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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Survivalist Sundays: Bread blogging

All this talk about peak oil, peak food, articles like the one in the New Scientist this month talking about the fragility of modern civilization, the impact Kunstler's Long Emergency had on me, has had me looking to lean some new/old skills that are often lost on us modern people.

In the last few years I've been toyed with homemade candles but unless you have a apiary on your land or a field of bayberry what are you going use for wax, paraffin will be impossible to get, pricey and honestly not that good for you to be breathing anyway. I guess I can melt down tallow if I can find it.

I've been learning about and practicing high density gardening for years, and I've bought a 5lb tub of freezable open pollinated seeds giving me enough seeds to plant 2/3 of an acre if somehow I can access 2/3 of an acre. The seed bucket has around 28 different varieties of seeds chosen for our climate and can be frozen for storage and still remain viable for 7+ years. I think this the best under $100 insurance policy available. If you garden anyway you can store it for 5 years, start using it and replace it with another insurance policy.

Most recently I've taken to spending my Saturdays or more often Sundays in the kitchen making bread and so far I've made a few dozen loafs alternately trying successful recipes I've used before or trying something entirely new as I did today with a batch of whole wheat sour dough.

Now what good this skill we do for me when flour is scarce is certainly in question but I am on the hunt to find a source of wholesale hard wheat flour or even better actually buying a couple hundred pounds of hard wheat which if stored dry and unground has quite a long shelf life. Of course this means I've been scouring ebay and farm auctions etc looking for a deal on a grain mill but so far no luck. New mills can cost $200-$500 and of course you need to find one with a crank because you may not be able to rely on having power, but enough of that

here are a few web cam shots of today's bounty.

Sour dough sponge after sitting 12 hours, lots of froth and volume shows my sour dough starter is still healthy

Mixed/kneaded and resting, plays hell with my carpal tunnel but I will not resort to a mixer

Slightly misshapen loafs placed in pans for raising, I really like the single raising breads, the ones that take 3 raisings can eat up an entire day

Fully risen after two hours in a prewarmed oven, I turned the oven off but left the light on to keep it warmer than room temp

The better looking of the two finished loafs. Nice hard crust, sounds good and hollow when thumped.

Will this make a difference to our survivability in a crisis? I don't know, At the very least we end up with a variety of good non factory bread each week that I know has no preservatives, no unneeded sugars and no molasses to camouflage white flour hidden in "brown bread".
It does take some effort but the kids love the fresh bread, it seems to be cheaper than buying artisan bread from a bakery and paranoia aside it's an enjoyable activity. Should I get through this year without going on strike I'll be buying this little baby to make my bread making energy free.

Other recent projects

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