Friday, April 12, 2013

surfacing from sourdough

I am no longer suffocating in sourdough! (AND 19 of my celeriac germinated!) On Easter weekend we went to my parents' place and I put the sourdough starter in the fridge and hoped for the best. It was just fine when I got home, so I left it in the fridge and I'm only feeding it about every three days or so. Which is much less expensive and also gives me more freedom in the kitchen, or elsewhere. Truth be told, I didn't really like any of the gluten-free sourdough breads I made. And I had to make so many sourdough buckwheat pancakes and sourdough muffins to keep up with the starter, that I had no room to eat the sourdough bread. I think I will keep the starter, but maybe I just don't need a lot of bread in my life at the moment. The sourdough pancakes are totally here to stay.

One of the things I like about the sourdough way is that it splits the labour. You spend a few minutes before bed mixing some starter, flour and water for pancakes the next morning, leave it in the oven with the light on overnight and then add fat, eggs, sweetener, salt and some baking soda in the morning before cooking. You mix some starter with oats and flour and just enough water to make dampen it all after breakfast, and then during naptime that afternoon or after dinner, you add other stuff to make muffins. There's a pleasant, slow rhythm about it all. I adapted my favourite banana bread recipe first to be gluten-free then to be sourdough and they're ok. Pretty nice I guess. Moist with a nice texture, although slightly cakier than I would prefer.

Baking has a reputation for requiring absolute precision but I have found that is not true if you loosen your expectations a little. If all you expect is something that is mostly like a muffin and kind of sweet, it's very easy to meet it, and you can take a fair amount of liberty. The last batch of muffins I made I measured the oats, sourdough starter and flour, butter, brown sugar (approximately) and eggs - oh and the baking powder and baking soda (the sourdough probably does add leavening but not enough to fly solo. I just sub the starter for a cup of the flour and half a cup of the water in the recipe). But I didn't measure the pumpkin (probably a cup and a half) or vanilla extract (probably a tablespoon - I made the extract myself last year and it's pretty weak) and I added a whole grated carrot just because. And they came out fine. I did warn a guest that they were a bit odd, but that was more because of the sourdough thing.

I've been exploring the sourdough thing because I'm thinking about only eating soaked or soured grains. My youngest has two extra teeth crowded on top and late last fall we noticed a few dark spots on the most crowded. It must be tooth decay. And one of his teeth is chipped and just today I noticed there is less tooth than yesterday or the day before. Given his nutritionally-deficient past and foods we are avoiding, it just makes sense to me that there is a dietary cause and potential cure. My googling led me quickly to Cure Tooth Decay, but I was skeptical. Then Owlet mentioned it and the diet they adopted. Last week a mother in the homeschool group mentioned that she loved the book and was two months into its most extreme program and she had already noticed a big difference. She lent me the book and I'm nearing the end. I hope to write more about it when I'm done. In the meantime I will say that it's VERY compelling. And as much as I shy away from 'extreme' diets that seek to cut out whole groups of foods, I think I shy away a lot more from dental surgery on my young toddler. One of the things I like about the book and its suggestions is that it is not dogmatic. It encourages you at every turn to do what feels right to you, and the website has testimonials from people who didn't go whole hog but still saw major improvements.

I will say that if we do adopt (more) major changes to our diet (now that we've mostly normalized the last year's changes), I will develop a strategy and add in new foods before removing any. If I had to go back to last spring and do it all over again, I don't know if I would jump on the elimination diet and identifying intolerances. Our dietician suspects that Youngest's intolerances are really secondary, because his gut was so poorly it just couldn't digest gluten, soy and casein - the hardest proteins to digest. We're back on corn now -- I think that was a nonstarter all along, but tomatoes seem slightly iffy. It's also possible that eliminating those foods so suddenly, without getting comfortable with their replacements could have made his deficiencies worse.

Anyways... I don't think I will eliminate grains totally but I may prepare them all better to make them more digestible. And I may try to eliminate refined sugar but I think I very much want to keep honey and maple syrup in my life. But first it's time to add lots more vegetables.

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Here is my favourite banana bread recipe. If you make muffins instead of a loaf reduce the baking time by at least half and possibly more depending on your muffin holder thingie (I don't want to say tin since there are so many other materials).

Banana Oat Loaf 

1/2 c butter or marg
3/4 c brown sugar
1 c rolled oats
1/2 c hot water
1 c mashed bananas (3-4, the riper the better, I never measure)
3/4 c chopped nuts(optional)
2 eggs beaten
2 c flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (I usually reduce this a bit)
I add chocolate chips as well (3/4 c-1 c? I just eyeball it)

Place soft butter, sugar, oats, hot water, mashed bananas and nuts in large bowl. Stir until well blended. Add beaten eggs. Beat until well blended. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt; add to first mixture all at once and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.(if desired) Spoon evenly into greased loaf pan. (9 x 5 x 3 inch) Bake at 350 degrees about 65 minutes or until done. Remove from loaf pan, cool on rack. Let stand for a few hours before slicing (If you can wait that long).

I've also used grated zucchini, carrot, often with some applesauce, grated raw beet, grated apple, pumpkin puree and squash puree in place of the bananas.

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I haven't forgotten about my giveaway. I was hoping to have more than one person enter, and that's kind of why I didn't give a deadline. Feel free to enter now if you're interested. Oh -- and the only entrant so far wanted to know what a schmeck is. Schmeck is actually a verb. It means to taste really, really good.

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