The past few days

First up, an update on Two Face and her neck wound. It’s looking really good today, but she wouldn’t stop moving enough for me to even look too closely, never mind get a picture, so I’ll have to make do with this one from yesterday.

That patch of scab near her head is mostly gone now, and it even looks like the fur is starting to grow back! The fur surrounding the wound completely hides it now, and when she demanded scritches, she even seems to want me to get that area – then immediately backs off. I think it might be itching her as it heals, but is still too sensitive for actual contact.

The main thing is, she’s healing very well, which is a relief.

The weather has been all over the place, lately. It’s warming up, but a couple of days ago had very high winds. We didn’t get it too badly; just a few slightly bigger branches came down, instead of the usual twigs. Nothing major, and no trees came down. We also didn’t get a lot of drifting. My oldest brother, on the other hand, has an open field across the road from his driveway, and with the wind direction, ended up with the whole length drifted over with hard packed snow. So hard packed by the wind, that he could only take the snow blower through about 4 inches at a time, on a machine that’s at least 24 inches wide. With the twists and turns he has to work around, he couldn’t even use his tractor to clear things, which is what my sister and her husband were able to do. Our own roads and driveway were almost completely clear in our area!

For us, we mostly stayed indoors, and thankfully didn’t have to drive anywhere.

So we had a bread baking day. ๐Ÿ™‚

We tried something different. Our sourdough, at over a year old, is very mild. It’s a potato based sourdough, taken from The Alaskan Sourdough, and one of the things noted in the book was that this sourdough gets milder as it gets older. Well, we’d kinda like a stronger sourdough flavour, and one way to do that is through longer rising times for the bread dough.

We tried an overnight sourdough recipe that uses no yeast at all. (It also doesn’t have baking soda which, now that I think about it, is rather odd, since the chemical reaction of baking soda with the sourdough starter causes lots of lovely CO2 bubbles). The dough is mixed up in the evening, then covered and left to rise overnight, to be backed in the morning.

Except when I got to it in the morning, it had barely risen at all!

The house just isn’t warm enough.

I ended up warming up the oven to its lowest setting, then putting the dough bowl in the warmed oven to rise. A couple of hours of morning routine later, I took it out and found it had risen more in that time than it had all night! The recipe called for 10 minutes of kneading, then dividing it into loaf pans for a second rising, so I did that before starting on the other bread I wanted to make.

I used my basic bread recipe (doubled), with lots of additions. I like to start by putting large flake rolled oats to soften in boiling water. This time, I also added ground flax seed and chia seeds to the rolled oats. (oatmeal and flax seed recipe here) Then, because I had some, I crushed roasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a mortar and pestle and added those to the mix, while it was still rather hot.

Aside from the warm water used to proof my yeast, the rest of the liquid I used in this batch was scalded milk. For the fat, I used butter, melted into the milk, and for the sugar, I used brown sugar.

I love how flexible bread can be!

The photo is the bread after the first rising.

After kneading it, I divided it up to make two loaves from half of the dough, and buns from the other half.

By the time the oven was preheated, the buns had risen enough for baking, then the seedy loaves were risen by the time the buns were baked. It wasn’t until both those batches were baked, that the sourdough loaves were ready to bake too! Which was actually rather well timed, really.

The seedy bread turned out beautifully. I love nutty seedy bread but, as my daughter also noticed, in purchased loaves, there’s a sort of doughy texture to them that demand toasting. They’re oddly chewy if you try to just eat a slice of bread. Not these! They have a fantastic texture to them.

The overnight sourdough turned out really well, too. It had a very dense, soft crumb inside. The flavour was much sweeter than expected, and I wasn’t getting that sourdough hit we were looking for.

I think we’ll play around with this recipe a few more times. I definitely want to reduce the sugar. The sugar is there to feed the yeast, not sweeten the bread. I’m not after a dessert bread, for this. As for the overnight rising, I will try it in a warmed oven next time, instead of leaving it on the dining table for the night. And maybe include some baking soda, too.

Still, I would call this first attempt a success!

The temperature swings of the last few days have made things interesting. This is the time of year that destroys roads! The very surface of the gravel roads are thawing out, while staying frozen solid below, resulting in mud and ice at the same time. The potholes are sprouting on the paved roads all over.

None of which are stopping people from using the lake!

I’d swung by the beach before picking up my daughter, and found some sort of event was going on. You can see the water on the frozen sand, and even the puddles on the lake ice. New ice roads and trails had been plowed after the last major snowfall. The hockey rink space is clear again, but a new road to the ice fishing village now runs through it, while the previous road is now blocked by a ridge of snow.

There were some interesting vehicles being raced around the track that I’ve never seen before. They look and sound a lot like dirt bikes, except that they are trikes, with two wheels at the back.

Yesterday was a difficult day, though. I won’t go into it much here, but my siblings and I finally had our “family meeting” that my mom wanted us to have, to talk about her future care. We insisted on having it at her place, to make it easier on her. We talked about a bunch of things, but it was at the very end that my brother brought up something he’d discovered that my mother and sister had been doing behind his back – something that, as my mother’s Power of Attorney, he should have been told about.

The whole thing just blew me away. No one has done more for my mother than this brother. He has sacrificed so much for her, but she ended up flat out telling him that she doesn’t trust him. Why? No reason given. What has he done to her? No reason given. She kept making vague accusations, but had nothing to back them up.

The worst was when my mother admitted to lying to him about something, deliberately to hurt him so he would “know what it feels like” – based on one of these accusations she made against him that is completely false. I have no idea where she is getting this from. What’s worse, is that my sister went along with it.

My brother is absolutely shattered, and my mother and sister are completely oblivious not only to the pain they have caused him, but to the very idea that where was anything wrong with what they were doing behind his back.

I’m staggered. Blown away.

My family is torn apart, and the people who did it have no understanding that they’ve done this.

I also seriously question my mother’s mental faculties at this point. She, at least, has the excuse of being almost 90 years old.

What excuse does my sister have, for going along with it?

My heart is breaking for my brother.

The Re-Farmer

2 thoughts on “The past few days

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