So- Sourdough!

So apparently, sourdough is trending since so many are in quarantine.  (Quarantine kitchen- seriously, go check out @ManitowocMinute.)  I hope everyone stays healthy!  It makes sense- homemade bread is so delicious, and it’s not too difficult to make.

Around the time this first started, I thought I’d give making a sourdough starter a try.  Last fall, we were able to travel to San Francisco with friends and, as part of our trip, have some sourdough at the renowned Boudin Bakery.  Pure excellence.  We were able to see their museum/restaurant and hear the story about how their starter was saved from disaster- but that’s another post.  That’s also where we had the idea to try their chocolate sourdough.

boudin

I’m certain I was not able to recreate quite the same as Boudin’s storied and specialized San Francisco sourdough, but we did get our own starter going, and were able to make some different recipes with it here in Wisconsin.

Apparently, it is a trend to name sourdough.  I asked our son what we should name it, and I had thought he had said “I don’t know.”  Actually, he meant and clarified “Doughn’t know”- I thought that was pretty witty and astute for a little kid.  He loves to cook and help me make bread, so he’s been involved in all of the steps in all we’ve tried.

First, we needed a recipe for starter, and thought we’d give this one from Taste of Home a try.  It worked out well.  We were able to get a starter going quickly, and only tossed the first portion we removed in the first week since I had read that it likely was not strong enough to raise the dough.  We have been baking successfully ever since.  I’m not someone who is going to bake something every day or want to babysit a starter, so the recipe has worked well to store in the the refrigerator when not in use.  We still followed the directions to feed it once a week.  I won’t re-hash all the recipe specifics, or this will get to be a REALLY long post (please review the links!)

Here is the mixed starter:

starter mixed

 

 

 

Starter direct from the fridge, prior to feeding/mixing (notice the liquid on top):

starter fridge

We found several good recommendations for making sourdough bread from this very helpful website- The Clever Carrot:

Always smell the sourdough starter- just to make sure it still smells yeast-y and bread-like.  When baking, I would have just put the dough on our pizza stone, but the Dutch oven works fantastically well.  It helped to ‘work in reverse’ for timing- plan out the amount of time needed to warm/feed the starter, let the bread dough rise, and then rise again before baking it.

We tried the bread recipe from Tasty.

We did use cornmeal on the bottom of the pan, which helped give the bread crust a nice crunch.  It worked better (easier to clean) by using parchment paper in the Dutch oven and put the cornmeal/dough on that.  Definitely score the bread on top so the steam can escape in a specific spot.

bread in Dutch oven

 

 

 

 

The fresh bread smells so good, but it is important to let it cool and wait about an hour.

One week later…starter in the fridge, and then re-fed.

After we tried regular sourdough, we tried making pretzels:

We did not prepare the egg wash, but they were still fantastic!

pretzel mix

pretzel dough

pretzel dough shaped

 

 

 

 

(Please forgive our non-standard pretzel shapes- still delicious when cooked!)  They were best as pretzels fresh, but great as burger buns the next day!

pretzels

 

 

Another week later, we tried chocolate sourdough!

 

 

chocolate mix

chocolate dough

chocolate dough rise

chocolate sourdough

chocolate bread cut

 

 

There was no separate recipe, just my estimate/guess-timates.  I used the Tasty recipe from above (and let the dough rise twice), and added 2 tablespoons of regular cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder to the mix before adding the sourdough starter.  I also added half a cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.  We didn’t add sugar to the recipe- there’s no sugar in the recipe, so next time, we might try adding more cocoa powder (maybe another tablespoon each and/or another half cup of chocolate chips).  This would make it 3 tablespoons of each cocoa powder and 1 cup of mini semi-sweet chips.  Regular size chocolate chips may work as well, but we have not tried it.

Next on the list may be sourdough pizza crust… The tour of deliciousness continues…

If you’ve made a starter, what have you made?

‘Super Bowl’ Spaghetti Squash – Fritters

It may not be typical Super Bowl fare, but it’s still Super delicious!

Are you tired of plain, regular baked spaghetti squash with pasta sauce?

Do you want to try something as good or better for your garden-grown or supermarket-selected spaghetti squash?

We made these Italian-Style Spaghetti Squash Fritters- recipe.  (Recipe via Oh My Veggies)

We made four batches of this recipe from one spaghetti squash, but that, of course, would vary by the size of the spaghetti squash.  (And you can also roast the seeds separately in the oven for a snack too!

It was very easy to mix up, and they were easy to fry, though it took a little to have them done on both sides.  It helped to flatten them a bit with a fork when placing them in the pan.  We ran out of ricotta on the last batch, so we swapped in some cottage cheese, which worked well.  They turned out nicely crunchy and were flavorful- the garlic, cheese, and herbs were noticeable just by themselves.  They’d make an excellent substitute/side in place of potato pancakes.

We thought they’d also be perfect with some cumin and cilantro in place of the Italian herbs/seasoning, and then they could be topped with salsa instead.  They could also be good with curry powder in place of the Italian herbs/seasoning.

Enjoy (for the Big Game, or anytime)!

 

Eat well, my friends!

Well, it’s the Super Bowl again, and while my team is not playing, and we’re not having a party, it’s not a bad day to plan a quality meal.  We had some beef tenderloin in the deep freezer, some Jones Farm bacon and thought a crock pot meal might be the way to go as an alternate to grilling in the cold and snow.  (Thankfully, it’s stopped snowing.)  I came across a recipe for a crock pot beef tenderloin via A Spicy Perspective:

(Check out the recipe card for the directions and ingredients.)

Recipe card: https://www.aspicyperspective.com/beef-tenderloin-recipe-balsamic-glaze/2/ 

Process: https://www.aspicyperspective.com/beef-tenderloin-recipe-balsamic-glaze/

While mine didn’t end up looking the same, it still smells heavenly!  (Final pictures to follow once it’s done!)

I seared mine in a cast iron pan- cast iron is starting to grow on me, and it’s not hard to clean.

beef tenderloin w bacon in a cast iron skillet

A pile of onions and garlic ready to go in after the crock-potting of the tenderloin:

onions and garlic next to a crock pot

The tenderloin getting ready to begin its slow cooking- with the bacon juices marinating from the top!

We have a rosemary plant indoors that’s liking the window well enough, so thankfully, we had fresh rosemary.

roast with onions, garlic, bacon, and rosemary

After cooking a while, I added the remaining ingredients, but realized I was almost out of balsamic vinegar… But, no worries- you can make a substitute with red wine vinegar (which, thankfully, we have- no emergency trip to the store this time!)  I used the last of the balsamic I had and filled in the rest with my substitute.  It smells great so far- we should be eating during the game.  (Finished product photo to follow!)  Eat well, my friends!  (Verdict: delicious!)

Super Bowl of Snacks

US map with Google searches per state

 
Or plate of snacks… or tray of snacks….

There’s still time to make some deliciousness for the ever-popular Super Bowl party…

Find out what the most popular Super Bowl Sunday snack Google searches are for each of the 50 states.  (The map above is from the article.)

In Wisconsin, it appears that Buffalo Chicken Dip is the snack recipe to find!  Little did I know that when I posted a recipe here previously for Buffalo Chicken Dip.  It is also the snack searched for by Patriots fans in their home state.

Falcons fans in Georgia are looking for Pico de Gallo – also good!  No matter which team you are cheering for, there’s always a good reason to snack deliciously with something homemade.  What are your go-to/favorite Super Bowl Sunday snacks?

Saving Seeds with Seed Libraries

If you live in a locale where winter has settled in with its icy grip for the next few months, what’s a warm-weather-loving, green-seeking gardener to do (besides enjoying the houseplants)?  Maybe check out your local seed library… While the concept been around for a little while– some part library, somewhat seed bank, it provides a means to share rare and heirloom seeds locally and make them more available.  It’s not without controversy, as some companies have moved to protect plants that they see as their property.

2014_seed_library_usa_15210065125

(Image from Wikipedia via https://www.flickr.com/people/10293577@N03- unedited; size reduced)

 

Poisonous Plants (Wild Parsnip)

Wild Parsnip (via DNR)

Wild Parsnip (via DNR)

I had previously been aware of Giant Hogweed‘s dangers, and noted when it was reported in Wisconsin recently.  Certainly glad there was none of it around here, and then I found wild parsnip!  Same theme; different plant.

This strikes a little closer to home- literally.  I found a few plants in our yard, thankfully in an easy to access area from all sides.  I don’t recall hearing anything about the plant up until now, and I don’t remember seeing it growing anywhere from when I was a kid.  Other than the small patch of plants, it’s not close to our area that I’ve seen, but we don’t have to go far to see whole ditches and edges of fields full of it.  The DNR and local media have shared more information now that the plant is in bloom with the summer season.

It looks fairly innocent, almost like tall dill!- nothing that would suggest that precautions are needed to deal with this thing.  Mainly, my concern is for friends, family, and their kids who visit our place.  It seeds like crazy, and the sap causes burns on skin in conjunction with sunlight (cloudy weather doesn’t make it safer!)

I’ve taken precautions to eliminate this noxious greenery– unfortunately, I didn’t catch it sooner.  I’ve taken steps to kill the weeds at the roots, and dressed appropriately to remove and burn all the seedheads.  Thankfully, it all was still fairly green, so I think we got to it in time before seed dispersal.

I’m not sure how it traveled to our yard since there’s not much else close around.  Perhaps via creature travel… Watch out in your own outdoors and adventure safely to save yourself some trouble!