First Batch of Sourdough Bread

I finally got around to baking some sourdough bread from the whole wheat sourdough starter I made in February during‘s Real Food Challenge. It was pretty much a 3 day process. The first day consisted of letting the starter warm to room temperature and feeding it.

Sourdough Starter

The second day, I made the dough from the starter and let it rise overnight. The third day I shaped it into a loaf and put it through its second rise, then baked it.

The result:

Finished Sourdough BreadDelish! It’s a hearty , dense bread that makes great sandwiches 🙂

I’m so proud of my sourdough starter! (I got mine from Cultures for Health).

My Happy Bubbly Sourdough Starter

I am excited to report that my sourdough starter has blossomed overnight into a happy, bubbly sourdough starter! I think putting it next to the heat vent really did the trick. (So what if I’m preparing sourdough starter in the bathroom, right?!)

Tonight, I poured off the “hooch” (thanks to Jenny and Maggie and Marcella for the words of wisdom!) and fed it again. By the time I’d rinsed off my spoon and gone back to put the lid on, my little starter batch was bubbling, right before my eyes!

I squealed with glee and held up the jar like a proud parent 🙂

I’m going to let the starter spend one more night next to the heat vent, then I’ll move forward and try to bake something with it! *happy dance*

Real Food Challenge, Week 2

We’ve wrapped up Week 2 in the Nourished Kitchen Real Food Challenge, and here’s how it went in my world!

First off, I’ve been caring for my sourdough starter this week. It arrived too late to do much Week 1, and it’s taking a little longer than I’d hoped to get happy this week. I suspect it’s because my kitchen isn’t very warm (68F or so). I tried a high cabinet; I tried in the oven – apparently my pilot light isn’t very warm, either. So tonight, I fed my little sourdough buddy and brought it upstairs with me. I put it next to the heat vent in the bathroom. Hopefully the cats will not get curious.

The starter is bubbling a little bit – just not a whole lot. And it keeps separating and forming liquid on the top. I’ve just been stirring the liquid back in, as the instructions that came from Cultures for Health don’t mention anything about pouring it off. I hope I’m not killing the poor thing! (Wow, it didn’t take long for me to humanize my sourdough starter!)

Week 2 kicked off with a discussion on fats for high-heat cooking. I switched to using coconut oil a couple months ago, after reading the book Skinny Bitch. So far, I have no complaints!

Then, we got into the issue of GMO’s – which is actually the topic that led me into this entire organic adventure (including the creation of this blog). I suspect that a certain M company is actually the devil. Some things are just wrong, and blasting living cells with viruses and the like in order to splice in the DNA of different species… that’s right up there on the list. My local government representatives know who I am (and, a tip I heard a long time ago – paper letters are more effective than email, so print out those letters, stick a stamp on ’em, and drop them in the ol’ snail mail!)

For Day #10, it was back to oils – I regularly dip bread in olive oil, but haven’t tried flaxseed oil. I’ve gotten into throwing flaxseed meal into my oatmeal and my smoothies, so why not try flaxseed oil? It’s on my grocery list.

Baking sourdough is on my list of things to do, once my starter is ready! (C’mon, lil buddy!)

Then came the Real Milk challenge. I was pretty stoked about this, as I love milk and dairy products. I drink organic milk. The article mentioned a brand of Vat-pasteurized milk from Farmers All Natural Creamery. I went to their web site to find the locations where it is sold, and was ecstatic to see two things – first, that Jewel grocery stores carry it (because there’s one down the street from me), and second, that Peapod carries it (because that’s where I get most of my groceries, delivered!) I won’t be ordering from Peapod for another couple weeks, so I decided to check out Jewel. (I had been meaning to go there to check out their selection of organic produce anyway). I was quite impressed with their organic produce selection, but pretty bummed out that I couldn’t find Farmers All Natural Creamery products. 🙁 Booo. The customer service clerk that I asked had never heard of it. I’ll have to try ordering it from Peapod next time.

Day #13 looked at fermented foods. I’m a yogurt fanatic (and have just gotten into Greek yogurt too). I used to make my own yogurt a few years ago, but stopped when I moved… it’s something I plan to try my hand at again soon. I’m also interested in trying to make cheese – but that’s a whole nother story. This kefir stuff looks intriguing (particularly the anti-cancer elements). I plan to look into it some more. I saw some at Trader Joe’s the other day, but hadn’t yet read the Challenge note about kefir!

That brings us to today – Singles Awareness Day. I’m not much into chocolate, so there’s no love lost there. The most exciting thing I added to my food repertoire this week was grape tomatoes in my workout smoothie. I’m looking forward to next week and hopefully baking some sourdough bread, or maybe pancakes!

Real Food Challenge, Week 1

So, how many of you signed up for the Nourished Kitchen Real Food Challenge? Here are my experiences with the first week of the challenge.

The challenge for Day #1 was to clean out my cupboards, getting rid of all processed foods. I spent all of December 2009 and part of January 2010 doing just that (mostly because I couldn’t afford to throw away an entire kitchen of food all at once! All I used to eat was processed foods! Just call me, freezer-to-microwave-girl).

An interesting shift that occurred was in my refrigerator/freezer. Once upon a time, my freezer overfloweth with Lean Cuisines and frozen pizzas. My fridge looked like a bachelor’s fridge – a few cases of Diet Dr. Pepper, a gallon of milk, and occasionally, a tub of yogurt or a loaf of bread. The fridge was bare. Now, my refrigerator is teeming with food – mostly produce – and my freezer is pretty empty, except for some frozen vegetable purees and a variety of leftovers to tide me through the work week. (I cook for one, so I’ve always got leftovers!)

In going organic, I gave up my 8-10 can-a-day diet soda habit. It wasn’t a conscious decision, really – it just sort of happened. I’d look at the can sitting there on the counter, and think, “wow, a can of carbonated chemical water….” Who wants that?! It doesn’t even taste good. It took me an entire 9 months way back when to train my taste buds to drink diet pop instead of regular – I switched because at the quantities I was drinking, I was getting a full day’s worth of calories in soda with no nutritional value whatsoever (and a ton of sugar). Diet has zero calories – that’s gotta be good, right? Not so much. Early calculations indicate that I’ve offset the increased cost of organic groceries simply by cutting out the Diet Dr. Pepper.

One shift I’ve made that coincides with this week’s Real Food Challenge is to regular cheeses and yogurt. I used to buy fat free cheese and fat free or low fat yogurts, but the more I’m learning about how our bodies use foods and how various nutrients work in combination with each other, the chemicals and sweeteners used to replace the fats to make the products palatable to our taste buds are worse for us than the right combos of these animal fats in moderation. Enough with the chemicals, already!

Another new item to my kitchen world is old fashioned rolled oats. I discovered their splendor via KERF’s Tribute to Oatmeal, and I see oats popping up more and more in recipes that I’d like to try. Day #2 of the Real Food Challenge suggested trying Soaked Oatmeal or Baked Oats; both are on my list of things to do soon. This, coming from a girl who had tried every variety of instant oatmeal known to man, and turned her nose up at every one. Oatmeal is wonderfully delicious when you make it yourself from real food ingredients!

My first attempt at Day #3’s recommendation to soak whole grains to improve the nutrient profile and digestibility of them will be in the form of Buttermilk Oat Flour Biscuits. Stay tuned for the write-up! Soaking flour is so… simple – it just takes a little bit of planning!

For Day #4, I ordered a sourdough starter kit from Cultures for Health. I love fresh baked bread, and don’t use my bread machine nearly enough. I’d love to kick the habit of store-bought bread (even if it is organic!) and make my own regularly. Years ago, I used to make my own yogurt and absolutely loved both the process and the end result. That’s something I might have to try again. It sounds like keeping a sourdough starter alive is a lot like making your own yogurt… or caring for the friendship bread starters that come around every few Christmases.

Day #5 includes sprouting some grain. I need to actually get some grains if I want to sprout them, so I’ve tucked this item into my list of Things to Do.

I’m glad I’ve started this Real Food Challenge. I may not be able to convert completely to a traditional kitchen in a month’s time, but I am confident that I will be able to implement a significant number of healthy changes, learning a lot as I go. I will have a lot of catching up to do during Week 4, as I will be traveling throughout the entire Week 3 – but we’ll see what happens!

Good luck in your challenge!