Autumn Snow and Baking Day
Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 2
Week 45: November 12, 2022
Snow before frost is unusual, but not unheard of in southern Oregon. Even after the visitation of lovely autumn snow, I was still picking tomatoes and basil from the garden! Optimal weather for a baking day. Our first frost arrived a few days later on November 9, three weeks later than our average October 20 frost date.
Six plump loaves of Old Fashioned Buttermilk Bread are cooling on racks on the baker’s bench. We somehow ran out of bread, so I called a baking day. I like to bake in quantity and freeze the extra loaves, which is how we ran out. You see, I wasn’t keeping an eye on the freezer like I normally do and didn’t know when Sam had brought the last loaf in that it was the last loaf.
I used my KoMo Fidibus 21 grain mill to grind fresh whole wheat flour. (We buy whole wheat and other grains in 25 pound bags from Azure Standard and store them in buckets with Gamma Seal lids in the storeroom, which is kind of like our own little grocery store.) I love my KoMo! I bought it used and it has served me well for about 11 years now, capably making beautifully soft, fine flour from whole wheat.
Dough for 6 loaves was mixed in my Ankarsrum Assistent Original mixer. This Swedish super mixer is a tremendous tool that I am very thankful for! As a mom of 5 now-grown children, my mixer is well-used. I love that the roller and scraper in the Ankarsrum imitate hand kneading perfectly. This means my bread is soft and fluffy, even made with whole wheat!
The recipe I use is a family treasure. I have baked it forever…well, at least 30 years. I have made several videos on Old Fashioned Buttermilk Bread using various mixers: KitchenAid, Bosch, and Ankarsrum.
No matter which mixer I use, I always turn the dough out onto a greased and floured surface and give it a few turns by hand after machine kneading. Always. This improves the structure of the dough, which leads to better ovenspring, which yields taller, fluffier loaves of sandwich bread.
A quickly-mixed batch of pizza dough deposited in the fridge quietly matured into full flavor for tasty weekend pizzas.
Last year’s home-canned pizza sauce made from orange tomatoes. The color has faded a bit, but the flavor is still bright and tangy. I can enough pizza sauce every summer to “cover” our weekend pizza nights.
One pizza was decorated with dried garden herbs: oregano, chives, fennel seeds. Three pizzas were topped with Sam’s favorite: smoked oysters and anchovies. Pizza topping resembles peaches, but it’s really kitchen-ripened Dad’s Sunset tomatoes.
From garden to kitchen
Remember the fine basket of diminutive Brûlée Butternut squash we harvested?
I cut a few open, cleaned the seeds out, sliced and added them to a sheet pan supper with Italian sausages, a jar of home-canned tomatoes, and a liberal seasoning of dried Persian basil, salt, and pepper. Wow, was that a flavorful supper! The small squashes were not peeled and the skins were edible. This might be a new favorite dinner combo.
I took advantage of the delayed first frost to gather up more seeds from the garden including these nasturtium seeds, which are now dried and ready to be placed in a seed envelop. It’s so nice to not have to buy so many seeds, although the temptation to try “new” heirloom varieties is strong!
To the right of the seeds is a plate of Sugar Rush Peach Habañero peppers, a much milder-than-usual habañero, drying for a seasoning blend. Seeds will be saved for replanting as well. One more packet we don’t have to buy next year.
Scrumptious, delicious homemade noodles – the kind of noodles you can add to soups or serve as a side dish. They are thick and fluffy, with the right amount of substance. This is a German-from-Russia heritage recipe from my Grandma; she called them Knoephla (pronounced k-nip-fluh; the “k” is spoken, not silent.) Noodles are a great way to use extra eggs during laying season and preserve them in a deliciously edible form. Your Ankarsrum Assistent can easily handle a double or triple batch and the extra noodles can be frozen for later. Printable recipe here.
Sam is steadily hacking his way through the brush in the henyard. It is slow, difficult, painstaking. The bears have been ousted, but raccoons managed to steal 4 young laying hens this week, and in broad daylight.
He is making progress, but it is hard-won. Himalayan blackberries really do want to rule the world.
Wild blackberries have also gotten ahead of the sheep (which we no longer own) in the pasture. Sam has been cutting and burning them as time allows on weekends. He works full-time. There is something satisfying about a weekend bonfire fueled by blackberry brambles. We enjoy the temporary illusion that we are winning.
The photo collage above shows some of the steps involved in making a glycerin tincture, or glycerite, from fresh St. John’s wort herb. It starts with foraging for, or better yet harvesting directly from our homestead, the fresh herb. (See this post for more on that side of the process.)
I use a simple herb press made by an Etsy craftsman to press my herb tinctures and oils. Turning the handle presses the follower, a disc of acrylic, which expresses the liquid. The liquid is poured off and decanted into sterilized jars for storage in the apothecary cupboard or fridge. I personally use St. John’s worth glycerite to overcome the winter blues.
Come autumn I always pull The Many Blessings Cookbook off my shelf and read it like a novel. Within its covers you’ll find remembrances, sweet old fashioned poems, line art by her sister Sheila, and a tummy-warming collection of recipes especially for autumn.
Apple Cider Yam Bread
Country Style Potatoes
Sheila’s Pan Fried Parsnips
Aunt Mabel’s Cranberry Tea
Harvesttime Pot Roast with Prunes and Homemade Noodles
There is even a complete Thanksgiving menu with all the trimmings made from scratch with wholesome ingredients!
This is the perfect cookbook to curl up with on a cold, windy day with a cup of hot tea or coffee, whether or not your immediate plan is to head to the kitchen and cook.
Thank you for joining me for another week’s happenings and doings at Chocolate Box Cottage. Truly. Your time is valuable and it means a lot to me that you spent some of it with me.
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