Search This Blog

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sourdough Aftermath

After nearly a week of fermenting the batter, I baked my first loaf of sourdough bread. The results were...interesting. I should probably mention that this was my first ever loaf of bread made without use of any sort of machine. Hand-kneaded, all that. I had almost no clue what I was doing. To some degree, the finished product reflects that.

Well, the bottom exploded. Some time during the baking process, the inside expanded faster than the outside, and it forced its way out the bottom. I attribute this to not scoring the top of the loaf, and not covering it properly when it was rising, causing it to dry out.

So the final loaf looks kinda funky. It's odd, uneven, and, well, the bottom freaking exploded. But what really matters is taste, right?

I carved off a hunk and bit into it. The sour flavor is there...but not as strong as I had hoped. What I have is really more of a cross between french bread and sourdough. As far as texture goes, it is rather pleasant. The inside is nice and soft, and the crust is thin and tasty. I sent off for a sourdough starter from Friends of Carl a few days ago, so when it arrives, I'll run a comparison. In addition, I'll make a new starter and cut out the addition of commercial yeast, in the hopes that I'll end up with more of a "true" sourdough flavor.

Overall, I'm going to call this little experiment of mine a success. As far as first attempts go, this could have turned out much worse. And hey, the loaf may be kinda funky, but it still makes a damn tasty bread bowl.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Back at Last

*brushes off the dust and cobwebs*

I'm finally back. Last week turned out to have three tests and a quiz. =( On the plus side, I think they went quite well. Seeing as how there's a three day weekend ahead, I'll have time to update with content, and respond to all you fine folks still following me. Thank you for your patience.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sourdough from Scratch

Hey guys, sorry I haven't been keeping up much lately. School is getting hectic, but it should be calming down again soon.

Last Christmas, my mom got me a loaf of uncut sourdough bread and some clam chowder. She explained how to make a bread bowl, and after taking my first bite, I fell in love with it. Since then, I can't find any unsliced sourdough locally, so I'm making my own.

The general concept is to start by catching and fermenting wild yeast in a water/flour sort of paste. I added in a little bit of commercial yeast just to kick-start the process, and so far, it has a nice sort of beery smell wafting off of it. I fed the goop this morning with fresh flour and water. It's very similar to the Amish friendship bread starter, all in all. It will be interesting to watch it develop further.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

Changing gears for just a moment to talk about NaNoWriMo. In the month of November, the challenge is to write 50,000 words or more in just 30 days. I took this challenge two years ago, and won. I ended up charging in with no plan; only a loose concept. The finished product reflected that greatly. Yesteryear, I was forced to sit out, due to college work and whatnot, as well as no idea what to write. But this year, I've got a plan, and I'm gonna beat the challenge once more.

Any other Wrimos out there?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Few Simple Treats

Ah, I'm running out of dinner nommables, so here are some (tried, tested, and approved) quick and easy desserts!

Orange Hot Chocolate:
Take any packet of your favorite hot cocoa mix, and add in a couple drops of orange extract (from any grocery store). Very good with warm toast for dipping.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Search for the Ultimate Philly Cheese Steak

A few years ago, I discovered the wonder-sandwich known as the Philadelphia Cheese Steak. This sandwich is made up purely of awesome and win, stuffed inside a hoagie bun. Since I found it, I've been searching for the tastiest goddamn cheese steak I can find.

I've traveled around and sampled a great and diverse number of cheese steaks. The best maker of these legendary meals I've found is sadly no longer in business. It was a small, family-run joint with a thorough knowledge of what makes a good sandwich. Before they closed, I had my fill, and learned what made it so damn good.

The kind of meat that should be used is hotly contended amongst some. I rather like it thin sliced and chopped finely. I find when it is cut into strips only to be too tough and difficult to eat. For cheese, none other will do than pepper jack. Cooked onions are nice, as are banana peppers.

With this in mind, I set out on my sampling journey. I had been fruitless, until today, when I stopped in at a Subway. As far as fast food, Subway is seldom my favorite, but screw it, I wanted a big, footlong sub, and the store is right on the corner. I selected their Big Philly Cheese Steak on Italian herbs and cheese bread. I added pepper jack, bananas, and a handful of pickles, and topped it off with sweet onion sauce. Much to my surprise, this was actually one of the better cheese steaks I've had to date. Not as good as the mom-and-pop business that got me hooked in the first place, but certainly nothing to turn up a nose at.

Obviously, I've still got a long way to go and a lot more searching to do if Subway is my top contender at the moment.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sauteed Mushrooms Over Rice

It doesn't get much simpler than this. The recipe, while it may sound bland or overly easy, is actually quite tasty and flavorful...a nice snack or side dish on a cold day.

What you will need:
Mushrooms (whatever you like...I prefer portobellos)
Butter, margarine, or cooking oil
Rice (again, whatever floats your boat. Basmati is my favorite)
Gravy (optional, but recommended)

Follow the directions for making rice. While it is cooking, slice your mushrooms and put them in a pan with butter. Season and salt to taste; sautee until soft. Plate rice, add mushrooms on top. Serve and om nom nom. Add gravy for a truly flavorful dish.

Monday, February 7, 2011

An Easy Twist on S'mores

Wow, thank you all for your tremendous support! As per popular request, I have another recipe.

When my family and I used to go camping together, we'd usually bring a dutch oven. We made all sorts of things..some better than others. But perhaps the best thing we ever made was a variation of the common campfire s'more. I've adapted the recipe for home use.

What you will need:
1 large flour tortilla
One large frying pan
butter, margarine, or cooking oil
chocolate chips
marshmallow fluff or mini marshmallows
anything else that sounds good (e.g. butterscotch chips, peanut butter, caramel, etc)

Grease a large frying pan and allow the butter to melt. While waiting, place tortilla on plate. Cover one half of it in marshmallow, chocolate, and whatever else you like, then fold in half. Fry tortilla until golden brown on both sides. Serve and enjoy!

There are a number of ways to prepare this recipe...I only gave the one I use most. You could bake it or fold your tortilla differently, for example.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Growing and Using Hot Peppers

What initially got me interested in gardening is hot peppers. Nowhere in my small town could I find a good selection of peppers, so I thought I'd grow my own. It took three seasons, but I've finally got that good selection.

Naturally, peppers prefer a warm climate and longish growing season, both of which are unavailable this far north. So, I got creative. I started the seeds early. After much trial and error, I found that germinating them in a moist paper towel is among the easiest and most effective methods. By starting them in March and keeping them in a sunny window until early June, I found I could extend the growing season significantly.

The next problem was pests. Peppers are prone to a variety of pests, depending on location. I had aphids. Thousands and thousands of aphids. I tried everything I could the first two seasons...commercial pesticides, soapy water, and even trying to freeze the darn things off, but in the end, my poor plants were consumed by the ravenous insects. The solution came from an unexpected source in the third season: rosemary. I kept a potted rosemary plant near my peppers. While the aphids thoroughly devoured the fruit trees in the yard, my peppers went unscathed. I had quite a sizable harvest by the end of the season as a result.

Using peppers can be...interesting, depending on the hotness. Mild varieties, like jalapenios, can be used as a versatile topping. They can be grilled, sliced, diced, incorporated into recipes, and the like. But when it comes to, say, habaneros that are ten times hotter than jalapenios, the chef must get creative. Stews, soups, and slow-cooked creations work well in my experience. My personal favorite is chili verde, which has a nice tang and dilutes heat nicely. The recipe follows.

Chili Verde

6-8 Tomatillos
1 large red onion
1 pork roast, approx. 1-2 kg (2-4 lbs)
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
some ground black pepper
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 jar salsa verde, any commercial brand
peppers to taste (two habaneros makes for something moderately spicy. Try adding a variety for better flavor)

NOTE: I use a crock pot slow cooker. I highly recommend it, as it is very easy and extremely versatile.
Place pork roast in crock pot or roasting pan. Add finely diced tomatillos and onions. Season with cumin, salt, pepper, and others to taste. Add garlic cloves and peppers, then top with salsa verde. Slow cook for 6-8 hours. Serve over a bed of rice or in a wrap. Enjoy!


Hello, and thanks for visiting my blog!

I suppose I should do the whole introduction thing...

My name is May. I'm from rural Canada, and I'm a hobbyist. My interests are diverse and varied, ranging from programming to piloting aircraft to fly tying. But my primary past time is gardening. Over the years, I have attempted some insane feats, including growing a banana tree indoors (which has been a tremendous success thus far!). I continue to expand my interests, and learn more of the existing ones.

I hope this blog will be of some help to anyone seeking a new hobby, or to anyone looking to improve or even just talk about their existing ones.

See ya soon!