Buttermilk Bread with Lavender (for the bread machine)

20180325_195545.jpg

I would describe this bread as lovely and surprisingly scrumptious. Making it was a very aromatic and pleasant experience, and my little girl played a large roll (Ha! Get it?) in making it in her very own bread machine instead of my machine. Yes, my daughter asked for her own bread machine for Christmas. Yes, she got one.

We made this one afternoon while my husband was out processing chickens. We had friends over to help. One of my friends was with my daughter and me inside the house prepping for a day full of food. The recipe we based ours off of was actually from a bread machine cookbook my friend purchased at a garage sale with my daughter in mind.

We tweaked it a bit so we could use what we already had on hand from our farm. I’ll mention both what the recipe calls for and what we used instead.

When making this in a bread machine always add the ingredients as listed by the owner manual’s instructions. I’m not sure how different the machines are from one another considering both my machine and my daughter’s calls for liquids before all solids. Always do what is recommended by the owner manual though. It skips a lot of future troubleshooting you’ll end up doing if your bread comes out incorrectly.

I’m going to go in the order my daughter’s machine calls for and what seems to work best. If your bread machine has a different order in which ingredients are added, just skip to the ingredient list. Or read on and enjoy!

20180325_200328.jpg

For our machines, I do liquids first, followed by ingredients that are that in-between consistency–like eggs or mashed fruit–then solids. I generally like to add my flour last, just before the yeast. I have a few recipes out there where this rule doesn’t work. I have no idea why. In those cases, I still add the liquids first then I add the flour before other seasoning.

So, we added our 1/2 cup of water and I am kicking myself for doing it! It turned out great, but I had leftover whey from making an easy quick cheddar cheese that I think would have been a wonderful substitute. Maybe next time.

The buttermilk. I don’t have buttermilk. I wasn’t going to the store for buttermilk. Nope. I HATE the grocery store. I cannot eliminate it from my life entirely, but most of our meats, produce, and dairy products either come from our farm or elsewhere locally. Every once in a while I do want some potato chips. They’re awful. I know. But that’s basically what we use the grocery store for–junk. And occasionally cleaning supplies. Anyways, I didn’t have buttermilk, but we do have a consistent run of milk kefir. If you don’t know what this magnificent beast is, click here. It’s worth the read, even if only for education of the probiotic world in the dairy realm. I substituted milk kefir in for the buttermilk. I do this quite often with fantastic results. So, we added 7/8 cup (14 tablespoons) of milk kefir (thicker than water) to the bread machine.

The next ingredient is 1/4 cup of olive oil. I do have olive oil. We used coconut oil instead. Poured that into the bread machine.

20180325_125314.jpg

Next, we added finely chopped lavender leaves and buds. 3 tablespoons of the leaves and 1 1/4 teaspoons of the buds. The leaves came fresh from our garden and are just as aromatic as the flowers. Our lavender is not in bloom, but I had some leftover dried buds we used as a replacement. We used our Ninja to chop it all up.

20180325_125459.jpg

The recipe called for the zest of one lemon. Our lemon tree has a plethora of blooms–but no actual fruit. Our blood orange tree however, is quite plentiful. We used the zest of one of our oranges instead.

20180325_110306.jpg

The recipe calles for 2 teaspoons of salt. We used pink Himalayan.

20180325_195709.jpg

Then we added 4 cups of bread flour, poked a hole in the flour, and added 2 3/4 teaspoons of bread machine yeast. We picked the basic bread cycle machine on the bread machine and let it roll.

20180325_195607.jpg

20180325_195927.jpg

The result was a gorgeous, fragrant, mouth-watering, EASY loaf of bread.

20180325_110153.jpg

And cute pictures!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water (can substitute whey)
  • 1/8 cup buttermilk (can substitute milk kefir)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (can substitute coconut oil)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lavender leaves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh lavender flowers (used dried buds)
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon (used an orange)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Instructions

  • Add ingredients in the order indicated in bread machine manual.
  • Use basic bread setting with dark crust.

Kefir Yogurt

Kefir. What is it?

Milk kefir, whether it is being consumed as a drink or made into yogurt or cheeses, is a sour tasting fermented milk. It is an acquired taste if you’ve not been raised on it, but its benefits are either worth the adjustment in palate or effort put into making a product that is truly satisfying (if said adjustment cannot be made).

Personally, I can drink it straight. My family has a more difficult time with this so I began experimenting and came up with something that has a Greek yogurt consistency and it. is. DELICIOUS. I’m not going to lie. It’s better than when I was making just regular homemade yogurt.

The benefits are amazing. Store bought yogurt is not as nutritional as claimed. If you’re buying flavored yogurt, expect a high sugar content. The easy solution, it would seem, is to purchase plain. That brings me to the probiotic argument.

Don’t get me wrong. Probiotics are great. Magnificent–when they’re actually present. See, it’s quite difficult to buy yogurt with a true guarantee that probiotics and live cultures are actually in the yogurt. At some point in the yogurt making process, this claim is true. However, to legally be sold, dairy products must go through pasteurization. This process uses heat to eliminate “bad” bacteria; problem is, this also eliminates the “good” bacteria and may actually kill off the live cultures and probiotics. But don’t worry. It’s yummy.

Making your own types of yogurt can make you feel pretty accomplished, but being able to flavor and use it the way YOU want to, is the best part. Once you see how easy this is, you won’t want to go back.

This entire post is about making yogurt with milk kefir (which has more probiotics than yogurt, probiotics that actually STAY in the gut, and nutritional yeasts). So, the process is different and–I apologize ahead of time because I took pictures–looks quite gross. But also cool!

It all starts with milk (the less pasteurization, the better) and kefir grains.

FB_IMG_1522174636749.jpg

Kefir grains are gelatinous in nature. AND THEY’RE ALIVE! These grains ferment the milk by feeding off the lactose. Kefir grains love different kinds of sugar, so the dairy strains eat lactose (sugar). This fermentation process CAN (everyone is different, so not always) make digestion of this yogurt easier for those who suffer from lactose intolerance. My husband is lactose intolerant and he can eat this stuff. Want to know another disgustingly cool fact? They multiply. It’s like they’re having babies.

The process of making the milk kefir and the yogurt is time-consuming, but really easy. The ratio I use is 1 tablespoon of grains to 1 cup of milk (I use raw milk from our goats).

FB_IMG_1522174652724.jpg

The first thing you do is add the grains and cover it with the milk (you may adjust this to your personal tastes; more grains can make the taste stronger). In this photo I used around 8 cups of milk and around 8 tablespoons of grains. I put cheesecloth over the top (it needs to breathe) and used the lid ring of a mason jar lid to secure the cheesecloth. Let it sit anywhere from 12 hours to 48 hours. 12 hours can make a nice milk you can use for some recipes that call for buttermilk (I use it for buttermilk breads). 24 hours makes it a little thicker and stronger. I do 48 hour batches to make the yogurt. Do note that kefir ferments at a much faster rate in a warm environment.

20180329_100115.jpg

The weather here has been really crazy right now so once I see the curds and grain separate from the whey, like the picture above, I begin working with it even if we have not hit that 48 hour mark.

FB_IMG_1522174639914.jpg

After it sits for 48 hours, or if you see the separation of curds and whey occur it’s time to remove the grain. The spoon and strainer I use are made of plastic. Metal can be harmful to the grains. I measure the amount of grains and I need and add it to a new jar and cover with milk again to start the process over. Any leftover grain can be covered with milk to sit in the fridge, or frozen with milk in large amounts to go dormant for later use. Or you can share with a friend!

FB_IMG_1522174649369.jpg

The milk kefir should now have no grains left in it. You can either leave as is, do a second fermentation with flavoring, or make a yogurt. Since the topic is yogurt, I’ll show you how I get that consistency. I pour the milk kefir into a greek yogurt strainer I purchased. There is a process where you can use paper coffee filters or muslin in jars or bowls, but I was having difficulty with space so I caved and made this purchase. It’s AMAZING. It sits in the fridge while the whey separates again, but the curds left behind are creamy and the consistency of Greek yogurt.

20180329_175237.jpg

I let the yogurt sit in the fridge during the entire duration it takes for the new batch of milk to ferment with the kefir grains.

20180329_175303.jpg

The result is that thick creamy consistency and amazing flavor. I use it as a substitute for sour cream quite a bit. I also use it as a plain yogurt substitute in smoothies. If I really just want to eat it as a yogurt I flavor it with honey (you can use sugar), and fruit. Using jams and jellies can work, too. It also makes a great dill and horseradish sauce. Yum! ūüôā

Tried Something New

So, my AMAZING husband got me something pretty remarkable for Christmas. I know it’s March. I know I’m super late in trying my Christmas gift. Don’t judge me. It takes me a bit to research before stepping into the unknown. And it was well worth it!

Zach got me:

 

*drum roll*

20180314_084559

A still. No, I’m not making moonshine. Living as green and healthy as possible has led me to the adventures of making my own every day hygiene and beauty items. Not everything is homemade, but I’m getting there with my homemade charcoal toothpaste, salves, and deodorant (soon to be soap!). In this process I have started collecting a very large amount of essential oils. Already having started my own medicinal herb garden, Zach got me a copper still with the idea of making my own hydrosols and essential oils.

And it made a LOVELY centerpiece for my dining room table until Spring Break rolled around and I felt comfortable using it. And by comfortable, I mean my husband saw me cleaning nonstop and it drove him crazy so he set it up for me and told me to take a break and play.

I decided to harvest my mmugwort. Why? It’s my largest plant, grows back quickly, and I figured no one would really want to fight over it should it be successful.

20180313_155908

I packed everything in tightly and made the mistake of not chopping the herb (more on that later). For this to work, water is heated under where the herb is placed. The steam travels through a condenser (the outside filled with ice cold water being circulated with a pump).

20180313_155846

I monitored the temperature of the water nonstop. It was my first time using it and I was paranoid. I waited. And waited. I grew impatient within five minutes, waiting for the water temperature to rise.

20180313_155825

I finally smelled the mugwort. It was pungent. It was exciting. I felt witchy and accomplished having taking the essences of something I grew and capturing it in a mason jar. I had my very first hydrosol.

20180314_101742

The hydrosol is mixed with the essential oil. I recently did tea tree and chopped the leaves and got a very large amount of essential oil in comparison with the mugwort. I’m unsure if it is because of plant type differences or the chopping of the harvest, but my gut says it was the chopping. I am still waiting for the water and oil to completely separate naturally before removing the oil, so we’ll see. Even though, hydrosols have their uses in aromatherapy and homemade beauty products. They’re not as intense as essential oils. So far, I have enjoyed pouring spearmint hydrosol into my diffuser without worry.

The entire process took about two and a half hours. I didn’t want to burn anything or run out of water and not know. I know copper can be hardy, but I was constantly worried about the soldering holding everything together. When the hydrosol leaves the condenser, it is important to have the container collecting it lower than the still. It’s important that gravity be allowed to perform its job. The hydrosol must be stored in a dark glass container, or in a dark location. Mine is currently in the makeshift pantry we use under the stairs. My fingers are crossed for success, but I think I’ll find more success in my last minute, deal of the day I had with tea tree. I am looking forward to learning more about this art and putting it to use in our household. Anything unique to add to my herbal medicine closet is well worth the time and effort put into it.

Does anyone else out there have any experiences with working with stills, oils, or herbs? If so, please comment below and tell me all about it.

Our solar experience!

Solar Experience after searching for installer.

A few months ago, we decided to price out solar PV(electric) for our home and farm. First, we got estimates from companies in the area. They were all nice and explained the process, elaborating on the difficulties and hardships in engineering and permitting. My husband, having an extensive background in construction, found this a little hard to believe.

After receiving quotes of up to $40,000 dollars for an 11,700 Watt system, we decided to quote the job out and see what was involved with doing it as a homeowner. We found the installation companies’ prices were so high that it was nowhere near justified. The decision was made: my husband was installing the solar. Zach contacted several retailers for solar system quotes and went with Blue Pacific Solar for the order.

After under 40 man hours, Zach had the system installed and ready to test on 7/17/2017. We completed the project with all materials for under $20,000. We will get $6,000.00 back from the tax credit. That’s $14,000 invested and we will make 18% on that money for 25 years. Every piece of equipment we installed had a double bonded 25 year warranty from the panels to optimizers to inverter.

A special thanks to all the vendors
Blue Pacific Solar
MetaWorld Civil Consulting LLC
Little Electric

Harman Farms LLC
Zachary and Amanda Harman
300 Rodeo Rd
Ormond Beach, FL 32174
386-846-8031
386-846-0661
zachharman8031@gmail.com                                                     amandaharman87@gmail.com