The EcoWongs

Thoughts, Aspirations, and Projects of the Wong Clan

Reinhart’s Recipes, one at a time. March 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 8:26 pm
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We just got this book:

I’ve just had a chance to glance through it, and man… it’s packed with recipes and techniques.  This Reinhart guy really knows how to teach.

I didn’t really know where to start because there are so many options.  Christina suggested that I start at the beginning and work my way through, one recipe at a time.  First up is the Master Recipe.  He gives a basic Whole Wheat Sandwich bread recipe and talks us through it down to the finest detail.  That way, he can be a little more vague in later recipes and refer back to the Master Recipe when he needs to.

Here’s what I came up with:

It’s tasty, but the addition of a sweetener (honey, in this case) masks the sourness of the starter.  It’s very light and tasty, though.  Stay tuned for #2.

 

IPhid, YouPhid, we all Phid for Aphids!

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 7:35 am
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Christina brought to my attention the new residents on our tomato plants:

APHIDS!  We’re looking into biological, sustainable ways to deal with these guys.  Word around the ‘net is that ladybugs feast on these things.  One ladybug can eat 1000 aphids.  Home Depot sells ladybugs.  We will go to Home Depot.  And keep you updated.

 

Birdfeeder Redux March 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 6:36 pm
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Unfortunately, our last birdfeeder met an unfortunate demise:

I checked it one day and the hole for the seed had grown by about 1/2 an inch down from where I had cut it.  How did this happen?

Blasted squirrel.  I actually caught him one day hanging upside down from the crossbeam and nibbling on the seeds within.  Having just finished another tub of kim-chee, we decided it was time to come up with a new design.

I cut four slots 3 inches wide and 1 inch tall along the base of the jar and screwed an old ice cream container lid to the bottom.  This will allow the seed to constantly feed into the tray below by virtue of gravity.  I also hung it a bit lower to prevent mr. squirrel from damaging version 2.

Any ideas on how to deter the squirrel?

 

No-Knead Sourdough with Steel Cut Oats March 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 8:21 am
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Having been sufficiently excited by the prospect of creating bread without the laborious kneading, I decided to try a variation.  No Knead Sourdough with Steel Cut Oats.

3 oz. Steel Cut Oats
13-15 oz. AP Flour
1/4 c. ripe sourdough starter
1 1/2 c. water

Mix them all together (it will be rather sticky, add just enough extra flour to form it into a ball rather than an amorphous mass), let it rest for 18 hours.  Fold it over (bottom up, top down, left right, right left), let it rest for 15 minutes.  Transfer to proofing basket or cover with floured towel, let it rise for 1.5 hours.  Turn the dough over into a preheated (500º) cast iron dutch oven (we’ve also used a deep pyrex baking dish, anything that’s ceramic and oven safe should do the trick), cover, and bake at 500 for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and bake at 450º for another 15 minutes.

The results are tremendous:

The beauty of this recipe is that the 18 hour ferment accomplishes the same ends as soaking your steel cut oats overnight.  The bread is hearty and tasty.

Credit for this recipe goes to Breadtopia.

Also, credit goes to Breadtopia for my new baking toys!

 

A new reason to go to IKEA… March 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 8:40 pm
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Ikea now stocks solar powered lights that gather light during the day and switch on automatically (or by switch) when there is no more sunlight.  We might have to make a trip.

More details here.

 

No-Knead Sourdough Bread March 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 7:01 pm
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With all the baking, I’ve been getting some sore wrists. For those of you that are faithful devoteés of our bread making endeavors, you may recall that we tried a No-Knead bread when we lived back in Maine (I know… ALL of our old posts are there… good times).  The guy(s) over at Breadtopia have come up with a no-knead method using Sourdough Starter, so we decided to give it a go.  If you want to try it, they have a very complete instruction video over on the site (hit the link above) that takes you step by step through the process.  The idea is that when you knead bread, you are essentially accomplishing the same task as what the dough and levain would do by itself if left to its own devices.

From Baking Illustrated:

“When water and flour first mix, gluten forms in a random, disorganized matrix that is very weak.  As this matrix is kneaded, the disorganized bonds are pulled aprt and reattached into straight, strong, orderly sheets.”

This reordering of the matrix is done naturally when the flour, wather and leaven are allowed to rest in excess of 24 hours.  Therefore, instead of kneading the bread and having it ready to go after a 3 hour rise, a wet, soggy dough is allowed to ferment over at least 18 hours and then dumped into a hot dutch oven and quickly covered.  The covering of the dough traps the steam created by the baking dough and gives the loaf a nice crust on the top.

This is the dough as we left it to ferment.  We eventually added a little flour, as we thought that it was a little TOO soggy.

This is the dough as we left it to ferment. We eventually added a little flour, as we thought that it was a little TOO soggy.

The next morning, the dough had increased in size and was significantly more stable.  Still floppy and sticky though.

The next morning, the dough had increased in size and was significantly more "stable". Still floppy and sticky though.

We placed the dough in a heavily floured proofing basket after forming it into a ball.

We placed the dough in a heavily floured proofing basket after forming it into a ball.

The bread, as it came out of the oven.  As you can see, the oven spring was considerable.

The bread, as it came out of the oven. As you can see, the oven spring was considerable.

The large air pockets in the loaf are an indication of the relative wetness of the dough.  Apparently, if you make the dough stiffer, you will get a more consistent crumb and less air holes.  Purely preference, I suppose.

The large air pockets in the loaf are an indication of the relative wetness of the dough. Apparently, if you make the dough stiffer, you will get a more consistent crumb and less air holes. Purely preference, I suppose.

All in all, it was a good loaf.  We kind of messed up on the bake time, and we had a bit too much olive oil in our dutch oven (the bottom crust tastes very olive oil-y).  We’ll definitely try this one again.

 

Pizza Crust, take 2 March 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 2:55 pm
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Having divided the pizza dough into three chunks, we had two chunks left over and cooked one of them for lunch today:

The dough actually improved over time.  It was lighter, and the sourdough taste really came through on this batch.  Hopefully the third will be even better!