Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Eduard's Perfect Sourdough

Blessed with a variety of friends, I'm currently giving thanks for a particular few. After a quaint dinner gathering, the above mentioned left their generous mark on our house. Laura and Eduard arrived bearing a healthy serving of sourdough starter (bubbling and frothing in its jar), accompanied by a sack of locally grown and locally milled flour. Dana brought homegrown celery and zinnias, arranged in a bouquet, along with a jar of her homemade honeysuckle mead (if bees were mixologists, this would be their signature).
Each gift now has a devout follower, solidified by the fragrant celery gracing this evening's braised beef, sips of mead warming us in the cool Autumn evenings, and by today's first sourdough loaves.
Unlike celery and mead, the sourdough took some coaching from Eduard- sourdough extraordinaire. 
Here is his signature recipe, with which I had great success the first go-round:

Eduard's Perfect Sourdough:
Day one(evening): 2cups of flour
                          1/3cup of starter
                           1 1/4 cup of water (can be more)
                          1/4 cup of rye flour (up to you, I do not use it when I don't have it)
 Mix and cover with cling film. Let it sit overnight on the countertop.
Day two: 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour*
              4 cuips of bread flour*
              1/4 cup of rye flour*
              2 1/2 cups warm water*
              1 table spoon of salt
              2 cups of day one mix
              Optional: 1/2 cup sunflower seeds/ 1/2 cup of raisins/ walnuts/ almonds

*Mix  and let stand for 20 minutes

Add other ingredients and make in to a smooth dough.
Let it sit on the countertop.
Fold in 4 after 1 hour.
again fold after 1 hour, 
again fold after 1 hour.
Put in bread tins and let rise until just above rim
Bake at 450 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

* I added a shallow pan of water on bottom rack of  preheated oven to encourage flaky crust.
Serve warm with salted butter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lamb Meatball Stew with Russian Kale (GAPs)

Let me first give a shout out to all of you folks on the GAPs diet. A friend of mine and her family have been going strong for about 2 months, and have experienced health benefits yes, but not prior to tremendous lifestyle changes. This isn't the kind of diet you can pick up and decide to do on a whim. It requires deep conviction, commitment, and resolve to spend double (if not more) of your time in the kitchen.
Homemade bone broths and house made fermented foods are the foundation to most dishes, which, as most of you already know, does not happen on the fly. Zero funny business is tolerated. However, much of the GAPs diet principals are already staples here at our place. Bone broth is constantly simmering on the back burner, and grain laden dishes aren't generally center stage.
So, this flavorful recipe is for all of you rockin' it out GAPs style (and everyone else too). You should be commended for all your hard work!

Lamb Meatball Stew with Russian Kale:
*1 pound ground grass-fed lamb
*1 medium onion, chopped
*1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
*sea salt and pepper
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*2 carrots, chopped
*4 garlic cloves, minced
*2 cups loosely packed mushrooms of your choice, quartered
*2 tablespoons organic tomato paste
*1 cup dry red wine
*4 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth
*1 red chili pepper, minced
*2 bay leaves
*3 large Russian Kale leaves, stems removed, chopped

Prepare the meatballs: Place ground lamb in a medium mixing bowl. Mince 3 tablespoons of the chopped onion. Add to bowl with the parsley and cumin. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Gently mix into lamb with fork or clean hands. Roll 1 tablespoon lamb mixture into balls between palms. Transfer to a clean plate.
Place a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil. Once heated, place 1/3 of prepared meatballs in pan. Sear each side until golden, about 4 minutes each side (if you are on beginning stage of GAPs, make sure not to deeply brown). Remove from pot with a slotted spoon, and transfer to another plate. Continue working in batches browning meatballs until all are browned.

Add remaining onion, carrots, and mushrooms to pot with lamb juices. Allow to cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Add red wine. Allow to cook down and reduce slightly, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, chili, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer before adding meatballs. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Uncover and remove from heat. Stir in chopped kale. Allow hot liquid to wilt kale before dividing and serving.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Northeast Kingdom

A trip to Northern Vermont for a visit with family included plenty of memorable tastes: In order from top:

~Chocolates from Laughing Moon Chocolates in Stowe, handcrafted by my college roomie Anna. The picture is blurry due to overwhelming excitement. Almond and fleur de sel topped coconut truffles, peppermint patty truffles (my fave), caramel-peanut butter dark chocolate truffles, and house made s'mores.

~Geese flying over Wolcott pond.

~Chasing Rhode Island Reds.

~Piping hot homemade line-caught bluefish dip with capers and herbs, alongside a perfectly executed sourdough loaf, provided by my brother-in-law's bro, Matty. Wish I could have this everyday.

Not pictured: A lovely trip to Rock Art brewery's tasting taproom, where heady brews and local maple syrup were gathered and brought home. Countless garden inspired meals eaten outdoors overlooking the lake, the browning goldenrod and stray monarchs who missed the train to Mexico.

Alas, it is near time to come to grips with summer's fleeting company. I cannot think of a better place to do so.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Perhaps the World Ends Here

This poem was introduced to me a while back by my childhood friend Anna. It has remained a favorite since:

Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.