The Benefits of Sourdough

About a year ago, Jim and I went to San Francisco without the children.  I have always loved sourdough bread, so while we were there, we purchased several loaves to bring home with us.

The children adored it.

I looked into purchasing sourdough around here, but couldn’t find a good source.  Then I looked into having sourdough shipped to me from San Francisco (yes, you can do that).  But ultimately I decided I was going to teach myself how to make a good loaf of sourdough.

So I bought some sourdough starter* and began making bread.  I figured since I had been grinding my own wheat* and baking whole wheat bread for more than a decade (remember when we baked bread in the sun oven?), how hard could it be?

baking-bread_10

Ummm… it was harder than I thought.

sourdough bread_blog_16

After about 3 months of bread that was very disappointing (it had a good sour flavor, but I couldn’t get it to rise well no matter what I tried), I was about ready to give up on the great sourdough experiment.

But as I was continuing to research, I came across a study performed by Guelph University.  It compared four types of breads to determine which had the most positive health effects when it comes to carbohydrate metabolism, blood sugar, and insulin levels.  The subjects used were overweight people between the ages 50 and 60 who consumed the bread in the morning, and then ate a normal lunch.

The 4 bread types compared were:

  • White
  • Whole wheat
  • Whole wheat with barley
  • Sourdough made with white flour

The studies showed that when the sourdough was consumed the subjects maintained their carb metabolism, blood sugar, and insulin levels.  It was much better for you in regards to these indices than any of the other types of bread, even whole wheat.

As I continued to research, I found that sourdough has the following benefits:

1. Sourdough has a lower glycemic index than other breads. It is less likely to spike your blood sugar as dramatically as other types of bread.

2. Sourdough contains more Lactobacillus and less yeast.  This leads to less phytic acid, more mineral availability, and easier digestion.

3. Sourdough predigests the starches in the grains. This also makes the bread more easily digestible and allows you to absorb more nutrients.

4. Sourdough helps to break down the gluten. This further helps with digestability and may help those who are sensitive to gluten.

5. Sourdough produces Acetic acid which helps preserve the bread. Naturally occuring preservatives are always healthier for you than chemical preservatives.

So, sourdough is the healthiest of all bread types because it is more nutrient dense, easiest to digest, and has the least impact on blood sugar.

That was it!  I was not giving up!  I was going to master sourdough bread.

The first thing I did was switch from whole wheat flour to unbleached white flour*.  That alone made a huge difference. After a few more weeks experimenting, I was able to consistently produce sourdough bread that was had a good sour flavor, was pretty light and fluffy, and had a crispy crust.

sourdough bread_blog_20

Over the next few posts, I’ll be sharing what I learned.  From how I keep my starter alive to how I make bread and what I do with all my extra starter, I hope you can learn from all my research and practice!

PJ

 

 

 

* Amazon Affilate Links

Colorful Bedrooms

When they painted our bedrooms, we were that much closer to living in our bedrooms. We still needed carpet, lights, switches, trim, doors, and a whole lot more, but the rooms were very colorful.

13 kids bedrooms_blog_3

13 kids bedrooms_blog_1

13 kids bedrooms_blog_2

13 kids bedrooms_blog

Which made all of us beyond excited!

Brett

 

 

Happy Birthday, Fletcher!

Fletcher turned 13 on July 12th.  With that momentous event, I now have as many teenagers as I have non-teenagers.  Yikes!  Good thing my teenagers are all pretty awesome!

happy birthday fletcher_blog_10

Normally, we have breakfast birthday cake to celebrate birthdays.  But the day before Fletcher’s birthday was a bit crazy, so Fletcher said he would be very happy with breakfast donuts.  We just had breakfast birthday cake for Jade’s and Colter’s birthdays, so that helped.

happy birthday fletcher_blog_16

happy birthday fletcher_blog_15

In fact, Greyden and Fletcher were really excited about the donuts!

happy birthday fletcher_blog_17

And then of course it was time for birthday hugs.

happy birthday fletcher_blog_9

happy birthday fletcher_blog_14

happy birthday fletcher_blog_7

happy birthday fletcher_blog_12

happy birthday fletcher_blog_13

happy birthday fletcher_blog_8

happy birthday fletcher_blog_6

Fletcher’s getting ready to pass me in height (of which he is very proud and excited!)

happy birthday fletcher_blog_5

He’s still got a way to go to catch Jim.

happy birthday fletcher_blog_11

Happy Birthday, Fletcher!  Keep growing, maturing, and honoring God.  You’re going to be a great man someday!

PJ

 

Footprints

Since we did our handprints in the concrete at the soaproom, Mom wanted us to put our footprints on the barn’s porch. (Mom also suggested we do butt prints on the porch of the house, but Dad said no. LOL)

First, Ramblyn put the “broom finish” on the concrete – basically, going over the concrete with a broom to give it lines.

construction- feet prints_blog_1

We got a bucket of water to rinse our feet in afterward because uncured concrete can burn your skin.

construction- feet prints_blog

Jade’s feet wouldn’t go into the concrete – they had poured that concrete first, so it was too hard (and she didn’t weigh enough even with Mom and Lucky pushing on her feet) to make her footprint. We decided that she would get a bonus set of footprints on the other end of the barn.

construction- feet prints_blog_2

Lucky helped us push our feet into the concrete evenly. His hands were cold.

construction- feet prints_blog_3

So was the concrete, actually.

construction- feet prints_blog_4

construction- feet prints_blog_6

construction- feet prints_blog_7

construction- feet prints_blog_8

Lucky picked the younger kids straight out of the concrete.  It was harder for the bigger kids (and Mom and Dad) to step out of the concrete evenly.

construction- feet prints_blog_9

But overall, the footprints came out really well!  Mom wrote our names by them again.

construction- feet prints_blog_19

construction- feet prints_blog_5

construction- feet prints_blog_15

construction- feet prints_blog_14

construction- feet prints_blog_13

construction- feet prints_blog_12

construction- feet prints_blog_11

construction- feet prints_blog_10

construction- feet prints_blog_18

construction- feet prints_blog_16

I’m glad we put our footprints on the barn – it’s cool to see how much our feet have grown. (Well, my siblings’ feet – mine haven’t grown at all!)

Brett

 

 

Kids Cooking – Keurig Oatmeal

Most mornings, the children make their own breakfasts. One of their “quickie” breakfasts is instant oatmeal. It became even faster and easier for them to make once Grandma bought us a Keurig*.

keurig oatmeal_blog_1

They take their instant oatmeal and a bowl:

keurig oatmeal_blog

Add the oatmeal to the bowl:

keurig oatmeal_blog_2

And add the hot water from the Keurig*!

keurig oatmeal_blog_3

The finished result:

keurig oatmeal_blog_4

keurig oatmeal_blog_5

It’s extremely easy for them to make, and it’s faster than heating up water the normal way!

PJ

 

 

*Amazon affiliate link.

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Jim and I met at The University of Virginia, so Thomas Jefferson is very important to us.  Here is an interesting fact – Thomas Jefferson was born on Jim’s birthday (April 13) and died on Jade’s birthday (July 4).  I always post the children’s birthday photos, and they insisted that I post Daddy’s birthday photos as well.

happy birthday jim_blog_2

happy birthday jim_blog_3

happy birthday jim_blog_4

happy birthday jim_blog_5

happy birthday jim_blog_6

happy birthday jim_blog_7

happy birthday jim_blog_8

happy birthday jim_blog_9

happy birthday jim_blog_10

happy birthday jim_blog_11

happy birthday jim_blog_12

happy birthday jim_blog_13

happy birthday jim_blog_14

Happy Birthday to my incredible husband!

PJ

Disney Wild Africa Trek

While we were in Disney World, we decided it was time to do something we’d never done before. The Wild Africa Trek! Indigo and Jade were too young, so while we were doing it, they went off and toured Animal Kingdom with some of Grandma’s friends.

I can honestly say that this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. It was a three hour guided tour where we got to walk over the hippos and alligators, learn some swahili, get really close to some of the animals on the safari, and eat an african inspired lunch.  

First we got all suited up and took some pictures. 

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_11

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_12

Then we set off into the wild. First we went through the bird section. While we were there Jess pointed out some birds, and we got a lot of really strange looks. Not that it really bothered me – I’m used to it. My family gets strange looks whether we’re wearing strange gear or not. 😀

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_13

After we left the bird enclosure we left the set trail, heading into the woods. Colter told me, “It feels good to be back in gear, walking through the woods again.” I laughed and agreed with him. It was the first time I’d been in a situation like that since Outward Bound, and it was really nice.

We’d been hiking for maybe five minutes when Megan’s voice came over the headset that we were required to wear. She told us that we were nearing the hippo enclosure and told us the rules we had to follow. As we got closer we all unclipped one end of the harness attached to our vests. We handed them to Jess and she clipped us onto the metal rail along the fence, letting us walk past her into the enclosure (once we were securely attached). You can see our “tails” in this photo of us above the hippo enclosure. The vehicle in the background is one of the safari trucks. 

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_15

 One of the hippo experts met us there. He had brought along a bucket of food for the two males that we were going to see, but since they were asleep we didn’t get to watch them eat.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_14

After the hippo guy (I don’t remember his name) answered all of our questions, and there were a lot of them, we moved on. We continued hiking through the woods and along the way, learned some Swahili. Twende (pronounced twenday) means “let’s go”, and that has become a favorite word around here. We also learned Asante Sana, “thank you”, and Karibu Sana, “you’re welcome”. 

 We made it to the bridges over the river, and it’s a good thing that none of us is afraid of heights. 

Because this is the bridge that we were going over. Well, this is one of them. 

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_16

 Did I mention that we were walking right over the alligators? You can see them down below all of us.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_05

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_03

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_06

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_08

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_04

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_02

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_07

Don’t worry though – we were attached to a super strong cable above us by the harness on our vests. Because honestly, who wants to fall into this?

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_19

Then you’d get crushed by an alligator’s mouth… oh wait.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_20

KIDDING. That’s just a model they had out there for us to look at. It was surprisingly heavy. 

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_21

We also got to go into (but above) the alligator pit:

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_23

We were so close we were able to see them really well as the alligator expert answered our questions.  And because we’re curious, we had a lot of questions.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_22

I think there are 27 alligators at Animal Kingdom.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_24

Our guides -Megan, Jess, and Hilary – were awesome.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_25

Once we were done with the first half of our tour, we took off our harnesses and had our own private truck for the rest of the tour.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_26

We were able to get up close to a lot of the animals and we each had our own pair of binoculars.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_27

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_28

The truck would periodically stop so we could get up and look around.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_29

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_30

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_31

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_35

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_34

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_33

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_32

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_36

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_37

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_38

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_39

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_40

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_41

We got to stop at a boma (safe place) in the middle of the Savannah and have our own lunch.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_43

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_42

It was African inspired foods and most of it was really good.  We all even ate the flower.

 This is what the Boma looks like from the Savannah:

After lunch, we got back in our truck to see some more of the animals.  Particularly the big cats which the boys love.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_44

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_45

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_46

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_47

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_48See the sleeping lions?

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_49

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_50

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_51

Asante sana, Jess, Megan, and Hilary!

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_52

The Wild Africa Trek is expensive, but if you at all enjoy animals and like to ask lots of questions, and get behind the scenes, we all agreed it was absolutely worth it.  Definitely one of our best ever Disney memories!

Brett

 

 

Ice Hockey

Since it’s been so cold for the past couple of weeks, our creek is frozen solid. (Yes, completely solid.) So the kids decided that they wanted to have a little fun.

What started as tossing an empty water bottle around on the ice turned into ice hockey, using an old water bottle and some sticks.

kids-playing-ice-hockey_blog_02

kids-playing-ice-hockey_blog_03

kids-playing-ice-hockey_blog_04

kids-playing-ice-hockey_blog_05

kids-playing-ice-hockey_blog_06

kids-playing-ice-hockey_blog_07

kids-playing-ice-hockey_blog_01

They had so much fun, and though the creek melted, they haven’t stopped talking about it. I have a feeling that if the creek freezes again, I know where they’ll be!

 

Planting Fruit Trees On The Farm

I am a big believer in eating healthy foods.  Whenever possible we grow our own food and we do it without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.  One of the hardest parts of leaving our old home was leaving our orchard and brambles.  We loved harvesting our own pears, apples, peaches, cherries, elderberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and currants.   Since we couldn’t transplant all of our trees, we wasted no time in getting our new orchard started. 

Planting and maintaining an orchard is one of those things that takes time, effort, and patience. But when you’re able to eat fruit straight off your own tree, all that effort is definitely worth it!

PJ

 

 

Kids Cooking – Peanut Butter Cups

I admit it – one of my absolute favorite dessert combinations is chocolate and peanut butter. If I’m going to indulge (or over-indulge), chocolate and peanut butter is definitely my weakness. Fletcher, it seems, also shares my weakness because his favorite dessert to make is homemade peanut butter cups. He loves to make them and share them with everyone he meets. And he has learned that I rarely say “No” to him when he nicely asks if he can make them (especially if he promises to clean up afterwards).

As a result, Fletcher has become the resident expert “peanut butter cup maker” around here. First he  washes his hands with goat milk soap:

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_01

Then he melts the butter:

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_03

And adds it to a large bowl:

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_04

He then adds the powdered sugar: 

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_05

Then the creamy peanut butter:

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_06

He mixes it well with his clean hands:

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_07

And presses it into the bottom of a glass pan:

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_08

He then melts the chocolate and butter together (carefully, melt it in 30 second bursts, stirring in between):

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_02

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_10

He checks off his kid friendly recipe with a dry erase marker as he goes:

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_11

He adds the melted chocolate and butter to the top of the pan:

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_12

And places it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes: 

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_13

Then he scores it with a knife into 1″ squares and puts it back in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes:

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_15

If you leave them in the fridge, the chocolate is pretty hard, so we usually set them out at room temperature before serving: 

kids-cooking-peanut-butter-cups_14

Recipe

Printable (kid friendly) version

In a microwave safe bowl, place

  • 1/2 cup butter

Microwave 30 seconds at a time until butter is melted
In a large bowl add,

  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • melted butter
  • 2 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix with your hands (be careful, the butter is hot!) until completely mixed together
Press onto bottom of 9×13 glass pan (we use a smaller pan to make them thicker)

In a microwave safe bowl, place

  • 12 oz chocolate chips (2 heaping cups)
  • 1 TBSP butter

Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until chocolate and butter is melted
Pour on top of peanut butter
Place pan in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes
Remove from fridge and cut into squares with a butter knife
Place back in fridge for another 10-15 minutes

Serve straight from fridge or at room temperature

 

But consider yourself warned. If you at all love peanut butter and chocolate, these things are seriously addicting!

PJ

 

 

Picking out a Christmas Tree

This is the first year in our new house and the children had their heart set on a HUGE tree.  So we went to a local tree farm where we first found a huge pile of geodes.

picking-christmas-tree_01

We took a hay wagon ride to the field.

picking-christmas-tree_02

picking-christmas-tree_03

And started looking at trees.

picking-christmas-tree_04

picking-christmas-tree_05

picking-christmas-tree_06

Indigo kept picking out trees that wouldn’t fit in our living room!

picking-christmas-tree_07

picking-christmas-tree_08

Once the tree was chosen, there was lots of time to play hide and seek amongst the trees.

picking-christmas-tree_09

picking-christmas-tree_10

picking-christmas-tree_11

picking-christmas-tree_12

As well as playing on the hay wagon.

picking-christmas-tree_13

picking-christmas-tree_14

picking-christmas-tree_15

While the farmer cut down the tree with his chain saw.

picking-christmas-tree_16

picking-christmas-tree_17

picking-christmas-tree_18

And (fortunately) trimmed a few feet off the bottom.

picking-christmas-tree_19

picking-christmas-tree_20

There were many hands to load the tree onto the wagon.

picking-christmas-tree_21

picking-christmas-tree_22

picking-christmas-tree_23

picking-christmas-tree_24

picking-christmas-tree_25

picking-christmas-tree_26

picking-christmas-tree_27

And into the Beast.

picking-christmas-tree_28

picking-christmas-tree_29

picking-christmas-tree_30

picking-christmas-tree_31

Since the tree barely fit into the Beast, I’d say they met their goal of a HUGE tree!  

What kind of Christmas tree do you get? 

PJ

 

 

Visit Goat Milk Stuff

Now that construction is complete, we have been able to offer Farm Tours.  Our main tour guide is  Fletcher.  He is responsible for our tours unless we have very large groups and need everyone to pitch in.  The tour starts in the retail room. 

DSC_1534_blog

And continues throughout the rest of the soaproom.

DSC_1539_blog

Then you head outside.

DSC_1576_blog

You get to meet the chickens and rabbits (and if you’re fortunate we have baby rabbits).

DSC_1542_blog

DSC_1545_blog

Then you get to meet the goats.

DSC_1555_blog

And Thor and Baxter, our Great Pyrenees guardian dogs.

DSC_1562_blog

Then you can head inside to see the barn and the milkroom.

DSC_1573_blog

DSC_1575_blog

During the farm tour we really enjoy showing you a piece of our daily lives!

PJ

 

 

Hiking at Charlestown State Park

Hiking has always been one of our favorite family activities.  Our local park was Charlestown State Park, but since we’ve moved, it’s over half an hour away.  We decided to go back one last time for a farewell hike and barbecue.

DSC_0061_blog

DSC_0068_blog

Indigo had to stop and look at the moss:

DSC_0073_blog

DSC_0078_blog

DSC_0082_blog

DSC_0103_blog

DSC_0130_blog

DSC_0139_blog

DSC_0151_blog

After the hike, the children played on the playground while Colter got the grill ready for our hamburgers and hot dogs.

DSC_0168_blog

DSC_0178_blog

DSC_0192_blog

DSC_0223_blog

DSC_0236_blog

DSC_0248_blog

DSC_0257_blog

DSC_0260_blog

DSC_0271_blog

DSC_0263_blog

It was a great day!  And there aren’t any pictures of us eating because we were all too hungry so nobody took photos! LOL

Does your family often get a chance to hike together?

PJ

 

 

Family Photo Shoot

I’ve wanted to get an updated family photo for many months.  But as you can imagine, getting everyone ready is quite an endeavor.  We were supposed to do the photo last week, but with the accident, nobody was in the mood.  

All the girls need hair cuts, so I was going to do that and then get the photo taken.  But since it was a bright, overcast day (perfect for photos because there is no direct sunlight to cause too many shadows), I decided to forget the haircuts and get the photos taken.

family portrait_level balance_12_blog

DSC_9283_blog

family portrait_level balance_01_blog

 

family portrait_level balance_02_blog

family portrait_level balance_04_blog

 

family portrait_level balance_05_blog

family portrait_level balance_06_blog

family portrait_level balance_10_blog

family portrait_level balance_08_blog

family portrait_level balance_09_blog

family portrait_level balance_07_blog

 

DSC_9280_blog

family portrait_level balance_11_blog

DSC_9250_blog

DSC_9249_blog

DSC_9246_blog

DSC_9265_blog

DSC_9226_blog

DSC_9210_blog

DSC_9216_blog

DSC_9195_blog

DSC_9199_blog

DSC_9220_blog

DSC_9236_blog

 

 

 I’m so pleased with how they all came out!  Which one is your favorite?

PJ