Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Snippets

1. Wheat and Barley sprouts lined up on their rack in the shed. We feed the pigs and chickens sprouted and soaked grain as it increases the nutritional value and digestibility. The cattle and sheep also receive a small amount of sprouted barley in their chaff and mineral mix every couple of days. We've so much grain out at once, in various stages of sprouting and soaking that I refer to it as "the sprout factory".

2. The face of a happy pig, Wilbur, during breakfast (in case you missed the Pig Project post, catch up here)

3. Sheep enjoying the shade on a sunny afternon

4 & 5. My Mitred Blanket is complete - finally! It only took two and half years. I'm very happy with the result and am now knitting away on my Clara Bow Sweater. I was determined to get both large projects out of the way this year and with one ticked off, I'm dreaming of knitting socks. But only once my sweater is finished.

6. Spelt Sourdough is fast becoming part of my Sunday morning ritual. I allow myself to enjoy a slower morning on Sundays, which is perfect for bread baking. The dough is made and shaped the night before, ready for baking first thing.
I enjoy a cup of tea while it warms up, then another cup whilst the bread is baking. By the time it is cooked I have enjoyed a slow breakfast, usually done some knitting and am ready to wander out into the sunshine and feed the animals.


Have you any Sunday Snippets to share?
Hope you've had a good week.
Here's to the new week (and almost a new month!)

Sarah xx


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Just Hatched & Too Adorable For Words

The miracle of hatching chicks never gets old. It blows my mind that you can take an egg, pop it under a clucky hen and with the right amount of warmth, have a live, peeping chicken just twenty-one days later. It's quite amazing.

The other thing I find amazing is the amount of cuteness you can pack into something so tiny. I mean, seriously, they're too adorable for words.
This post is mostly pictures as I think these balls of fluff can speak for themselves. You'll just have to excuse the quality of some of the photos as it was late yesterday afternoon when I was snapping them.

I photographed these after the hen had finished hatching. In the late afternoon she was moved from her hatching nest and into a lovely clean one, which is situated amongst millet and peas and other forage plants cultivated specifically for her brand new family. Our chooks get the best private health service imaginable in the poultry world. Raising them in this way not only makes them healthier and happier, it makes raising them easier too.

This clever Silkie mama hatched four out of six eggs, a pretty good hatch rate in my book.
I watched them exploring their world for the first time this morning, and listened to the soft loving clucks coming from their mama. She plucked at the plants and fed it to them gently, called them over to the dish of millet and positioned herself in the full sun so her little ones wouldn't get cold. I don't think I'll ever tire of enjoying the sight of new chicks with their Mum. It really is something special.


Have you ever had the joy of hatching baby chickens I wonder?
Hope your week to going well,

Sarah x


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Recipe: Refined Sugar Free Spelt Gingerbread Biscuits

Gingerbread is one of those wonderful creations that I could eat by the plate full. Their buttery softness combined with the flavour of ginger is one I have adored since the first time I tried gingerbread. 
Of course when I first started making and eating gingerbread I was still using what I refer to as 'normal' ingredients...white flour, white sugar...
Now of course, everything I bake is made with either whole spelt or whole wheat, freshly ground in our little motorized stone grinder (I realize we're nuts, so it's ok for you to think that). The only sugar in this house is Rapadura, which is the simplest, best form of cane sugar available. It's simply evaporated cane juice, and in our case, it's organic too. 

So, what do our weird baking ways have to do with gingerbread, I hear you ask?
Well, since I stopped using normal ingredients I haven't been happy with my gingerbread. 
I'd put lovely thick biscuits into the oven only to pull out thin, flat ones that had spread everywhere. Where's the buttery soft biscuit-ness when they've done that?! 
That happened when I used the traditional method of rolling out the dough and cutting them out with a cookie cutter. 
Now I have found a much better method that not only results in a biscuit the desired thickness, it's faster and easier. It also means I can bake gingerbread in summer as there is a lot less handling of the dough, so it doesn't have time to go soft on me.

The trick is to roll the dough out in one large piece between two sheets of baking paper (parchment) and than cook it as a whole piece on a baking tray. When the biscuit is cooked, I let it cool on the tray for 5 minutes before chopping into the desired size. (You have to do this before it cools completely and the biscuit hardens). I've also used a round scone-cutter to create perfectly round biscuits to make icecream sandwiches with.

So, here is the recipe so that you can try it out for yourself.
Have fun and let me know what you think.
Oh, and just in case you want a whole stack of biscuits like in the photos above, I doubled the recipe.
Enjoy x

Refined Sugar Free Spelt Gingerbread Biscuits
125g Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Rapadura
1/4 Organic Rice Malt Syrup
1 Egg Yolk
1 3/4 Plain Spelt Flour
2 tsp freshly grated or ground Ginger
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

1. Beat butter and rapadura with electric mixer until light and creamy. Add syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined. Add sifted flour, ginger and bi-carb soda and beat until the mixture begins to form a ball.

2. Knead on a floured surface until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Roll dough out between two sheets of baking paper, about 5mm thick is good. Take the paper off the top of the dough and slide the biscuit onto a baking tray, leaving the bottom sheet of baking paper underneath it.

3. Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden. Stand for 5 minutes before cutting with either a sharp knife or cookie cutter. Place the cut biscuits onto a rack to cool.

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