Sourdough Breakfasts

When most people think of sourdough, they picture a bread loaf with a crackling crisp crust and moist, tangy interior. But when you play with sourdough, you quickly discover bread is just one of many possible creations—and not necessarily the easiest.

My sourdough adventures began a couple of years ago, when I was gifted an old starter that had been lurking in a refrigerator. It didn’t have the rising power necessary for a loaf of bread; it required strength training. As I noted last week, the process of feeding a starter works like this: Pull out some starter, replace it with flour and water, and then let it work its magic, repeating the process until it readily ferments, bubbles, and grows. But I was loath to throw away weaker starter. Fortunately, a range of low-rise treats grab all the flavor with little effort.
Learn to make Sourdough Pancakes and Sourdough Waffles

Advertisements

Raspberries

Raspberries are probably my favorite fruit; as a kid, I used to walk barefoot in PJs to the berry patch and pick them straight onto my bowl of Cheerios. Strawberries may be a close second. After everyone from my 4-year-old nephew to newlywed friends told me how they gobbled up Chamomile-Scented Strawberry Syrup, which I made using Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation, I was prepared to put up an even larger batch the next year—only to have the strawberry patch fall short. But raspberries came in with a bumper crop, so I decided to attempt an adaptation. Then while I was prowling online, I found Carey Nershi’s fabulous cocktails at Reclaiming Provincial and knew I needed to start in the oven. The idea of roasting delicate raspberries may seem odd, but that step adds another level of flavor that’s irresistible in syrup, jam, or salad dressing. Learn to make Roasted Raspberry Syrup and Apricot–Raspberry–Mint Jam

Canning My Way

Canning, jarring, putting up—depending on where you live, one of these terms likely comes to mind when you hear someone talk about preserving food. Once the domain of grandmothers with giant gardens and 4-Hers learning home-ec skills, recent years have seen a shift in the people processing at home. Eugenia Bone released Well-Preserved in 2009, sharing recipes developed in her New York apartment and designed to fill two to six jars at a time. Blogger Marisa McClellan launched Food in Jars, and her success and subsequent books helped popularize small-batch canning. Articles on home canning appeared in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and on NPR, and Slate declared at-home preserving “ridiculously trendy.” Since then, the number of books, blogs, and people canning at home have only grown.

I love that a rising interest in eating well year-round has led more people to support farmer’s markets and CSAs, make meals from scratch, and save what’s in season for later use. The appeal of small-batch processing is understandable: Take your leftover fruit or veg and seal it in a couple of jars. The argument is that it’s a quick and easy way to preserve food.

The “couple of jars” part is where I disagree. By the time I prep my canning gear and the food item, heat a kettle of water, make a brine or jam, and finally process the batch, I want to pull the maximum number of jars from that kettle. Instead of going small, I recommend going big—at least big enough to maximize your yield while minimizing your effort and sometimes spreading out the work.
Read more about canning my way

Rhubarb

I grew up in a rhubarb family: large patches growing in my dad’s and grandpa’s gardens, rhubarb pie at Thanksgiving (never diluted with strawberries), and a stash of rhubarb sauce in my mom’s fridge that I put on everything from ice cream to Cheerios. Among the first things I planted when I moved to Montana were rhubarb eyes taken from my dad’s plants; they’ve since spread out into a garden patch that produces all summer long and never bolts—one of the few perks of gardening in the shady woods.

After a winter of playing with various combinations of produce-influenced cocktails that put a splash of summer into the grayest day, I instantly saw “beverage” when I cut my first stalks of rhubarb in spring. The straight rhubarb needed another flavor to balance the bright pink syrup, and I knew from making sorbet that rosemary would add just the right touch in a summer cocktail. Learn to make Rhubarb–Rosemary Syrup and Rhubarb–Orange–Ginger Marmalade