Friday, January 18, 2008

Candle Making and Artisan Bread

My family has really been getting into learning how to do things lately. From cheese making to candle making to home made bread. Didn't get any pictures of the cheese but it was pretty good. The candles, they made with bees wax. It wasn't from our bees, they had to buy it because our bees have not been successful the past two years. Our bees from 2007 might have done well but we had a bear tear into them and they never recovered. It was too late in the season.

Well, this post isn't about bees anyway it's about learning to make things for ourselves. It's pretty cool really, to see something like candles transform before your very eyes.

This way of making candles is a long slow process, but it works. The kids have known how to do this for a long time now since they did it while they were in the 4-H when we first moved here.

However this is the first time they have used bees wax for anything. I really like the idea of using it because if we ever get good at raising bees then we'll always have wax.

It's fun when they actually start taking shape after all that dipping. It takes longer with real hot wax but it makes for a nice looking finish. Cooler wax seems to go on thicker with each dip though. I think most people know how to do this. You just take the wicks and dip them in hot wax, let them cool and do that over and over until you wind up with a candle.
These are the finished products hanging up and ready for use. In the below picture you can see one of them in action. They are a nice burning candle with no mess whatsoever.

Shalea our oldest has been making bread for a while now. She's been making these kind in the below picture. The only problem is that we go through it pretty fast especially when it's fresh out of the oven. Nothing like hot buttered bread right out of the oven. Hmm good!

Lately she's been thinking of getting into artisan bread making and I'm sure it would make a nice little enterprise to add to our farm produce. In fact I believe it could easily become a center piece business for her.
Here are some more artistic types of bread she's learning to make. In fact earlier she made these loaves for tonight's meal.
I've been doing research about wood fired artisan bread ovens in hopes that in the not too distant future I can build one. I've found some plans available online and it doesn't look too complicated though like everything it looks to be fairly labor intensive.

Speaking of labor intensive there is another thing we'd have to deal with if Shalea is going to do this on any large scale and that would be some mechanical means to knead the dough. She hand kneads it now which gives her a pretty good work out. Doing alot of bread would wear a person out I think.

Here in this picture we are about to sit down to this fine meal. Salad, corn, home grown carrots, farm raised chicken and home made bread. We aren't rich by worldly standards but, we eat like kings!

It is a satisfying thing to learn how to do something for yourself in this day and age when almost everything can be bought in a store. People make things in factories but usually all they have to do is push a button. Or they only do one or two things on an assembly line. But hand crafted one of a kind pieces of work are hard to find these days. And you sure can tell the difference too. That is, between something that came off an assembly line and something that is a unique one of a kind. Something that is as unique as the individual who made it, with their own two hands and the intellect and skill that God gave them.

Until Next Time


Blogger John said...

Russ, On the subject of bread, my wife uses a sourdough starter that she maintains. Excellent bread!

The Deliberate Agrarian had a post a while ago on a temporary earth oven. This may be something that is relatively easy to try to see how well they work on the bread. Here is the link...


8:04 AM  
Blogger RL said...

Hi John,
Thanks for the link. I remember seeing that post of Herrick’s but, never read it in entirety. He has a great way of explaining things so I will be sure to read the whole thing this time.

Take care and God bless.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Lynn Bartlett said...

Hi Russ,
Your daughter's bread looks great! I baked breads for our local farmers market, and actually made a lot more money with it than the boys did on their garden produce. Can't believe how few people bake from scratch any more. I use a Bosch for kneading bread dough, as it is way too hard on my wrists to do it by hand. We have friends that purchased a used floor model Hobart mixer, and I sure would like to get ahold of one of those if I continue to sell at the farmers market.

The candles look great, too!

(We were glad to get to know your family a bit through Steve; he came to visit after he was over at your place.)

7:08 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Hello Lynn,

Thanks, I'm always glad when our kids find an outlet for their creativity and when they develop new skills that they can take with them where ever they go.

A natural health food store down in Rhinelander is now selling fresh baked bread and it seems to be going over very well, so I'm not surprised to hear that yours does well also.

We do have a KitchenAid that she uses. She tells me that she usually does two batches at once, putting one in the machine and doing one by hand. Sounds like the Hobart would be something more in line with higher production.

We had a great time visiting with Steve. I knew just from all the blogging that we all share many of the same values and beliefs. After meeting him in person I am now even more sure.


7:39 PM  
Anonymous James Morris said...

Hi Russ,

Do you grind your own flour? (I can't remember whether you've written on that subject or not.)

I got a hand-crank grain mill from Lehman's last fall, bought some wheat from Wheat Montana's website, and have been baking my bread from scratch ever since. Storebought flour is cheap (and less work!), but hand-ground has all the nutrients that storebought doesn't. It makes a bit heavier bread, depending on the variety of wheat, but then I like my bread a bit heartier anyway. Makes delicious muffins and cornbread too!

1:10 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Hey James,
No they haven't been grinding flour yet. But, that is definitely a next step. Like you said all the nutrients are still there. And I think there's a superior taste as well just like it is with everything that is fresh.

I'm with you on preferring a heartier bread. My mouth is watering as you describe those muffins and corn bread. Guess I’m going to have to find us a grain mill!

One down side to eating so good is I have to work a lot harder to burn off all those extra calories.


12:37 PM  
Anonymous James Morris said...

Oh, believe me, Russ, you'll work off some calories if you get a hand-crank mill like I did! :-)

Frankly, I was surprised at how much work it is. Not that I'm complaining at all. It's good work, and peaceful, like turning one's garden with a shovel. Plus I benefit from the workout.

But then again, I don't have a farm like yours demanding my time and effort. I spend about an hour every Saturday morning grinding the week's flour.

If you're considering a hand-crank mill, I'd suggest borrowing one first if you can. I suppose sometimes one has to trade good, pleasant work and high-quality product for efficiency - or else go hungry... like turning a garden with a shovel versus a rototiller, or splitting wood with an axe verses a log-spliiter. (Actually, it would probably be quite easy to attach a simple motor and mechanize a hand-crank mill, if one were so inclined.)

1:22 PM  

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