From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Monday, October 3, 2016

Rejuvenated ReMona

While I made lots of sourdough over the summer, I wasn't always happy with the results.

In fact, there were a couple of loaves that I eventually gave to the birds.

The summer loaves didn't rise well and more often than not turned out gummy.  I don't know why.  I used all the same flour, honey, etc.  But ReMona just didn't seem to have any ooomph.

About a month ago I read that sometimes the starter doesn't do well with the standard 100% hydration when feeding (1/4c starter 1/4c flour 1/4c tepid water).

So I did 1 stint of adding a tad more flour and a tad less water (making for a drier start).

The batch I made from this was a bit better, but still not a bread to tempt me.

This past week (the 2nd stint), however, things got interesting.

In the 1st pic - by day 3 of the 'warm up' ReMona was nearly topping the cup.  ReMona has NEVER gotten this high before, usually only getting up to 2/3 of the cup.

The dough I made that evening left overnight to rise, knocked me over in the morning with such a vigorous rise.  And not a soft dough.  No.  Any poke bounced right back.  A first.

Transfer to loaf pans and left for almost 1.5 hours to re-rise also amazed me that it rose above the pan.  Again, never done this before.  

So I covered the pans, set them in the oven, and let them bake for 45 minutes.

Let me tell you, anticipation was high.  By 20 minutes into it, the kitchen smelled of yeast and bread.  Not to sound like a broken record - this, too, was unexpected.  I've never noticed such a yeasty smell before.

And, finally, the results.  Two huge, well formed, loaves to brag about.  And neither of them BLEW OUT at the top or sides.  These are picture perfect.  The best loaves I have EVER made.  And the taste?  Fabulous!  Nutty with just the right amount of sour.

Alright, starter.  Who are you and what have to done with ReMona???

P.S.  This bread (even after frozen and defrosted) is soft and bendy and stretchy and the crust is chewy.  Wha ??? It's like real bread.  Heavenly.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Steamed up

Yes, another spelt sourdough post.  So sue me. LOL

Like the last batch I used the same flour combination.  And, since I'd gotten a higher rise on the loaf that I'd covered, I bought another loaf pan so I could cover both loaves this time.

I did something new this time (hence the seemingly redundant post).  I took and misted the inside of the lids AND the top of the dough before covering and putting them in the oven.

I've read that steam changes the texture of a crust, helps create those flaky little steam blisters.

I didn't know if just covering the loaves with another tin would actually keep any of the steam inside.

Another thing I did was not UNcover the loaves with 10 minutes left to bake.  That way the crust wouldn't get as toasted as the last batch.

When I pulled out the loaves I was surprised to see steam escape!  Nice. The lids DID keep moisture in.

And just look at that rise.  Sure the crust burst, but not out of the side, just the top.  I also like the bottom crust better now that I'm not just greasing the tins with coconut oil, but dusting them with rice flour.  

The loaves sliced better this time as the upper crust wasn't has hard due to the steam.  Instead it's thinner and more flexible.

The bottom pic shows this current batch (left - covered/misted) versus the last batch (right - covered/not misted).  You can't miss the difference.  Now I can enjoy an even bigger sandwiches!  :-D

Okay, okay.  Enough sourdough bread posts.  Unless I try something else new.  

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

This product SUX!

And I'm lovin' it!  I am tired of sucking air through a straw when I prep things in zipper bags for freezing.

I remember way back I used to have a Seal-a-Meal freezer bag sealer maybe 20 years ago.  Don't know what ever happened to it.

There is a lot of hype about the Food Saver brand.  I checked them out.  KA-CHING!  Then I found out Seal-a-Meal is still around and is now also vac/sealing.  But I couldn't locate one locally and I HATE buying stuff sight unseen online.

Walmart had a Ziploc brand vac/seal.  Priced about $50 and bag/rolls for $15, I decided to see what's what.

No on/off button.  Simple instructions.  But how did I know when it was ready to use.  I called the 800# and got straight away to a VERY nice rep about the unit.  We chatted for over 10 minutes: how to use mine, how she uses hers, tips for freezing liquid items, little tricks with the unit, etc.  Basically while I'd already bought the product, she SOLD me ON the product, if you know what I mean.  I felt good about it.

Anyway, I had a turkey to break down.  The bones/gell where frozen in regular Ziploc gallon bags for later broth making.  Some of the meat put in the fridge for weekend consumption.  The rest I portioned out in sandwich bags, then stuffed them in 2 of the 3 sample bags provided with the unit.  Nice tough bags.

Took a couple of tries to get the lid locked down (she said it would be hard at first since the rubber gaskets would be stiff when new), but after that, I pressed the button, the indicators lit up, suction happend, stopped, then sealed.  


Looking forward to other large prep cooking for freezer and the upcoming veg harvest later in the season.

Hopefully, no more freezer burn/frostbite on even the double-bagged foods (like pic #3 - chickpeas). 

Nope, pic #4 from now on.

Here I am, finally in the 21st century.

Nice thing is, I can open the sealed bags, pull out food (pre-portioned in sandwich bags or just loose veg, etc) then RE-SEAL the bags.  Gotta love that.

How about you?  Do you have a vac/seal?  Which kind, do you use it often, do you like it and getting your bang for the buck?

Any tips you'd like to share?  I'm all ears.... 


Experiments:  Watched some YouTube showing how folks use regular baggies to vacuum pack items.  Trick is to use the removed 'zipper' as a channel allowing the air to be vacuumed out.  There are always food items that I would like to use this little trick on:

Here's what I tried.   

1st. Took a couple time to realize that I needed to use only one side of the zipper, else it's too thick to melt/seal.  Took a couple tries but sealed up some extra carrots.

2nd.  How about banana?  Sometimes I only need half today, half tomorrow.  Let's see how it stores in the fridge vac'd.

3rd.  The REAL test.  Avocado.  This things start browning real fast left to their own devices.  Will be watching this one closely.

Notice the zipper strips in the bags.  The strips have to reach down and touch the foods and extend out past the top of the bag.  Gotta love YouTube.   

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