San Francisco sourdough!

February 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

After years of having a glass jar of sourdough starter living in the fridge, we are finally finding a rhythm for baking bread. The goal is to make bread and crackers once a week. Our starter is clearly happier now that he is getting some attention, and is happily bubbling up just as he should.

The KitchenAid stand mixer is doing the bulk of the kneading, followed by some hand kneading by J. We keep our rising dough in the oven with no heat, overnight, to protect it from any drafts.

In the morning, J forms the dough into rounds.

Instead of proofing baskets, we have been using colanders for our two rounds. The colanders make the best little bumpy designs. Beautiful. I have been using kitchen shears to make the cuts in the bread – I haven’t figured out how to get our knives sharp enough to create those cuts.

The bread rises for about 5 more hours, and then I bake them, following The Cheese Board Collectives Works instructions involving misting the rounds, and twice pouring ice water in a roasting pan at the floor of the oven.

We are loving the results. It is incredible that this bread is made only of flour, salt, and water. Wow. We’ll see if we can keep it up!


Making crackers!

February 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

My friend Alinna passed me a jar of sourdough starter back in October of 2009. We named the 3-year old starter Jim and got a copy of The Cheese Board Collective Works. I read the instructions on maintaining my starter, eager to get some sourdough bread baking in the oven. Then I got to this part:

“To feed it, remove it from the refrigerator, discard all but 1/4 cup, and stir in 1/2 cup lukewarm water and 2/3 cup bread flour.” – p. 91

DISCARD!? I hate wasting things. Oh well. J and I began experimenting with sourdough, and enjoyed baguettes and sourdough rounds. Sometimes we used the discard to make pizza dough, other times we winced as we dumped the extra starter into the compost bin.

But recently, we hung out with our friends Nate and Christina. They always inspire me with their sourdough projects, and suggested we make crackers out of the discard starter. I woke up our neglected starter, and threw together a batch of dough following this whole wheat cracker recipe. Great recipe and super-easy!

The dough sat overnight in my measuring pyrex. In the morning I rolled it out on a silpat baking mat as flat as possible.

Next I cut the crackers into squares gently with a pizza cutter.

Finally, I coated the dough with a layer of olive oil, and sprinkled on kosher salt, sesame seeds, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

I just love how simple and quick they are. Love! I think I’m going to try to feed Jim once a week, and hopefully make crackers at each feeding.

Our first batch of crackers were gone that same day.

Dabbling a bit off the grid…

July 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

I remarked to J the other day that this year we have started doing a few things off the grid here and there.  We ventured into breadmaking.  We planted a vegetable garden.  I started sewing clothes for m out of J’s old shirts.  We started meeting together in homes and coffeeshops as a church.  In my last post I lamented the ending of the City College Child Observation class that m and I went to daily.  The little m and I now have a regular schedule of meeting up with others in parks, at the library, etc.  Even without the class, a bunch of us will gather on Fridays in the same space, and bring our own toys to share.  I love it.  It’s definitely little things here and there, but life feels so different from what it was before.  I think the words for our family this past year have been sustainability and convergence.  I’ll try to post photos of some of our off the grid adventures soon.  🙂

Living life…

October 1, 2009 § Leave a comment

I just finished reading Deep Economy, by Bill McKibben.  I found it to be powerful and paradigm-shifting.  We’ll see if these new thoughts are lasting.  The book also encouraged me to press on with little changes in my life.  Here are some small changes going on in our household:

We’re making our own bread.  We made these two loaves of bread, recipe courtesy of The Cheese Board Collective Works.  The recipe is for “plain and simple bread,” which is easy to make and tasty.  J also was pretty funny during the kneading process, throwing the dough in the air and doing various tricks.

JK4_2280We’ll see if we can keep up the making of our own bread for normal use.

I also was encouraged by a friend to sew some produce and bulk bags out of cotton, and to use those instead of the plastic ones.  I got the pattern from the book Sewing Green, by Betz White.

JK4_2302I may end up embroidering them or doing something creative, but for now, I like them plain.  We took them to Rainbow Grocery, and filled one with some flour, and one with some polenta, and another with a fresh bunch of kale.

I feel really blessed to have the space and time to do these things, and to enjoy spending time with my little one.  So much to think about.

Baking bread…

September 6, 2009 § 1 Comment

Lately I’ve had this desire to learn to bake bread.  I love the smell of it in the house, and eating it with some jam or butter fresh out of the oven!  This time around I wanted to be old-school, so I didn’t take out the mixer, but instead kneaded the dough by hand.  Since it was a warm day, the bread rose well, and tasted delicious!


I have two bread books from the library also, so I’ll probably be doing some experimenting!   I was also thinking about how it’s interesting that I sometimes really enjoy many activities that would be stereotyped for homemakers: knitting, sewing, cooking, baking, cleaning…I really don’t know how it happened, but I can’t help it!

Learning from Yin-Yin

August 24, 2009 § Leave a comment

Stef recently suggested we get together and learn to make dim sum from Yin-Yin.  We gathered together last week and made lots of food!  Potstickers, cha siu bao, red bean bao, deep-fried won ton, gin doi, and hom soy gok.


I’m beginning to really love making things by hand.  I’ve been reading about how we as a society have become more and more divorced from the processes by which our food, clothing, and household goods are made.  I’m really appreciating being a part of these processes – forming things with my hands, learning the skills, and enjoying the creation.

The other part of it that was precious to me was that we spent time as a family.  While I was kneading some dough, I got a chance to ask Yin-Yin more about her early years as a mother, and to listen to her stories.  Nothing like loved ones working on a task and just enjoying being together.  Love it.

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