana republic in short order.  Of course, something else could happen.  Some natural disaster, or terrorist attack.  Did you know that all some rogue enemy has to do is to explode a nuclear weapon somewhere in high altitude over North America and it would destroy all the electronics for hundreds of miles from the electro-magnetic pulse or EMP.  It could take weeks or months to restore power, if ever. The neat thing about this model of grain mill is that the pulley that comes with it is a v-belt machine pulley, which means that I could mount a small motor on the board next to it and just get an old standard automotive v-belt and I could grind 10 pounds in ten minutes. Or, I could take an old stationary exercise bike and run a belt from the wheel of that thing to the pulley.There are many ways I could make it work easier.  But had we bought an electric model?  In a power shortage or outage, it would just become an interesting door stop.

In some future posts, I'll be sharing about the restoration and installation of an old porcelain and steel wood cook stove that dates from about 1913. That's going to become our primary source of heat during the winter in our little corner of the mountain.

I don't know if I've shared enough information to satisfy you. If you'd like to know more, please leave a comment below.  For now, I'll leave you with my basic bread recipe:

About three cups of flour (the blend I talk about above)
One egg (yep, from our own chickens)
One cup of milk (evaporated, or reconstituted from dry, or whatever)
Two teaspoons of yeast
Half cup of water
Three tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable oil)
Two tablespoons of sugar
A scant pinch of cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg, or all three (they are not for flavor, they actually enhance the yeast growth, but the flavor is an added benefit)
One teaspoon of salt

Dissolve the sugar in the warm half cup of water and add the spices. The water should be warm and not hot, or not above 95 F. Then add the yeast and let it dissolve and give it about 15 minutes to bloom and start eating the sugar. Then whip in the egg and milk and oil until blended thoroughly, then start blending in the flour and salt.  I have no set measurements for any of this. You may need to add a little more flour or water depending on the texture and handling of the bread.  I adjust the mixture until the dough ball can be kneaded without sticking to my skin. No moister and no drier than that.  Then it goes back in the bowl and covered with plastic wrap or into a ziploc bag and then into the refrigerator. If that seems odd, don't let it put you off.  Allowing the dough to rest and rise very, very slowly makes for a much smoother, even texture in the final product. Your patience will be rewarded.

B'rakhot Adonai,


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