Sourdough starter

With COVID-19 going on, a TON of people have decided to take up baking.  I’m glad that I got into it a few years ago so at least I’m already familiar with the process and had started building up supplies prior to the lockdown.  I have heard a lot of people who have started making bread starters because it is difficult/impossible to get active dry yeast at this time (side note: my wife mentioned part of the reason for the shortage is that it is hard for the yeast companies to obtain the packaging for the yeast and normally their “busy season” is int he fall so they weren’t prepared for the high demand).  I had made a starter a few years back and kept it going for a few months but then neglected it and eventually tossed it.  For the last year or two I’ve been meaning to re-start one.  It happened to be unseasonably warmer this week and since I have a little extra time (I’m considered essential so still working but not as much as before) decided to start a new sourdough starter.

Surprisingly you can make a sourdough starter pretty easily and with few ingredients.  All you really need is flour and water.  There are some particulars to each that you have to pay attention to.  For the flour you can actually use different types (as evidenced below).  The water you ideally should be using something that doesn’t have chlorine or chloramine in it as that can retard the growth of the starter (either using filtered water or bottled water).

I decided to try two different types to see which would create a better yeast starter.  I made one out of whole wheat flour and one with AP flour.

And….

Both those failed to produce.

I waited a week and then decided to try once more (what’s that saying “try and try again”).  This time I kept it very simple.

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup water (used the Brita since that water has sat and if there is extra chlorine, hopefully it will have evaporated out).
  • Food safe plastic container
  • I mixed everything up thoroughly and then used cheesecloth to cover (and partially covered with the lid but didn’t seal it). I put this on top of the fridge because it’s supposed to be a little warmer there.

Then I just let it sit for about 24 hours.  Our house is relatively cool so I left it an additional 12 hours.  By now I could see a little bit of bubbles.  I removed 1/2 of the mixture and then added in another 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water and mixed it thoroughly.

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I kept repeating the process (waiting 24 hours between feedings).  It took almost 2 weeks (most web sites say you can have it ready in 5-7 days) probably because it is cooler in our house (normally they want it in 80-85 F temps).

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A few bubbles…it’s ALIVE!
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Got some expansion and more bubbles

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If left too long a crust can form, just discard it and underneath is fine and toss 1/2 and re-feed

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After removing crust
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Healthy starter – notice the bubbles
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Those bubbles are what you want to see

 

-StewsCat

Flour Tortillas

Flour Tortillas

This is an oldie but a goodie.  I can’t believe I haven’t made a post about this before.  Quite a many years ago I decided to try my hand at making flour tortillas.  I had heard they were more difficult than corn.  It took me a couple of tries before I became more comfortable with it.  I then took a few years off where I didn’t make them so had to re-teach myself.  I figured I should actually document it so I have something to reference.  I made some easy fajita/tacos tonight using these tortillas.  I generally will re-heat the tortilla on an open flame of my oven for ~15 seconds on each side.

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups AP flour (you can also incorporate a % of wheat flour to make it “healthier”)
  • 1 cup hot water (almost boiling)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/3 c oil (instead of lard)

Most original recipes call for the use of lard.  I have never had lard in the house and read about using oil as a substitute so that’s what I’ve been using (either canola or vegetable oil).  For the pictures below I actually made a smaller batch (2 cups flour, 2/3 c water, etc).

  1.  Mix up the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Add in the oil and incorporate it with the dry mixture.  Heat water til near boiling.  Add water and mix/knead for about 3 minutes.  Exact water may depend on environmental conditions – dough should come together into smooth ball without being too dry.
  2. Cover in a damp towel/cloth for about 20 minutes.
  3. Separate dough ball into individual smaller balls and roll into slightly than larger golf ball size balls
  4. Cover again with damp towel/cloth and let sit for 30-50 minutes.
  5. Take each ball and flatten into disk/hockey puck shape.  Place small amount of flour on each side of puck.  On a well floured counter using a rolling pin to roll out doughball into tortilla shape.  Can roll out into 1/8″-1/16″ thickness depending on preference.  Rolling can be tricky.  I’ve found that I’ll roll it out North to South, then pick it up and turn it 45 degrees and continue to attempt to make it round.  It’s okay if it isn’t fully round.  Still tastes great!
  6. In a hot cast iron pan (or comal if you have one), place tortilla down and let sit for 40-50 seconds (depending on temperature of pan).  Using flat spatula, flip and cook another 30-45 seconds.  Can look for small brown spots to give an indication of doneness.

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NOLA baby!

NOLA baby!

Back in December my wife had a work conference in New Orleans.  She had previously visited for work and had a great time.  I had never been so figured this would be a fun little trip for us.  I flew down a few days after she did and arrived in the late afternoon after making a connecting flight through Salt Lake City.

I caught a cab into the French Quarter to our hotel, Hyatt Centric French Quarter.  After getting squared away in the hotel room, we met up with my wife’s coworker for some drinks and grub

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Tri Tip

Decided to make a tri-tip.  I had previously done this once or twice but forgot to actually document it and therefore each time I’ve had to make it, I have to google various recipes and try to figure out what I had done previously.  I think one time I wrapped it in aluminum foil and another time I put it on a raised platform in a pan.  This time I remembered to write down how I made it so I had it for future reference.  I guess tri tip is more of a west coast cut of beef that isn’t typically  made it other parts of the US (though with the passage of time I’m sure it is more common now all over the US).  It was Labor Day and so we were trying to come up with something to make – I didn’t want to use the grill because it has been insanely hot here all the time.  I purchased an untrimmed Tri Tip from the store that was about 2.7 lbs or so.

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April 2019 Road Races

Thist post got put on the backburner as we went on our trip and then I kind of forgot about it.  However I wanted to make sure I documented it.

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Prior to April, I hadn’t done a race in over a year.  So this year I decided to try again at the Buzz Oates RunSac Race Series.  I had signed up for it last year (the mileage program) but never got past the one race.  It’s been a few years since I did shorter races (5K) and so I decided to do a 5K and then my coworker wanted to do a 10K so I signed up for one as well.  They all happened to be within a few weeks of each other so I decided to lump them all into one post.

First up was the Credit Union SacTown Run on April 7.  They have both a 10 mile and 5K option.  I had not been doing much distance work and wasn’t feeling up for the 10 miler so I did the 5K.  Starting at the beginning of the year my running has been more consistent.  I’ve been doing more treadmill running but this does allow me to do incline and speed work.  I wanted to see how my speed was given that I’m getting older.  My last 5K was in 2017 where I ran ~8.5 min/mi pace.  The race started just west of the Capitol and there was plenty of street parking within a few short blocks of the start/finish area.  They had plenty of portapotties and also various tents with vendors (other regional races, local businesses).  My one gripe was that the people who had set the portapotties put them against the curb and there was quite a bit of road camber (the curve on each side of the street to allow for water to run away from the street) and so the portapotties weren’t level and would rock when you got in and tried to sit down.  I knew it wasn’t me because every single person who went in or out of them commented about it and would tell the next person: “good luck” and then laugh.  lol.  Small gripe I know.

Otherwise the rest of the race was straight forward.  The course consisted of running through the streets near the Capitol and then crossing the famous Tower Bridge into West Sacramento by Raley Field (home of the minor league baseball team Sacramento River Cats) and then back across to the finish.

I went out comfortably hard for the first 2 miles and then still feeling pretty good I pushed myself hard the last mile to see if I still had some speed.  I crossed the finish line in 26:18.  This was actually 34 seconds faster than my last 5K in 2017 – not bad!  The other great thing about 5Ks is that the recovery period is minimal.

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