Making your own Levain (Sourdough) Culture

I’ve had a lot of people over the years ask me how to make a Levain (Sourdough) Culture or if, rather, I could give them some of my own to use, which is usually an almost necessary action anyway during the typical care of a culture since it’s required to dispose of half before refreshing.
On the other hand though, I have found a system that works for my Levain and that makes no waste product in the end, saving me effort and money but still provides a good product.
To explain the waste, typically when you have a Levain, you feed after every use then store it and then get rid of that feeding and feed it again before using. This improves your yeasts environment (therefore the strength), keeps your yeast alive and happy, ensuring that your bread will rise with a good Levain Culture.

My no-waste method is simple and with the same end goal. I refresh (feed) my Levain the night before I intend to use it, let it rise / quadruple over-night or 8 hours, use about 80% of what’s there, and then store the extra 20% left over in the fridge until next time. Then I repeat by refreshing the leftover with a new feeding the night before I intend to use it again and so on.
Simple, and saves the money lost in the disposal of the extra flour used otherwise. Of course I typically make bread twice a week, but I’m sure that this can be stretched to a longer period of time like perhaps a whole week in between. After this you will most likely need to follow the typical feeding / usage requirements before making your dough.

There are other methods of storing your Levain using less water to make almost a hard dry dough you would just rehydrate before use, or using leftover dough instead, etc. but perhaps I’ll do another post in the future on different care methods for your culture, this post is simply on how to make one and a little bit about it.

Continue reading

The New Chicken Coop…I mean Mansion!

Tim has been hard at work for the last little while to get the new chickens their new home.
We got these little guys at 4 weeks +/ – and being now 16 weeks +/ – we finally have it done!

He took the plans for a backyard shed and converted it to make it a lovely coop home. This took a little while as this is the first structure he’s built from scratch himself, let alone convert from the original structure to work as a different building!

I must say, he’s done an absolutely amazing job, I couldn’t be more proud of his skills and hard work he puts into everything he does! It’s wonderful to see our plans manifest and see the progression from what we started with to the projects nearing completion.

IMG_2704-1

Soon Nathan will be helping Dad around the Farm, but for now he’ll just match him in his own carhartt overalls!

We’ve put the little chickens (but not so little anymore) in their new home to get acquainted and settled. We finished the run for them this past weekend just in perfect time for letting them out of their new home. We’ll be doing the finishings on the coop, siding and pretty little touches, etc. throughout the summer slowly on a smaller budget so we’ll be going week by week on those things. By the end of august / ┬áseptember we plan to have it all completely done.

Here is the progression we have so far for the coop and run!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

…and here are our lovely Girls and Roo in their new home!

IMG_2384

We’ve already gotten a couple eggs from them, the first one (top) had a soft rubbery shell, the second one was a teeny tiny lovely egg (bottom 2 photos).

IMG_2687

 

Apple Oat Muffins

The other day we needed some lunch snacks for Tim at work, my typical solution is to make muffins. Not entirely sure what it is that has me committed to them, perhaps it’s how I find them easy and simple to make, delicious, consistent and filling. The flavour choices are endless, I can use whatever I have on hand, as well as the fact they keep so well when frozen.

waiting for these lovely apples to ripen, our trees produced quite a lot again this year!

Waiting for these lovely apples to ripen, our trees produced quite a lot again this year!

There’s something magical to me about fruit trees, and I suppose all flowering foods. To create something so delicious and wonderful…all starting from a tiny flower! I guess it’s a bit like the magic of a new baby, this beautiful wonder filled being who started from a single cell! Talk about the wow factor…
So, today I will share my recipe for a muffin that I absolutely adore, Apple Oat.
A salut to our wonderful apple trees who put a lot of effort out to give us a fruitful season with a little love, year after year.

Gone Wild Apple Oat Muffin

231g Organic White Flour
8g Baking Powder
3g Fine Sea Salt
35g Rolled Oats
20g Ground Dried Apple (optional)
3g Ground Cinnamon
1g Ground Ginger
1g Ground Cloves
1 Lemon Zested

71g White Sugar
71g Brown Sugar
100g Vegetable Oil
2g Pure Vanilla Extract
90-100g (2) Large Eggs
175g Buttermilk
90g Shredded Fresh Apple, unpeeled

In a large bowl, whisk together thoroughly all the dry ingredients. For the ground dried apple, I dry my own in the dehydrator until crisp but still pliable. I’m sure you can do so in the oven as well on a very low temperature setting, I do dip the apples first in a cider vinegar solution: 20% vinegar to 80% water. Once they are dried I grind the desired weight in a small coffee grinder. I marked this optional, but the ground dried apple really does give a wonderful apple-flavour boost!

In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients together one at a time following the order listed above. Each time making sure that the first is incorporated well before adding the next. Eg. being: Combine the white sugar with the brown sugar, next add the oil, then add the vanilla, etc.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold gently all together until the dry is saturated, do not over-stir! If you so desire, you can use Pastry Flour which has a lower gluten % for more of a insured tender muffin.

Bake in a 350F. preheated oven. I get about 8 decent sized muffins from this recipe usually… which really don’t last long enough to freeze some days!

Store either well wrapped for a few days at room temperature or freeze immediately once cooled to store for 1 week.
Enjoy!

Garden Growth, June 2016

Here’s a few snapshots of the garden growth this first true summer we are at our property, it’s so exciting to see everything developing. Even if it is slowly, were thrilled to see it all come together and get to the part where we’ve finished everything that we have to do, and were at the parts we really just want to do…but is that ever really the case with To-Do lists?
They never end!

Our suspected Quince tree, just loaded with potential fruit!

Our suspected Quince tree, just loaded with potential fruit!

Our Yellow Plum tree is quite crowded again this year too, it must have liked the small amount of pruning I did last fall

Our Yellow Plum tree is quite crowded again this year too, it must have liked the small amount of pruning I did last fall

Our Delphinium blooming beautifully, I absolutely love this flower and so do the bees!

Our Delphinium blooming beautifully, I absolutely love this flower and so do the bees!

Our Potato's growing nicely in our converted garbage bins

Our Potato’s growing nicely in our converted garbage bins

Drying our Silver Thyme for over winter use. We are fortunate enough to have fresh thyme year round, but there is only so much for use as it's growth is almost entirely stunted through the winter so instead I dry it for use on roasted potatoes, etc.

Drying our Silver Thyme for over winter use. We are fortunate enough to have fresh thyme year round, but there is only so much for use as it’s growth is almost entirely stunted through the winter so instead I dry it for use on roasted potatoes, etc.

Breakfast Radishes first of the season from the garden

Breakfast Radishes first of the season from the garden

A Bounty from the garden: Broad Beans, Carrots, Breakfast Radish, Kale, a few Peas, and a lonely Strawberry

A Bounty from the garden: Broad Beans, Carrots, Breakfast Radish, Kale, a few Peas, and a lonely Strawberry

Pears, all three of our trees are covered again as well

Pears, all three of our trees are covered again as well

The garden rows, slowly we'll be building our soil here in this patch to grow wonderful fertile food. For now, we've done raised beds using bought garden soil.

The garden rows, slowly we’ll be building our soil here in this patch to grow wonderful fertile food. For now, we’ve done raised beds using bought garden soil.

Another view of the garden rows.

Another view of the garden rows.

Raspberry Jam

Well, this year unfortunately was not a great strawberry year for the farmers, so unless the u-picks are good and we get a chance to get to them, alas another year goes by without my strawberry jam and strawberry rhubarb preserves.
To combat this sadness, I’ve bought a good dozen or so of strawberry plants to hopefully provide myself with enough over the years to supply my own strawberries for those endeavours.

On a whole other note though, the raspberries were once again good for the farmer we get our fruits from, so I was able to purchase a flat (about 8 pounds) of raspberries that were picked a few days before for jam at a very reasonable price.

So at least were not deprived of strawberry and raspberry jam this year! Still though, it’s been so long since we’ve last had strawberry, I’m finding that the raspberry isn’t quite as exciting as it once was…

Here’s the recipe that I have found to be my favourite for raspberry, I’ve added some of my own twists to the original recipe that I find helps boost the flavour profile of the raspberries and makes it a bit more of a fresher taste than a heavier sugar taste that can often result with homemade jams.

Gone Wild Farmhouse, Raspberry Jam

8 lbs. / 3.629 kg. fresh raspberries
5 lbs. 7oz. / 2.471 kg. white sugar
3, zest and juice of fresh lemons

In a very large pot (I use our stock pot) place the raspberries in with the sugar, stir together to coat the berries and leave no sugar lumps. Let this sit for 1-2 hours to render out some of the juices.

Place the pot on the stovetop and start to bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add in the lemon zest and juice and stir around. Boil the mixture, stirring frequently, until jelling occurs. I prefer doing the spoon test where you watch it drip but if your not comfortable determining the thickness of your jam that way, you can check using a chilled dish and dropping some in; Let that chill and check the thickness that way, you want it to mound or if you run your finger through for it to remain fairly cleared.

Remove the pot from the stovetop and ladle the jam into pint or half-pint jars. I prefer half-pints myself, which I get about 21 jars out of this recipe. Clean the jar edges from jam debris, and then place the pre-heated lids (let them sit staggered in hot water for 5-10 minutes) and rings (fingertip tight, no tighter!) and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes at sea level.

Remove your jars from the bath and let sit for 12 hours on a towel upright, with the water on the lids gently removed.

Voila! Delicious homemade jams to enjoy and gift out.

IMG_2323