Bread & Wood

Bread & Wood

Handcrafted Artisan Bread & Hardwood

Paddle for Robert

 

For Sabrina

Live edge cherry iPad stand

Live edge spalted maple iPhone dock

live edge Birch iPhone speaker dock

Smooth edge maple speaker dock

Beer Samplers - Solid Black Walnut

 

Wormy Walnut Slab for Scot

 

White Ash Slab #2 for Scot

 

Cherry Slab #2 for Scot

*NOTE: this slab is only 1.5" thick.

 

Walnut Slab #2 for Scot

 

Walnut Slab for Scot

Rough sawn live edge walnut slab.  2.25" thick by 15" wide.  Slab has a slight bend in middle.

White Ash Photos for Scot

This live edge white ash slab is a beast.  Dimensions are 2.25" thick by almost 2 feet wide by 77 inches high.  This slab can be cut down to 60" if desired.  These pics are of the slab in rough sawn form.  The imperfections in the middle of the slab are saw marks and would disappear with surfacing.  White ash is a desirable, lighter colored Ohio hardwood that makes great furniture.  

Cherry Slab Photos for Scot

Live edge cherry slab has been mostly surfaced, but will need a bit more.  Photos are with no finish applied.  One single slab from the tree - no glue ups.  I would estimate final dimensions at 1.875" thick by 16" wide by 60" long.  Cherry hardwood will darken over time.  Wood will also darken and shine once finish is applied.

And the Winner Is...

Congratulations to Kelly Churchwright for winning the spinach feta bread naming contest with Feta Accompli!!  Way to go, Kelly.  Loaves thanks you for your creativity.  

Kangaroo Hops!!

 

Kevin the Kangaroo

 

Sammy (and the rest of the family) very much enjoyed a pic sent over today from a friendly hardwood customer in Australia.  Please allow me to introduce Kevin, an orphaned pet kangaroo, making his debut photo shoot here on breadandwood.com munching on a piece of bread.  He used to sleep in a pillowcase hung on the wall to mimic a pouch, but has grown too big and now sleeps on a deck chair on the verandah.  Kevin has inspired us at present to work on our hops!!

 

-Jason

Wild Yeast Class March 15

 

Wild Yeast (Sourdough) Bread Class

 

LOAVES is excited to finally offer a bread class to those out there who have pondered the mysteries of baking with a sourdough culture or who have a desire to increase knowledge of those wild yeast beasties.  The first bread class will be held on March 15, from 8am-4pm, at the residence of Kim Coffey, owner and head baker of LOAVES.  From the class, you will be baking two different types of bread and take away the following: 

 

-Up to 4 loaves of fresh bread

-2 wild yeast recipes

-A wild yeast culture for baking at home

-Continued correspondence with Kim for any future questions

-Hopefully lots and lots of valuable information about baking wild yeast breads!

 

The class is geared toward beginner to intermediate wild yeast bakers.  The class fee is $75.00 per person; however, scholarships are available to those who may not be able to afford payment.  Please email Kim to inquire further about financial aid.  Group rates may also be available. 

 

Deadline for sign-up is March 7.   Full payment is required by March 10.  No refunds offered unless for extreme, unforeseen circumstances.

 

To sign up for the class, please email Kim Coffey at loavesbakery@gmail.com for an official "application."   

 

Looking forward to baking with you! 

Wisdom from Siberia

"As they say, you can take away anything from a man - his wealth and health and suchlike - but you can't take away his craftsman skills.  Once you learn a trade, you always know your trade for the rest of your life."  -Gennady Soloviev

 

 

Custom Knife Block

Had fun building this custom black walnut and cherry piece from scratch for a very friendly couple in Oxford, and I very much appreciated the poetry reference upon delivery!

Across the Pond...

This figured black walnut piece will be heading out to a client in Australia tomorrow, where I'm being told the temp is 120 F.  Oh, what I'd give for a day of just half that...  

The Drill Press Lathe

 

I've always been a believer in the phrase "Do what you can, with what you have, where you're at."  I suppose that mantra, in combination with a few other reasons a traditional wood lathe wouldnt work on this particular project, inspired the creation of this very simple "drill press lathe."

 

The job was a custom order for a round knife block.  The plan was to cut the block out square, round over the edges as much as possible with the router, and collaborate with a local wood turner to round out the piece completely.  However, with the slots for the knives having to be already cut in the top, it turned out to be more of a struggle to accomplish on the standard wood lathe.  How would we make sure the sacrificial end piece glued over the top had not squeezed glue into the knife slots and hardened?  What about wood tear out next to those knife slots when the top was then cut off?  Plus, we would need to come up with a jig for cutting off that sacrificial top piece on a perfectly round cylinder.

 

The solution seemed to be something simple on the drill press.  The set-up was fairly straight-forward...a bearing mounted to the bottom of the block and also to a straight 2X4.  The 2X4 is then clamped to the drill press table with the other end resting on the appropriate side of the drill press spine.  The thing I liked about the drill press here is it allows for manual tension to be applied as needed.  The key was finding the exact center of the knife block to mount the bearing on bottom, and then drilling the top hole also in dead center.  The same drill bit for drilling that top hole is then left in the press and serves as a bit of a stabilizer while applying tension.  Since the tension is applied downward, industrial double-sided tape was sufficient enough to hold that sacrificial top piece to our knife block and consequently solve the glue problem.

 

I've certainly no plans to turn any award winning pieces on the drill press, as I have a close and local friend, Glenn Johnson, who turns amazing wood art on the lathe.  I appreciate and respect his skills and talent needed to turn beautiful hardwood pieces on the wood lathe.  If you are like me and not a skilled woodturner and just looking to clean up a rounded out piece fresh off the bandsaw, I had some pretty good luck with this set-up…and kept all my digits, too.

 

-Jason

 

 

"I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods."    

-Wendell Berry

 

 

Winter Market

 

I was up at the Oxford Farmer's Market yesterday strictly as a consumer, and I just want to say all you vendors up there have my respect for keeping things going through the winter this year!  Keep warm!

 

"In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy."  -William Blake

Happy New Year!

 

 

Happy New Year to everyone.  I wanted to take time to write and thank everyone locally here in Oxford, across the country, and even internationally for all the help and support we had this year in the wood shop.  It was an amazing year for surpassing goals and meeting new people.  

 

Our wood products are currently being carried by two local Oxford businesses, and we shipped orders internationally to three different countries and 17 different U.S. states, including custom commercial orders for restaurants in Boston and San Francisco, and a new brewery in Cincinnati.  Our bread knives, cutting boards, and live edge pieces were also a hit locally alongside Kim's artisan bread.  Our hardwood was displayed uptown in the month of August, and we also had the opportunity to participate in this past year's Pyramid Hill Art Show.  I really couldn't have done it without your encouragement and your belief and commitment in supporting local business.  

 

It's times like these when I like to think back to the very beginning of the shop in the spring of 2010.  My wife and I were expecting our first child, and I remember having the desire to do something out of the ordinary that would show my support for her and also welcome our new child into the world.  We chose not to find out the sex of the baby before birth, so I needed something gender neutral, but I still wanted to come up with a creation of substance.  Getting back to something respectably old-fashioned, gritty, working with my hands, yet having to employ some patience and a certain set of skills - just felt right.  I decided to custom build the crib.

 

The crib is made of solid red oak, a very hard wood symbolic of the stability I wanted in our home.  The beardless picture (4 years and 10 lbs. ago) is of me having completed the build in the shop before applying the finish.  There are 104 total mortise and tenon joints.  Each slat was rounded and precision mortised into the rails on top and bottom.  I remember ordering plans and the hardware kit online and wondering if I could realistically complete the build in time.  "Oh, what a looming DEADLINE," I thought.  I remember the feeling of losing myself in the details of the build, sometimes forgetting to eat or sleep, and sought pleasure in knowing this piece of furniture would securely hold our firstborn.  Indeed, it did get done in time, as well as an oak chest of drawers that doubled as our changing table…both of which are now being used to sleep and change the diapers of Samuel's younger sister, Sarah.  And yes, I did hop in the crib to test it upon completion, and thankfully it held….(otherwise you wouldn't be reading this).

 

The crib connected me to something deeper inside myself that I've since become very aware of making space for - a desire to create.  In addition, Kim and I share a belief that it is healthy, physically and spiritually, to work with one's hands.  Combine all this with a belief in making use of those resources God has sustainably provided us, and it has made for quite an exciting journey thus far.  I am curious, ambitious, and hopeful as we head into 2014.  I wish you and your families all the best in the new year!  If you're in Oxford tonight, STAY WARM!

 

-Jason

Stollen

Just to give a little info about the stollen-baking process, here's a blurb on how we make stollen with wild yeast at Loaves.  

 

The mixing takes place first, of course, where we load the dough with rum- and orange extract-soaked dried fruit.  Our dough contains freshly-grated organic orange and lemon zest and very little processed sugar (we use a little honey in the dough...and all the raisins are naturally sweet.   The cherries, however, do have added sugar).  The dough then goes through what we call a "bulk proof" for about 5 hours.  The loaves are weighed and pre-shaped into balls and left to rest for a few minutes.  Then comes the final shaping...

Fruit and nuts are placed into the middle of the loaf before it is folded over to complete the shaping (some use marzipan in the middle, but we prefer the fruit and nuts).  Stollen shaped in this way has been said to represent the wrapped Christ child.*
  
The loaves are left to "final proof" for approximately 8 hours and then loaded into an oven to bake.  As soon as the warm loaves are pulled out of the oven, they are brushed with butter and heavily dusted with powdered sugar.  
The loaves are left to cool, then wrapped in plastic wrap...and into the Loaves' bags they go, for the final presentation...ready for purchase and consumption!  :)

 

*www.stollenfest.com

 

 

 

 

Need a Marketing Designer?

 

 

This past year, I've discovered building a business has to be so much more than what one person can accomplish in order to be successful.  Tonight, I'd like to give a shout out to my professional marketing designer, Adam Minard.  Besides being a really cool dude, this guy has been instrumental in building my client base this year.  If you need design work of any kind, Adam is your man...get in touch with me, and I'll put you in touch with his many talents.

 

-Jason

White Ash Tree Milling

 

A special thanks to local Oxford woodturner, Glenn Johnson, who helped me mill, split, and haul a large, beautiful white ash tree.  Glenn cut several interesting wood chunks that he will be turning into stunning wood bowls.  If you haven't seen Glenn's beautiful bowls, well, you need to...  

 

We calculated the tree's age by the rings at the base at 50+ yrs.  So I guess the tree was just getting its start around the time the Beatles were recording their first hit, "Love Me Do."  Certainly a swell tune, but I'm more of a "Rocky Raccoon" kinda guy...right, Kim??  Though I don't have much love for the Emerald Ash Borer - the one responsible for this tree having to come down - my family and I will enjoy all the heat, hardwood products, and great conversations this tree will bring to my home and my local community.

 

I always like finding trees within Oxford city limits, where I live, because this will mean the wood will have been grown, cut, milled, dried, crafted, and finished all within my city limits....for this tree, a process that has taken over 50 years.

 

"The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more."  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

-Jason

Main Street Gourmet

 

We are pleased to announce our hardwood pieces are now on display and for sale at Main Street Gourmet in uptown Oxford.  We have several pieces that are unique to this local wine shop at 9 South Main Street, including cheeseboards, corkscrews, and bottle stoppers, which all make great gifts for the upcoming holiday season.

 

I had the recent privilege of sitting down with the always amiable and very wine knowledgeable shop owner, Chris Hensey.  Mr. Hensey has been in business for 14 years now, specializing in helping customers find that perfect bottle of wine.  He also has a custom corkscrew collection like none I have ever seen...(not that I have seen all that many)...but his was nonetheless pretty impressive.  After visiting for awhile, I learned that not only does Main Street Gourmet have over 800 different wine selections, they have a knowledgeable and helpful staff always present who will be of exceptional assistance with your selection - a unique offering here in Oxford.  In addition to the almost endless wine choices and ability to assist, they now feature craft beer and coffee, and if nothing else let me say when I walked in the shop smelled absolutely fabulous!!

 

For all the latest Main Street Gourmet features and offerings, check out their Facebook page

 

-Jason

Ambidextrous Bread Knife...

The creativity of my customers never ceases to amaze me.  This is a custom order for an ambidextrous bread knife shipping out this week to D.C.  What a great idea and less cost than buying two different handed knives.

 

-JB

Paul Bunyon Show 2013...

 

 

Just about anything you can dream up for the forestry industry, and it was there...great show, great food, and great company!

Stop by the booth...

 

 

Come see our hardwood at Pyramid Hill this weekend - show is Saturday 10am to 6pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm.  Lots to do...food, live music, games for the kids, and lots of cool creations!!  Admission is free, parking $5

We're in!...

 

Hokybe Farms

 

I recently finished up a milling job and tour at Hokye Farms, located in the western area of Oxford - what a wonderfully peaceful place!  They had a storm take down a good sized red maple and wanted to use the wood for chopping blocks, cutting boards, etc. and be able to say it came from the farm.  We milled the slabs into 2" planks and stacked them in the barn for air drying.  I will revisit again in six months with the moisture meter to check the drying progress.

 

Interacting with other local small businesses genuinely excites me and always gets my wheels turning.  You know, one of my pet peeves with the local food and product movement is the dominant and completely overworked phrase, "Buy local, buy local, buy local."  Sure, it's important to BUY local, but how does one buy local if the products he/she seeks are not being MADE and SOLD locally?  We need PRODUCERS at the local level - honest and hard-working people who continually take a risk and put themselves out there by putting their name on a quality product they produce.  Consumer and producer look each other in the eye, shake hands, and strike a deal - an inherently accountable, free market match made in heaven.  Because let's get real here - we can only consume locally to the extent that we PRODUCE locally.

 

Black angus farmer's, Matt & Mary Lynn Schwan, of Hokybe Farms are doing just this with a superior offering of locally produced beef products.  Their 80 acre 100% grass-fed Black Angus cattle farm is the real deal, complete with a herding dog named Henry.  Having been at it for almost a decade, they've stayed true to producing local, healthy food products, which has included rotational grazing practices and ZERO use of pesticides or commercial fertilizers on their pastures.  I grilled up some of their ground beef the other night, and it was one of the best burgers I've ever tasted.

 

So if you're local to the Oxford area, and find yourself asking, "Where's the beef?"  Get to know Matt and Mary Lynn at their booth every Saturday morning at the Oxford Farmer's Market.  They are located right across the aisle from our bread and wood booth.

 

-Jason    

Local and Across the Country...

Not that we need any more pictures of me on here, but check out the little wood stand to my left...yes, all the way in San Francisco, I tracked down one of Jason's pieces that he sold to a little wine and cheese bar called Fig and Thistle.  There I am, all the way from Ohio, standing next to Jason's beautiful i-Pod holder, also all the way from Ohio.  The owner, Angel, was so excited, she gave me and my baking friend Sara a free glass of wine.  In exchange, I sent her some locally roasted coffee beans from Corduroy Coffee upon my return to Oxford.  I love sharing our town with the rest of the U.S.  :)  

 

Chestnut Trees

 

 

 

Last week I came across some beatiful Chestnut trees just east of Oxford.  The Chestnut tree belongs to the same family as the Oak and the Beech, but it's quite special to come across one nowadays.  It is reported that the discovery of a Chestnut blight fungus was made public around the Long Island, New York area back in 1904, and just 40 years later the blight had killed almost four BILLION, that's billion with a B, American Chestnut trees.  I've heard older woodworkers talk about working with Chestnut hardwood, always with a gleam in their eye.  Although quantities of Chestnut hardwood can still be obtained today - it's mostly reclaimed, and fairly difficult to get your grubby mits on any as a woodworker now.  I was happy just to stumble across these trees in the area and hope we see a resurgence in their population someday.  I believe the trees I came across to be Chinese Chestnut, though I'm not for sure.  I'd certainly welcome any comments if you know based on these pictures.  The fruits were very green, round and prickly, almost like a sweetgum fruit, but larger and spinier.

 

-Jason

Welcoming A New Artist

 

 

 

 

I've had the privilege of welcoming an aspiring new artist to the woodshop this month.  Amanda Hust (pronounced hoost like roost) has kicked off her apprenticeship by handcrafting this beautiful, just under six foot mahogany and poplar shephard's staff.  She used no lathe and very few power tools, digging in (literally) with a hand plane and a work ethic that would make a lifetime logger in Oregon on overtime jealous.  Amanda is quite the musician as well, recording and producing her own original content.  Join me in welcoming Amanda, as I'm sure you'll be seeing her around Oxford.

Bentwood Rings

 

I've been tooling around with the idea of a wood jewelry product line for some time now.  We've recently begun experimenting with the bentwood ring, which is a certain technique for making higher end wooden rings.  The photo is of some rings we recently produced utilizing the bentwood ring technique (one black cherry and two black walnut rings).

 

A ring simply cut out of a regular block of wood presents challenges, mostly durability and strength issues.  It's quite easy to break a wooden ring cut straight from a larger piece of wood.  These issues are minimized and mostly eliminated with the bentwood technique.  

 

With bentwood rings, the maker starts with a very thin strip of hardwood veneer, then steams and wraps the veneer.  Because the long grain of the wood is used, the resulting ring is much stronger and more durable when compared with a regular ring simply cut from wood.  I have to say I find steaming the wood the most fascinating part of the whole process because I took a regular, un-steamed, dry thin strip of veneer and attempted to wrap it and it snapped...but just the right amount of steaming allows the wood to bend without breaking.  Once the wood is dry, it has a certain memory in the way it was wrapped.

 

We look to begin production on our bentwood cherry and walnut rings for sale sometime this fall.

Infusion Spirals

 

 

Locally and sustainably harvested maple infusion spirals for a local beer brewer.  They were produced from a tree taken down in my neighborhood, so the entire process was done here locally.  They will be soaked in with the beer for several weeks to enhance the flavoring...and they really do the job, as I was given a recent batch of beer with and without some of my cherry spirals....I was amazed, you could definitely taste the difference - much sweeter taste with the wood.  

 

They're tough and time consuming to make by hand but the process is always rewarding.

 

-Jason

Collected Works Show

 

 

 

This coming Friday evening, August 2nd, I will be doing an artisan hardwood show at Collected Works uptown Oxford (29 East High St).  The show will be from 6:00pm to 8:00pm but stop by anytime.  There will be beer and wine and lots of wood.

 

-Jason

Continued Support for Sourdough

Well, as you know, I love sourdough (aka wild yeast), partially because of the rich flavors it brings out in the grains, but also for the health benefits of which I continue to discover through reading as well as through talking with other bakers.  Within the first 10 minutes of my first Artisan III class at the San Francisco Baking Institute, the owner of the SFBI dove into the gluten-free movement.  With the exception of people with Celiac's Disease, he is pretty much convinced that if good flour is used and the process is right, gluten shouldn't be an issue for most people.  "The flour is not to blame, it's the process..." he said Monday morning, which is supporting a lot of what I am reading now-a-days.  It seems there are more and more testimonials, too, that support this claim.  

 

I can't recommend anyone with a gluten intolerance go out and try a wild yeast bread, as I am not a doctor nor do I wish to be the cause if anyone were to get sick, but I can't help but continue to be intrigued as I read as well as talk with more bakers.  

 

Through a few members of the class (and the instructor), I learned of a bakery called Berkshire Mountain Bakery in Massachusetts (mark that one down as one more I need to visit!).  They firmly believe in sourdough and give a good explanation on their "about us" page.  I have posted it below for those who are interested.  

 

I'll keep moving along with this and keep hoping there is more education and more research on the sourdough process.  It was just nice to hear from others that they are discovering some of the same--and passing along the joy of good bread-eating.  :)

-Kim  

 

"It is important to us that it be understood that we do not make sourdough bread because it has become fashionable or to uphold any particular tradition. The process of fermentation has been practiced for thousands of years and for good reason. Our ancestors, and virtually all preindustrialized peoples, soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, breads, cakes and casseroles. Through scientific research, we are now able to understand why and how it all works.  In addition, there are other important aspects to baking high quality, nutritious bread those being the role of proper hydration and the benefit of freshly milled whole grain flour.  We discuss all of this in greater detail below.

 

Simply stated, the sourdough process (fermentation) begins with a natural leaven or “starter” consisting of flour and water that are left to ferment.   Lactic bacteria and wild yeasts occurring naturally in the environment feed on nutrients in the flour and begin to multiply.   With this organic process, it is important that the baker pay attention to such elements as temperature and time.  These organisms transform or breakdown food components in the flour into a simpler form that is more easily digested and produces carbonic gas causing the dough to rise.  This is important for a lighter texture and even, thorough baking.  

 

Phytic acid (an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound) is present in all grains in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. Soaking or fermenting or sprouting grains allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid. A diet high in unfermented whole grains, particularly high-gluten grains like wheat, puts an enormous strain on the whole digestive system. 

 

Soaking, fermenting or sprouting grains also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, present in all seeds, and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these enzymes also increases the amounts of many vitamins, especially B vitamins. Enzyme inhibitors are part of the seed machinery and serve a purpose.  But these inhibitors are out of place in our bodies. They could stop our own enzymes from working.  Roasting seeds also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, but does not provide the enhanced benefits of soaking, fermenting or sprouting.

 

Berkshire Mountain Bakery bakes with sourdough to ferment the grains for our bread and uses sprouted grain spelt flour for our cookies (see Richard’s Bent – April 2008).   We also use proper hydration and freshly milled whole grain flour in our commitment to bring the most nutritious and delicious bread to you.   Bread is cooked grains.  What does cooked actually mean?  A grain is cooked when its starch component has been gelled.  When gelled starch comes in contact with the salivary enzyme during chewing, the starch is converted to maltose sugar allowing it to assimilate quicker during digestion.   The elements needed to cook grains properly are sufficient water, heat, and time.  If any of these three conditions are missing or inadequate, the starch will not gel properly resulting in breads that are harder to digest and less flavorful.

 

White flour has a good shelf life because there is nothing in it that can go bad. On the other hand, whole grain flour is composed of substances that can and will go bad/rancid (oxidation of minerals in the grain due to over exposure to air). This oxidation process begins after milling and although there are many theories regarding how long flour is “good”, no scientist will argue against the old adage of “the fresher, the better.”  Berkshire Mountain Bakery has addressed this issue by milling our whole grain flours on site using a slow stone mill. 

 

We have been baking for over 25 years always vigilant about how we bake, but more importantly, always informed as to why we use the method and ingredients that we do. Thus we can speak of a truly dynamic art of bread baking that involves a very basic interaction with nature. The result is authentic, wholesome and natural bread with a rich flavor and aroma that is light in texture and truly nourishing.

 

References:
Sally Fallon; Nourishing Traditions
Edward Howell, MD; Food Enzymes for Health and Longevity"  -From www.berkshiremountainbakery.com

 

Have Fun, Kim!!!

 

 

 

Best of luck to Kim in San Francisco this week, as she studies on advanced artisan breadmaking techniques at the San Francisco Baking Institute.  We will miss you, KB.  Have fun and we wish you time for fun and relaxation...and I know we'll all be missing the bread while you're gone!

 

-JB

Super Split

 

 

I was a little nervous about not having my winter's wood in yet, but the new log splitter came today and started to put my mind at ease.  I'm normally not a big fan of promoting the gas & oil machines, but this thing absolutely gets it done.  I first saw a super split in action at the Paul Bunyon Show a few years back and have been wanting one since.

 

So if you've ever used a regular log splitter, you know how long it takes for the head to come down and push through the log...then all the way back up....usually 15 seconds or so of cycle time, which may not seem like a lot.  However, add up the downtime with a whole winter's worth of logs and you're standing around "holding the lever" for quite awhile.  The super splitter boasts a cycle time of just 2 seconds.  You pull up on the yellow handle, and the head quickly comes in and splits your wood, then automatically returns.  It's efficiently a one man operation.  After Samuel and I got it put together tonight, we fired it up, and it split wood like a dream - just stay the heck out the way!!  Sam loved it....If he only knew the amount of work he will soon be doing on this machine....

From wheat to straw

 

So the wheat was a failure this year.  In an attempt to let it dry out, which it never did, we waited too long and the rain beat the wheat berries off of the heads and onto the ground.  But hey, we have a large pile of straw, and we purchased and learned to use a scythe.  I was surprised at the efficiency of the scythe...let me tell you, for tall grass the scythe is way more efficient and enjoyable than a weed eater.

 

Oh well, I suppose there's always next year, right?  We will try growing and harvesting our own organic wheat again for sure.

Our experimental organic wheat patch...

 

 

 

 

Come Early to Market...

 

 

Thank You, Oxford!!

 

 

Kim and I want to say thank you to everyone for coming out to the local Oxford Farmer's Market to see us and for supporting our local artisan bread and sustainably harvested hardwood.  We really enjoyed meeting everyone and look forward to seeing you all summer long!!

-Jason

Oxford Farmer's Market

 

 

Come see us, Kim and Jason, with our wild yeast, artisan breads and local hardwoods at the Oxford Farmer's Market starting Saturday, May 25!!!

Rhinegeist

 

I recently completed and delivered a custom black walnut job for a new craft brewery opening up in Over-the-Rhine called Rhinegeist.  They are in process of opening up the old Christian Moerlein brewery on Elm street, and it's really going to be something to see...and taste.  Opening looks to be sometime in June...I can say I have taste tested their dark beer called "Uncle" and it was spectacular!

-Jason

WE ARE NOW AT MOON!!

 

 

 

 

Today we dropped our first delivery off to Moon Co-op.  We are very excited to be working with everyone there locally.

 

-Jason & Kim

Walnut Lumber From Inside Oxford City Limits...

 

 

 

 

 

With the weather breaking this past week, we were able to get out this weekend and remove a couple black walnut trees for a local homeowner who wanted them gone because they were close to gardens and negatively impacting the growth of vegetation.  The naturally occuring chemical known as "juglone" is found in all parts of the black walnut tree and experimentally has been shown to be a respiration inhibitor, depriving some plants of necessary energy for metabolic activity.  Translation: don't try to grow stuff under a black walnut tree because it most likely won't do so well.  So removing the trees was at the top of the list of this local gardener before we got into the thick of gardening season....and that's exactly what we did.

 

We milled the sawlogs there onsite and really discovered some beautiful pieces.  The above piece is known as "crotchwood" and is the place where two branches come together and meet the trunk, exhibiting very unique grain patterns and formation.  You certainly won't find it at the hardware.  We slabbed most of the pieces 1.5 to 2 inches thick.  It will take at least a full 6 months for the lumber to air dry before it can be kiln dried, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how these pieces finish out in the fall.  What excites me is these pieces when finished will have been grown, cut, dried, worked, and finished all within Oxford city limits...a process that will have spanned decades from start to finish.  I'm thinking some very unique, locally produced live edge table tops and coffee tables might be a good use.

 

-Jason

Making the Most of Waste

With wood sales picking up over the past month or so, I've been thinking quite a bit about some of the waste I produce and how to more effectively utilize it in productive ways.  More specifically, all of my milling, planing, and sawing produces quite a bit of sawdust, most of which I collect through my electric dust collection system, and then feed to our compost pile.

 

So I've been wondering, what's the best use of my sawdust byproduct?  Well, of course, animal bedding and compost are two of the more traditional uses.  But this stuff is kiln dried to below 8%, so throwing it back in the ground does not have the greatest appeal to me.  After some research, I discovered there is actually a whole industry built around using kiln dried sawdust to make burnable "ecologs" called briquetting.  The final product is a small burnable log or briquette formed from compressing the sawdust.  There are no binders used, as the naturally occurring lignin in the wood binds the particles in the wood together to form a solid.

 

The problem is the briquetting industry uses HUGE equipment and machines to produce the final product.  From my rather limited research, there exists no briquetting machine designed for the small shop.  Can it even be done?  I'm not sure, but recently I contacted a local engineering professor who has expressed an interest in designing and building a simple, small scale briquetting machine that can be utilized by the small shop.  So we'll find out!  I am very excited about being involved in the process and am really looking forward to the day where I can say my shop produces zero waste from the sustainably harvested hardwood we are using.

 

-Jason

SOURDOUGH BAGUETTES

 
                                                                                   

Feeling ambitious?!  Try this sourdough baguette recipe.  I had a chance this past weekend to mess around with the recipe.  Baguettes can be really fun or really frustrating.  In this case, I had a lot of fun.  :)  I hope to experiment with it some more and get some whole grains in there...it's an all-white-flour baggie.

 

TxFARMER’s 36 HOUR SOURDOUGH BAGUETTES
(recipe found at The Fresh Loaf forum) (taken from www.bewitchingkitchen.com)

 

150 g very active sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
425g all purpose flour
300g cold water
10g salt

 

Mix water and flour into a lumpy mass, cover and place in the fridge for 12 hours.

 

Remove from the fridge, add the starter and salt to the dough, and mix until distributed. The dough will be very sticky, but you should resist the temptation to add more flour. Allow it to rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, kneading by the “stretch and fold method” every 30 minutes. The dough may rise about 30% of its total volume. Place the dough covered in the fridge for 24 hours.

 

Remove the dough from the fridge and let it warm up for 1 to 2 hours – you want it to rise but not get overly bubbly, because that will make shaping very tricky later. Divide the dough in four pieces, taking care not to deflate it too much. Place each piece over floured parchment paper, and let it relax for 40 minutes.

 

Shape each one as a baguette (for a nice tutorial, click here), proof for 30 to 50 minutes, and bake with initial steam at 460 F for 25 minutes.

 

Let it completely cool before slicing.

 

ENJOY!

 

Notes from Kim: Tried to keep a dough temp of 70-72 during initial proofing, and final proof was longer than 30-50 minutes.  It all depends on temperature--you just have to keep an eye on it. 

 

I divided this dough into two pieces, not four.  This will make two decent-sized baguettes. 

 

How to feed a 100% hydrated starter: for this recipe, you need 150 grams of starter.  To get that, do this the same time you mix the other flour and water to stick in the fridge: Feed the starter 67 grams AP flour, 67 grams water, and 27 grams of ripe starter.  Let it sit at about 70 degrees for 8-12 hours and then it is ready, depending on the temperature.

 

Also: If anyone without a scale is interested in trying this recipe, please comment and I will work on weighing out some of the ingredients to see approx. measurements. Weight is much more precise, but I think you'll still get a good bread with measuring.

The Local Scene: Morning Sun Farms

I took a bit of a drive this morning out to a small town called West Alexandria, Ohio, which is about 30 miles northeast of Oxford.  Even in the dull-grey late winter morning, it was a beautiful drive, and I was reminded what a gorgeous state we have.  I used to think the trees and fairly flat farmlands were a bit boring, but as I age I find such an appreciation for the beauty of the mid-west. 

 

Anyway, my drive found me at a farm known as Morning Sun.  A brick farm house and several barns sit about a quarter-mile off the road, and I drove my Toyota up the muddy rock driveway with grass-looking crops growing on either side.  One of those, I would later find out, was the beginnings of the Turkey wheat of which I was there to purchase.  

 

Dale Filbrun came out to greet me, and one of his sons loaded the organic wheat berries into the back of my car.  Before now, I’ve been buying my wheat from a little place in Clayton, Ohio, who receives shipments of wheat from Montana.  I’ve never seen their fields nor spoken with the farmers.  Now I can tell you I’ve seen the fields where some of the wheat that is going into your bread is being harvested, right here in the great state of Ohio, and I’ve met the man who makes it happen.

 

It’s no small feat to raise organic, heirloom wheat, especially in Ohio, where I’ve been told before that people don’t grow hard winter wheats because it doesn’t grow well in Ohio.  When I found out about Morning Sun Farms, I couldn’t believe there was a farmer growing these wheats in the area.  Without going into depth about the importance of hard wheats for bread (I’d like to dedicate another entry sometime to information about wheat and particularly Turkey wheat), I’ll just say that it’s very helpful in the development of gluten in the bread-making process, which is what makes breads stretch and have the ability to hold CO2 so it can “rise.” 

 

I’ve only been running a very very small business for a little over a year now, but in that amount of time I’ve had the privilege to meet some amazing business owners who are not only honest, hard-working people, but who also care about the health and wellness of their customers.  Dale grows grains and raises healthy animals for meat not because it is the most profitable and easiest route, but because he believes in what he’s doing.  I have so much respect for the hours and hours of dedicated work that goes into his farming that many people will never quite understand, and yet he does it anyway because he knows it is good.  His farming practices take care of the land and its people in a way that most modern farming doesn’t. 

 

If you haven’t checked out their stand, Morning Sun Farms sells excellent meats as well as organic grains right here in Oxford at the Oxford Farmer’s Market.  I highly recommend giving them a visit, as you’ll not only receive good products but kind and friendly service as well. 

 

I’ll be transitioning to Dale’s organic, heirloom Turkey wheat for all of my whole-wheat needs in about a week.  I’ll be grinding his wheat right here in the house, and it will go into your bread with great love.  :)

 

Get to know your farmers and producers.  There are some awesome people out there… 

 

Happy eating!

 

-Kim 

Steady business and lots of ideas...

 

The hardwood business has picked up more than I had anticipated over the past few weeks.  Currently, three or four custom projects are in the works in addition to the online selling, which continues to be steady.  I'm learning the tricky part of this business, or most any other business for that matter, is trying to accurately anticipate how much of which product you will sell and when...or I guess you could call it inventory...  

 

With the wood, after the tree is cut, the hardwood has to air dry for around six months before it can be successfully kiln dried to 6% moisture content, suitable for indoors.  This requires quite a bit of planning, storage challenges, as well as continuing to move existing product to make room for new hardwood.  I've got a great many ideas on improving efficiency, most of which require some decent capital expenditures.  First on the priority list is a portable sawmill to take the place of the chainsaw mill, which would improve milling efficiency by ten fold.  I'm thoroughly enjoying the challenges of trying to make it all work and realizing rarely do I ever get it just right on the first try.  So far, and I think Kim would agree, small business management really has a lot to do with perseverance....tweaking....trying again...

 

"Perseverance is a great element of success.  If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody." -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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