Monday, February 8, 2010

Re-enchanted with Whole Wheat


It has been several years since I first read about the dangers of consuming large amounts of white flour products, (Bread, crackers, cookies etc.) I went through a faze of trying one hundred percent wheat bread, pretzel, muffin and cookie recipes. And much to my dismay, the end product was never as tasty as the recipe author boasted. Tired of wasting effort and money making food we could hardly eat, I turned back to baking with a majority of white flour, maybe a scoop of wheat flour thrown in for good measure. I figured at least home baked goods without the additives and preservatives was better than nothing. I had grown dis-enchanted with wheat flour. 

One factor continued to lurk in the back of my mind; I was not using fresh ground flour. Who knows how long the bags of flour sat on the store shelf before I purchased them. Not to mention how long they sat around my house before I finally used up a bag. I started looking at grain grinders a few years ago but could never decide on a model. I didn't want to buy a mill and then have it sit unused taking up precious kitchen space. I've been overwhelmed with all the projects we've already committed to and grain grinding has been on the back shelf.

 In my former life I worked in professional kitchens with various duties. I worked as a pastry chef, but I also made bread dough, baked bread and cooked various items. So you'd think that I wouldn't give up on mastering the art of whole grain bread baking. I've been rather content to buy sprouted grain breads at the store and bake artisan white breads at home. Well times are a changing and I have been re- inspired, in part by some blogs I've been reading. In part by the cost of the five dollar loaves of bread we've been buying. 

We already keep large quantities of wheat berries and other whole grains around for making chicken feed with. Occasionally I cook with them, but mostly they just sit in jars on the shelf. I recently read that wheat flour looses seventy percent of it's nutrients in the first twenty four hours! And in case you didn't know, white flour has practically all the good stuff taken out, and the fact that it is enriched, doesn't mean much. So what is a person to do? Well I am going to start grinding our own flour and storing it in the freezer. I've been shopping around comparing mills, and I'm leaning towards the Vita Mill. 

In other exciting and related news after I'd posted my last entry on chicken feed costs a lady wrote to let me know there was an Azure Standard coop in my neighborhood. We've already placed our first order and are expecting it in the next week. We mostly ordered organic whole grains and a few other dried goods. Here is one cost comparison: We've been paying fifty-six dollars for fifty pound bags of Whole Red Winter Wheat Berries. We found fifty pound bags of Organic Soft White Wheat Berries and Organic Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries, both for eighteen fifty a fifty pound bag. The shipping is averaging forty cents a pound, so calculating the shipping in makes a bag of wheat berries thirty eight dollars and forty cents. A savings of seventeen dollars and sixty cents. Huge!

An extra bonus is that last spring I ground our whole grain chicken food using a coffee grinder, for the baby chicks. As you can imagine, it was messy and time consuming. By the time chicks start arriving and hatching we should have a new grinder and hopefully be enjoying the rewards ourselves as well

 We have been growing, harvesting and preserving in one way or another our own, wild or at least local veggies, herbs, berries, apples, milk, cheese and meat. The next step towards leading healthier and more satisfying lives in grinding our own flour to make bread, crackers, cookies, muffins, you name it. Growing some of our own grains may just be next. As you can tell I am re-enchanted with Whole Wheat.

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