Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Month: October 2009

Attempting Sourdough Starter

I'm giving sourdough starter a try (again!) I've had limited success with sourdough in the past, and my dissatisfaction with our current bread situation is pressing me to try it again.

For a long time, I soaked my wheat Sally Fallon style before using the aid of my bread machine for the kneading and rising. Then I'd transfer the dough to bread pans for a final rising and bake. The process required several steps, but they were easy steps and the kids helped out a lot...until the non-stick coating started to peel away from the bread machine pan, so I decided to stop using it.

Then I started using a modified whole-wheat recipe from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes book, but for some reason the bread is rather dry and crumby. I can't stand putting so much time and effort into making bread when I don't really care to eat the finished product. So here I go with trying sour dough again.

Another motivator to get this started now is that I have a birthday coming up, a perfect excuse to try out a version of Wardeh's healthy Chocolate Sourdough Cake. Doesn't it look Dee-licious? I'll be using whole wheat rather than spelt and sucanat instead of cane juice. Can't wait to give it a try!

Viola Ruffner Wanna-Be

My kids won't appreciate it -- at least not for a while. But my aim is to become a Viola Ruffner to them.

Booker T. Washington credits Viola Ruffner for instilling in him the work ethic for which he is famous. Upon being freed from slavery, Washington held a few different manual labor jobs, primarily working in mines. Determined to do something better, he was hired as the houseboy of Viola Ruffner who was known for being able to keep only temporary help because of her high demands and expectations.

Washington lived with the Ruffners and worked for Viola for a year and a half, and in that time was instilled with a deep appreciation for hard work, a job well done, and honesty. He claims that after being in her charge, whenever he saw a broken gate, he wanted to mend it. When he saw trash, he wanted to pick it up. When he saw weeds, he wanted to pull them. (Now, I'm not really after that result with my kids - just some thoroughness in tasks around the house.)

Mrs. Ruffner encouraged Washington to further his education, was one of his benefactors, and he held her in extreme respect, calling her "one of the best friends I ever had."

I want to be a Viola Ruffner for my kids. (They'll cringe when they read this post, but they know I love them.) I'm terrible with follow-through on chores I give them to do, and I fear I'm letting them get away with half-baked work. My becoming a Viola Ruffner would be good for all of us.

But how am I going to become a Viola Ruffner? I think I should start with one task and hone it, hone it. I'm thinking of going for the jugular: kitchen clean-up. I have this rule in the house -- whoever makes a meal shouldn't have to clean up. (There is a lot of gray here, because in truth, many meals are partially prepared days in advance - bread, lacto-fermented items, etc. But the person assembling the meal doesn't have to clean the dishes or put left-overs away.)

While it's true that the kids are in the mode of handling clean up in the kitchen, it is almost never up to my standards, but I say nothing. Nothing. Isn't that they're doing it enough? Well, for a while that was enough. But now that the work routine is in place, the mechanics are lacking. Sorely lacking.

So now I'm thinking about inspections, checklists, points, etc. What incentive to give for them to get it right the first time. Speak to me, Viola!

What about you? Do you have a system for follow-up of daily chores? Do you spot check? Have a check list? Is it working for you?

I'm off to make a checklist of frequently neglected jobs associated with kitchen clean-up.

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