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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Saga of the New Pet with the Stinky Disposition Part 2

Excuse me,
Photo taken January 2011. 
I am back!  We lost use of the computer monitor, oh what, about 4 weeks ago!  Let me tell you, every time, (and I am not exagerratin', ask Cousin Sandra) Sandra leaves me alone here on the farm for any length of time some electronic device just up and quits.  This time, Cousin Sandra went to Austin to spend Christmas with family, it wasn't even 2 days and the computer monitor just died.  Aghh!  I had some great blogs planned and lots of research to do.  But, we are back and very excited about the New Year.

Well, let's continue with the Saga of Sourdough.  I do have to admit that I am quite smitten with my new pet.  The Sourdough starter only requires a once a week feeding and has produced quite a few loaves of delicious bread.  And since a lot of New Year's resolutions deal with weight loss or healthy living, it is good to know that Sourdough bread is vegan and fat-free, (unless, you slather it with butter when it is fresh from the oven!)   So far, I have made just the regular Sourdough bread, herb bread and a loaf of Cinnamon Bread.  The Cinnamon bread made the kitchen smell heavenly, was great toasted, then made a yummy bread pudding.  But was definitely not fat-free! 

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Okay, how about some history of Sourdough!?!   I guess around 1500 BC the Egyptians wrote down the first information on their leavened bread that became known as ummm, Egyptian Leavened Bread.  According to the site Food History there were many stories as to how they first discover the yeast starter, but you can probably imagine that some bread dough was left out and some of the wild yeast spores that are in the air at all times got mixed in the dough and those Egyptians noticed that the bread rose and was lighter than the usual flat breads.

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This is what I did when I read
that someone paid $600.00
for a genuine Alaskan sourdough

Folks, once again, I had this blog almost completely done and POOF! error message and half of the blog is gone!  Anyway, to make a long story short, through trial and error those Egyptians found that some of the sourdough cultures worked and tasted better than others.  They could keep this culture alive by saving from their baking a little raw dough and adding more flour to it, and it would produce the same flavor.  Sourdough Starter is created!  Yeah, now we can make yummy bread while we are exploring and taking over the rest of the world!

EUREKA!  Gold is discovered in California!  The Boudin family, master bakers from France headed on out to the San Francisco area to set up shop and become famous for using the unique sourdough starter that develops in the area.  According to Food History the miners flocked to this bakery every morning for this special tasting bread.  Okay, I can't help myself.  I doubt seriously that a bunch of crusty miners were flocking anywhere except to their claim to keep some other crusty old miner from claiming their claim. (?)  It's not like they would stop in at the local bakery to have their cup of cappuccino and a beignet and oh, by the way, may I have a loaf of that lovely fresh bread to take with me for lunch.

Feeding the Starter

Let's make some Sourdough Bread.  Since I make bread on Monday, the very first thing I do that morning is take the starter out of the frig.  Now it is time to refresh the starter....discard 1 c. starter, then add 1/2 cup warm water and 1 cup flour.  It will have to sit and create bubbles for 4 hours.  Bubbles, you wonder?

Yes," if you mix any ground up grain with a liquid such as water or milk and let it sit in the open air at room temp, wild yeasts in the air will settle in the mix, eat the natural sugars and convert them into lactic (and other) acids which give it a sour flavor.  They also give off alcohol and carbon dioxide.  The carbon dioxide is what will cause the bread to rise.  When worked into a bread dough, the bubbles get trapped into the structure of the bread, and that is the little holes that you see." 

So, now we have refreshed the starter and talked a little about sourdough history.  Let me tell you about the history of my starter.  Remember back before Christmas when this saga started I had just purchased a sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour Company.  According to them "it’s descended from a starter that’s been lovingly nurtured here in New England since the 1700s."  Whether this is correct or not, I didn't pay $600.00 for it!

You can make starter quite easily yourself if you don't care if your starter has a pedigree or not.  Here's how:

Probably the easiest way, is to contact me and get some of my starter and I will give you the care instructions.  And to the lady (Ramy?) who contacted me before Christmas wanting some starter, please get in touch again.....I will be happy to share...... stdragonfly@yahoo.com.

You will need:
2 cups all-purpose flour (white or whole wheat)
2 tsps granulated sugar (optional, but the little yeasties love it)
1 packet active-dry yeast (you could do it the old fashioned way and let it sit out for a week or so, but I didn't think you would want to do that!)
2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)

The whole wheat flour will need longer rising times and use filtered water, the little yeasties really do not like chemical laden water, neither do I for that matter!

Mix all ingredients in a bowl that isn't metal or plastic and cover with a cloth and leave it sitting on the counter for 2-5 days.  Stir daily. The starter is ready when it develops a pleasant sour smell and is bubbly.  Pleasant sour smell?  I would suggest you leave it out a couple days until it is good and bubbly.  Pleasant sour smell?

Now, take out a cup of starter and discard, add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup warm water.

Cover loosely........the easiest way, put starter in a big canning jar and punch a whole in the lid.  Give your starter a name and put it in the frig.  It is ready to use.

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We named our starter Grady.....

Grady Spears is a cowboy turned Chef.  What more could a girl want?  Tall, dark and handsome cowboy that cooks.  I wonder if anyone has ever thought of cloning this man?

I promise we will talk more about Grady (the cowboy) in future posts.

Enough for today, next time we will actually get the bread in the oven!  As the saga continues!  All here at StarDragonfly Herbals send you Peace, Love, and Many Good Blessings for you and yours!  Susan

While Red was whining for his blankie,
This is where Head of Ranch Security
was hanging out!

Now I lay me down to sleep.
The king size bed is soft and deep.
I sleep right in the center groove
My human being can hardly move!
I've trapped her legs, she's tucked in tight
And here is where I pass the night
No one disturbs me or dares intrude
Til morning comes and "I want food!"
I sneak up slowly to begin
my nibbles on my human's chin.
She wakes up quickly,
I have sharp teeth.
I'm a puppy, don't you see?
For the morning's here
and it's time to play
I always seem to get my way.
So thank you Lord for giving me
This human person that I see.
The one who hugs and holds me tight
And shares her bed with me at night!


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