Cranberry Pecan Bread -aka “CRACK”

Thought I would share the recipie which is essentially a variant to the No-Knead Bread Recipes.  Couldn’t be easier and it is unbelievably delicious.

  • 2 cups room temp water in a good sized mixing bowl
  • Add a short 1/2 tsp of dry yeast
  • let sit for 3-4 minutes for the yeast to dissolve and then stir until water is cloudy
  • add 4 cups flour mix (see below)
  • 1 heaping TSP of sea salt
  • heaping 1/2 cup of chopped/halved pecans
  • heaping 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup hulled sunflower seeds
  • OPTIONAL – 2 Tablespoons honey
  • Stir until dough is sticky – should be much wetter than usual bread dough – add water as needed
  • Cover with damp towel and let sit for 12-18 hours
  • Roll onto well floured surface and press the CO2 out of the dough.
  • Form a ball and let the dough ‘rest’ for 15 minutes
  • press the dough out again and form into loaf and place into rising bowl – seam side down
  • let rise for 90 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 450 F and place covered container (pyrex, dutch oven, bread cloche) inside to heat up as well
  • After dough has risen for 2 hours- total-, and oven is at 450 , remove baking dish to stovetop and roll dough into the baking dish so that the seam side is up.
  • Cover baking dish and return to oven
  • Bake 30 minutes covered
  • Remove cover and reduce heat to 425 for 10-15 minutes
  • Remove bread when crust is hard and deep golden brown
  • Let bread cool for as long as you can (10 minutes preferred, but I never make it that long!)
  • Enjoy!

Flour Mix: I use a 25% whole wheat mix:: 3 cups white + 1 cup whole wheat +  3 tbsp wheat germ + 1/4 cup wheat bran.  I also add 1/2 cup ground flax.  Mix very well with a spoon, etc.  I keep a large container of this mix on the counter and use it for much of my baking – from pancakes to bread to pizza dough.  As my kids and wife are all vegetarian, the extra protein and fats from the flax is good assurance of their health (we spend heavily on health ASSURANCE not just health INSURANCE) and the white flour ensures the bread is light enough to form a good crumb.

Latitudinal Thinking for 4 Season Harvesting

-8 (-22 C) air temp, but crystal clear early morning sunshine streaming through the windows. Steel cut oats simmering on the stove and the kids, animals, and I snuggled up reading on the couch in this first hour after dawn.  Perfect morning to be reading about growing food every month of the year in Coleman’s Winter Harvest Handbook.  I live in Wisconsin.  As this morning so aptly depicts, it gets wicked ass cold.

But what is so vital to be able to get one’s head around is that temperature can be dealt with through slight modification of environment and very careful selection of species. ** Sunlight is the key **.  And that is where latitude – the “sun lines” come in.  I am at 43 degrees north.  That is way up there, right?  Follow the line around the map to Europe and be amazed.  Nice and Marseilles, France.  Florence, Italy.  Monaco.   Shit – I am further SOUTH than Milan, Turin, Bordeaux and Venice.  Of course they get a massive benefit from the Gulf Stream, but there is plenty of sun 9 months of the year to grow a huge variety of crops.  And from November – January (Coleman’s “Persephone” months) when the day length is under 10 hours, spinach, mache, claytonia will still grow if the temp is kept above 20 degrees or so and they are started early enough.  Crops like leeks, kale, carrots, etc can be harvested fresh from the soil from covered spaces (even mulch) in a condition and quality far superior to any root cellar.

As those who track the blog on Facebook know, In the coming weeks I will be building a 12×30 unheated Hoop House in the backyard.  And while it will be unheated, you all know me well enough by now to understand that this will be far more than a sheet of plastic over a garden bed.  Details to come.   I am never going to grow ‘maters in January, but the potatoes and onions in the cellar will go a helluva lot further on the table when augmented by FRESH carrots, leeks, after a crisp, nutrient dense salad of fresh picked greens.  In Wisconsin…  in January.  I have a dream – and its already proven, so its just a matter of building the system and learning the skills.  Permaculture is far from only being about fruit tree guilds and nitrogen fixing under-stories.  It is about finding sustainable ways to feed our society and build capacity for future generations.

Of course, growing under plastic is a transitional technology – plastic is made from oil.  But there are brutally hard truths about the coming decades – those 8-9 BILLIONs of people aren’t going to be fed on our current ag systems as oil gets more expensive– and we have a moral imperative in the first world to get our shit together and stop mining the soil of the developing world to feed our fat asses.  If you are worried about the embodied energy of the plastic consider the facts – it last for at least 5 years with care and used intensely can allow for 3x the harvests from the same amount of space.    Far more important – the additional yield is during the times of the year when most of us are importing almost all of our produce.  If the energy and moral sides don’t sway you – then the added resiliency of your own food supply might.  With careful planning it will be possible to walk out my backdoor 365 days a year (again – in Wisconsin) and pick meals worth of produce fresh from the soil for my family.

I will ever be one to embrace technology and tools to help us transition to a better future if those transitional tools meet my criteria; I will break eggs to make my permacultural transition omelet as I muddle through to find solutions to the problems of our age.

Be the Change.


If you would like to purchase the Winter Harvest Handbook and are not able to do so from a local bookseller, consider clicking through this link to buy a copy.  Proceeds will help us with our work being the change.  This is something I will be doing more of, though I promise to do so only for books that have profoundly influenced my planning or thinking.   Coleman’s book is insanely helpful on this topic – I have read it at least 4 times cover to cover and reference it several more times a year for my planning.
The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses


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