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Archive for the tag “sourdough”

Day 101 of Isolation: Belated Birthday and Better Bread

Just wanted to wish a Belated Birthday to my sister-in-law, Julie. There was just too much going on yesterday that it slipped my mind.

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With my oldest son in 2010 while we were visiting on our cross-country move.

She’s a big ol’ pain in the butt, but she’s family. And as she likes to point out, I chose to be in the family unlike the rest of them so that makes me twice as crazy as them, lol.


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And an update on the sourdough saga.

So, my bread didn’t turn out yesterday because I forgot the salt. I was so disappointed, I almost didn’t eat anything. It’s little things like this that just overwhelm me. It didn’t help that it was Father’s Day, and I was trying to make a special meal which I totally fucked up.

I ended up taking out the starter I had put aside in case a friend wanted it and started over before I went to bed. This morning, I got up and remembered to add the salt this time and went through the exhausting motions of dealing with the rising dough throughout the day.

By the time it was ready to bake, I was so not in the mood, but got the dough in the oven. I waited for the first loaf to bake so I could have fresh, hot bread with my leftover stew from last night.

I’m happy to say that this batch turned out. It was crunchy on the outside and nice and soft and flavorful on the inside. Not very sour, though. That’s either because it just hasn’t sat around long enough or because I added a bit more yeast when I added the flour and that yeast didn’t ferment? I don’t know enough about sourdough to tell, but it was fine. It had a hint of sour which meant my 9yo ate it because he otherwise hates sourdough.

It was delicious with the stew.

I don’t think I’ll be making that salt mistake again.

Day 100 of Isolation: Father’s Day and Failures

One Hundred Days.

Ugh.

One hundred days of sitting around the house doing nothing. Which is kind of funny because all we ever do is sit around the house. For me, it’s because I literally don’t have the energy to do anything else; for the family in general, it’s because we usually don’t have the money or time.

Maybe that’s why this seems so much more extreme. Last year, we sat around for almost the entire year because my husband was injured and getting paid worker’s comp. It was just barely enough to cover our bills. There were no day trips to the coast, going to the movies or even driving to a state park for a hike (couldn’t afford the gas or the parking pass).

He went back to work in January, and the plan was to make up for it with visits to all of our favorite places including the coast. Despite my chronic fatigue, I managed to go walking most mornings along the Columbia River and do some writing. I was looking forward to doing that again this year.

And then COVID hit, and everything changed. Now we have a little extra money and gas prices are cheap as hell, but there’s nowhere to go. My fatigue has only gotten worse with my hypertension and can’t handle walking to the end of the block most days, let alone walking the two miles I averaged most days last summer. Besides, that park I used to walk is probably crowded with non-mask wearing idiots that seem to live in this town.

One hundred days of doing nothing with another hundred to look forward to. Maybe if my doctor can figure out what’s causing the fatigue and fix me up, it won’t be so bad. Then I could at least have energy to clean the garage and fix up the yard. Maybe we could paint like we had planned when we moved in almost four years ago.

Today is Father’s Day as well!

So wishing a Happy Day to my husband who has put up with me and our five crazy kids for 20+ years now. He’s just excited because our grandson comes home from his dad’s house this afternoon (he has Fridays and Saturdays off but the baby always heads over to his dad’s on Thursday afternoon, right before my husband gets home from work).

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One of my favorite pictures of him with our youngest daughter when she was 6 at Cape Horn, WA.

Also, Happy Father’s Day to my dad, I guess. I haven’t talked to him in years for reasons I won’t get into, but I hope he’s doing okay (my brother says his health is crap).

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From when he visited in 2013. Not sure where my oldest son was when the picture was taken.

Epic Failure

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My plan for dinner tonight was beef stew with homemade sourdough bread.

I took my starter out on Tuesday and fed it several times then last night added three cups of flour and some water to get ready to bake today. I even added a smidge more active yeast. Everything was looking good. Got up this morning, added the rest of the flour the recipe calls for, kneaded it and let it rise for four hours. Gothe dough shaped into rounds and let it sit for a couple hours.

My husband got home a little before 3pm which is when I started the stew. When I turned the instant pot on, I got the oven going. It was all working out well. The bread should have been done at about the same time as the stew.

And then it all went wrong. First I got a burn notice on the instant pot. So we had to empty and clean the bottom. Meanwhile, the first loaf of bread is already baking. The stew was mostly cooked just from getting up to pressure so we put it all back in and set it for 20 minutes cooking. I went and sat on the porch for a moment when I was struck with absolute panic at a thought: I forgot the salt when I added the extra flour!

And it was way too late to fix it. I go back inside and cut a chunk off the first loaf that was cooling at that point. And BLAH! It was awful. The recipe is literally just flour, water, yeast and salt. And I forgot the salt. So it was like eating flour. No flavor at all. I was devestated.

And then the instant pot beeped at me with BURN across the front. At that point, I was nearly in tears. I just wanted a nice meal for my husband since I don’t get special meals or anything on Mother’s Day (unless I cook them myself). I figured at least one of us should get something special once in a while. And nothing was going right.

Luckily, the stew was pretty much cooked after getting up to pressure twice, so I just added the frozen corn and peas and let it sit while the 2nd loaf baked. Which was so pointless because the bread was gross. My husband and some of the kids still ate it. Apparently my grandson loved it, but he’s one and doesn’t know any better.

I had saved back a cup of starter (possibly to give to my grandson’s other gramma) but instead I took it out last night and added the initial batch of flour and water you do the night before baking.

So tomorrow we will hopefully have edible sourdough loaves. If I remember the salt this time.

In the end, the stew turned out well enough that no one noticed the bread really. I was too tired and sore from cooking to even want to eat which is pretty common.

Day 92 of Isolation: We Have Bread!

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I did it! I did it!

I managed to make some bread. And man was it a chore. But it didn’t turn out half bad for my first ever bread. I mean first ever. I’ve never made any kind of bread before and started with sourdough. I might be a little crazy.

Here’s the rest of Michelle’s recipe:

To make 2 loaves of sourdough bread you’ll need:
1 cup of “fed” starter
1 1/2 cups warm water
5 cups bread or all purpose flour
2 1/2 TSP salt
Put the starter in your plastic lidded bowl and add 3 cups of flour and all of the water.
Let the dough rest for 3-4 hours at room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, add your remaining 2 cups of flour and knead to a soft dough
Put the lid back on your bowl and put the dough into the oven on “proof”*. Every hour, gently deflate the dough on a floured surface by stretching and folding the sides in over themselves, this adds elasticity and helps to strength the dough. It will double in size in 3-5 hours.
* if your oven does not have a proof setting, just put the dough in a draft free warm area to rise.
Divide the dough in half, shape into circles folding the sides under so the top is smooth, and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let them rise again, about 2 hours. They will be a little spread out – it’s fine, they will become more upright when they hit the heat of the baking pan.
About a half hour before the end of the first rise, place a rack in the lower third of the oven and place a heavy lidded pot (like LeCreuset) on the rack. Preheat your oven to 475°
Once the oven is heated, take the pot out and remove the lid – it will be VERY HOT (like nearly 500° hot, so be mindful and deliberate).
Remove the plastic wrap from the dough and dust dough lightly with flour. Quickly place the the dough into the pot seam side down.
Cover the pot and return to oven for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes, remove the lid. The bread may be chestnut brown, if it is, it’s finished. If not, leave the lid off and cook for a few more minutes.
Don’t overcook it. I’ve added 2 pictures, both are fine, one loaf is darker Than the other, but neither are burnt or undercooked. This is your range for brown-ness.
Repeat for loaf #2. No need to reheat the pot between loaves.
Let it cool on a wire rack at room temp and enjoy!

That’s a lot, so here’s what I did. Yesterday, I divided up the starter I had in my bowl, keeping one cup of it and added three cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of warm water. I stirred it up until it was more dough-like then let it sit for a few hours before putting it in the fridge before I went to bed.

In the morning, I got it back out and tried to add two more cups of flour but, the dough just didn’t want to take anything else in it. I think I needed to let it warm up some. I also checked the recipe in my cookbook (Better Homes & Gardens). It had a whole lot more ingredients than what Michelle listed so I added some baking soda just in case.

I kneaded the dough for a while, but I’ve never done this before so I had no idea what it should look like, and the times my mom baked bread it was in a bread machine.

When I got bored with that, I put it back in the bowl and stuck it in our broken microwave with a pan of hot water to keep it warm.

I’m really not sure if it was warm enough in there or if the dough rose enough. It sure didn’t seem to double in size or anything. I did stretch and knead it every hour or so and replaced the hot water.

After four or so hours, I divided it up and made it into two balls and stuck them back in the microwave on a pan (without the hot water because it wouldn’t fit) for two hours.

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Then it was time to bake and cook the pea soup. I don’t have a fancy, heavy pot like she mentions in the recipe, but I do have some heavy-duty Corningware casserole dishes with lids. I’m pretty sure they might have a 400F limit (I know my newer, lighter weight ones do), so I only heated the oven to 450F instead of 475F and hoped for the best.

I heated the dish while I prepped the soup then totally messed the dough up by squishing and playing with it until the top layer broke and it fell apart. Oops. I hurriedly tried to mash back into a ball shape that was smooth and stuck it in the hot dish and into the oven with the lid on as suggested.

I let it bake for about 20 minutes, I think, while the soup cooked then took the lid off for another five to really brown the crust. I immediately dumped it onto a wire rack and stuck the other ball in without playing with it this time.

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Meanwhile, no one could resist the yummy looking, fresh-out-of-the-oven bread. It lasted five minutes before I cut into it. The inside was a little doughy still and pretty dense instead of light and full of little holes. I think this is partly because I fucked with it before putting it in which collapsed the bubbles. Lesson learned. It still tasted amazing. Not super sour since the starter is only a couple weeks old, but it was still so good.

The second one came out looking even more amazing and the inside was light and fluffy with a perfectly crunchy crust. It might have been slightly undercooked on the inside, but look at that… It’s beautiful.

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The pea soup turned out good as well. I don’t think I need to post a recipe for it. Literally just 1lb of dry split peas, a bunch of ham cubes, half onion (chopped) and about 8 cups of water. Slowly simmer until the peas are mush. The end.

I think I’m hooked on this baking thing. I’m going to try again next weekend, although I might try the recipe in my cookbook to see if it makes a difference. Then again, this one tasted amazing so why change what ain’t broke, you know?

Day 88 of Isolation: Preparing to Bake

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So, I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and actually bake some of this bread. I’ve been feeding it for a couple weeks. Okay, I fed it like once, last Thursday, and thankfully, I remembered to put a reminder on my phone or I would have forgotten about it already.

Today is the day!

Or more like today is the day to prepare to eventually bake some bread. According to Michelle Holster on Facebook:

If you will be baking within the next day or so, leave your starter out and keep feeding it each day up to baking day.

You’ll want to take your starter out of the refrigerator and feed it a couple of times before you bake with it. 3 days ahead of baking will be enough time to get a few feedings in and get your starter ready for baking!

This is a long process. In some ways, that’s a blessing because it means I can just kind of meander through without rushing. On the other hand… I can’t just throw together a loaf of sourdough. I have to plan ahead. Which is what I’m doing now.

So, I’ve taken out my starter and let it warm because I found feeding it cold is really hard. I’ll feed it in a bit and then let it sit out for a few days (periodically feeding it as Michelle says). Hopefully, by this weekend, I’ll be ready to bake. I was thinking of pairing it with some pea soup I’ve been meaning to make.

Day 83 of Isolation: Feed Me, Seymour

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Well, it’s been one week since I put my sourdough starter in the fridge so now it’s time to feed it.

According to Michelle Holster on Facebook:

Every week, you will want to take it out of the refrigerator, discard about 1/2 of the starter, and add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup warm water. Let it rise for about 8-12 hours, and then place back into the refrigerator. Your starter can live for a really long time. The older the better. There is one currently being maintained that is over 122 years old!

122 years, huh? I’ll be lucky if this thing makes it a few months without me forgetting about it. Thankfully, I set a reminder on my phone because I did completely forget until it went off.

But, it’s all fed now and doing its bubbling thing on the counter. Will stick it back in the fridge before I go to bed until next week.

The only real problem is going to be finding more flour. I saw a whole bunch at Grocery Outlet the other day, but it’s been pretty rare at other supermarkets.

Day 76 of Isolation: Overcooking and Sourdough Update

I have a big family by social standards. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Five kids is a lot, I guess. When four of them are teenagers, you learn to cook big meals. Every recipe I find has to be altered–at least doubled, if not tripled to get enough for everyone and some leftovers.

The problem is I keep forgetting that we’re not all in the house during the lockdown. Our oldest son is staying with friends currently, and he’s the one with the big appetite. We do have our grandson with us, but he’s only one so doesn’t eat much yet.

Today I made hot dogs on the grill and homemade burgers (Costco was out of the frozen patties so had to do them from scratch). The hot dogs come in a pack of twelve (I think), I made about 2lbs of hamburger which ended up being eleven patties, I think, and then I added some french fries and four boxes of Kraft mac & cheese. This was a typical meal in the past that would have enough leftovers for the next day for everyone and possibly the day after that.

Except, I forgot the 18yo isn’t home and the 19yo had to work and the 17yo had run off to hang out with friends (which I didn’t’ authorize) and the baby is at his dad’s for the weekend. So I cooked enough food for like twelve people, and there were only four of us home. And at least two of those people won’t eat leftover macaroni because “it’s gross and dried out” the next day. We probably only ate one box worth of the macaroni, a few of the burgers, and maybe two hotdogs.

I stood there nearly in tears as I put the food away because I wasted so much energy cooking all of it for nothing because no one was going to eat the leftovers. And I’m supposed to be watching my weight so I could only eat small portions of any of it (and will probably regret it as my weight goes up).

I’ve been cooking this way for so long, I don’t know how to break the cycle. I keep making enough for 10+ people when there might only be four or five of us at home then I’m left eating the leftovers for days because my kids would rather just eat cereal or sandwiches because leftovers are boring (I don’t get it–they grew up on leftovers just like I did).

I’m not sure what I’ll do when the older kids start moving out (if that ever happens).

Anyway, I was so upset (which I know was an overreaction, but I’m a mess anymore), my husband called the oldest son to see if he wanted any, but he had just eaten. He’s going to stop by tomorrow to pick up some leftovers. I miss him and glad he’ll have some of the food, but now I’m anxious because he’s exposing himself to us. He’s not here because of his allergies and asthma. There are too many chances to get infected in a house of eight with two people working and one running around with friends. Ugh.

I’m in a constant state of anxiety and guilt over everything having to do with this isolation. Never mind the depression.


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Also an update on the sourdough.

I have no idea if I did things right with the starter. I didn’t feed it right the first time, but did the second time. I put it in the fridge this morning without feeding it again.

Here were the instructions from Michelle on Facebook (skipping the parts about taking some out to bake right away which I didn’t do because I don’t have any bread flour):

Every week, you will want to take it out of the refrigerator, discard about 1/2 of the starter, and add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup warm water. Let it rise for about 8-12 hours, and then place back into the refrigerator. Your starter can live for a really long time. The older the better. There is one currently being maintained that is over 122 years old!
If you will be baking within the next day or so, leave your starter out and keep feeding it each day up to baking day.
You’ll want to take your starter out of the refrigerator and feed it a couple of times before you bake with it. 3 days ahead of baking will be enough time to get a few feedings in and get your starter ready for baking!

I set an alarm on my phone to remember to feed the starter every Thursday from now on. I’ll see if I can get some bread flour and maybe a better bread pan to actually try baking next month (right in time for the summer heat, lol).

Day 75 of Isolation: Sourdough Update

It’s been a little over 24 hours since I started the sourdough starter, and it’s been an adventure for sure.

First off, my large mason jar is not large enough so it kept bubbling up to the top and I would mix it to go down. I have no idea if this is what you were supposed to do, but I had little choice in the matter.

Then after dinner, my 14yo informed me that it exploded everywhere. I forgot to take a picture of this–it was quite the mess. This is all that is left of the disaster:

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My poor instant pot… so abused.

Anyway, after the mess, I separated the mixture into two large mason jars and left them overnight to see what would happen. At this point, I still hadn’t looked up the recipe and instructions I had saved from the post.

Which, I’ve found out, wouldn’t have been possible because they never got saved. I specifically copied them into a file because I knew it would be next to impossible to find the post and instruction again between everything that gets posted to the half dozen Facebook pages I follow. Sigh.

This morning, it had barely grown at all. I thought maybe I killed it overnight but then remembered I was supposed to feed it again before I put it in the fridge after 48 hours. So, I mixed half cup flour and half cup water and added it to the mixture, covered it and left it to sit again. It grew a little but nothing like yesterday. Hmm.

I then spent about 20 minutes trying to find the post where I originally read the comment then find the comment amongst hundreds. Which I finally did (thankfully) and this time made sure I saved the instructions.

Found out I was supposed to mix 1 cup of water with a half cup of water then put it in the mixture. Oops. Here’s Michelle’s instructions for day two:

Feeding your starter and getting it ready to use later or ready for baking.
Total time: 16-18 hours
Now that you have gotten your yeast starter started, you need to keep it going. With a new starter, I like to feed it at least a second time, (if not a third), before I set it in the refrigerator for later or start baking with it.
No matter what your plan, feed your starter. To do this, take a wooden spoon and stir your starter. It will be more liquidy than you remember. This is normal. Remove a little less than 1/2 of the starter (just eyeball it) and discard.
With the starter in your jar, mix in 1 cup of flour and a little over 1/2 cup of warm water. Mix so it’s combined. It will be doughy but not too dry. Cover with a paper towel secured with a rubber band again, let it rise again overnight at room temperature.
It will become dotted with gas bubbles and soon will be ready to use!

So, yeah… already messed it up. It now looks like this after sitting most of the day on the counter:

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I switched it to my other large mason jar that has a wider opening to fit my wooden spoon in. It’s grown some and isn’t discolored so I guess it’s okay? And it now has that slightly sour smell I assume it should have.

I’m going to let it sit out the rest of the day then feed it again before I go to bed then put it in the fridge tomorrow morning.

I only have two small loaf pans so I need to get something better if I want to actually bake bread. And probably more flour since my husband picked up chocolate chips and vanilla so my 14yo can make more cookies.

Day 74 of Isolation: Sourdough Starter

I did it. I broke down and did it.

After all of the posts I read about people making sourdough starter because they suddenly had time on their hands to bake, I broke down and did my own. I had been wanting to try sourdough for years, but it seemed like such a hassle and really hard. Then I thought of it again when we went into lockdown, but flour has been hard to find here so I figured it wasn’t worth the effort if I couldn’t even bake bread since we had no flour.

Last week, I was reading the comments on a Facebook post about some idiot “Karen” complaining about people baking for fun and taking all of her flour and yeast. I didn’t even read the article because the comments were enough to figure out what was going on. The best, though, was someone posting their directions for sourdough starter.

I quickly copied them down to try later and well, later is today. I couldn’t resist after I cleaned up the kitchen. It helped that I knew Grocery Outlet in town had an abundance of flour should I need it (plus we have an unopened 5lb bag and whatever is in the jar on the counter).

Anyway, here are the main directions care of Michelle Holster on Facebook.

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Cup warm water (warm to touch, not hot)
1/2 package active dry yeast (0.125 oz)
Mix above ingredients together in a large mason jar or plastic container* and cover with a paper towel secured with a rubber band. This is necessary to allow the starter to breathe, but it will keep out dust and dirt.
*Always use plastic or glass for your starter and bread making and use a wooden spoon to mix. Metal is reactive and changes the way your starter and bread behaves.
Set it aside at room temperature for 24-48 hours to allow the mixture to ferment. This is where sourdough gets its tangy flavor. You will see the mixture expand and get dotted with gas bubbles. This means it’s working!
Once it “deflates” just leave it go until the end of the 48 hour period. Once finished, it may get a little liquid on top, this is fine, just stir it back into the mix. The smell should be slightly sour, to me, it’s sort of a sour fruity smell.
At no time should there be any color on top. If it has pink or green on top, it’s bad, it sat too long. Throw it away and start over. This typically happens after many days to weeks of being neglected. It’s not typical for a first start.
Once it’s finished its first fermentation, it’s ready to use or to store in the refrigerator.

This… this doesn’t seem so hard. Like I could mix some flour, water, and yeast, couldn’t I?

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Guess we’ll find out. Got it all measured out and into the jar. Nothing happening so far. Going to cover it with a paper towel and leave it to see what happens.

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Wish us luck.

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