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.

Save

Save

Save

Save

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.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Baklava

Baklava Recipe
Easter morning. Waiting for Baklava.

 

In celebration of Greek Easter here is my Yiayia’s world famous Baklava recipe.  I promise it is way easier to make than you think. And each bite is a taste explosion.

Baklava

Syrup:

Make at least one week before you plan on assembling your Baklava. You can keep a jar of this in the fridge for  a year or more.

4 cups sugar

3 cups water

1/2 lemon

1/2 orange

1 stick cinnamon

Boil 30-45 minutes, cool and store. Syrup should be cold when poured over Baklava.

Baklava Recipe. Ingredients.

For the Stuffing:

7-8 cuts chopped walnuts

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

a dash of ground cloves

1/2 cups sugar (optional, I usually use about 1/4 cup)

Mix

 

Baklava Recipe. Making Rolls.

For the dough:

I buy two boxes ( I think they are one pound each) of pre-made phyllo dough sheets (from the freezer section next to the pie crust).  You can make your own if you have a special roller. I’m not quite there yet.

At least one pound of butter, melted, have more on hand though. Butter is the secret ingredient in Greek cooking.

Baklava Recipe. Making Rolls.
Buttered rolls, ready to chill, then slice and bake.
Baklava Recipe. Making Rolls.
Rolls out of the oven, Pour on the syrup and let them sit for 30-60 minutes to absorb it all. My mouth is watering.

Directions:

  1. Let dough box thaw on the counter.
  2. Carefully unroll dough.
  3. Take one sheet and lay it gently on the counter.
  4. Butter it well with a brush and melted butter.
  5. Take a second sheet, lay it on top of the first and butter it as well.
  6. Repeat until you have four sheets buttered on top of each other.
  7. Then take about 3/4 cup of your nut mixture and spread it in a line along the long edge of your buttered dough.  Leave about an inch of dough on each end and along the long side so that you can wrap and seal it.
  8. Carefully lift up the edge of the dough and begin to roll starting on the side where you spread the nuts.  It may tear a little bit or be sticky with butter. That’s okay. Just do your best to roll it and keep it as intact as you can.
  9. Roll up the dough until you have a long tube with the nut mixture in the center.
  10. Transfer roll onto a baking sheet (I line mine with parchment).
  11. Softly press on the roll to remove air.
  12. Then press down the ends so that the roll is sealed on both sides.
  13. Repeat this for as many rolls as you want to make.
  14. Generously butter the top of each roll.
  15. Put rolls in the fridge until firm.
  16. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  17. Remove from fridge, if you plan on freezing any go ahead and remove those, wrap well and freeze. To use later, remove them from the freezer, let them thaw until soft enough to slice, they don’t have to be all the way to room temperature. Then continue to follow directions.
  18. Take the chilled rolls and slice them at an angle about every inch. Slice them all the way through, they are easier to cut now than after they bake.
  19. Place sliced rolls in the oven until brown and crispy.
  20. Remove from oven. While hot take some of the cold syrup and pour it over rolls, about a half cup per roll.
  21. Let Baklava sit on the pan soaking in the syrup for at least 30 minutes until all syrup is absorbed.
  22. Transfer cookie onto a plate, we often put them in little muffin papers to make them easier to handle.
  23. Serve and enjoy.

To keep up with Liturgy of Life please like me on facebook or join our facebook discussion group. Or feel free to comment here and subscribe for the latest from Liturgy of Life.

 

Baked Oatmeal The first step to a nourishing morning

This recipe was a lifesaver for me in the days of 80 hour work weeks and now that I am home more it is a great gift during an illness or when a family brings home a new baby.

I had my first taste when I worked at a summer camp in British Columbia.  Smithers, Canada is a beautiful but cold place and warming up with baked oatmeal topped with condensed milk was a joy.

 

Baked Oatmeal. Nourishing Morning. Liturgy of Life.

It took me a few years to track down a similar recipe which I finally found in an Amish cookbook and I have been making it ever since.

It is quick to make and you can do it with just one mixing bowl (which means not too many dishes, and no sticky oatmeal bowls every morning). It keeps in the fridge for at least a week and I’ll admit to having mine in there (much) longer.

It is versatile.  If you want something quick, slice it in a bar (or bake it in a muffin tin, this is my newest adaptation) and eat like a granola bar. Of if you have a few minutes put in a bowl and warm in the microwave for 30 seconds, pour some milk on top and separate it with a fork, eat like you would a bowl of warm oat meal. It is also good with yogurt.

You can also do endless adaptations adding different fruit and nuts.

This recipe is naturally wheat free since the only grain is oats. The original recipe calls for 1 full cup of sugar but I enjoy it just as much with half a cup. You can also substitute with your favorite natural sweetener, I’ve done it with coconut sugar and I imagine honey would work well too.

Baked Oatmeal. Nourishing Morning. Liturgy of Life.

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup melted butter

3 cups oats

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a small cake pan or casserole dish or arrange paper liners in a muffin tin (makes about 14).
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine all ingredients except oats. Mix well and then add the oats and combine.
  3. Optional: let oats sit for a minute or two, stir and let sit again for a couple minutes. The only issue I have sometimes with this recipe is that the liquid part pools towards the bottom and the top can be a bit dry. I find if I let the oats soak for a few minutes it helps to avoid this.
  4. Pour into dish or muffin tins.
  5. Bake 35-45 minutes until set and just starting to brown around the edges.
  6. Remove and cool. Enjoy!

Baked Oatmeal. Nourishing Morning. Liturgy of Life.