Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Update on My Sourdough Accident - Making Sourdough Starter and Sourdough Bread and Updated and Easier Version!

I haven't bought a loaf of bread in years. For some years now I've had a sourdough starter that I kept refreshed. What that means is you take out the little glass jar that holds your starter from the refrigerator. You use some of it to make bread and you feed the original starter with  flour and a little bit of water and return it to the refrigerator and keep it there until the next time you make bread. The starter can be kept for years.
I have quite the collection of glass storage jars. I keep my starter in a glass storage jar. And sometimes when I have a bit of leftover fruit smoothie I also put it in a glass jar. A few weeks back I just wasn't thinking I grabbed what I thought was leftover fruit smoothie, took a taste. It was so bitter and awful that I immediately spit it back into the jar.  Seconds later I realized that I had just spit into my sourdough starter. I sadly had to dump it out. I admit that for a few seconds or maybe minutes, I considered keeping it. Gross right. But  there are places in the world where they make a fermented drink by chewing and spitting.   And then there's the thing about making wine with your bare feet . But nevertheless, rest assured I tossed it out.


People have been making sourdough bread since Egyptian times. How hard can it be?. Not hard, it's a really simple and natural process.  It amounts to mixing a tiny bit of whole wheat flour, I use organic whole-wheat, and a little bit of water. You keep it covered and stir it a couple times a day you. You add a little bit more water and a little bit more flour everyday. My starter took 10 days until it looked bubbly and I probably had about 2 cups worth of starter made up. I took a half a cup of it and put it in the refrigerator and the rest I used it for a sourdough bread.


Again, this process is not hard.  But I admit when I first started making bread it seemed hard and complicated.  It is not.  I am sure there are different methods to make a loaf of sourdough bread using just starter with no added extra yeast, but this is what I do:  

The day before I want to make bread  I feed the starter (add whole wheat flour and water, keeping it the consistency of pancake batter).  I take about 1/2 cup starter and place in a medium size bowl  and return the starter you want to save to the refrigerator.bowl. 

To the medium bowl with starter I add about a cup of water and enough whole wheat flour to make a pancake-like batter.  Cover this and leave on the counter. Later in the day add more flour and water. I'm wanting about 2 cups of batter.  Cover and leave overnight. 

The next morning or early afternoon I  pour the batter into the bowl of my electric mixer.  In a separate small bowl add 1 cup warm water and about 1 teaspoon salt and maybe 2 teaspoons of sugar if you want.  You can leave the sugar out.  Stir well to dissolve the salt and sugar if you are using sugar.  Add to batter...You can use more salt, but I watch my salt content.

At this point I have been only using whole wheat flour.  Now you will add more flours.  I might add a cup of rye flour or some white or golden whole wheat flour.  Mix with dough hook.  At the end of the mixing I'll add some organic white unbleached flour.   You can experiment with the flours.  Just make sure they are from the wheat family.

The idea is to add flour until a very non-sticky, stretchy dough is produced.  But you don't need to or want to mix it all at once.  Allow rest times in between mixing the dough and the bread will develop a better flavor and texture.    Cover the mixer bowl  with a clean dish towel.  I use a large dish towel over the whole mixer and bowl.  Let the dough rest maybe 30 minutes.  Mix it more adding more flour if necessary.  Again repeat the rest and mix maybe 2 or 3  more times.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and by hand fold over the dough.  Cover again.  You are striving for a very, very stretchy, soft dough.  Don't go  the next step until your dough is very stretchy and you can easily fold it over into itself into a ball.  Unlike package yeast breads which can easily become over-proofed and fall, sourdough keeps slowly growing as it feeds on flour.  I have over-proofed sourdough bread  when I have experimented and let it rise overnight, say 10 hours on the kitchen counter.  Some people slow down the rise by letting the bread proof or rise in the refrigerator. 

I used to let the dough rise in a greased bowl and bake it in a cast iron dutch oven.  But no more...I found a much easier way to make bread.  I bake it in 2 parchment lined bread pans.  So easy and so sourdough delicious!  This method produces a softer bread with still a chewy crust. 

Take 2 pieces of parchment paper.  Big enough to leave about 2" above the sides of the pans.  The side pieces will act as support for the dishcloth-cover as the bread rises.  Working on one sheet of parchment, divide the dough into 2 pieces.  Add extra flour as needed to make 2 rectangle non-sticky pieces.
Place each piece into parchment lined pans.


Cover pans with clean dishcloth and let bread rise for 4 hours.  They will almost double in size. 

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Score bread, and cut off extra sides of parchment paper

At 500 degrees bake for 12 minutes...Lower temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 12 minutes.

 Using an instant read probe thermometer I make sure the bread's internal temperature is about 195 degrees.  
Remove bread from oven and immediately remove from pans and slide off of parchment paper onto cooling racks. 

.This bread is delicious!  
Conclusion:  This new starter is much more active than the now deceased and non-existent starter. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Garden Changes

When I first start gardening, at least when I first started gardening here in South Dakota, I just wanted to grow things. Now things have grown and now I find myself wanting to simplify. Here's a recent picture of  part of the garden.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Pumpkin Pie with Dried Fruit and Nut Crust and Whipped Coconut Cream

I have been making this dairy-free pumpkin pie for many years.  I first made it for a friend who craved pumpkin pie but could not eat any dairy.  It's my easy go-to pie.  I have experimented with the crust.   I've tried gluten-free flour crust  and have tried oatmeal and nut combinations.  I think my favorite crust that compliments this not-too sweet pumpkin pie is a crust using dates and prunes. Serve topped with a dollop of whipped coconut cream.

You can make both the crust and the pie in a food processor,


1 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup prunes

 Lightly grease a 9" glass pie plate with coconut oil.  Process the walnuts or pecans with the dates and prunes until finely ground.  The mixture will look like a paste. Press into pie plate.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Set aside. Make filling and add to pie crust.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

3 Eggs
3/4 cup unrefined cane sugar (You can substitute with other sugars for instance 3/4 cup honey)
2 cups canned pumpkin (You can also use roasted Butternut Squash. Drain squash if it seems wetter than pumpkin )
1 heaping teaspoon Cinnamon
1  teaspoons Vanilla and a pinch of salt
Walnuts  or Pecans for sprinkling on top of pie

1. Make pie crust –

2. Beat together eggs with sugar. Add pumpkin and other ingredients. Continue beating. You can also do this whole step in a food processor.
3.  Pour into pie crust. Decorate with Walnuts or Pecans if desired.
4. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 45 minutes or more.  It is done when an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool and eat!
Note: The filling will not reach to the top of the pie crust. 

Serve with whipped coconut cream.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 can coconut milk. My favorite is Organic Native Forest. It has a good deal of cream.  Chill overnight in refrigerator.
2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Chilling the can of coconut milk will cause the cream to rise to the top and .makes it easier to pour out the liquid and keep the solid cream.   Save the coconut water for smoothies or other uses.

2. Scoop cream into chilled bowl, add syrup and vanilla and beat until soft peaks are formed.

Coconut whipped cream does not separate when kept in the refrigerator.  It actually will set up firmer.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Reworking Garden Pathways

This was the year to do a lot of rock work. Here is an example of a starburst I got done. I'm trying to reduce the amount of dead heading and work in the garden. One thing I have learned after 20 some years of working on this garden 
Is that most plants need to be dug up and replanted or removed at's just what needs to be done. Weeds get in grass gets in.  So, now I'm trying to keep the garden especially in the front colorful but low. I'm trying a new blogging app so hope this works Gloria

Monday, March 2, 2015

Spring Planning

Hi Everyone - It has been a long time since I blogged. The year was so busy and the garden was beautiful and a breath of fresh air and calm.   I did make garden changes. That's what gardeners do.  Each year spring comes with  an opportunity to learn and change and hopefully improve the garden.  But at the end of last year's growing season I said to Ted "That's it, I can't think of anything that I can change that I want to change.  Oh, there are always things we would change if we had the time, money and unlimited workers to do the job.  But, I thought I had reached a level of contentment for how things are.  But, alas and to my joy I have a list of things to change and I am excited about them.

The job that will give me the most aches and pains and the one I am most excited to tear into is changing this area right in front of the little garden house.  I want to make a 6 foot by 6 foot patio with 12" redish-colored cement pavers.  This is a picture from last year:

Last spring I placed one of those fabric raised beds in this spot.  This was a poor location for a vegetable planter, but should make a nice spot for a little table and chairs.  The fabric raised bed I plan to move to a sunny spot.
Our springs can be cold.  I always try to cover tender plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  The red and green covers are Wall-O-Waters.

I have a garden to-do list.  Included in the list is start plants by seed. Last year I bought all my plant-starts.  I missed the varieties you can get from seed.
Hopefully, I will show you how they do.  Enjoy spring.  We still have almost 3 months before we can plant outside...but I should be able to do the patio and start the seeds before then. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Growing Amazing Plants in Pots–My New Discoveries

Last year I did a test. I grew the same plants in large pots and also in my 20 year amended-compost enriched heavy clay soil.  Wow, what a difference!  Plant thrive in the pots as long as they received regular water.  I filled the pots with potting soil and compost and a scoop of organic plant based fertilizer.  The lighter looser soil allows for the roots to grow larger.  The potted plants need daily water which I have provided with a timer and drip irrigation system.  I have been playing with 4 timers and 400 feet of 1/2” irrigation pipe and 1/4” drip irrigation. (100 ft of irrigation for each timer) I finally happily settled on burying regular water hoses to provide a water source to the back of the garden and then connecting a 100 feet of 1/2” hose delivering the drip irrigation to the pots and also to farther-out areas that I found hard to water.  All of these pots have drip irrigation:
I have 2 pots at the bottom on the front porch step.  These are the Tidal Wave Petunia I started in late winter.  The cactus came from my brother Juan’s California garden.  He is a master gardener. Gardening “runs in our genes”.
The other side.
I have Heavenly Blue Morning Glories beginning to travel up from the pots. Clematis is blooming
Purple Tomatillos are forming in their parachute-like husks.  These are growing in large pots that sit against the hot west wall. 
The irrigation provides 10 minutes of daily water from sprayers connected to  1/4” irrigation tubing.  Eggplant, peppers and shorter growing Santiam and Glacier Tomatoes are also growing in pots.  Potatoes, bigger tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers and corn are growing in my vegetable beds.  Because our soil is heavy they take less water and still produce.
There are 2 tomatillo plants per pot.  At least 2 are needed for pollination. The plants are taller than I am.
Ornamental corn can be used for popcorn.  It is growing in the 2 pots in front of the little house with Illumination Amaranth.
We have a carport next to the back door. It is along the alley.  The pots have irrigation.  In June I had a "Bring a Dish Garden Breakfast Party" - We had 59 friends stop by.  It was a beautiful fun day.  We set up tables in this area and in the garden. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Beautiful Summer Garden

A spring garden is probably the easiest to achieve.  You have rain and cooler temperatures.  Come summer, heat, hail and dry weather can make summer gardens a bit of a challenge.  The trick is picking the right plants for the right place.  That usually involves some “trowel and error”.  Visiting local gardens and garden tours can help you make note of what is blooming now.  I am always a bit amused that what is blooming at the time becomes the favorite flower.  Here are some of my favorites:
I have learned to use drought tolerate plants in harder to reach areas.  Daylilies have thick fat roots that take some drought.
There are some seriously beautiful daylily varieties.
Yarrows, primroses, alliums
The front boulevard gardens are thick with ground-covering  beauty. 
Pink Carefree Delight rose really is carefree.
Then there are junipers…I love them.  This is the back yard
Blues and yellows!  Lorraine Sunshine with Moonglow Juniper

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Beautiful, Beautiful Roses

I always look forward to the third week in June.  It is when most of the roses bloom in chorus!  A couple of years ago I started adding good bacteria to my roses and the improvement is striking! 
Reine de Victoria, the climber on the left is a favorite antique reblooming rose.
The darker pink rose is Zephrine Droulin a fragrant bourbon rose that is thornless and is tolerates some shade.
William Baffin is a tall climber
Madame Hardy with a green eye and slightly lemony fragrance
Reine de Violettes rose is a rebloomer is lovely and fragrant.  This rose in particular was getting weak and look at it now!
More, and more,
I think the single petal Sally Holmes is beautiful.  I have about 40 rose bushes.  I’ll show more later!