Happy Valentines Day to My One and Only

I thought it would be appropriate on this day of love to share with you my affections for a certain someone. My heart is full of love for him each and every day. I thought I would share the top 10 reasons why I love him so.

1. He is so giving
2. He is forgiving
3. He never complains about not being fed on time
4. He is always rising to the challenge
5. He is so bubbly
6. He scent can take you away and make you dream of happy things
7. He smells even better when he gets hot
8. He is satisfying
9. He is enjoyable

And finally…
10. He makes the BEST pancakes.

Meet Sowie.
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I don’t believe I have introduced him to you yet. He has been maturing for a couple of months and is at peak performance lately. Which makes my life oh-so-delicious and nutritious. Like I said above, he really is so giving…making my breads rise , making my muffins, pancakes, waffles, english muffins, crepes, biscuits, facial masks (ok kidding) & just being overall a joy to care for.

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So on this Valentines Day, I want to wish you, Sowie, my beloved sourdough starter, a day of love. And thank you for providing us with lovely heart shaped pancakes for breakfast. (Which I did not capture a photo of due to how quickly they were consumed.)

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PS- In case you are concerned about me (which you probably are by now), my real true loves in my life are very secure in my love for them and are not insulted by my public display of affection for my starter here on the blog. Just so you know. In case you wanted to know. But you’re prob just shaking your head anyways. Oh wellll….

PPS- Sowie is very fertile and always has babies up for adoption in case you wanted your very own starter baby. Apply in the comments that you would like to adopt some starter.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Show someone you love them today! And I give you permission to fall in love with yeasts and bacterias.

Failing

Why is it that failure hurts so bad? Disappointment cuts deep into the heart’s flesh.

I’m feeling some loss this week. Feeling some frustration and disappointment.

Why does everything have to be so hard? Every.thing. Or so it feels like.

I fathom a guess I feel it so deeply because I pour so much of myself into everything I do. I garden, I cook, I create, I mother with such a deep passion that when things go wrong I feel such loss.

The bugs have discovered my garden this week. As if it wasn’t having enough problems as it was. First, the attack of the cucumber beetles wiped out my two cucumber plants and then moved to everything else. Then I discovered hornworms on my tomato plants. Then the squash beetles are devastating my squash and zucchini plants. I almost cry as I type this because I realize I have so much to learn to try to figure out how to deal with these issues. It’s frustrating and heartbreaking. I wish it were just easy. Just simple. I am out there twice a day squishing bugs and crying out for insight on how to deal with this. I am believing for a revelation. If only the corn was tasty to the bugs…

My new sourdough starter molded. /cry/

I yelled at my kids.

I miserably failed dinner tonight. I cried. A lot. Thankfully, hubby picked up some fried chicken on the way home.

There is just something about failing…makes me angry. But it also makes me determined. I don’t give up easily. “A Thousand Times I’ve Failed, but Your Mercy Remains…”

It doesn’t come easy…gardens, dinners, child rearing. It’s all hard and I fail. If I didn’t fail, then success wouldn’t ever taste so sweet. The few zucchini that I have gotten and the two or three mottled cucumbers have been savored with such love. I love things. But with love comes loss. It’s worth it. Everytime.

But it still hurts to fail.

Thank you God, whose beauty never fails…whose Mercy never fails…whose Love never fails…

Promises.

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Erica

 

I have some sad news…

Well, I am not really sure how to write this. I am still coming to terms with it myself. I have been through a period of denial and doubt. Hope and disappointment. But I think I really need to let go and move on.

My Sourdough Starter Died.

I like to think that it just died a natural death, painless and uncomplicated. I could not admit that I killed it. Accidentally. Unknowingly. To be honest, I am not sure really what happened. It just doesn’t seem right. Started acting in strange ways that I was not used to. I still haven’t had the heart to dump it yet. I am still hoping that somehow maybe, just maybe it will come back to life!? The resurrection sourdough!!

Or maybe I just need to order some new starter.

Sigh. That was my baby! I worked so hard to get her all grown up and happy. Ayyyeee. I did almost cry a little. I am more sad that I might not know how to live without it for a few weeks until I get a new one.

This is why you should never name your kitchen projects. They die, you cry. Did I mention my Kefir grains kicked the bucket too? Sheesh. I’ve replaced those and the new ones seem happy. Good grief.

ANYWAYS. On a happier note (don’t ever tell my sourdough), I did make some soaked whole wheat bread that turned out fantastically. Prob better than any sourdough loaf I ever made. Or maybe it was because I borrowed my mom’s Bosch mixer for a few days. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and make some bread. I literally drooled watching it knead the bread. If you were not aware until now…I have previously hand kneaded all my doughs. There have been times its nice and relaxing, but most of the time its plain hard work and sucks. And bread never turns out as good. So, I swiped by moms Bosch mixer for a few days to make Ellyjoy’s 1st Birthday Cake and decided to make some bread and everything else I could think of…Ok, so enough about my obsession with the Bosch mixer.

We eat our butter a little cave-man style. Lol
This bread was a little over-achieving on the rising.

Oh oh! One more kitchen-y related cool thing. I finally finished my spice rack!!  Alex bought me my spice jars for mothers day and his Dad built me a custom sized rack for them all. I am in love. Its like a dream! I have always hated digging around in a cupboard for spices, or even in a rack where everything is mis-matched and oddly sized. I buy all my spices in bulk so this is perfect! I am very pleased with how they turned out! I found these awesome labels online and found a sweet font that I really liked! Woohoo!

 

 

Well, that’s that folks. Oh, we had a pretty sweet thunderstorm today. Here’s my not-so-saavy panorama of the storm today. Whew it was a biggie!

Whey Cool: Tasty Bacterias [Real Food Series]

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Yes, I really did title that Tasty Bacterias. Happy little tasty bacterias. Ok, so now that I have officially grossed you out…let me use a more politically correct word for these happy little dudes. Probiotics. There, now do you feel the warm and fuzzy feelings. Maybe “hey I’ve heard those are good for you”?? They are all the rage. Yogurt, Kombucha, Kefir, Lacto-Fermented Salsa, Sauerkraut…have you heard these things floating around the internet? Well, I thought I would help you break it down.

Fermentation is an age old art. You probably eat and drink more fermented things than you think you are. Beer and wine? Yup, fermented. I’m not going to go into the whole beer and wine making story (sorry) as its a bit beyond my knowledge right now. I just wanted to reduce your fear of the word fermentation.

What is Fermentation?

We’re going to focus on fruits and vegetables in this post. Before the days of freezers and canning jars, people used a method of food preservation called lacto-fermentation. In a nutshell, it is a process by which “starches and sugars in vegetable and fruit are converted into lactic acid  by the many species of lactic-acid-producing bacteria” (from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon).  Lactic acid is a natural preservative and kills off any of the bad bacteria. There is  bad bacteria, and we don’t want to mess with those. However, if you follow proper instructions and take care to observe your ferments, you should never have an issue with bad bacteria! The good bacteria in the spotlight here is called lactobacilli  and is present on the surface of all living things. By the process of lacto-fermentation you are basically giving these bacteria an idea environment for them to thrive and proliferate. From Nourishing Traditions “The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestability and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances.” The lactic acid they produce keeps the produce perfectly preserved as well as promotes healthy gut flora formation.

What is Needed to Lacto-Ferment something?

As complicated as it sounds to ferment something, it is really not. In your very very basic recipe you will see fresh produce (organic only), salt and filtered water. Many recipes will call for the addition of whey which is a starter culture that helps your ferment along. With the addition of whey we can reduce the amount of salt needed so you will end up with a less salty and in my opinion, better tasting product. Whey is already rich in lactic acid and lactobacilli so it reduces the amount of time you need to ferment your produce as well as acts as in inoculent for any bad bacteria that might be trying to linger around. We will get to talk about whey in a minute. For now, the rest of what you need is some wide mouth mason jars, lids and wooden spoons. There are specialized containers designed for fermenting that you can purchase, but I have yet to do so.

What is Whey?

Little miss muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey? She was basically eating yogurt or some other cultured dairy product! Ever opened a container of yogurt and saw a yellowish liquid on top of the yogurt? That is whey! It is a milk protein that can be separated out from milk. By some sort of (over my head) process, this whey can be processed to produce the protein powder found in body building products. Please note that it is through high heat and chemical processes that this is derived. Some day I will do a post on the dangers of protein powder. However, for now, we are not worried about the powdered whey form. We are looking for the RAW and ALIVE form of whey that is strained from yogurt. Whey strained from yogurt or other cultured dairy (kefir, raw milk, etc) is teaming with happy little bacteria. We call it a starter culture because you can add it to something (ie-vegetables) in a jar with a little water and it “starts” the lacto-fermenting process because some of the lactobacilli we talked about above are already strong and ready to multiply in your ferment.

Why are Lacto-Fermented Foods So Important?

Eating home prepared lacto-fermented foods is so healthy for your gut (intestines, digestive system). In a day and age where our gut gets so much damage from bad foods, antibiotics, over-sanitization, chemicals, etc we are desperately in need of something that can help restore our gut. We have millions of friendly bacteria present in our body at any given time which help with digestion, fighting disease, etc. However, with the problems listed above, these bacteria can get quickly wiped out and our immune system compromised. Eating a diet that includes fermented foods is a great way to build up your protective forces in your gut. Fermenting foods also increased vitamin and mineral content. Additionally, many digestive enzymes are released, making it even easier for your body to absorb all the nutrients. For more info check this out Fermented Foods: Top 8 Reasons to Eat Them.

Can Things Go Wrong?

Yes, things can go wrong. If you EVER see mold on anything you have created, do NOT eat it. Don’t even try to pick it off. The best thing to do is to start over. There are a few other things that can go wrong but they are rare and I haven’t ever experienced anything like that. I had one Kombucha scoby mold on me, not sure what I did but I freaked out and tossed it in the trash. Oh well. Next time. The biggest thing to remember (and this is always listed in the directions of a recipe) is to keep vegetables under the brine (liquid) level (like when making carrots). That will keep oxygen out and prevent mold. Also making sure all of your equiptment (jars, spoons, etc) are cleaned well in hot water! Like I said above there are fancy contraptions to make it even safer, and maybe someday Ill have the money to buy some, but for now I just follow the basic rules and everything has been fine!

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Some of My Favorite Lacto-Fermented Food Recipes!

Lacto-Fermented Ketchup

Lacto-Fermented Carrot Sticks

Homemade Sauerkraut (Note that sauerkraut doesn’t require the addition of whey, just be sure to follow directions!)

 

That should get you started…if you are confused about all this, because there really is so much information and I am trying to keep it short…ask me in the comments and I will answer to the best of my ability! 🙂

Go, on, make some tasty bacteria now. Don’t be scared!

 

Missed the Previous Real Food Series Posts?

1. Introduction to Real Food Series

2. Fats and Cholesterol: Good or Bad??

3. Great Grains: Unrefined Truth

 

Great Grains: Unrefined Truth [Real Food Series]

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I want to present a post here on grains, but know that this can be another controversial subject. I am aware of the many theories about grains, the gluten controversy, and allergies. I am not hard-lined on this subject. I completely understand the arguments on both sides. So-whatever side you fall on, or if you ride the line like me-good we can agree! I’m not going to do a grain vs grain free diet debate.

I would first like to define how we eat grains. I do not prepare any food that we consume at home with refined grains (with the occasional exception of a little organic/unbleached All Purp flour). This is a PROCESS! Getting away from all refined carbs is very difficult and requires a lot of work. There is no way around that. We have stopped buying any boxed mix of anything and instead making everything from scratch. Yes, literally everything. I know it sounds very intimidating, and I am not saying that is what YOU have to do, that’s just what I do.

What is a refined grain?

In a nutshell, it is any grain that has undergone a process removing parts of the whole grain. Let’s just talk wheat for a minute. There are three (main) components to a wheat grain. The bran, the endosperm, and the germ. The bran is outer part of the grain, providing the fiber content as well as a host of vitamins, minerals and phytic acid (we will get to this later). The germ is the embryo of the seed- the part that will germinate if given the right environment. The germ is very high in Vitamin E, folic acid, and many other vitamins and minerals. Both the bran and the germ are removed in refining process. The endosperm is the main part of the grain, this is the starch and where the well-known gluten protein is found. The endosperm is all that is left after the refining process and this is what is milled to make white flour (which is also typically bleached).

Why are refined grains bad?

Firstly, you are missing out on a ton of healthy vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, & fiber that come from the other parts of the grain. Companies will add these missing vitamins and minerals back into refined products in the form of synthetics. Your body does not assimilate synthetic vitamins in the same way. In fact, your body will use its own vitamin and mineral reserves to help you digest these refined products, thus depleting the body. The term “empty calories” should be more appropriately called “negative calories” because they actually take things from your body. Secondly, the refining process can be done with the use of chemicals so you are subjecting yourself to further chemical exposure. Third, after the refining process, really all that is left of the grain is the starch, which the body converts into pure sugar. Refined grains will cause major insulin spikes due to the high sugar rush into the bloodstream as a result of eating these products.

What is a whole grain?

Basically, a whole grain is a grain that has all the biological parts still in the party. The fiber, the oils, the starch. When consuming whole grains in your diet the fiber helps your body digest the grain a little more slowly so that it doesn’t cause the sugar spike. The fatty acids such as Vit E present in the germ help your body to absorb all the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, K). However! There is a caveat, when a whole grain is broken (as in the milling of wheat) and the germ is exposed, the oils can quickly go rancid (read the previous post as to why rancid oils are bad!)  This is another reason why refined goods (stripped of oils) are so popular- they have a very long shelf life. Whole wheat flour has a very short shelf life because of the oils present and their tendency to go rancid very quickly.

How do we get around this?

Well, my recommendation (and some might not like this!) is to grind all of your own flour at home from whole wheat berries. Cornmeal? Grind your own corn. This way you can choose the quality and type of product that you want. I buy a variety of wheat that is excellent for bread as well as pastries. I grind any and all grains in my Vitamix, although there are products on the market that are just designed for grain grinding. I think it is a worthy investment and one I will always appreciate. If you can’t afford to do this option, I still recommend buying whole wheat flour when possible and making everything from scratch so as to avoid preservatives and synthetic vitamins. As I said above, I do occasionally use a little all purpose flour (which is refined!) if I am making or thickening a sauce of some sort, it just seems to work better. I will also use in some bread recipes if I need a little bit “lighter” of a bread. But I rarely use it alone, always with fresh flour.

Is there anything bad in whole grains?

Yes. I was surprised to learn that there are actually some downfalls to whole grains. Phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are the two gotcha’s. Phytic acid is found in grains, nuts, legumes, & seeds. Without getting to scientific on ya, phytic acid will bind to minerals and prevent your body from absorbing them. Phytic acid will bind most notably to iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium. Humans do not have the enzyme (phytase) present in the body needed to break phytic acid down. The other problem that can arise from whole grains are enzyme inhibitors. God created grains so that they would only germinate under the proper conditions (moist, warm, and light). The enzyme inhibitors prevent the grain from sprouting until those specific conditions are met.  But with those inhibitors in the way, our body cannot digest the grain as well. The enzymes needed to break down all the components are bound up and working to prevent the grain from premature sprouting, not working for us. Does that make sense?

 So what do I do?

Well, the easiest way to solve BOTH of those issues above is to meet those specific requirements! There are three ways to accomplish this. You can begin sprouting the grains, soak the ground flour in a slightly acid liquid, or use fermentation (think sourdough!). Any of these three methods releases enzymes, breaks down phytic acid, and also “pre-digests” hard to digest proteins such as gluten. People with gluten sensitivity have been known to tolerate grains if prepared in this fashion. I know this probably sound intimidating, but it really isn’t. There are a ton of resources and “how-to’s” available. I will link to some of those below if you want to learn more. I think soaking your flour and grains is the easiest possible thing to do. Just takes remembering to do it the day/night before. Want oatmeal in the morning? Throw your oatmeal with your water and a tablespoon or so of lemon juice in a bowl. Then in the morning, dump the whole thing into the pot and cook normally. Tastes fantastic and you know your body can break it down easily and absorb all the tasty nutrients. See easy huh? You can even buy sprouted flour (its possible to make your own too). And while sourdough sounds intimidating, once you get the hang of it and are willing to remember to feed it, it’s a cinch and so much fun!

Sprouted Grains
Sprouted Grains

Want to Learn More?

Here’s a link for a free e-book with recipes using the soaking method: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2011/05/09/download-is-your-flour-wet-a-soaked-grains-ebook-for-free/

More on soaking:

http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/seriescarnivals/soaking-grains-an-exploration/

How-to Sprouting Grains:

http://nourishedkitchen.com/sprouted-grain/

Considering Sourdough? (Ps- I have more than enough starter to share!):

http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2011/04/for-the-love-of-sourdough-starting-a-sourdough-adventure.html

The key here, as with any new thing, is to take baby steps! I started soaking my grains, then started the sprouting process after I got a dehydrator (you can do without it though), and then I jumped on the sourdough bandwagon. My favorite of course is the sourdough!

My Sourdough Starter!
My Sourdough Starter!

 

Have you missed the first couple of posts in this series? Check them out here:

1. Introduction to Real Food Series

2. Fats and Cholesterol: Good or Bad??

 

Sourdough Dinner Rolls

I found these amazing looking dinner rolls on Pinterest. Of course I was skeptical. And as usual, my first attempt is not 100% perfect. Nevertheless, I feel that this recipe has the potential to be a REAL winner. If it were not for a few “oops!” mistakes on my part they would have turned out looking beautiful. However, they tasted amazing so the looks of them didn’t really matter. Especially when slathered with coconut honey “butter”. Yum.

Soft Wheat Rolls (adapted from soursaltybittersweet.com)
Makes 12 (ish) rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (100-110F)
  • 1 t sugar (only necessary if using active dry yeast)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (or spelt, kamut, etc) **may need to add a few more tablespoons if the dough is looking sticky
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 3 T  honey or maple syrup
  • 2 T melted butter
  • 2T coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tsp active dry yeast (optional) (Depends on how quickly you want these to rise! PS-Longer is better!)

1. Heat the milk in the microwave or saucepan to between 100-110 degrees. This is just warm, not hot! Whisk in the sugar and yeast, if using, and let sit 5-10 minutes or until frothy.

2. Combine all of the ingredients and stir until the dough begins to come together. Scrape onto a lightly-floured surface.

3. Knead for 10 mins or so. Adding only a little extra flour at a time to keep it from sticking to you or the counter. You want a nice soft dough. It should not be hard to knead at all! This was one of the easiest breads I have kneaded!

4. Coat a mixing bowl with oil or butter. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover the bowl and let rise for 4-12 hrs (sourdough starter alone) or 3-5 hrs if you use a combination of yeast and starter. I added about 1 tsp of yeast and let it rise for about 4 hours.

5. Butter a 9×13 pan

6. Divide each piece into 12 equal pieces, each of which should be 50-55 grams (1.75-2.00 oz). You may have more or less pieces depending on total amount of flour you added.

7. Press each piece of dough into a disc, gather the edges and pinch them together. Place each ball pinched-edge down in the prepared pans.

8. Cover the pans and let rise for another 3-9 hrs (again depending on if you used starter alone or combo of starter/yeast). Mine were risen in about 2 1/2.

9. Preheat the oven to 375 for 20 minutes. Before placing the rolls in the oven, brush the tops of the rolls with beaten egg. Bake for 20 min, or until the tops are golden brown

10. Let cool on wire racks for 5 minutes. Turn out of pan and serve.

11. I served with honey-coconut “butter”. Basically just take a big scoop of coconut oil and a few tablespoons of honey (raw is best!) and whisk or beat together. You may need to pop it in the fridge for a few to harden it back up if you got the oil to warm. Enjoy!

*A few notes from my experience: Everything looked fantastic until I brushed the tops of the rolls with the egg. My rolls “fell”. Thus, I think I will be skipping this step in the future. You could easily rub a little button on them when they come out of the oven to soften them (that’s what the egg wash does).  However, I don’t even think its really necessary. These rolls were very very soft and fluffy! I also forgot to add the egg to the dough-I am not certain what difference it made but next time I might try adding it just to see. However, they were excellent without the egg in the dough, so if you don’t want to mess with that-don’t! Finally, I used spelt flour which may have caused my “falling” dough since that is quite characteristic of spelt, but spelt imparts such a lovely flavor. Feel free to use any kind of whole wheat flour. My plan is to slowly convert these to 100% whole wheat, but we will see!

Sorry I don’t have a picture for you. I ate them all to quickly. Oops! Plus they weren’t as pretty as the pictures. I gotcha next time.

Sourdough Bread- Savory and Sweet

It’s rainy and cold here today. The kind of day where you wear fuzzy socks in the shape of animals (you know the one’s you get in your Christmas stocking?), snuggle with warm laundry out of the dryer, and bake bread…

And make spaghetti because its easy and it’s your husband’s favorite meal. However, I discovered early in marriage that you cannot have spaghetti without good sopping bread. You know…how you have to sop up the last of the sauce on the plate after all the noodles are gone? I didn’t know it had a name until I met Alex. If I really love him I make my own sauce. But alas, fresh tomatoes are out of season.

So…Bread.

I managed to get a batch of sourdough kneaded between juggling the two kids. I usually like to make my dough while the baby is sleeping, but I forgot to grind my flour before putting her down-that usually wakes her up. Soo, I managed kneading with both kids underfoot. Elly is officially crawling and pulling herself up on things. So big!

Anyways. So while I was kneading the bread- I had the grand idea of making a savory loaf for dinner (with Spaghetti) and a sweet version for breakfast. So after kneading I made a mix of Parmesan, and Italian herbs and then a cinnamon sugar mix. I divided the dough and rolled out and topped the savory one with olive oil then the spice mix/cheese and rolled it up, plopped it in the bread pan. I did the same with the cinnamon sugar mix, but used coconut oil instead of olive. Then they will rise for a few hours. Yummmm.

K. So here’s the low down.

Sourdough Bread

Adapted from gnowfglins.com s sourdough e-course
  • 3 cups active bubbly starter (means you fed it a few hours ago and its all bubbled up)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/4 tsp conventional yeast (optional)- I added this because I didn’t have a lot of hours to let this rise because I started later in the morning. I didn’t use this last time and it was fine.
  • 5ish cups of freshly ground flour

Making: Mix the starter, water, salt and yeast (if using). Add 3 cups of flour and mix with spoon. Add 1/4-1/2 cup increments of flour until dough is “shaggy.” I mixed with my hands at this point. Then let the dough sit for 15 mins or so to let the flour absorb the water.

Kneading: After 15 mins time, pull the dough out and begin kneading. I rarely add more flour- in fact sometimes I wet my hands with warm water to add a little moisture back in. Just gotta play with it. Knead for 5 mins. Let dough rest after first kneading to let it chillax for a few. Then repeat this process until you feel the dough ready. I ended up kneading for 15 mins . Note: this is hand kneading. If you had a stand mixer it would be a lot faster. However, as a caution, 100% whole wheat dough’s and stand mixers don’t get along to well…

Creating: Then the sky is the limit with the creative add-ins or toppings. I made my in like a swirl loaf fashion, but you could sure knead add-ins right into the dough! I would like to try to make a bread with some flax, millet, and sunflower seeds added in! Mmm!

Rising: Since this is a sourdough, the rising period will be longer. I place these in a warm location as it speeds the process greatly! Usually from 5-8 hours is normal. Although I am sure if it were a super nice warm sunny day you could get away with 4 hours or so. I put mine next to the dehydrator if it is running, in the laundry room, or warmed oven (just pop it on for a minute or two-don’t leave it on!!).

Baking: Bake the bread in a 375 degree oven for 50 mins. I will sometimes put the bread in the cold oven and let it rise a tiny bit more while the oven pre-heats. This is a trick that I learned in the e-course I did on sourdough!

 

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Here we go. Yes.

Can you smell it?

 

 

 

I would highly recommend the e-courses that gnowfglins.com offers. I learned a lot about how I cook and prepare food through these series of courses. Her site is also very informative, even if you don’t do the classes!

 

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Sourdough Cinnamon Buns

Wow. This morning we made cinnamon buns with the new sourdough baby. They turned out excellent. I whipped together the dough last night in about 5 minutes and it was waiting for me this morning all bubbly and nice. I had to add a few more ingredients and knead it for all of about a minute, then roll out and top with goodies! Super easy for such a delicious breakfast! These were light and doughy, not like the biscuit ones I usually make. These are more like the regular yeast cinnamon rolls. I wonder if I let them rise a bit after cutting them if they might get even more airy. Either way they were delicious! It feels so good to know that while they are a treat, they are fully digestible due to the overnight souring process which breaks down hard to digest nutrients as well as releases the enzymes for better digestion! We are also using a healthier sugar (Sucanat) and real butter, which I am a firm believer is good for you (in moderation of course!). In order for our bodies to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (think A & D) we need the presence of fat! Not rocket science! Either way. I feel ok about eating a few of these cinnamon buns and giving them to the kids too due to these factors. My batch even made enough to freeze a few for another day. I just froze the unbaked rolls on some parchment paper then pulled it off the paper when they were frozen and popped them in a bag in the freezer. Apparently (haven’t tried yet) I just need to pull them out of the freezer, thaw for a few mins and bake like normal. Wow, that would be an easy breakfast!

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Anyways. Here’s the basic recipe. Adapted from gnowfglins.com e-course and sourdough e-book materials.

For the Dough:

  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup milk (can be cultured, as in buttermilk)
  • 1/4 cup rapadura, honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (not too hot)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 to 3 cups whole wheat flour (I used fresh ground and it took a little over 2 1/2)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

For the Filling:

  •  1/4 cup butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup rapadura or maple syrup

For the Glaze:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup rapadura,  maple syrup or honey

The Method:

In a medium size bowl, mix until incorporated 1/2 cup sourdough starter and 1 cup milk. Add to that 1/4 cup
rapadura, 1/4 cup melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir well. Begin by adding 2 cups of whole wheat flour.
Stir to combine. Take note of your dough consistency. Add flour by the 1/4 cup and eventually by the tablespoon
until you have a dough that is not wet and a little firm. It is hard to put an exact description to what your dough
should feel like. Keep in mind that once this dough has soured you will be kneading in three dry ingredients and
then rolling it out.

Once your dough is ready, cover your bowl and set it aside to sour for 8 or more hours. I just did it the night before and leave it overnight. It was ready by breakfast time!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of butter or coconut oil to your chosen baking dish. Pop it in the oven as it preheats.
Take it out once the oil has melted and add to it an equal amount of sucanat or maple syrup. Set this aside.

While your oven is preheating, prepare your cinnamon roll dough. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon
baking soda, and 1 teaspoon baking powder onto your soured dough. Knead
for three or four minutes, concentrating primarily on incorporating the dry ingredients. Once you feel all is combined, place your dough ball onto a surface you think will work well for rolling out and rolling up. Roll your dough into a  rectangle about a 1/4 inch thick.

Spread your dough with softened butter or coconut oil. I find 1/4 cup is a good amount, but more or less will be
fine as well. Sprinkle your dough with cinnamon to your liking, and, if you prefer, scatter with dried fruit, nuts, or
chocolate chunks. Once your rectangular shaped dough is topped with your choice of goodies, carefully roll it up. I roll from the bottom up and from one long side to the other. Keep it as tightly rolled as you are able.  Cut up your log in whatever way suits you. Please use a serrated knife. Once cut, carefully move your rolls into the prepared baking dish(es). You want your cinnamon rolls to be touching but not crammed in your baking dish. The slight touching causes them to rise up and not out.

Place the cinnamon rolls onto the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes checking on them after 15 or 20 minutes just to make sure they aren’t already done. Different sizes cook at different rates.Once the cinnamon rolls are finished, immediately flip them onto a large plate or platter.

 

Mmm. Good to the last bite!

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Sourdough Pancakes!

I recently got a dehydrated sourdough starter from carlsfriends.net  which was free and arrived quickly in the mail! I followed instructions for re-hydrating it from the e-course that I am taking (basic instructions below). After a few days of feeding it and caring for it, it was ready for its first debut in food today! I make some sourdough pancakes. While they were very tasty, I think I still have some learning and some tweaks. First off, I think that a very young starter acts a little differently than a mature starter. Mine is still a baby and is learning how to do life in the real world. Haha.  Pancakes turned out yummy with a great taste, but they were a little dense and chewy. Sounds gross for a pancake, but Alex and I decided that we would put it in a different category than “pancakes” and then we were ok with it. More like a little tasty breakfast cake. We ate it with honey and fresh strawberry syrup. Anyways, I’ll try again soon!

 

Here’s how I re-hyrdrated my starter.

Day 1: pour dehydrated starter pack into clean mason jar and mix with 1/4 cup of WARM water and 1/4 flour. Let sit for 24 hours.

Day 2-5(?): add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup WARM water to jar and mix vigorously. Let sit in warm spot for 12 hours. Repeat this process for 2-3 days every 12 hours adding 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 warm water. Mix in any liquid that forms on top. Starter should look bubbly and alive.

Notes: Try to keep between 1-1.5cups of starter at any given time (so you will have to dump some out). When you think its ready, save one cup of starter and toss the rest. Then feed the starter again and use in your first recipe!

Here’s what Lizbet looks like just after a feeding! (Leandra calls her Emily Elizabeth)

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