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All along, we’ve tried to follow one main goal: get some land and build a house. The smaller details have a way of working themselves out over time. We’re okay with that. We’ve got nothing but time, it seems. We also seem to have our fair share of luck. As I’m writing this, I’m patiently waiting for a call from our real estate man on a piece of property we put an offer in on. No, we’re not moving our house. And no, we’re not selling the one we already bought. This is the lot directly to the south of our land, identical in size to ours. It was owned by a man in Chicago who used it as a place to party on long weekends and have all-night shoot outs with his buddies. For one reason or another he couldn’t continue to make payments on the land, and since he did a land contract like we did, the land is reverting back to it’s original owner. My husband had told the original owner that we might be interested if it ever went back on the market, so he gave us a call as soon as he got word. We’re excited! Not only because it would essentially double our current acreage, but we would then be surrounded on all sides and won’t have to worry about irksome people moving in next to us.

That was a good change. There’s another change that isn’t so awesome, but we’re working with it as best we can. My husband was offered another overseas job. He is in training in the states until sometime in November, then he will ship out for Afghanistan. He had to quit his job at the shipyard, but will most likely be rehired upon his return. The increase in pay will hopefully allow us to pay off the land and pay down a good chunk of the construction loan we’re taking out to finish the house. Yep, I said loan. We were against it from the start – we HATE debt. But with dear hubby gone and $5000 a year going into this apartment that won’t give us anything in return, we figure it makes more financial sense to take out a loan so we can finish the house that much faster and get out of this money sinkhole we live in now. I have already talked with a couple contractors and am looking to talk with a few more. I’ll need some help if this house is to be occupied by next fall.

The house plans themselves changed in a small way. Since we’re going to be working with the bank, we’ll have to put in a septic. We are also putting the house on a full basement instead of a post and pier foundation. This means (commence the pulling out of the hair) we have to get a new sanitation permit and building permit. I’m really hoping we don’t have to file for another variance since the house is still well under the 1000 square foot minimum that the township code calls for. We’ll see. While it would be nice to have the shell up before winter hits, I don’t think we’re going to chance it. Most likely, we’ll restart construction in the spring when the ground thaws.

Allow me to introduce you to the updated Raspberry Cabin…

 

It’s pretty much the same, except that we had to bump it out a bit more to accommodate the stairs to the basement. It gave us extra room in the bathroom and room for a coat closet just off the kitchen. We also put another exterior door on the back going out of the kitchen. The wood stove will sit in the nook created by the stairs.

Speaking of wood stoves, I think I’ve found the one I want. I’ve been skimming reviews and poring over prices and specs trying to find one that would fit our home and give us the functionality we want. I wanted something that would not only heat the house, but give us a cooking surface and place for baked goods as well. Most wood cook stoves are fairly large, rated for well above the square footage of our small home. Honestly, I only had a few choices, and this one won hands down.

So that’s it for now. Life’s passing out all sorts of lemons, some bitter and some sweet. We’re just doing what we can with them, hoping it all turns out in the end. Thanks for reading!

The experimentation with my new grain mill goes on! Today I spent about a half hour grinding wheat, flax, and oats for a few loaves of “Whole wheat seed bread.” I found the recipe online – not even sure where now. The version I’m going to post is a bit altered, though, because fresh ground grains seem to behave very differently from store-bought ground grains. I’m still not sure why this is. It takes a lot more of my flour than store bought to bring a dough to that nice, shiny, elastic stage of gluteny delight. Maybe mine just has more air in between the individual particles because it hasn’t had time to settle? Who knows.

Whole Wheat Seed Bread

Ingredients:
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup applesauce (original recipe said unsweetened, but my homemade worked just fine)
3 Tbsp active dry yeast

3 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs, beaten

11 1/2 – 12 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (original said 9… that was waaay too wet)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 cup ground oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I milled half right with the oats/flax)
1 Tbsp sea salt

Directions:

1. Stir together the 1/2 cup water, applesauce, and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes while mixing other wet ingredients. Combine 3 1/2 cups water, honey, molasses, vegetable oil, lemon juice, and eggs in a large bowl. Whisk together well. Add yeast mixture, mix until combined.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, flax, oats, seeds, and salt. Whisk to mix. Stir into the yeast mixture until flour is incorporated. It’s okay if it’s still a bit sticky at this point. Better to add too little flour than too much. Spread flour over your work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Now, this is optional, but I find the flour hydrates better and is easier to work with if you let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes before working it. Knead flour in until dough is elastic and smooth. Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl under a damp tea towel in a warm place for 1-3 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size. At this point, you can also refrigerate the dough for rising and shaping at a more convenient time if needed.

3. Lightly grease three 9×5″ loaf pans. You can do four, too, if you ended up using a lot of flour and have way to much for three. Gently push the surface of the dough down. I know, most recipes say “punch” the dough at this point. It’s called punching the dough down, but all you need to do is push your palms down until the hissing stops and then knead it a bit to knock out the rest of the gas pockets. Shape your dough into three or four loaves, then plop them into the waiting pans. Cut slits to make the tops pretty and prevent unsightly cracking. Set the pans in a warm area to rise. I usually set them right in the oven with the light on and a tray of warm water below.

4. Bake the loaves at 375°F for 40-50 minutes, or until they are browned and make a hollow sound when you rap them with your fingernail. Brush with butter, then eject from the hot pan onto a cooling surface. I like using wooden cutting boards or the pizza peel for this. Someday maybe I’ll have a nice wooden counter top for cooling baked goods on.

5. This is the most crucial step, and the hardest one to follow. WAIT! Don’t cut into that gorgeous loaf until it has had a chance to cool for at least a half hour. I know. It’s difficult. But even after a half hour the inside will still be warm enough to melt butter and make honey run.

I think this recipe is here to stay. So far it’s the best. If you think you have one that is worthy of my oven, please let me know in the comments. I love to experiment!

 

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