Category Archives: Recipes

My Sourdough Journey and Starter Recipe

I have always been intrigued with sourdough, but just a bit intimidated at the prospect of it all. What I have learned this past year is just how easy it is to get started and keep it going. My biggest fear was the starter. I wasn’t sure if I could keep it ‘alive’ and just how attentive was I going to have to be with it. Well, let me tell you, it is very forgiving to say the least. I developed a starter, used it a couple of times, and then kind of forgot it in the back of my refrigerator. I neglected to ‘feed’ it like I read I was suppose to do on a weekly basis. It turned into a separated and not too appealing jar of glop and dark brown liquid…..not too appetizing I might add. I learned this is normal and the dark liquid (called hooch) can just be stirred in or poured off. I poured it off because it isn’t very pretty! I smelled the remaining paste (that’s what it looked like anyway) and it had a pleasant yeasty/sour smell, not at all unpleasant. So, I fed it……and it was HAPPY! It bubbled and grew – I didn’t kill it. That was a year ago and I have now learned just how forgiving and fearless it all is.

My sourdough starters (yes plural) have evolved. I have done three different methods – dehydrated sourdough starter (, starter made with pineapple juice and flour (, and probably the BEST sourdough course of all has excellent instructions and recipes. I have taken a little from each and have come up with the starter that works the best for me.


  • Pint size, wide mouth, glass jar
  • Stainless or wooden spoon for stirring – just don’t use aluminum, copper, brass.
  • Flour – I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat / Spelt / Rye / occasionally unbleached white (not often), just whatever I happen to have at the time
  • Water – Chlorine free – Mineral / Spring water is good. But instead of purchasing water, I have found that using regular tap water  that has been set out on the counter uncovered for at least 24 hours works perfect. If you forget to set out some water (gee, how do I know this?) you can boil the tap water for 10 minutes and let it cool to room temp before using.

The first day:  Put 1/4 cup flour and 3 Tbls. water in jar. Stir well and scrape down the sides as well as possible. Cover loosely (do not seal) with plastic wrap or cotton cloth (not cheesecloth). Let sit 24 hours at room temp. If your kitchen is on the cold side, you can place in your oven with the light on. I find it does best between 70 -75 degrees.

1st feeding:  add another 1/4 cup flour and 3 Tbls. water. Stir well incorporating air into the mixture. Scrape sides, cover loosely, and set on counter for 12 hours.

2nd feeding: 12 hours later, check for any signs of  ‘life’. You should see bubbles, they may be tiny. If there are no bubbles by now you will need to dump this out and start over. If there are bubbles, continuing feeding your starter the 1/4 cup flour / 3 Tbls water stirring well each time. You can add a little more water if the starter seems too thick. The consistency of  a pancake batter seems to be about right.

3rd – 7th feeding:  at least every 12 hours you will continue feeding BUT remove 1/2 of the starter at each feeding and discard. This will make a strong starter. At about the 4th feeding, I change the type of flour. I alternate with white whole wheat and spelt or occasionally all purpose flour. Although it is not necessary to do this, I find my starter is much more active when I do this. Your starter should begin doubling in size with each feeding.

Once your starter is one week old it is ready to use!


  1. At this point you can keep the mature starter out on the counter, between uses, or in the refrigerator. If you are using your starter regularly and leaving it out on the counter, you will need to feed it two times a day. If refrigerating your starter, try to remember to feed it at least once a week.  If you are not ready to use the starter, pour off half, feed, and let it sit out at room temp and let it start bubbling. Once the active bubbling has subsided, cover with a lid and put back in the refrigerator. Don’t tightly cover an active starter.
  2. For a New Starter: Don’t increase the volume of your starter by more than double in one feeding. Once it has been used and has matured, tripling the volume would be fine.
  3. Change out the jar every couple of feedings to prevent dried starter on the sides of the jar and prevent mold.
  4. If you are fermenting / culturing other  items in your kitchen (kombucha or dairy cultures) keep them at least 5 feet apart. You don’t want to cross the molds that ferment each. I use my oven to keep them separated.
  5. Important: when using your starter in a recipe, always keep at least 1/2 cup as your starter culture. You don’t want to have to start the process all over again. Make sure you have enough active starter and build up the quantity you will need for your recipes.

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Zucchini Feta Pancakes

Since we are eating grain free / gluten-free this was an excellent substitute for a starchy vegetable to have with our steak. It would also make a great appetizer for holiday entertaining.

I made a few changes from the original recipe to make it GF friendly and are noted in parentheses.

Zucchini Feta Pancakes

  • 1 lb zucchini, shredded
  • 3/4 tsp  salt, divided (used pink Himalayan sea salt)
  • 1/2 c plain yogurt ( used 1/4 c plain yogurt & 1/4 c creme fraiche)
  •  3 tbls fresh chopped mint leaves
  • 1 small garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup  (3 oz) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup (about 4-6) thinly sliced green onions
  • 3 tbls all-purpose flour (used 1-1/2 tbls coconut flour)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying (used coconut oil)

1. Place zucchini in a cheesecloth-lined strainer, and toss with 1/2 tsp. salt. Let sit 20 minutes, then twist to wring out all possible liquid.

2. Meanwhile, mix together the yogurt &/or creme fraiche, mint, garlic, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt; set aside.

3. Place the drained zucchini in a bowl and toss with the egg, feta, green onions, flour, and pepper.

4. In a skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over medium heat. When hot (drop a bit of zucchini in to test; if it sizzles, it’s hot), make pancakes using a 1/4 cup measuring cup filled three quarters full (3 tbls) with zucchini mixture. Press down lightly, if needed, to form chubby pancakes 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Cook until browned, about 7 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side. When brown on both sides, remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining batter. The pancakes will be delicate while hot, but will firm up upon standing.

5. Serve with a hefty dollop of the yogurt topping.

Note: these can be prepared in advance; place the cooked and cooled pancakes in the freezer for about 1 hour, until par frozen. Stack in a sealed container. To reheat, place a tray of the frozen pancakes in a preheated 350 degree oven (no need to thaw first), and cook until they begin to sizzle (10 minutes). Serve with the yogurt topping.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday by Kelly the Kitchen Kop (


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Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

It has been two weeks since I have gone nearly caffeine free. I used to drink at least 4 cups of coffee each morning with some days drinking the entire pot and if I didn’t drink any I would have a migraine by late afternoon. I have switched to 1/2 decaf, 1/2 regular and only drink maybe 1 cup now. I most likely could completely eliminate the coffee at this point, but I like the morning ritual of taking the time to wake up with a fresh cup before I start my day. I have tried tea but it just isn’t the same. I will switch to 100% decaf in the next week or so once I finish the container of the 1/2 & 1/2. The most noticeable change (besides not having headaches) has been how hungry I am in the mornings now. This is a big change since I never used to want to eat breakfast even though I knew how important it was to eat breakfast. Then my choice was toast. Now that has changed too….eliminating gluten from my diet.

It hasn’t been too terribly hard, but it does take a bit more thought and planning. I have been trying different recipes, some good and others not so great. I don’t eat sandwiches too often so bread has been pretty easy to do without, but I miss toast. I did get some gluten free bread just so that I could have toast, but it is very expensive, so I won’t be having this very often.  Also, baking takes on a whole new challenge with the different types of gluten free flours. Thank goodness for Bob’s Red Mill! I am lucky enough to live near the Red Mill store and am able to buy gluten free flours in bulk.

I plan on making a new gluten free recipe at least once a week. This past week I have tried two new recipes: Gluten Free Pizza Dough and Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars. These both are excellent and you would never know they were gluten free. I will post the pizza dough recipe soon.

Here is the Pumpkin Bar recipe and some of the changes I made to the original recipe. It is more like a cake than a bar, as it is moist and fluffy.

I used pumpkin that I pureed and froze last year instead of canned pumpkin. I changed the refined sugar in this recipe to sucanat as this is less refined. I didn’t change the oil this time, but I will try using coconut oil next time. The frosting is the only thing I haven’t figured out how to change. I am not sure what the alternative for powdered sugar would be other than using whipped fresh cream as the frosting (you just couldn’t frost ahead of time).


4 eggs

1 – 1/2 cups sucanat (can use white sugar)

1 cup sunflower oil

16 oz. pumpkin puree (or 15 oz can pumpkin)

1 cup white rice flour

1 cup cornstarch

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 baking pan, set aside.

Mix eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients and then add to pumpkin mixture. Mix on low speed until thoroughly combined and smooth.

Spread into the 9 x 13 pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cool and Frost. Cut into bars.


4 oz cream cheese

1/4 cup butter

approx. 1 tbls milk kefir (or enough to make frosting spreadable)

1 tsp vanilla

2-1/2 to 3 cups confectioners sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter, kefir, and vanilla until smooth. Add confectioners sugar and mix to spreadable consistency.



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It’s Not Always about the Money

In the planning for our daughter’s surprise birthday party I was trying to incorporate real foods to the usual BBQ affair. I wanted to serve nutritious foods that would be enjoyed by all and not be seen as my ‘science’ experiments! Although I didn’t make my own hamburger buns, we did have grass fed beef burgers. I adapted my baked bean recipe to incorporate soaked, dry beans: kidney, garbanzo, white. In the past I would have just purchased cans of all these beans. Dry beans are so economical and I always make extra to keep in the freezer making them just as easy as opening a can of store bought.

The condiments were all homemade, with the exception of the mustard.  I make my own mayonnaise, ketchup, and relish. I did get the comment “why make ketchup, it is not that expensive”. My response was that I make it because I know what is in it – No High Fructose Corn Syrup, No MSG, NO GMO’s! It is not always about the money and the last time I bought a bottle of organic ketchup it was $3.98 for 36 ozs and I made 52 ozs for about the same amount. I haven’t figured the cost exactly, but tomato paste, vinegar, organic sugar and a couple of spices aren’t too terribly expensive.

I also made a very tasty Corn and Blueberry Salad that was a surprise hit. This salad will make a great addition to all those summer BBQ’s. I have made a similar version of this salad using avocado in place of the blueberries, but I came across this recipe and was intrigued by the flavor combination using blueberries.  The best part of this salad is that it is a make ahead recipe and goes together quickly the night before.

Here is the recipe:

Southwestern Corn & Blueberry Salad

makes 8-10 side servings

6 ears fresh sweet corn

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cucumber sliced

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 tbsp. lime juice (approx. 2 fresh limes)

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. raw honey

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1. In large pot, bring salted water to boiling. Add corn. Cook, covered 5 minutes, or until tender but don’t over cook. Drain and cut corn from cobs.

2. In a serving bowl combine corn, blueberries, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno.


1. Combine lime juice, oil, honey, cumin and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Whisk together. Pour over corn mixture and stir to combine.

Cover and refrigerate overnight (up to 24 hours).

Variation: omit blueberries and add diced avocado.

(This post appears as part of Real Food Wednesdays –

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Real Food on a Budget, can it be done?

In my continued effort of trying to decipher “Real Food” and how to incorporate these foods into our daily life, this week I read the book by Nina Planck, Real Food: What to Eat and Why. What an interesting book. It really helped to drive home the meaning of ‘real food’ and now I am processing how to do this on a very limited budget. It does cost a bit more to eat organically  and naturallly, but I have to realize that I can’t do it all. No matter how much I want or need to eat grass-fed beef, fresh wild fish, locally raised poultry and pork, I have to pick and choose what I am able to do without doing everything. I will continue to buy organic, fresh produce and we have our own fresh eggs. I will cook with coconut oil, EVOO, and butter. I will incorporate grains and legumes – these are budget friendly. On a daily or weekly basis I am not able to purchase the grass-fed beef or wild fish. I just can’t spend $14 for salmon for one meal or $10-$20 for a local grown fresh chicken. (hmmn, my backyard chickens better mind their manners….)

My goal for this week is to incorporate more ‘real food’. I am working to limit white flour and sugar, but with my plan to make pita bread this week, I will be using unbleached, white flour. I am not sure how to get around this one yet. I have started a new batch of sourdough starter and am using white, whole wheat flour for this. I can’t wait to make bread this week. The starter should be ready by Weds. Stayed tuned for my sourdough bread attempt.

I actually tried a new recipe for Collard Greens and Lentil Soup that used home canned chicken broth that was absolutely yummy along with some cornbread. I also made chili with the beans I canned last October. This was the request of my husband.  Luckily my pantry and spice cabinet are very well stocked. I can’t take credit for the Lentil soup recipe, this is courtesy of (thanks Lisa). The cornbread recipe used mostly healthy ingredients and only had a small amount of flour and sugar, so this did fit into my goal.


1   1/2 cups organic cornmeal

1/2 cup unbleached bread flour

2 tsp organic baking powder

1 tsp organic sugar

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 c coconut oil or bacon fat (I used bacon fat)

1   1/2 cups buttermilk (didn’t have, so I used regular milk with 1 1/2 tbls. lemon juice)

2 eggs

Heat oven to  450. Mix all ingredients, beat vigorously 30 seconds. Pur into buttered 8×8 pan. Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes.


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Beautiful Beans

Now that it is cooling down outside and we had ran out of canned beans, I decided that it was a good time to get out the canner, can some beans, and warm up the house a bit. I ended up canning black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans.  I ended up with 5 quarts of kidney beans and 8 pints each of black and pinto beans. Next, I am planning on making and canning some baked beans. They are so easy to do and so cost conscious as well.


Canning Dry Beans

This is the easiest process I have found, just a little prep time is all that is needed. The kidney beans need to soak for12 hours and the pinto and black beans need to soak for about 6 hours. 

2 lbs of pinto/black beans will be enough for 8 pints. 2 lbs of kidney beans will do 5 quarts or 10 pints. 

 Measure out 3/4 cup of beans for each pint  or 1 & 1/2 cups for each quart jar you want to can. Then wash and sort the beans.

When your beans are washed and sorted, measure 3/4 cup of beans into each pint jar (1 & 1/2 cups for quart jar). Fill the jars with water, cover with a towel and soak  for the times mentioned above.

When done soaking (the beans will fill about 3/4 of the jar at this point) empty the water from the jars and refill with hot water to leave 1 inch of head space.  I added 1/2 tsp salt in the pints and 1 tsp salt in the quarts, this is optional.  Note: You may need to adjust some beans in the jars. I noticed that the kidney beans got very compacted in the bottom of the jars, so after soaking I had to remove them completely from the jars and refill. If you want, you can save and heat the soaking water that was in the jars. This leaves more nutrients, however, it also leaves more bean gas. I use new water.  After the jars are filled, put a lid and ring on each jar according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Place the jars in the Pressure Canner and process at 10 lbs pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.
By canning my own dry beans I saved quite a bit of money over a can bought from the store.  Here is just one of the cost breakdowns:
I spent $1.47 on my 2 lb bag of pinto beans, enough to make 8 pints of beans (18¢ per pint jar in beans). Lids are $1.49 for 12 (12¢ per lid). I had the jars so I didn’t factor them in this cost. So the pinto beans only cost me 30¢. These purchased at the store cost between .89 – 1.39 depending on the brand. Also, a pint of home canned beans is equal to at least two cans of store bought beans. You end up with a jar full of beans with little to no liquid – the store beans are a can of liquid with some beans floating around in it.

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Crockpot Breakfast

CrockPot Breakfast

I don’t really enjoy cold cereals for breakfast – in fact I don’t really like breakfast unless I am up for a couple of hours. I do however like oatmeal and this recipe is so simple, yummy, easy and healthy. And the best part is it cooks while you sleep. You will need a small crockpot for this recipe, unless you double it.
1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water
1/2 cup milk
1 T butter with an additional bit to rub inside the crockpot
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 T cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup sweetener (I used a mixture of honey and maple syrup, you could also use brown sugar)
1 apple cut up into small pieces (or some other fresh or dried fruit could be substituted-use 1/2-1 cup)
Rub the inside of the crock pot with some butter. Mix all ingredients together in the crock pot and cook for about 7-8 hours on low.  The oats do stick some, but after soaking it will clean without too much scrubbing.

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