Saturday, August 21, 2010

Our Own Ground Flour

A quick reflection of this past year: it was busy. We became parents. We were both working full time (thankfully), and my husband was working on finishing his degree online...full time. I loved our conversations about making healthier choices, growing our own food and being more environmentally conscious, but I honestly wasn't prepared for a particular idea brought up by my husband.

So here it is: one random day, he's all excited about a new idea. He wants to order a bulk shipment of grain and start grinding our own flour. He already priced out the grain and a manual, hand crank grinder and was ready to go. The electric grinder was too much money to fork out for an idea that we were just starting and didn't even know if we loved it or not yet. I didn't think he was serious....and I laughed. He was understandably offended at my reaction. My perspective on this idea at the time was that we were clearly already feeling time constraints between work schedules, school demands on him, child care and not enough sleep. I thought that there were many smaller steps we could take on our quest for some healthier, earth conscious decisions that wouldn't be quite as time consuming. I mean, we weren't even making our own bread yet...never mind grinding our own flour.

I realized I was being inappropriately unsupportive and we went for it. A giant barrel of grain came to the house (oh god, the UPS guy thinks we're nuts)....followed by the grinder. My husband started grinding flour immediately. I was still skeptical. I was proven wrong and yes, I have here and now put it in writing. So, let me tell you the reasons this freshly ground flour is awesome:

  1. It smells fresh! This might sound crazy but I stuck my nose in the bag of whole wheat flour I bought at the grocery store and then stuck my nose in the canister of freshly ground flour and there is a significant difference!
  2. It’s amazing for baking. When using store bought whole wheat flour, I have found that I have to combine the recipe with white and whole wheat flour to avoid dry, hard baked goods. Not so with this flour! Whole wheat all the way baby!
  3. Minimal processing. This stuff goes from grain to flour to baking- all in our kitchen. 

Eventually, I think we will look into an electric grinder now that we know the idea is a hit....and I was wrong. The manual grinder can be time consuming. In the mean time, maybe I’ll get some super toned arms and shoulders from this grinding :) .
And for those of you pizza lovers out there (I could not live without pizza!), here is my bread machine whole wheat pizza dough recipe that I have tweaked to work with our flour:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons of bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients into the bread machine in the order listed, set on the dough cycle and there you have it!  When it comes time to top and bake your pizza, set the oven to 400 degrees and wait just 18-20 minutes for pizza bliss!

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