What Did I Do?

My sister Kim sent me a link a couple weeks ago to join the “Greatest Baker” competition…I have no idea what it’s about other than it benefits the No Hungry Kids Foundation and I’m all about that! So I swallowed hard and registered!

I’m pretty sure there’s no actual baking involved. So how would you know if I’m the “greatest baker?”….I have no idea!!!? 😂 I can 100% say that I definitely am not…but I’m a fan of new adventures. So lets give it a shot.

So please, take a moment, click the link below and go vote!

https://greatestbaker.com/2021/kristi-walker


It’s Muh Jam!

How is May here already?

I’m not even sure what happened…other than I felt like April was a complete hurricane of a month.

I can honestly say, I neglected Fernandough this month. He is alive and strong…but he was left to fend for himself some days. And that is totally ok. I left for a weekend getaway and fed him just before leaving…and sent him to the fridge for the weekend…with a hug and a kiss. Sometimes it’s ok to neglect your starter. The amazing thing about natural yeast…is it’s strong…and it can come back from almost anything.

He and I are back in the kitchen working today. A couple (4) artisan loaves are going and we kicked out some english muffins this morning. It will feel good to stock up my freezer and feed the ones I love.

TODAY THO….is all about jam. I saw strawberries in the store a couple weeks ago and knew the time was coming. CLAPPING!! I have been looking forward to making jam for a while now. There is something about homemade jam. It feels so ….well….homey. It’s so satisfying to see the jars of jam cooling on your counter….to hear those jars pop and seal…and to refill the shelves. Food. I can make food! I can be self sustaining and independent if I need to be. I don’t grow my own strawberries…but I could! I don’t grow my own wheat…but I could! But for now…I can fill my shelves and freezer and all of my cute pink 5 gallon buckets with food.

I am sharing my strawberry jam recipe…click here. So now you can have your own secret toast and jam!

Yes, I use real sugar. And I don’t skimp on it either. In my opinion, this is way better than what I can buy at the store. First, I know every single ingredient that goes into it…..second, I use high quality ingredients and everything is washed and clean….and third….it’s made with love. It’s basically the same recipe for every fruit except raspberries because they are gross and I refuse. I can’t even make that jam for my dad and he loves it. I just can’t bring myself to be victimized by raspberries in my own home. So you’ll have to go to Pinterest for any raspberry contamination.

I will snag apricots as soon as they are ready…and patiently wait for peaches through the summer…those are muh favorite jams!! I am fortunate to live in an area known for growing amazing delicious fruits and vegetables. I have so many memories of picking and eating warm fruit right off of a tree in the middle of an orchard. There is nothing better. My sisters and I picked cherries as our first teenage jobs, and the highway where I grew up is known as the “fruit highway” with many fruit stands along about a 12 mile stretch of road. I still drive there to this day to get my produce in the summer. It will always be home.

I’m so grateful for the earth…and for hard working farmers. I completely missed posting on Earth Day. Which was my plan…to dedicate a post specifically to her. But truthfully, every post is dedicated to her. Nothing I share could be without her! Every single day I see the EARTH! Promise me…that this week…you will take 1 full minute out of your day to look around you…out a window….stare at the birds……stand barefoot in the grass…really taste a strawberry…. and just be grateful.


Strawberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 4- 16 oz containers of fresh strawberries
  • 4 Tbs powdered pectin
  • 1/2 tsp Butter
  • 5 C pure cane sugar

Directions

  1. Wash strawberries and cut off stems.
  2. Place strawberries in a food processor and process until broken down but still chunky. Maybe 20-30 seconds is all. (you have to to this several times per batch)
  3. Add strawberries, pectin and butter to a large heavy pot, bring to a rolling boil, stirring frequently.
  4. Add sugar and bring again to a rolling boil.
  5. Cold plate test the jam and fill jars.
  6. Water bath jars for 15 minutes.

I was new to canning once too…and some of terms can be confusing….so I’m gonna explain.

Why do I add butter? Easy…it makes the jam less foamy after boiling…..and no one hates butter. You can definitely omit it from the recipe if you would like.

Rolling boil- basically the highest boiling point… meaning it keeps boiling even when you’re stirring. Don’t skimp out on the boiling times…this is what brings the amazing flavor out of the fruit and gives you the best consistency.

Cold plate test- While I’m making the jam, I place a small plate in my freezer. After the 2nd rolling boil, I take about a 1/2 tsp of jam and put it on the cold plate. If I can tilt the plate and the jam hardly moves…it’s ready to go! This is what helps keep the fruit chunks from floating to the top of the jam during the water bath. Better consistency of fruit chunks throughout the jam. Examples below.

Water bath- It’s literally just that. A bath to seal the jars for storage. You take the full jars, put a lid and ring on it (not over tightened) and lower them into a large pot of boiling water. Let the water come up over the jars about an inch. And let them boil for the allotted time. Remove from the water and let them sit on the counter until completely cooled before touching them. They will “pop” to tell you they’ve sealed. It’s music to your ears!

My best hint….to enjoy the process. Turn on your favorite music…smell all the smells….sneak a taste….and be present in creating. And set aside one jar for giving away!


English Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup (240 grams) Sourdough Starter
  • 2 Cups (488 grams) Whole Milk
  • 4 Cups (480 grams) Unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp (11 grams) Salt
  • 2 Tbs (42.5 grams) Honey

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients thoroughly together. It will be sticky.
  2. Cover bowl (not airtight) and let sit on the counter to proof for 8-10 hours. Let the yeast do its thing!
  3. Remove dough onto a generously floured surface.
  4. Roll out dough to a 3/4 inch thickness.
  5. Using a large biscuit cutter or glass (I use a 4 1/2″ cutter) cut out as many rounds as you can. (you can reuse and re-roll out the excess dough)
  6. On medium low heat, cook biscuits in butter for 6 minutes on each side.

HINTS:

  • You can cook these on any pan you choose, I use a cast iron skillet as it cooks more even for me. I let it preheat for at least 20 minutes before cooking. Adjust your cooking times to get the results you want. Every pan is different. Start with 6 minutes and go from there.
  • I use a frozen stick of butter to butter my skillet. Then I keep my stick of butter in the freezer while I cook the biscuits, then it doesn’t get all melty.
  • You can use any types of flour you choose. I usually do half white whole wheat and half khorasan flour. (Kamut)
  • Seriously… roll out to 3/4 inch thickness, if its too thin you will get thin biscuits. (its ok if they aren’t completely done inside….this fixes itself with toasting)
  • Fling the flour! You will need a bit to keep them from sticking…it will produce more uniform biscuits.
  • These freeze beautifully.

Dad’s Secret Toast and Jam

Have you seen the movie Nanny McPhee?

The part where the naughty children get sent to bed without dinner….and then they ask their maid for “secret toast and jam”.

My 80 year old VERY ACTIVE dad has had some tummy issues in recent years…and even though he knew that bread/wheat caused the issues to worsen….he always had “secret toast and jam” every night. I think he thought no one knew. But yet there was always bread and jam in the house for him. (His wife…my mother.. knows all of his secrets) She was buying him sprouted wheat bread from the store. And then he thought it was maybe the sugar causing issues…so he started asking my mom to buy sugar free jam.

It’s interesting how we don’t know…. what we don’t know.

There are good, better and best choices at the store for everything we buy. The sprouted wheat bread is probably better. And the sugar free jam is an absolute no go for me.

I started making him homemade jam and also making him sourdough bread and english muffins, for his nightly “secret toast and jam.” I knew the natural yeast could help heal his gut.

In my every so humble opinion, sugar free anything is harmful to the body and definitely to the gut. Artificial sweeteners cause a myriad of hormonal issues and gut issues. They disrupt the microbiome in your gut and affect hormone balance, blood sugars and brain clarity. I could go on… but I know you can do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

Sugar isn’t great either. There are better options. I use a lot of honey. BUT…having said that. I’d rather use natural cane sugar than a chemical. Good, better, best…right?

Another fact about sugar, if you balance your sugar intake (Jam) with a whole grain or natural yeast (sourdough bread) it will assist in balancing out your blood sugar and you won’t get sugar spikes. You can do this with anything…including fruits. Balance.

I used to say that I could balance out my Big Mac because it had lettuce on it…and let’s be real….french fries are vegetables too.

My Dad was resistant to the jam asking me to make some that was sugar free….and the answer was always…NOPE. “Dad, those chemicals used to make sugar free are worse for your body than real sugar…eventually you’ll see the difference.”

It’s getting that time of year that I will again be making jams and jellies. I don’t use full sugar amounts. But I do use it. I feel like it’s a better option than what I can buy at the store. And I also know what every single ingredient is that goes in it. Same with the bread I make.

It has taken some time…but guess who told me that he had noticed a difference in his tummy? That’s right…my Dad. I get text requests when there’s a bread or english muffin shortage at his house. I even make him his favorite dark chocolate almond nut clusters using only 2 ingredients….dark chocolate and almonds.

Even small differences in our daily food choices can make a big difference. I don’t think it’s realistic to make a 180 degree change from your normal lifestyle…but I do believe that you can make one change today….maybe another one tomorrow. Maybe that change is 4 Diet Cokes rather than 5. Maybe it’s a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a fried one. Maybe you buy organic jam rather than sugar free. Maybe you double your water intake today.

Maybe you start your own sourdough starter!!? Fernandough is my bestie…he’s been one of the funnest, most helpful journeys for me.

ANYWAY….I’m sharing the english muffin recipe with you today. Click here. And soon I’ll share my jam recipe faves with you!

Then you can have your own secret toast and jam! (Dad…it’s no longer a secret)


Mushroom Long Grain Rice (INSTANT POT) and….info about carbs.

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Long Grain Rice
  • 3 Cups Bone Broth (any flavor)
  • 1 lb sliced mushrooms (divided)
  • 1/2 C Butter (divided)
  • 1 bunch green onions (sliced)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Rinse and thoroughly drain rice. Add rice to instant pot.
  2. Add broth to cover rice.
  3. Add 1/2 of the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cook rice for 20 minutes, turn off instant pot and allow a natural release.
  5. While rice is cooking, melt 1/4 C butter in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook the other 1/2 mushrooms until golden brown. Set aside.
  6. Once natural release has finished, carefully open the lid and add 1/4 C butter and carefully toss until melted. Add browned mushrooms and sliced green onions. Mix and serve!

Long grain rice is the WHOLE grain of rice. Nothing has been removed from it. The bran and germ layers are left intact, (the most nutritious part) giving the rice a nutty, grainy flavor and a chewy bite. It also takes longer to cook than “normal” rice that you buy from the store….which is usually a medium or short grain rice. Nutritionally, long grain rice has so many health benefits. It has a lot of fiber, which helps to keep you feeling full. It has a lower glycemic index to help control blood sugars and excellent antioxidants for heart health.

I love long grain rice…I love the chewy, heartiness of it. Frank the dog likes it too! One thing I learned during many different roads of my health journey…was how much I craved rice and other whole grains. Not white sticky rice, or boil in a bag rice…but real rice. I think our bodies crave health. We also know what is good for us and what isn’t. The culture in our world right now is so anti-carb…and I don’t believe that’s real life. It’s not truth either. Carbs are fuel. Energy. Who here needs more energy? phhht.

Healthy, good carbs are meant to fuel us! I’m not talking about cold cereal and pop-tart carbs….I’m talking about grains. And potatoes. And beans. And fruit. Remember the food pyramid back in grade school? I think they were really on to something. And real butter? Ummm yes. Julia Child taught me a lot about butter…her love for it is something her and I share…because we are besties. I will talk about healthy fats another time.

I found these 2 nutritional posters while searching for the old fashioned food pyramid. They fascinated me! The one on the left is from the 50’s and the one on the right is from the 40’s. I feel like we’ve come full circle…or at least I have. In between these time frames and today….we have introduced mass processing and GMO foods…and most of all..convenience. All of the foods shown in the posters are natural, whole and healthy. No processed sugar, no fast food, no high fructose corn syrup. Hardly anything in the pictures are in cans…maybe some tuna and some fruits and veggies. It’s fresh REAL AND RAW food. I think I’m gonna choose it!

Maybe she’s crazy…maybe she just needs carbs. YOU. DON’T. KNOW.


Sourdough Granola

During my “trial and error” phase of bread making…I had a LOT of unused bread. This recipe helped me reduce the waste and create something that I love! Sometimes now, I will make a loaf just to cut it up and let it dry out for granola. Super versatile recipe. Make it what you love!

Ingredients

  • About 1 pound of stale, dry sourdough bread
  • 1/2 C Slivered almonds
  • 1/2 C Chopped hazelnuts
  • 3/4 C Puffed rice or puffed kamut
  • 1/4 C Chia seeds
  • 1/4 C Flax seeds or meal
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 C- 1 C Honey

Directions

  1. Run stale bread through a food processor until you have both fine and chunky crumbs
  2. In large bowl, mix all ingredients until honey is well distributed and everything is coated evenly.
  3. Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  4. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes. (Stir granola every 10 minutes while baking)
  5. After 30 minutes baking time, let granola sit undisturbed until completely cool. Break up and store in an airtight container.

You can add whatever ingredients you like to this recipe. Add the nut varieties you love! I have added oats, muesli, dried fruits, etc. Just make sure you add enough honey to coat evenly. If you want yours more chunky or sticky, add more honey…if you want it more dry and crumbly…add less! It’s heavenly with some yogurt and fruit, or even pour a little milk over it and warm it up.


Me.

So me. I’m Kristi.
A girl with big dreams, big creativity, a big heart… just overall big. I’ve struggled with weight my whole life.. as long as I can remember I was always different physically from my 4 beautiful sisters. I never understood why. Until now.
I’ve tried SO many ways to be healthier and to lose weight… be “normal”… and until I surrendered to the fact that the earth… and my mind… provide everything I need to be healthy…. it wasn’t possible for me to achieve.
Had I not been “different” I would have never searched for these truths. I’ll never be “normal” and it might just be my best darn quality.


In my ever so humble opinion, no diet or food plan will ever work with restriction of natural foods from the earth. That is truth for me. For ME. Maybe not others. But for me.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching wheat. And I love what I see…and what I feel. Wheat is AMAZING! I think I love it. I’m certainly not an expert on the subject yet but I’m learning and it’s working.

I love to cook….I always have. I have very early memories making cream puffs out of the Betty Crocker cookbook with homemade pastry cream….. and they were good! I would read the cookbooks from cover to cover (I still do) and I always wanted Julia Child to be my best friend. I’ve always been a “foodie”. I’m drawn to foods, I serve others with food, I love to gather with food. I watch a crap ton of food shows, there isn’t a recipe out there that I won’t try and I love to learn about unusual foods and cultures. Always try something you’ve never tried before. You never know what you’re missing out on!!

The difference for me right now is that everything I am cooking is with “earth” foods. Foods from the earth! Grains, fruits, veggies, meat, dairy, eggs, spices….All of it! I am checking ingredients more….making “good, better, best” decisions on what I am choosing and every single weekend I am filling my freezer with sourdough bread, muffins, english muffins and usually a batch of granola. (Most of it goes elsewhere!)

I hope you enjoy what I share. I’m always up for suggestions. The focus for my blog will be:

  • Health- It’s always the quest right?
  • Recipes- ALL SORTS! I love trying new things, easy and hard!
  • Videos- I’m a visual person. When I see someone do something, then I can do it! Maybe you are too?
  • Information- Why do we do the things we do? Because of information we have! You don’t know what you don’t know.
  • Happiness- It’s the key to surviving for me. A grateful, happy heart solves everything.
  • Humor- I think I’m hilarious

Things I don’t love…..blogs that make you read the “reason” behind the recipe. Before you can see the recipe. Just give me the flippin’ recipe! I don’t wanna read about Nana’s trip from the motherland and the recipe was passed down through the decks of the Titanic….I mean I love your Nana…..but sometimes a girl just needs to quickly see what ingredients she needs ok? So I promise my recipes will just be recipes. Nana free.

One more thing you should probably know about me…from a cooking perspective it doesn’t make much sense…but I guess it makes me, me? Kristi can’t handle any type of wood products. There it is. My kryptonite. Wood. I’ll run from you. I don’t use a wooden rolling pin. (I have one that is wooden but it has plastic handles) Toothpicks? Nope. Skewers? Boo. I struggle with envelopes and I get sweaty and lightheaded when I get a paper cut. I DO have some bamboo spoons but they have a paint coating on the handle. I also have one knife passed down to me from my Aunt Cleo that I cherish…it has a wooden handle but for some reason I can handle that one. It’s really smooth I guess. I get gifts of wooden spoons or cutting boards all the time and I try really really hard to use them. But in the end….it’s a no from me dawg.

Things I LOVE!! I love to travel, I love football, I love my tiny dog Frank, I love music, I love where I live, I love my job, I love snow, I love freedom, I love Jesus, I love clean sheets and the smell of fresh pine trees, I love spending time with my children, with my 4 best friend sisters and my amazing parents. I’ll introduce you to them next!!


FERNANDOUGH

He’s basically the star of the show right now. I wish I was joking when I said we are in a relationship… it’s pretty serious. I love checking on him every morning….”look at you sir!!” “you are so bubbly and happy this morning!” “you’re doing such a good job… all rising and stuff!!” “you smell terrific!!”

I’m so proud of him. He is strong, active and reliable. He’s a workhorse really…. I get great results with him. We get each other….when I am consistent with him…and he is consistent for me. He lives in my microwave, this is a safe space for him. Draft free and consistent temperatures. I feed him daily. Some people keep theirs in their fridge…and feed less. And that works too! It’s all about what you want!

What even is sourdough starter? Basically it’s a natural leavening (yeast) made from fermented flour and water. It’s been used for centuries to make bread. But it has been found to be SO HEALTHY….and can do SO MUCH MORE! It’s quite the adventure.

I started this sourdough journey this past year right after COVID hit. Trying to be self sufficient and also working on my own gut health. This is where the path started. I created Fernandough from scratch on my own….it wasn’t pretty. It was hell if I’m honest. I didn’t know what I was doing and MANY times I thought I had killed it or I “wasn’t doing it right”….nothing was happening!! The truth of what I have learned so far is that there’s no right way to do sourdough. There’s just YOUR WAY.

Natural “wild” yeast is found all around us. In our environment. And basically, we trap it in a jar. That in itself is fascinating to me. So your starter won’t be the same as mine. Even if I sent you some Fernandough…(which I can do!) it would adapt to your environment and become YOUR starter. My humidity level is different than yours, my water is different than yours, our flour is most likely different. It’s ALL different. So yours is perfect for you and mine is perfect for me. So no starter envy ok?

I have posted “how to make a starter” videos on Instagram and Facebook, (I will post videos here eventually) that take you step by step for the first few days and then everyday after… after you see bubbles… is basically the same to care for it daily. Unless you’re building your starter amount up for baking days. I’m trying my best to keep things simple and easy to understand…which is what I wanted when I started. So hopefully it doesn’t feel overwhelming….because it can easily feel that way. I promise….overall it’s very simple. Sometimes….it’s time consuming and messy… sometimes what I make ends up in the trash. But keep trying! Eventually you get something that comes out of the oven that blows your own mind! I MADE THAT!

Not everything on this blog will be made using sourdough starter….I love cooking with all the earthy things!! But lets just clear up one thing… shall we? Sourdough starter…isn’t sour. When people hear the word “sourdough” they think of the typical sourdough bread with a sour twang….that is not sourdough starter. (there are ways to make it twangy if you want) I actually prefer the term “natural yeast” and use that frequently…just because it gives the correct context of what we are using. It’s fermented yeast that has been used for centuries to make bread! It can be used it SO many things! Any recipe that calls for flour and water can have natural yeast added to it!

Just a few health benefits from using natural yeast:

  • It breaks down enzymes in grains and maximizes natural vitamins, minerals and fiber…all while converting the grain into an easily digestible food.
  • Reduces blood sugar spikes
  • It’s both a pre-biotic and a pro-biotic (there is 5 billion pro-biotic cultures in 1 teaspoon!)
  • Natural yeast slows digestion so you feel fuller longer
  • It lowers your glycemic response to carbs
  • It can help reduce heartburn and reflux
  • It can reduce inflammation in the gut
  • And so many other health benefits!

Creating and keeping a natural yeast starter is time consuming…..it’s messy….it’s not convenient…it’s a commitment….but aren’t you worth all of that? I think so.

I have SO enjoyed getting back to the basics of cooking, of creating and SLOWING THINGS DOWN. It was what I needed at that time…and it awakened me in ways I didn’t even know existed. All day to make bread? Why is this fun?

The truth of the matter is that out of the hours it takes to make 2 loaves of bread….you are literally only hands on for maybe just a few minutes of that time. You are letting the yeast do it’s job and allowing the magic to happen within your creation. So timing really is everything. On work days…I wake up early and it takes MAYBE 10 minutes to get an english muffin dough or Everything muffin batter going. I head out the door and 8-10 hours later it’s ready to go! On my bread baking days… usually Sunday…. I get one batch of dough going in the morning…..and then 2 hours later I get another batch going. That will give me 4 staggered loaves for the day. Its basically just a little preparing the day before to build up your starter….and then cooking day I set a bunch of timers because I’m old and I forget what I’m doing. Where am I?

p.s. If you want some Fernandough…I have learned how to dehydrate him and send him safely to your house! For $10, it comes with 3 Tbsp of Fernandough flakes, directions for how to revive him, some of my favorite recipes….and a whole lotta love. You can contact me at kristis.kitchen5@gmail.com or on any of my social media accounts. My social media links are here —–> Facebook or Instagram.