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Sourdough Crispbread – tap into your inner Viking

Ok, so it may be that with half of my gene pool coming from Norway it’s almost inevitable that I have a craving that periodically can only be fulfilled with fresh homemade crispbread.  Fortunately, crispbread is fast and easy to make.  While I know it is designed to last a long time – I’ve never found that I can keep a batch around for very long – especially when there is a hearty fall soup, some smoked salmon or gravlax, or an awesome cheese to do it justice.

Click on post title to expand and see the recipe.

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MPCNC Pen holder

MPCNC Pen holder

MPCNC Pen holder

I’ve recently finished up the construction of the fantastic Mostly Printed CNC.  It looks like it will be a very useful tool and a good compliment to the other tools in my shop.

To test it out, as well as to make up large templates, I wanted a good pen holder.  I started out with a MPCNC sharpie holder, and it works great, but the sharpie itself leaves a pretty wide line.  To have the greatest amount of flexibility I designed and printed an adapter that allows a Papermate 1.0 pen to be used in place of the sharpie.

3D printed pen holder in sharpie holder beside pen and spring

3D printed pen holder in sharpie holder beside pen and spring

The STL files are offered both as a single unit as well as one that is split if your printer is height challenged.  In the latter case use some crazy glue to bond the two pieces together and clean the bore up with sandpaper.  I also used a bit of 1/4″ threaded rod to quickly remove any glue flash from the bore of the penholder.

How does it work?  Wonderfully.  The accuracy is spot on – even going over lines already drawn, which is what you’d expect, but when I used a shorter pen holder there was a bit of wobble.  The longer unit works out great as can be seen in the picture.

Now, the one thing this doesn’t do is hold the pen up when the holder is retracted – that means there will be a pen line that follows the tool path. If that is ok for your intended use this is a great bit of kit to add to the MPCNC.

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Expedient Queen Rearing on Plastic Foundation

I was out in the beeyard looking to find the queen and get her in the nicot to produce some additional queens for splits.  As luck would have it a rainstorm was getting ready to roll in yet again and I couldn’t find her – but I did find a frame with a bunch of eggs and new larvae.

Printed queen cage

Queen cages by 3D Printer

So I ended up setting up the frame for the hopkins method of reporduction – that is orienting it horizontally in the hope of getting some of those cells drawn out and placed it wedged in at the top of one of my hives.  Now I didn’t go to through the effort to go queenless and then queenright or crowd – as I indicated this was last minute.

Now because it was a piece of plastic foundation I knew I wouldn’t be able to cut out the drawn out cells – so I ended up designing and 3d printing cages designed to protect the cells and trap the virgins as they hatched out.

The worked well enough to be an ok backup if you find yourself in a similar spot.

You can find the STL file on Thingverse.

 

 

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Whole wheat pretzel buns

From time to time you’ll see the fast food chains advertise a special promotion featuring pretzel buns.  They are great with hamburgers but where they shine in particular in my opinion with bbq chicken breast.

Pretzel buns formed ready to boil

Pretzel buns formed ready to boil

Now, you’ll seldom if ever see pretzel buns in the grocery – they just don’t keep very well.  The good news though is that they are really easy to make at home – and you can’t get fresher than that!

If you’ve make bagels at home – and you should – making pretzel  buns is pretty much the same process.

The key for that great and characteristic crust is to boil the raised buns in a basic water solution before baking – an easy way to go is with baking soda – but I use wood ash (lye) because the wood fired pizza oven I have keeps me in loads of wood ash, and I need it around anyway for making massa for homemade tortillas.

So, easy, simple, quick – and since they are best consumed within a day or so after baking are ideally suited to making in your own kitchen.  Of course, I’m making these with home ground whole wheat flour, but if you don’t yet have your own mill commercial flour will do.

Click on the post title to expand for the recipe.

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Whole Wheat Hot Dog Buns

Out of the pan and just sliced.

Nothing quite says summer like burgers, sausages or hotdogs on the grill or roasted over a fire.  But damn, if the food isn’t becoming pricey!  It seems like only a couple of years ago hot dogs were 99 cents for a dozen nice ones.  Now even the cheap ones are twice that when they come on sale.

If you want to skip right to the fantastic whole wheat hot dog recipe just click on the post title now.

Hot dog buns risen and ready to go in the oven

Anyway, to be perfectly honest commercial hot dogs are only an occasional feature in our home, with homemade sausages being a more common feature – but for roasting over an open fire nothing quite beats hot dogs – so they occasionally find a place in our grocery order.

It’s not only the dog themselves that have climbed in price – the buns too are getting silly expensive – like $2.99 for eight!

Bun pan and the results

We routinely bake our own buns – generally whole wheat with the flour we grind on our homebuilt mill – which produces higher quality product at a fraction of the price.  So when I saw a New England style hot dog pan on the King Arthur website for $30 bucks US I picked it up.  I mean that’s less than 15 uses to more than pay it off.

The thing is built incredibly solidly.  The silicon coating may eventually fail but the underlying steel is heavy enough to last for a few generations if taken care of – now that’s the type of investment I like!  It also cuts prep time even more – simply form the dough into the pan and let it do it’s second rise in the pan then slide into the oven and that’s it – perfectly sized buns for hot dogs (or sausages!)

Now the instructions on the KA website call for putting a cookie sheet over the top of the pan – I’ve never bothered,  the buns are a bit taller but I prefer the less dense feel.

All in all this is a great kitchen tool – if you are short cash just form buns individually, but if you can afford the investment I think you’ll be very pleased with it.

Click on the post title to expand the recipe.

 

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Sourdough Light Rye Bread

Sourdough rye bread starter

Sourdough rye starter after working overnight.

This has got to be one of my favorite loaves – great for sandwiches and just begging to be toasted and topped with some buckwheat honey.

One of the great things about having a grain mill is that it provides you with a big range of flour options for baking – wheat, corn, rye, barley, oat, triticale, spelt, and more can be purchased cheap from farm stores in 50# bags and stored for the long haul either in the bag themselves or in 45 gallon drums to be ground as you need.  That makes producing “artisanal” loaves such as this light rye a breeze and a cheap one at that.

Oven ready sourdough rye

Sourdough rye bread ready for the oven

With a bit of tang from the sourdough and the full extraction rye flour cut with some white this loaf is an easy sell for most folks.

Even better, while it takes a bit more forethought the actual time required to work the loaf is minimal – especially if you have a stand mixer.

Click on the post title for the full recipe.

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Apple Kuchen

Apple Kuchen

Base and apple chunks ready for topping

It’s an old saying that pretty much everyone loves motherhood and apple pie, and I’d include myself in that list – particularly since there have been two back to back crop failures for the blueberry crop around our camp up north – otherwise as a good northern canadian lad I’d be endorsing motherhood and blueberry pie but definitely not turning down apple pie.

More realistically, in our home apple pie usually takes a back seat to apple crisp – which is so easy to throw together and is truly a great desert.  But, Apple Kuchen also figures prominently among our favorite deserts because it’s a great desert in its own right and is almost as quick to prepare as apple crisp.

Whole grain apple kuchen

Partly devoured pan of whole barley base apple kuchen

For those who haven’t had it before it is an cake base topped with apples and a sugar and cinnamon topping.  Since home ground whole grain flours are the principal ones that get used in our kitchen the base is usually whole barley or whole wheat – both of which work great and give more substance and flavour compared to white flours.

So next time you are looking for a great desert give Apple Kuchen a try.

Click on the post title to expand and see the recipe.

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A Best Buy French Fry Cutter

Cutting french fries the easy way

Be honest, even if you are a health nut you probably want to grab pub grub from time to time.  It’s a great treat – and it almost always features french fries.

Now in pretty much every aspect of life I’d rather invest in the tools and know how to do it myself than head out and have someone else do it for me.  That goes for food too.  Now you can cut your own potatoes into fries for either frying or baking but it becomes a lot easier with a french fry cutter.

Low cost but high hassles – invest more and get one that will perform and last

I started out using a cheap $20 one that quickly failed.  For relatively little more – slightly over $60 on sale – I got a light commercial unit that makes fry prep a snap, and it’s worth every penny!

I see the same model on sale through Amazon comes with an additional fry cutter size – for $85, and it would be a good deal at that price too.  I don’t doubt it will last a couple of lifetimes if given a measure of care paying for itself several times over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quick Apple Fritters – whole grain (or not)

Homemade Apple Fritters frying

What was it Homer Simpson used to say…. MMMMMMMMMMMMMM Donuts.  For me that is more likely to be MMMMMMMMMMM Apple Fritters,  so it’s probably not surprising that I’ve played with dozens of recipes over the years  – most yeast versions.  But this quick one is the one I keep coming back to – it’s fantastic AND as a quick donut it’s a snap to produce.  While I usually make them using fresh whole ground flour they work just as nicely with white flour.

The other nice thing is this recipe is that it scales wonderfully – from 1x to about 5x which is about the maximum I can manage to make with my deep fryer before it makes sense to do up another batch of batter – but given that takes all of five minutes it’s really no hardship.  So get out your apples, heat up the oil and get ready to enjoy.

Click on the post title to expand for the whole recipe.

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Homeground flour – to sift or not to sift

Sifted home ground flour on right, coarse bran on the left

Grinding your own flour is a great way to get fresh healthy flour for your baking at dirt cheap prices.  Now the question is to sift or not to sift.

That is, do you remove some of the coarser fractions – generally the bran – or do you keep it 100% extraction.

Now, generally I just keep it whole – but if doing finer baking or doing baking for those less accustomed to full extraction it is easy to come up with a product that is closer to white simply by sifting the ground flour through a kitchen strainer. The fine flour components pass through and the coarser bran is retained.

Effectively it goes from 100% extraction to about 80% extraction.  It is fast, easy and gives a great product that is more generally accepted.