Monday, November 30, 2009

I Feel I Must Say . . .

So, you may have noticed that I have been posting way less than usual.  I haven't been cooking much, I've been dealing with a little nausea, I've been lethargic . . .  And no, it's not a tragic disease, although some days it feels like it.  We're pregnant!  Our third little Davis child is on the way.  It's still early, we're only 7 weeks pregnant.  And although blogging is a slightly lame announcement method, I felt the need to explain my lack of blogging. 

Part of the reason is that I often get excited to post about cooking.  Cooking and local food.  And let's just say that both of those are currently not a passion.  I had to give away all the onions I had stored up (which was a little sad because I had them all braided nicely and hanging in my kitchen) because to me they had started to produce an unbearable stench, cabbage and butternut squash are being given away (well, the squash has found a home, and I have plans for the cabbage).  All food is pretty unappealing, but local seasonal foods are especially appalling.  Sad.  Tonight I am cooking brussel sprouts in the oven and it's pretty rough enduring the smells wafting through the house. 

Anyway, if you think of the Davis family, pray for us.  We're excited, but we have a long way to go (and I have a lot of meals to prepare) before July 16th.  Love to all of my loyal readers, I'll try to write more soon.  :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beauty Out of Darkness

I discover that with the Christmas cactus, it pays to live in a house with northern exposure.  Maybe because it's dark it's doing well (though this seems unlikely, since I read that these originated in Brazilian rainforests, and it's a far cry from that in my kitchen)?  Anyway, it's actually blooming a little early over here, and that may be because it's dark (it's already dark as all get out in our northern exposure kitchen, so maybe my Christmas cactus assumes it is Christmas).  It's either that or benign neglect--erratic watering and no fertilizing--that is really causing it to flourish.
Merry Christmas!

Ode to the Dishwasher . . .

O, Dishwasher,
I didn't know how I cared
'til I washed that 1000th dish
after two long weeks without you
how I yearn for the sound of the doorbell
announcing the helpful local Appliance Guy
willing to work on a Saturday
O, Dishwasher

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Sourdough Saga Continues

I'm actually getting into a real routine with the sourdough bread.  Every other morning, while the kids are eating breakfast, I mix some kefir and oat and brown rice flour in with some of my starter--and a little flax meal.  I add one egg, a little baking powder, a little sugar, a little bit of salt (I know, measurements will come one day, really, I'm just not a very measury person and have been lucking out with not measuring).  I stopped adding a drizzle of olive oil because it's just so moist that I don't need to.  And I stopped adding xanthum gum because I forgot once and couldn't tell the difference.

Then I let it rise.  Some days I let it rise once, sometimes twice.  It depends when I want to bake it and whether I remembered to transfer it to the loaf pan or let it rise in the bowl (if it rose in the bowl it needs to rise again when I transfer it).  Today I let it rise twice and it took until about 4:00 until it was nice and high and ready to bake.  My dough is about doubling in size now when it rises, which is a huge improvement from my initial attempts.  It really improved exponentially when I added sugar to the starter and when I started covering the loaf pan with a lid while baking it at 450 degrees for the first half hour before baking it uncovered at 350 the second half hour. 

I'm about at the point where I think I'm going to stop buying any bread, for anyone (including the gluten eaters) because this tastes so good, is easier on digestion (the yeasts added to breads are much harder on the stomach than the natural yeasts "caught" in sourdough starters or kefir, and Micah complains of his stomach hurting if I give him too much wheat), is healthier (I'm grinding all the steel cut oats and sweet brown rice myself in the coffee grinder so it's all whole grain flour--plus I add flax meal), and does not require me to drive to the store.  Just trying to pitch the sourdough bread to any who might consider doing it, it's really good!  I can't imagine how good it would taste with wheat flour, yum!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Pleasant Valley Sunday . . .

Having church start at 1:15 on Sunday, as we do, leaves a lovely open slot each week to have a family bonding experience.  We have started hiking every Sunday morning, and we love it. 

This picture is from Valley Forge National Historical Park (the Revolutionary War site).  It's ranked one of the top ten parks in the nation for viewing fall leaves.  We had a great time, though we did have to space out the sandwiches and apples strategically to lure some of the family members through the full two miles + (one bailed anyway, and had to be carried).  Happy hiking!

A Sad Event with a Happy Resolution

So on Wednesday, I went to replicate my sourdough successful loaf.  I put out all of my starter into a bowl as suggested by a helpful online source.  I added some flour and left it to sit out while I drove Micah to school.  I said to myself, "Self, you are really going to have to remember to take out some starter before you add egg or anything that will make it unsaveable."  Then I came back from dropping him off, on the phone (already, you see where this is going), and put an egg in it.  So I baked up all my starter and made by far my best bread yet.  Very crisp crust, extremely moist inside, sour taste (you know, like sourdough bread), perfect with the Amish farmer's market rhubarb jelly I had on hand. 

But I knew that it was going to be a while until I could make any again, seeing as I had made it impossible to save any of my starter.  Which would either end my happy trip down sourdough lane or prove that I had my starter recipe nailed down.

As soon as I had my bread all mixed up, before I even baked it, I got out a jar and added some flour and water.  I added some sugar and some kefir.  Two more times on Wednesday I fed my starter.  By Thursday it was bubbly and active.  I fed it three times a day on Thursday and Friday, too.  Today (Saturday) it was ready to make into bread.  It made more good bread!

Three things I learned:
  1. My sourdough starter recipe rocks
  2. NEVER empty all of the starter into a bowl
  3. Keep more starter around (use a bigger jar and feed it more each time)

The smaller objects are there to offer a size-comparison for the enormous jar of starter on the left.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Farmer and the Cowboy

Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends,
Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends.
One man likes to push a plough,
The other likes to chase a cow,
But that's no reason why they cain't be friends.

Territory folks should stick together,
Territory folks should all be pals.
Cowboys dance with farmer's daughters,
Farmers dance with the ranchers' gals.

Micah and Jesse did all right together, so I guess we're well on the way to peace between the two.  I'm just glad we could do our part.

An All-Day Recipe . . . Butternut Squash Lasagne

So, dinner tonight was amazing!  Butternut squash with homemade cheese and smoky marinara and greens from the garden (swiss chard, broccoli rabe, and arugula).  The recipe was based on the one from this website:

Really good, but I figure I spent almost my whole day on it.  OK, so if I'd bought the cheeses and had noodles I didn't have to pre-cook and made the sauce the day before and didn't have little kids in and around where I was working the whole time . . . it probably just would have taken two hours.  I have to say, even though I didn't accomplish anything else today, it was still worth it.  So if you have two hours to invest uninterrupted and buy the cheeses and stuff--it will totally be worth it.  Yum!  Great way to use a seasonal veggie if your family is as tired of butternut squash as mine is (or if you just have no idea what to do with it).  I didn't even cook the squash like they said.  I just baked it and then scooped out the seeds and spread the soft "puree" on for the butternut layer.

If you make it, tell me how it turns out for you!