Sour D’oh

Standard

So I will start with my usual apology for not having posted in months. I have been busy with work and keeping myself sane, so I am not sure why this didn’t occur to me earlier. So lockdown has continued, working from home is still a thing, and leaving the house has not been a major focus. With this in mind, I have turned to one of my favourite pastimes, finding ways to get fatter. So I have purchased KitchenAid stand mixer, in the first instance. this is to facilitate cake and cookie making, when I feel the call of sweetness. I have also put shelves all over my tiny little kitchen so that I can store stuff, as there is very little cupboard space available. But I am sure that nobody is interested in my DIY skills, or even my outlandish purchases. What you are here for is sourdough.

What you are here for is sourdough.

This is such a simple idea that I am shocked that I have no fallen into this before, although I did have an attempt at making sourdough a year or so ago, and what I ended up with was a jar of mould that refused to shift, and is probably now taking over a landfill somewhere. I have read hundreds of different recipes and suggestions for how to make your sourdough starter or mother, and have condensed all if these differing ideas and theories into a simple concept which anyone can try. I have found it to be not only successful, but damned tasty too.

What you will need:

  • Flour
  • Water

Well that was simple. You can experiment with whichever flour you usually use, but I use strong white flour, as that is what I like. Apart from those you will need something to put it in, so any old jam jar or glass container will suffice, size dependant on how much sourdough you feel you are likely to need. I also use a secondary jar for what most sites will call the discard.

Directions:

This is not a quick process, in fact not much involving sourdough is, so be prepared to find your happy place and remember that things you wait for are way better. Except trains, and test results. Also worth noting that everything here is done by weight. When it comes to baking, weight is way more accurate than volume, which is how the real bakers do it.

  • I will start with 30g being the magic number, as this is where I started. Start with this as your magic number and amend this if you need once you are up and running.
  • Get your jar, and pop it onto your scales and set it to zero.
  • Pop in 30g of your flour.
  • Top up with 30g of water.
  • Mix together into a thin paste.
  • Put to one side. Do not seal the jar, put a lid resting on it so elves don’t fall in, but allow air to get in and out.
  • Go to bed. Unless you did these first steps in the morning in which case do other shit until it is bed time, then go to bed.
  • Wake up. Lament the lack of sourdough bread for breakfast, then remember that you are just starting to make the stuff and do that.
  • Add another 30g of flour and 30g of water and mix it all up. You now have 120g of gunk in a jar. Congratulate yourself and go back to bed.
  • Wake up on day 3 and it is now the dawn of a new age where you will own sourdough.
  • You now need to pour away half of your gunk. You can either dribble this down the toilet (do not pour gunk down your sink, I guarantee you will regret it at some point), or you can use the secondary jar, and pour off half your gunk into your ‘discard jar’.
  • Now put another 30g of flour and 30g of water into your original jar and mix it all up again.
  • Return to bed.
  • Repeat from day 3
Bubbly gunk in a jar

So that is the basics. I personally leave the discard jar to get sourer and then when I have enough, make a loaf out of it. So basically every day you chuck half of your starter away and then top it up with new. By keeping your chuck away, you are being less wasteful and making yummy stuff all the time. I regularly make crumpets, bread, pizza dough, pasta and am always looking for new things to make with it.

Loaf of sourdough bread

There are loads of other sites that will tell you more about the science behind this and how it works and recipes with what to do with your sourdough once you have it, so I will leave it to them to give you ideas on what to make once you have extraneous gunk to use up. I might include the sourdough crumpet recipe someday, as this is so simple it is amazing. In the meantime, feel free to post pics of your gunk.

First Bread of the Year

Standard

Nothing that exciting to report I am sorry to say. Weather has prevented any time in the garden, and the wind is destroying the greenhouse. I have spent the day with a craving I have just not been able to satisfy, so decided to make some goats cheese, and accompany it with the first fresh bread of the year.

Honestly, each time it has been a while since I have made bread, I always think I am facing an impossible task, and that it is bound for failure. In many ways I am glad that I have this nagging doubt, as I am so happy when it turns out to be delicious.

The cheese, to be honest, wasn’t as goaty as I had hoped, but complimented the bread amazingly. Also had some Serrano style ham from Lidl, so a few freshly sliced slivers went the way of the bread and cheese.

Only thing missing was the home-made butter, which I had put off making until tomorrow, as I want to experiment with some new buttery ideas.

Obviously I will keep you informed how they get on.

Go-ville to Scoville

Standard

After all the horrible weather, it was finally a good day to get out in the garden. I am worried to admit that the whole garden and self-sufficiency malarkey is way less fun when summer is being viewed from her glorious backside. The solar panels are hardly dragging any power from the few hours of sunshine we are currently getting, and it will only get worse. I am going to save up for some new panels; I originally had four, but they have slowly walked out on me leaving just the one. A lot of the tomatoes have not survived the winds, and Sylvester is not looking as happy as he once did.I am hoping to keep some of his seeds so he can once again prevail through his offspring.
On the bright side, I decided it was high time to make some chilli oil, as the chilli plants seem to be bearing up to the wind and rain with surprising fortitude. So picked a few chillis from the two plants that have borne fruit, and heated up the oil for them to bathe in.

I actually have no idea what either of these chillis are one of these plants is called, although I feel they will be needing names of their own soon. The larger ones were very mild, as I dabbed one on my tongue to test the heat. When it came to the smaller one, however, I touched it with my fingertip and then dabbed that onto my tongue. A moment of contemplation while the capsaicin paused for effect, then my tongue and lips went numb with a burning I haven’t experienced since living in Asia. I will admit I have never been a huge fan of ridiculously spicy foods, as eventually you cannot taste the food over the heat, but I am sure there should be international laws regarding this kind of chilli.

The sad thing is that having taken a research break to see if I still had the label for the plant and some research on Scoville scale websites, it turns out that the chilli in question, Paper Lantern, is only about 350,000 scovilles, which is about 233 times as hot as a jalepeño pepper, but this is still considered only moderately hot.

Anyway, I have put all of these into my chilli oil, so hopefully this will make some great toppings for salad and pizza.

 

Mainly pizza

The Yellow Tomato Wins

Standard

Following my recent discovery regarding the ripeness of my cute little tomato bush, Sylvester, I was eager to taste the fruits of his, well, fruits.

Having just finished baking a fresh loaf of cheese and onion bread, I felt a BLT was very much in order. Ingredients all very simple. Two rashers of back bacon, two sumptuous yellow tomatoes straight off the bush, and fresh salad leaves.

As the bacon grilled, I smothered the bread in mayo, and sliced the tomatoes that were still warm from the sun. The bacon was quickly ready and was neatly slapped onto a slice.

Some decorating done with the greenery followed, and then just left the prize participant, the tomatoes. As an afterthought I finely chopped some of the younger leaves of the basil plant to sprinkle onto my creation.

A twist of pepper and pink salt and the sarnie was topped off with another delicious fresh slice of bread.

I can honestly say it was the best BLT I have ever tasted, and the tomatoes are what made it. My only regret now is that sadly Sylvester is a solitary bush, so I need to brush up on my knowledge and skills so I can reproduce his amazing attributes into another bush or two. Having never been a huge fan of tomatoes, it is amazing to suddenly find some that are tasty beyond compare.

The other tomato plants are coming along, and even some of the smaller varieties are starting to ripen. There are a few beef tomatoes that already look huge, but I fear they will not have the taste that Sylvester has brought to the party. I also feel saddened that now I have tasted the pinnacle of BLT’s, no other will ever be good enough for me.

As a bonus, here’s a sneaky peak under the covers of a Bunt BLT, as enjoyed in the garden in the sun.

Blessed are the Cheesemakers

Standard

Cheese

I cannot deny that I’m excited. Today I have added cheese to the list of things I am happy making at home. The list is a long one, but until today did not contain cheese.

It still doesn’t contain pesto or hummus either, because although I’ve made them a couple of times, I’m still not happy making it. In fact last time I made hummus it took me half a day and …

CLICK FOR MORE

Breakfast =/= Breakfast Pics

Standard

As a new convert to the whole idea and concept of healthy eating, and growing your own nourishment, this morning’s breakfast seemed like a good example. Although obviously I had not harvested a brace of Weet based Bixcuits, nor milked Dasiy for the moo juice, I had just plucked the strawberries from the garden as an addition to my morning cereal.
I felt as an easy option for how to use a little garden produce in a meal, this was prime fodder, so sliced three extremely fresh strawbs, and scattered them aesthetically over my duplex bix and milk. I was pleased with the result, I’d pay a couple of quid for a breakfast looking that good in a hotel any day.
So this is where ‘Breakfast Pics’ may differ from breakfast proper. My next thought was that any milky cereal will always benefit from a light dusting of sugar. This does not fit in quite as well with my healthy lifestyle options, but i felt a light dusting would still look good and not interfere too greatly with the unhealthiness purge.

Now that doesn’t look so bad, a light dusting of sugar actually seems to enhance it so you feel you can actually taste the meal. You feel hungry, right? I realise I am not one of the great photographers of the world, but I am now feeling pretty happy with my work.
About now I realise that I am hungry, and my stomach has already expressed concerns that there has been lot of emptiness coupled with an excess of photography. This has been exacerbated by the proximity of the readily available comestibles that are being recorded for history rather than being heartily consumed.
The time for photos should now be over, I have achieved what I wanted, a couple of pics of a healthy breakfast. Now I can eat it. Now is the time to prepare it for the real eating, I have shown the world what I want it to see, now I can relax and throw the couple of shovelfuls of sugar on that I need to make this palatable and retire to the sofa.
Suddenly consumed with guilt, I take my final breakfast pic, the truth, shorn of lies and facade. By now the Weet of my Bix has no solid parts, I may as well have porridge.
Cold, sugary, strawberry-flavoured porridge.

I am not ashamed, and I hold my head up high, because although I may not do the right thing, I am happy to admit when I don’t.
Plus cereal tastes awful without sugar, we all know it.