Tag Archives: food

Sourdough and its discontents

Last month I checked BREAD HEAD: Baking for the Road Less Traveled, by Greg Wade and Rachel Holzman, out of the library. If I didn’t have ten bread-baking books already I’d definitely buy it. I might anyway, or I might check it out from the library another time

I was dubious because the book places heavy emphasis on sourdough, like the loaf in my photo. I like sourdough but not so much I’d make sourdough recipes a regular thing. That makes it feel pointless to go through the work of growing a starter, then keeping it around after I finish the initial bread  — I may not make another sourdough for months and I don’t want to keep nursing the starter along. It would be different if I had a family of five to feed, but it’s mostly just me and there’s only so much bread I can eat a week.

Wade and Holzman make it easier because their system is simpler: flour and water mixed, then you wait until enough wild yeast gets in to ferment it. It still makes way more than necessary; after the first bread I made (sourdough banana bread) I had to pour a lot of it out. And I hate wasting food.

However on the next sourdough I figured out how to reduce the initial quantity to about 25 percent of what was recommended in the book. That left almost no waste.

The recipes are good. I’ve made apple muffins (not sourdough), crumpets (ditto) and cornbread (not sourdough but it does use a cornmeal/buttermilk ferment). The sourdough I made (the one in the photo) was a good bread but not stunningly superior to the breads I normally bake.

I’ll make one more sourdough before I send the book back to the library.

#SFWapro.

 

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Adventures in baking

Last month I got more of an itch to bake than I have in a while. I made vegan, gluten-free chocolate-chip cookies——and ciabatta, though they came out smaller than I’d expected. Still, easy enough I might try it again when I’m having sandwiches.Last weekend I made a peppery squash bread though with sweet potato instead, as I had some of that left over.Last month I also checked a book, Bread Head out of the library. I’ve only gotten around to trying one recipe, a buckwheat flour sourdough banana bread, but it was most tasty.I hope to try a couple more before I send the book back (I’ll give it an actual review then) but overall I don’t think it’s for me. The authors, Greg Wade and Rachel Hotlzman, are into sourdough starter big time. I like sourdough but not os much that it’s worth keeping a pot of starter around all the time. Still the book did serve as a useful reminder on things like checking water temperature for my breads — possibly that’s why the ciabatta came in undersized.

The other recipes came, top to bottom, from Vegetarian Times, 100 Great Breads and a book called Country Baker: Breads and Muffins from Country Living magazine.

#SFWApro.

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Ooops!

So I bought some buttermilk to make a soda bread, then decided to make a buttermilk bread loaf to use up some of what remained. I used a recipe from Beard on Bread and it was the softest, gooiest dough I’ve worked with in a while. So I understimated the possibility it would overflow the pan while rising.While rising too much can ruin the bread, that didn’t happen here. It came out with a golden crust—And very, very tasty. It bonded tightly to the loaf pan but after I extracted the bread, the new dishwasher got almost all of the dough off. Next time, though, either a bigger pan or a little more flour to firm it up.

#SFWApro.

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Cornish pasties!

I had an itch to try a recipe that was more work than usual so I decided to make a Cornish pasty recipe I found on the Washington Post website. Although technically they’re “Cornish” pasties because it’s a heritage recipe and the name is reserved for the authentic recipe, which uses meat. I used veggie sausage. Other ingredients: rutabaga, potato and onion, wrapped up in a buttery dough.They were a fair amount of work; anything that involves making dough, rolling it out and then putting filling in it usually is. But they taste good and they’re very satisfying. About half of one makes a meal for me.

Now I have an itch to try a Samosa recipe, as that also involves wrapping veggies in dough, though with more spices.

#SFWApro.

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The cooking mojo is temporarily gone

Normally I love cooking and baking. Bread in particular.The past month I’ve been surprised how little I’ve been cooking, compared to usual. Not that I’m switching to junk food or takeout — fruit on cereal or yogurt, veggie sandwiches, scrambled eggs with this or that are all easy and they all provide me with healthy, or reasonably healthy, meals. Plus TYG’s been cooking for herself and I often wind up eating her leftovers

I think it’s that this has been a very hectic couple of months. TYG was dealing with some heavy work stuff in early April, then she began the transition to a new job at a new company. Being the awesome person she is, she negotiated to give five weeks notice to her current employer so that she can prep her former subordinates in everything she does that they’ll need to take over. Trouble is, she knows a lot so it’s been intense. And that leaks over to me in the form of more dog care, more running errands, etc. Which is perfectly reasonable, but it does leave me rather wiped by the week’s end.

So I wind up doing a lot less of anything on the weekend, relaxing as much as possible. It’s definitely the right choice but it feels strange. I look forward to getting back to normal next month.

#SFWApro.

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Cats and food

Snowdrop has decided to hang out in the planter sometimes.Wisp, meanwhile, has suddenly decided to sleep on the couch next to me or in my lap rather than on her pillow.It’s almost like they’re living creatures who change their preferences rather than wind-up toys.

And here’s the raw apple pie I mentioned planning to make. A mix of nuts, dates, apples and dried apples, it’s quite tasty. Especially with some cheddar on top.#SFWApro

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Pushing the food envelope

I have several food goals that I’m working on this month. Well, actually, most months. I’ve found if I don’t put them down regularly I slack off.

The main ones are baking more bread, making more vegetable-centric dishes — even though I’m vegetarian, it’s easy to go heavy on cheese or eggs and skip the green stuff — and more fruit dishes. Also to use more of my spices because after a while they go bad, and that’s wasteful. And to push myself to try some new things. This has turned into an excuse to check cookbooks out of the library and see if there’s anything good in them. For example Lee Watson’s Peace and Parsnips gave me a recipe for these chunky-looking but tasty apple-date muffins.Next weekend I’m going to try the book’s recipe for a raw apple pie — no baking, just a lot of chopping, mixing and pressing together. We’ll see how it goes.

I also recently tried a Vegetarian Times experiment in spelt bread. Spelt flour, with a generous cup of sunflower seeds mixed in.The flavor was strong enough it would have worked better as a sandwich bread rather than just as toast. It also makes firm, solid slices for sandwiches; next time I plan some sort of fancy sandwich, I may make the bread again and see how it works.

#SFWApro.

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Photos of food, before I ate it

So last Saturday, TYG and I went out to lunch at Ted Turner’s Montana Grill. It’s the first time either of us has had French fries in over a year.It’s also the first time in over a year that we’ve had a chain restaurant maximal calorie dessert, the kahlua chocolate brownie.Okay, that one was partially eaten when I photographed it.

Very enjoyable but in hindsight we should have split the dessert.

Fingers crossed the Delta variant and anti-vaxxing won’t end up cutting short our opportunity to do more of this.

#SFWApro.

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An oddly lazy weekend

Lately my weekends haven’t been lazy, or not as lazy as I’d like. As we have to take the dogs to their rehab appointment at least once a week, I’ve been compensating for that by watching Alien Visitors movies on the weekend. But this weekend, after rushing to get all my Leaf and Veterans Network stuff done, and finish the golem article, I just decided to crash. And did.

So I watched some Hitchcock, read quite a bit, cooked dinner, made what’s called a cottage loaf —— and no, that’s not two bagels on top of each other, it’s one loaf — and watched some TV. Plus petting dogs, Wisp, using the stationary bike and snuggling with TYG some.

Now that the golem piece is done (subject to edits) I imagine I’ll get back into weekend movie viewing, but it was a really good break.

#SFWApro.

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I think flourless chocolate torte makes a good birthday gift.

TYG does too. She requested I make it for her birthday after a friend of ours mentioned making it. So of course, I did. It came out a little misshapen — — but very tasty. However I think I overdid the glaze.Very chocolatey though. She was happy.

#SFWApro.

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