DIY Projects That Won’t Break Your Back or the Bank

Emily Wieranga kitchen

A typical Saturday in our Canadian hamlet finds my husband chopping wood or canning salsa or making homemade beerandwine.

And it finds me in the kitchen canning jam or making homemade yogurt, and always, homemade bread.

We are the ones who live by the highway with a huge triangular garden, big enough for the rototiller to turnup between peat-moss rows of carrots and corn — its tassels like golden flags — plump raspberries and bright red strawberries which stain my boys’ lips, and the pumpkins: crawling orange and bold like they own the place.

Every spring when the snow melts, Opa breaks in the garden with his tractor and the boys roll in the fresh sod.

And every summer morning, we visit the vegetables. Green lettuce salads, sprigs of onion and parsley and chives. Zucchini the size of my husband’s forearm.

There’s something about making things yourself, and knowing the source of your products. I hope one day to live off the land, I hope for a dairy cow and a goat; for hens. In the meantime I purchase farm fresh eggs and locally raised beef.

I don’t share this to make you feel guilty, dear mama-friends, because goodness knows, we don’t need more of that! But rather, I share to convey my joy over the process of getting my hands dirty from touching the earth.

And I want to invite you to join me, as we make some simple DIY projects!

Bread is something I’ve made since I was little. Both my husband and I grew up with mothers who made homemade bread, and not the bread-maker kind either. The real, rising dough, steaming up the kitchen with yeast and whole grains, kind. (Mind you, I use a Bosch mixer to do the hard kneading.) Here is my recipe for those of you who want to join me every second Saturday in rolling dough and buttering hot crusts.

Anita Bread

Ingredients:

7 cups water
3 Tbsp yeast
1/2 cup sugar
7 cups brown flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp vinegar
10+ cups white flour

optional:
1 cup Red River
1 cup flax
1 cup wheat bran

Directions:

Mix water, yeast and sugar in Bosch orkitchenmixer for 10 minutes.

Add brown flour, melted butter, salt and vinegar, and mix for another 10 minutes.

Finally,dump inwhite flour and any of the optional ingredients, and mix for another 10 minutes.

Once dough is a dry, plump consistency, pull out of the mixer and knead for a few minutes on a floured surface. Then place in a greased bowl, cover with a clean towel, and let rise for about an hour in a warm environment.

After an hour, separate dough into five even sections and roll, placing gently in bread pans and then covering with a clean towel to let rise for another hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees and cook bread for 30 minutes. Remove immediately from bread pans and butter the tops. Enjoy!


No-Cook Raspberry Jam

One of our favorite things to put on homemade bread is freezer jam – the easiest thing in the world to make. The recipe is found in a box of liquid pectin Certo, which you can find at your local grocery store.

For no-cook raspberry jam, you just need this:

2 cups of crushed berries
4 cups granulated sugar (I always use 3 cups, and it’s still delicious!)
1 pouch Certo (liquid pectin)
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

In large mixing bowl, stir together prepared fruit and sugar.

Let stand 10 minutes.

Add Certo Liquid Pectin and lemon juice. Stir for 3 minutes.

Put into clean containers filling up to 1/4 inch from rim. Cover with lids. Leave at room temperature 24 hours or until set. Freeze, until desiring to eat.


Homemade Yogurt

Finally, homemade yogurt — it’s actually not that hard! I foundthis awesome recipe HEREby DIYNatural.com. I would recommend incubating the yogurt in a cooler for 24 hours.

Don’t do these things because you feel you have to, friend. Do it because it’s fun! And if it’s not fun, don’t do it! After all, you can always purchase organic or farm-fresh local produce. I just love knowing first-hand where things come from and what goes into them, and the process of becoming one with the product-creating speaks right to my artistic, mama heart.

Happy Creating!



Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoirAtlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

Which recipe will you try?