Category Archives: Recipes

Simply Sourdough: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Over the last year our family has gone through many changes. One of the most exciting is that I now have the unexpected gift of being able to spend more time at home with my family. That means that I’ve been focusing on making us all healthier and happier. First on my family makeover list was to do a better job of nourishing the family from the inside out. Somehow I came upon the idea to start baking my own sourdough bread. It turns out that I’ve become quite obsessed and I’m having so much fun experimenting with this style of baking! I’m going to share some tips and an easy recipe to get you started. Why not give it a try? Just a warning, it can become quite addicting to have fresh, baked bread in your house on a regular basis….

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What is sourdough?

Sourdough is a bread made by long fermentation of dough using a naturally occurring bacteria and yeast combination, instead of cultivated baker’s yeast. These friendly bacteria are called lactobacilli and they take simple sugar and convert it to lactic acid, which is what gives rise to the slightly sour flavor.

Its history and use go back thousands of years and it’s the original way our ancestors made bread long before cultivated yeast was around. The mix of flour and water in which the lactobacilli and yeast grow and live is called the “sourdough starter.” This starter is maintained and used to flavor and leaven the bread.

Why would I want to make sourdough?

Besides the versatility and fun involved, it turns out that there are health benefits as well. You can read about the beneficial microflora in fermented foods like sourdough, and how they can help you stay healthy. If you’re looking for more than just bread, you should check out my pinterest board for all the fun things you can create from your sourdough starter.

Where do I start?

First, you’ll need a sourdough starter culture. When not in use, it will live in your fridge and you will have to “feed” it from time to time to keep it healthy (i.e. replace what you use with new flour, water and sugar.) You can see the frothy, foamy goodness in the picture of my fed starter above! You can get a starter with a pretty cool history for FREE from this nifty little organization: Carl’s Oregon Trail Starter. They have instructions on how to feed and maintain your starter and some great recipes as well.

Once your starter arrives, you’ll need to take care of your new bundle of yeast as if it’s your pet–because it is! You’ll need something to store your starter in. Glass is best (metal interferes with biochemistry of the yeast) and it needs a lid that doesn’t seal (gases that form during fermentation could rupture your jar.) You can find the one I use here.

While I normally mix, knead and bake my bread by hand, I do sometimes use a bread machine because, well, I’m human. My recipe today uses a bread machine since I figured it’s the gentlest way for first-timers to jump in. And if you’re interested in purchasing a bread machine, this is the one I use.

Sourdough needs a long rise time, so baking in a machine means you have to “cheat” a little and add a some commercial yeast for it to work. However, you still retain the characteristic sour flavor. So while I advocate making sourdough by hand and allowing it enough time to rise on its own, I know in real life that shortcuts can help a tired mama out. So without further ado, here is everything you need to do to crank out your first loaf of sourdough bread quickly and easily. This particular recipe is a kid favorite at our house.

Baking Sourdough in a Bread Machine

You can try out this recipe and omit the herbs if you’re looking for something more plain. This one is kid approved in my house, so I’m sharing it first. I hope to add some more recipes soon.

Sourdough Herb Bread Recipe adapted from the bread machine recipe in Carl’s brochure:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baker’s yeast
  • 2 cups Bread Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 1/3 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons Oil
  • 6 tablespoons Milk 
  • 3/4 cup Starter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil (less if dried)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, dried
  • or you can use any combination/amount of herbs you desire

Add the wet ingredients and herbs first, then add the dry ingredients (protecting the yeast from the wet ingredients.) Place the yeast in last, and make sure to place it in a well in the middle. Bake on Basic with a medium crust.

So there it is–your quick start guide to producing a delicious sourdough bread. Let me know how it turns out!

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Love and Hunger: Oxfam USA and World Food Day

Last night as I laid my five year-old son down to sleep, he hugged me and said the following…

“Mommy love you.  Mommy give you food.”

[by "you" he means "me." ]  Although my son has special needs and cannot speak like a typical 5 year-old child, the above comments still serve as a stark reminder that so many people–so many children–around the globe go to bed hungry each night.

My son spent his first four years of life in an orphanage where going to bed hungry was not an isolated event.  When he came home nearly 2 years ago, he was clearly malnourished and would gorge and hoard food constantly.  His brother, who also spent time in an orphanage, was born malnourished as well.

Hunger is not a new topic in our house.  Our boys associate food with love and it’s kind of a big deal around here. But now that both boys are home and thriving and food is abundant, it is easy to overlook and forget about the fact that hunger is a global reality for so many.

That’s why I support Oxfam America and encourage you to join them on World Food Day (Tuesday, October 16) to get the conversation started about helping people make everyday choices that can improve our global food system.  They have outlined some  principles to help you do it, called the GROW METHOD.

Make sure to visit the link above to download a toolkit to use in your home.

On World Food Day, the boys and I will be visiting a farm as part of a class field trip.  I’m using this perfect opportunity to start the conversation about where our food comes from and how it gets to our table.  For dinner we will talk about the GROW METHOD and what we can do to ensure that no person on this planet has to go to bed hungry.

Startling stats and more info:

•    Our planet produces enough food for everyone, yet nearly one billion of us (1 in every 7 people) still go to bed hungry.

•    About a third of the food produced for our plates ends up lost or wasted between farm and fork.

•    One pound of ground beef for your family uses more than 28,000 cups of water to produce—that’s enough to fill 20 bathtubs to the brim, and then some!

While this may seem overwhelming, there are many ways that we, as individuals, can make simple changes in the way we grow, cook, eat and store our food to be more sustainable.  So, as a special way to celebrate World Food Day, we’re asking people to:

•     Sign up to host a World Food Day dinner discussion. Oxfam has tons of free materials including a discussion guide, placemats, and recipe ideas from acclaimed chefs Jamie Oliver, Mary Sue Milliken, and others. Everything can be found at www.oxfamamerica.org/worldfoodday

•   Share GROW method recipes on Pinterest and we’ll add them to our GROW Method Cook Book (http://pinterest.com/oxfamgrowmethod)! Just tag your pin with #GROWmethod to add it.

•    Snap photos of your World Food Day meal on Instagram and tag them with #WFD2012, then check out our site (www.oxfamamerica.org/worldfoodday) to see photos from all over the world.

So tell me, are you and your family going to participate?  Share your thoughts please!!

 

I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

Wednesday Recipe Roundup {Breads}

It’s been a few weeks since I have posted any recipes, so how about some really easy and yummy ones?! My kids love helping to make bread just about as much as they love eating it. Who doesn’t love sinking their hands into some ooey-gooey dough? These recipes are fabulous and I hope you enjoy them, too.

Easy Crusty Bread (no kneading required)

This bread was so much fun to make and it was delicious, too. I made the cheese, rosemary and lemon version and nearly devoured the whole loaf by myself. This is not only great to have on hand for dinner, but it makes a lovely gift as well.

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Dragon Bread (honey wheat bread)

The kids and I made this bread several months ago. Although our dragon didn’t look as good as we had hoped, the bread itself was delicious! This recipe for honey wheat bread is phenomenal (the link for just the dough recipe is here) Even if you don’t want to mold it into a dragon, you should certainly give the bread recipe a try.

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Chocolate Banana Bread

If you are looking for a fun twist on an old classic, this is the way to go! I have tried several different versions of chocolate banana bread and most have turned out too sweet and more cake-like. This recipe, however, was just right. I actually reduced the sugar just a bit and used dark chocolate chips in place of the milk chocolate chips. It turned out great.

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Old-style Southern Biscuits

I’m a born and raised Southern girl and oh how I love me some biscuits! I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but the reviews were awesome. I’ve been on the lookout for a good biscuit recipe for some time now. I think I was drawn to this one in particular because you get to whack the dough instead of kneading it, just like they used to do years ago. I can’t wait to try this recipe, it should provide some much needed stress relief and yummy biscuits both at the same time, it’s a win-win.

Wednesday Recipe Roundup {the trail food edition}

Today I have assembled a collection of some delicious (and mostly healthy!) recipes that make fun, portable snacks which are perfect for the trail. If you don’t hike, that’s okay! These also make great anytime snacks and on-the-go breakfasts for those rushed and chaotic mornings.

No Bake Energy Bites

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I can’t keep these fun chewy bites in my kitchen for very long. They seem to vanish as soon as I make them. The kids have fun making these, and even more fun eating them.

Fudge Babies (completely sinless, no sugar added and vegan!!)

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photo courtesy of chocolatecoveredkatie.com

We all love these treats. And the best part is that the kids don’t even know they are healthy and fruit based. Muwahahaha. Seriously, they are delicious and easy to make. They will not disappoint!

Chocolate Granola Bars

These are more of a treat type of granola bar, but you could easily tweak the recipe to be less sugary.I substituted crushed cheerios for the wheat germ and then threw in some chopped walnuts. My kiddos loved them and it’s so much better to have them snacking on unprocessed treats rather than the ones bought from the store. Next time I make them I am going to cut back on the chocolate a bit.

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The rest of the recipes haven’t been made yet in our kitchen, but will be soon. They look great….

Homemade Fruit Rollups

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photo courtesy of thecopycatcook.wordpress.com

No Bake Energy Bars

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photo courtesy of doitdelicious.com

Baked Apple Chips

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photo courtesy of delightedmomma.com

If you have any more handy-dandy recipes that are portable and trail-ready, please share them in the comments section!

Wednesday Recipe Roundup {the blueberry edition}

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If you ask my Little Man what his favorite food is, he will undoubtedly say “blueberries.” It seems we all have an obsession with these tiny, juicy, antioxidant-rich spheres of goodness. We tend to go through several pints a week. I’m waiting for us to start turning into a blueberry a la Willy Wonka.

In honor of the hiking family’s obsession with blueberries, I bring you a recipe roundup of our favorite recipes plus some that we really want to try. Click on the links to find the recipes. Enjoy!

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Blueberry Breakfast Cake

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20120229-103524.jpgphotos: mine, as if you needed any help figuring out that the cruddy cell phone shots were taken by yours truly.

What, you don’t eat on an Iron Man plate? Pff.

There is only one thing to say about this recipe….DIVINE! We devoured an entire cake one lazy Saturday morning. Just perfect.

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Sunny Morning Muffins

These muffins will rock your world. They are delicious and super handy on those crazy, chaotic school mornings.

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Overnight Banana and Coconut Milk Oatmeal (plus we added blueberries!)

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photo: mine

I followed the recipe exactly and then added fresh blueberries during the last hour of cook time. I think this is now my favorite breakfast dish! We actually call it “monkey oatmeal” at our house and the kiddos ask for it almost daily.

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Blueberry Buttermilk Scones

photo: marthastewart.com

I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but it sounds delish. I love scones and I love blueberries, so how could it not be awesome?

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Blueberry-Coconut Baked Oatmeal

photo: familyfreshcooking.com

Another oatmeal recipe to try!

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So, do you have any blueberry recipes for me? If so, I want to hear about them!