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Old 07-09-2005, 06:02 PM   #1
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Whole Wheat Bread - The Hard Way!

Boy, do I have a new respect for our ancestors! Last fall I planted a big 2 ft. square plot of….wheat! I’d brought the wheat back from a visit with my son in Iowa. A couple of weeks ago I harvested the stalks with their heads of wheat. Made ‘em into a sheaf like the ones you see in pictures. After letting them dry thoroughly in the sun for a couple of weeks (we’ve had a lot of cloudy weather), I brought the sheaf to the patio – making a valiant attempt at singing “Bringing In The Sheaves”, but failing miserably.



Then I began the task of removing the wheat kernels from the heads. Now, I know that, with a lot of wheat, our ancestors flailed the sheaves, knocking the kernels free. But that would have scattered my meager amount all over the place and I’d have had nothing left. So I did what our earlier ancestors did: removed the seeds by hand, one head at a time. Now that’s tedious and time consuming, believe me!!



Can you imagine what those poor folks did when first gleaning wheat from the wild? Boy, what a hassle that must have been – wild wheat is much smaller, too – so it would have required many more heads for a similar amount.



Then I began winnowing the seed: letting the wind blow the lightweight chaff away while the heavier seed drops straight back down. Only there wasn’t much wind yesterday, so I had to blow on it. This old coot with lungs shot to **** from 50 years of heavy smoking darned near blew his brains out! Puff, puff! Well, I got rid of MOST of the chaff, anyway.



Then began “stone grinding” the wheat in a small Mexican mocha jete – a stone mortar and pestle. Wow. Those darned little kernels are rock hard. After finally powdering about a teaspoonful, I gave it up and resorted to the blender. Wound up with not quite a cup of coarse and fine flour. With, of course, a certain amount of chaff and awns and possibly even stems and leaves thrown in. Gave a whole new meaning to “whole wheat”!



Then last night – exhausted – I mix some of the flour with water, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of active dry yeast. Let it stand overnight as a sponge.



This morning I added the rest of the flour and kneaded the mess until I had a soft, not quite sticky dough. Let that rise for an hour, punched it down and placed it in a small baking dish, let that rise another hour, and then into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.



When I took it out, it looked pretty good, but didn’t seem to smell quite right. Let it cool, then sliced it. Slathered some butter on a slice and took a tentative taste.




HOLY COW! DELICIOUS!!!



Boy, did I get lucky on that one!



I don’t recommend this method for anyone who has a life, but I had fun doing it.

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Old 07-09-2005, 06:37 PM   #2
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Oldcoot,

I enjoyed your story..I have a lot of respect for your efforts and your pluck Ibet that is the best tasting bread you've ever eaten..My dad always said, the harder you work the better the product
Thanks for sharing your story with us..I loved it.
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No dear we will just buy the whole wheat flour at the store, plant tomatoes instead
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Old 07-09-2005, 10:31 PM   #3
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great story, oldcoot...thanks for sharing! are you going to plant wheat again????
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Old 07-10-2005, 11:51 AM   #4
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Wowee, oldcoot! That is one amazing endeavor!

I think you need to write a cookbook, each recipe with a lovely tale such as this.
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Old 07-10-2005, 01:12 PM   #5
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Old Coot, so glad to see you here, I loved your story and ditto the cookbook. You really are truly dedicated to bread making, I want to be just like you when I grow up - but with better lungs!!!
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Old 07-10-2005, 01:22 PM   #6
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Good karma to you sir - Thanks for sharing your story.

Tom
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Old 07-10-2005, 05:43 PM   #7
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Post Script:

Thanks for all your kind words - glad you enjoyed my little folly.

Kyles, set your sights much, much higher!! And don't smoke!

No, I'll not repeat that effort. Nor am I worthy of the term "dedicated". I bake purely for the fun of it. When it comes to serious, fabulous quality cookery, I bow to my long suffering wife.

Here's a snapshot of a slice from that little (6 oz) loaf I made that happened to taste sooooo goood!!:



My next effort will be a loaf from wheat ground by the windmill below - an authentic Holland mill erected on the bank of the Mississipi in Illinois. The totally wooden structure is a delight of craftsmanlike joinery, and, when operating, but not grinding, is totally - almost eerily - silent. Can you imagine that great wooden gear being silent? It is about 6 ft in diameter!



So I'm hoping the resultant loaf will be as flavorful as that last. Wish me luck!
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Old 07-11-2005, 02:42 PM   #8
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Again, I bow to your greatness!

And, Best of Luck!!!
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Old 07-11-2005, 02:48 PM   #9
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That's one heck of a way to get a little additional fiber - and a good workout, too!
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Old 07-11-2005, 03:05 PM   #10
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There ya go!

Eat bread,
need to work out
grind some wheat for bread
Eat the bread
need to work out
grind some more wheat for bread.....
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