Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bathing suits in January?

To all my readers on the snowy East Coast, or in the freezing Midwest, or anyplace with frigid temperatures: Please don't hate me.  We have enjoyed many, many days of sunshine, and what's even better, warmth.  For some of us (namely stubborn, hot headed pre-schoolers), it was hot enough to run around our south-facing backyard in a bathing suit.  Yes, I know it is January.

Here is my friend Sharon with her dog Shanti, and Eva in her bathing suit.
It is very strange to have such a mild January.  Visions of sowing seeds and getting the green house ready float in my head, but I know it's too early for almost everything vegetable related.  Winter WILL come again, I'm sure.  In two weeks, I will start my onions in four inch pots, germinate them in my house, and then transport them into the greenhouse by the end of February.
In the meantime, we are getting a lot of work done in the yard.  The pesky Alder trees have grown so tall that they are shading parts of my garden, so I convinced Steve to cut them down.  It's a family affair, this tree cutting business.  Steve does the dangerous and noisy work of actually felling the tree, and the kids and I clean up branches and gather fire wood.  The boys are working - not just "working".  We are finally getting some real work out of these guys - and they will get stronger every year.  My brain is cranking with "projects" for them.

These sunny, warmth filled days were not just all about work.  Plenty of play happened as well: walks to the river, kicking the soccer ball around the yard, stump shooting with bows and arrows.  Trying to get all our home schooling done feels like pulling teeth when the boys would rather be outside, and I don't blame them.  So we do math, go outside, work, play, and when we get cold go inside for some comfort food, do language arts, and a social science or science segment.  Or not.  Who cares?  The kids are learning science by spending time outside, yes?

A picnic by the creek.

Talking of comfort food:  I have gotten addicted to baking bread.  Not just any bread, but real European, old style bread you would pay a lot of money for at a bakery.  It's a special no-kneading technique, where you mix the flour, water and a little bit of yeast and let it sit for 18 hours.  Then it's baked in a dutch oven (or in my case a chicken brick from Sauk Mountain Pottery).  This bread tastes incredible and looks super fancy.  My family could eat a loaf a day.  I have to buy more chicken bricks to have an assembly line of bread going.

This is the book describing the technique.  It's a great read with lots of recipes.
Bread is rising, with the chicken brick in the background.
The chicken brick doesn't look particularly fancy, rather prehistoric in fact, but it bakes superior bread.
Fancy, yes?

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