Sourdough Starter

Long before I started baking my own bread, I craved sourdough. But I had a lot of misconceptions about the process. So for years, I baked yeast breads. I learned along the way that a dough hook on a standup mixer might prevent sore arms but at the cost of dense, inconsistent loaves. I also discovered yeast can be quite unforgiving to overproofing: leave the house during the rise time, and you’re sure to come home to a collapsed, flat mess. But I imagined that sourdough would require daily care—and consumption.

Then I was gifted a starter and took a shot at becoming a sourdough baker. I’d also been reading about no-knead breads and was intrigued by the idea of making loaves by hand without sore fingers. A bit of research, a bit of practice, and my delusions about sourdough evaporated like the liquid in a baking loaf. Learn how to find and care for sourdough starter

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Quick Breads

As a kid, I loved the shape of muffins; breaking the cap from the base was my version of twisting open an Oreo. These days, I prefer quick breads for one reason: the freezer. A stack of zucchini, pumpkin, banana, and cranberry breads takes up far less space than the same four batches of muffins. Besides, toasting is the only way to reheat; a microwave is just not the tool for defrosting baked treats. If you have a toaster oven (which I recommend for many reasons), there’s no bread vs. muffin argument. But if you’re a traditional toaster owner—well, you can imagine the mess of slicing a frozen muffin to fit.

Fortunately, you can easily convert your favorite muffin recipe to a loaf: They’re the same product, just in different pans. Even better, you can base them on a ratio and change the flavors to match your mood or the season. Learn to make Ratio Quick Bread and Quick Cranberry Bread

Made with Love

I’m a perennial giver of food. Whether it’s for a holiday, at an event, or just because someone expresses random interest in something I made, I can’t help myself: I have to gift a jar or bag of homemade goodness.

I love receiving food too, but sometimes even I—someone who processes hundreds of jars a season, dehydrates and freezes, ferments and smokes—am hesitant to open a gifted jar. These are usually the ones that have perhaps a single word on the lid identifying the contents. No date, no maker, and no suggestions for putting it to use. These jars often work their way to the back of my canning shelves, hiding behind the familiar and loved. It makes me think some of my gifts go just as astray. So I’ve devise a way to change that—and I’m gifting my idea to you.
Read more about gifting food