Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Ploughshare

Last week, my friend Wendi and I went to a sourdough bread baking class in Waco at "The Ploughshare" (  It is run by a group of people who about 30 years ago, decided they wanted to learn to live off of the land in a self-sustainable way of life, and as Theresa, one of the first on the Waco land, put it "we didn't know that potatoes grew underground and corn grew above ground" when they started.  This community has created a culture of people (working on the 3rd generation now) who know how to do the crafts of old, including their very own Gritsmill, blacksmithing shop, construction and furniture carpentry using hand tools, manual plowing,  homesteading (dairy, meat, work animals, vegetable production), kitchen skills such as bread and cheese making, canning, and various household skills such as soap making, knitting, weaving, sewing, and so forth.  Basically, these people know how to do everything they need to be completely self-sufficient, and now their community is large enough, they have the man power to do it as well.  Theresa told me they had such a hard time in the beginning, using books and trial and error, learning all of these skills, that they decided holding classes to teach the public these old time-honored skills would be valuable.  Now, they have a whole community, and business, of teaching the old arts... and I for one, and a fan!

The Original Homesteading House

The view from our classroom

The working stone ground, water powered Gritsmill (they mill flour and corn here)

The Blacksmiths Shop

... and the blacksmith... the smell of sulfur was really strong!

The actual stone mill the flour is milled in.  The miller explained that you have to be very careful the flour doesn't catch fire due to the heat and friction, which is where the expression "keep your nose to the grindstone" came from- you can smell it burning before it combusts!

The wheel that powers the mill- very cool, and quiet

Now, you might be saying to yourself "okay, that sounds fine... but you went to WACO to learn to make bread!  Come on!"  You have to understand, this was just as much about the experience as it was about the instruction.  Yes, I could check out a book in the library on "how to make sourdough," but how boring is that!  And besides, I would have missed a great opportunity of being exposed to this different culture, and quite honestly, just a plain old good time and day out!  After all, my friend and I are moms of 4 kids each, 5 and under (okay... that counts the unborn babies... but still!) who are homemakers and homeschoolers... we NEEDED a break!

In the class, we learned the basic chemistry of ssourdough and how to make biscuits, pita bread, artisan loaves, pizza crust, and my favorite, cinnamon swirl bread.  As I reproduce the recipes at home, I will share them here, under "recipes," so keep an eye out :)

Our classroom- there were 8 students and 4 teachers

Yummy sourdough biscuits

My pita's puffing on the 500 degree hot stone

Rolling the cinnamon raisin swirl bread

The cinnamon raisin swirl loaves before they were baked- can't you just smell the goodness!

Me showing off my yummy pizza


  1. Thanks for sharing your sourdough and cinnamon bread with your Bunco group last night. We loved it! I for one am ready for some more.

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