Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

December 3, 2007

Our Daily Bread

Oh what a weekend! A~ and I seemed to be going from one thing to another, but strangely I never felt rushed? I have found my blog linked to on other sites being listed as a homesteading blog, and I guess from time to time I could say "Yeah I guess I am." but generally speaking I just feel like a guy who's curious about the world around him, and who loves to experiment and learn how to do things on my own. This weekend however, I could say I really did get the feeling of being kind of a "Little house in the suburbs".

Today I'm talking bread. I've heard about this no knead bread recipe that was first made popular by a NY times article on it. (The recipe is on the link.) And it sounded so good we had to try it. A~ and I both love good bread, but as most home bakers have discovered, you just can't get that bakery quality crusty crust at home. Well now people you can. A~ mixed the dough Saturday afternoon, but Sunday I did the majority of the work on the bread. I say this to let you know that anyone can make this bread, I am not a baker by any means, I was entrusted once to take bread out of the mixer and form it into the pans and managed to wait too long and got airy mutant loaves. This bread was nearly idiot proof. Not only that, but besides the fact that it takes a long time to make in wait time, in actual hands on time it takes no more than maybe ten minutes! How was it? Oh man, I tell you it was good!

Another thing we did this weekend was to feed our little kitchen pet. No it's not a pet rock, it's a sourdough start. If you've not begun a sourdough start of your own, you just don't know what your missing in sourdough pancakes alone. It's easy to do, keeps essentially indefinitely in the fridge, and can be used for all sorts of goodies; although we've only used ours for bread and pancakes. I know that it's possible to make a start from wild yeast, and in fact A~ and I did manage to successfully get one going, but it was just a little too ripe for us and I would bet even a little unpredictable. When using wild sourdough one of the instructions is that if it begins to smell sour or just generally funky, toss it and try again. Now this would be absolutely acceptable to me in a survival situation, but for general day to day baking we decided we wanted a more predictable and controllable start. To get this we mixed:
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Water
1 packet dry active yeast
1 Tablespoon Sugar

This, we let sit in a bowl covered with a paper towel at room temperature for 1 week to 10 days until it began to smell, well, beery for a lack of a better description. Then we placed it in a 1 qt Mason Jar and refrigerated it. All we have to do is take out what we need for the recipe at the time, then feed the remaining start with 3/4 each of flour and water and let it sit covered at room temp overnight. If we don't use it for a little while, we will occasionally need to "feed" it by stirring in a tablespoon of sugar. The start in the picture is ours and it's a little over 2 months old. We've noticed that as it begins to mature, it's flavor has begun to become more full and tangy. Give it a try, I'm sure you'll love it.

And what would all this tasty homemade goodness be without a little bit of fresh homemade butter. Last week we bought a container of whipping cream for making mashed potatoes. The remaining bit of cream has been sitting in the fridge. We don't generally use a lot of cream at our house so I was afraid of it going bad. So while we're talking about the baking that we're doing A~ and I both come up with the idea of making butter with it. It's something that we've both wanted to try, and the kids were a little spazzy that day so why not harness the energy for good use right. I added the approx 1 pt of cream, to a 2 Qt canning jar that we had and started shaking it. Shake Shake Shake, Shake Shake Shake, Shake your Butter, Shake your butter... (yeah I grew up in the seventies.) All of a sudden it seemed, the butter separated from the buttermilk and we were in business. I shook it a but more to finish binding the butter fats, and then poured off the buttermilk. (Buttermilk biscuits this week??) After pouring off the butter milk I added cold water to the jar with the butter and shook again to "wash" it. Continue this, emptying the cloudy buttermilk water and refilling with fresh until it shakes and the water stays clear; this removes all the buttermilk that could cause it to go rancid over time. All told it took about 20 minutes, but we were watching You Tube music videos at the same time and dancing around the kitchen so it flew by! last step is to use a spatula or big spoon to work the butter in a bowl forcing out and discarding any water remaining in the butter and turning in a pinch of salt for flavor. That's it, fresh homemade butter. The kids loved it, have yours try it, they will too!


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