Homemade Amish Bread {Whole Wheat}

Breadmaking

Summer break is over, our homeschool is back in session and it’s time to blog again! I want to share some of our summertime adventures with you, and can’t think of a better place to begin than bread making! Although our biological daughter already has lots of experience in the kitchen, our soon-to-be adopted daughter from Ukraine has spent the past ten years of her life in an orphanage, so she doesn’t yet have much knowledge in the area of cooking and baking. She’s a fast learner, and will be flying around the kitchen whipping things up in no time. 🙂

Mennonite Community Cookbook

As my mother grew up in an Amish home, one of the staple resources in our kitchen as I learned the art of cooking was the “Mennonite Community Cookbook”. It’s filled with treasured recipes from Amish-Mennonite homes all over North America. The bread featured here today comes straight from the pages of that cookbook, with exception – I substitute Olive Oil for Shortening. So, with no further ado, here’s the recipe!

Bread Ingredients

Whole Wheat Bread {Recipe from The Mennonite Community Cookbook, pages 3 & 11) Makes 2 small-medium loaves

1 cup scalded milk

1 cup hot water

1 yeast cake or package of active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

1 Tablespoon salt

1/4 cup honey

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cups white flour

4 cups whole wheat flour

(*I use 6 cups of whole wheat flour, omitting the white flour the recipe calls for.)

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the hot water.

Combine remaining 1/2 cup of water, olive oil, honey, salt and scalded milk in a large bowl.

When milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm temperature, add dissolved yeast.

Add flour gradually, making a dough stiff enough so that it can be easily handled.

Knead dough quickly and lightly until it is smooth and elastic. (I like to lightly dust my counter with flour, and knead dough directly on that surface – adding more flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking to counter.)

Place in greased bowl, cover with cloth and set in a warm place to rise.

Let rise until double in size. (About 1-2 hours.)

Divide in half, shape into loaves, place into two bread pans, brush lightly with olive oil or melted butter and allow to rise again until double in size.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes.

Rising Bread

And there you have it. The tried, true and (many times) tested Amish Whole Wheat Bread recipe. Remove from pan, place on wire racks to cool, and enjoy one of our family favorites!

Fresh Homemade Bread

 

 

 

 

Homemade Laundering Soap {Hand Selected Scents}

Laundry Soap Ingredients

A few months ago I shared a post about tackling the dragon in my life called LAUNDRY. I’ve discovered one reason this chore didn’t excite me. You see, I enjoy creativity, beauty and special moments. And although doing laundry certainly adds many desirable things to anyone’s character, it didn’t ignite the “artsy” side of me. So, it was boring.

Enter; Homemade Laundry Soap! Why do I get excited about this? Because I can create my very own, exclusive, hand selected laundering concoctions. For the 20 minutes or so that it takes to create this loveliness we call laundry detergent, my kitchen transforms into a perfume maker’s chemistry lab of creativity and scented delight. The excitement carries over into my laundry routine, as I can’t help but smell the soap and smile every time I wash a load of dirty clothes, linens or towels! And the bonus is a giant savings over supermarket “natural” detergents.

Laundry Soap Supplies

I modified a basic recipe I found on Pinterest, sourced from “The Frugal Girls”. I purchased a canning kettle which I use exclusively for laundry soap making, and then I store all my supplies in it when I’m finished. This recipe makes 2 gallons of beautiful, fresh, delicious-smelling homemade laundering soap. *Note I use this in my front-loading washing machine, and works beautifully.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade Laundering Soap Recipe

1/2 bar castile soap, grated

1/2 cup borax

1/2 cup washing soda

Water: 6 cups hot water, then 6 cups hot water, then 1 gallon + 6 cups cold water

IMG_0288

Grate your soap, place into large pot and combine with 6 cups hot water (from the faucet). Stir and heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and add washing soda and borax. Keep this mixture on the stove (low to medium heat) for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. After 5 minutes, turn off the burner. Add 4 cups hot water. Stir. Then add 1 gallon plus 6 cups cold water. Place in empty laundry detergent containers, a bucket, or you can do as I did, and purchase your very own special gallon jugs. Your laundering soap will thicken into a gel-like consistency in about 24 hours. That’s it! You made your own laundry soap. We use 1/2 cup per load, always shaking well before each use. 

Now comes the fun part; adding scents!

Homemade Laundering Soap

Our favorite are “Lavender & Rose”, and “Melaleuca & Citrus”.

For the first, I add 25 drops each of Lavender essential oil and 50 drops of Rosewater essential oil to one gallon of laundering soap. I also like to add a few drops of  Young Living’s “Thieves” essential oil. For the second, I use 25 drops each of Melaleuca (Tea Tree) essential oil, Lemon essential oil and Grapefruit essential oil per gallon. I also add “Thieves” to this mixture. Then I label the gallon container, and make sure to shake well before each use. (Note: I also experiment with different scents of castile bar soap. My favorites are Lavender, Tea Tree and Citrus.) There are many great brands and scents when it comes to essential oils, and you can certainly experiment with your own likes, preferences and ideas. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it just as much as I do.

Happy Laundering!

~ Justina Dee

 

In Defense of Pinterest

Pinterest_Birds

I am a colossal fan of Pinterest. I don’t go there often, because it has a tendency to suck me into an abyss of bewitching decor, a slew of delectable recipes I’ll never use, and oodles of parapherlnalia I never knew I needed. I consider myself a “power-pinner”. When I do spend some time on Pinterest, I can pin with the best of them. In fact, if there was such a thing as Pinterest-Olympics, I’m sure I’d medal.

I believe Pinterest can be a dangerous and risky place for women, as precious, irrevocable moments can easily be squandered on empty fantasies and vain imaginations, spending time looking at ideas we’ll never use. I love this post called “10 of the Craziest Pinterest Ideas Ever“. There are some ridiculous things to be found there, including wreaths made of thumbtacks, and “unicorn-poop-cookies”! Social media constantly vies for our attention, and rapidly takes our focus off the most important items at hand – including people who desperately need our love and affection, and the real-life homes we live in.

Pinterest began with 5000 users in 2010, and in January of 2012 “comScore” reported it had nearly 12 million users, of which (reportedly) up to 80% are women. It’s unquestionably hitting a chord with many of us! Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting”, and they’re certainly doing just that!

All that said, here’s my little Pinterest-theory.

In “the good old days”, women shared recipes, practical housekeeping tips and homemaking skills with other women in their community. They met for quilting days. They helped each other grow beautiful gardens and then preserve their harvests. They shared tried-and-true recipes on special index cards. They gave younger women tremendous, practical advice on marriage, babies, and anything else under the sun.

Of course this still happens in some rare circles, but in my observation, I (sadly) believe a vast majority of women feel detached and isolated, with no one around them to share the information they need, in order to make the lives they long to create for themselves and their family. Many of us live far away from mothers, aunts, and other nurturing figures, and have not found (and plugged-in) to a network of women with more experience and life-wisdom.

It may not be ideal, and it certainly isn’t as romantic as the pictures one can imagine when thinking of “get-togethers” in days gone by, but Pinterest extends a chance to connect with others, filling a niche need of so many women. I love to scan my friends boards to find recipes for our family dinner. I turned to Pinterest when I was teaching our daughter how to sew, and found a host of brilliant, beginner patterns. I could go on, and on, with the ideas I’ve found and USED, from this extensive resource. The photo about shows some birds our family crafted, using a free template from Pinterest. The inspiration seems infinite! I know people who are now hosting Pinterest parties; where they meet and share the recipes and skills they’ve acquired. It seems to be making a full circle!

In conclusion, there is a challenge here for us who are Christians. Titus 2:3-5 tells us that older women should teach and train younger women in matters of marriage, family and home. I deeply admire women who are taking the time to mentor those around them, and investing into the lives of others. We need real-life examples, guidance and encouragement, in order to become a Proverbs 31 woman. I encourage all of us to share the unique wisdom God has graciously given us, and to find women who will help us learn the skills we need for a beautiful life, of inspired living. We all have something to give, and something to learn, from the women God has placed in our lives.