Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sourdough Challah

Until the late 1800's when dried yeast became readily available all bread was "sourdough"
I got the recipe for this challah in Wild Fermentation and am quite pleased with it. The only downside to sourdough is that it requires a very long time to make or more specifically it requires considerable time between steps.

I made the sponge last night and kneaded the dough at 11 this morning. It rose for about 4 hours. I kneaded it for a few minutes and then braided this loaf.

It rose for another 3 hours until it doubled in size and then baked at 400 for 40 minutes.

Maybe a half hour of work spread over a 20 hour period for a loaf of bread. Next time I'll add more honey though the sourdough flavor is actually very sweet.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Jarring pickles

I jarred the pickles this morning and was connfronted with many lovely small pickles and many soft large pickes. The moral of this story is to use the smallest cucumbers you can.

The result of this lesson is that instead of getting five jars of pickles I only have three. One for Niko, one for Dan, and one for my belly. I may have to make more. I wanted them to be slightly hotter than are and will experiment with peppers next time I make them. The pickled garlic tasted almost better than the pickles themselves; which bears consideration for future projects.

Tonight we see 1776 !


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Flopper's Birthday

Flopper is 24!

For his birthday we're going to go see 1776 at the Guthrie Theater tomorrow night.

Now Flopper is dieting but every man deserves a cake on his birthday.

I don't know how to make cake really ( I stick to deathly fattening tortes) but in our cooking arsenal we have a copy of the parish cookbook from Flopper's place of birth Guthrie Center , Iowa. I thought it fitting to use a recipe from there and after passing up anything entailing a boxed mix (I love Midwestern cooking) I settled on "Mom's Chocolate Cake".

I got the icing recipe from the St Mary's cookbook and in a fit of whimsy constructed this.

It's double layered with the center soaked in the strawberry syrup I made a few weeks ago.

I bet Flopper will like it.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Education relic from the 70,s at my school

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Pickles are ridiculously simple to make.

Well brine pickles; I suppose canning the pickles would extend their life span but am illing to bet they'll last a few months in the fridge without it.

This recipe is courtesy of the book Wild Fermentation ; Which I have now bought.

So a number of little cucumbers plus a cup of kosher salt to maybe a gallon of water.

I now have a five gallon crock thanks to our dear friend Dan that cost less than my 2 gallon crock. (miso is soon to come). I opted to use one of my big moving Tupperware containers to try to cut out the bad smell aspect that bothered Flopper when I made sauerkraut.

Toss all of that into a the crock and put a plate on top of it to prevent any of the cucumbers from floating to the service. I added black pepper, 3 heads of dill, coriander, and a dozen cloves of garlic as well.

Then put a gallon glass jug filled with water in to weight it down.
They should start being pickles in a week or two and then I'll put them in mason jars in the fridge before giving them away and schlepping some across country. I suspect I'll get 4 or five liter jars with a break down cost of maybe 3 dollars each (2 of which are from the jar itself). Not bad considering Bubbie's costs 8 dollars for a similarly sized jar.


Friday, July 20, 2007


According to the Coal Speak Dictionary Flitch is :

flitch : candy made of peanut butter rolled up in a mixture of mashed potatoes (yes, mashed potatoes) and powdered sugar. Often sold at block parties and church/school functions.

Now my family didn't make flitch though I have vague recollections of my Aunt Barbie having it at her house in Aristes.

First you dice and boil a single potato. One is more than enough; and a small potato at that. I made way too much potato.

Mash it.

And Mix in about a pound of powdered sugar until it is stiff like a cookie dough.

Roll it out between two layers of wax paper at about a quarter of an inch and spread peanut butter (CHUNKY) in a thin layer over it. Now I think that I should have chilled the potatoes first as my roll is no nearly as lovely as what I remember as a child.

Then roll up the flitch using the wax paper as a lead and separating the potato fudge from the wax paper with a knife if need be.

The roll needs to chill for a few hours and can be cut and served. This is a summer party staple in the Coal Region. My roll is of dubious authenticity as I recall the flitch of my youth having peanut butter as the outside layer and being an almost perfect spiral but this stuff tastes good in any case.

Now the question is what to I do with all of it. I can't possibly eat it all and Flopper is dieting.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Our First Tomato

To be devoured by Flopper .

The Yellow Pears should be ridiculously abundant starting next week.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sourdough Starter

I've decided to name my starter Lucinda. It's good to name living things and judging by frothiness this is definitely alive.

I started it Sunday Evening and sure enough this evening it was happily bubbling away. I'll make my first loaf tomorrow night and post pictures.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Praise to the InterLibraryLoan

And the librarians who scurry like happy gnomes (Fritter you need a pointy gnome hat) to bring me the information I desire.

So I have been on a bit of a DIY (Do It Yourself) kick lately regarding food and the preservation there of. I stumbled across the Chelsea Greene Publishing company

through the books The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved and Wild Fermentation by the Short Mountain Faerie SandorKraut

and this delightful compendium of food preserving techniques that I purchased from the folk school in Grand Marais last time we were on the North Shore.

So I went on an ILL spree and put in orders for a multitude of books

Two on seed saving as I want to be able to keep my own lines of plants. I've three tomato types I want to preserve and a pepper; not to mention the possibility of benevolent friends.

Two concerning "simple living" because Lord knows I could use the advice and am particularly fascinated by the making of things by hand.

One about produce preservation; here's hoping that we have a plentiful harvest from our little garden.

A book about winter gardening in the US and why it is a very possible thing to do. Apparently we receive more sunlight than the south of France in the winter and this fellow manage just fine in Maine. Doesn't he look happy?

And finally an Armageddon Contingency book for my reading pleasure; it never hurts to know these things.

These books should keep me occupied for a few weeks and should appear at the beginning of next week ; the ILL process seems to take about 7 business days (which for a library includes Saturday).



Crazy Week

This past weekend, I ditched Konnie to go to a workshop presenters' training session in Indianapolis for Liturgical Press in order to present their Psallite Series. I'm really excited about "the product," I was already sold on it, but after spending the weekend for 4 of the 5 "collegeville composers," I'm even more sold! (If that's possible.)

The workshop was placed right before the NPM convention. So I managed to spend two days there as well. Anyway, as a result of this weekend, I've decided to lose weight. We'll see how that works out! Not much else to say. . . .

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Mead (Huzzah!)

My second attempt at mead has met with success. It's a mellow mead that smells a lot like a dry white. The taste is mild and more full that a traditional Ethiopian wine and a lot less dry. The next experiment will be flavoring mead with fruit.

The no frills method suggested by Sandorkraut in the book Wild Fermentation worked very well.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Garden at the Beginning of July

So the garden has prospered in this past month.

I walked out tis afternoon to look at my plants and was happy to see my little pepper plant producing. I've never grown peppers before and so didn't know what to expect.

The Basil and Eggplants are thriving and while many of my marigolds did not sprout seven or eight did; I'm hoping they ward off the evil bunnies who will want to get at my eggplants.

My green peppers are each growing happily and all have flowers ; this one has an oddly curved onion flower about to bloom behind it.

Speaking of onion flowers, I personally think they are rather lovely.

Though I really like tomato flowers they have such an expectant smell. Here are a few on one of my brandywine plants.

All of the Roma and Pear tomato plants have fruits on them.

The Pears are easy to see though you have to dig around in the foliage for the Romas.

I was very happy to see the first Brandywine Fruit and noticed one on My Kellogg's Breakfast plant. That leaves the Black cherry tomato (which finally has flowers) and the Zebra Roma's as the last plants to develop fruit.

My Dill has made a come back and I hope to have enough to make pickles in a few weeks when the first cucumbers hit the market. I'm a little concerned that it has already gone to flower but I think it will be ok.

Finally in obeisance to Flopper's Iowan heritage he planted a very late row of corn that we may or may not see any sweet corn from. The rows in the fields are easily thrice as high as our little guys but we can hope.

With much gardening love,