Monday, March 11, 2013

more sourdough, two Edna's and a giveaway

It's been more than a week, and my sourdough starter is still alive! On Thursday, it was looking really sad. Almost no bubbles and a whole lot of hooch (alcohol sitting on top, which I have since learned is usually a sign that your starter needs more to eat). So that night, I took some out for sourdough pancakes the next morning, and fed the starter more like a cup and a half of flour instead of the regular cup, and the next morning it was all fluffy and happy again. The sourdough pancakes were not great, but I had suspicions about the recipe so I had another recipe to try next time (Next time was actually this morning, and the second recipe was WAY better. I will definitely make it again.)

I made a different loaf of sourdough bread on Saturday, this one with chickpea flour. It's a bit softer than the first one and not gummy at all, but I don't think the chickpea flavour is doing it for me.

In the meantime, this starter continues to eat and grow and I have to keep finding ways to use it. I *could* just throw some out, but I am stubborn and cheap and that seems a terrible waste. Of course, I don't seem to have a problem with throwing away lousy, gluten-free sourdough bread. Actually, I do. I know I will finish off the chickpea bread toasted and covered in almond butter and jam, and it will be edible.

And the first sourdough loaf I made into gluten-free, dairy-free bread pudding. There's still a teensy bit left in my fridge, if you can get here before I finish it. Bread pudding is one of the top five things I have really missed with our diet restrictions. Maybe even THE top thing. But this bread pudding is even a hit with the gluten-eaters in my house.

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In The Marriage of the Sun and Moon, Dr. Andrew Weil recounts the social context in which coca usage occurs in a South American indigenous culture. They use it if they have to go on a long hike, if they have a lot of work to do, and for celebrations. Weil proposes that a strict social context prevents addiction, and that the problem with drugs in North America is not so much the drugs themselves as it is the lack of social context for their usage.

One of the first vintage of cookbooks I found was The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis. Although I haven't actually cooked much from it, it's really my favourite. Because it's not just a book of recipes. It's organized by season and occasion. She starts with a menu, writes about the context of the food and meal, and then gives you the recipes. This, to me, seems like how cookbooks should really be done, especially in North America where we've become so divorced not just from seasonality but from the cultural context of eating.

My second-favourite cookbook is probably Food That Really Schmecks for reasons I've already gone into (although, again, I haven't actually cooked a lot from it. The time will come, I am sure). I love that the recipes are all local, and also that my Grandma Ruth owned a copy.

So to make my bread pudding I used Edna Lewis's method but Edna Staebler's ingredients (with substitutions, obviously).

Bread Pudding
1 1/2 cups (almond) milk
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups diced bread cubes (I didn't measure them, just used all I had)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
a handful or two of raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
sprinkling of cinnamon

I beat the eggs, add in the sugar, mix well. Pour in the milk, stirring as you pour. Add the butter and vanilla. Mix in the bread and let sit. Stir in some raisins if you want. Pour it into a buttered 8x8 baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon. I let it sit in the fridge overnight before baking it in a roasting pan with some hot water for 40-50 minutes at 300F. I think mine took more like an hour and 20 minutes but I was worried about the pyrex dish breaking so it would have taken a long time for the water to heat up.

Here is what Edna Lewis has to say about bread pudding:

"Bread pudding and other custard dishes were popular in the early spring because of new calves and new green grass producing extra pails of milk, and a good way to use some of the stale bread was to make bread pudding. I can still remember entering the kitchen, which was detached from the main house, and there, cooling on a table near the door, would be a big pan of delicious-looking bread pudding, filling the air with the rich smell of butter and nutmeg rising from the layers of bread that were submerged in a custard of rich milk, fresh country eggs, and plump raisins."

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So I have this problem with thrift stores. I love going to them, at least weekly. One of my problems is a strange sense of loyalty. If I see a plate or a bowl in the same pattern as one I already own, I just can't leave them behind, even if I have no need for more. I feel like I'm reuniting family. And when I saw a copy of Food That Really Schmecks and then More Food That Really Schmecks, well, I had to take them home too. I had an idea to host a giveaway on my blog, because I see those a lot, although they're usually sponsored by the people who sell the thing being given away. So I thought it would be neat to do kind of an anti-giveaway.

I just had one problem: no readers. So I figured I'd wait until I developed a bit of an audience. But someone else had a similar idea, and I just won that awesome book. So now I'm all inspired to just go ahead with the giveaway. Surely someone will drop in by accident and want to play?

Ok. So if you want either Food That Really Schmecks or More Food That Really Schmecks, tell me something about yourself and why you want them. Let me know whether you want one or both. These books are probably best for omnivores, although there are lots of baking recipes and vegetable recipes so maybe I'm just being negative. So who's going to play?


  1. Hi! I followed you here from your old RSS feed.

    My favorite cookbook is Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I like understanding the core of a recipe so I can make intelligent substitutions based on my climate & my cupboard. (Turns out in my dry climate, for example, I can replace up to half the flour in any quickbread recipe w/ oats. Not even ground oats, either -- just oats!)

    I like books like you've described because it gives a kind of historical background to the development of recipes, which gives me some guidance even today. Soup, for example, I am convinced, exists solely to use up old veggies!

    Speaking of which, I love this blogger & her column & I think you might, too:

    So. Mostly I'd like either book just to find out what a schmeck is!

  2. Hey, I just found you! I'm happy you've started blogging again!