I stopped eating bread about 8 years ago after my chiropractor mentioned I might be sensitive to wheat. You would think it would have been hard for me to let go of all bread products (especially croissants and other awesome pastries I would eat in Belgium), but I am the kind of person that either does something or not. So, I dove right in. At first, I ate gluten-free breads since I was used to having sandwiches for lunch (I mean what else could I eat on the go while in college?!). Then, I became raw vegan in May of 2007 (until 2012) and I let go of everything that was processed and refined. My diet consisted of nuts, veggies, and fruits for several years…but that is a story for another time. Let’s get back to bread.
I have recently been playing with Gluten-free Sourdough starters, since Taproot released the issue “Bread” last November. One of the first articles I read, was Tara Baker’s Gluten-Free & Sourdough: A heavenly Match. I learned so much about making sourdough starters from her. I attempted my first gluten-free sourdough starter shortly after reading her article but it never seemed to grow as much as she described. I did make her bagel recipe with the started but they didn’t rise much and were quite dense. Then in the spring, I started allover again with brown rice, water, and coconut milk kefir and within a week I had a strong bubbling starter. I used it to make her pizza recipe and fell in love with its taste and lightness.( Before trying this pizza crust, I would make nut based ones but they always felt so heavy in my stomach even though there were delicious).
Last week, I decided to make gluten-free sourdough bread after eyeing this recipe for a while: Gluten-free Sourdough Whole Grain Boule by Cultures for Health (my favorite source for any fermentation recipes and supplies). I let the dough rise for 12 hours, shaped it before going to bed and left the two loaves in the oven overnight. By morning, they had merged together and kinda deflated, so I re-kneaded them and reshaped them. I then let them sit at room temperature for 2 hours and baked them at 400 F for 35 minutes. I checked the inside temperature and it had reached the required 190 F. However, once we cut into the bread that night we realized that some of it was still moist. It still tasted wonderful in sandwiches, especially once toasted in the cast iron on high. It was nice to have bread for three days…I have realized that I really love that sour taste (I usually let my pizza crust dough rest for 3 days before baking it).
On Monday, we went and picked 2 1/2 gallons of muscadines at Weaver Berryland Farm located south of Atlanta. Every summer I drive down a few times to pick the variety of fruits they grow. The season starts with blueberries and blackberries, then figs, and finally muscadines. They also grow tomatoes, squash, okra and beans that they sell. We have also gotten pecans from them in the past.
While picking, I saw that some had dehydrated on the plant. I picked a few and fell in love with the flavor. So when we got home, I decided to dry some of them to recreate that better-than-raisins taste. And, guess what? it worked! Not only did they feel the house with a honey smell while drying but they also taste just like honey. I am so excited that I found a way to preserve them that we both enjoy.
Here is what we did:
cut muscadines in half and lay them on a tray (without the teflex sheet)
Set the dehydrator to 145F for 12 hours or until they fell plump like raisins
Let them cool and put them in glass containers. I am keeping mine out of the fridge since I think that enough moisture came out and they won’t mildew.
Ginger Beer on the left and root beer on the right (before I mix it with Jun)
One of the local farms has been selling ginger for the past month and every week I stock up on ginger. It is so good fresh! Since I have had an abundance of ginger, I started a Ginger Bug in order to make Ginger Beer (recipe from Wild Fermentation by Katz) and Root Beer. The last time I made Ginger Beer people were raving about it so I decided to make it again. This is the second time this month that I make a batch of Root Beer since it is pretty tasty. However, it taste a bit too concentrated by itself. So, I usually mix a glass bottle with half Root Beer and half Jun and let it ferment for at least a day. This way it is much more enjoyable and really tasty!
I bottled some Jun and made another batch. I let it ferment for longer than the 3 days (at least 10 days) she recommends because otherwise it is too sweet for my taste. Once it is bottled I let it sit at room temperature for a couple of days so it carbonates.
I got some pork belly ready to cure for a week in the fridge to make bacon. The recipe is from this cookbook. I have made bacon before using recipes I had found online. That bacon turned out good but I wanted to try something different. The only change I made to this recipe is that I used maple syrup instead of maple sugar.
I found some cabbages at the farmers markets this weekend so I made our favorite sauerkraut (shredded cabbage, sea salt and caraway seeds).
I decided to dig up some of our raspberries today since they are slowly rapidly spreading throughout the yard. As I was digging some of them, I accidentally broke off leaves from the root and instantly thought “I’ll just make some tea with them”. I also happened to dig up a dandelion (root and leaves) and picked some lemon balm. I made a decoction with the dandelion root and then added the fresh (roughly chopped) green tops and let it infuse for about 20 minutes (heat turned off).
Raspberry leaves are a great tonic for women and their reproductive system. While dandelion is an awesome tonic for the liver.