Thursday, 30 August 2012

making a sourdough starter

So i tried this several times, every time for some or the other reason it did not work out like it should. the first time i used whole wheat flour and thought that would work the same.. well no. it works a lot slower and needs about double the time, if it works at all with this recipe. the second time i ended up with mold in my starter ( still have not figured out why...) and the third time i did not close the bowl tightly and a fly got in... the result were lots of small maggots the next day.

don't be discouraged because i cant get things right,
yours might work on the first go.
and as i am not giving up here is my next try.

so the things to remember are: use white wheat flour, cover your bowl tight so no flies can get in but give it air to breath because that's where the yeast is going to come from. the wild yeast is everywhere in the air and will just have to settle down into your starter and start eating the sugars and flour.

what you will need:
  • 4 cups of warm potato water (just cook some potatoes the day you are making the starter and save some of the water)
  • 2 tsps of salt
  • 2 tsps of brown sugar/or 2 tbs of honey
  • 4 cups of white wheat flour
  • a glass bowl, a towel, a rubber band, a refrigerator and something to store the starter in afterwards, like a jar with a lid 
1.) mix all the ingredients together in a bowl (add the flour in small portions) and give it a good stir
2.) cover the bowl with a towel and fix it with the rubber band 
3.) let your starter sit for about three days in a warm place
day 1
day 2
this is the first time i really get to this stage where you have the fluffy bubbles on top, the transparent liquid in the middle and the dense dough on the bottom of the bowl. it is really warm here at this time of year so if you are living in a colder climate it will take longer, but you will get there dont worry!
It also starts to smell like beer now.
4.) so after about 3 days i stirred it, put some flour inside and put it in the refridgerator.
5.) now it should be possible to bake with it. even though i heard that in the beginning you should always use some additional yeast as the starter is not strong enough yet. i guess after about a few months it should be ready.
6.) dont forgett to feed your starter once a week with a cup of flour and a cup of water. also if you dont use it, just to keep it alive.

Update 24.10.12: my starter is still not strong enough to make bread but for other things it works fine i guess. i read now that you should leave the starter outside for a longer time before you put it in the fridge to let it develope stronger yeast. but if you leave it outside you will have to feed it more often then once a week.
Update 20.5.2013: i think i figured out what i did wrong. i did not put it in a airtight jar when putting it in the fridge. after i did that it started working like a charm. i am baking breads with this starter now and even gave a part to a friend so she can start her own.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

making home made pasta - first try

i always thought making pasta is amazingly difficult and complicated, but guess what? it is really easy (if you are a strong person or have one of those noodle machines). i found out about how easy it actually is on jamie olivers show jamie at home. what i like about this show is that he includes the garden and talks about planting, growing, harvesting and preserving while cooking fabulous and really easy to make dishes.

So here is my first try with homemade pasta.
all you will need is 1 egg and 100g of flour per person.
you can mix the dough in a food processor but as we don't really have one i did that by hand. 
you want it to become a not sticky mass (so add more flour if necessary).
now the next step is kneading it until it gets kind of smooth (you can use a noodle machine for that, just use the thickest setting, fold it in half and repeat. as we dont have one i just kneaded it by hand)
so now comes the hard part: roll it out!
roll it out as thin as possible and even thinner.
now if you have one of those noodle machines that is probably not a problem, but if you dont...
well lets say it is hard work. i just gave up after some minutes and decided that i would try how it turns out (well it turned out to be too thick...)
when you are done rolling coat the dough with some flour and roll it into a roll.
cut it into slices and unravel those a bit.
now cook it in salted boiling water and you are done =)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

whole wheat bread with some rye

Some time ago we found steve the bread guy and his many bread recipes on youtube. since then we did not buy any bread any more and kept trying to make the bread as tasty looking as steves... 
well until now that did not really work. the bread we made was mostly eatable and ok but not especially tasty or super good looking. also our sourdough never worked quiet like steves (i guess that has something to do with the temperatures we have here at the moment). 
but we kept trying. 
and yesterday i managed to make a real tasty one =)
i have no idea why it is different then the others but it is. so if your first bread does not turn out like you imagined don't give up, you will learn it eventually!

so here is steves video for the whole wheat bread

 and here is how i made it. it takes about 3 hours depending on the time the bread needs to rise/the temperature in your kitchen.
you will need:
  • 2 tsp of brown sugar
  • 2 tsp of dry instant yeast
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 2 cups of white flour
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1-2 cups of whole rye flour
  1. give the yeast, sugar, warm water and the warm milk into a bowl and mix them. now it has to sit for about 10 min or until you can see brown foam on top of the liquid.
  2. now add the oil (that was actually a mistake on my side, the oil is supposed to go in before, but it turned out fine), the salt and the white flour. after you mixed everything you can start adding the other flour (whole wheat and rye) until the dough is not really sticky anymore. you will have to use your hands to kneed it.
  3. take the the dough out of the bowl, scrape out the excess flour and coat the bowl and the dough with some oil. Put the dough back, cover it with a damp towel and let it rise until it has doubled in size (about an hour or two depending on the temperature in your kitchen)
  4. when it has doubled in size start kneading it again for about a minute or so until it deflates (don't do that if your bread did not rise well). transfer the dough to an oiled bread pan (i use an old  cake spring form), cover it with a damp towel and again let it sit until it grew quiet a bit. about an hour i would say.
  5. preheat the oven to 205C°/400F° and bake for about 30 min (you know that it is ready when knocking on the bottom of the bread gives you a how sound or the knife you poke in it comes out clean). let it cool down before you cut and enjoy it =)

Monday, 27 August 2012

Our balcony

This is our little balcony in Tel Aviv. Really not a lot of space but enough for now.
This is my experimentation station =)
where i try planting seeds of things like lemon grass, cotton, tabak, chilly, eukalyptus, tee tree and other things.
We had soo many tomatoes and everything went fine until they were supposed to build acctual tomatoes. The flowers just started getting dry and fell of the plants! The only way i can explain that is that there were not enough insects or wind to pollinate/feritlize the flowers. After we realized that, we tried `helping` with a small brush but it was to late.
So next time we will know better and try helping from the beginning.
Other things grow very well in our small `garden` like this raddish....
...or herbs like this basil.

Why this blog?

Why did we decide to start this blog?
We felt like we want to start a journal about our small urban balcony garden and our experiments with baking and all the other things to come.

Some time ago we started thinking about self sufficiency and life outside this weird concept we all live in where you go to work for someone else most of your life, waiting for those few years in the end where you don't have to work for someone else anymore (if you will ever get there) to actually start living.

Would it not be much nicer and more satisfying to work for yourself, grow your own food and to be independent from the big corporations and companies?

Would it not be much more real to actually know where the food is coming from that you eat every day and give to your children?

Would a life in harmony with nature not make much more sense?

Well, i know that for me all this is true.

I know that for me all this would make more sense.

And i know that i want to give it a try.
So these are our attempts of living outside the vault (does anyone of you know Fall Out?), outside this system, going back to the basics and starting a self sufficient life.
It is going to take a lot of years and practise.
But everyone has to start somewhere, so we start on our balcony in Tel Aviv, Israel.