A year in sourdough

I’d like to start with a story of my one hundred year old starter, passed down from generation to generation but alas this is just not so. It started with this little packet of freeze-dried magic from Ed Woods… who I assume was a real person but I’ve no personal connection to except for our http://www.com encounter. sourdough@wendyellenthomas.com I ripped open the packet and followed the instructions to start developing my newbie starter. It took a mere five days if I remember correctly. We have had a relationship for about 18 months now so the beginning is a little fuzzy.

sourdough@wendyellenthomas.com

I continued to nurture it with additional flour and water and the powdered stuff came alive

sourdough@wendyellenthomas.com

Until it nearly exploded

sourdough@wendyellenthomas.com

Full of life it was…I had to get used to the idea of either using and replenishing or tossing a little to feed it. I even had two jars going so I’d have a back-up. But I’m working from just one jar now.

sourdough@wendyellenthomas.com

My original inspirations and methods were sparked by Audra at Girl Meets Dirt. She has a very informative post to read word for word. She’s made some beautiful bread.

I also refer to this simple recipe from Stone Soup blog – rustic sourdough.

I somewhat sacrificed my Creuset dutch oven, unintentionally. I do believe a dutch oven has been one secret to success. I would also buy a cheap one if I was starting over.

Sourdough bread-11

It really only takes one baking round at 500° to toast and speckle it black inside and out. But the enamel has not cracked and the handle has not melted.

sourdough@wendyellenthomas.com

I start the night before by weighing all the ingredients… Check out Stone Soup. Sometimes I’ll use 20% whole wheat. So 65 grams of whole wheat bread flour and 260 grams of unbleached organic white flour.

Sourdough bread-17

I tend to keep a fairly hydrated starter. You can see the consistency here- it’s practically pourable. Here is a site that explains in detail about hydration. I have a broader sense of hydration and just sort of eyeball it. I might get more into it if/when I’m ready for the next learning curve.

Sourdough bread-16

I just bring the ingredients together with a spoon. I let it do its thing overnight.

Sourdough bread-18

And when my starter has had regular attention it will go something like this-bubbly and alive. When not, I just try to give it a little more time to develop.

Sourdough bread-25

I have also just started with a sponge and it too is happy when the starter is- The sponge is just the starter with a portion of the flour added to work a little before the rest of the flour and salt are added. Sometimes I skip the sponge.

Sourdough bread-24

The next morning I massage it out to a rectangle and start the ‘no knead’ method. Brilliant
Sourdough bread-19

Then fold the long edge on top down and the bottom edge up and fold in thirds

Sourdough bread-20

I love to make bread on a day off and just do the turns every 45 minutes or so- I go for 3-4 total. After the last turn I put it in a clean, floured tea towel. Or if I want to make it during the work week- I’ll do it in stages over a couple days in and out of the fridge and it will get nice and sour. The trick, I think, is not to be in a rush.

Sourdough bread-21

I wrap it up in the floured towel for a final rise for an hour. During the last 30 minutes I set the dutch oven in the oven and put it up to 500°- My oven temp can run a little under- so I might vary 25-50 degrees.

Sourdough bread-22

I gently unwrap the tea towel and it goes carefully, topside down, into the hot dutch oven. I will score the top with a sharp knife (a bread razor is ideal). The lid goes on, back to the oven, and the loaf begins to cook. The trapped steam creates an incredible crust and I’m not having to mist the oven to create humidity. Out comes something like this

Sourdough bread-12

Or this

Sourdough bread-26

And this… sourdough pizza crust cooked on a stone in my gas grill at about 500+°- SO GOOD! It was last summer with all our garden veggies for toppings- you may see this again.

sourdough pizza@wendyellenthomas.com

When the starter is neglected –

sourdough@wendyellenthomas.com

You will see this brown liquid forming- just a little alcohol and acetic acid. If it’s pink and stinky you are in trouble and it may be time for the garbage disposal funeral. The King Arthur site has some good info here. And it really takes some serious neglect to do it in.

When we are in gluten free periods the starter gets a little put off. I take it out for a night- drain the liquid off the top and let it get good and warmed up say overnight. Then I leave about a cup of starter and feed it for a couple days. Sourdoughhome.com is another valuable resource.

Here’s the latest loaf after a little starter revival..not too shabby.

Sourdough bread-28

Every now and again a bread loaf. But I just can’t get the same crust. And we are so spoiled.sourdough@wendyellenthomas.com

This one was particularly holey.

Sourdough bread-13 It toasted up nicely with some homemade orange marmaladeSourdough bread-14Last but not least – I want to give you a link to a woman in the UK- She offered kind assistance when I first called for starter rescue help. I love her recipes and philosophy. A good place to start on her site is with an informative post on why sourdough is easier to digest than “healthy” store bought bread.

Happy bread making and eating:)

kimchi bacon fried rice and eggs

So this is far from Irish… but I’m not so on top of the calendar:)
Kimchi bacon fried rice and eggs-8Spring is so near I can practically touch it. The sun and cold do their dance like a strip tease that excites and taunts. You don’t know what’s coming next. I picked delicate new spinach and arugula leaves from plants in the greenhouse creating a bed for my baked salmon lunch today. This first minimal picking sparked a little excitement for the coming growing season. What I realize too, is I don’t mind the winter break and it almost takes a strong nudge to get me in the growing mood. Fresh garden food does not arrive without somebody’s hard work. My first little seeds, planted last weekend will become the seedlings for the first of spring planting. Brassica’s, lettuces, peas… the tomatoes and peppers will grow longer in the glass house.

What we relied on this winter besides store bought veggies was our fermented foods.

Kimchi @wendyellenthomas.com

The red sauerkraut was made first with our own Red Mammoth cabbages last fall but I continued to make it with organic cabbage from the market. I played with many napas, bok choy, radishes and conical cabbages for the kimchi and can’t wait to try my new Korean coarse chili powder. I’ll try some napa in the garden this year but it’s a little more finicky than the standard head of cabbage.

This recipe was inspired by my weekend brunch in New York City at The Dutch.

Start with the bacon – about 3-4 slices of Hempler’s thick cut uncured bacon is a nice way to go. Cut into small pieces and fry up.

Kimchi bacon fried rice and eggsThen add about 2 cups of rice- either freshly made or even better, leftovers.

wendyellenthomas.com

I had a little pineapple hanging around from juicing and thought why not? I diced this and added it to the bacon and rice.Kimchi bacon fried rice and eggs-6Throw in about a cup of kimchi – homemade or one of the lovely store bought varieties like one from Seattle’s Firefly Kitchens. Mine below got a little pink from adding red radishes. Kind of fun huh?

Kimchi bacon fried rice and eggs-3Give it all a good toss and that part is done.I scooted the kimchi rice to the side of the frying pan and heated a little red cabbage for some color.

Kimchi bacon fried rice and eggs-5I fried up some of our farm eggs…

Kimchi bacon fried rice and eggs-7And what I’m also loving? Fried avocado. Not new to some but new to me. I had this recently at Irving Street Kitchen in Portland with scrambled egg nachos. A little crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, with the heat bringing out the sweetness of the avocado. I garnished our kimchi fried rice and egg with fried avocado and a little fresh cilantro.

Kimchi bacon fried rice and eggs-11This was a Sunday meal for me and my sweetie.

Kimchi bacon fried rice @wendyellenthomas.comAnd in the real world it looked like this

Kimchi bacon fried rice and eggs-12Just to pull it all together:

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 3-4 strips of bacon cut into pieces
  • half a slice of pineapple cubed
  • 1 cup kimchi
  • fried egg
  • optional garnish of warmed red cabbage, fried avocado,fresh cilantro, pepper flakes
%d bloggers like this: