Monday, March 25, 2013

Sourdough starter

Thanks to those of you who have been waiting patiently for me to do this post! :)  Here we go....finally! :)

Why sourdough?
Like many foods, we have changed them in order to make them more shelf stable, quicker to produce, and more eye-catching.  Of course profit is behind it all.  It's no different with bread.  Natural leaven was replaced with baking yeast because the bread had a more consistent rise, was larger and fluffier, and a person could make it faster.  And as with most foods, nutrition was compromised in the process.  The bread became less digestible and less tasty.

I have been making sourdough for many years.  I started out making it by hand.  The process was a little tedious, but having good bread that my family loved made it worth the work.  Then I heard about a sourdough bread class.  I thought it would be good to refine my skills. The instructor made the most beautiful sourdough bread that I have ever seen, and it tasted great.  The only problem was it took three days to make her bread!  The first day was spent feeding the starter.  The second day required a total of 8 different steps spread out over 6 hours.  The third day required about 6 or 7 steps and about 4 more hours.  I left that class thinking, "Well, I will probably NEVER do that!"

Since that time I determined that I would learn to simplify the process.  Making sourdough was not that complicated for the pioneers. (Laura Ingalls Wilder talks about the process in  her book By the Shores of Silver Lake.)   So last September I started experimenting.  I will share with you the process that I came up with.

I know you are anxious to make some bread, but first you need to make your starter.  This is simple.  For seven days, combine rye flour and water in a gallon jar or large non-metal bowl.  After seven day, you will have your starter.  It will be a bubbly mixture with a sour smell.

I do not measure my flour and water, but if it's easier for you, you can add one cup of rye flour and one cup of water every morning.  Stir your starter well, making sure you get all the flour mixed in.  You want your starter to be kinda soupy.  Leave your jar on the counter and cover it with a cloth secured by a rubber band (keeps any bugs out...particularly helpful during summer months).  This jar in now your pet. :)  You must feed and water it every day. 

So that is how you make your starter.  In my next post, I will tell you how to make your bread.

Making Starter
1.  Mix 1 cup of rye flour and 1 cup of water in a gallon jar every day for seven days. 
2.  Leave jar on the counter. 
3.  Cover with a cloth.

My sourdough starter

How to make sourdough bread

Sourdough starter tips

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy 1st Day of Spring!

It's a whopping 14 degrees out today and very windy, but my children thought they would celebrate the first day of spring by basking in the sunshine...for about 3 seconds! :) LOL 
No vitamin D today!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Health Journal - Making Vegetables the Main Course (Part 2)

I should have named this post "Making Produce the Main Course".  The more you can focus on produce when menu planning, the healthier your family will be.  It is a very easy way to simplify a busy life.  There is no need to make fancy recipes.  Just keep it simple- fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, and lots of cooked vegetables with dinner.  Eat as much as you want, you will be totally satisfied, and you will look and feel great.  I will give you some ideas for meals that have worked well for our family.

If you are dealing with disease, extra weight, allergies, or chronic fatigue - anything, your answer is found in your food.  As Hippocrates said,
"Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food."
God did not give us all those nutrient-rich foods for no reason.  They are packed with all that our bodies need for good health!  As I said before, God is the Master Chemist!  He created all kinds of foods for our bodies, but we think we are smarter than God.  We take those healthy foods, pull certain constituents out of them, put them in a pill or capsule, and think we will find health.  I have tried taking vitamin and mineral supplements and they don't work!!!  They make you sicker.  You do not need vitamins, you just need God's food.  The following is a quote from the book Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.:
"There are subtle nuances and nutritive interactions that create disease resistance from the synergy of diverse substances in natural foods.  Like a symphony orchestra whose members play in perfect harmony, our body depends on the harmonious interactions of nutrients, both known and unknown.  By supplying a rich assortment of natural foods, we best maximize the function of the human masterpiece."
I believe that grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, fats, raw milk, and meat are also important for good health, but fruits and vegetables are the best source of disease-fighting ,nutrient-dense food, so make them the main course! :)

Here are some ideas for breakfast.

A grated apple with baked oatmeal (Let me know if you want this recipe. It's the best oatmeal!) and ground flaxseed - this is one of my favorite breakfasts!
Simply grate an apple, put a scoop of baked oatmeal on top, and sprinkle with ground flaxseed.  Flaxseed is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, so add some to your breakfast or put some in a smoothie.  There is no need to take an Omega-3 supplement, just eat flaxseeds or walnuts daily.

Here we have scrambled eggs with onions, mushrooms, and garlic on a bed of spinach greens and fresh broccoli.  Great breakfast!

This quick and simple breakfast is not only healthy but surprisingly filling.  It's just fruit (apple, orange, and kiwi) covered with ground flaxseed.  We are always trying new fruit combinations to spice things up a bit. :)
We usually have a kefir shake every day for a snack, otherwise we will just have fresh fruit.  Here are two more that we like.
These banana sandwiches are made with a combination of peanut butter, coconut, and maple syrup.  They are yummy!

Here we have the same peanut butter mixture as above only I added more maple syrup to make it easier for dipping.  Ground flaxseed could easily be added to this too.

Snackin' during science class. :)
Some lunch ideas... 
We bake the sprouted grain tortillas in the oven just long enough to make them crisp and dipped them in our white bean hummus. Chips, dip, and a fresh salad - a great lunch!
Here we have a vegetable wrap. It's just grated carrots, chopped cabbage, red & green peppers, and homemade ranch dressing. (As a side note, my boys are not fond of some vegetables, like fresh peppers. That is fine with me. Their wraps had everything but the peppers. They eat peppers all the time when I put them in things, like soup, and don't complain.)
Another wrap idea. This one is made with egg salad. First I put chopped romaine lettuce in the wrap, then slices of cheese, a scoop of egg salad, grated carrots, and chopped cabbage.
 A couple dinner ideas...

This is vegetable chili.  Simply make your usual chili recipe only add a ton of veggies and extra seasoning.  I think I added 2-3x the amount of chili powder and salt to this recipe.  I just added all kinds of frozen garden produce - zucchini, tomatoes, beans, carrots, peppers, broccoli, onions, and asparagus
Vegetable chili with crushed chips, shredded cheese, and plain yogurt.  We all love this meal!
Underneath this pile of goodies is a baked potato.  One of my favorite dinners is a baked potato bar.  We put all kinds of topping on the table and just create our own specialty. 
The following foods make great toppings:
taco meat
sour cream or plain yogurt
dill relish
shredded cheese
There is so much variety in fruits and vegetables that meals never get boring.  Try creating your own nutrient-dense meals.  You'll be glad you did! :)