Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Testing Out the Mill

I got my mill yesterday.  To say that I was excited would be an understatement.  I couldn't get it out of the box fast enough or read through the instructions any more quickly, but I did take some pictures along the way.

Here 'she' is!  Hmm...quiet design.  That was about to be tested.

When I first turned it on, just to get an idea, all 3 of the girls instantly had their hands over their ears.  It sure was loud.  In defense of the mill, I didn't have the lid on top or the collecting bowl beneath it.  The directions said to run 2 cups of berries through to kind of 'clean' it out from packaging.

So, I ran the wheat berries through.  You put them in the 'hopper' on top and put the lid on and away you go!

It doesn't take very long for the berries to run through.  After doing my first 2 cups, I ran 6 more cups through to get an idea of a couple different things.  #1--I didn't want to do the full 13 cups that I could do, but enough to give it a good work out.  #2--I wanted to see if the ratio was correct *1 cup of berries = 1 1/2 cups of flour.* 

When it is milling, the noise isn't any worse than me running the vacuum cleaner.  As it got to the end of the milling process, it was a bit louder than my vacuum.  After it finished, I pulled out my flour.

I measured it out into a 1 gallon size, freezer ziploc bag.  I put 6 cups of berries in and got 9 cups of flour.  If you multiply that out, you are in fact getting the 1:1 1/2 ratio that I had heard about.  The last test was to figure out the number of cups of berries in a pound.
After hubby and I got home from our date last night, I did some more figuring.  One pound of wheat berries measures out to 2 1/4 cups of berries.  Based on the above ratio, you would end up with 3.375 cups of flour.  After running the 1 pound of berries through and measuring it, I had 3 2/3 cups + a couple of tablespoons.  When I weighed my flour, I had 1 pound of flour.  The moral of this story, I need to start weighing my flour for recipes instead of using a measuring cup.  I have read that it's better to weigh your flour, but I've always been skeptical of this.  We'll have to give that a whirl too!

The first loaf of bread I made caved on me.  It's still good to eat though.  The bottom of the loaf is good for sandwiches and the top is good for toast.  The second loaf I made looks a bit more pretty.  I did measure my ingredients using measuring cups/spoons.  I do have to say that by using fresh milled flour, my loaf is mighty happy.

This was my second loaf.  Yes, it really is that tall *if you know bread makers, this is fairly common.*  I cut the loaf in half *from top to bottom* and it gives us two loaves instead of one.

I'd also like to make a straight whole wheat loaf.  I may even try out some of the recipes that were in the users manual.  So far, we're really happy with it.

We'll have plenty of new adventures with our new mill.  We'll be having plenty of pancakes and nummy things in the next few weeks.  The girls will be my test subjects. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Walking With Good Form

Did you know that when you walk for fitness purposes that you should have good form?  Do your hands swell when you go for a long walk *to the point where your rings may not come off?*  Are you getting shin splints?

I could certainly answer yes to the hands swelling.  I wondered why this happened and looked it up.  There is no precise scientific proof about the reason for it happening, but some say it's because when you swing your arms, you're forcing more fluid into your hands by 'centrifugal force'.  There are several 'theories' on this, some of which you can find here.  Since I read about some remedies for this 'problem', I have started walking with my arms at a 90-degree angle with my hands in a loose fist.  Because I am doing that now, I have had less hand swelling.  I can actually get my wedding rings off should I need to when I finish a walk.

I found an article about proper walking form.  You can find that here.  The article definitely has you think about your walking form.  I certainly encourage anyone who walks or runs to stretch after they finish.  It makes such a big difference in how you feel the following day.  No skimping!

Keep walking!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A new adventure!

I am starting a new adventure, once one very important piece of equipment arrives.  I'm not really sure what started me into researching it, but I started looking into milling my own flour.  We use so much of it, as we bake bread *a post devoted to bread making is here*, make pancakes/waffles, bagels, cookies, etc.  We do a lot from scratch.  I like to do it and the girls love it.  If I let them, they'd stand in the kitchen and eat an entire loaf of homemade bread...plain.  Of course, being a good momma, I don't let that happen...much.

So, I ordered my mill.  I was all set to order the Messerschmidt grain mill attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer *seriously, I had it in my virtual cart* when I was reviewing the specs on it...again.  The big thing that stuck out was that you need a Kitchenaid mixer with a max wattage of 325.  I had thought that all mixers were about the same, but I figured I'd look at mine to be on the safe side.  I'm glad I did!  When I flipped my beauty over, it said 250.  Then I went about looking to see if it was necessary to have 325 watts and out of all the sites I looked at, only one said 250!  Let's be clear about something, I love my Kitchenaid mixer.  My grandparents gave it to me *and hubby...I suppose* as a wedding gift.  And really, it's mainly mine.  I'm pretty sure the only time hubby has touched it has been to wipe the top of it or around it.  Moving on.  I use it A. Lot.  I use it for baking: cakes, cookies and bread.  I use it for canning:  applesauce, spaghetti sauce and ketchup.  I've used it for making baby food and grinding up chicken.  I have pictures of my oldest standing at the mixer, 'helping' momma, and she has the same stance I do when I'm working at the mixer *one hand resting on top of the mixer*.  I've got a couple of the attachments, so it seemed logical to order the grain mill.  It is not logical to buy the grain mill and then have it burn up my motor, then have to buy a new Kitchenaid mixer *I really don't want to live without it, so I'd want a new one.*

With all that said, I've purchased a Nutrimill grain mill.  Expensive.  That's what I have to say about it right now.  I've done my research on freestanding grain mills too.  I saw some that were over $400.  I saw some for about $30, but those were hand mills, and let's be honest, do I really want to try and hand mill my flour?  Probably not.  The price per pound for wheat berries is actually cheaper than buying the generic whole wheat flour from Fry's *aka Kroger*.  And since we go through a lot of flour *I figured we'd have gone through at least 10 pounds of whole wheat flour this month...maybe more*, this seems like a logical step.  At some point, we will recoup the cost of the grain mill.

My mill should be here by Monday.  In the meantime, we'll be using my store bought flour. 

Oh and our new favorite bread recipe can be found here.  It is so yummy!  I do tweak it just a little because I don't want to buy powdered milk right now.  So, I use half milk and half water.  I also double the recipe to have a bigger loaf.  I didn't have millet before, but I picked some up at our whole food store on Monday.  I also like to split the sugar into different kinds; sometimes I use brown sugar and white sugar.  Other times, I use honey, but you have to watch the amount of liquid you have in your breadmaker so you don't have 'soupy' bread.  I think I may try molasses in a future batch.  I'll keep you posted.

And one other thought about fresh milled flour.  Apparently, once you go fresh, you don't want to go back.  Hmm, we'll have to wait and see.  Stay tuned for more blogging regarding our new adventure.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The balance game...

I'm not one for trying to keep things in the middle.  I'd rather have it one way than the other.  Right now I'm struggling with either wanting to eat everything in sight or...feeling sick to my stomach.  My emotions are definitely playing a role in this 'game'.  I dislike this game.  When I first began my journey, the instant reaction to feeling overwhelmed was to reach for food.  I still have that reaction, but my tummy also revolts.

I guess being like this makes me a typical woman.  For illustration purposes, a lot of women lose weight before they get married.  They are stressed and busy.  It just happens.  This woman gained it.  I reached for the food that comforts me when things go wrong.  This instance is no different and it makes me typical in that when I reach for food in this state, I want it to be carb-ish and satisfying.  Carrots, lettuce, or any other green like vegetable, aren't my first choice.  They should be, but they aren't.  What can I say?  I'm still learning and growing in my journey.

I am also struggling with my morning time.  I have been getting up between 5 and 5:30 to get my walk in *on days that I can*.  This could also be a prime time for me to work on the study I just bought.  I need the walk, but I also need the study.  So, I've been choosing the walk.  I'm still not convinced that it has been the right choice.  My body needs the exercise *it even craves it now*, but my soul needs to be fed too.  It's such a fine balance in this area too and I wish I had the right answer.

I know it seems like I have my 'stuff' together, but mostly...I don't.  My life is not perfect.  My food choices aren't always stellar, my children are rarely well behaved aren't always well behaved, my house isn't immaculate, I always often forget things, I verbalize my thoughts better on paper *or blog* than out of my mouth, I generally have good intentions, and I often feel like my feelings/opinions don't matter/can't be voiced.  While these things aren't always visible to the naked eye, they are who I am.  If I seem quiet...I'm contemplating, hurt, and/or sad.  If I seem talkative and outgoing...I'm feeling good and am ready to take on the world.

So, I'm continuing to balance or seek to find balance. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

100 miles in!

On my walk this evening, I hit my first 100 miles *walking only*.  The best part?  It hasn't quite been a month since I started my challenge.  I began on June 8th and today is the 2nd!  Awesome!  It's been 25 days.  This is quite an accomplishment for me.  I've even logged a 10 mile walk in the last 25 days.  I would never have thought at this time last year, that I would be walking for as long and as far as I am.

What do I have left?  I have 398.1 miles left to go before December 31st.  It leaves me just about 6 months to complete my goal. 

I have just recently signed up for the American Cancer Society’s Climb to Conquer Cancer up Snowbowl in Flagstaff.  I am so excited about it.  It’s nearly 7 miles to the top, but I’ve got that in the bag.  My friend and I will be doing it together.  That is also awesome!

Since I started my walking challenge, I’ve had several people offer to go for a walk with me.  It’s kind of weird, but it is also good.  Maybe I’m having a positive effect on people.  The other interesting thing?  I have had so many people recognize me around town and will say, “You’re really out there walking, aren’t you?  How far are you going now?”  When I tell them that I’ve completed a 10 mile walk or that some of my routes include a 7 to 7 ½ mile walk, they’re amazed!  Some of them also walk and have encouraged me to keep walking, even during the winter time.  I appreciate that!

And one last little feel good moment.  When I was into our grocery store the other day, the gal that works in the bakery says, “You really have lost a lot of weight, haven’t you?”  I told her that I had and how much.  She was thoroughly impressed.  The odd thing?  She doesn’t know me by name and she only sees me when I’m at the store…getting milk!

There are little things that give you the boost that you need.  Some days are harder than others.  There are days where you would never think that it would be any other way.  I’ve had moments recently where I’ve thought about where I was and where I am…I don’t want to go back.  It’s a good reminder and always serves as a great kick in the pants.

Never give up!