Posts Tagged ‘Self Sufficient’

How much does it cost to bake your own bread?

Now we’re making our own bread I thought it’d be worth working out how much cheaper / more expensive it is than just buying standard wholemeal bread.

So here’s the standard pricing of all the ingredients – I haven’t started looking for cheap bulk supplies yet so these are just from Sainsbury’s.

310 ml semi-skimmed milk 20.77p
225g Strong White Bread Flour 10.35p
225g Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour 14.85p
1 tsp salt 0.2p
3 tsp sugar 1.49p
25 g butter 7.5p
2x7g sachets of dried yeast 19.75p
Electricity 3.14p
Total 78p

So in total it costs 78p, which is about the same price as a Sainsbury’s wholemeal loaf. Cost wise then it doesn’t make much difference – as long as you’re not making a separate journey to buy your bread, as once you start your car up the cost difference would be substantial!

I’ll keep doing it because it tastes great, means we never run out, and it’s a good skill to have learnt for leaner times. I might also look for cheaper bulk ingredients.

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Aquaponics Update

Sorry, haven’t been posting much recently – have been sorting out our new house . . . due to move in in a few weeks – working hard – and I’ve been planning out our Aquaponics system.

It’s one of the first things that’s going up at our new house so I’ve been busily over-planning every detail. It’s looking pretty impressive now – go and have a look at the latest version of our Aquaponic Polytunnel over at Garden Aquaponics. Ive also been working hard on what we’ll grow in it – so there’s an update to our planting list there too.

Eating Acorns

I never thought life would get this bad 🙂 but I’ve been looking for a resilient alternative to Wheat, as I’m pretty sure we’re not going to be able to grow enough in our garden to feed my Wholemeal Bread habit. 

Prompted by an article written by Janaia from Peak Moment called “Make Like a Squirrel” I’ve found out that you can eat acorns (after quite a lot of preparation!) They were a key food for Native Americans, and can be incorporated into a range of dishes including bread. The most comprehensive srticle I’ve found is one from Peggy Spring at the San Antonio Natural Area Parks, who suggest these recipes:

 

Steamed Acorn Black Bread 
Mix together: 
1 1/2 cups Acorn Meal 
1/2 cup Acorn Grits 
1 cup white flour 
1/2 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
Add: 
1/2 cup dark molasses 
1 1/2 cups sour milk 
2 tablespoons salad oil 

Wring out a pudding cloth in boiling water, spread it in a round bottom bowl and turn the batter into it. Tie the corners and suspend the bag over boiling water in a closed kettle for 4 hours. This should be served hot from the bag, and a steaming slab of this rich, dark, moist bread is just right with a plate of baked beans.


Apache Acorn Cakes 

1 cup acorn meal, ground fine 
1 cup cornmeal 
1/4 cup honey 
pinch of salt 

Mix the ingredients with enough warm water to make a moist, not sticky dough. Divide into 12 balls. Let rest, covered, for 10 minutes or so. With slightly moist hands, pat the balls down into thick tortilla-shaped breads. Bake on an ungreased cast iron griddle over campfire coals or on clean large rocks, propped up slightly before the coals. If using the stones, have them hot when you place the cakes on them. You’ll have to lightly peel an edge to peek and see if they are done. They will be slightly brown. Turn them over and bake on the other side, if necessary.

I can’t see these being a staple of our diet any time soon – but I’m dying to give this a go. I’d better keep an eye out for local oaks.

Chicken Soup with a Soul

I have often remembered the chicken broth my mother used to make when I was a child. In those days of frugality, making a broth was the best way to ensure that full use was got out of a chicken – that every last morsel of meat was gleaned off the bones and every ounce of goodness was extracted from the carcass, and was put to delicious use. And yes, it was delicious!

 Of course, in the fast-paced lives that we so often live in our young adulthood, making broth never seemed to be worth the bother. But my husband has recently been ‘educating’ me on the expected ravages that will descend upon the world post-peak-oil, and how we will need to become much less wasteful with our food. Plus, I thought, my two-year-old daughter will love it. So, despite the risk of irretrievably entrenching myself into the stereotyped stay-at-home mum rôle, I decided this evening to have a go.

 So here’s a rough guide to how to make it: 

  • Put the chicken carcass into a pan
  • Add an onion, cut into eighths
  • Cover with water and bring to the boil
  • Season with salt and pepper and a good shake of mixed herbs
  • Boil for 3-4 hours until the carcass has fallen apart and all the meat dropped off the bones
  • Extract the bones (that’s the real fiddly part. There are no short-cuts to getting into it with your fingers)

 If you want, you can make a proper meal by adding chopped vegetables towards the end of the cooking time, but my mother’s version was always unadulterated.

 As I write, the wonderful aromas of chicken and onions are filling the house. The hard part is waiting for all that cooking time before you can eat the soup!

 I may try amending the recipe to give it a more modern, cosmopolitan flavour in the form of Asian-style chicken noodle soup (I’m sure that the addition of noodles alone will not be sufficient!). Perhaps a further post will be necessary. Must go now – tasting to do!

 PS – Of course! Here’s how chicken broth fits into our post-peak-oil lives. Picture our (as yet hypothetical) wood-burning stove, blazing away all day in the winter to heat our rooms, with a pot of broth simmering away on top…

Scribbled Planting Wishlist for our Vege Patch

Need to empty my head of this, my first thoughts on what I want to find out more about for our vege patch:

  • Globe Artichokes
  • Golden & normal Beetroot
  • Potatoes – preferably something a little special, maybe low GI, or heritage varieties
  • Mushrooms – Chestnut, Morels, Shiitake, Oyster
  • Garlic
  • No green beans! (request from my wife)
  • Beans for Cassoulet?
  • Mange Tout
  • Red Onions (and some brown?)
  • Tomatoes – probably cherry/sweetheart
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Pumpkin
  • Peppers?

Plus some fruit:

  • Rhubarb
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries (a few for the kids)

And the herbs:

  • Rosemary
  • Sage – varied
  • Mints
  • Thyme
  • Oregano/Marjoram
  • Chives
  • Flat-leaf parsley
  • Bay Tree

There – a nice simple wish list 🙂 – I wonder how this will evolve over the next year, as I realise that we don’t have 10 acres to plant!