More Muffins

Smarter Muffins

Preheat oven 375 degrees

Grease 2 6-cup jumbo sized muffin tins
Makes 12 jumbo muffins

2/3 C milk
1/2 C oil
2 eggs
2 C unbleached white flour
2 C whole wheat flour
1 C packed brown sugar
4 t baking powder
1 t sea salt
2 very ripe mashed bananas
1 C raisins
2 C applesauce
1 C minced carrots
1 C walnuts

Mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder & salt) in small bowl and set aside. Mix milk, oil, and egg in large bowl. Incorporate dry ingredients until moistened. Do not over mix. Add raisins, applesauce, carrots, and walnuts. Spoon into muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Apple-Raisin

Preheat oven 375 degrees

Grease 1 6-cup jumbo sized muffin tin
Makes 6 jumbo muffins

1/3 C milk
1/4 C oil
1 egg
1 C unbleached white flour
1 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t sea salt
1 C raisins
1 C applesauce

Mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder & salt) in small bowl and set aside. Mix milk, oil, and egg in large bowl. Incorporate dry ingredients until moistened. Do not over mix. Add raisins and applesauce. Spoon into muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Banana Nut

1/3 C milk
1/4 C oil
1 egg
1 C unbleached white flour
1 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t sea salt
2 very ripe mashed bananas
1 C walnuts, crushed

Mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder & salt) in small bowl and set aside. Mix milk, oil, and egg in large bowl. Incorporate dry ingredients until moistened. Do not over mix. Add bananas and walnuts. Spoon into muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Synopsis

The milk-applesauce combination in the smarter muffins made a very moist, spongy textured muffin. I would recommend adding 1/4 t of cinnamon or cloves for an added kick to these tasty treats.

The Urban Homestead

A lot dealing with sustainability answers the question, “How can I do for myself?” A major component of sustainability is keeping things local, and what’s more local than supplying for yourself from your place on this earth? Whether it be an apartment, a small house with a small yard, or a farmhouse, a new book breaks it down in simple ideas for the Average American.

The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficiency (review and blog) examines this question in a simple, easy-to-read format. It’s what we did with the Tolman Guide, it but makes the techy stuff easier to swallow. In The Urban Homestead you will find easy to understand tips for making your own cleaning products, how-to-compost and what to look for, and even a lengthy section on fermentation and storing food.

I will admit, I was a bit envious when I read it. The thought, “We did this first!” kept screaming through my head. But, they did it in a manner that’s easier to understand, and they hit many highlights of living in the city.

A must-read for any person who wants to live closer to the land in the city.

The Busy Bee

Levi is giving us a run for our money! Since he’s been getting enough protein, so for about a year now, his energy level has been on a constant spike upwards. He goes the moment he wakes up until the moment he sleeps. We can put him down, but unless he’s really sleepy, he will talk to himself or his stuffed animals from anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour! Then there will be silence until he wakes up. Usually naps have been lasting 2-3 hours and he sleeps all through the night. Yea! Night terrors no more!

Here are some photos of Levi helping his parents during this go-go-go of the past few days.

I made bread.

Levi helped, or wanted to.

He is learning to try things on. Maybe this means he’ll help clean the bathroom later!

Levi doesn’t have blocks, but he’s really good at improvising.

He likes chocolate chips (we were surprised to learn) and that reach is getting longer and longer.

Levi also tries on Daddy things, not just Mommy cleaning/baking gloves!

And, he loves helping Daddy. He even has his own real tool.


Finally, he’s basically mastered stairs. Yea, Levi!

Michelle’s Best Blueberry Muffins

1 C Unbleached white flour
1 C Whole wheat, stoneground, flour
1/2 C brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 C whole milk
1 egg
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 C blueberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Grease bottom of cups of one 6-cup jumbo muffin tin
  3. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in one bowl, set aside
  4. Combine milk, eggs, and oil in large mixing bowl
  5. Add dry ingredients until all moistened, batter will be lumpy
  6. Add blueberries
  7. Spoon into muffin tin until each cup about half full
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, cool 5 minutes before eating

They were quite yummy – sweet and filling.

Mmm, food!

Well, we haven’t harvested many vegetables thus far. But, our meager garden has made considerable progress. Although it’s getting late, there is still hope the tomatoes will ripen. We will need to construct or add more trellises so that the tomatoes don’t squish our peppers.


I did make another batch of blueberry muffins, and this time I think I have a recipe I’ll stick with. I doubled the batch, and I think I will title them Michelle’s Best Blueberry Muffins.

Michelle’s Best Blueberry Muffins
1 C Unbleached white flour
1 C Whole wheat, stoneground, flour
1/2 C brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 C whole milk
1 egg
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 C blueberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Grease bottom of cups of one 6-cup jumbo muffin tin
  3. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in one bowl, set aside
  4. Combine milk, eggs, and oil in large mixing bowl
  5. Add dry ingredients until all moistened, batter will be lumpy
  6. Add blueberries
  7. Spoon into muffin tin until each cup about half full
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, cool 5 minutes before eating

They were quite yummy – sweet and filling.

Michelle’s Flax Seed Bread

Makes four loaves. I use a 16 Q stainless steal mixing bowl and a wooden spoon, with additional appropriate liquid and dry measuring tools.

Ingredients
12 cups unbleached white flour + enough for kneading
6 cups lukewarm water
1 cup whole-ground flax seeds
1/2 cup oil + enough for bowl & pans
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons yeast

Directions
For the Sponge

  1. Pour 6 C lukewarm water in bowl
  2. Gently stir, with wooden spoon, 2 T yeast until dissolved
  3. Add 1/2 C brown sugar to yeast and water, stir until dissolved
  4. Add flour one cup at a time, gently stirring in clockwise rotation, until mixture is consistency of thick mud
  5. You will use about 6 cups of flour
  6. Beat 100 strokes until mostly smooth
  7. Cover with damp towel

Let rise for 60 minutes, or until double in size. To speed rising put in warm place, like on top of a warmed stove.

The Second Part

  1. Add edge of bowl: 2 1/2 T salt, 1 C flax, and 1/2 C oil
  2. Fold into mixture
  3. Add flour, one cup at a time, gently folding into itself until dough pulls away from bowl
  4. Begin kneading in bowl, ensuring hands are floured along with dough, still adding one cup at a time
  5. Once dough begins to look more like kneading dough and is less sticky, put on floured surface, preferably a wooden surface
  6. Pour about 1/2 T of oil into bottom of bowl once emptied of dough
  7. To knead, use both hands and pull rounded mound towards you, push out with your the heal of your hands, turn 1/4 turn clockwise, repeat until dough is smooth and not sticky
  8. You will have used another 6 cups of flour
  9. Round dough and put in oiled bowl, turn over so entire mound of dough has a thin cover of oil
  10. Cover with damp towel

Let rise for 50 minutes, or until doubled in size.

The Third Part

  1. Dough should be doubled in size
  2. Punch down
  3. Cover with damp towel

Let rise for 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.

The Fourth Part

  1. Pour dough onto floured surface
  2. Quickly knead back down to size
  3. Cut into fourths by scoring round
  4. Oil four bread pans
  5. Knead with one hand each loaf
  6. Roll into slight log, pinch bottom seam together, place in bread pan, repeat until all four are in their respective pans
  7. Spread dough out with backs of hands until dough touches each side, mold slightly
  8. Cover with damp towel

Let rise 20 minutes.

The Fifth Part

  1. Cut three 2-inch slits in each loaf
  2. Put in 350 degree oven
  3. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown and has a hollow knocking sound when the top is gently knocked
  4. Let cool for ten minutes
  5. Remove from pans and put on a dry towel, cover with another dry towel
  6. Enjoy!

Flax Seed Bread

I learned how to make bread from the Tassajara Bread Book close to 7 years ago. I took a nearly 4 year hiatus as life changed and I became frustrated with the bread turnout. Recent trips to the grocery store have shown how I can make bread cheaper at home, so I gave it a try again. What’s different this time is that I know what to look for in my bread making. So, for the past 8 weeks, our little family has been eating more home-baked things.

Edward Espe Brown calls for whole wheat flour, but previous experiments in bread making show that bread made solely with whole wheat flour is much too dense for the untrained mouth. For those of us who grew up on white bread, at minimum, bread must be made with a mix of your basic baking flour. I use unbleached white flour. This go-around, I also wanted to see what bread looked like in a simple form. So, this is what my bread looks like without whole wheat flour.


Michelle’s Flax Seed Bread
Makes four loaves. I use a 16 Q stainless steal mixing bowl and a wooden spoon, with additional appropriate liquid and dry measuring tools.

Ingredients
12 cups unbleached white flour + enough for kneading
6 cups lukewarm water
1 cup whole-ground flax seeds
1/2 cup oil + enough for bowl & pans
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons yeast

Directions
For the Sponge

  1. Pour 6 C lukewarm water in bowl
  2. Gently stir, with wooden spoon, 2 T yeast until dissolved
  3. Add 1/2 C brown sugar to yeast and water, stir until dissolved
  4. Add flour one cup at a time, gently stirring in clockwise rotation, until mixture is consistency of thick mud
  5. You will use about 6 cups of flour
  6. Beat 100 strokes until mostly smooth
  7. Cover with damp towel

Let rise for 60 minutes, or until double in size. To speed rising put in warm place, like on top of a warmed stove.

The Second Part

  1. Add edge of bowl: 2 1/2 T salt, 1 C flax, and 1/2 C oil
  2. Fold into mixture
  3. Add flour, one cup at a time, gently folding into itself until dough pulls away from bowl
  4. Begin kneading in bowl, ensuring hands are floured along with dough, still adding one cup at a time
  5. Once dough begins to look more like kneading dough and is less sticky, put on floured surface, preferably a wooden surface
  6. Pour about 1/2 T of oil into bottom of bowl once emptied of dough
  7. To knead, use both hands and pull rounded mound towards you, push out with your the heal of your hands, turn 1/4 turn clockwise, repeat until dough is smooth and not sticky
  8. You will have used another 6 cups of flour
  9. Round dough and put in oiled bowl, turn over so entire mound of dough has a thin cover of oil
  10. Cover with damp towel

Let rise for 50 minutes, or until doubled in size.

The Third Part

  1. Dough should be doubled in size
  2. Punch down
  3. Cover with damp towel

Let rise for 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.

The Fourth Part

  1. Pour dough onto floured surface
  2. Quickly knead back down to size
  3. Cut into fourths by scoring round
  4. Oil four bread pans
  5. Knead with one hand each loaf
  6. Roll into slight log, pinch bottom seam together, place in bread pan, repeat until all four are in their respective pans
  7. Spread dough out with backs of hands until dough touches each side, mold slightly
  8. Cover with damp towel

Let rise 20 minutes.

The Fifth Part

  1. Cut three 2-inch slits in each loaf
  2. Put in 350 degree oven
  3. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown and has a hollow knocking sound when the top is gently knocked
  4. Let cool for ten minutes
  5. Remove from pans and put on a dry towel, cover with another dry towel
  6. Enjoy!

Synopsis
You may be wondering why I have categorized this as ‘family’ and ‘sustainability’. I believe people can be brought closer together by sharing food and one of the most basic elements of food is bread. So, we are brought closer together as family by breaking of bread. In regards to sustainability, whenever we get closer to a process instead of taking the steps and burying them, we get closer to sustainability. One aspect to sustainability is knowing where things come from, buying locally, and understanding the process of the thing. By making my own bread I control the ingredients and understand and know the process, which then makes me and my family more sustainable.

Backyard Chickens Part Two

The trek into having chickens has become more informative. For the City of Portland, a permit for chickens is only required if you have 4 or more chickens. It is suggested that you follow the guidelines for having 4 or more chickens even if you have less, just in case you want to have more later. Plan ahead, in other words!

The City of Portland decides the code and Multnomah County enforces the code. The basic requirements are that the coop’s outer reaches (the chicken’s enclosure) is not less than 15 feet from your neighbors home. Although the requirement is quite flexible, it is suggested that you keep the coop on your property and contact all neighbors within 200 feet of the chicken enclosure. Keep the odors under control, and don’t feed the chickens things that will attract rats.

For more information, check out the following links:

Where can I find local fruit (food!)?

Here, in the fertile Willamette Valley, we are spoiled by great harvests. A question that seems to interest people, especially in the summer time is, “Where can I go to get good, local (and organic) fruits and vegetables (food)?” My family, in particular, is in interested in cutting food costs without sacrificing nutrition. So, how can we do that?

Monique Dupré has created her own system of how to do that by buying locally, making arrangements with local meat, dairy, and fruit/vegetable suppliers all with a mix of some internet shopping. She brags that she only spends $65/month at the grocery store. To learn more about how she does things and to sign up for a workshop, visit her website ‘Sustainable Living on a Budget‘.

Living in Portland for 5 years has taught me the following:

  • Uncle Paul’s (SE 23rd & SE Hawthorne Blvd) offers year round local produce in his open-air tent at great prices.
  • Sauvie Island farmers offer many U-pick fields where you can purchase your fruits and vegetables at a fraction of the grocery cost.
  • We picked 6.25 lbs of blueberries from Sauvie Island Farms Saturday for $10.15. This yielded over 20 cups of blueberries, 18 of which is portioned in 2 & 3 cup bags in the freezer, with the 2 remaining cups divvied into pancakes and snacks.
  • Sheridan Fruit Company is going green, and they are still the best place in town for grains. Visit them for discounts when buying in bulk, especially flours and oats.
  • Cherry Sprout Produce (formerly Big City Produce) on N Albina & N Sumner
  • Co-ops around town including Food Front, People’s, and Alberta
  • Fruit stands around town… keep on the lookout! Two I know of off hand, SE Foster & SE 80th across from Fred Meyer & SE 28th between SE Steele & SE Bybee.
    • Farmer’s markets… not only do farmer’s markets serve as a great place to gather good food in one place, most of the markets give out free literature including recipes and why buying local and hormone free is important. If you can stand the crowds, visit, learn and eat tasty treats.

    When shopping for food, it’s important to remember that buying local is actually better than buying organic. “Why?” you may ask.

    Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s more evident now with rising gas costs, but one reason for buying local is to ensure food security. If something were to happen to our transportation system (such as exorbitant gas prices) and food couldn’t be shipped the 1500 average miles food is currently shipped to get to our plates, what would we eat? We need to ensure demand for local food so that we will have local food to eat.

    Secondly, buying local keeps money local instead of shipping it off to Kroger or the Walton’s. It’s been said that for every dollar spent locally, it puts two dollars back into the local economy supporting jobs and simply people.

    Third, we have more control over local food. Remember what happened to Tribal Sun a few years ago when they didn’t use organic tomatoes but said they did? New Seasons quickly pulled the product from the shelves, and the product wasn’t on the shelves for about 12 months until they seemingly remedied the problem. If Kroger’s brand of organic doesn’t really use organic vegetables, how quickly do you think the items would be pulled from the shelves?

    Eating great local food is often as simple as walking around your neighborhood to see who’s selling what. I would love to hear comments from people who have other ideas on how to save on primary sourced foods. Email me with your suggestions!