Monday, March 16, 2009

Please consider taking action

Although I started this blog primarily as a place for me to post my own recipes for my own recollection, I feel this is worth noting.

On both The Nourishing Gourmet and The Nourished Kitchen, you will find information related to bills in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate that concern the freedom of consumers to purchase food from local sources. It appears there are attempts to quickly push through this legislation to avoid grassroots resistance.

Please leave a comment if you have more information or know how others can get involved. And please consider contacting your representatives even multiple times. Urge them to vote against these dangerous bills which will limit the freedoms of individual Americans and will quickly cripple small farmers who sell directly to consumers.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sourdough Bread

This bread has evolved over the past year. We need to avoid wheat (but not gluten), so I've been using a gluten-free baking flour. But I'm posting here a version that uses wheat, since most people will find that to be the ideal bread flour.

* 4 cups Sourdough Starter
* 1 Tbls + 1 tsp Sea Salt
* 2 large eggs
* 1/2 cup filtered water
* 3 Tbs Coconut Oil or Olive Oil
* 5 to 7 cups freshly ground Kamut, Spelt or Whole Wheat flour or a combination

Place starter, sea salt and water in the mixing bowl. Slowly advance speed to high. Beat for 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating for a full minute between each. Add oil one tablespoon at a time, again beating one minute between each addition. Reduce mixer speed to medium low and add flour 1/4 cup at a time, increasing mixer speed and beating on high for 15-20 seconds after each addition. It should take a full 5 minutes to add the flour until the dough begins to stiffen. At that point, change to the dough hook to add any remaining flour. When the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, allow to knead for 8 minutes on medium low without adding any additional flour.

Grease a large glass bowl with butter or palm kernel oil. Using your still-buttery hands, remove the dough from the mixing bowl, rub one side lightly with butter/oil. Place dough, un-greased side down, in prepared bowl and cover with light towel. Allow to rise 4 to 12 hours in warm place in the kitchen.

After dough has doubled, grease two glass or stoneware bread pans. Lightly dust counter with flour. Empty dough from bowl and cut in half. Press into a rectangle the width of your bread pan. Gently roll up (away from yourself) to create a cylinder the width of the bread pan. Place loaves in pans. Place pans in cold oven on middle shelf and cover with light cloth. Place a heat-resistant empty glass container on the oven shelf beneath the loaf pans.

Boil water on the stove and pour into the empty glass container. Close oven door and allow loaves to rise undisturbed for 2 - 3 hours. When loaves have either doubled in size or filled the loaf pans and are beginning to rise over the lip, remove the container with water from the oven. Remove the cloth. Turn on oven to 350F. Turn on timer to 45 minutes.

Bread is done when the loaf is a light brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the side or bottom. Remove loaves from oven and bread pans to cool on baking racks. Cover loaves with light towel until cool.

Sourdough Starter

Last March, I got ambitious. I decided to try making my own sourdough starter. Part of the reason is because I'm cheap and didn't want to buy a starter that might flop (looking back, this doesn't really make sense when you see what is involved in making your own). Another reason was that I wanted to start right away and I didn't want to wait for a starter to come in the mail (again, this doesn't make sense since a starter would likely have arrived in the mail in less than a week). Finally, and probably most importantly, I wanted to know exactly what was in my bowl.

This recipe comes from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I've heard from several people who said they didn't care for it. Or maybe they tried making her sourdough bread recipe from another starter and weren't crazy about that. Either way, I understand that it may not work for everyone. But it has worked very well for baking bread so far. I have not used it for muffins or pancakes or other sweet-type baking, but I may get ambitious again soon and branch out!

To begin, you will need two large clean glass/ceramic mixing bowls, approx. 6-qt capacity.

Day 1:
Finely grind 2 cups of organic rye berries.
Add 2 cups of filtered water.
Mix well.
Cover with a doubled sheet of cheesecloth and secure to bowl with a rubber band.
Place in a warm, preferably sunny, place in your kitchen.

Day 2-7:
Finely grind 1 cup of organic rye berries.
Place in a new, clean bowl.
Add 1 cup filter water.
Mix well.
Transfer previous days' starter into the new bowl.
Cover with a doubled sheet of cheesecloth and secure to bowl with a rubber band.
Place in a warm, preferably sunny, place in your kitchen.

Day 8:
Before you feed your starter, remove 4 cups to make bread.
Grind 1 cup organic rye berries.
Place in new, clean bowl.
Add 1 cup filtered water.
Mix well.
Transfer previous days' starter into the new bowl.
Cover with a doubled sheet of cheesecloth and secure to bowl with a rubber band.
Place in a warm, preferably sunny, place in your kitchen.

Repeat for three days and bake more bread or share some starter with a friend.

Here are a couple of tips that might prove helpful:

* Although I have been using rye, I'm told you can also use whole wheat if you prefer.

* Additionally, I've been told that you can start by using rye and then begin adding whole wheat and that creates a nice sourdough as well. I don't have experience with either. But it may be worth a try, if you're up for the adventure!

* Starter can be refrigerated in a tightly closed jar for up to one week. When ready to use, remove from fridge, empty jar(s) into glass bowl and bring to room temperature. Feed with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. Repeat for three days before using to bake bread.


Kefir is a cultured milk product created when Kefir grains are added to un-homogenized milk and allowed to sit at room temperature for a couple of days.

Kefir provides countless health benefits from the beneficial bacteria that it encourages to grow in the intestinal tract. It is better for children than plain milk or even yogurt because it does not promote mucus. Today I read an article that promoted Kefir's ability to improve bone health due to the body's increased absorption of Vitamin D from Kefir. 

Unfortunately, Kefir has a strong flavor that might be less than palatable at first. But James and I both find it delicious by blending it with frozen fruit and a splash of vanilla extract. I also use it to "soak" grain flours for making muffins and pancakes. It turns out some of the lightest and tastiest whole-grain baked goods.

You can find grains at this site: Or you can try to find someone to share them with you. They multiply and grow each time they culture fresh milk, so although I started with a tablespoon or two from a farmer last year, I still have approx. 1 1/2 cups, even though I've passed along grains to others.

Here are instructions on how to culture milk with Kefir grains:

* The grains should not come in contact with chlorinated water or stainless steel.
* You will need a plastic colander with small holes for draining and rinsing the grains.
* I use glass jars or bottles for culturing the milk and plastic spoons for transferring the grains to the milk.
* To begin, start with fresh unhomogenized milk.
* Start by rinsing the grains with filtered water.
* Drain well then add the grains to the milk (start with 1 Tbls grains to 1 qt of milk)
* Tightly cap the bottle/jar and shake well.
* Set the jar/bottle on the counter for 1-3 days.
* Periodically shake the milk throughout the next day or so until you see the milk start to look a bit like the Kefir grains.
* Drain into a large glass measuring/mixing bowl with pour spout.
* Pour the Kefir back into the jar or bottle and refrigerate.
* Either begin the process again with fresh milk - OR -
* Rinse the grains well and place in a small glass jar. 
* Cover with filtered water.
* Refrigerate the grains for up to a week, and then begin a new batch.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Creamy Potato Soup

Okay, wow... when I saw the date of my last post, I was quite surprised. How does time fly so fast without my realizing it? Well, there are no guarantees that I will do a lot of posting any time soon. But I do have another soup that I want to recall, since Ben raved and raved about it.

I suspect the reason that I post soup recipes is that I want to make them again without too much trouble. So it's helpful to write down what I tossed into the pot. Hopefully I can make this again without too much trouble, since I have no idea how much of the seasonings I added - oops!

8 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery with leaves, diced
1 large onion, diced (can be eliminated for migraine-sensitive people)
2 quarts chicken stock (homemade, if posible)
Black Pepper
1 1/2 cups Bell Peppers, diced
1 cup corn
2 cups milk
Sharp Cheddar, shredded, for garnish
Green onions, chopped, for garnish

Chop potatoes, carrots, celery and onion (if using) and place in large stock pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender, 20 - 30 minutes. Drain, but reserve cooking liquid.

Place chicken stock in the stock pot. Add peppers and corn. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low.

Using the blender, puree small batches of cooked potatoes, carrots, celery, onion with some of the cooking liquid. Place each completed batch in the chicken stock.

Season with sage, savory, thyme and black pepper. Start with 1 tsp each of sage and thyme and 1/2 tsp of savory and black pepper, adding more to taste. [Do NOT salt, since potatoes absorb salt, and the soup will lose its saltiness, but make you very thirsty later.]

When seasoned to taste and hot, but not boiling, add 2 cups of milk and bring temp up again, careful not to boil. Remove from heat and serve immediately with shredded cheese and green onion for garnish.

Provide salt and pepper at the table.