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.


The BLAH’s

I was really feeling BLAH this week.

I think we are all feeling BLAH. It seemed like everyone I talked to this week…..”I’m feeling BLAH.”….”yeah me too.”

And you know what? It’s ok. We’ve all been through a lot this year…it’s ok to not feel ok!

I was trying to decide what to post today…and I ended up deciding to post BLAH!

It’s Sunday…so I got up this morning… turned on my favorite Sunday music….started some bread dough and some English muffin dough. And decided that I needed some help getting me out of the BLAH’S. So today…it was about the earth for me. I caught a glimpse of the Wellsvilles (a mountain range where I live) as the sun was coming up…still covered in snow, they were glowing and beautiful. I just stared….and took it in. I wish I would have taken a picture… but I didn’t know I was gonna post this today…and I was too busy just staring.

I love the earth. I love her. I have so much gratitude for her. Have you ever stopped to think about what she really does for us? She freely provides everything we need…..she has impeccable timing and she’s more than reliable. She never stops giving. Her beauty is unmatched….and I literally could find something new every single day that I haven’t seen before. Sometimes if we will just take a few minutes to really look….she will heal us. Mentally and physically by what she gives. She brings us joy…. gives a smile… shows us hope …..puts light where there is none….not to mention the nutrition she provides. She must be exhausted! Just having those thoughts today brought me an unexplainable amount of gratitude for her. Which in turn lifted my BLAH’s.

The truth in baking gives me comfort. The laws of it. If I use a certain ingredient and mix or cook it a certain way…it has to become what has to become. It’s a law! So I know when I grind wheat berries….I’ll get flour. And I know that when I add natural yeast with that flour and some water…a little salt…give it some time. It will rise. And I will get bread. It has to! It’s a law! That brings comfort and satisfaction to me.

Today was a great baking day. I felt a little more connected to Fernandough…. to his creation. To the ingredients. Putting everything in the bowl. Getting my hands in there and feeling the consistency…the stickiness….the ingredients coming together. Becoming what they have to become. When I pulled these hot babies from the oven….my heart felt so full. Like the earth had said, “Thank you for thinking of me today”.

Sometimes just finding a little something to be grateful for…can take away the BLAH’s. Plus you get some beautiful, delicious bread as a result.

BAKE ON!

BAKE ON!


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.


Bread Overload

There’s a lot of bread that can come from the trial and error of sourdough breadmaking. Like a LOT.

Sourdough in reality isn’t a “type” of bread….its a process. And it’s different for everyone.

Each recipe takes time to perfect. You will get good and bad results. It’s part of the learning curve and to be honest…. I love the figuring out part. I learn something new every.single.time. Everyone’s oven temperature is different. Everyone’s humidity level is different. Everyone’s natural yeast starter is different. Recipes are awesome…but they are just a base line of where to start. You have to adjust and fine tune that recipe to become YOUR recipe and get the results that YOU want. I take a lot of notes!

These particular loaves came from a new recipe I found. Honey and Molasses Whole Wheat. I love the idea of this type of bread….I could tell right off the bat that the dough wasn’t right. It was too dry and dense, and wouldn’t rise much during the 2nd rise. I knew it probably wouldn’t give me the results I wanted but we push through anyway right!? I will make adjustments the next time I make this…and I know I’ll get some beautiful, delicious and healthy bread as the result.

I never stress about baking results…because I know I have use for the bread regardless. Even the “whoops” loaves have nutritional value to them. All of the goodness and health benefits are still jam packed in those ugly, doughy, burnt, dry, learning loaves! And I know I can make other things that I love from my whoopsie loaves.

What to do with all of that extra bread? Here are some ideas!

  • Granola
  • French Toast
  • Bruschetta
  • Bread Pudding
  • Breakfast Strata
  • Stuffing
  • Croutons

Recipes are forthcoming!!

Bake on!!


Artisan Sourdough Bread

This is the recipe I started with. I found it was the simplest and most consistent one for me. A crusty outside, chewy inside. It does not taste like “sourdough”. Every single loaf is different, weird shapes and scoring…. the uglier the better! You literally can’t go wrong. Give it a try! (I will be adding a video soon of the entire process)

Ingredients

  • 2 C (480 grams) Sourdough Starter (Natural Yeast)
  • 5 C (625 grams) Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3/4 C (90 grams) Brown Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 3/4 C-2C (420-480 grams) Filtered Room Temperature Water
  • 2 1/2 (14 grams) tsp salt

Directions

  1. In a large glass bowl, combine all ingredients except the salt. Mix well until all of the flour is moistened to form a soft, tacky dough. (Sourdough is sticky… this is normal. It won’t feel like smooth soft, dry dough) Cover and let rest for 20 minutes so the flour can absorb the water. (You can use a mixer or hand mix it)
  2. Add the salt, knead the dough until it’s smooth, about 5 minutes. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  3. Inside the bowl, pinch one side underneath the dough and pull (fold) to the other side. Turn 1/4 turn and repeat. Repeat this about 8 times until the dough has been completely folded. Cover and let rise for another hour.
  4. Turn out the dough and divide in half. Gently shape into 2 rounds by turning the dough in circles while the bottom continues to touch the counter (like a steering wheel) to create tension on the surface of your dough. Tension is what makes your loaf stand tall and proud.
  5. Place each round into a floured banneton bowl or into a lightly greased bowl. (There are so many ways to do this last rise….with good tension, you can even just place it on some parchment to rise without a form) Cover and let rise until light and airy. About 2-3 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 450° (with dutch oven or baking stone inside). Gently turn loaves onto parchment, score them with a sharp knife or lame, (have fun with that part!!) and carefully lift or slide parchment into the dutch oven or onto the baking stone.
  7. If using a dutch oven, bake with the lid on for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and bake an additional 20 minutes.
  8. If using a baking stone or baking sheet, place a pan of boiling water inside of the oven, and bake bread for 40 minutes.

My favorite way to eat sourdough like this….is avocado toast! It’s AMAZ-ZA-ZING!! It makes incredible grilled cheese sandwiches, dipped in olive oil and balsamic, and is just delightful as a slice with plain ‘ol butter. ENJOY!!


Sisters and Sunday baking

Every year, we have a Birthday Sister celebration in or around February. 3 of the 5 sisters have Birthdays in February. Amie, Annie and myself! So the other two, Keri and Kim…always are sweet enough to plan and spoil us for our special days. They never tell us what they have planned, it’s always a secret until the we “get there”. They get pretty creative sometimes. They tell us what to pack and what type of clothing to wear… and give hints like “be sure to shave your legs” or “bring pepper spray”….you know….just casual things. It’s always been a favorite occasion!

This weekend was our sister birthday event! (Sadly Annie couldn’t make it this year and she was SORELY missed) It was lovely and it’s always cherished. We spent the night at Kim’s house, we baked pizzas on a pizza stone (sourdough crust of course!) we watched a movie, and stayed up late talking and giggling for hours. When we went to bed, on our pillow….Amie and I found a cute pair of socks tied with some “birthday money” for the next day! Still no idea what the plan was.

The next morning, Keri woke up with a headache…not sure why….ok…I do know…apparently it was my fault..I sleep with “white noise” and I guess it didn’t work out so great for her. I slept GREAT!! I SAID I WAS SORRY! lol

Kim’s husband made us all the most delicious birthday omelettes for breakfast. Delightful, full of veggies and cheese and yumminess. We got ready…and headed out the door for our big adventure! After almost dying on the freeway twice (Kim) we arrived to our destination….A DAY OF SHOPPING!!! At all of our favorite places. The first place we went to was a kitchen supply store. It was HEAVEN! We walked around browsed forever. And yes….I did need another set of measuring cups and spoons.

We left there and went book shopping…this was also enjoyable. We found a book for Annie that we felt we needed to add to her birthday sock/money that we would drop off to her on her way home. Can’t forget Annie!!

The next stop was a favorite! Redmonds! A small market…I would say they are best known for their salt… mined in Utah. Unrefined, unprocessed salt, full of minerals….I love it! I love cooking and baking with it. Salt from mine to table. You can decide for yourself here. (I don’t get paid for promoting them…I just really believe in their product) Actually, I love all of their products.

The best part of the day you ask??? LUNCH FOR SURE!! We went to a The Dodo and it was amazeballs. It was a hoppin place with a fun environment, and really good food. I had never been there before. Our lunches were perfect, delicious and we were stuffed. We spent our lunch planning our upcoming sister vacation in February 2022. It’s gonna be a big fat one!

I left that day feeling lighter, and with a soul that had been fed. So incredibly grateful for these sisters of mine. I truly love them!!

Today is Sunday! And that means it’s a baking day. Fernandough is working a full day!! Today is 2 loaves of artisan bread, and 2 loaves of sandwich bread…plus one batch of granola. I learned a thing today!!! So I will share….kneading with a wet surface rather that a floured surface is WAY easier. It kinda blew my mind!! This mainly applies for “brown” whole wheat recipes. In my sandwich bread recipe (the smooth dough below)…I use half white whole wheat and half brown whole wheat. But I LOVED LEARNING THAT! I think wheat and flour teach me something new every single day.

I use the terms “white” and “brown” flour just because all of the flour I use is whole wheat. I used to think that brown flour was the only kind of whole wheat flour. Whole wheat means that the WHOLE “kernal” or “berry” has been used when ground. The color differs by the type of wheat used. So there is both brown whole wheat and white whole wheat flours!

I’ll be posting on flour soon!! Simplifying all of the terms and types etc. RECIPES COMING SOON! (if you want something specific right now, please message me!) Have I mentioned I love wheat?