Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 3 of Pioneer Bread...

Okay...here we go! Day 3 of our bread experiment.

Today, as we were preparing to feed our starter, Abi decided she wanted to have her picture taken with it...


After its first day going 24 hours...this is what it looked like:

Not too much different from yesterday's picture...but it did seem a bit drier! I was concerned that it would overflow at the rate that it was doubling yesterday, but after a few hours, it slowed down considerably and went dormant. (Today we are trying a different spot in the house to see if it will 'grow' better...it thrives in the oven with the light on...but my light isn't reliable...having a mind of its own as to when to it will turn on and when it will turn off.) So today we will try the inner hall by the bathrooms.

Also, today we divided the starter into two sets. We put a one cup portion into a mason jar as a back up and we'll start feeding it tomorrow. The other several cups will remain in the glass bowl until Day 5 when we start dividing it out (using some for baking and the rest for regenerated starter).

Here is a picture of our divided starter:

As for the bread: WELL>>>>I wasn't thinking straight about the time frames and so it 'set' a little too long. According to the instructions, if you let the sponge set TOO long the bacteria starts to destroy the gluten. SOOO...I got up VERY early to see if I could salvage the bread. At first I wasn't so sure....it was kneading VERY hard...but after letting it rest and trying again...I have hope! It became MUCH more malable and tacky like it said it was supposed to be!

I said all that to say that the bread is currently set to rising and we will see what it does...I'm planning on having it baked for lunch! I'll let you know....

It SNOWED!

The kids are THRILLED!

They have been waiting for the snow FOREVER! I can't tell you HOW many times I had to explain that it COULD be Christmas without snow. Abi was CONVINCED that Christmas couldn't come until it snowed.

The crazy thing is...it snowed last night and we are celebrating Christmas with Marion's family tomorrow...and it is supposed to snow all day today too! SOOOO...Abi is once again convinced that Christmas really doesn't happen until it snows...lol! I guess she is correct if you look at it from the perspective of when we give the presents and celebrate with family...at least she's correct this year!

Well, as soon as chores are done...the kids are wanting to get all decked out and go out in the snow...so hopefully I'll have some pictures for you later on!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 2 of Pioneer Bread

Okay, well last night I woke to a 'beep...beep...beep...beep' sound in my dreams...lol! Actually, it was the timer reminding me that it was time to do the next step of our bread dough. (I was actually supposed to start it early enough in the day I didn't have to be woken up but that just didn't happen and I was too excited to wait for another day...lol)

So I got up and mixed in the next set of flour and water. I decided to do a 1/2
whole wheat - 1/2 all purpose flour mixture. So this was the all purpose flour mix in. We had been 'storing' the mixture in the microwave for extra insulation to keep the bread between 65-80 degrees. But since night time is the coldest time, I decided to put it
in the oven with the oven light on.

When we woke up this morning...WOW it was HUGE! It had at least grown 5x's its original size, but Marion said it was 10...lol! Anyway, it was VERY bubbly and VERY stinky :0) Marion was CONVINCED I was the best yeast maker on the planet! I'm still not so sure...hehehehe ;0) Anyway, by the time we got ready to work with it, the starter had 'dropped' which is what they say happens when the yeast goes dormant...a good sign...means it is ready to be fed again!



Since we are apparently doing it 'correctly' we decided to go ahead and feed the sourdough starter again today but we did take out the 1/2 cup needed to make a sponge, just to see if the yeast really is high enough (we will see if Marion is correct or if we needed to wait longer...lol). I'm told that it could take weeks to get a stable starter. We will see what happens as we learn!

Here is the picture of the starter before we set it in the oven again for the 24 hour processing!
(by 11 am, the starter has already doubled. I may have to divide it in half to keep it from overflowing...one site recommended having a 'backup' starter anyway...you can see how much it went down from the previous picture...and this is AFTER we fed it!)


Next, you'll see the beginning of our first trial batch of sourdough bread! For the initial recipe I am simply following the directions and not doing anything 'different'. We will see how it turns out. (eventually I'd like to try the sweet version or the various French bread recipes) The directions say that it will take 12--15 hours for the sponge to froth...then we make the dough and bake the bread!



We will keep you posted...lol!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lego Nathan!

Mr. Nathan is still struggling with learning his letter 'names' but he is doing awesome with hands on activities! For instance, the other day in 'pre-school play' we made letters out of play dough...he could make every letter I asked him to and he could name several of the ones I made for him.

So, today we did Lego letters. I know they look a bit different but he was still able to identify many of them. I am so proud of the progress he is making...especially with the inconsistency that pre-school has held for him this last year!

Here is a picture of his name in Legos!


I asked him to stand by his name and smile...this is what I got:

LOL...when I told him that wasn't a smile he responded with "Yes it is...its my serious smile!"


So Excited...Pioneer Bread - #1

Marion has been reading Little House on the Prairie to the kids for months now. Our current book is the Long Winter or something like that. Anyway, in there, it talks about how Ma started a bread sponge to make bread for a big dinner they were having at the end of the Long Winter! We are often curious and intrigued by the cooking/living that is expressed in these books and so when Marion wondered out loud ‘what is a bread sponge’? I looked it up!
What I found was SO interesting that I decided to try to make my own bread starter with Abigail as part of her History/Pioneer lessons (because surprisingly enough she is learning about the pioneers in her history lessons). Anyway, so today we started the ‘bread starter’ or ‘sourdough starter’. It will take 4-5 days before we know for sure whether this batch will go or not.
Day 1 – Mix ½ c water and 1 c flour (we used whole wheat) – cover tightly and set at room temperature for 12 hours – repeat.
Here is an excerpt from Baking911.com:
A sponge starter is started by mixing the yeast, flour and water in a bowl, covering with plastic wrap and set in warm place to ferment for less than an hour or more. When it ferments (gets bubbly and smells sour and yeasty), it can be used.
A sourdough starter is a living culture that needs food, water and oxygen to cultivate, ferment and multiply and takes a minimum of a couple of days or so to get started and months to become stabile. Before there was packaged yeast, all bread was leavened by a sourdough starter. Although using a sourdough starter in baking is more unpredictable than using packaged yeast, the vibrant and sour flavor as well as unique texture that results, just can't be made in any other way. It's because you are cultivating and fermenting wild yeast (often Candida milleri) and bacteria (Lactobacillus) that feed on the sugars from the hydrated flour's starches and live and multiply in the batter. A portion is used to leaven and flavor bread and other recipes.


We are trying the ‘sourdough starter’ and if it fails…then we’ll ‘cheat’ and do the sponge starter with pre-packaged yeast! I just thought it would be fun for us to attempt to make our own from NOTHING! :0)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to Everyone! Below is a video of the kids singing Carol's to Aunt Jean in Michigan today! Mommy got a camcorder for Christmas and was enjoying using (though I did forget about it until we got to the last two songs...lol). It takes a LONG time to upload videos but I'll try to get another one uploaded too!


Again...Merry Christmas and we pray you all had a blessed day!




Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 2 Christmas 2010

And for day 2 we found that Ethan just COULD NOT open his presents by himself...nope...he HAD to have at least one if not two older siblings helping him:

Hmmm...can I get this in my mouth?

Whoa there sis...that's a bit too close to my face!

'Screech'...I am SO excited about my turtle!

Next came Jon-Boy...yes...he does look like he was in a war...the toils of being a two year old younger brother!



A NEMO flashlight...cool beans!


A pillow pet...I'll call him 'doggy'!


THIS is the most AWESOME flashlight/laser!
Yes, we did give Abigail a flashlight that had a laser on it...it was the BIGGEST hit of all Christmas I think!

Eternity Focus' Christmas CD...AWESOME!


And if you can't tell what Marion is holding...it is titanium drill bits...he is ALWAYS breaking those small ones!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

First Day of CHRISTmas 2010

Sunday, December 19th was the first day of our Christmas celebration!  We were very excited for Ethan's first Christmas....Here are some pictures of Ethan's very first present:





After Ethan came Jonny and then Nathan:







We had a theme going for us on this first day of Christmas...activity books:




Abi got a KungFu Panada book and Nathan and Jonathan got Cars activity books.  After the kids, came Mommy and Daddy...Mommy got cinnamon air fresheners and Daddy got his much needed blue ink pens:




And so ended the first day of Christmas 2010!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Our usual tradition is to put up the tree the weekend of Thanksgiving, but with everything that was going on at the time...we were lucky to have our tree up on December 4th when we did! In the picture below, Marion had hauled the tree upstairs but dropped the base along the way...so as he was trying to figure it out why it wouldn't stand up...I went to look for missing parts!

When I came back...this is what I found:


Once we had the tree stabilized, we took Ethan in to explore the tree....since this is his FIRST CHRISTMAS!


Isn't this just a GREAT picture! Such a thrilled 8 1/2 month old!


Usually we leave our lights ON the tree between Christmas' but last year 1/2 the tree was out until right before we celebrated with my sister...THEN they 'magically' turned on after being out for WEEKS! Anyway, so this year we took off the old lights and put on brand new ones...and LOTS OF THEM...I think there are 4 strands of 100 lights...LOL!

After we got the lights on...Abi wanted to help put the garland on...so here is Abi and Mommy working on the silver garland!


Nathan's decoration of choice was the red beads...(sorry for the blurriness of the pictures...the photographer was not used to using the camera and was exploring with various settings)


Our next attempt at trying to get a picture with Nathan and 'his' beads!


After the beads were arranged, we started putting on the ornaments. Every child has their first ornament and a couple of them have more than one. We also have a 'family' ornament for every year we have a new addition. For some reason we didn't get a picture of putting on THIS year's ornament...but you can see it in a later picture...it is getting harder to find ornaments with so many members...lol!

Anyway, here is Ethan with his First Christmas Ornament:


Jonny with his...though we had to 'lift him up' to put it on...so he's just standing by it. (Again, in trading places, the 'new' photographer wasn't used to getting the picture WHILE they hung them...so we did lots of posing!)


Abi and her ornament:

Nathan and his: (note the 'rough' handling...that poor giraffe has been glued together so many time...lol...i.e. the reason for the more bulkier ornaments for the younger two boys...Abi's delicate elephant would NEVER survive a boy...lol)


Just a happy shot of Ethan while watching the older kids put on the felt ornaments!


Here is Daddy putting on one of the 'family' ornaments...if you look toward the top and right you can see this year's ornament...six little bears sitting in a canoe...each canoe paddle has a name on it!


Here are the kids putting on the felt ornaments...let me tell you: Those ornaments (which we got from a Down's Treefest Tree) have been SUCH a blessing...the kids LOVE them...and they are durable...MUCH more than the glass bulbs!


And finally...Daddy putting on the star!


Our finished Christmas Tree!


Merry Christmas from the M & M Schlatter Kids: