With so many things going on the past couple weeks, what with our vacation and anniversary, I haven’t been able to share with you another exciting thing that took place at the start of my vacation — our home landscaping project for 2015 (yes, there will most likely be a landscaping project every year for the next couple years at least)!
But this year was the inaugural year, so we were fortunate enough to have the experts come in to help us, er, Philip’s parents. They’ve had far, far more experience with landscaping than either Philip or I have combined, so they shared their knowledge this time around in order to equip us for the many years of landscaping projects ahead of us. Thank you, Mom & Dad! :)
So, what did we do, you’re asking? Um, well, let’s just say we were ambitious. I felt like we did it all.
If you’re new here, we bought our house in December and while Philip has done an amazing job making our grass look nice and green this summer, spending hours on it each week, we still weren’t happy with the rocks or the plants surrounding the house. I don’t necessarily mind living in a suburban, cookie cutter neighborhood, but our yard is the one area where we can make it a little more unique — a little more us, if you will — rather than having the contractor’s typical shrubs and bushes in place.
All that to say, we started out by removing all the rock in the front and sides of the house. Easier said than done. We ended up with a big pile of free rock for our neighbors to fight over (okay, no fights actually ensued) and another big pile of mulch to replace the said rock.
With the rock and old bushes taken out, the fun part of deciding where to put the new flowers and grasses began. Philip’s parents have a keen eye for plants and landscaping, so they took care of the hard part of deciding what plants to buy and brought them all up from the family business, Hoerr Nursery & Garden Center, in Peoria, Illinois.
Knowledge was passed down from father to son when Philip learned how to lay mortar and brick for the new edging. He’s all set for the rest of the house we still have left to do! ;)
Our pile of mulch was eventually spread out over the finished space and plenty of water was given to hydrate our new plants. Project completed! Of course, that was a highly abbreviated version of a full 2-day project, but we’re so happy with how it all turned out. It gave our house a totally new and fresh look. Just what we were looking for!
Landscaping is no cake-walk, that’s for sure. Everybody worked up an appetite and that’s one area I had covered. :) To keep our energy from waning, I had energy bites and cookies at the ready and this Sprouted Whole Grain & Oatmeal Bread to give us the energy we needed for the day.
Have I mentioned how much I love to make bread? And making bread that has an outcome as delicious as this bread makes it even more rewarding! From kneading bread to watching a few ingredients turn into a full loaf of bread is so satisfying and lets my mind escape from anything that’s been bothering me. Heck, now that I’m thinking of it, why am I not making bread more often?
If you’ve always been uneasy about making yeast bread, I promise it’s not hard at all. It does take some time due to the time it takes to rise, but the active time of making the bread is actually quite minimal. With fall right around the corner and the weather cooling down soon, there’s nothing cozier than making a loaf of warm bread on a cool, fall Saturday. Sounds comforting, right?!
Now, back to the bread. I’ve made quite a few different breads in my life, but this is probably one of my new favorites. Not to mention, it’s loaded with lots of whole grain goodness! This bread is slightly sweet, but most of all, extremely moist! Because the oatmeal is soaked in water (called a wet mash dough), it helps keep the bread from getting dry.
The 1/2 cup of added sprouted grains (I used BioKinetics Organic Multigrain Living Flour) is just enough to add dimension and texture to the bread, but it’s not so full of seeds that it makes you feel like you’re eating “healthy food,” as my husband so politely phrases it (or like “birdseed bread” like I so impolitely phrased it as a kid at my grandma’s). In fact, my whole family over the landscaping project weekend loved it and asked if it was going on my blog — I was happy to oblige. :)
This flour that I used has a mix of several grains, including millet, rye, flax, barley, and triticale; simply put — a good mix of fiber. :) The fact that it’s sprouted means the flour is straddling the line between seed and new plant, making it more easily digestible and increasing the bio-availability of nutrients for us to use. Some who have a mild insensitivity to gluten have found they can sometimes tolerate sprouted grain bread, too.
Enough dietitian talk. While it’s important to increase the amount of whole grains we have in our diet, this bread makes it so easy to do that without even realizing it. It’s delicious, moist, filling, and makes the start of your day a good one — even if you do have a yard full of rock to shovel and pick. ;)
Sprouted Whole Grain & Oatmeal Bread
Makes 1 loaf
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup boiling water
- ½ cup warm water
- 2¼ tsp active yeast (1 package)
- 1/2 cup sprouted whole grain flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
- Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, pour boiling water over the oats. Set aside until it comes to room temperature (place in fridge to speed this along).
- In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the warm water and yeast. Let sit for a few minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add the cooled oats, the yeast mixture, and butter pieces to the flour. Mix until everything is well combined, and a dough starts to form.
- Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Add additional flour if the dough gets too sticky.
- Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until double in size, about an hour. Place in a warm location (in the sun), in a preheated oven set to 100° that is turned off, or on a heating pad.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface, punch into dough with the palm of your hand to deflate. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle that is slightly longer than your bread pan. Roll into a tight cylinder and fold ends under and pinch to closer. Place seam side down into prepared bread pan. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 375°. After the dough has risen, remove the cover, and place in the oven. Decrease the temperature to 350°, and bake for 30-40 minutes. It will sound hollow when taped on.
- Remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack.
Adapted from: Dinners, Dishes, & Desserts