Gratitude: Sourdough

Monday, April 18, 2016 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

 

DSC_0229

DSC_0237

A friend first gave me a jam jar filled with her sourdough culture about 5 years ago. It has been bubbling for us ever since, and sourdough is part of our daily routine now. As Sam Sifton wrote in the New York Times last month, “A sourdough starter comes into your life the way a turtle might: as a pet you maybe didn’t know you wanted until someone hands it to you or you find yourself holding the terrarium after an impulse purchase you couldn’t explain if you tried. You get it or you make it or you buy it, and now you have a sourdough starter. It needs to be fed. It asks to be used. There are holes in our lives. They are filled for us by circumstance, or we fill them ourselves.”

Now we sourdough everything – pretzels, chocolate cake, coffee cake, dinner rolls, pasta and even pie crust.  I can’t imagine doing anything else. We are finding it much easier on our digestion, especially when we use lower gluten flour like einkorn, kamut and spelt (Jovial einkorn is our absolute favorite).  I’m finding that lots of recipes can be adpated to preparation the evening before bake day and left to sour overnight.  For us, it means we can still include gluten in our diet, and I’m so used to the schedule and planning of our homegrown bakery that it no longer feels onerous at all.  It’s a joy to be able to make fresh, organic and healthy bread products for our family to enjoy.

So today I’m grateful to my friend, to the wonderful science of wild yeast, and to the organic grains that are helping us eat better.  And to all my great, great, great grandmothers who made sourdough as part of their daily routine.  Sometimes fantastic things skip generations. I’m pretty happy to have rediscovered a great family tradition.

Scenes from a Sunday in the Country

Sunday, April 10, 2016 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

A beautiful Sunday, slightly snowy, spent with friends. Sometimes one special day can lift spirits and send us soaring. Seriously.

 

DSC_0632

DSC_0639

DSC_0648

DSC_0614

Sourdough Pretzels

Saturday, May 31, 2014 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

pretzel5

We tweaked our standard sourdough recipes to come up with a soft, tasty pretzel that seems to taste better with an even higher proportion of whole grains (whole kamut, in our case) than when we originally used when we started baking them. That always makes this Mama very happy.

pretzel3

Sourdough is much easier to digest, convenient and really easy to maintain – and it’s great to be able to make recipes without a commercially made yeast.

pretzel2

These pretzels are great for little helping hands. Just keep an eye on the oven so you can figure out how “done” you’d like them. Oh, and the boiling pot of water and baking soda can quickly overflow in a cloudy, steamy mess so it’s best to keep a close eye on that too.

pretzel

pretzel4

pretzel7

Sourdough Pretzels Recipe

This is a recipe for 8 or so pretzels. I find they are really only tasty for a day or so, so I make fewer at one time. If you want more or have a larger family to feed, please double the recipe.

1 to 1.5 cups of sourdough culture

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp of cane sugar (can use honey or agave)

1/2 tsp of salt

1.5 to 2 cups of flour (we use just over half organic whole kamut flour)

1/2 cup or so of water

In a large bowl please mix the sourdough culture, water, olive oil, sugar and salt. Then just add the flour until the dough is too thick to mix with a spoon, and turn it over onto a board or counter to knead.

The dough shouldn’t be too sticky near the end – it should be smooth and hold together well. Just add flour until you reach this consistency.

Divide the dough into large walnut or small egg sized balls, and roll each ball into a snake rope. Then twist them into pretzel shapes and proof them for about an hour. I don’t have a fancy proofing box so I put them on my parchment-lined baking sheet and cover the baking sheet for about an hour.

After proofing, take a large pot of water and add about 1/4 cup of baking soda. Bring this to a boil. Then drop 2 pretzels into the boiling water at a time, removing them with a slotted spoon and placing them back on the baking sheet. I use a sharp knife to make some small angled cuts in the top of each pretzel, and then scatter coarse kosher or sea salt on the tops.

Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes for a softer pretzel, longer for ones that are more brown. Cool on a rack so the bottoms don’t get soggy, and store in a covered container.

Times 4

Monday, July 15, 2013 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

DSC_0111

Four. The number of sour cherry crisps I’ve made and helped to devour this week.  Unbelievable YUM. And so quick to make since the lovely and copious sour cherry juice tends to bubble up into the freshly rolled oats and sorghum flour I use and preclude any need for anything else on top.

Four. The number of times I’ve run the big canner, boiling up sweet cherry and sour cherry preserves that might just last all winter long. Next up is peaches – we’re going to drive out and stock up on the region’s best (and only?) organic peaches next weekend, and then we’re going to get canning.

DSC_0114

Four. The number of teeth my littlest has been pushing through this week. His last 4 teeth, all at once (all eye teeth). Awhile back when it seemed his teeth were moving slower than we could have possibly imagined, we talked about how perhaps his body knew that his gut needed healing and by slowing down on the teeth he was sending the message that he also needed to move slowly on food.

Just this week I was feeling that he had turned a corner in that department, and seemed stronger and more gut-healthy than ever. I should have know to check his mouth.

hungry

But he told us himself, explaining that “this tooth hurting” and pointing to the offending culprit. It’s been awfully painful for him, I can imagine. And it isn’t a bowl of (sour) cherries for us either, as the teeth make him cranky and test our own patience.

In my quiet moments though, I’m thankful they have made their appearance, and the way they have chosen to arrive seems to make the most perfect, and wonderful sense.

(above, ArtMind’s beautiful art called “Hungry” – you can see her work here)

Into the dirt

Saturday, June 1, 2013 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

I’m trying to soak it all in, this very special time of year. The sweet spot of spring, the magical time just before summer, when the prettiest flowers bloom and time seems to stand still. The raised garden beds are planted, with hopes for green shoots and tender veggies patted with love into the dirt (along with our favorite heirloom organic seeds from Cubit‘s in Toronto).

 

All the ingredients of post-winter bliss are here: the sun’s warmth and long days, botanical bloom, splendid new beginnings, and so much to look forward to. With bits of our rhythm and routine, and homeschooling classes coming to an end (but not just quite yet) it’s a sweet time. Granted, would be a wee bit sweeter still if I could convince a certain little man-cub to not take off at a mad sprint on the (very busy) city sidewalk at the first opportunity. Every single time. Ah, but new beginnings must come in so many ways, right?

There’s one place no sprinting happens. The garden. And for that, I am ever so delighted.

 

Not Just Broccoli

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

Broccoli is certainly wonderful, isn’t it? I’m delighted my nearly-two-year-old-lion-of-an-eater thinks so too.

His multiple food allergies make procuring and preparing food a real challenge, and moving beyond straight beef and broccoli is difficult at times.

Here are some great things I’ve come across that are priority allergen free:

- Organic Cocoa Camino baking chocolate (and their sugar, and their cocoa powder)

- White Lightning Organic Popcorn (pretty local too!)

- Olivia Chocolat (organic & locally produced near Ottawa, and their maple chocolates are incredible!)

- Little Duck Organics dried fruits (we love the apple/blueberry)

I’m going to be trying to make our own vegan, priority allergen free butter this week – using olive oil and safely (i.e. non chemically) deoderized organic cocoa butter. Will let you know how it turns out! Would love to stop using palm oil based margarine for he and I.

(Top photo: SewnNatural-handcrafted napkins with a piece of beautiful Marimekko cotton)

 

meandering through allergen-free cooking and other fun things

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

In this exciting, if not a bit muddy, time between winter & spring, here are a few wonderful things I’ve found & want to share with you. I’m always on the lookout for cooking/baking allergen free (dairy, gluten, egg, sesame, coconut and nut-free) and recently I’ve come across some wonderful ideas.

- vegan sea salt + cacao + caramel cups (where the author has already adapted them for some with a coconut allergy! woo hoo!) – her whole food blog is amazing and worth checking out, as it’s full of truly delightful unprocessed recipes

(image above, used with permission, from The Road Not Processed)

- a healthier donut pan for baked doughnuts (we just found a recipe for allergen-free baked ones I’m going to try)

- apparently, finely ground sunflower seeds can work as a replacement for nut / almond flours in lots of recipes – i’m looking forward to trying this one for chocolate chip cookies out (great for people fond of Paleo diets but allergic to nuts)

- the other day, when we had a couple of cases of fever + sniffly virus around here, I needed chicken soup, and fast. So I used a whole, frozen chicken and wound up with lots more meat than I usually do. I found this interesting recipe for chicken fried recipe I’m going to use the meat leftovers for – what do you do with the chicken leftover from your chicken soup?

- with our new supply of sunflower seeds, we can make a sort of sunflower butter – and here is a very fun recipe (though quite sweet and to be reserved for very special occasions) for peanut-butter-less chocolate cups!

And now, for a few non-food things:

- fabulous tutorials for letter embroidery (very kid-friendly, I’ve found)

- a wonderful, highly recommended book that proves you don’t need to leave your house to learn lots about history

- and a great, kid-friendly spring daffodil bunting craft that uses few supplies