Thursday, April 22, 2010

Helpful Hints: Sourdough Starter

My dear and beautiful blog-friend Lisa over at Molti di Moda blog has asked me to write a guest blog on the topic of Helpful Hints for Daily Living. I am so honored that she chose to feature me, and I hope everyone enjoys this blog post!

I love to bake bread and lately I've been especially interested in baking sourdough bread. There is just something special about sourdough breads; the way it smells, how it tastes different. I've read that sourdough bread is easier to digest and healthier for your body as well.

For my helpful hints post, I am going to give you two recipes for starting sourdough - these are called sourdough starters and I keep a rye version and a wheat version in my fridge at all times. I feed them about once every week and a half and use them for some of my breadbaking.

A mixed flour sourdough made with wheat and spelt flour.

If you are new to sourdough making, I suggest you start with the rye sourdough starter. It's a lot easier to get a rye sourdough started, probably because it's a whole grain and has more of the "good stuff" in it. When you have a good rye sourdough starter, you can use some of it (a tablespoon or so) to kick off your wheat sourdough starter.
Today I will post the sourdough starter recipes and instructions and sometime soon, I will
post a few sourdough bread recipes for you. Here we go! Make sure you have: Water (ha!) Rye flour - I like a sifted version, not a very coarse rye flour. Bread flour Wide mouth canning jars with 2-piece lids. You can use regular glass jars as well, but I've found wide-mouth canning jars to work really well. I highly recommend organic and stoneground type flours if you can find them at a decent price. They too seem to have more of the good stuff in them and make for better sourdough starters.

Rye Sourdough Starter

First Day - Morning
1/2 cup warm water (not hot!)
1/4 cup rye flour

Mix the water and the flour in a glass jar until there are no more lumps of flour. Wide mouth canning jars work great, especially with a 2 piece lid. Put the lid back on, but don't screw it on. We need air to make this work!
Put the jar in a warm place such as above the fridge. Let the jar stand for 3 days and lightly shake it every 12 hours or so.
Flour and water added.

4th Day - Morning
Add the following to your mixture:
1/2 cup warm water (not hot!)

3/4 cup rye flour

Mix until no more lumps of flour. Put the jar back in the warm spot.

Starting to bubble...

4th Day - Evening

Add the following to your mixture:

1/2 cup warm water (not hot!)

1/2 cup rye flour

Mix well and let stand for 12 hours.

The finished rye starter.
Your starter should smell nice and yeasty now. The consistency should be like chocolate mousse, bubbly on top. If you're going to use your starter, go ahead and do so. If not, you should put your jar in the fridge.

The beginnings of my wheat starter.

Wheat Sourdough Starter

First Day - Morning

1 tablespoon rye sourdough starter

1/4 cup warm water (not hot!)

1/2 cup bread flour

Mix the water and the flour in a glass jar until there are no more lumps of flour. Put the lid back on, but don't screw it on. Put the jar in a warm place such as above the fridge. Shake it every 12 hours or so.

Wheat starter halfway through

Second Day - Evening (a day and a half or 36 hours later)

Add the following to your mixture:
1/2 cup warm water (not hot!)

3/4 cup bread flour

Finished wheat starter.

Mix well and let stand for 12 hours. Your starter should now be nice and bubbly and have nice volume. If you don't see this - let it stand for another 12 hours, check again. If no activity, pour out half the mixture and repeat the second step above adding new water and flour.
If you are not ready to bake, place your starter in the fridge.

Coming up next - my favorite rye honey sourdough bread and how to keep your sourdough starter alive!
Happy Baking!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Potato Planting Pictures

All the taters in a row....

About 3 weeks ago, we got our potatoes in the ground after some nice warm weather. Our wonderful neighbors let us have several truckloads of horse manure which we spread out over the Lakeside Garden plot. Some of it was not composted, so we let it sit on top and burn for a few weeks. Then Sean used the tiller and created these long rows that we planted in.

We had gotten the hoops that you see in the pictures, and fabric to cover the ground for cold weather, but it turns out we've not had to use them at all. We've had weather in the 70s to 80s consistently now for a few weeks. Go figure - oh well, we will probably use them for winter gardening then!
We've planted All Red, All Blue, Carola, German Butterball and Yellow Fin potatoes. We planted them in offset rows with a thin layer of dirt on top and then added about 6 inches of straw. As the potatoes start to come up, we will hill the soil around the plants.

Between then and now, we've also planted corn, beans and squash between the two sides of potatoes. Oh, and I'm planting some cotton as well. Just for fun and to see how it grows and how hard it is (so I've heard) to harvest it.

We are very excited about the start of our garden this year. I'll have more updates from the House Garden soon! :-) Happy Gardening and I hope your gardens are taking off as well!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday Kane!

Sweetpea. Baby Kane. Kane-kane. Cutiepie.

Last weekend was your 5th birthday. You are my constant companion, my second love, my buddy, my protector, the best dog that ever walked a bride down the aisle, my joy and my happiness.

Right now I watch you take a nap on your spot on the couch. One of the few moments you actually stay still! That spot on the couch where you can simultaneously keep an eye on the patio door, the yard outside, the cats upstairs and where your people are and what they're up to. You're awake in a nano-second if I even hint at going upstairs (cats!), getting a treat from the pantry, picking up my keys (car ride!).

Oh, how I love you. How much fun we have together and how much we are going to have this year.

This is the year when I plan for us to get some titles in Schutzhund. Maybe a 1 and a 2, and maybe something else - who knows? Some good hikes, camping, car rides. You've learned to go with us on mountain bike rides as well.

Thank you, Kane. For being in my life. For licking my face. For snuggling up with me on the couch and keeping my feet warm. For protecting me, making me feel safe. For showing me just how much joy there is in life, for slowing me down to enjoy everything with you. For bringing me new friends through schutzhund. For loving me back and making my heart feel like it's overflowing. For filling a void in my life I never knew I had. Happy 5th birthday (4/3/2010). I love you lots.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Front door surprise

What I think is a House Finch has decided that the perfect place for her nest and eggs is our front door wreath! There are two small adorable little eggs in her nest. They are greenish blue with just a few black brownish spots.
Now I will have to put up a sign for the UPS-Fedex guys to not disturb the mama and her young!

What an adorable surprise for Easter!