It's All In The Details

Normally, on a sunny day you can feel some warmth radiating from the sky.  Not now.  No, even with the sun brightly shining, there is no warmth to be found. 

 The ice that clings to the tree branches from Sunday's freezing rain remains - frozen solidly - making the woods seem as though it is half wood, half glass.

As the sun comes up in the morning, everything begins to glisten.

No birds sing these days.  All energy must be reserved for staying warm.  It's a silent time of year, except for the sound of munching as the animals eat their breakfast.

In spite of the piercing cold, yesterday was a beautiful sunny day.  

Life has slowed down for all of the animals.  

Their days are punctuated by meals and treats.

And no matter what the weather is, the pigs are game for running to the far end of their yard where the treat box sits on top of the fence.  It's the only time they venture from their house these days.  It's just too cold, and there is nothing outside for them to eat.  Everything is covered by a layer of snow and ice.

Our little valley is lovely at this time of year...

This is such a good representation of the area in which we live... hills and valleys, fields and forests, dotted by small picturesque farms and churches.  This is the view from the north-west side of our house.  We are lucky in that our house sits at the top of a hill.  It's barely visible from any roads which affords us a great amount of privacy.

Needless to say, when we are not outside tending to the animals, we are hibernating indoors.  Yesterday I finished a painting that I had started on Monday.  It is from a photograph and is the first painting that I am very happy with.  I just might frame this one.

Yesterday's comments included a question about the recipes that I use for my breads.  All of the bread that I make requires a sourdough starter or a levain (a slightly different sourdough starter).  I have two different starters in my refrigerator at any given time and I use them both for different types of bread.  Our favorite bread is a seeded multigrain that utilizes any normal sourdough starter.  The recipe for that bread can be found HERE.

The other breads that I make, are breads that begin with a levain (the instructions for making your own levain are in the book on the left.)  This book is my go-to book for making good, crusty wheat/rye sourdough breads.  It is here where I find my basic bread recipe.  All of the add-ins that I have done over the months, ie: cheese, rosemary, olives, etc.  were just my own ideas.  I simply added those items in with the dough of my basic levain recipe.

The book on the right is another "must" if you are serious about bread baking.  Here you can find recipes for all types of breads... focaccia, French baguettes, Italian breads, Ciabatta, Challah... you name it!  Baking bread with a great crust and a perfect crumb is not difficult, but requires a little commitment.  Rarely is it a single day event... but most loaves take at least two days.  The longer it takes... the better the bread - I have come to this conclusion.  Unlike bread that requires added yeast, these breads have natural yeast and beneficial bacteria that are found in the starter.  It takes much longer for the dough to rise, but during that process, the flavors are enhanced tremendously.

I have also come to the conclusion that (at least for me), we can eat a lot more homemade sourdough breads than we can store-bought breads without it affecting our waistlines.  It's amazing, really, how much homemade bread we consume!


jaz@octoberfarm said…
that is such a gorgeous view! how did you find your little piece of heaven? i rarely buy bread anymore. bread-making here is like making my morning cup of tea. i hardly even think about it, i just do it.
We love homemade bread. I haven't made it in awhile due to our move. Must get back to it.

You have a beautiful view. I always wondered if you are on the east or west side of your state?
daisy g said…
Wow! That painting is beautiful! You are so talented, in so many ways.

I often think about learning to bake bread with sourdough starter, that maybe it would enable me to eat "real" bread again. I have heard from people who are affected by gluten, that if they travel to Europe and indulge, they have no issues. Maybe it's the way we raise crops, or maybe they use sourdough, I'm not sure.

Enjoy your lovely view!
Marcia LaRue said…
What a beautiful post for this Wednesday morning ... Beautiful pictures and that painting (OMG)!
The very first picture is curious with that shaft of light on the right side of the picture ... what do you attribute that to? Did someone get "beamed up?" LOL
You and Hubbs can get away with eating your delicious loaves of bread because you are both so active! Lucky you!!
Lynne said…
Happy Wednesday post . . .
I enjoyed seeing “some of the family!”
Crisp and cold creates its own quiet . . .

I think a sketch of the old building on your property
would make for a great drawing/painting, as well!
You certainly have the talent!
Susan said…
Beautiful painting, I have thought all of your paintings are wonderful and would have happily framed any of them. Your valley view is so peaceful. I love this time of year too.
Can you make donuts out of the sourdough?
This N That said…
I also heard of bad weather this weekend..I'm hoping we get rid of what we have now first..Poor Mollie is having a very hard time..She doesn't skate well anymore.
Like everywhere..
Loving the sun that we've had the past several days..
You did an amazing job with that painting..Just beautiful....Frame it!!!
Happy Knitting, Baking, painting, etc...

Wanda1950 said…
Love your painting! I'm thinking about trying to make sourdough. We have diabetes and I understand sourdough is better for us--also whole grain of course. We love bread & would like to be able to eat more than we can now.
Leslye said…
The painting is beautiful! I think you should sell them I know I would get in line.
Yes, I have thought before how beautiful your area of the country is to live in with all the hills and valleys. I noticed that some time ago when you were showing us pics of your bike excursions, etc. You have tremendous views from your wonderful and so private too! Love the picture you just finished...I would frame it too! Hope the weather warms up for you and everybody at your farm. Thanks for great pics and the info about bread making too!