Sunday, 4 August 2013

Getting back to some basics - breadmaking and laundry detergent

After helping out with some teaching at an Intro to Permaculture course on Saturday, it was hard not to get inspired and re-energised by being around like minded people. It was fantastic listening to everybody's ideas and personal takes on information and I came away with a renewed vigour to get 'my hands dirty' in some basic, from the roots, homesteading.
And what better homesteading past time is there than making bread.
Last weekend I attended a sourdough bread making workshop, and although I have dabbled in bread making, I have never made sourdough. The whole growing the starter-thingy scared me off a little, but for this past week, I have been keenly growing my starter and today, turned out my first loaf to proof overnight. Fingers crossed it actually turns out OK! The kids are very keen to taste test for me.

As it was cold outside, cloudy and threatening with rain I decided to make some raisin bread as well.

Here I am using the heat from the fire to get the loaves to rise. Where we live, the air is very dry and not ideal for making bread. The shower caps over the tins increase the humidity and helps the loaf to rise, as well as creating a 'steam oven' with a shallow tray with water in the bottom of the oven. After attending the course last weekend, I realised I had been over-proofing the bread, and hence why it had been sinking when I put it in the oven. Not today! Rose nicely in the oven.

I have also commenced making my own laundry detergent. With four little kids and one big kid in the house, I seem to be doing endless loads of washing. So given my choice to try and reduce our chemical intake further and also help out the hip pocket, I thought I would try it out. If it didn't work, well, not too much would be lost. This is the third batch I have made (each batch makes about 8-9 litres), and I am happy with it enough to continue using it and not go back to commercial laundry detergents. The ingredients are fairly simple - water, soap flakes, grated sard wonder soap, washing soda, lavender oil and a smidgen of blueo. I got the recipe from one of the girls from the Urban Homesteaders, Sally, and I think it works a treat. After I make it up and combine with a stick blender, I store it in reused juice plastic bottles.

The only thing I would have liked to have accomplished today was to get out into the garden and get some seeds planted. Tomorrow, I am going to leave the mess of the house behind and head outdoors. Definitely tomorrow.

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