A Tribute to Sourdough in Seven Easy Recipies

While most of the country is enjoying the bounty that the end of summer brings our farmers markets are bare and our fields empty.  I’ve been watching you harvest pears with a watery mouth and pangs of jealous.  September in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas is our least productive time.

But our time will come.

In fact while the rest of the country prepares for winter we are planting.  In another few months when the north has long digested it’s last ripe peach we will be hauling in vine ripened tomatoes.  But for the moment we are hungry and stepping outdoors still feels like entering a giant oven.

The solution, of course, is to stay inside and bake in a real oven, with the air on.

A tribute to Sourdough in 7 recipes from Liturgy of Life

Last year ago a friend introduced me to baking with sourdough.  Prior to her instructions sourdough sounded like a code word for an ancient mystery food that I was sure would be impossible to use.   I heard rumors that it was alive, and even worse, needed to be fed?  I was intimidated.

At that time I didn’t know that until the 1950’s nearly all bread in America was baked with sourdough.  The invention of commercially produced yeast caught on for it’s ability to raise bread quickly and more consistently than household starters but millions of loaves had been and are still being baked without it.

Sourdough for all practical purposes is a pot of water and flour that has become inhabited by natural bacteria and yeast.  When it is mixed in with new flour and water the sourdough starts to eat and begins turning that flour into an edible treasure.

Sourdough has several advantages over conventional yeast breads.  First and most important is the flavor.  Fermentation (fancy work for a specific type of digestion) of the sugars in flour by the cultures in the sourdough create new and unique flavors which will vary from starter to starer. This process also reduces both the sugar level and gluten level in wheat products. While bread leavened with sourdough still does not qualify for your low carb or gluten free diet it is notably easier to digest for people with sensitivities.  Sourdough also helps to break down phytic acid ( a naturally occurring substance in wheat known to make digestion difficult) and helps to release micro-nutritients making them more available for us to digest. Plus sourdough stays fresh longer and the flavor actually improves as it sits on the counter for a few days.

Sourdough has its particularities and the process of baking  does take longer but it isn’t any harder than any other type of bread baking.  My starter only needs to be fed once every three weeks, so I simply bake every three weeks and make three loaves of bread and stick them in the freezer.  At that time I can also feed my starter extra if I want to do any other baking. So here are some ideas to get you inspired.

 

Top 7 favorite sour dough recipes:

  1.  Make your own sourdough starter: It is not as hard as it might sound, or buy one here.
  2. Basic Sourdough Bread: This isn’t actually the recipe I use. Mine is a hand me down photo copy, but honestly this one is simpler and I might try it next time.
  3. Pancakes: These are the best. First of all these are the only pancakes I’ve been able to consistently cook without them burning or sticking. They are light and fluffy and don’t leave you feeling over stuffed like conventional pancakes. It is worth having a sourdough starter just for these. I use butter instead of Olive Oil as this recipe calls for and I don’t add water, but I suppose it depends on how thick your sourdough starter is.  I usually make extra and stick some in the freezer.
  4. Biscuits: This first recipe is for a long ferment, which means you have to plan ahead but you get more of the benefits of sourdough.  This recipe doesn’t include a ferment time, they are fast, easy and delicious.
  5. Pizza Dough:  Easy and consistently good. I also make these ahead, bake them for 5 minutes or so and then freeze to use when we want to make a quick pizza.
  6. Crackers: Easy and always a treat.
  7. Pasta: Making your own pasta sounds like a gourmet food, but seriously it is only three ingredients. A pasta maker is great if you have one but you can also roll and cut rustic noodles by hand. I dry them and then store them in the back of my fridge.

 

Let me know what you think and send me a picture of your latest sourdough creation!

 

This post was inspired by my current read, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.by Barbara Kingsolver as part of the Liturgy of Life Reading Group series. We would love for you to join us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

 

For more blogs featuring lists of 7’s check out this link up.

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Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

I never thought I would feel this way about kale A quick and easy kale chip recipe inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I was starting to think that the purchase of my food dehydrator was a mistake. One can only eat so many raisins and banana chips.

That was until kale chips entered my life.  Thank you Barbara Kingsolver for inspiring me to eat my greens (we are reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in our reading group right now and we would love for you to join us).

 

And it’s no secret this book has sent me into a bit of a health food kick  ( I tend to go to extremes so watch out for the chocolate binge that will come in a few months).

I’ve been devouring books and lectures on nutrition and natural medicine.  And while opinions vary on a lot of subjects the place that everyone can agree is that we need to eat more greens.

 

Not only do American’s have a diet astounding low in vegetables we also grow in nutrient depleted soil so that even when we eat our veggies we aren’t getting the nutrition that our grandparents would have eating the same plate 50 years ago.

 

It turns out that there is a simple remedy to a variety of health problems,  cut out the junk food and eat more green. And of the greens Kale stands out for having a rich range of vitamins and anti-oxidants and being relatively easy to grow making it reasonably affordable.  This recipe is a simple way to cut out snack foods (often an area where we tend to pile in extra sugar) and replace with one of the healthiest foods available at our local grocery store or farmers market.

 

These chips are easy to make and we enjoy them as much as popcorn or potato chips (okay so my husband may not totally agree with that statement but he does like the Kale Chips and my daughter and I can’t even wait to get them off the dehydrator before we start munching).

A quick not about baking these in the oven. You totally can do it, just set your oven down as low as it will go and check them regularly. This will work though I find that they don’t cook as evenly, some parts were burnt others too soggy and you miss out on the real crisp and crunch that makes this an irresistible snack.

I have this food dehydrator, it has served me well and is less expensive than buying a pound of of organic kale chips on amazon, if you had any intention of making kale chips a part of your regular life (I know I’m sure this is something you have been dreaming about for months) than it will definitely save you money.

 

Quick and Easy Dehydrator Kale Chips

You will need:

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

Food Dehydrator (or oven, baking sheets, parchment paper)

Kale (I buy the organic bags already washed and chopped, this is part of what makes this such a simple go to recipe for me)

Olive oil

Salt

Directions:

Wash and dry kale if needed. If not already chopped remove the stems at this point, chop if desired.

Toss with oil. Just enough to very lightly coat the leaves.

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

Sprinkle with salt. Start with a  pinch or two, toss and taste. Remember it will taste saltier as it dehydrates.

I spend a few minutes tossing the kale, working the oil and salt into the leaves.  At this point I pick through my pre-chopped kale and remove big stems.

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

Spread kale into food dehydrator or baking sheet.  Follow your dehydrator’s instructions or bake at your oven’s lowest setting. My dehydrator puts veggies at 135 degrees. These take between 2-4 hours. I’ve never had them burn even when I’ve left them on a little longer. Cooking time will depend on your temperature and humidity.

 

Remove once they are crispy. Store in air tight container (though we usually eat most of ours before we can put them away.)

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

This post is part of our Reading Group series. Right now are reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. We would love for you to join us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Moving Tips

14 Moving Tips
from my 15th Move

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
Loading up. We hit the road early, knowing it was gonna be hot by the time we arrived in the Valley.

 

Just for kicks, I thought I’d re-post this, 10 months later my house is filled with boxes once again . . .

I’ll never forget the horror on my new college roommate’s face as we made our first introductions standing atop of the overflowing piles of clothing mixed with boxes of Kraft mac and cheese,  disposable razors and shower caps pouring from my suit case.  She had moved in the night before, her post-it notes were lined up and tucked into little baskets on her desk, her clothes neatly pinned to wire hangers.  It was a rough start to what turned out to be a rocky relationship.

Now some 17 years and 14 moves later I can’t say that I’d make a better roommate but I have learned a few things about moving.

Here are a few dos and don’ts that I have learned, hope they will make your next move a little easier.

1. Don’t move if you don’t have to. Moving is hard, there is no getting around it.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
At some point your dinning room table will look like this.

2. Don’t not move just because it is hard. Moving is not fun, but like birthing a child after the pain is over it is quickly forgotten, so if you have an opportunity to move into a better space go for it even if it means moving more than you intended.

3. Do make sure you have plenty of supplies. Take the amount of supplies you will think you need and double it.  Have your boxes, tape and packing materials well stocked as you begin. Often  I found myself stressed not about actually packing but about how to fit everything into the handful of boxes I had.  You don’t want to be like me rummaging around behind grocery stores at 6 am the day before you move to gather more boxes.

4. Do plan ahead. About a week before our move I began packing a small suitcase of clothes and other necessities (pullups, wipes and an extra roll of toilet paper) that we could live out of for a week or so while we got settled. By moving day when everything else was packed I knew we had all that needed right there.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
This is a little carry on suitcase, it has supplies to last Zenie and I both a week or so.

5. Don’t adopt a turtle two nights before a move.  Meet Heidi our rescued turtle. This latest move happened to fall a week before my 35th birthday. I’d been asking for a turtle as a family pet for years. Michael saw this one in the middle of the highway and ever so sweetly picked it up, rescuing it and bringing home as fun surprise for me (rescuing animals is one of my love languages). It was a great treat.  But after some research we realized that this Red Eared Slider would need a kiddie pool all to herself and caring for her was a bit more than we were prepared for. So she spent two days  in our bathtub and came along with us on move. We returned her to the spot where he had found her (only across the road).  This adventure will live on fondly in the Jarrett memory book but probably is not something you want to get involved with on moving day.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
Heidi, our temporary turtle.

6. Don’t move the week of your birthday. But if you have to stop and celebrate anyway.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
Birthday candle in an ice cream sandwich, doesn’t get much better than this.

7. Do stay organized. Organization does not come naturally for me so rather than spend hours searching for the tape, eventually giving up and going to the store to buy a new one before I find it again on the bathroom counter,  I made a little basket of my packing supplies markers, twine, tape and scissors so I could keep track of things as I packed.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
Pens, tape, string, scissors, all the stuff I am always running around looking for when packing.

8. Do label your boxes. Like I said I don’t love to organize but at the very least it helps to label boxes by which room they go in, this way you can end up with all the kitchen boxes in the kitchen and start unpacking. If you have more time it is handy to note what is in each box. If there is any chance some of your things may stay packed or go into storage it is worth the time to number the boxes (on all four sides) and then write down on a separate sheet what is in which. We spent a year with the majority of our stuff in storage and when I needed to find something I was glad I had gone through the effort to do this.

9. Don’t ignore the mess. Clean up as you go.   I don’t mind a mess and I’d much rather stick to the main job of packing or unpacking instead of stopping to clean up.  But following my husband’s advice (he is the tidy one in the house) I found that while packing if I took a few minutes every now and then to straighten out my boxes, and pick up scraps of packing material or during unpacking, to breakdown boxes  and keep them neatly stacked it made the space more relaxing and made me feel like I was making more progress.

10. Do set essentials aside. As you pack designate a few boxes of things that you will need access to. Your keys, a copy of your lease, your hat and sun glasses, maybe bug spray  or your shower curtain and a towel. This helps you keep these items organized as you pack up your house and will help you keep track of them so you can unpack them right away when you arrive.

11. Don’t set unrealistic goals. Whatever my goal is, like “I want to be unpacked in one week.” I always double it, realizing things always take longer than I expect.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life
Your new home will probably look like this for a couple days. Don’t worry, you will get there.

12. Don’t pack things you don’t need.  While packing I try to pull out things we don’t use, then again when unpacking I’m always able to find even more things that don’t seem necessary anymore. Before dropping them off at the Goodwill see if any of them can be sold, passed along to friends or given to specific charities (old dog kennel to the Humane Society, old baby chair to the pregnancy support center). It feels good to know that the things you no longer need will still be put to good use by someone else.

13. Do plan meals ahead. I’ve got nothing against eating out especially during a move. But planning meals as you prepare to leave can be a great way to use up odds and ends in the freezer that will get thrown out. Also on this trip I brought a quarter bushel of Hill Country Peaches (I’m going to miss these peaches) right before we left. I also made a double batch of blueberry muffins and some chocolate chip cookies with dough that I had in the freezer. Once baked I left some out and then wrapped and re-froze the rest. I pulled a few muffins out everyday. They made great snacks and stored well and it gave us a quick breakfast on the days before and after our move. A couple other good moving snacks would be Blueberry Muffin Lara bars or goldfish crackers.

14. Don’t skip on the essentials. When you arrive at your new home, unpack perishables and beds first. Then take a break make a grocery run and load up on ice cream sandwiches, beers and cold water. Take a moment and be grateful that you made it.

Moving Tips, Liturgy of Life

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting for Baklava at Easter

Remembering Easter

We are moving this weekend instead of celebrating Easter with the local Orthodox Church. But I’m grateful, at least, that the timing of Orthodox Easter makes this post seem timely rather than way too late. Here are a few pictures and projects from our own Easter celebrations last month.  I’m slowly working backwards to get caught up on my posts. One of these days I’ll share the pictures from my daughter’s 4th birthday and Little House on the Prairie party which is now over 2 months ago.  It won’t be happening any time soon though as I have a lot to pack.

This has been a great spot for us and I will probably never have such a spacious kitchen again in my life. But when we moved we knew it was  temporary until we had a better idea of where we would be spending most of our time. As it turns out most of what we do is in a town about 30 minutes away and we are weary of the commute. So we are on the move.

 

 

Easter. Shaving cream dye.
This year I discovered an egg dying trick. You can fill a pan with shaving cream or cool whip and drop the food coloring on, swirl it and then roll the egg. It made beautiful designs and is much easier for little hands to manage. You can find a tutorial here.

 

 

Easter. Cascarones
Our finished eggs. Yours will be much brighter if you start with white eggs rather than brown. We hollowed them and made cascarones which you can read about here.

 

 

Easter. Jelly Beans.
During lent dropped a black eyed pea in the bowl every time we said shared a thought of gratitude. On Easter the peas were transformed into jelly beans.  Read more about our Easter preparation here.

 

 

Natural dyed Easter eggs.
We also used natural homemade dyes with flower imprints, this was far easier than I thought it would be. You can read about how to do it here.

 

It’s good to think on Easter as I pack. It doesn’t matter that I’m 2 months behind in everything or that I have the pressing job of reorganizing all of my belongings into a stack of cardboard boxes.  Easter is for remembering baptism and rebirth and the hope of the resurrection. What better time to start again in a new space, in a new town, slowly building into relationships and eventually finding our way around without getting lost.

Wish me luck friends and Christos Anesti.

 

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