Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Local Loaf


Today I picked up another order of local flours from Hampshire Farms (see sidebar for link). I got:

25# 100% whole grain bread flour
10# 100% whole grain pastry flour
2# cornmeal
5# sunflower seeds (dehulled)

Randy Hampshire, who filled my order was more than happy to show me around their farm. They have a USDA approved kitchen on site along with the brick oven that Randy built himself. It was very impressive! The farm also boasts a nice warehouse in an old grainery, where all of their flour and wheat is stored.

They also have, meandering around the pastures, a family cow. She is a nice looking Jersey and had a few other cattle keeping her company. I have given a lot of thought to having our own family cow and have thought about it more and more seriously lately. I don't think it is the right time for us, and it would take a lot to convince my husband. He probably has a point - it is a lot easier to find someone to throw in some grain for our animals then to milk twice a day when we want a vacation. In any case, of was jealous of Randy's family and I told him so.

Randy warned that I would want to use a recipe that calls for 100% WHOLE GRAIN flour, not just whole wheat or white flour. A Google search revealed this recipe, and I altered it in to the following for use in my bread maker:

1 Tbsp active dry yeast
3 3/4 cup whole grain flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 very warm water

This is a big breakthrough for me: I now have the option of making a nearly 100% local loaf of bread for our everyday needs. Although Hampshire Farms is based 1/2 hour away from here the wheat for the bread flour was grown in an organic field only 1 1/2 miles down the road from our home. The honey comes from a local apiary, P.W.R. Beekeeping. I did use a non-local canola oil in today's loaf but only because I'm out of my normal Zoye Soybean Oil, made in Zeeland, MI from a lot of our neighbors' soybeans. Soy Beginnings soybean oil is also available so I have a couple options there. The only non-local ingredients are the yeast, which I buy in bulk, and the salt. We will be switching to sea salt as soon as our last never ending box of conventional salt is gone.

Oh, one more nice thing: I was relieved to see that the 10 & 25# quantities came in a large brown paper bag with no plastic liner. The smaller quantities I got last time came in plastic and since we're trying to reduce how much plastic we use I was a little concerned. No worries!

Here is a pic of the pull out cabinets that came with our ancient farmhouse, a great feature that makes storing all of this flour much easier:



And Maci, she was jealous and wanted to lick the camera:



So, what local products were you surprised to find in your neighborhood? Are you at the point yet were you have entirely local meal options?

6 comments:

Farmer's Daughter said...

Both of my parents grew up on working dairy farms, and neither of their families ever took a vacation with everyone there. Someone always had to be home to milk the cows. Granted, one cow is a lot less, but that's certainly something to consider.

I haven't been able to find any local wheat around here, and I wish I could.

farm mom said...

I love the flours they sell, they're the highlight of my trips to the Frankenmuth farmers Market. I wasn't even aware you could just go to the farm and gets some, interesting! Thanks for sharing.

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Jena said...

Farm mom: I'm not sure if they are going to have the flour in Frankenmuth anymore. Was it Lawrence Farms that had it? I had to go through them to get Randy Hampshire's cell phone number and I think the woman I talked to said they weren't carrying the flour anymore, but I'm not sure. I didn't have any luck getting through to Hampshires on their home phone or e-mail so let me know if you want Randy's cell. I called my order in ahead so he knew I was coming.

Julie said...

How awesome that you have those resources close by! I'm going to check out that recipe you shared. :) Thanks!

The Cooking Lady said...

A good book for bread baking is Sue Greggs. She is the end all and be all in the world of whole grain baking.

We grind our own grains and we have never looked back. It is tough, because we knead by hand, but oh so worth it. We double batch bake and then freeze what we are not using.

You sound like you are having fun.