Sourdough Success!

I have been playing with sourdough and my starter for a few months now and think I have finally lost my fear of failure. I was intimidated by the starter for what I now realize was crazy. The starter is so simple and so forgiving. It continues to work, even when I neglect it. I am not too consistent at feeding it and I have forgotten about it at times and yet with a little feeding it performs beautifully.  I am still trying to make a sourdough bread that isn’t as heavy as a brick! I will keep on trying for good bread, but in the meantime, I am turning out absolutely delicious sourdough english muffins and tortillas. No more store bought for us!  Thank you to GNOWFGLINS Sourdough eCourse!

 

 SOURDOUGH ENGLISH MUFFINS

(makes 8 muffins)

Soak the following overnight or up to 24 hours: I let mine sit 12 hours so this step could be started early in the day and cooked in the evening.

  • 3/4 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup water                              
  • 2 cups flour (I used white, whole wheat)
  • 2 Tbls. ground flax seed (optional)

Stir to combine the starter and water, then add the flour and ground flax seed. Stir well to combine. The dough should be quite sticky, so if it appears to be too dry you can add a bit more starter and/or water. Cover and let sit on your counter.

The next morning add:

  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbls. raw honey
  • optional add-ins: seeds, dried fruit (raisins,etc), cinnamon, chopped nuts

Mix to combine with a wooden spoon. Turn dough out onto lightly oiled surface (about 1 tbls. of olive oil) and oil your hands lightly too. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes, just to incorporate the salt, soda, and honey. Pat into a circle and cut into 8 equal pieces either using a pizza cutter or large knife.

Lightly dust your hands with flour and gently roll each piece into a ball. Flatten slightly, about 3/4″ – 1″ thick, 2 -1/2 inches in diameter. Place the muffins on wax paper or parchment paper that has been dusted with cornmeal. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 1 hour. The muffins will rise just slightly, but will rise more when you cook them.

After the muffins have rested, heat a cast iron skillet or griddle on medium/medium low heat. Don’t use too high of heat, you want the muffins to cook through without burning the outsides.

Carefully transfer the muffins onto the skillet and cook about 5 minutes on each side. Turn them gently so you don’t deflate them. 

Cool on cake rack and when cool, store in covered container up to a week (if they last that long!) or freeze for longer storage. 

These are so easy and relatively quick to make. Hands on time is maybe 10 minutes to prepare for soaking, less than 10 minutes mixing and kneading, and 10 – 20 minutes cooking, depending on the size of your skillet or griddle.

 This recipe could be doubled or tripled.

 

 

 

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Thursday Thoughts

It’s been way too long since I posted anything. It is not for lack of anything to say or lack of anything happening on the old home front, that’s for sure. There has been a lot going on, so today I am just posting my random thoughts for Thursday….

The Garden – it is doing quite well actually. We have enjoyed lettuce, chard, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, kohlrabi, new potatoes, artichokes, cherries and cabbage so far this season, all from our own backyard. I have nearly 7 lbs of beets to can and I just picked our first tomato (!) with tons more just waiting to ripen. I can’t wait for the romas to make salsa and the others to can for use this winter. I am now getting ready to plant a fall crop of beets and lettuce and in a few weeks I will plant garlic.  

Preserving – so far this summer I have picked and froze strawberries, blueberries, and marionberries. I made some strawberry jam and mashed and froze the marionberries to make jam at a later date. I picked 52 lbs of peaches this week and just finished canning 8 qts today. They are not quite ripe enough, so I am going to can more in the next day or so. I am looking forward to picking pears and apples in the next couple of weeks.

                                         

 Yard Work –  We are in the middle of a complete remodel / addition to our house and the front yard has truly suffered from neglect so we took a break from inside work and focused on redoing the front landscaping. I still need to add a few more shrubs and plant bulbs this fall for spring flowers, but the heavy work is done for now.

These are just a few of the things going on here.

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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.

Dressing

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 –http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2010/06/real-food-wednesday-6910.html)

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A New Direction

‘To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.’ 

 When God takes something from your grasp, He’s not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better.  Concentrate on this sentence… ‘The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.’   Something good will happen to you today; something that you have been waiting to hear.

I was just sent this in an email today and it fits so well into my life right now. I have been wondering which direction I should be going and some days feel like I am going backwards. I have been struggling to find the direction that I am meant to follow and have been floundering a bit. Maybe this was my ‘sign’ to follow.

This past week I have been deciding which way my blog should go. I knew I wanted to share my journey, but have been struggling with the thought – “why would anyone care”. I don’t have anything profound to share that isn’t already being blogged about, but there is still the feeling that it is the right thing to do. I read so many other blogs and am truly inspired by everyone out there. Well, I have been listening and am going to follow that not-so-silent voice in my head and move forward.

I discovered after trying to insert something onto my current blog and it wasn’t working I would have to switch my blog over to a new site – OK, now how do I do that?  This was my first thought, so I started searching and of course everything I found costs more that my non-existent finances could afford. Well, whether it was fate or that ever so powerful guiding hand, I am being led in the direction I need to go.  (I might even be able to generate a tiny amount of income from my new site!) This is something I knew nothing about 7 months ago when I started this. ‘To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.’  I can definitely say I am doing something I’ve never done before!

 I am excited to move forward and hope that  in some small way I can inspire others to trust and follow where HE is leading us all.

Something good will happen to you today; something that you have been waiting to hear.

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Homemade Multi-Purpose Spray Cleaner

I started making my own multi-purpose spray cleaner several months ago. You may ask: Why make your own household cleaner?  It’s only pennies to make compared to store bought cleaners, really easy to make, no toxic chemicals, and you don’t have to buy more plastic to add to the landfills since you can reuse plastic spray bottles making sure to label them correctly.

Also, I can make the spray any scent I am in the mood for.  I use essential oils for their antibacterial properties and because they smell nice too. I’ve used  lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and red thyme. I like the lemongrass or peppermint essential oil for my kitchen spray and lavender or red thyme for my bathroom spray.

I have tried other so-called ‘green cleaners’ from the store but I don’t like the smell and they cost anywhere from 25-45 cents per ounce. This homemade cleaner works equally as well for a fraction of the cost.  This homemade cleaner will run you anywhere from 1-3 cents per ounce. 

You can use this cleaner on most surfaces. I wouldn’t recommend it on marble however, since the vinegar may harm the finish. I have used it on glass and my hardwood floors with excellent results. It also works great for cleaning my grout on my kitchen counters and shower walls since the hydrogen peroxide slightly bleaches the grout (I have colored grout in my kitchen and white grout in my bathroom and it cleans without affecting the colors).

Homemade Multi-Purpose Spray Cleaner

Equipment
Spray bottle – either rinse out an old one or buy a new one. (I get mine from the Dollar Store)

Ingredients

  •  2 cups water (tap water is just fine)
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar (I buy mine in bulk at Costco for just over $3.00 for 2 gallons)
  • 3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide (also purchased at Costco, 2 qts for $2.09)
  • 2 tsp liquid castille soap
  • 20 drops Tea Tree essential oil
  • 20 – 30 drops essential oil of choice (Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint, etc.,  either alone or in combination)

1. Add water, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle.

2. Add the castille soap and drops of essential oil, cap, and shake the bottle.

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

I am so excited about my vegetable garden this year. This may sound lame, but it has not been a pretty site for the last two years. We have been in the midst of remodeling our home and this has been a slow journey to say the least. We have added nearly 1400 sq feet to the back of our house and this meant digging out a mountain of dirt for the foundation. Needless to say, we still have that mountain in what used to be my large garden area. Last year we rushed to try to get a garden area ready and I planted probably 2 weeks later than I normally do (I try to have everything planted by Memorial weekend), and I was in too much of a hurry and did not prep the soil properly. Well, it was pretty much a failure as far as gardens grow and I only got some green onions, a few beets, and lots of green tomatoes.

So on to this year…..I still have the mountain of dirt, but a much better prepped garden area. This past weekend we had beautiful weather, mid-70’s, so it was the perfect time to plant. I started the weekend, well Friday anyway, going to a bi-annual wholesale plant sale at a local nursery. This didn’t have anything to do with the vegetable garden, but I love plants too! I am ever so slowly trying to landscape our yard (it isn’t very pretty right now…..the remodel and all) so I am taking advantage of the super plant deals during these sales. I got a beautiful rose bush, a dark pink lilac, a holly bush, and 3 Hostas.

Now back to the vegetable garden…we rototilled, I raked and added composted manure to my planting areas, crawled around in the dirt and planted.  I began feeling pretty proud of myself getting a two week head start on the garden. Here is what I have done so far:

              

   Herbs: Basil, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Lavender

Seven tomato plants. I am using the red plastic as it is suppose to improve the tomato harvest and after last years dismal results I will try anything.

 

 

 

6 Brussel Sprouts

The straw areas you see are covering the potatoes. I have never planted potatoes before and heard they are easy, so we’ll see.

Broccoli and Cabbage – I need to add more broccoli so I have enough to freeze for later in the winter.

 

60 onion sets (white and brown skinned), Bush Beans, and Parsnips

 

 

Radishes, already peeking through the soil!

 

 I started these seeds on paper towels, evenly spaced. This is the first time I have tried this method and at least so far the radishes are growing. I also did the paper towel method with my parsnips, beets, carrots and dill. It is a bit too early to tell if they are working or not.

 

pickling cukes along the fence to use as a trellis, dill in front of the cucumbers, chamomile seeds behind the rocks along with my new lilac and holly bush!

 

I didn’t get the zucchini, acorn squash or pumpkins planted though. I worked so hard for three days and looking at it now it sure doesn’t seem like a lot. After such a beautiful weekend we had thunderstorms, high winds and torrential downpours. The temperatures dropped and I had to cover all the tomatoes with buckets to protect them. Maybe planting earlier isn’t better?

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Remake of old favorite

Since I am no longer purchasing a previous pantry staple, cream of mushroom soup, I have had to find an alternative and have come across a mighty tasty homemade version using healthy ingredients without unnecessary additives. Here is my version:

 Condensed Creamed Soup (makes the equivalent of 2 cans condensed soup)

 Basic Sauce Base:

 2 tbls butter

2 tbls coconut oil (or olive oil) I just didn’t want to heat my olive oil so chose the coconut oil

 1/4 c white whole wheat flour

1 tsp sea salt

 2 cups whole milk

 Heat butter and oil. Add flour and stir until well incorporated. Add milk and stir until thickened. Use in any recipe calling for condensed soup.

VARIATIONS:

 Cream of Mushroom Soup: saute in butter/oil  – 12 chopped fresh mushrooms and 1/2 cup chopped onion until softened.

 Cream of Chicken: add 1 tsp chicken base (a paste with no MSG), 1 cup milk, 1 cup chicken stock, chopped cooked chicken (optional)

 Cream of Celery: substitute celery in place of mushrooms, 1 cup vegetable broth, 1 cup milk

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Week 2 Recap

I can hardly believe that 14 days have past on the 28 day challenge. Here is my week in review:

Day 14: Happy Valentine’s Day:  This afternoon my husband and I went to check out a co-op and new source of milk. I was pretty impressed with the system they had in place. They place your orders and provide a drop off point for picking up local meat, milk, eggs and much more. I have actually purchased from some of their same farmers, so I was familiar with the quality of what I would be getting. After visiting the co-op it got me thinking….there needs to be one closer to my home and maybe I should check into opening one here. I know there has to be a need in my local area for this same type of service and maybe I could become a drop off /pick up point. My wheels are spinning….AGAIN!

Day 13: Get your (good) bacteria: I made Gingered Carrots (recipe from Nourishing Traditions). I actually started them earlier in the week not even realizing this was going to be part of this week’s challenge. I decided to start with the carrots as my first fermented veggie. Last week I drained some organic, whole milk yogurt so that I would have the whey to add to future recipes. I was surprised to find that the carrots are very mild tasting. They were a good accompaniment to the baked chicken we had for dinner last night. I am now on a good rotation with my Kombucha and now have a steady batch at all times – one for drinking and one fermenting. I can’t wait to try making water kefir.

Day 12: Finding Real Milk: I already have a good source of real milk, however I am not able to purchase it as often as I would like. Even though the health benefits should supercede the cost, I still have to be careful on a tight budget. I did find and try some raw milk cheddar cheese this week and found it very tasty.

Day 11: Sourdough: The starter I have is going strong. I made another batch of Whole Wheat Sourdough Crackers and a loaf of Sourdough French Bread. The bread is not totally LEGAL for this challenge however, as it has regular, unbleached flour in it and a small amount of yeast. I really want to make a 100% sourdough bread but the recipes I have come across call for baking it in a special heavy duty pan that I don’t have and I am a little intimidated to improvise with this type of recipe.

Days 10 & 8: Fats to eat Raw / Fats for High Heat:  I haven’t used olive oil for cooking for over 6 months after learning that heating it changes it’s properties making it unhealthy. I use it in salad dressings and for dipping sourdough bread in along with balsamic vinegar (I think this is better than garlic butter!) It makes me crazy watching cooking shows and how they always use olive oil to fry in. I want to scream into the television not to cook with it! This week I rendered my first ever batch of lard. It took several hours, but it was worth the effort. I purchased 10 lbs of pastured leaf lard and rendered 2 1/2 lbs which yielded 5 cups of pure, white lard.  I typically use butter or coconut oil for frying and in baked goods and now that I have lard I will replace the butter, saving the butter for my vegetables.

Day 9: Fight against GMO’s:  I have had a copy of the GMO Shopping Guide since last October and I keep it in my purse so I have it available when I am shopping. The first time I read through the shopping guide I was shocked to see all the products that have GMO’s in them and has made me more aware of what I am buying and feeding my family. I can safely say that there are no GMO products in this house!

I must admit that I am finding this challenge to be pretty easy. I really think I am feeling better and I can honestly say that the arthritis pain I was suffering from in my right hand is virtually gone. I am convinced that the foods we eat play a big role in how our bodies function and I will continue to monitor how I am feeling.

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First Week Completed

It is now day 7 of the 28 day real food challenge and reflecting back on the week has made me realize that I have been doing pretty good. Processed foods haven’t been in my kitchen for quite some time now, so I didn’t have an issue with this portion of the challenge.  The hardest part was the white flour (unbleached).  I have never had a lot of success with whole wheat flour so I am anxious to see how to do away with the white flour and still make baked foods taste good.  I was a little intimidated about soaking my wheat, but today when I rinsed the kernels I was so excited to see the little sprouts! I actually used some in our pancakes this morning and I think they were the best pancakes we have eaten (and they were ‘flour free”).  Now I have to figure out if I will be able to dry the sprouted wheat in my dehydrator.

I have the full support of my husband and our ‘new’ way of eating.  All the things sitting around the kitchen – soaking wheat, sourdough starter, kombucha brewing – has been pretty comical and made him proceed with caution.  I feel a bit like a ‘mad scientist’ and my brother in law said it was all my witches brew!  The biggest challenge for my husband has been that he can’t just go into the kitchen and grab something easily. Snacks take more thought than just opening a bag of chips or crackers. However, I did make some sourdough whole wheat crackers that were an instant hit. (I was ahead of the challenge this week and already had sourdough starter made).  These crackers were so good that I will be making more tomorrow.

I tried to incorporate whole grains into various meals. I made soaked brown rice and grass-fed beef that we enjoyed for two of our dinners, baked oatmeal with soaked oats for a healthy breakfast and my sprouted wheat for pancakes.

Moving forward I really want to start fermenting some vegetables.

I am looking forward to the day that preparing and eating ‘real food’ will become second nature.

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Day #2 – Good to go

Not knowing what the second day would bring turned out to be not so bad. It was directed to be a day to do some grocery shopping and at first I was a bit concerned since I will not be able to do this until Thursday. However, I had most of the real food items already in my kitchen so I feel much more confident that I am on the right track. Maybe this will be easier than I thought…..

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