Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Soaking Grains and Baking With Sourdough

First up, a nod to Rhonda at Down To Earth (who posted about this very issue just yesterday) and a nod to Cindy and John Schneider of Gold Forest Grains who work tirelessly on their farm to produce excellent quality NON-GMO organic grains of all kinds as well as the best lentils I've ever tasted.

After reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and researching for many hours on the Weston Price Foundation website over the last year,  I decided that 2015 would be there year to further improve our diet by learning how to soak grains and bake with sourdough.   I'm surprised at how much better I feel and also, how long we are "held" by soaked grains vs. un-soaked.  I had my suspicions that a few chronic inflammatory health issues I was experiencing were the result of eating so much grain fibre via un-soaked whole grains.  Whole grains are excellent for good health, but can tax digestion if eaten without advance preparation by way of soaking and fermenting as mankind has done for many, many generations in different cultures all around the world.  

I began with starting a sourdough culture in late 2014 and steadily practiced baking with it.  I made a lot of truly horrible loaves before finally creating an edible (and tasty) one thanks to Jaime of Ngo Family Farm.  Her "No Knead Sourdough" is fabulous and is best made with spelt, I've found (for me).  I promise I'll get a better picture of her bread when I make tomorrow's loaf as the picture I posted a few weeks ago is rather blurry...

As well,  I can also churn out a few decent loaves from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook.  This one below is a yeasted buttermilk sourdough (a cheater of sorts as I used a bit of yeast), but still a nice loaf to add variety.  I ran out of spelt by this time, so the loaf is a bit denser and not as lofty than it usually is (still tasty, though).

 I start with soaking the freshly ground flour overnight in buttermilk or sourdough culture and water.  This tool (a Danish Dough Whisk) bought at Lee Valley Tools, is indispensable for mixing the thick, shaggy doughs that are a part of this process.

Over the last few years, I've picked up some really nice vintage Pyrex mixing bowls from the thrift store (for no more than $2 or $3 each).   They are the perfect size and material for soaking (I don't use metal).  I simply use a plate to cover the bowls instead of plastic wrap and I stack them up on the counter.  When I have more than one bowl soaking (be it grains, legumes or flour), I find it useful to write a little note on scrap paper and place it on top of the plate.  I have on more than one occasion forgotten what I was soaking and for what recipe, but with a note, I can keep track of what is ready for baking on what day (and at what time of day).   I simply scribble (usually with wet or doughy hands) "Jaime's sourdough, ready Thurs. am"  or "Lentils, ready Friday pm".

And this is a typical assortment of goodies soaking/fermenting on the counter (not usually all together, in one spot; I just did this for the picture).  Clockwise, starting at the back with the bright red raspberry water kefir, sourdough culture, chickpeas for falafel, steel cut oats and lentils.

I've also been on a quest to make homemade breakfast cereal.  Boxed cereal is CHOCK full of ingredients that I'd prefer we not eat, but some mornings are busy so I have missed having the convenience of a cold cereal to offer the family (especially in summer).  It's been a LONG time since I bought cereal so the family and I are THRILLED to report that we found a great and easy recipe for homemade cereal that is compatible with our preferred eating habits.  Although this cereal takes 2 days to make, the hands on time is very short and once you taste it, you will NEVER buy boxed cereal again!  The final end product is a 9x13 pan full of dried cereal that tastes absolutely delicious with milk and some dried fruit.  It's satisfying and filling, but not overly so.  You have to try it - it's THAT good!

So, that's what we've been up to over the last few weeks.  Remembering my Grandma, finding new routines and sharing some time in the kitchen :)  

I leave you with this parting shot of our "kitten" Tiger.  I think he likes to lay in front of the fire, don't you? 

Friday, 6 February 2015

RIP my beautiful Grandma

Marjorie Ellen  ~  1920-2015

After 3 days of hand holding and bedside reminiscing, we said our final goodbye to Grandma Marj on Sunday, February 1st.  We are so very sad, but find great comfort knowing that she is at long last, free of pain.  

"I love you...  a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck... "