Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sourdough 3 and 4

Round three I used the starters as half flour/half water in a grandmother bread recipe. Along with the commercial yeast they turned out ok, almost like regular grandmother bread, but with a bit of a spongier crust.

I fed the starters, and I saved an additional Dawson starter with commercial yeast in it.  While that's not ideal, I was curious to see if I could keep the commercial yeast alive in this way. 

I tucked the three jars up in the cupboard, and discovered an explosion the next day.  The potato mother definitely doubled.  Progress.

Round four I had planned to follow directions with all three starters, but I had almost no bubbling in any of the three in the pancake phase.  The potato mother surprised me most of all.  Since I knew it had doubled, I expected it to be ready to use.  Then I thought maybe the yeast was the part I had cleaned up off the cupboard.

I decided to cheat, just a little.  Just before mixing in the remaining flour, I added a teaspoon of old yeast, from a jar that I had stopped using over a year ago because my bread wasn't rising properly.  I was hoping it would give them enough of a boost to make edible bread.
The results-

The Dawson bread was gooey on the inside with playdough smell.  Bird food.

The Dawson with commercial yeast- edible, but has an odd aftertaste.

The potato mother bread is edible, nice holes forming inside, but the top of the loaves all cracked.  I probably should have left it alone to do it's thing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dawson Round Two

Two more loaves of Dawson City Sourdough bread. I should really rename this, since my flour, water and free ranging yeast have never been anywhere near Dawson City. But, the experiment continues.
This time the yeast was more active, bubbling within minutes of mixing the batch.  It didn't seem to rise while in the 'pancake mix' phase, but after adding the remaining flour, there was noticeable rise on the second phase.  Punching down doesn't feel like it's releasing any gasses yet.  The dough is still very heavy.  Third rise- in the bread pans- it did almost double.  It probably would have, but I was tired so I baked it and went to bed.  It doesn't taste as much like playdough this time, but still bird food.

I refilled the 'dirty' jar with 1 Cup of flour, 1 Cup of water.
This morning there's already a thin layer of alcohol.  The others aren't bubbling, and the only noticeable change is that the raisins look like they may be developing some mold.  Today is Day 7 for the yeast waters, but I think I'll just leave them sit awhile yet, until some bubbling occurs or they start looking too nasty to use.

First bake with the Potato Mother.
The starter was very active and quick to bubble.  The first rise was almost non-existant.  The second rise was almost double, and you can see some nice air pockets in the loaf.  However- it tastes like playdough.  More bird food.

I'll try these again on Friday.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Captured Yeast Update

My house is fairly cool this time of year- one of the joys of heating with wood, but not yet really cold enough to really heat with wood.  Keeping the fire from sweltering us out is a balancing act that usually leaves us with 3-4 hours in the night with no fire at all.  As a result, my kitchen cools off in the night, and my yeast experiments are probably moving a bit slower than in a house with more stable temperatures.

However, they are moving.

The Dawson City Sourdough Bread is the first in the oven.
I started the starter last Wednesday, and three days later there was a faint, but pleasant smell, evidence of bubbling, and a pale yellow layer of alcohol. I mixed the batter and left it to rise and double.  There wasn't enough starter to follow the recipe exactly, only 1.5 cups.  I added another cup of flour and another cup of water to my 'dirty' starter jar to begin again.

I waited all day, and the mixture did bubble, but it never doubled.  I left it overnight.  Sunday morning it looked bigger, not doubled, but bigger.  I proceeded with adding more flour, and waiting again.  It looked like it had risen a bit by the end of the day, and I attempted to punch it down.  It really didn't move.  It was a cold, heavy mass.  I rolled it out anyway, and put it into loaf pans.  I left it to rise overnight.

This morning it didn't look like it had risen at all, and I popped it in the oven to bake for the birds.  And there before my disbelieving eyes, it rose.
However, it smells and tastes like playdough.  I hope the birds like it.

Next up, the mother of potato starter- that's what I'm calling it. 
I started this one on Friday morning.  It's been bubbling along nicely on the kitchen table.  This morning it had a clear layer of liquid- presumably alcohol.  I added a cup of flour to wake it up.  It started bubbling up again within minutes. It's now mixed and fed, so I wait for it to rise.

I started another potato starter on Friday morning as well.  It's the yeast starter 1, halfway down the page.
It's in the cupboard with the yeast water and Dawson starter.  Left- raisin yeast water- cloudy, raisins floating, no bubbles.  Middle- tea yeast water- cloudy, floating, no bubbles.  Right- potato yeast water- cloudy, settled on the bottom, no bubbles.
Left- tea again.  Middle- Dawson City sourdough starter part two- with a layer of alcohol already forming.  Right- pine (spruce) needle yeast water- clear, half floating, half settled, no bubbles.

There is a pleasant, fruity smell when I open the cupboard, although it's not strong enough to say which jar is the cause.  These aren't supposed to be ready until Wednesday or so.

The Dawson City Starter, fed on Saturday, should be ready for another go on Tuesday.  The Mother of Potato Starter should be ready to try again on Thursday.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pine Needle Tea

These are the pines on the edge of our drive.  I'm not sure what type they are.

They have short needles.  I trimmed some off with a pair of scissors, and after just a few snips I was both breathing easier and ready to sneeze.  Pines cause me terrible seasonal allergies when the cones open in the spring.

 I put them into my tea ball and gave them a rinse.  Should have taken the picture before rinsing, as half of them stuck to the top of the ball and settled on the edges and I had to fart around with them to get it to close properly afterward.
And of course, I'm not likely to start following directions today, so the tea ball went into my current pot of tea to steep and blend.

10 minutes later, I am drinking my first cup.  It's a Red Rose, Pomegranate White, pine needle blend today.  I don't notice a strong pine taste- not that I know what pine actually tastes like, but it doesn't taste like pine needles smell.  It does seem to have masked the pomegranate though, so I have a cup of tea that essentially just tastes like Red Rose, with maybe a bit of something...  that I can't quite place.

An interesting link: 
The Health Benefits of Pine Needle Tea

Other websites claim that pine needle tea may have up to 5 times as much vitamin C as an orange, but amounts and flavour may vary between species.  Sources claim rose hips have 426 mg per 100g, oranges 50 mg, and 5 times that puts pine needles at 250mg per 100g.  Pine needles have the added bonus of being available year round, thereby not losing any vitamin content to storage.

Halfway through my cup of tea, I'm noticing a bit of an after taste.  It's not entirely unpleasant, but noticeable. 

A funny little aside though, if you happen to look at the chart, how did oranges become so famous as 'THE' source for vitamin C? They're relatively low, trailing behind strawberries, elderberries, broccoli and brussels sprouts.  Marketing?

Another link, with tea remedy recipes:
Pine-Needle Tea

My second cup of tea, after steeping nearly 40 minutes, the taste of 'something else' has gotten a bit stronger.  I'm going to assume that is indeed the flavour of the pine.  My tongue feels a little odd , kind of coated.  The after taste is gone.  or not noticeable now.  My nose feels clear, though my sinuses are still compacted.  It'll be interesting to see if they drain today.

#4 has his first cup of tea, and I told him I put something different in it, but I didn't tell him what.  His opinion- it tastes the same as normal.  Since he's never had the pomegranate before (a bonus tea bag from Timmy's the last time I was out), I assume he's getting the same counter active effect I experienced.  

(Notice how I linked that for the non-Canadians?  If you tell your friend's you're going to Timmy's and no one asks Timmy WHO?  You just might be Canadian, lol!)

Ew- this might be too much info- I just horked up a big gob of slime.  And I haven't even been coughing or feeling any chest congestion.    I may have to make this a part of my routine.

Anyone else brave enough to try it? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Yeast Water

Further research led me to this site:
Original Yeast Water

More information on this method is hard to come by, though I did find a sourdough forum with some discussion about it.  It appears to be another ancient method of capturing yeast, possibly from or common in Japan.

Yeast water.  Could it be that simple?  

Experimentation:  I started one jar with raisins, one with a blueberry pomegranate tea bag, and one with pine needles.  I added 2 tablespoons of sugar to each.

The link says 6-7 days in winter, so hopefully I'll be baking up a storm next week. 

Sourdough Starter

Because kymber told me to...
This time I'm following the very, very simple instructions found here for Dawson City sourdough starter and sourdough bread.

Very, very simple- equal parts flour and blood warm water.  I started it this morning with 1 cup of each.  It's in the cupboard above the fridge- the most likely spot to stay warm overnight.  Wish me luck.

Of course, before I could put it in the cupboard, I had to remove my previous attempt...

It's been in there for close to a year.  I had given up on it at the time, but looking at it today I think I must have achieved some degree of success, despite never actually seeing it bubble.

It smelled atrocious but wasn't growing new life forms, which leads me to think that there must have been some kind of established life present before I completely neglected it.

I stirred it up before tossing it, and while the smell was not pleasant, it wasn't that bad either.  Interesting.

Last time I read a bunch of websites, instructions, recipes.  This time I'm going to follow KISS.  If the miners could do it on the side of a mountain, surely I can create something edible in my own kitchen.  Right?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Edible Weeds

A list of common, edible weeds, by request, as it relates to my ongoing fictional survival story.  This is what I have used/planned.  There are probably a million other edible weeds/recipes, and certainly lots of things that don't grow in my area, so google away for more ideas/info.

 All parts are edible.
Leaves may be used for salad, like lettuce, or cooked as greens, like spinach.  Less bitter in early season.
Buds are excellent in soups and stews, easy to blanch and freeze.
Flowers may be battered and fried as fritters (one egg, one cup milk, one cup of flour, mix well.) Excellent with jam or syrop.
Dandelion Fritters
Flowers may be used to make dandelion syrop. (Pick and wash flowers.  Separate flower petals from green base and put in pot.  Add 4 Cups water.  Boil, reduce heat, simmer, covered, 1 hour.  Remove from heat.  Steep overnight.  Drain and save liquid.  Discard flowers.  Add 2 Cups sugar.  Boil, reduce heat, simmer until desired consistency.  BWB 10 minutes.)
Roots are used for coffee/tea.  (Trim and wash, wash, wash, then wash again.  Chop/dice/grind roots into little pieces.  Spread on cookie sheets.  Bake @ 250°F 2 hours or until coffee coloured.)  I add a half cup or so to each new can of coffee I open and mix it in, then make coffee as normal.  Can be steeped for tea by themselves, or added to other tea ingredients.  I make a pot of tea with one tea bag and herbs.  Better instructions and recipes here.


Leaves in salad or cooked like spinach.  I find them tough and bitter, but that could be my soil.  Excellent as a poultice for cuts and scrapes. 
Seeds can be ground for flour.
Seeds as rice- I just learned this today.

Entire plant is edible.
Fall- Roots (Rhizomes)- as flour/starch.  (Dig, wash, peel, smash, soak in water overnight.  Drain off water and floaties.  Spread and dry.)
Spring- Stalks- like asparagus.  (Pull, wash, cook white portion and tender green parts at base).
Summer- Flower head- while still green, like corn on the cob.
Pollen- flour in the spring.  (Shake into paper bag).

Wild Carrot- use root like carrot.  Make sure you can tell the difference between wild carrot and poison hemlock before attempting these.

Clover- Best when tender in the spring.  Eat leaves raw, in salad, or cooked like spinach. 
Flowers can be used to flavour drinks.

Leaves and Stems in salads, or cooked as a side dish.  Good in soups and stews.

Stems and Leaves- in salads, omelettes, soups and stews.

Fiddleheads- Early Spring- pick, wash and steam or boil.  Good with butter and salt, as a side dish.

Other Ideas

10 edible weeds to enjoy from the garden

Surviving in the Wild: 19 Common Edible Plants

Free Food in Your Yard: Edible Weeds!

Edible Weeds

Wild Edible Plants of Quebec

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tallow Candles

Super simple, nearly free lighting.  I bought these little juice glasses at a thrift store.  The larger one is from an old wax candle that was used up.
The wicks are just cotton string from the dollar store, tied to an old nut on the bottom end, dipped in melted tallow and then left to stiffen up.
I added a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of cinnamon to the tallow before pouring.  I can't say as it makes any difference.  I really don't smell anything as they burn.

Like all candles in a jar, they are self drowning.  Not a big deal, it just means I need to keep another jar handy to pour off the liquid.

Today should be the last day in the oven for the beef fat.  Most of the cracklings have stiffened up already, and I've started feeding them to the dogs and birds.  I have 4 quarts of tallow, plus the candles, and I expect I'll get one more quart by the end of the day.