The Fourth of July

 

July 2, 2014 063

I bought a bread machine. It’s a Zojirushi. I have a love/hate relationship with bread and grain products. When I eat them, my face gets puffy and I gain weight. I also feel better when I don’t eat grains. Unfortunately, I’m totally off the wagon right now.

I’ve mentioned that we don’t have an oven yet, and I’ve been buying homemade bread from the Mennonite grocery. I use to make my own bread all the time. I just figured that a bread machine would be a good investment at this time. The Zojirush can make meatloaf and jam! It even has a recipe in the booklet for Fettucini with Tuna and Broccoli. I wonder if it will filet the fish?

I usually want to buy the cheapest I can find. Bud always presses me to buy the best we can afford at the time, so we won’t be sorry we bought it, and it will last a long time. Zojirushi is supposed to be the best on the market. I’ve read about so many people who end up only using their bread machine for kneading, then baking it in the oven. I wanted to get one that would actually bake good bread in the machine. This bread comes out perfect in the machine. It does leave the paddle marks in the bottom, but compared to the last bread machine I owned, the holes with this one are far less objectionable, in my humble opinion. It’s possible to take the paddles out, re-shape and put it back in the machine to bake, but I haven’t tried that yet.

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So far I’ve made coffee cake, two loaves of banana nut bread and two 100 % Whole Wheat loaf. For those of you who don’t know, baking with whole wheat flour is a whole different monster from using white flour. My first loaf came out like a brick (though quite a tasty, brick!) because I didn’t have any Vital Wheat Gluten to add to it. The extra gluten helps the whole wheat bread to rise. The next time we went into town, I bought some vita wheat gluten at the Mennonite grocery and the second loaf came out nice and fluffy. I’m very pleased with this machine, and would highly recommend it.

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Yesterday was the 4th of July, and Bud and I went picking Blackberries. The blackberry vines are growing all along the gravel road. The single lane road is not very traveled, so we just parked in a wide place and picked berries.

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We both had sticks to skeer the snakes out of the way before we picked. I used mine to push away the branches to get the berries on the inside. We were surprised that most of the plumpest, sweetest berries were behind a leaf, and not in the sun, though most of the blackberry bushes we found were in the higher elevation areas where they could get sun. The view along that road is just breathtaking. The drive to town has not bothered me in the least! I’ll take mountains and fresh air any day over bumper to bumper traffic and smog!

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I think we must have gotten about a gallon of berries. I made a crockpot blackberry cobbler (since I don’t have an oven) and I froze what was left of the berries. My water bath canner is in storage and I didn’t have any pectin or lemon juice. I’m hoping to make some jam at a later date. There are still lots of berries we left on the vines that were not ripe, so maybe there will be more berry picking in our near future!

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The cobbler was good, but I wasn’t really pleased with the breading on the top. Next time, I’ll try a different recipe. The berry part was just right. What it really needed was some Bluebell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream on top. I don’t think we can get that here in Arkansas. We put a little heavy cream on it, but it just wasn’t the same as good ol’ Bluebell.

I had been telling the Soap lady that I would like to help her weed her garden, so I went down for a couple of hours to help her do that. She has some really nice raised bed gardens made out of cinder blocks and the weeds had overtaken them. She’s so busy that they had taken over before she’d had a chance to stay on top of them. The sun was beating down and we got hot and I went inside to cool off in her air conditioning before I headed home.

At dusk, we hurried the chickens into the hen house. Beatrice, Eula and Gertie were straggling behind, hoping to snag that one last juicy bug before bedtime. We had been invited to watch a home display of fireworks at the Homesteader’s place. I took some of my Whole Wheat Banana Nut bread for them. They have three boys who were eager to put on the show. It was a lot of fun. We were up close and personal to the display, and there were several times that I was sure the fireworks were going to come down on top of us! Mr. Homesteader lit the fireworks with a blowtorch, as he yelled, “Be careful boys! It’s all fun and games till you blow your fingers off.” The middle child quoted statistics for how many people end up in the hospital emergency room as the result of firework injuries as he aimed a roman candle which had just been lit from his Dad’s blowtorch toward the field.

…so as fireworks were screaming around me and on top of me, and Mrs. Homesteader was painting the sky with her sparkler next to me, I laughed and laughed. The weather was nice and cool, and her litter of kittens were playing around my feet. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

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Just a quick update on my ankle for those who are wondering: It hurts and it’s still swollen. It never really bruised too badly. I have not been treating it kindly. There is just too much to do around here. I think it’s making a little progress, but it usually aches in the evening, and I’m still limping.

4 thoughts on “The Fourth of July

  1. Well here I am working on catching up with you, and I loved this post, Kara! Such great photos! I’ve always wanted a Zojirushi machine! I have a different name brand machine that still rolls out a fairly good loaf of bread, but I like the fact that you can do more with the ‘Z’ than just bake bread, and I’ve heard it’s the best on the market. Let me know how any of the other dishes turn out for you if you make them. I used to grind up my own wheat to make bread, but I don’t much these days as we found out my hubby is gluten intolerant and can’t eat any wheat products at all. He’s also dealing with a heart issue and that’s when we found out about the gluten. The symptoms you described are what happened to him when he ate wheat products. We’ve had to make substitutions in many areas, and not all tastes as good, but he’s doing well, and losing weight which makes him feel even better. Your loaf here, turned out beautifully, too! 🙂

    You both looked so pleased with your blackberry find, and what a beautiful day you had for it! We have mulberry trees in our backyard that we need to finish picking through before the birds get them all. The berries seem very small this year, though. Sounds like you had a wonderful time there at the fireworks display … that’s basically what we did with my sister’s family when my brother-in-law, niece, and nephew put on a show for us this past Friday. It was so good being together and making memories.

    So sorry to hear your ankle is still hurting … I remember it took awhile for my son’s to heal. He wasn’t one I could keep down and resting for long, and he didn’t take too well to the crutches we got for him! Maybe that Arnica gel would help if you’re able to get hold any. They sell it at health food stores, but you can order it online. Arniflora Arnica Gel is another name for it, too. Praying yours will heal quickly, my friend! xo

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    1. Thank you, Debi. I’m going to look for the Arnica Gel online. I haven’t been off of my ankle like I should, but I’m trying to do better.

      I appreciate your sharing your husband’s ordeal with gluten. I’ve suspected an intolerance, though haven’t ever been tested. We’ve been off of gluten a number of times. When I’ve been off gluten and wheat for a while, I really don’t miss it…it’s just getting to the point that I can say ‘goodbye’ to it that is the hard part. I have high reviews for the ‘Z’. It’s everything the reviews said it was. Haven’t tried jams or meatloaf yet, but I just might in the future!

      That’s awesome that your husband has lost some weight. I pray the other problems will resolve, too…and kudos to him for sticking with the gluten free. Just an FYI…the ‘Z’ also has a ‘gluten free’ setting for baking gluten free things. It’s definitely an investment, but from what I hear, they last forever, and it’s definitely ‘quality made’.

      I hope you will start writing your blog again. Just the things you tell me about, I know others would be interested in reading, too. Your writing style has a good, natural flow to it.

      Take care, Debi, and thanks for stopping by!

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    1. Thank you, G. I am loving the country life! I feel like I’m finally in my element. I love the simple life, and I love that Bud is free to enjoy a little down time. I’ve loved having him home. We have lots of mutual friends here, too. I really like that a lot!

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