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I’ve been sitting on this video for a while now, unfortunately because I’ve not had the time to edit it.  Between the holidays, house guests, and now more house guests, our last 30+ days have been a tad overwhelming, but way too much fun, too.  :)

I got my grain mill in November and am so VERY happy with the purchase.  Our food storage, as you may know if you read here often, is filled with hard white wheat and this mill makes it incredibly easy to make the tastiest bread EVAH.  Seriously, if we liked my bread before, we LOVE it now.  It’s amazing how much lighter and airier my bread’s crumb is now, versus using cracked wheat before.

  • As I researched (and researched and researched and researched) grain mills before buying it, a few things stood out:  I wanted a non-impact type mill, which meant that I had to be happy with millstones and only certain grain mills actually used millstones.
  • I wanted to control the heat of the flour – or at least not have it get too high.  Having borrowed a friend’s WhisperMill (now it is called the Wonder Mill), I knew the flour was HOT when the mill was done.  I also knew that it was LOUD – it was louder than my vacuum cleaner.
  • Which brings me to the third thing:  I wanted  a mill that wasn’t going to burst my eardrums.  The so-called WhisperMill was anything but quiet, but the “reported sound level” on differing websites was about 50dB.  There was NO WAY it was actually 50dB – my (formerly) brand-new dishwasher ran at 55dB and it was virtually silent. So accurate portrayal of noise was important to me.
  • And finally, I really wanted a mill that would last.  The mills that were (are) made in Korea are okay, and they are a sight less expensive than the European mills.  But the European mills had longevity on their side, and I really didn’t want to have to do this research and re-purchase this in a few years.  I wanted it to last and be a lifetime investment.  KoMo has mills that have run daily for 15 years and are still going as strong as the first day, and that was the sort of purchase I wanted to make.

So we saved our money and finally purchased the mill.  I played with it a bit and figured out what texture I wanted my flour at for bread (it’s not quite at the finest setting, but it’s definitely fine) and off to the races we went.

I haven’t regretted the money I’ve spent thus far, and I’ve also ground my own cornmeal (but not from popcorn – from degermed corn).  If I ever grind beans in it, I’ll get a nice bean flour that’s useful for much, and I can also make rice flour and other fine-flours.  We’ve not developed a taste for muesli yet, but I’m hoping to get Brendan hooked somewhat soon.  I think he’ll like it.

sms

Laura, over at Heavenly Homemakers did an experiment with ice cream a while back.  She took two half-gallons of commercial ice cream and let them melt.  Or attempted to let them melt.  After nearly 4 days, they didn’t – they became concave and sticky, but to actually say they melted isn’t quite accurate.  Alternately, her homemade ice cream melted within 30 minutes of being set out.  That was the straw that broke this proverbial camel’s back.  I had been leaning towards making homemade ice cream for a while and researched all sorts of ice cream makers, but after seeing those results, I swore off commercial ice cream for my family.

I ended up researching and finding really good reviews on the Donvier Ice Cream Freezer – unlike other models that owners said broke or rusted or were high-priced pieces of junk, this one had long-standing good reviews.  People who owned them for 15-18 years said they were still going strong after consistent use.  That was enough for me – I didn’t want an electric motor that could die on me, so this was perfect.  The insert is aluminum (I don’t get weirded out by aluminum, as it’s a natural part of our world and there’s no oxidation in the freezer-component that would make me think we were leaching aluminum in to our food), freezes within 7 hours, and works like a charm.  :)

My first batch of ice cream was made from the Donvier book – I was underwhelmed.  The quantity of ice crystals and the lack of cohesive mouth-feel was bleah.  After that, I borrowed Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book from the library and went to town.  The results were AMAZING.  The ice cream is creamy, the mouth-feel is terrific, and everyone raves over what comes out of the ice cream maker.

I knew I wanted to do a video on making homemade ice cream, but I didn’t want to make it too complicated.  As luck would have it, the strawberry-banana recipe in the book requires overripe bananas (we’re discovering how quickly fruit goes from “unripe” to “overripe” here in Arizona) and frozen strawberries.  I didn’t have the frozen strawberries, but I did have  a small portion of food-storage (freeze-dried) strawberries left over – they sort of clumped together in the heat of the moving truck and I wanted to use them up.  Score!

I highly recommend both the book and the ice cream maker if you have any interest in making your own ice cream.  As most things that are homemade, it’s time-consuming, but it’s entirely worthwhile.  And we find that one quart of homemade ice cream lasts us about a week – we eat less because it’s more filling and tastes so much better than the commercial stuff!  :)

I hope you enjoy the video – happy hand-cranking!  :)

sms

I’ve been wanting to include some video on the site for a while now – if by “wanting” I mean “a friend who’s really good at SEO and blogging stuff has been bugging me to do it.”  I just don’t care for being in videos – it doesn’t matter what I do, I always look silly.  Besides, I’m a professional photographer, not a professional videographer.  My skills in editing are generally limited to stills – and I’m okay with that.

Regardless, I realized that Todd was right.  If I want to take my site to the next level, I need to be willing to get over myself and pony up some videos.  But what to do?

You might remember a while back reading about my die-hard “DIY” nature.  If there’s a way to Do It Yourself, I will probably try it – even if it’s not a spectacular success.  So creating a new category on the blog called “Show Me Saturday” and pairing it with a DIY-video seemed like a natural fit to me.  And here we are.  :)

I read a while back about making brown sugar.  Now some of you are already rolling your eyes at me – making brown sugar, Sue?  Really!  It’s an inexpensive item to pick up at the store! I know, I know.  But when I think in terms of food storage, I realize that brown sugar is just one more thing to keep track of and to make sure I rotate through.  I thought it would be great to simplify, and so I went hunting for instructions on making brown sugar, because it’s really just molasses and white sugar, combined.  No, I’m not claiming it’s healthier to make brown sugar yourself, just that it’s fresher and is one less thing to keep track of, if you practice food storage habits.  Plus, I got a really great deal on a gallon of molasses in my food co-op, and honestly, that’s likely to last me the rest of my life.  😉

I found a great blog that I enjoy reading called “New Old School,” run by a woman who calls herself The Damsel.  It’s quaint and I get tickled that she refers to herself in the third person.  So The Damsel taught me the technique to make brown sugar, but I waited to actually make it so I could film it and make a video for the site.  Nothing like killing two birds with one stone… 😉

My tutorial uses a stand mixer, but you can easily use a fork, a hand-mixer, or a stand mixer to make your own brown sugar.  The ingredients are simple:  1 cup of white sugar to 1 T. molasses.  That’s it.  I was amazed at how fresh it tasted in comparison to the bagged, store-bought brown sugar I’ve used and tasted all my life.  Even my son noticed a difference in his oatmeal, which is the main reason I was up early in the morning making brown sugar – for his oatmeal.

I hope this is helpful – look for more videos in the coming weeks. :)

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