Woodsman white bread

This Woodsman found himself between a rock and a hard place (or a rock and a work place) recently and hasn’t been able to do much writing, so I guess it’s time to purge all the ideas that have piled up in the last couple weeks. I wanted to go through my bread recipe first. It is a simple yeast white bread. This is the “made by hand” version but if you have a counter mixer with a dough hook more power to you, it will work all the same. I find that the work of hand mixing the dough helps work off all the calories I take in eating the delicious loafs.

Things you will need:
1. 2 Large mixing bowls, preferably glass or stainless steel
2. Wooden spoon
3. Dish towel
4. Counter space
5. 1 cup warm water, not too hot, maybe 100 degrees
6. 2 ½ – 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
7. 1 table spoon active dry yeast
8. 1 tea spoon salt (I use table salt, but that’s just my preference)
9. ½ tablespoon sugar or 1 tablespoon honey
10. 1/3 cup whole milk
11. Half a stick of butter
12. 1 oven
13. A few cold beers
14. Upper body strength

Time to put in some work:
1. Dump the warm cup of water into your mixing bowl
2.Add your salt and sugar and stir it until it’s all dissolved
3. Add your beasts, sorry yeast, and stir until it’s creamy and all the clumps are gone
4. Let it stand for a couple minutes until you start seeing bubbles form on the surface
5. Melt your butter, and add both it and the milk
6. Dump in the first 2 cups of flour and stir until the clumps are gone
7.Add the rest of your flour slowly, like ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly
8. The flour, I have found, is not an exact science. I can’t say “put this much in, no more no less”! Tons of things affect how the flour is going to absorb water. Humidity/elevation, temp, flour storage, and the fact that it is near impossible to add exact amounts of your “wet ingredients” all effect how much flour you are going to use. So just add little bits at a time while stirring until it doesn’t stick to your finger much when you touch it.
9. Dry your hand and dump a quarter cup of flour in your hands. Rub them together over your countertop, trying to disperse it semi-evenly over a square foot.
10. Dump your dough out onto the floured surface and get your hands into it! It is going to stick to your hands a bit, but it will stop after you knead it a bit. Basically just punch, beat, smash, pull, twist, and abuse your dough until it no longer sticks to your hands. If it is still sticking to your hands, put another ¼ cup in your hands and re-flour your surface/dough and pick up the flour as you work it.
11. In your second big bowl, spray or rub in some vegi oil
12. Put your dough ball in the oiled bowl and cover with the towel
13.I have a little heat vent on my oven top so I just set the oven to warm and set my bowl near the vent. The point I’m getting to is that your little “beasties” need about 80 degrees to help them start to eat up the sugars and turn them into cO2 and alcohol.
14. Cover it with your tea towel and drink a couple beers. However many you can handle in an hour. I bake at 8,200’ so it only takes 30 minutes because it doesn’t have as much atmospheric pressure to contend with as it will at sea level.
15. After the hour is up, the ball will have at least doubled in size.
16. Turn it out onto a re-floured surface and get to work one more time! Pound it out flat until it’s roughly trapezoidal; meaning the edge closest to you should be longer than the edge away from you
17. Roll it all up starting at the shorter edge, working towards yourself or the longer edge
18. Tuck your edges in forming a, for lack of a better word, “hoggie” roll (think submarine sandwich)
19.I take a very sharp knife (all my knives are stupid sharp because when I get bored, I sharpen things) and cut 4 diagonal, shallow, surface cuts along the roll. I’m sure there is some scientific reason for it but really it just plane looks cool
20. I also dust it with flour for the above-mentioned reason
21. Move your roll to a baking sheet, lightly greased with butter or vegi oil
22. Turn your oven up to 425ish and drink another hours’ worth of beer
23. The “beasties/yeasties” are going to get back to work making cO2 and alcohol, making your bread rise one more time
24. After the hour is up and your beers are empty, put that bad boy in the oven
25. Bake it about 30 minutes. I bake it a little less because of the altitude
26. Take it out and let it cool on the counter, unless you have two giant animals named Ben and Eva living in your house, then choose a higher surface. I have lost a few good loafs of bread to those “counter surfers”. Don’t do anything with it until you can no longer feel heat from the bottom of the loaf
27. Cut that sucker up and enjoy. It doesn’t have preservatives, so it will mold quicker than store-bought; but my loaves never last more than 2 days anyways. If you don’t eat that much bread, you can freeze half the dough and bake half. The recipe is easily doubled… just be warned, you are going to do double the work stirring double the dough

So that is my simplest bread recipe. More complicated recipes will follow, but I figured I would start with my workingman bread first. Thanks for reading. Any questions or problem with the recipe, let me know and I’ll see if I can help.

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Woodsman’s appetite

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One thing I have found that most mountain men, woodsman, outdoors men, and basically just men in general have in common is a need for lots of hardy meals on a regular basis. Huge hunks of roasted meats and heaping piles of potatoes and carrots. Loaves of fresh breads and heaps of pasta smothered in sauce. Washing it all down with cold frothy mugs of dark beer.

I would love to be completely self sufficient when it comes to mine and my family’s meals. Sadly there is no subsistence hunting in my state. I’m limited to what the fine folks at the department of wildlife say I can have. I’m not knocking conservation at all. I want my son and his kids and so on and so forth to be able to hunt just like I have been blessed to be able to do. The only thing I have a problem with is having to buy meat when I am perfectly capable of getting my own. So, long story short, I have to hunt what I can and buy what I need to supplement. As far as huge hunks of roasted meats I am limited to store bought beef, chicken, pork, and turkey.

When it comes to vegetables, starches, and grains I’m limited as well. Not by a government agency, but by my own lack of knowledge and time. I do have a garden annually but nothing big enough to provide fruits and veggies for a whole year. I’m usually just growing what I can’t find in the store. I hate tomatoes with a passion, or I guess I should say I hate store bought tomatoes. But I have found a few heirloom breeds that I now can’t live without. I’m also big on hot peppers, but the junk you find in the local supermarkets is so flavorless, heatless, and tough skinned it’s not worth eating; so I grow my own. From ghost chilies and scotch bonnets to pepperoncinis and Fresno chillies.

I don’t have the climate nor the expertise to grow my own wheat and barley, or culture my own yeast. I have, on the other hand, learned to bake my own bread and brew my own beer. Nothing beats turning flower, water, milk, and yeast into delicious homemade bread. No preservatives or chemicals to worry about. You know exactly what is going into you bread, not to mention it is cheaper than any bead you can buy off the shelf. Same with beer. You have to buy the grain, yeast and bottle caps, but it tastes way better than big factory beers and you can make it for a fraction of the cost of big label beers.

I won’t go into all of my recipes today but they are on the way. I’ll go through my processes for baking bread and making beer in the next few posts. I will share my mistakes so that you can avoid making them yourself. And I will share my discoveries to make life a little easier.

Today I just want to go over a few things I found that makes buying your food from a store a little less depressing. Basically just some ways I have found to stretch your dollar and eat cleaner foods.

#1: To be redundant…make your own bread. It is fun, tasty, cheap, and better for you.

#2: Instead of buying deli turkey or ham for lunches get whole turkeys or turkey breasts, or whole hams, and whole chickens and oven roast them. You get a good dinner and sandwich meats for days afterwords. The left over bones and veggies can be made into stocks, soups, and stews. Plus you know exactly what you are getting on you sandwich. No mashed turkey parts pumped with preservatives and smashed into blocks that don’t look like they were ever alive.

#3: Try to buy fruits and veggies at farmers markets. The food tends to be better and in a lot of cases cheaper. You get less pesticides and a bigger selection. The only negative that I have found so far is fighting crowds of hipsters buying fruits and veggies ironically.

#4: Make your own pasta sauce. Fresh tomatoes, onions, and garlic make way better sauce than canned. You can make a ton at one time easily and freeze what you don’t use. I haven’t learned to make my own pasta yet, but when I do I will let you know if it is worth it.

#5: Make your own pizza. Ingredients for pizza fully loaded with everything you want, plus really tasty sauce and crust, still comes out to less than 5 bucks for a large pizza. No way 5 dollar ready and hot can come close in flavor and delivery is way more expensive. In the time it takes you to order a pizza and have it delivered you can make a way tastier pie in your own oven where you know you are using real cheese, fresh veggies and better meats.

These are just suggestions. I of course know it’s not for everyone. It is time consuming to shop for and prepare your own food. But if you find yourself with the extra time and energy to do it the woodsman’s way I am sure you will enjoy the outcome.

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The Woodsman’s family

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As a young Woodsman I found myself yearning for a solitary life in one of North Americas last great wildernesses. Alaska! Leaving home and wandering into the great north woods with nothing but an ax, a bow and a few arrows, a 30-30, a buck knife, and about a mile of good cordage was a dream that constantly played in my mind, But with the natural changes in a young adult’s life I realized that the lonely existence of a solo woodsman started to look like less and less of an appealing idea, so I started my search for the perfect woods woman that would accompany me into the wilds and become my life partner through lives little struggles. Unfortunately good woods women are hard to come by in the cities of California. Most are concerned only with fancy clothes, night clubs, hip-hop music, and social standings. What I found instead was one of the most wonderful women in the world that accepted me for who I was and was happy to take on lives adventures with me. We were wed and started our small life. We were working hourly jobs, paying rent to live in someone else’s house. we amended our 2 person family by bringing in our first children. Two fearsome attack miniature pinchers, Juno and Esme.

4 years into our relationship we made a move to the slightly more rugged American state of Colorado. One year later when we were blessed with our first little bundle of joy, The Wee Woodsman, we made our move to the mighty Rocky Mountains. A small cabin in the glorious lodge pole pine woods of the Arapaho national Forest was our first woodland home. My dreams were realized. Okay, so it wasn’t a hand built log cabin in the wilds of arctic Alaska. It was, on the other hand, a wonderful compromise for a jonesing woodsman and his beautiful, cultured, city wife. The cabin had central heating, running water, modern plumbing, electricity, but this woodsman was still okay with it. I could walk out my front door and find myself standing amongst towering pines and glorious aspens. I could till land and grow food. I could saw beetle killed trees and chop firewood to heat our home. I could hunt small game in my front yard and big game within a few minutes drive from my front door. I had found paradise. The Wee Woodsman had a warm, cozy, and safe house in which to grow and learn. The Woods woman finally had a place of her own that she could make a happy and wonderful home for her family. We again amended our family of 5 by bringing in two more wonderful animals, the not so fearsome Big Ben and gentle Eva. Sibling Rhodesian Ridgeback boxer mixes that Jumped right into and became a part of our woodland dream.

So you have met the immediate woodsman’s family. I of course plan on bringing the extended family into the story a little farther down the line. I would never miss a chance to introduce the Wee Woodsman’s wonderful Nana and Papa. Or the Woodsman’s multitude of Brothers, Sisters, Nieces and Nephews. But their story is for another day.

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