Here’s some exciting news: I just spent a morning harvesting our first patch of wheat! Sweat, itch, straw and dust aside I am pretty excited to make the first loaf. At a very rough estimate I think we might have a yield around 1kg wheat per square meter so the 40m2 patch might have produced enough grain to make a years worth of bread. I’ll update this when the final count is in.
I used a beastly sharp sickle, and good gloves. I can see this thing lopping a finger right off.
First I tried cutting quite high to just get the heads but there was a lot of variation in the height of each stalk so I soon started just cutting at the base, grabbing bundles and sawing through them.
I laid down armfuls as I went, then gathered them into stooks at the end. The stooks were just to be romantic, I just chucked most of it on a tarp under cover. I’ll let it dry for a week before the next step.
Next is threshing, then winnowing. Threshing just means smacking the wheat, straw and all until the grain comes loose. Winnowing is separating the grain from the chaff, straw, bits of earwig and so on. There’s still work to do figuring out the best method for this! I did a small batch just to test by filling a feed bag and smacking it into the wall, then pouring the contents back and forth between two buckets so the wind carried chaff away. After doing this manually I firmly believe that growing and processing grains is the reason mankind invented machinery.
After reading about the benefits of getting more calories from good oils and protein and eating less carbs I came up with this recipe for polenta quiche, which has about 300 calories per serve, half from fat, and with 20g of carbs. I’m making up large batches and freezing slices so I have healthy tasty breakfasts on hand for the morning rush. It’s interesting to see how it comes out of the oven – the recipe is easy to make because you really just mix and bake and the heavier polenta settles to the bottom forming a crust on …read more »
The price of Kale in my local shops is surprisingly high given how easy it is to grow – in the garden it doesn’t seem to need as much water as some things once it is established, and produces lots of leaves over a month or more. I find Kale seductively beautiful with its chunky dark green leaves and strong flavour. Here is my little Kale patch – nearly time to plant some more. I often make quiche or bean & Kale stews but I’d never heard of Kale chips until I found a bag for sale …read more »
I’ve come to realise that I’m in love with polenta (which if you don’t know, is a kind of porridge or paste made from cooked corn meal). It is good for you, delicious, texturally satisfying, and goes in a surprising range of dishes – from appetisers to desserts. So when I coincidentally read mister meatballs post about growing your own, then the salt’s writeup about the flavour of heritage varieties, I knew I had to try growing it myself. The first step in any new project is …read more »
I’ve been interested in growing wheat for a long time – it just seems to be something you should do if you’re into baking and doing things ‘from scratch’ so with winter rains here and the offer of a spare patch in my mums veggie garden if I helped clear it, I have just sown my first crop! As you’ll see, this is just a test patch for now with perhaps 20 square meters of land. If it works out, I can use a much larger patch for planting. We just scattered the wheat by hand (broadcasting) so it …read more »
I am writing down this recipe to share the enjoyment of picking fresh garden greens on a sunny spring morning – there is something very satisfying about cooking like this. The only remaining piece of the puzzle is to get our own chickens for really fresh eggs! I vary this recipe depending on what is in the garden, today it is rocket (arugula), flat leaf parsley, thyme, oregano, spring onion and a little new spinach. Here is part of the oregano jungle My rocket is going to seed – but it still tastes good! Ingredients …read more »
I love having lots of homemade olives around but I have to confess that sometimes I’m a bit slack with changing pickling liquid every day. Luckily there’s a method that suits my temperament very well – just chuck the olives and dry salt into a bucket and stir once a week. You don’t have to slit each olive or change the water or anything like that and best of all I think these are my favourite tasting olives too – they are kind of leathery and wrinkly, surprisingly they don’t actually taste all that salty though! Most of the …read more »
Rye bread is one of my favourite things to eat so recently I have been learning more about making my own. Rye is a bit tricky to handle compared to wheat flour because of its natural stickiness and lack of gluten but once you get the hang of it the reward is a spicy more-ish flavour with a moist dense crumb. Of course I can’t experiment with an ingredient without seeing if it can make a pizza and rye pizza dough seemed like something I had to try. Here it is, ready to eat! This was a good pizza, …read more »
Soft fluffy gnocchi are one of my favourite comfort foods so when I heard they can be made with ricotta instead of potato I couldn’t wait to try it. The principle is the same and if anything this recipe is more forgiving than potato gnocchi because the ricotta cheese seems to help bind up the gnocchi when they are cooked. I served my first batch tossed through some fresh basil pesto but next time I’m going to try a simple tomato sauce – I think they needed a bit more zing. I’ve also seen these made as spinach and …read more »
The apple season has just finished where I live. To preserve some of the fruit my parents made a big solar drier and have dried a lot of apples from their orchard. I was thinking about warm bread last night while I looked at a stack of these dried apples and had a lightbulb moment – apple sourdough! Fruit sourdough is delicious with the contrast between tangy bread and sweet fruit, and I added just a touch of spice. Although I used dried apple any fruit would work. I submitted this recipe to the yeastspotting blog too …read more »