Yesterday evening I made bread. I have taken to grinding the wheat first with our hand grinder. It takes 100 cranks to get a cup. I wanted four. So each hand alternately ground 25. I had started the bread mixing upstairs in my wonderful Kitchen Aid. I love that machine. I set it on low after I added the warm milk, water, yeast, salt, sunflower seeds, chopped pecans and honey. Oh and for good measure since I was adding the heavy nuts, I added gluten. Then as each cup was ground, I went upstairs with it and added it to the mix.
After a half hour of letting it sit, I couldn't see too much change in the raising, so I mixed another cup of water with new yeast and more sugar. This time it raised. Then I added the last three cups of flour, this time unbleached white.
One trick I learned on a website was to add a pan under the bread in the oven, and just before closing the door, pour a cup of water in the pan. It supposedly makes the bread better, crispier. I've done this before and it is wonderful, but I forgot yesterday, and it still turned out with the most delicious crispy crust. Of course after you let it sit overnight in a plastic bag, that crispiness is gone and never completely returns, even with toasting, but it still is wonderful. Those loafs are worth $7 at Great Harvest, with all the goodies added in the middle. My bread is just in a rectangular loaf, not a round one, but it still is really good.
Of course we had to taste the hot bread as soon as it came out of the oven. What is better than that? I usually make enough so we can immediately slice into one of the HOT loaves. Spread some real butter and honey, and you have yourself a wonderful treat. I found some honey in Colorado at the Safeway market called Madhava Honey Ambrosia Raw Wildflower. It is so delicious.
While I let the bread rise, I was working on quilting my almost-completed quilt. I have been just learning about machine quilting. No I don't own one of those long-arm quilting machines. What a luxury! I am just using my domestic sewing machine. It takes some careful planning, stretching onto a frame, basting with safety pins, then removing from the frame. Also before I started, I picked out quilting designs I wanted around the borders and made several xerox copies.
I then folded layers of Golden Threads paper and pinned the copy of the border I wanted. Next I stitched through the pattern with an unthreaded needle on the machine and "sewed" on the lines.
This picture shows after I had stitched all the paper. The patterns are ready to be laid out on the borders to guide my machine quilting.
I must say my quilt is far from perfect, even with these lines helping me. A queen-sized quilt is fairly heavy and bulky to try and maneuver through the machine.
To reduce bulk, I double fold the quilt up to the border I will be stitching and roll the side that will be going through under the arm. Then I fan fold the quilt in the opposite direction so the unquilted part rests in my lap as I quilt. You can watch this procedure, if you are interested on this video. Skip to the 5:46 minute to see that part. She quilts differently, she stitches in the ditch, I made it harder for myself by making all these fancy feathery designs in my boaders.
I usually find out, after the fact, that my first learning experience turns out to be one of the more advanced methods. I'm not sure why I go for the harder project to learn, maybe it looks cooler. But I am sure I jumped into the deep end of the learning curve here. I hope after much practice I can make my stitches look better, and I can learn to control the machine better.
A wise person once said, don't practice on scraps, make quilts and practice your machine quilting on them. You have something to keep after wards, and your progress is recorded from "kindergarten" to "high school and beyond". Her name is Sharon Schamber. She is a winner of many quilting shows. She has many wonderful videos that help you make a more excellent quilt. I watched her videos some time a go, but don't remember this one on basting. I think I will try her method, although for a queen-sized quilt, I know it will take up a LOT of room, but it seems like an excellent way to make a perfect quilt. This picture shows the Golden Threads Paper beyond the fold after I have quilted it, ready to tear away.
So there you have it. I have a few more borders to go, but I am making progress. . .
PS, here is the picture of my friend Mike, the guy who baptized me so many years ago. I blogged about this reunion several posts back.