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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bread



The photo is of "The Kitchen Mill by K-Tec," next to a loaf of my homemade wheat bread. The mill has given about 3 years of service so far. It's used all the time. On the plus side, it's easy to use, compact, produces decent flour, and is reasonably fast. On the down side, it uses electricity, and it's loud enough that I wear hearing protection.

Some hard core doomers give me crap about the K-Tec needing electricity to run. They'd rather have a hand cranked mill. Good for them. They say: what will you do when the grid goes down?" I'll plug it into the wall and use it the way I've always used it. That's what solar electricity is for.

What if the solar electric system fails or the electric mill breaks? Then I guess I'll soak the grain and cook mush. It's still food.

Here's the thing, how many hard core hand crank mill guys actually use their mills? Often it's just stored away with their grains. I use my mill all the time. There's a 50# bag of organic winter wheat berries in a plastic tub in the kitchen. The Kitchen Mill is right there on the counter with my normal kitchen appliances.

I buy baking powder by the 5# tub, and yes, I use it before it goes bad. That's a lot of waffles, pancakes and biscuits. I'll make 100% whole wheat bagels, dinner rolls, and the occasional loaf of bread. The regular bread loafs tend to come out a bit flat. That's the nature of whole wheat. Cutting it 50% with white flour makes a more normal looking loaf.

Waffles and pancakes are very simple. 3 teaspoons baking powder to every cup of flour. Toss in a bit of sugar. Mix in enough water to get a good batter consistency. Sometimes I'll throw in an egg or two, but the whole wheat makes them pretty hardy without eggs. Easy. Simple. Yummy.

My yeast breads are just flour, sugar, yeast, and water. It's basic. Not a lot of stuff to go wrong, and not a lot of stuff to have in storage. It's possible to make break without any grease or shortening at all. I make round breads in my two Dutch ovens. I heat the Dutch oven in my propane oven to 500 degrees. Then I toss the raised batter in the hot Dutch oven, put the lid on and place it back in the oven. After about a half hour I lift the lid to brown the top of the bread. Once I used a Dutch oven outside with a campfire. It worked well enough. Fresh baked break is great when camping.

So here's the deal, if you store grain, use it. No sense trying to get used to different foods during a stressful time. Best to have bread making to a routine. For me, having an electric mill makes sense. It's convenient enough to use every day. If I had the money to spare, I'd buy a good hand cranked mill for backup. However, since I only had enough money for one mill, it's more important to buy the mill I'd actually use all the time.

Get used to eating whole wheat now. Don't start with a new food during an emergency. No need to add stomach upset to whatever else is going on.

-Sixbears

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