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You Can Do It!

 “Is there anything you don’t do?”

It is a question we get a lot here at Five Feline Farm. It’s true we do many things for ourselves; however the short answer is to the above question is: “Yes”. There are a lot of things we do not tackle. But, we certainly are of the mind set that anyone can do anything they want to do.

Today we want to encourage you to dream big. Make a list of all the things you might want to do. Don’t hold back. Put anything on your list that you have ever thought about doing. 

Pick one of those things.

What would it take to get to do that thing? Make another list of the steps involved, then start doing those things.

It really can be that simple, but it also requires work and dedication.

For example, almost two years ago, we wanted to start a podcast. Neither of us have any experience with podcasting, radio, television or anything even close. That did not deter us.

The list of steps to actually publish a podcast included google searches for programs and equipment to use, Youtube videos and even a Lynda.com short course. 

With the native Mac application “Garageband” and microphones ordered through Amazon, we recorded and edited our first podcast. A bit of research on Apple, Soundcloud and our own website host gave us everything we needed to know to set it all up and get it out into the world.  

On January 29, 2018, Episode 1 went live. By February 11, 2018, and the third episode, we were posting directly on fivefelinefarm.com/podcast. The first few episodes were rough. But as we kept doing it, week after week, we improved. At least the recording, editing and posting is smoother; and a lot of people tell us they are listening. Next week we will be recording Episode 100.

You can do this too.

Whether it is a podcast, Youtube channel, blog, business or whatever is in your heart to do. 

Just start.

If what you want to do is build a small business, especially a farmer’s market business, we are developing some tools you can use to walk through the process we followed. 

Let us know how we can help you. 

As always, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on this blog.

To Be Encouraged

I have been thinking a lot about encouragement lately.

So much so I even had to look up the definition. Sometimes knowing the history of a word helps to see the word in a new way.

Merriam Webster says encouragement can mean something that makes someone more determined, hopeful or confident, or even more likely to do something. It is the act of making something more appealing or more likely to happen.

Etymononline.com reports the word “encourage” is from the Old French word “encorgier” meaning to make strong or hearten. Vocabulary.com gave the following example of use:

“When you encourage the tomato plants in your garden, you water them to promote their growth and health.”

A perfect fit for what we do here at Five Feline Farm.

So many of you, our families, friends and customers, have encouraged us in what we do.

You have given us strength and hope to continue to build this business. You have promoted our growth and health.

We first met many of you at farmer’s markets or you made the drive to visit us at the Mercantile. Some we met through social media. You have become friends and fans.

You are each a part of what we do and why we do it.

Thank you for making us more determined, hopeful and confident.

Thank you for your encouragement.

Making Sourdough Bread, Part 2

A follow up to last week’s description of sourdough bread trials.

Last week’s post chronicled the first part of my sourdough bread trials. Today the story continues…

Experiment loaf number 3 followed a tried and true recipe from King Arthur Flour. I only wanted to make one small change: convert from a two loaf size recipe to one. Easy enough.

Except for one thing.

I got distracted and added twice as much flour as needed during the second step.

Another fail.

At long last I confessed my difficulties to my bread making friend and guru, whom I now refer to as The Bread Doctor. We talked of the bread making process for over an hour. He is far beyond my capabilities and understands the science behind how a good loaf of bread is born.

He asked for step by step information. What flour am I using? How long am I allowing between each step? How hot is the oven? I described my varied efforts.

He diagnosed the problem.

It is the starter.

I have not fed my starter adequately. I starved the poor thing.

Dr. Bread issued a prescription. Give the starter a good meal of pure whole wheat flour and water.

Back to the kitchen with apologies, I ground some hard winter wheat berries so the flour would be fresh and full of nutrients. Add 50 grams of bottled, room temperature water, then add 50 grams of my freshly ground whole wheat flour. After a night on the counter, the starter rewarded me with a bubbly, active existence.

With a bit of trepidation, but full of hope I started another loaf. This doug had a better texture than the previous attempts and produced a beautiful rise. I crossed my fingers and waited for the oven and the stone to thoroughly preheat.

Only one hurdle between me and a nice loaf of sourdough bread. Turning out the loaf from the basket. Sometimes, if the rising basket is not adequately floured, the dough will stick.

Shoot.

One corner stuck and I had to shake it out. Thankfully it did not deflate entirely. 40 minutes later, a beautiful, only slightly flat loaf was ready.

I could not wait for it to cool more than 15 minutes. It was piping hot when sliced. I know it should cool entirely before slicing. But that aroma!

The flavor was deliciously tangy. The crumb was creamy, the crust was chewy.

Finally.

Thank you Dr. Bread!

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Making Sourdough Bread, Part 1

Bread is often referred to as the staff of life. It is one of our oldest foods, dating back to the time when people discovered grinding grain into flour, mixing that flour with water and baking it into a palatable mass. Not only is bread an old food, it is the base for many a meal in many a culture. 

Our friend makes us bread. It is always wonderful. He gifts not only the efforts from his kitchen, but somehow in this giving of bread, he shares himself. Other friends have also brought bread to us when the Mercantile is open. Fresh, wrapped in a tea towel, still warm from the oven. They too shared of themselves. 

I want to make this kind of bread. The kind that shares more than just the physical nourishment, but adds encouragement.

My recent efforts have focused on sourdough bread. At the Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka, I attended several workshops about flour, gluten, bread and even a hands-on workshop where I walked away with my very own sourdough starter.

“It’s easy.” the presenter said. 

“Hard to go wrong.” she commented. 

“Very forgiving.” she instructed.

I came home, fed the starter and stirred up my first loaf of sourdough.

“Liar.” I said aloud, intending my comments for the Topeka presenter, even though she is at this moment thousands of miles away. 

Not a total loaf failure; my bread had a delicious flavor, but it was a flat, hard-crusted specimen. I thought I knew what went wrong. Too much water in the dough led to an extremely slack dough that would not hold it’s shape after rising. It spread out in the oven into a low mass that when sliced resembled something like biscotti. 

Time to try again.

The sourdough instructor suggested dipping one’s hand in water when kneading the dough instead of sprinkling with flour. That made sense to me. I have a tendency to work in too much flour because I have little tolerance for the sticky dough when I’m kneading. 

It’s time to get over that intolerance. This time I lightly sprinkled flour instead of using the water. It was still a very soft dough but felt much more likely to hold it’s shape. I prayed this loaf would turn out better. 

It did not. I turned out another tough, hard loaf. 

My comments this time contained words that do not bear repeating. 

I want to make sourdough bread.

Why am I so determined?

I like that sourdough tends to keep longer than other yeasted breads that do not contain oil or butter. I like having a simple flour, yeast (or starter), water and salt bread. I love the flavor. I want to know I can do it.

The saga of my quest to make a good sourdough loaf continues next week. 

In the meantime, follow all of the antics here at Five Feline Farm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you can’t make it to the onsite Mercantile here at the Farm, our on line store is always open.