Friday, December 30, 2011

Plant Protein

I found an interesting fact about plant protein in a botany textbook called "Introductory Plant Biology 11th edition" which I am using as a source of information for my upcoming gardening project.

Some plant food-storage organs, such as potato tubers and onion bulbs, store small amounts of proteins in addition to large amounts of carbohydrates. Seeds, in particular, however, usually contain proportionately larger amounts of proteins in addition to their complement of carbohydrates and are very important nutrition for humans and animals. One example of an important protein source in human and animal diets is wheat gluten (to which, incidentally, some humans become allergic). The gluten consists of a complex of more than a dozen different proteins.

A seed's proteins get used during germination and its subsequent development into a seedling.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Homemade Bread

God is good
God is great;
Let us thank Him for our food. 
By His hands we all are fed, 
Give us Lord our Daily Bread. Amen. 

This is my family's typical mealtime prayer it's something we have said as a family before our dinners for as long as I can remember. I'm not religious, but I do like the part about daily bread.

For my upcoming garden project, I will make my own bread a couple of times every week. I thought about using a whole grain wheat instead of unbleached flour but decided against it because white flour is more versatile than whole grain for other baked goods. 

Here are the ingredients for 1lb loaf of bread put into the bread machine for 2hrs 40min. 

2-1/2 cup Unbleached Flour
2/3 cup Warm Water
2 tbs Butter
5 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Yeast
1-1/4 tsp Salt

Friday, December 23, 2011

Egg Nutrition

This is a picture of possibly one of the last store bought eggs I will eat for a looooong time. The orange one is a fresh egg which was still warm when I took it out of the nesting box. Fresh eggs are tastier than the ones from the store and have a tougher yolk. My backyard chickens also lay much more nutritious eggs because they have a varied diet. It is comforting to know the chickens that produce my eggs are not pumped full of hormones and not crammed into little cages. The EU is set to ban battery cages on January 1st 2012. 

How nutritious are chicken eggs? I took a hiking class in college, and the instructor told the students that eggs are one of the most nutritious foods to bring while hiking because they are packed full of vitamins and nutrients. Eggs are a great source of protein. One thing I found interesting is that the protein content rises when eggs are cooked. A raw egg only has 51% of the protein which can be absorbed in humans and cooked eggs have 91%.  The B-12 content also rises with cooking. According to Wikipedia, free-range hens tend to produce eggs with higher nutritional quality in having less cholesterol and fats while being several times higher in vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids than standard factory eggs.

 When I lived in Germany, I noticed that the eggs were not refrigerated in the grocery stores. Eggs do not need to be refrigerated if they are fresh. One thing which has surprised me is how clean all of the eggs have been. The hens have laid 4 out of 7 eggs directly in the nesting box which is only a straw-filled plastic tub with a wooden egg in it. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

First Egg

One of the chickens has finally laid an egg!!!

It feels like it has taken them FOREVER to start laying eggs. I have 5 Australorps and 3 Dominickers all of them are 164 days old or 5-1/2 months. The day my chickens hatched they were put in a box and shipped across the country. It just seems so unnatural to receive baby chicks in the mail. 

I’m not sure if this is an Australorp egg or a Dominicker egg. The shell was very thin and cracked at the top, so I didn’t eat it, but the yolk was a healthy looking orange-yellow color.   

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Canning Applesauce

I spent part of the weekend canning applesauce. It was the first time I have ever canned anything by myself. The half bushel of apples made a little over 18 pints of applesauce. Total preparation time took about 4hrs. The vast majority of that time was spent in waiting for the pressure cooker to seal the jars which took a total of 45min for each of the two batches.

The first step in making applesauce is pealing. I used a handheld potato pealer, but I'm sure there are special apple pealers available for those who want them. I sliced the apples and put them in a couple of large pots with about an inch of water in the bottom. I heated the apples until they had softened then I mashed them with a potato masher. The total amount of brown sugar for 18 pints of applesauce was 1cup. The brown sugar isn't really needed, but I like the color of darker applesauce. I also put about 4tsp of apple pie spice which is just powdered cinnamon and nutmeg and is really unnecessary, but it tastes excellent.

The next step of the applesauce preparation is canning. Each pressure cooker is a little different and yours should come with a booklet which tells you at what pressure and for how long each food to seal in the jar. My book said pints of applesauce should be brought up to 15 pounds and then the heat can be turned off. It is extremely important to NEVER open the lid of a pressure cooker while it is cooking.

There were so many pealings left over which made an apple feast for my chickens. 

It gave me such a feeling of accomplishment to have finished with making my own applesauce for the upcoming year :)