Sunday, March 25, 2018

Yumminess All Around

The stormy weather of the last few days have moved out of the area making way for clear cool skies. It was a good gentle rain, yes, some flooding but no catastrophic incidents to our neighbors south. The evacuation orders for Santa Barbara/Montecito were lifted Thursday afternoon.

Closer to home our rain gauge filled to over 4½ inches - the most rain we've seen this year. The local newspaper recapped the last few days: "A 'Minor Miracle March' rescues SLO County from one of the driest winters on record".

Me thinks it's time to celebrate with Sriracha Hummus and freshly baked sourdough crackers.

Thank you to Sandee for the Sriracha Hummus, it's so yummy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Running on Pineapple

Yesterday we welcomed the first day of spring under cloudy skies and light rain. We were seeing the front end of the Pineapple Express - the tropical atmospheric river - expected to sweep through our area for the next several days. The weather forecast calls for enough rain to help ease our drought parched SLO county but also causing dangerous conditions and further evacuations south of us in Santa Barbara county. In January, fast falling rain in the fire-ravaged hills above the towns of Santa Barbara and Montecito caused death and destruction from debris flows, flash floods, and landslides.

The rain this week is a bittersweet blessing.


As I hunker down indoors my thoughts turn to cooking and food. More specifically I'm thinking about sourdough, my sourdough - the wild yeast starter I concocted three months ago that now lives in my refrigerator. And I'm thinking to myself, It's probably hungry I better feed it before it dies.

Here's the backstory: Last December my neighbor Lois gave me her copy of Saveur magazine, (Dec/Jan 2018). I enjoyed the stories about people, food, and culture. And I liked reading Lois' comments scattered throughout the magazine.

So anyway I came across an article about making sourdough starter with whole wheat flour, filtered water, and pineapple juice. Hmmm, I've got whole wheat flour and I've got canned pineapples in unsweetened juice. I did a little more in-depth reading (Debra Wink: Part 1 & Part 2) and found the process interesting, you know, like a science project. The experiment began 12/16/17.

On the fireplace mantel, warmest spot in the house.

Sourdough bread: Fail
The bread was dense and inedible. I think the starter wasn't mature enough to make bread. So I made crackers instead.

Sourdough crackers

Sourdough starter: Fail
Had problems transitioning the starter from whole wheat flour to all-purpose flour. The good critters died (no healthy bubbling) and bad nasty mold took over. Ahem, also, I may have gone too long between feedings and starved the poor yeasty critters.

This is good: happy healthy sourdough starter bubbling and smelling yeasty.

 This is bad: lifeless sourdough starter with mold growing.

By the end of January I figured out a feeding schedule to keep the starter alive and happy. Every few weeks I do a "refresh". I take One Cup of starter and "discard" the rest. Then I add One Cup of whole wheat flour, ½ Cup filtered water, mix it all up, put it in a clean jar, and stick it back in the fridge.

Then with the discarded starter I make crackers. Although making crackers is not hard, it's not a quick process, the dough needs 6 hours to rest. I've found that making crackers over two days works the best for me. On the first day (right after feeding and divvying up the starter) I measure and mix the cracker dough, let it rest for 6 hours, then put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I take it out of the fridge, roll it, bake it, and eat it.


I only sprinkle a wee bit of sugar and salt on the crackers. It doesn't need much when you're dipping it in hummus.

My sourdough starter has never been happier. Look, it just about overflowed it's 1½ pint mason jar! It was last fed at the beginning of the month and last week I noticed that all of a sudden it's volume had doubled. If it gets any happier I will need to get a larger jar.

So that's the story of my sourdough experiment. All it took to create a starter was whole wheat flour, water, and a bit of pineapple juice. Oh, and a whole lot of time. Maybe one of these days I'll try making bread, but for now we're happy with the homemade crackers.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Welcome Inn

Oh, sorry, no vacancies here.

Sorry, we're full up too.

Vacancies here.

Welcome, we've been expecting you.