August 29, 2015

Sourdough Starter


Sourdough bread has always been one of my favorites.

The tangy, salty flavor is unique and the chewy texture is pleasing and unlike the breads we are all used to.

I have tried making  sourdough starter from scratch, but I didn't have much luck with it.

This past spring my daughter had one given to her, and she shared some with me.

Several months later my beautiful starter is still thriving and producing exceptional bread each time I need it.

I have adapted my favorite multigrain bread recipe to using the starter in it, and I find it even better with this added ingredient.

Keeping the starter happy though takes some practice.

When it's bubbling and expanding each time it's fed, then it is active and healthy.

The only ingredients are flour and water, and once they have harvested the yeast from the air, that's when the magic starts.

The starter gets fed more flour and water on a daily basis.

The amounts need to be doubled each day in order to give it enough to eat.

But it can quickly get out of hand at this rate.

I usually keep mine at a small amount until I am ready to make my bread, then I start the doubling amount a couple of days beforehand.

An 1/8 of a cup does me well until I need to bake, then I ramp up the amounts.

That way, I am only removing a spoonful a day before I feed it so I can feed it without it getting out of control.

I have found that giving it a tad less water than the flour yields the best results for the starter to rise.

A healthy starter will rise and fall each day and I have found that using it at it's full height gives the best results for the bread.

Check out the next image to see the fullness of the batter as it is poured - just beautiful!

The natural yeasts in the bread make it unnecessary to use commercial yeast.

The rising times take longer for the bread.

Several of my recipes use added yeast, and they work well with the natural ones in the starter to produce a lighter, softer bread than the traditional sourdough.

This bread is a healthy alternative to traditional breads, and in my next post, I will discuss these benefits.

June 11, 2015

Summer's Arrival


For many, summer begins with the Memorial Day weekend at the end of May.

For those with children, summer arrives on the the last day of school.

Others will count the July 4th celebration as their start even though the calendar tells us it is June 21st.

In our house this year, summer arrived today, on June 11th.

It usually arrives for us much earlier - sometime in May, but it got off to a later start this season.

Perhaps it was the extra cold winter that lingered longer in the bones, or perhaps just another year older all together.

We thought maybe yesterday would be the day, but I'm glad we waited for today.

It was perfect.

We had the sun, the wind a little stronger than we would have liked, and just a few other people around.

But we got right in with no problems and had our first swim at the lake for this season.

Let the Summer Begin!

August 21, 2014

Beans and Lettuce


It has been a banner year for the green beans in the garden.

But then we have always had good luck with them.

Not good enough to freeze any though like this year - and they will taste so good in the winter.

What has been the biggest surprise to me though is the lettuce.

I have never grown it before and really didn't know what to expect with it.

The seeds were so tiny and they needed a major thinning once they all sprouted.

I always thought lettuce was a cool weather crop that didn't like the summer heat.

But I was so wrong.

We have had a continuous supply all summer.

The more I pick it, the more it grows.

I haven't had to buy any lettuce at the market all summer long.

That one little packet of seeds that I bought on clearance at the end of last season has served us well.

I will be sure to make lettuce a staple in the garden each year now - whether we get the seeds on clearance or not.

May 13, 2014

Oh Those Ticks


Just thinking about ticks makes me itch.

And when I find one actually on me, I can feel the borderline hysteria bubbling up on the inside.

If I were to find one biting me - I would probably pass right out.

I really despise them.

And we seem to have an abundance of them around this year.

You would think the extra cold winter we had this year would have made them scarce - but they are an extremely hardy pest.

We are diligent in searching each other for them when we come in the house.

The clothes and shoes get searched too.

Lighter colored clothes help them show up better.

Tucking in loose pant legs helps.

And as I found out - the swinging pony tail isn't enough - the hair needs to be contained more than that.

We use the spray with DEET - which I hate - but I think it works to keep them from biting.

It doesn't stop them from climbing aboard even though we spray our clothes.

The best defense with these bugs is diligence in checking for them.

It's a pain, but it's more of a pain to contract one of the many diseases that ticks pass on when they bite.

April 30, 2014

Big Difference in Spinach


Fresh spinach has always been my spinach of choice.

After the first time cooking it, many years ago, I learned that you need A LOT of fresh spinach to make a meal serving.

It shrinks down so much once it's cooked.

That slimy green stuff in a can that Pop-eye is always eating is not something that will find itself on my table.

Salty, overcooked, swamp weed is what I classify that.

Then there is the frozen stuff.  

It works in a pinch - if you get the right one.

Chopped spinach for a meal - we found that was a no-no.

Way to dense, and just a tiny bit goes a long way.

The frozen leaf works better for a meal.

But, as I found today, not for a soup.

The strings are unbelievable in that soup.

I left it unattended for just a minute, and I began to hear snip, snip, snip.

I look over to see stands of that stringy spinach hanging from the spoon handle horizontally across the top of the pot.

My husband was giving it a haircut with the scissors.

Next those scissors were just dipping away into the pot to cut that spinach.

We did learn one thing today.

The frozen chopped variety goes in the soup, and the frozen leaf on the plate.

And only buy the frozen when the fresh isn't on sale.

The fresh is definitely the best all the way around.


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