My five year old daughter, Kamea, was visiting my mom for the night, and they surprised me with this video that she made about “how to meditate.” Glad to know that all of my meditating is rubbing off on her.
My five year old daughter, Kamea, was visiting my mom for the night, and they surprised me with this video that she made about “how to meditate.” Glad to know that all of my meditating is rubbing off on her.
I’m excited to share my newest Kindle ebook, Matcha Hacks, 55 Clever Recipes for Adding Matcha to Your Life for Energy, Health & Longevity.
As you know, I love matcha green tea powder.
We drink it because matcha green tea powder gives us a luscious energy and makes us feel so good. It makes us mentally alert, while feeling calm and chill at the same time. So good. It also has a powerful punch of nutritional benefits from being anti-viral to anti-cancer to being an overall kickin’ superfood. It gives that extra edge.
In my quest to inject more matcha into my life, I have taken matcha beyond its traditional role as merely a tea by creating these 55 recipes for adding matcha as an ingredient to all kinds of foods, including smoothies, soups, sides, salads, desserts, breakfast, snacks, condiments, beverages (tea and non-tea), and even beauty mask recipes!
It’s pretty, I’ll say that much.
If you’re not familiar with einkorn flour, here’s Carla Bartolucci, einkorn expert, from her book, Einkorn. (I highly recommend this book for some beautiful recipes and information on einkorn wheat.)
So, you see it’s pretty amazing stuff if you don’t suffer from celiac disease. And, if you feel like you’re gluten intolerant, then you might not be with einkorn. As you can imagine, I figured that using einkorn, which is easier to digest… in the form of sourdough bread… well, that’s even easier to digest… sounds perfect.
Except, well, it wasn’t. (User error, to be sure.)
This was my five year old daughter’s lunch.
My lunch was the same, though my portion bigger. I opted for sardines at lunch as advanced penance for the pasta I plan to have at dinner. Mac-n-cheese to be exact (homemade at least, eh?).
I’ve been walking lately. A lot. And, it’s so fun.
My draw to walking came as the result of some life changes I’m making:
One of my favorite quotes in Taoism is…
To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”
My intuition told me to walk, which would help me do less of other things, because walking a great distance takes time. My intuition told me I needed it. I’ll be honest… It helps me clear my mind, and a clear mind is a powerful mind.
So, I started walking. And, I walked a lot.
I found that being out in nature, especially during the season of spring was extra special, and I couldn’t help but stop to notice and feel all of the colors and life surrounding me outside in nature.
I found myself looking at plants as they were about to blossom, excited to come back the next day and see the full bloom. Tracking the progress with pictures became an adventure.
As I mentioned before, when researching sourdough bread making and sourdough starters, there are a lot of variances in directions.
One gal I saw, Wardee, mentioned that she keeps her starter active on her counter by having a small amount of starter to which it’s fed a tablespoon of flour (or two) and a tablespoon of water twice a day. Sometimes three times a day. She said that if you keep a cup or less of starter then a maintenance feeding is all you need. She detailed it specifically in this podcast. She writes…
Only feed it what you need to build it up for when you need it. If you are going to bake something that requires a bit more, feed it a bit more on that occasion. This way, you’ll nearly always have enough, and usually not ever too much. (Of course, adjustment is needed to account for your family’s baking goals.)
What is a maintenance amount? A tablespoon or 2.
Every morning: I feed my starter 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour, plus some water (a bit less than the flour). Same thing each evening.
Every 2nd or 3rd day, I have enough starter to bake our favorite bread — the no-knead artisan einkorn loaf.
And, she has a recipe for No-Knead Einkorn Sourdough Bread which I plan to try as I’d love to use einkorn exclusively for health reasons. Her recipe calls for 1/4 cup (60 grams) of the sourdough starter so I know she at least needs the starter to be of that quantity. After weighing what is in the picture above, it’s about 46 grams.
The sourdough starter maintenance recipe by Ken Forkish is a lot more flour being used than a tablespoon, and is probably for people making multiple loaves of bread a week. Not exactly sure yet.
Lastly, Cultures for Health recommends that whatever amount you are doing, be sure that the weights (using a scale) are equal amounts of weight of the starter, water and flour. For example, 50 grams of starter, 50 grams of water, 50 grams of flour.
Anyway, I was intrigued by this small active sourdough starter thing that Wardee discussed, and decided to try it.
As you saw yesterday, I made my first loaf of sourdough bread.
Um… it wasn’t a total success.
That said, upon using all my strength to break a loaf in half, I found it kind of pretty inside and a bit tasty, too. I am jokingly telling people that at least I know a good sourdough bread crouton recipe.
I mentioned a couple of things that might have contributed to it, at least in part:
1) Something went wrong with my banneton proofing baskets. I floured them a good degree, or so I thought. Yet, there was quite a bit that stuck.
2) I’m not sure I proofed them long enough as the dough was quite gooey. I’m not an expert baker so I have no idea, but I can’t help but think that.
3) I also had trouble shaping the dough prior to putting them in the baskets but I have no guesses as to why that is.
I plan on another go at making sourdough bread but I’ll try a different recipe.
I will also try using this jovial linen couche. Jovial is the company who makes the einkorn flour I bought, too. The linen couche is supposed to be AWESOME in such a way that the bread doesn’t stick. I will use it in the colander method as shown below in her second example.
Check it out…
And, here’s Wardee telling you more details about a linen couche.
As you have been following my adventure into making sourdough bread … for the first time in my life … today is the day that the dough actually goes into the oven to make sourdough bread. It took five days to make my sourdough starter before using some of the starter to make sourdough bread.
I will admit, the process of actually making the loaves… hand mixing the flours correctly (i.e., the autolyse), adding the starter, then mixing and folding it all together with salt was a bit harder than I thought. The dough stuck to my fingers a lot, I had issue transferring the starter to the flour mix, etc.
I have doubts as to whether these first loaves will turn out great based on the way the dough felt (Ken Forkish’s recipe makes two loaves of sourdough bread). But, of course I have no experience in that so who am I to say? (update, yep, those doubts were spot on.)
Even so, that’s A-OK! I know it’s a process to learn all of this.
The dough fermented overnight and I woke to what looked like successful fermentation.
In my last post, I shared that my family is not always gluten-free lately.
We’re experimenting with homemade sourdough bread (and, today, using sourdough in other recipes like pancakes and homemade crackers).
Remember my sourdough starter, Bertha? Here she is on day 4 shortly after feeding. As I type this, she’s in my oven, with the light on and the door cracked, to get a perfect temperature to grow.
As I shared in my last post, when you create a sourdough starter you throw away a lot of it before feeding it. Ken Forkish, bread expert, says to think of this as “spent fuel” and don’t feel guilty about throwing it away. It’s part of the sourdough making process.
However, there are some things you can make with sourdough starter, instead of throwing it away:
For the past year I’ve experimented with adding traditional sourdough bread to my family’s diet. (Gasp.) Gluten? Seriously?
Yeah, I started eating sourdough for a few reasons and here they are…
One of my favorite foods for the past 20 years has always been toast; however, when we stopped eating a vegan diet because it was destroying our health, I embraced a paleo-type diet and eschewed grains.
That served us well for a time, because as we slowly started adding things like quality grass-fed dairy and white rice, we were able to track how we reacted to them. It was kind of like going on a diet to find allergies where you eliminate a bunch of stuff and slowly add it back in to see how you react. Only, that wasn’t my plan. It just happened naturally as I learned more from people like Chris Kresser, Dave Asprey, and the Weston A Price foundation.
After some time, I decided it might be nice to have authentic sourdough bread, but my requirements for that sourdough were strict. The sourdough bread had to be organic and it had to be true sourdough… No added yeast. Long-fermented pure levain dough… fermented the old-fashioned way: with a starter.
I wanted my sourdough to be this way because that kind of sourdough can actually be healthy for many people. It’s less allergenic, easier to digest, and has some nutrition.
I remember Chef Pascal, from France, telling us in cooking school that he believed it wasn’t the gluten bothering most people, it’s all of the additives and crap in processed foods with flour. That statement opened my mind a bit.
And, as Michael Pollan said about sourdough bread in his docuseries, Cooked…
“If I gave you a bag of flour and water, and you had nothing else to live on, you could live on that for awhile, but eventually you would die. But, if you take that same bag of flour and water and bake it into bread, you could live indefinitely. … The technique, the technology of baking bread represented this revolutionary advance for our species.”
From the WAPF website…
According to recent news articles, celiac disease–the inability to digest certain proteins in gluten-containing grains such as wheat, rye, barley and oats–afflicts at least one in 30 people. So common and so debilitating is this malady that many popular nutrition doctors and nutrition writers forbid the consumption of grains as a matter of course. In The Paleo Diet, for example, author Loren Cordain blames the consumption of grains for our modern deficiency diseases, and the narrowing of the jaw so prevalent in modern humans. According to Barry Sears, PhD, author of The Zone Diet, the switch to a grain-based diet in Egypt was a chief factor in the emergence of the diseases of modern civilization. Dr. Joe Mercola tells his patients to avoid grain, period.
Yet Weston Price studied several societies that enjoyed remarkable good health even though they consumed grains as a principle foodstuff. The primitive Swiss of the Loetschental Valley baked a sourdough bread in communal ovens, made of locally grown rye ground fresh in a stone mill. Rye bread plus rich dairy products–milk, butter and cheese–were the chief articles of the diet. Likewise, the primitive Gaelic peoples subsisted on seafood and oats. Both these groups exhibited beautiful facial structure and were free of deficiency diseases.
Price also found healthy groups in Africa and South America that consumed large quantities of grain, usually as a sour fermented porridge or beverage.
Again, huh… that’s the sound of my mind opening just a bit more. Clearly, bread is not destroying everybody.
More and more people are appreciating the health benefits of grass-fed butter. I’m one of them. So, it’s only natural that I find more ways to get more butter into my diet.
Sourdough bread fits the bill. And, lucky me… my farmer’s market had a baker who made sourdough bread the right way. He uses an old starter that he’s had pretty much forever (generations maybe). It’s long-fermented, pure levain dough. He uses all organic ingredients. It’s super fresh and doesn’t last if you don’t eat it within the few days after buying it, because his sourdough doesn’t have any preservatives. It’s perfect. And it’s perfectly delicious.
It’s just the kind of sourdough bread I’d make myself, if I were making my own sourdough bread, which I never ever in a million years thought I’d do. But, here again, I find myself drawn to making it. Chop Wood. Carry Water. I love cooking and I love the process from beginning to end. The kitchen beckons me. If I’m not in the kitchen creating something, I’ll find something to make.
I started buying this wonderful bread for my family, and, of course, we all loved it. We were ga-ga over having such delicious bread (and toast!).
When I eat it, I don’t even want people talking to me. I have to close my eyes, tasting it fully. I can’t help myself. It’s pure bliss. It tastes so right. It feels so right.
We did this for many months, having sourdough maybe once a week. Sometimes less, sometimes more. Every time we ate the sourdough bread we felt great. There was no bloating. There was nothing but satisfaction.
I think a trick to having sourdough bread in my life is that I don’t get carried away. I don’t eat it at every meal and I make sure that it doesn’t start taking the place of our veggies.
It seemed so friggin’ daunting though. People say it’s easy but I couldn’t get comfortable with it. Therefore, I dove into researching it with the gusto that I research everything else.
In the end, I came out with a plan which used different tips from various sources.
I read a lot of books, articles, and websites about making sourdough. I spoke with my friend in Austria who convinced me to create my own starter instead of buying one, and she shared the details about how sourdough has been a healthy staple in her family’s life for generations.
The one common thread throughout my sourdough bread research was that it could, and should, be very easy to make.
Still… I couldn’t bring myself to take action.
I kept reading and re-reading and re-reading articles and books. I was trying to absorb as much as possible so that it would become second nature by the time I started.
However, I think the trouble I had with my sourdough bread research was that, in spite of some common directions from various sources, there were also some distinct differences.
For example, there were some people with specifics (like water temperature and using a scale) and other recipes where they didn’t weigh ingredients or mention anything about temperature for making sourdough bread.
I read that not every one kneads sourdough bread! That was interesting – like, really? Then, “folding” is enough? How? Why?
I also learned that some people vigorously stir the starter when you feed it and others just mix until combined.
I read a book where the chef uses oil on his hands instead of flour when working with the dough. I never saw that anywhere else.
Then, there’s proofing baskets and whether to use those. And, what do you bake it in? A Dutch oven is popular, but it should be the right size for the perfect loaf. Of course, there’s a regular bread pan but those don’t have lids like a Dutch oven does which apparently is important for getting a nice exterior.
There’s something called a “hydration ratio.” Yikes.
And don’t even get me started on trying to make tweaks to the recipes so that you get a good “crumb” – I mean, what the heck does that mean? Can there actually be a “bad crumb” with sourdough bread?
Another wrinkle is determining which flour(s) to use. There is an ancient wheat called einkorn which is probably the best wheat to consume (once made into sourdough bread). Its origins date back to 7600 BCE and is referred to as “original wheat.” It’s not hybridized, has more nutrients, and is more gentle on the body than contemporary wheat.
I was intrigued to use einkorn, for sure, but I learned that it doesn’t behave exactly like other wheat. Another example is rye… it’s a flour that can be easier to digest but also behaves differently, i.e., harder to work with.
But, wait, there’s more. We have sprouted flours as options which also can behave differently.
Lastly, there’s the issue of whether I should use freshly ground flour, as I have a stone grinder. However, it seems it’s wasted if using it on making (or feeding) the sourdough starter, but that using it with which to bake the sourdough bread could be amazing.
What should I do???!!! The decisions!!!
I found that all a bit confusing.
Yet, I guess all of these variances should prove that sourdough bread is forgiving and doesn’t require so much precision.
In the end, I realized that making sourdough bread is more tacit knowledge than anything else probably, though I felt better at having studied it so much.
So, for my entry into the sourdough baking world I decided to be as precise as possible. I chose to make my own starter following Ken Folkish’s book, Four Water Salt Yeast because he details so much, including times to do things, weights, and temperature. He’s Portland’s rock star legendary baker… so I chose his directions for my starter. To be clear, not all of the recipes in his book are basic sourdough without added yeast (as you can glean from the title), but he does have a couple long-fermented pure levain bread recipes, and I plan to try his first.
I will forgo the einkorn wheat until I’m comfortable making a basic whole wheat / white wheat combo sourdough bread, without the added distraction of sticky einkorn dough. From there, I can compare the way einkorn works and tastes. I’d ultimately like to have a sourdough bread that uses mostly einkorn for nutritional reasons.
So, here are links to sources I used in my research:
As I said, I followed a recipe where I weighed everything, used an instant-read thermometer to ensure water temp, I used spring water (I like Castle Rock), and I used a thermometer next to my starter so I knew the temp and could ensure I had that area of my house between 75 to 90 degrees F.
I bought a special, and I mean special, dutch oven. She’s the right size, 4.5-quarts, but, more importantly, she’s pink: Le Creuset Dutch oven. It’s going to be dedicated to making my bread so I wanted something, well, special. And, oh my dear, I love it. The minute I pulled it from the delivery box, my heart danced and smiled.
I even slept with it the first night. #DeadSerious
I named her Blossom (short for cherry blossom because those are my favorite flowers).
I opted to get the right bannetons for proofing (two of them since many recipes call for making two loaves of sourdough bread – I have no idea why – and I’m not comfortable halving the recipes yet), but I can cook them successively in my one Dutch oven, Blossom. I do have a larger Dutch oven I plan to try so I can compare the resulting shape of the sourdough loaves.
I went the extra mile and bought all of this stuff because, well, it’s a long story but I’ll try to make it short and perhaps elaborate on another post, but basically…
I find that being so strict with things in my life, such as food, is not serving me. And, in many ways, I’m becoming more relaxed and go-with-the-flow. Taoism is at the heart of it… accepting that the universe has a certain way to it, and you can either fight it or flow with it. I’ve decided to do the latter. So, making bread is an example of the life change I’m making cuz it’s fucking bread. It’s a big thing and having that beautiful pink Dutch oven is a symbol of that for me. I’m in a new chapter of my life and embracing sourdough bread is a big part of that. I’m chilling out more, enjoying the things that bring me pleasure.
I know gluten, bread, grains… they’re all controversial as to whether they’re healthy and if people should eat them. But, everyone is different. If there’s one thing to notice over the past few years of health news is how much genes play a role in people’s health and that includes our individualized responses to dietary variables.
For me, I think of how we evolved, how foods are prepared, what I’m drawn to, and what feels good with respect to my food choices. Then, my family experiments. If something doesn’t work, we stop doing it. If something does work, we keep doing it. I would encourage everyone to do the same. Think of what you’re drawn to, try it, and see what happens.
And besides… health is so much more than food. My health stems from multiple things including tons of walking and movement (we don’t even have a couch anymore), meditation, family, and community, too. It’s not all food.
After following the instructions for making a sourdough starter by Ken Forkish, after the first day I had success! Like, wow.
I couldn’t help but name my starter, Bertha. After she started to grow, she became Big Bertha. I imagine her helping me bake big beautiful loaves of sourdough bread.
Here she is, right after mixing the first time. It was simply organic whole wheat flour and 90 degree F spring water mixed together by hand until incorporated. I left it as is for two hours before covering it and placing it in a warm spot of 75 to 90 degrees F which meant my oven. Parts of the day I had the light in the oven on and parts of the day it was off. Parts of the day I cracked the door open and parts of the day it was shut. All the while keeping track of the temperature around the starter.
Here’s after day 1. I woke up to see that my sourdough starter is alive and well. She had some bubbles of activity and smelled nicely.
Per the instructions, I removed about 3/4 of the starter which was thrown away. “Spent fuel” as Ken Forkish calls it. Then, I added more organic whole wheat flour and 90 degrees F spring water. Mixed it by hand, until incorporated, and did the same thing as day one with respect to leaving it uncovered for two hours, followed by covering it and placing it in the oven where the temperature seems best.
I’m excited. I can’t wait to bake my first loaf of sourdough bread in a few more days. I’ll keep you posted. Read about the following days here.