Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Happy Me!

OH! I am SO THANKFUL! I am feeling a little bit like my normal self today! (Tired but not ill)
AJ arrived home last night, and it must have been a tonic. He worked from home today and it is just too wonderful for words to have him within close proximity:-)

Now, to blow all your socks off, I managed to putter away on a couple projects while I was sick. I can't tell you how... I just did. Some combination of whisking into the kitchen in a moment of feeling tolerable, and whisking back out at the first sign of feeling faint. I'm sure the projects would have been completed faster in non-sick time, but I really wanted to accomplish something (ANYTHING) while AJ was out of town.

So... we dehydrated some carrots. Zachary scrubbed down about ten pounds of carrots, and I sliced them, following up with a five minute blanch (this is all new to me). Supposedly blanching some vegetables (the ones with a longer cooking time) stops the enzyme action that causes loss of flavor, and preserves color amongst other things.
We dried ours overnight at 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

There is quite a lot of scrubbing, slicing, blanching, and placing on trays for ten pounds of carrots.
Do you know what ten pounds dehydrated to?


And this is a gallon Zip Lock bag. I am sure there can't be one pound in here!

The first lesson I learned:

Dehydrating is one of the most
UN-rewarding looking accomplishments I have tried yet!

Lesson 2:

Those little guys will expand,
so don't go putting a cup of dried carrots in your vegetable soup
- it might equal five or seven pounds of carrots in the end!

Lesson 3:

Buying a pound of dried vegetables doesn't look so expensive anymore.
Seven dollars for 1 lb. of dried carrot
seems pretty darn reasonable to me! (Azure Standard)

After the carrots, it was time to try something else. Jerky.
Pick a lean piece of meat, freeze partially making it easier to slice in uniform size, and marinate in some concoction overnight.
Blot each piece so it is not dripping, place on trays and dry for roughly eight hours at 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

I absolutely can't believe it, but it actually turned out! I cheated on the marinade and bought something non toxic off the store shelf, but next time I'll make my own.
The meat didn't shrink up as much as the vegetables, and AJ says it's the best jerky he's tasted!
So good. Now I need to vacuum pack it before it all disappears!

So those were the triumphs of Momma bug this weekend even amidst feeling awful.
It is true that we are also sprouting alfalfa seeds which are slowly making their debut.
And it is also true that I tried making bread, and it was a failure. It didn't' rise, that's how I know it was a failure. Some people call their bread similar in weight to a brick, but a brick would have been light compared to the loaf this would have made if I had tried to bake it. Thankfully I was smart enough to dump it before wasting time trying to fix what was irreparable.
I will try again. Really I will! ;-)

For now I am pretty satisfied with my dehydrating education. FYI, I used a book called
"Preserve It Naturally" which was very helpful and informative.
And my Honey is home. So all in all, I couldn't possibly be happier!


jenny said...

Okay, talk about zealous! I am so utterly impressed that you
a)did this while you were ill--though i saw you in none of the pics, but i will take your word for it! ha
b)you did both carrots, beef jerky AND tried bread!

Well, at least the first two turned out well. Can't win em all. Well, you can but bread is REALLY HARD!!! If you did that right the first time then I would, well I don't know what I would, but it would be extreme. HA!
Glad you are feeling better and SOOOO glad your man is home!!!! Love to you!

Momma Bug said...

Thanks friend. It's nice to know that bread "flopping" is common on a first try. Please don't tell me how many tries it might take to get a real edible loaf out of the deal, because I don't like to try things more than once if they don't turn out the first time! It's already saying a lot that I am willing to give it another go! HA! Let me think it MIGHT turn out:-)

You're right about the proof that I was there in the kitchen - especially after i told you how capable Z is. However... I shamelessly take credit for all the accomplishments of my children! They are MY children after all! ;-P

Lady Jess said...

Oh, that is so cool. My friend's mom used to make the best beef jerky and bread that I have ever had. I wish I could try yours, it looks so good. Maybe, not your bread though ;)

Grace McHugh said...

I got exhausted just reading what you did! I thought I was being zealous by getting an hour and a half of school in today with the kids. You go Momma Bug!

beansntatersmama said...

do you have a bread machine? I have a great recipe for rolls that work out great everytime. keep up all that homemaking!

Momma Bug said...

An hour and half? That's awesome! I got ZIP done today. I wish I could spread out my industriousness a bit more ;-)

Beansandtatersmama, I do have a bread machine, though am not well versed in using it much (the price was right at the time:-))
However... I would LOVE any recipe's that "come out great". That's the kind I'm looking for!!
Can I have your recipe?


Mommy Reg said...

You are an amazing woman! I've dried apples they make great healthy snacks. And I tried bananas but they were horrible.
My make bread and rolls from scratch all the time. Here are some tips. Make sure your water doesn't go over 115 degrees. And make sure your rising place also doesn't get over that too. That will kill the yeast. Yeast is alive and thrives in warmth. Also, check the expiration date on your yeast. Make sure you knead the dough thoroughly too. Kneading the bread produces the gluten necessary for good bread. Here is my quick roll recipe that you can try. It is easy and practically fool proof.
Try this for practice and see how it goes. If I can think of any more hints, I'll tell you.
Way to go Momma!

SarahJane said...

What kind of a dehydrator do you have? I would love to do some dehydrating. My mom used to when we were little, and I loved the whole process....especially the eating!
I have a bread maker, which I use fairly frequently. Mostly to make pizza dough, actually. Although I did make some cinnamon rolls today....yum!! Having said that, I too would like to learn to make bread properly without the machine as well.
It's fun to see all your hard work!

Momma Bug said...

S.J. Our dehydrator is a "Free-from-my-friend-Heather-B.-the-price-was-right" kind! No, seriously, it is an American Harvest. Any ol' thing will do, I think. I would probably get an Excalibur if I was choosing ;-)
I definitely recommend the book as a reference - it's pretty helpful to know how long to dry what things at what temp.
I can make pizza dough...
I can make quick breads...
I just KNOW there's an art to getting nice pretty loaves of bread that are golden brown, properly risen, AND edible! Tell me how YOUR venture goes ;-)


princessmama said...

Bread is easy!!!! LOL! Ok, I have to qualify and say I have been making bread since I was 13 or so. I don't remember ever having a failed attempt until I went to gluten-free. Now that is tough!!!

That jerky looks fabulous! Mmmmm. I'm going to have to try some now;-)