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Artisan Bread in a Bosch

I love a good, crunchy loaf of artisan bread but I don’t like to use store bought flour because I grind my own. The health benefits of freshly ground flour can’t be beat, but it takes a while to get used to as it’s different to work with than the flour you can buy in stores.

I used to buy a lot of unbleached flour. My price point was .99 / 5 lb bag and when I quit seeing that price, I quit buying it. At the same time, I also found hard white wheat berries instead of hard red wheat berries. I’ve been grinding my own flour since 2005, but I had only used hard red wheat until just this year! While I adore the rich taste of the hard red wheat, we found it too wheaty to use exclusively in delicate baked goods so I mixed it with the store-bought unbleached flour.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the hard white wheat tastes light and nutty, though. I’ve been using it in 100% of my baked goods for months now and it’s delicious! So flavorful!! For the last few months, I’ve been experimenting with the hard white wheat and artisan bread. I think I’ve finally found a winning combination!

The problem I’ve been having is that the dough is too runny and the bread won’t hold shape. It tastes good, but the loaf had been turning out too flat. To fix it, I simply added more flour. I was worried because the authors of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day say the dough needs to be really wet and sticky so I didn’t want to add too much flour. But at the same time, flat bread’s not what I’m after.

I double the basic recipe here. To clarify, I used the basic recipe from the Original Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (not the Healthy Recipe Book). If you want to make this bread using unbleached flour, I recommend you follow the exact recipe. If you’re using freshly ground flour and double the recipe, I recommend adding 15 1/2 cups + of flour instead of the 13 the recipe calls for. Don’t be afraid to ruin the dough by adding too much.

Artisan Bread in a Bosch

Mix up your ingredients and continue adding flour until your mixer bowl sweeps clean. That means dough does not stick to the sides. For me, the right combination was about 15 1/2 cups, but that amount can vary slightly based on how much water you’ve added.

Artisan Bread in a Bosch
After you’re satisfied with the dough, follow the book’s recommendations for allowing it to rise in your chosen container.

Artisan Bread in a Bosch
When your dough is ready, shape the loaf and allow it rest. Before baking, slash the bread with a bread knife. Make sure you slash it very deeply or they slashes will bake out.

Artisan Bread in a Bosch

See? I didn’t slash mine deeply enough and it looks funny. But it still tastes good!

Artisan Bread in a Bosch
Slice, butter, and enjoy!

Do you grind your own flour? Have you tried Artisan Bread with freshly ground flour? What’s your favorite baked good?

Pulling the barn to its foundation…

In this part of the story about moving our free barn, we describe Pulling the barn to its foundation and show lots of pictures of the moving company and process we used to move the barn. This post is part of series on the round top barn my husband and I moved to our property and are in the process of restoring. You can read the other posts in the series here.moving a free barn

Pulling the barn to its foundation…

After we finally got the barn moved onto our property, it was too late to pull it onto its foundation on the other side of the silo. Of course! So we had to wait. The crew parked the barn and promised to come back “tomorrow.” 🙂 I have forgotten how many tomorrows later it was when they finally showed back up, but it was certainly not the next day.

The first thing they did when they finally came back was hook up their semi to the barn. They had to pull it around the silo and place it on the new foundation we had poured weeks before. This was by far the trickiest part of the move because they had to get it exactly perfect on the foundation. “Kind-of” wouldn’t cut it.
moving a free barn

It had been a wet fall and it was still pretty muddy. Right away, the semi got stuck. Luckily, Art (the previous barn owner) has a pretty powerful bulldozer and we fetched him to pull the semi-truck out. Amazingly it worked, but only for a while and then it was all stuck again…

moving a free barn
pulling the barn to its new foundation

pulling the barn to its new foundation

pulling the barn to its new foundation

pulling the barn to its new foundation

Since the bulldozer couldn’t get it on its own, the house movers hooked up their skid-steer too. The bulldozer was on one side of the barn and the skid-steer was on the other. It was pretty funny seeing them pull that semi up over the foundation.
pulling the barn to its new foundation

Finally, they got it in just the right spot. It took most of the morning. They placed the barn on the same jacks they had used when they first moved it, and jacked it up. Then they left.
checking out the barn on its new foundation

On a side note, while Patterson’s crew was placing the barn, my kids were playing in the mud! It looks like my daughter is buried in the mud. (But she’s not). 😉
Anna's head sticking up out of pile of dirt

The barn was finally on our property AND on its foundation. Now what?!

Corn, Avocado, and Bleack Bean Tostadas

I got this recipe out of my AllYou magazine. (I subscribed to this magazine for the coupons and sometimes they have interesting recipes!.) These would be better with some minor modifications, but overall they were tasty and I will make them again!

8 – 6″ corn tortillas
2 cups cooked black beans
1 cup cooked corn
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 TBSP finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Arrange tortillas on a baking sheet, mist with cooking spray and springke with salt. Bake until beginning to crisp, 5-7 minutes.

2. While tortillas are toasting, combine beans, corn, avocado, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Top tortillas, still on baking sheet, with some bean and corn mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.

3. Turn oven to broil and broil tostadas until cheese has melted and is beginning to brown, 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Modifications I would make: add more cilantro and salt because I used cooked, dried beans instead of canned beans. Also, more lime juice and pepper flakes. Definitely add more cheese!!

This post is linked to What’s on Your Plate.

Homemade Monkey Bread with Freshly Ground Flour

Want to make Homemade Monkey Bread with Freshly Ground Flour? You’re in luck! Here’s how to do make a fabulous monkey bread with flour you mill yourself.homemade monkey bread with freshly ground flour

We’ve been served Monkey Bread at family’s homes before and thought it was delicious. I wanted a “healthier” version though, as I don’t buy frozen bread dough.

I started making my own Monkey Bread a few months ago using my 100% Whole Wheat Everyday Bread Recipe. While we love the way it tastes, it takes a long time to prepare in the morning. I started thinking how nice it would be to have those bags of pre-made dough balls for this purpose and wondered why I couldn’t make my own!

Homemade Monkey Bread with Freshly Ground Flour

I started making my own Monkey Bread a few months ago using my 100% Whole Wheat Everyday Bread Recipe. While we love the way it tastes, it takes a long time to prepare in the morning. I started thinking how nice it would be to have those bags of pre-made dough balls for this purpose and wondered why I couldn’t make my own!

So last week I made a minor modification to my master bread recipe (added 1 cup of honey  instead of the normal 3/4 cup to make it a bit sweeter) and instead of baking bread, I made a bunch of little dough balls for my freezer.

dough balls for homemade monkey bread using freshly ground flour

Then I flash froze the balls on baking sheets lined with freezer paper and after they were frozen, I divided them up into four portions (because I used the 5th portion for monkey bread that morning) and bagged them for quicker breakfasts.

Sunday night, I got out one of the bags and gave it whirl. Here’s what I did:

Grease a fluted pan. Mix 2/3 – 1 cup sugar with 1-2 TBS cinnamon. Melt 1 stick of butter. Layer a few dough balls in the pan. Sprinkle with sugar and drizzle butter. Continue layering the ingredients until you’re out. Make sure to dump any extra butter over the top! Use every last drop of that butter… :-) Leave the pan out overnight. In the morning, bake for 30-35 minutes in a preheated oven (350 degrees). NUM!

close up of homemade monkey bread

If you’re wondering about the difference in appearance between the above picture and the very first picture, I used raw sugar in the top picture and refined sugar in the bottom pictures. The raw sugar gave the monkey bread a more caramelly taste and we preferred it to the refined sugar which tasted more like a donut.

Stringtown Amish Bulk Food Store in Kalona Iowa

Kalona Iowa has lots of fun Amish stores including Stringtown Grocery – one of my favorite bulk food stores around. Some of my favorite things to buy at Stringtown change depending on the seasons, but some are always the same. Wondering about Stringtown? Here’s what to know!

Stringtown Amish Bulk Food Store in Kalona Iowa

Stringtown in Kalona is not your typical grocery store. If you’ve never been to an Amish store before, you might not know what to expect. But if you have been to an Amish bulk food store, you probably have a pretty good idea of the type of food you can find at Stringtown. I love shopping at Stringtown for certain items, but tend to be more careful about other things. Here’s what you need to know about Stringtown and the stuff you’ll find there!

Location and Hours:

Stringtown’s address is 2266 540th SW. Just down the street from the Kalona Cheese Factory, Stringtown is outside Kalona and off Highway 1 on the way to Iowa City. It keeps pretty typical business hours, except that it’s closed on religious holiday and on Sundays. The hours are:

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 8 am – 5 pm

Tuesday, 10 am –  6 pm

Friday, 9 am – 6 pm

Saturday 8 am – 4 pm

 Stringtown Amish Bulk Food Store in Kalona Iowa

I was most excited to find 50 lb of Hard Red Wheat Montana for $23. I stocked up on hard white wheat for a little less in Missouri, but I’ve really been wanting some hard red wheat. I like the hard white wheat for artisan bread, waffles, cakes, and pancakes, because it is more similar to unbleached flour, but I love the red wheat for my 100% Whole Wheat Bread.

tattler lids from Stringtown Amish Bulk Food Store in Kalona Iowa

I also found BPA-free canning lids! Amazon.com sells them, too, but Tattler Reusable Regular Canning Lids & Rubber Rings – 12/pkg were quite a bit cheaper at Stringtown.

I was so excited to find rye berries for super cheap – .43 / lb!!!
rye berries from stringtown

And finally, I got some more black beans and some RAW almonds. Did you know that nuts are pasteurized unless they specifically say raw? Yup. I just found this out recently. The “raw” nuts I’ve been buying from Sam’s Club are not raw at all. So I added a bag of raw almonds to my purchase. A couple dozen farm fresh eggs rounded out the purchase. I spent just over $60.

raw and black beans from stringtown grocery

Of course, I cross-referenced their prices with prices on my Grocery Price-Point List. Most of them are still good! 🙂 Do you shop at Amish bulk food stores? I highly recommend them. They have great products and super prices.

What’s your favorite store in Kalona Iowa? I’d love to hear!

Like this post? You might like this one too:

Another one of my favorite Amish stores in Kalona Iowa is Central Discount Grocery. Check out all they have to offer here!


My Grocery Price-Point List

I’ve had a lot of people ask me what my personal grocery price-points are and how I’m able to feed my family as cheaply as I do (averages out to somewhere between $250 – 300 a month for 6 people). I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time and this weekend, I did a little sleuthing and fact gathering so I could finally write it.

Here are staples I almost always have on hand and the prices I pay for them.

Sam’s ClubI’ve blogged before about whether Aldi or Sam’s is cheaper. While I think a lot of items can be found cheaper than Sam’s Club using coupons and loss leaders, I do get a lot of staples at Sam’s Club. I buy:

  • Jasmine Rice – $16.93 / 25 lbs = .68 / lb
  • Pinto Beans – $17.76 / 25 lbs = .71 / lb
  • Popcorn = $23.92 / 50 lbs = .48 / lb
  • Taco Seasoning (MSG Free) – $3.98 / 23 oz
  • Vanilla – $6.88 / 16 oz
  • Baking Powder (Aluminum Free) – $5.78 / 60 oz
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese – $6.74 / 2 lb ($1.68 per 8 oz block – common size seen at grocery store)
  • Vinegar – $3.58 / 2 gallons = $1.79 / gallon
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips – $9.48 / 3 lbs
  • Fair Trade Coffee – $14.88 / 40 oz = $5.95 / lb
  • When I have a little extra money, I also LOVE the assortment of cheeses at Sam’s Club. I don’t have prices, though.

Things I don’t buy at Sam’s Club because I can usually find them cheaper elsewhere: fruit and most veggies (except their organic spring salad mix – love that!), diapers, wipes, OTC medicine, toiletries, butter, yogurt, cereal, snacks, liquor, meat.

Bulk Amish Store

  • Prairie Gold Hard White Wheat – $20 / 50 lb = .40 / lb
  • Raw Sugar – $35 / 50 lb = .70 / lb
  • Rolled Oats = $20 / 50 lb = .40 lb
  • Whole Flax Seed = .99 / lb
  • Sea Salt = .55 / lb
  • Real Salt = $3.49 / lb
  • Raw Honey – $3.50 / lb

Misc. Grocery Stores

      • Fruit – anything under $1 / lb
      • Chicken & Pork – under $2 / lb (try for < $1.85 / lb)
      • Pasta – stock up around .50 / lb (loss leaders with coupons)
      • Veggies – whatever’s cheapest any given week  (cabbage and carrots are two of the cheaper veggies)
      • Skim Milk – < $3 / gallon (use coupons) rGBH free
      • Cottage Cheese – .99 / 24 oz
      • Butter – $1.99 / lb (stock up on loss leaders)
      • Cereal – prefer free after coupons/rebates/RR/ECBs, but under $1 is acceptable depending on the cereal (I’m pretty picky about cereal and I won’t buy anything just because it’s free. I do have my limits!) 🙂


      • Powdered Milk – $5.95 / 26 oz (I use this in a lot of my baked goodies)
      • Sour Cream – .99 / 16 oz
      • 1/2 & 1/2 – $1.65 / 32 fl oz
      • Tortilla Chips – $1.19 / 13 oz

Beef – buy from a local farmer 200 lbs / year for around $500 = $2.50 / lb

I don’t buy a lot of organic fruits and veggies because it’s simply cost prohibitive. I do, however, have a large organic garden in the summer and I preserve as much as I can for us to eat in the winter. When I do buy fruits and veggies, I try to buy as much as possible from the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 list and minimize produce on their Dirty 12 List to minimize our exposure to pesticides.

Oil isn’t currently on my list. I’ve had an enormous stockpile the last couple of years from awesome deals I used to find at Jewel-Osco. Unfortunately, it looks like those deals have ended and I’m down to my last two bottles of Canola Oil. I also use Olive, Sunflower, Peanut,  and Sesame oil. I’ll be on the lookout for good oil prices. I use a lot of oil because I bake almost all of our bread, muffins, cakes, granola, and other snacks. Plus, I make almost all of our salad dressings and meat marinades. Oil is something I’ve got to have on hand.

I also recently found out that the nuts I thought were raw are actually pasteurized. So, I’m on the lookout for real RAW nuts now. I’ll probably stock up at Trader Joe’s a few times a year. I’m also eying all of my walnut trees with a new interest right now. They’ve started dropping their nuts and we’re collecting. We’ll see how black walnuts treat us!

One other area I really want to improve quality on is chicken and pork. I have a great source for healthier beef, but I still get commercially produced poultry and pork. I buy the best quality I can afford. I make sure to avoid gas packed meats and meat with added solutions, but I would prefer to buy free-range poultry and pork. It’s on the list. One of these days, my budget will increase!

I’m linking up to Frugal Tuesday and The Thrifty Peach. Is there anything you stock up on that I don’t have listed?

I’m linking this post with Frugal Friday. Check out more great ideas there.

Are or Our?

I took off yesterday morning with no kids. I needed some time to think without interruption since learning the news of my 15 month old’s hip dysplasia condition. I wish I would have taken a picture of the sign I saw while out and about…it made me chuckle. And I need a laugh these days.

The sign at Golden Corral across the street from Target said:

Come inside and try ARE new chocolate fountain.

Yum! The sign made me want to run right inside, not to eat the chocolate, but to tell them to FIX it! But I refrained and drove to the mall instead.

I’m sure I don’t have to explain Are/Our to you! But here goes anyway:

Our is a pronoun. – When ARE you going to come inside and try OUR new chocolate fountain?

Are is a verb. – Are you going to come inside and try our new chocolate fountain? We promise to be better cooks than grammarians.

Have you seen any funny signs lately? What did they say? Enjoy your day!

Hip Dysplasia

I. am. a. mess.

We found out today that our 15 month old daughter has congenital hip dysplasia and needs surgery within the next month or so. She recently starting walking and has a noticeable limp. She falls down a lot. She can’t run. It’s a little scary to watch her walk, honestly.

A couple of weeks ago we took her to her pediatrician (because hip dysplasia runs in our family and we were worried) and the pediatrician wasn’t overly concerned because she didn’t notice any hip clicks. She gave us a referral to the University of Iowa but said there was no rush. Our appointment with the U was set for SEPTEMBER 28. But my chiropractor said there was a click. So I called the pediatrician last week and asked if we couldn’t expedite the appointment and we were seen today. And they found hip dysplasia – a rare condition that normally affects first born girls – most often breech babies born via c-section.

I’m confused. This is my fourth baby and my third girl. She might have been breech for a short time, but she turned weeks before her birth and was born vaginally head first. I use cloth diapers (they’re supposed to help keep hips in the proper position). I hold her all the time on my hip (also supposed to help keep hips in the proper position). She rarely sat in her infant carrier. And why did I not make a bigger deal out of hip dysplasia with our doctor since there’s family history (my husband’s niece went through this exact same thing at the exact same age 9 years ago).

And I’m mad for feeling sorry for myself. It could be a lot worse.

I know people who have lost babies at 40 weeks gestation.

I know people who have lost babies to SIDS.

I have a friend whose daughter had half of her brain cut out because of uncontrollable seizures.

I saw children in wheelchairs with all kinds of problems while we waited TWO AND A HALF hours for our appointment today.

I feel like I should be happy it’s just her hip and not something more serious. But I’m not. I’m in tears.

I’m wondering how I”m going to relinquish control and let her be taken into an operating room to be cut open.

I’m wondering how I’m going to explain to my walking, climbing one year old, why she’s stuck in a 3/4 body cast and unable to walk or sit or climb.

I’m wondering how I’m going to carry my baby who needs to be held an awful lot and is going to very quickly become a heck of a lot heavier – I’ve read the cast weighs 15 pounds or more. (I had back surgery last year).

I’m wondering if this surgery is going to fix her problem.

I have a lot of questions, but no answers. If you’ve gone through this yourself or with your child, I would love to hear from you. Please email at at [email protected]


Tips for Making Cloth Diapers Work in a Busy Life

Are you considering cloth diapering, but wondering how it will all work out? These Tips for Making Cloth Diapers Work in a Busy Life might help ease your concerns!

Tips for Making Cloth Diapers Work in a Busy Life

Did you know that 28 BILLION disposable diapers are buried in landfills each year in the United States?! That’s a staggering number. I knew before I had my first child that I did not want to add to the trash heap. I was glad when my knowledgeable midwife was able to give me the low-down on cloth diapers and I used them from the get-go. As far as I can tell, the benefits of cloth diapers are many. They can be reused (over and over as I’ve proven by using the same diapers on 4 babies), they save money, and they are non-toxic. But I’m not really going to go into those details in this post. Instead, I’m simply going to show you how I cloth diaper.

Tips for Making Cloth Diapers Work in a Busy Life

My original guinea pig, now 7 years old, recently diapered the baby. The picture above is her handy-work! While I don’t recommend using cloth diapers like that, I do recommend you give them a shot! They’re not as hard as you might think.

If I can use cloth diapers, almost any one can! I started using cloth diapers when my first daughter was born in 2004. At first I used pre-folds and plastic pants. When I realized cloth diapering wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, I asked for cloth diapers for Christmas. (I know, right?). But I figured with the money I saved using cloth diapers over disposables, I could buy myself a nice present! And I was right. But I digress. Here’s a photo tutorial of how I make cloth diapers work in my busy life.

First, and most importantly, get a super-cute model… 😉Tips for Making Cloth Diapers Work in a Busy Life

Next, get a good amount of diapers. Cloth diapering is much harder if you don’t have a large enough supply to avoid having to do laundry every day. It’s hard to keep a baby in clean diapers if you don’t have clean diapers to put her in. And anyway, who wants to do laundry that often?! I have 5-6 dozen, but that’s way too many. 3-4 dozen should be more than sufficient for one baby. I dump my clean diapers into a tote unfolded. I do that because I’m busy, lazy, and it’s easy! I keep the tote of diapers in my bedroom because that’s where I change my baby most often.
Tips for Making Cloth Diapers Work in a Busy Life

This is my baby in my favorite cloth diapers – Mother Ease Cloth One Size Diapers – on my changing pad (please ignore the unsightly stain…) 🙂 I keep the changing pad in my closet next to the tote of diapers at night and pull it out during the day. I leave it on my bed and tuck it back in the closet at night. It’s not ideal, but we’re living in cramped quarters for the time being as we prepare to build a home. She’s such a big help, though,

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar

Last week I posted pictures of several of the food dishes we ate! One of them was this Cowboy Caviar. I love this stuff and I made it again today. I am a “by-taste” kind of cook, but today I actually measured out the ingredients so I could share the recipe with you. Here’s my version of Cowboy Caviar:

Cowboy Caviar

5 cups diced tomatoes (I like Romas)
1 chopped red onion
4 cloves crushed garlic
3 diced assorted peppers – I used 1 red bell pepper and 2 green (not quite bell – I’m not sure what the heck they are) peppers
1 bunch finely chopped cilantro
2 cups corn
2 cups black beans
1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper (I used the seeds but if you want a milder salsa, remove them first. Also, you might want to wear gloves when you chop spicy peppers so you don’t sting your eyes later…)
1 1/2 – 2 tsp salt
juice from 1 lemon

Mix everything together and let the flavors mingle in the fridge for a couple hours before you eat!I think this would also be quite tasty with one or two diced avocados, but I have not actually tried it with them.

Makes about 12 cups.

Ita-daki-masu as they say in Japan! (Similar to bon app