Gigi Blog » The life and loveliness of Gigi's World

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  • Welcome to the Gigi Blog!

    Blessed to be a mother to half a dozen girls & one boy. Wife of an undertaker.
    Photographer. Homeschooler. Daughter of the King. Chicken and goat raiser.
    Lover of Jesus and all things pink and vintage. ♥

The Beauty of Wild Yeast & Sour Dough

“Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy …”
Ecclesiastes 9:7

 

 

 

For the past little week or so, I’ve been doing some researching, trial by error baking and reading up on sour dough bread baking.
I had read that sour dough bread was a healthier alternative a few years back, but hesitated as I just love making bread so much – I did not want to give up my regular loaves. In all honesty, I was skeptical. I had guessed that our bread would no longer taste good and it would be dry and boring.


{milling  the spelt and rye flour at home}

Yet, after a recent conversation with some extended family members, the point that real bread should simply be flour, water and a little salt really made me think. I also watched a documentary on the fermentation of bread making – how it has been the traditional way of making bread for thousands of years – and that, too, got my husband I both looking into the benefits of sour dough bread.  It took me a while, I must admit, to realize that sour dough bread could be really lovely. I am completely hooked now! Bye bye commercial yeast! Hello, wild and free yeast!

My attempts at making a sour dough starter had previously failed, simply because I think I just did not follow the simple directions. Now looking back, I see how silly that was. (It really does pay to just follow directions and be patient, both things I am not very good at.)

 

So I tried again.

After a pain-stainkingly long week of waiting and watching my sour dough starter  {a mix of one cup of spelt flour mixed with one cup of water, added daily, stirred daily, changed the glass jar and washed it down down daily}, it finally began to bubble away on the counter top. Yes, my starter was ready for some baking!  Just to test it out, I started with some sour dough pancakes. They were tasty and the girls ate them up quickly for breakfast (they just love pancakes – it is always a treat to have them for breakfast). Next, I moved on to some loaves. The first few loaves were a little bit flat – but we toasted and ate them anyways. I just kept trying a new recipe or technique every day. At night, I dreamt of bread recipes, of how to make the sour dough work, of trying new ways of forming the loaves … I was am still excited each morning to try something new … some in a bread tin … some free form (the first one went completely flat!) … a rustic loaf … mixed with spelt and rye flour …

My research and baking experiments are also inspired by talks I have heard from Nourishing Traditions and Sally Fallon’s work.  I have always loved baking bread – it feels so lovely and wholesome for my family. However, knowing that sour dough bread takes the nutrition level up several notches makes it all the more wonderful. My mom (an incredible bread baker) is also trying this new venture so it has been fun chatting back and forth about what works and what doesn’t.

 

It is quite different than regular yeast bread … this oldest form of grain fermentation takes a lot more time, a lot more patience and lot more skill, I am finding, than working with regular yeast dough. First of all, the rise time is slower using the natural yeast of the air.  I actually respect that about this bread making process. It does not require much more hands on time – but a slowed down approach to the rising time, prep time, etc. Obviously, I am still new at this and am learning so much.

The health benefits of sour dough bread are quite wonderful!

To begin with, sour dough bread is easier to digest for the body and holds an array of lovely nutrients. According to this article, “Lactic acid bacteria (LAB – including those commonly found in sourdough bread) produce beneficial compounds: antioxidants, the cancer-preventive peptide lunasin, and anti-allergenic substances, some of which may help in the treatment of auto-immune diseases.”

 

“The integrity of sourdough is so complex that it contains a host of goodness in terms of nutrients. In sourdough, you can find vitamins B1-B6, B12, folate, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, selenium, iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium in addition to uniquely balanced proteins and fatty acids.”

Doesn’t that just inspire you to learn more about sour dough breads and try it yourself?

Tonight, we are eating beef barley soup {beef courtesy of our friends, who blessed us with a large cut of beef from their cow} with this lovely loaf of sour dough bread.

So nourishing and I am so thankful!

I have much to still learn – would you like to learn with me as I go?

 

P.S. My six year old would not eat any of the sour dough bread because of the name – she thought it would taste awful and “sour”. I suggested we change the name to Wild Yeast Bread or her Particular Special Bread – lo and behold, she had a piece at dinner time and ended up eating six more pieces! Don’t let the “sour” in the name fool you.

 

 

Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims

March 23, 2017 - 8:36 pm

Gigi - Sure, Veronica. I am new to it, but I will gladly share what I have learned so far and how the starter was made. Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂

March 23, 2017 - 7:55 pm

Gigi - I love sharing information back and forth! Nice to have a partner in this! xx

March 23, 2017 - 6:36 pm

veronika goisova - wonderful,I so wanna give sourdough a try again,my starter died twice last year…
would you share detailed way of making it ,feeding it etc
Thank you for the post,enjoying your blog always)

March 23, 2017 - 3:19 pm

Gigi - I guess I should clarify – as they have ultra-violet vision, they can discriminate faster movement than we can. So fast movement is easier to spot, slow movement will results in less stings!

March 23, 2017 - 12:46 pm

Maike - I was trying to leave a comment under your bee post quite a while back. I still remember the interesting facts and was telling the girl I’m taking care of about not moving fast and wearing bright colors instead of black. But then I started to wonder…if they only see fast movement, how do they see the flowers, grass, bee hive etc? Or do they see everything but just get more scared by fast movement?

March 23, 2017 - 10:25 am

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - I am trying this too! So far, not much success but I will not give up!! I have a wonderful starter going though and look forward to accomplishing the first tasty loaf!!

Resurrection Garden

 

It is now Spring! Praise the Lord!

With the arrival of this blessed Spring, it also brings the most sacred celebration for a born again believer – the death and incredible resurrection of Jesus Christ. This year, we are doing things a little different and will be attempting to hold our own small, intimate Passover celebration, as we learn and follow along with a Family’s Guide to Biblical Holidays.

 

But one thing stays the same – the girls started this new season with a homemade Resurrection Garden.

 

 

We re-used a basket and added some soil, rocks for a pathway, a tomb, a stone to roll across the tomb and some plants as decoration. Lyla made the cross from sticks outside – we had a little crown of thorns from a previous year when their dad made some crosses and thorns as project with the girls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

They added some spelt seeds, which we had soaked over night. The seeds, if watered every day, will sprout and grow “grass” around the garden, adding a special effect. The girls love to spritz the garden with water each morning and already some of the sprouts are popping up.

We look forward to learning more about this special season together as a family in the weeks to come.

 

March 24, 2017 - 6:30 pm

Sarah - This is such a beautiful idea!! I will file this away for the future. I would love to do this with my little one. : )

March 24, 2017 - 9:16 am

Gigi - Amy, that is wonderful! So nice to hear that your children enjoyed it. It is wonderful and very enlightening to learn of the Hebrew traditions of our Saviour. We are so removed from them now. Our church held a Seder meal last year – it was great, but it was busy with the children so I am looking forward to going over more details in our own home.

March 24, 2017 - 8:21 am

amy - We did a Passover/Last supper last year and the kids LOVED it. I picked and choose from a bunch of different sites and we as we ate things, the kids read different scriptures and such talking about the symbolism of things. Having wine glasses with grape juice was fun too.
we have yet to tackle a resurrection garden as I have NO clue where we could leave it as space is limited in our tiny house and we don’t have plants in general. Maybe one day…

March 23, 2017 - 7:56 pm

Gigi - Yes, the seeds are neat to watch grow for the little ones. Glad your family is enjoying your Resurrection Garden!

March 22, 2017 - 9:03 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - Oh how lovely…we are also doing the same this year and the girlies love it! Love the idea of growing the seeds with it!!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Well, my vanilla beans arrived from France – and do they ever smell lovely! I ordered them off ebay and shipping did not take long at all.


I know making your own vanilla extract is well heard of in many kitchens – in fact, it is so easy, there’s not much to post about it. It’s barely even a recipe, really …

Simply attain your fresh vanilla beans. Enjoy the beautiful smell of those rich, moist vanilla pods! Slice them down the center of the bean pod and drop 3-5 into a glass jar.

Cover with alcohol  – vodka, rum or brandy – and allow it to steep for up to three months. You can leave the vanilla beans inside your extract when it is finished seeping or you can remove them. I usually just leave them in for extra flavor.

 

 

My mom gifted me with some brandy and vodka (no, she does not drink alcohol but had them for household projects). What a blessing!

I covered one jar with brandy and the other with the vodka.

For many of us, real vanilla extract from the stores is quite expensive. Using the fake version is not an option because of what may be used to make the imitation vanilla. {Also, here is a good article on the comparisons.} Making your homemade vanilla flavoring is a great option for a healthier and cost-effective vanilla extract.

March 17, 2017 - 7:42 am

Gigi - Use the ones listed – I have heard that brandy is great for vanilla, but I think a common one is vodka. I am working on the link (I have forgotten my ebay sign in!).

March 16, 2017 - 4:55 pm

Maike - Does it make a difference which sort of alcohol I use? I don’t drink alcohol, it all smells the same to me, but perhaps there are differences especially in the final vanilla extract taste? I’m also interested in the link to the beans. 🙂

March 16, 2017 - 4:09 pm

Gigi - Looking at the bottle, I think it was a hot sauce bottle…

March 16, 2017 - 4:07 pm

Gigi - I think that bottle is an old condiment bottle- I try to keep all my glass jars/bottles and take off the labels. It helps in these types of projects!

March 16, 2017 - 9:50 am

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - PS I love that bottle for the beans. Hoping to find one like that. It’s perfect

March 16, 2017 - 9:49 am

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - I am making my own vanilla too! Thanks to Gillian’s inspiration. I got my beans from ebay, shipped from France but grown in Madagascar. I hear the best beans are from Madagascar 🙂
Thanks for the inspiration, Gillian

March 16, 2017 - 6:37 am

Gigi - I will look for the link! I think I will order more. They are so fresh and lovely.

March 15, 2017 - 6:46 pm

Lauren - Hey Gillian! I sooo want to do this. Vanilla extract is so expensive these days! I heard that there was a worldwide shortage of vanilla beans, hence the rise in cost. Where do you get your vanilla beans?

Almond Extract {at home}

It’s another very cold Saturday –  a little bit of a snowed in kind of day. It’s windy and too cold to play outside. We are all hoping perhaps this is the last winter blast, but we shall see. This frigid weather does make the perfect day to work on a few indoor small and easy projects for the house.

I made a huge pot of quinoa beef stew in preparation for guests that we will have in the next few days, which will also double as tonight’s dinner. It smells so good simmering on the back of the cookstove. We are running very low on our beef (which we purchase in the fall from a farmer) so a stew is a great way to spread the meat further for a few meals.
I also made some spelt buns and bread for dinner.

The girls helped me scrub the grout on the kitchen floor tile (a time consuming job), we washed all the bedding for the bigger girls and dried it by the woodstove, along with a second load of regular every day laundry. The girls cleaned up under their beds (a collecting spot for junk, if not monitored) and I scrubbed down our bathroom. We also did our regular Saturday chores, which usually is a cleaning of the house from top to bottom.

Lucia and Lovelyn made oatmeal jam bars, which the girls are snacking on while they work on an art dvd which our good friend gave to us.

 

After our regular chores were finished, I decided to make some almond extract. My mother recently gave me some extra alcohol she had in her cupboard, which was to be used for making our tinctures. I’m waiting for my vanilla beans to arrive in the mail (which will be used for vanilla extract), so in the meantime, I thought it would be a good idea to make a small batch of almond extract.

It It is so easy and simple to make. All you need to do is put your almonds in a jar and cover with vodka! I chopped mine up a bit but I am sure it is not required.

 

 

 

Once your almonds are covered with the alcohol (which extracts the almond flavor), place your jar in a dark cupboard to allow it to six for six weeks or so. After that time, it is ready! So simple and easy, right?

 

 

 

 

What home projects do you like to do a cold, snowed in Saturday?

March 14, 2017 - 5:58 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - Great!!! I cant wait for that post! I have learned so much from you and this site. I appreciate all the time that you have put into it!

March 13, 2017 - 3:29 pm

Gigi - That is a good question that probably deserves a long answer. 😉 Yes, we have set schedules. I will see if I can post some. I’m afraid I add to that posted schedule all the time so it is changing with the seasons but generally, they all have assigned household and animal chores…every child is involved!

March 13, 2017 - 1:30 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - I would love to know if you follow some sort of a housekeeping schedule.Wether it’s daily,weekly, or seasonal?do your girlies have set chores every day that you want them to follow?I know you have a lot of animals that need care also.Do you have a to do list or certain days with certain work that you do and how do you incorporate the kiddos?

March 12, 2017 - 5:50 am

Gigi - Such a simple idea, right? But so lovely to make for your kitchen.

March 11, 2017 - 10:52 pm

Katy - I have made vanilla extract before but never realized I could make almond extract the same way!!! Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

Guardian Angels

 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you,
That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father
which is in heaven.

Matthew 8:10

 

It is with humility and great thankfulness that I post a praise report this day.

God kept our family safe this weekend and for that I am truly thankful. I hesitated to post this as I don’t want to over dramatize, but I also want to give thanks to God for being present and sending angels to watch over our family.

On Saturday afternoon, as the cool chill of winter returned and the children played outside, I was icing a chocolate cake in the kitchen. The girls were playing in the fresh air, a tiny skiff of what is left of our snow covered the ground. The air was chilly so yes, the woodstove was going to keep us warm.  Suddenly, I heard the girls run, screaming – yes, all six of them – to the house. This makes my heart stop every time as I never know what they might be screaming about. They threw open the kitchen door and yelled “The chimney is on fire! There’s fire coming out! Get Lazarus and get outside!!!!”

In my haste, I dropped the icing knife and swiped Lazarus from the spot on the floor where he was playing – I threw him to his sisters – I’m not even sure which sister – and they ran to to our vehicle – which we had designated as our meeting spot, if ever we had a house fire. (We had figured the vehicle would be best as I could drive the children away if we needed to get further from the house. Also, I could keep them warm if it was in the winter and it would contain every one somewhat safely until the situation was under control.)

I ran outside the house through the dirty snow in slippers and no coat. Looking up to roofline, I saw the fire – yes, indeed, it was coming out of the top of the chimney in our school room! I ran back inside to call the fire department and to make sure the stove was shut down (as much as possible). All the vents were shut on the stove, but the temperature was dangerously high. I ran to the phone (thankfully, a  landline as I do not own a cell phone). Strangely enough, the landline was not working very well. There was much static and I could not hear anyone talking on the other end of the line. I tried calling 911 with shaky fingers but all I could hear was scratching and static … I tried again … but again, there was no proper reception and I could not hear anyone talking … I kept repeating, in a shaky voice, “Hello? I need the fire department!” and I would repeat our emergency address. I decided to unplug the phone and try another jack upstairs and so off, I ran, carrying the phone upstairs into our bedroom. But plugging it in, I discovered the same crackly reception – nothing with a solid phone line. I ran back downstairs, giving up on the phone, whispering frantic prayers to God to stop the fire and hurriedly typed a message to my mom  and my husband on my ipad (it seems silly but that was my only communication). My text was supposed to read: “Call 911 – chimney fire.”  But in my haste, there were many typing mistakes which came across as “chicken monkey fire”!  My mother was confused and thought one of my little children typed the message! (Hee hee!). She figured it out though and called my father in law, who lives nearby.

However, thankfully, because I called 911 on a landline, the emergency response units all responded – as they could track where the phone call was coming from, even if they could not hear anyone talking. {Land lines are the best thing to call for help on – cell phones do not allow the emergency teams to track where the call is located. Make sure you have a land line in your home!}
The fire continued to shoot out of the top of the chimney  … I ran back outside and told one of the older girls to run to the nearest neighbour and ask them to call 911 … off they went running while I stayed with the little ones near the truck … they were crying but I told them to just wait and pray and be calm. I went back in the house to see if the fire was coming out of the chimney inside the school room -but  I could see the orange glow coming from the cracks of the chimney. Although there was no actual fire was inside the house, the smell of hot chimney was strong.

 

I’m unsure how long it took the fire department to respond, but because we live in the country – and because the fire department is run by volunteers (although wonderful volunteers!) – it seemed like a long wait. During our wait, we continued to pray and watch the fire from ontop of the chimney. There was really nothing else I could do.
Soon, the fire department showed up, along with paramedics and the local police. Our yard and driveway became a buzz of quick activity. Because of my call with no one talking, every emergency service responded not knowing what type of emergency call was being made.

 

The fire fighters quickly climbed to the top of the house to put out the fire while others went into the house and put out the fire inside the stove. The chimney was taken apart – the smoldering ashes were brought down in buckets and poured on the driveway. The firefighters were excellent and wonderful and kept everything safe. They were kind to the girls, helpful and considerate.

My father in law showed up during this time to see if we needed help and offered to take the girls to his house for the afternoon as it was going to be long ordeal waiting for the house to entered again.
The fire was now out and there was no danger, but it was cold outside and the girls are all cheered at the thought of spending the afternoon at their grandparents’ house.  The girls excitedly packed up and headed off with grandpa while I stayed behind with Lazarus, who was so tired and desperately needing his nap. We were not allowed to go upstairs so I stayed in the living room and held him in the rocking chair while the fire fighters worked on the chimney and stove, dismantling the pipes. They also spent time adding more smoke detectors in every nook and cranny of this old home (being an older, cut up home) to ensure safety.

By this point, my husband had returned home after being at work over 1.5 hours away. Once the last fire fighter left, we worked together to clean up the mess left over while thanking God for His safety and protection! Collecting the icing knife dropped in haste on the kitchen floor, I thought of what could have happened and was so grateful for what actually did happen. We know that the children’s guardian angels were protecting them and myself and our home this Saturday afternoon. We know that God took care of us. And we are thankful, we are grateful and humbled.

“For he shall give his angels charge over thee,
to keep thee in all thy ways.”
Psalm 91:11

P.S. We received some beautiful blessings from all of this – one of the fire firefighters offered to come back and give the girls some fire safety lessons, as well as teach them and myself how to put out a fire if we are able. We will learn how to use a fire extinguisher in the likelihood that another fire poses danger to our home and family. The girls received free hot chocolate coupons from the police offers, who told the girls they did a great job reporting the fire and getting everyone out to safety. They thought that was just wonderful and received their hot chocolate treats on the way home from church the following day. We thanked the fire and police with some homemade cinnamon buns and have made some new friends in our local community.

Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims

March 12, 2017 - 5:48 am

Gigi - Thanks, Rebecca. 🙂

March 12, 2017 - 5:48 am

Gigi - Thank you, Lindy. It was a great learning experience. 🙂 Good idea to get rid of the chemicals – I never thought of that! I do not have a diffuser yet. It is on my wish list.

March 11, 2017 - 12:08 pm

Lynda Lu Gibb - Praise the Lord! We have had 3 chimney fires in this house.. Indeed it is scary,noisy and smelly! Diffuse some Youngliving purification for a few days now.. any of the toxic particles,fumesans chemicals around from those high temperatures from the stove pipes will likely be wiped out. I Thank the Lord you are all safe..

March 11, 2017 - 3:36 am

Rebecca - Oh my goodness, praise God you all and your house are fine!

March 8, 2017 - 6:13 pm

Gigi - Oh my, I am so excited to hear you may have found a home! I do not know of someone, I’m sorry. 🙁 I hope you get to move soon! That is very exciting!

March 8, 2017 - 4:51 pm

Isela - Gigi, so happy to read everyone is safe and protected by our loving Father!! Praise His name!!
Gigi do you know a home inspector who specializes in century homes? We need a home inspector for a home we are planning to buy in Shelburne. If you know or can recommend someone we will greatly appreciate it having the info. Thank you so much.

March 8, 2017 - 4:42 pm

Chipmunk - I’m so thankful that the Lord kept you all safe and that it sounds like there was minimal damage to the house. God is so faithful!

March 8, 2017 - 12:30 pm

Gigi - Yes, the local emergency teams were fantastic. Last night, the fire fighters allowed the girls to tour the fire station and see the trucks and gave them all pencils with fire logos on them. They are kind hearted people. We are grateful. We look forward to our lessons on using the fire extinguishers and putting out a fire!

March 8, 2017 - 12:10 pm

Maike - The fire might not have been in the rooms but still a fire is truly scary no matter where it is. Thanks to the girls that they were so attentive and saw the fire, thought quick and let you know. And oh how glad I am that everyone is well and you had a lot of guardian angel watching over you. Your local fire fighter must be amazing giving your children the opportunity to learn and some hot chocolate!

March 7, 2017 - 7:42 pm

Gigi - Thanks, Auntie Kate! You are missed. xo

March 7, 2017 - 7:14 pm

Kate - What a scary experience! I’m so glad that you’re all ok and that God was watching over you – that it happened in the day time, that the girls were outside & saw it, that the emergency services responded so well….Sending extra hugs for all the Ls!