If you had asked me last week, last month or last year if I enjoyed baking I would have emphatically said no. I'm not a fan of baked goods in general, I'd prefer dark chocolate to a cupcake or cookie, and the list goes on. However, I watched the Michael Pollan documentary on Netflix, Cooked and one of segments was on Bread, specifically sourdough bread and it's nutritional value and the argument that pure, high quality ingredients used in sourdough may not effect people who avoid gluten otherwise. I attempt to avoid gluten because of my eczema and it's flare ups. However, I love a nice slice of bread. I posted on NextDoor in our town to see if anyone had a Sourdough starter (I received a shocking amount of responses) and picked up a 30 year sourdough starter (that means a person or persons kept this bacteria alive for 30 years (no pressure)) and lucked out with a college friend Alden and her Swedish fiance Olle (I only mention that he is Swedish because (1) Alden referred to him repeatedly as 'my Swedish finance' which I find adorable) and (2) I'm so impressed he moved to the US WITH his sourdough starter) sending me their (nearly fool proof) sourdough recipe.
I'm not one to typically say, do this or you'll regret it. But, if you like bread, experiment with this. Worse case scenario you end up with an awesome loaf of bread. I may regret it because I LOVE the bread I'm making and may be spiraling into all sorts of bread making (just ordered a new book, so watch out). It's so fun to make, it takes minimal planning unless you're actually needing it for a specific meal, your kids will have fun making the bread as well as feeding your starter. Alden and Olle recommend naming it... I named ours Olga.
My first loaf, Emmett measured the salt and for whatever reason I didn't watch. The ingredients are salt, water and flour so measurements do matter here... 1/4 tsp vs. 3 tsp. made a huge difference in taste. Our second loaf turned out amazing, Emmett said, "Honey, this is delicious."
So below is the recipe that Alden and Olle said I could share. It's really fun to keep your starter alive, it's amazingly rewarding to watch the dough rise and become something nourishing and delicious and it's awesome to have your kids watch flour, water and salt turn into something that fills their bellies.
From Alden and Olle: Simplicity at it's Best
Timing: You can either start the process in the late afternoon and bake the next morning, or start early in the morning and bake at night. Total timing is based on the activity and liveliness of the starter (when it was last fed, temperature, etc) so the timing in the recipe is more of a guideline and looking at signs of bubbles and expansion or rise is best.
(Between baking…feed the starter in the fridge every week or so. Remove and discard half and add lukewarm water and flour back in. Leave loosely covered. If a dark liquid or “hooch” accumulates on the top, just pour it off. Hooch forms when your starter has exhausted itself and needs to be fed.)
Step 1: Make the starter (and then feed the one for the fridge!)
-Remove ½ cup or so of starter from the fridge and add water & flower back into the jar.
-To a large mixing bowl add:
-1/2 cup starter
-1 cup flour
-1 cup water
-Mix until it resembles what you put back in the fridge.
-Cover with plastic wrap and a few holes
-Put in a warmish place and wait 3-5 hours or until the surface is covered in little bubbles.
Step 2: Make the dough
-Uncover the bowl and notice hundreds of bubbles. The critters in the starter have spent a few hours multiplying and creating some lift. The sour comes from lacto bacteria (the more fridge starter you add the more sour the bread) and the bubbles come from the natural yeast. Unsure if it’s ready? Drop a teaspoon of starter into ta glass of water. If it floats, it’s ready to use.
-Too the now bubbly starter in the bowl add:
-500g (approx. 3 cups) of flour
-250g (approx. 1 cup) of water
-15g (approx. 3 tsp) of salt
-Mix well. The dough texture will be quite sticky, as it is in the 1:03 mark of this cute Swedish YouTube VIDEO (ADC: While I understood none of this video, it helped me realize I needed to fold my dough and wait and extra hour). If it feels too sticky add a bit of flour.
-Place the glob of sticky-ish dough into an olive oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap again.
-Put in a warmish place and wait 8 or so hours.
Step 3: Check on the dough:
-When you come back to the dough it should have risen about 1.5-2 times the size. Sometimes it’s loose (and requires a few folds to trap in more air and firm it up like in the video above…if that’s the case wait another hour before baking) and sometimes it’s perfect.
Step 4: Bake the dough
-Preheat oven to 475 F (heat up Dutch oven at the same time)
-Remove hot Dutch oven and sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on the bottom to prevent sticking.
-Put the bread dough into the Dutch oven (slice the top if you'd like) and cover.
-Bake, covered, for 20-25 min.
-Uncover and back in the oven for an additional 10 min.
-Remove from oven and measure temperature of bread. Ideal is 97 C (or 206.6 F) so if it needs longer just pop it back in and test again in a few minutes.
-As soon as it's finished, pop it out of the Dutch oven and put it on a grate to cool. The sour character will become more pronounced a few hours after baking when the bread is cool.
-To store the bread, wrap it in a kitchen cloth.
Once confident, experiment with:
-Adding a bit of whole wheat flour to the regular flour
-Adding nuts and dried fruits (walnut & apricot is our favorite! Photo below.)
-Naming the starter in your fridge...something Swedish like "Pippi" or "Anders." It's alive after all.
Favorite bread uses so far:
-French toast with lemon zest in the batter
-Grilled cheese sandwiches
-Toast with Kalles Kaviar from Ikea. :)
Enjoy! Have a great weekend. We are baking another loaf tomorrow.
All Above Pictures are shared from Olle and Alden's bread making adventures.
I read an article recently about how important it is to cook with children, not just bake, but cook food. I couldn't agree more. My kids both love helping out in the kitchen. They use butter knives to cut soft vegetables, and I bought Emmett his first Santuko knife (red, his favorite color). We have colorful spatulas, wooden spoons and extra measuring spoons for everyone to participate.
I find my kids are more likely to try something new when they help make it into a dish. Mushrooms for example are something that neither Hugh nor Emmett like the look of, but if they remove the fins from a portobello and then slice it themselves (I use the term "slice" loosely) they will taste it. And we experiment with cooking in different styles to try it different ways. They will eat roasted crunchy mushrooms vs. sautéed soft mushrooms.
I've gotten some requests for healthy snacks my kids (and I) like. Some recipes that my kids enjoy helping with and eating are: hummus, guacamole, sourdough bread (baking yes, I know, but it is a more involved baking process), garlicky string beans, peeling sweet potatoes and trying to cut them, roasted chickpeas, preparing squash and scooping out the seeds, kale chips - removing the kale from the stems and rinsing, and generally helping measure spices, etc...
Here are a few recipes:
This hummus recipe is from my friend Jennifer Bedford, it's fabulous. My favorite tahini brand is al wadi, and I use dried chickpeas unless it's last minute and then I always have back up organic canned chickpeas (my kids are addicted).
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1/3 cup hot water, approximately
1 large lemon, juiced
1/4 cup tahini
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Drain and rinse the chickpeas, if canned. Put in the bowl of a food processor. Begin to process, gradually adding the hot water to a light, spreadable consistency. Add the lemon juice, garlic, tahini, and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil or more to taste, and season with sea salt. Process until well-blended and smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon, oil or sea salt, if necessary. You can add a little chopped parsley into the humus or sprinkle on top before serving. Drizzle addition olive oil, if desired.
If you use dried chickpeas, 1/2 c. dried chickpeas. Pick over for rocks or damaged beans. Rinse beans. Place them in a pot covered with cold water (about 2-3 inches above the highest beans) and leave, covered for 4-6 hours. Drain beans, cover with 2-3 inches of fresh water, add a 1 inch piece of kombu (combo is a sea vegetable that adds nutrients and digestibility to chickpeas), sea salt, and bring to a simmer for 1.5 hours. Drain and use for hummus, roasted chickpeas, etc...
Guacamole with blue corn chips my kids love. . .
3 ripe avocados, scooped
1 lime, juiced
1/4 tsp. sea salt (or more to taste)
1/2 medium onion, small dice
1/2 jalapeno (seeded and minced (optional)
3 Tablespoons cilantro, well rinsed and chopped (I LOVE cilantro, but use to taste).
1 clove of garlic, minced
In a large bowl, mash the avocado and toss with a bit of lime juice. Mash with a fork (or a potato masher if you have an 18-month old whose eyes you'd like to protect . . . ahem, Hugh James). Mix in the onions, cilantro, jalapenos, and additional 1 Tablespoon of lime juice or to taste. If you are storing the guac (and it's nice to let the flavors dance for 1/2-1 hour before serving, but who in the world can resist eating guac when it's ready?) place plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole to stop the colors from oxidizing. Enjoy!
My children LOVE these. You can add them on top of salads instead of croutons, you can toss them with roasted broccoli and sesame seeds, or just eat them from a bowl like Emmett and Hugh do.
1 15-oz can of chickpeas, rinsed
Toss with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and add seasoning however you'd like!
Our favorite spices are: sea salt, paprika, turmeric, dill, and sometimes garlic powder.
Roast at 350 degrees, for 20-25 minutes or until crispy.
Sweet Potato Chips (with yogurt dipping sauce).
One sweet potato, scrubbed or peeled. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), sea salt, a sprinkle of turmeric, a sprinkle of sweet paprika, sea salt to taste and pepper. Thinly slice either with a knife or a mandolin. Convection Roast at 350F until cooked or if you prefer crispy, until browned on the edges. (20-30 minutes depending on personal preference). My children love dipping. And I love this dip.
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt, 2 Tablespoons of dried dill, 1.5 tsp. of garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of apple cider vinegar, sea salt and 1/2 a Persian cucumber (seeds removed and diced). Add dried herbs to taste.
1 bunch of kale
Wash kale the night before and wrap in paper towels. Place stem facing towards you so that kale leaf easily flattens. Using a sharp chef's knife, remove the stem keeping the large leaves in one piece. Toss lightly with EVOO, sea salt. Roast for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. You want the kale leaves to have the crispiness of a chip. These are addictive. Be warned.
1 sliced ripe avocado.
a few flakes of malden sea salt
1/4 lemon juice
Eat with a spoon!
1 slice of sourdough toast (recipe for this coming!)
1/2 ripe avocado
sprinkle of maldon sea salt
(if you like a kick, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes)
Roasted Broccoli Emmett loves that broccoli looks like little trees - i love that he loves broccoli
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite size pieces. Cut stem, and peel and cut into long thick strips
Toss broccoli with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper
Roast at 350 on convection for 25 minutes until edges are crispy.
When finished add Gomasio
Nuts for my little nuts
Raw. Delicious. Nuts. Walnuts, almonds, Pistachios. My kids love them all. And they love cracking shells and eating the nuts.
Cherry Tomatoes with feta cheese
Plain. Off the vine if possible. Emmett loves picking tomatoes, making chipmunk cheeks with cherry tomatoes, and mixing it with feta cheese, olive oil and sea salt and eating them for lunch. For Hugh, I slice the tomatoes in half (we love to avoid choking).
Rice Cake with peanut butter and banana
Organic sea weed rice cake, organic salt-free peanut butter to taste, slice banana sometimes a dollop of raw honey for good measure.
Organic everything. Grapes. Blueberries. Blackberries. Raspberries. Strawberries. Cherries. Watermelon (pureed watermelon into juice), bananas (frozen bananas into the Omega juicer with the flat panel becomes banana ice cream), mangoes (mangoes with lime juice), papayas, pomegranates (they love cracking the seeds out of the skin), figs, dates, = they eat it all. And they love picking it out and getting in the fridge and choosing their fruit.
All the above foods are fun to make together and nutritious.
The diet that I follow as closely as possible is an anti-inflammatoy diet. The reason I follow this diet is because after decades of battling inflammation from eczema, this diet, in conjunction with supplements (particularly ones high in omegas), has healed my leaky gut and thus my inflammation showcased through eczema.
Many of my recipes avoid foods that cause inflammation in my gut. Ingredients that cause inflammation as specified by my doctor include: gluten, dairy, corn, soy, peanuts, caffeine, citrus fruits, alcohol, feedlot animal products, sugar, artificial or processed foods, eggs, nightshade vegetables (white potatoes, eggplants (gasp-I LOVE eggplant), tomatoes and peppers), fermented foods (miso, vinegar, kimchi), fungus (mushrooms-though shiitakes in moderation are fine). I avoid a lot of these ingredients however some affect me more than others (eggplants and tomatoes I react to almost immediately, whereas eggs don't seem to affect me as much).
Inflammation is at the root of many diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, allergies, asthma, lupus and eczema.
I can't always avoid the above foods. Eggplant makes its way onto our menu once and awhile, but I try!
Enough of you lovely readers have asked for recipes, I realized it was time to acquiesce. The recipes posted on here will be recipes I make at home for my family. My general rule of thumb with my kids is that I choose breakfast, they choose lunch (within reason), and I choose dinner. I always give Emmett & Hugh what Joe and I are eating. My recipes don't have a lot of spice for this reason, however I do sometime add some to the adult dishes.
Typically I take Emmett and Hugh with me food shopping so that they can point out vegetables and fruit that they want to try. My general rule with food is that most items in our house are fresh. We have crackers (typically Gluten Free) and pita chips (because my children are addicts and love them with Hummus), and we have freeze-dried fruit because they both love to snack on it but in general we avoid the pre-made food.
We buy predominantly organic food, pasture raised chickens and eggs (local eggs are best but Vital eggs are great), grass fed and finished beef and wild fish and grass fed, hormone free milk.
Someone asked about my kids favorite nutritious meals or snacks. Right now the both LOVE roasted chickpeas, Hummus, avocado edamame, apples, blueberries, yogurt, and freeze-dried fruit, steak, pistachios, walnuts, almonds.
My general rule is that everyone must take one bite of each component part of a meal before deciding whether they will eat it or not. Once and awhile Emmett refuses to taste something (he really dislikes eggs so anything with eggs he avoids) and I pick and choose when I enforce this.
I found that the kids are more likely to eat dinner if they get only a small snack in-between lunch and dinner (some yogurt, an apple, etc...).
Sometimes recipes will be my own, sometimes based on recipes in cookbooks (I'll let you know whose)!
Hi! I'm a health food trained chef, living with three children and my husband . . . sharing some ideas with people in hopes of bringing delicious ideas into their kitchen and pushing them gently to come up with simple and delicious meals for themselves.