Feeding Sourdough Starter

Great Day for Ducks

Hello my friends and family! My Pookies and Apple Dumplings! I am going to share with you how I maintain my sourdough babies. (Although my oldest, Tiffany Bubbles, is probably 20 years old?)

I am no longer baking in ‘la petite kitchen’, having moved to Alabama. (there’s a whole other story which you may already know about. ). I had been thinking of starting a new blog site with a different name. I used the name “la petite kitchen’ because I worked in such a small kitchen. I figured, if I can bake all this in this little kitchen, you can too. But what would I call the new one? How about “Recipes of mine for when I’m dead and buried.” Because that’s kind of why I do this, so my loved ones can go back and see how I made things. But the idea of starting over, with a new blog, it just doesn’t ring my bells, know what I mean? So I’ll stay here for now. (Probably updating some lazy recipe writing I’ve done in the past).

These days I am at the lake house kitchen and this is whats going on outside today. We have an appetizer of showers, and entrée of serious steady rain served with a dessert of wild-thing downpour, to flood low lying creeks and such. It will be bouncing back and forth between those three today. With the side dish of a possibility of tornado. Hmm. No thank you, I’m full.

Lets get to business.

I’m going under the assumption that you have some starter. Maybe you got it from a bakery or a friend. Maybe you bought some or even started your own. But you’ve got it and now aren’t quite sure what to do with it. There are lots of opinions out there and you may hear conflicting ideas.

I am here to sooth away those conflicting ideas. Just do it my way.

Okay, I’m just saying I’ve been maintaining sourdough now for a couple of decades at least and I’ve tried a few things. Some work better than others. I will show you what I use and what your options are and how it may turn out. So cuddle up with your jar of sourdough and lets get started.

This is Tiffany Bubbles, my oldest jar of sourdough and the one I started myself.

I like to keep my pet sourdoughs in little 1 cup/8 oz mason jars. I used to think you had to keep a cup at least on hand and each time you fed it, you were using up cups and cups of flour. It distressed me to waste so much flour. Because I would end up throwing some of it away each feeding. Sometimes I would turn the throw-away dough into pancakes or biscuits. But not always. Besides, mason jars? Who doesn’t love using mason jars? Cheap, cute and easy to get replacement tops if you want. Dishwasher safe, need I say more?

I found out that you only need, really, to keep a tablespoon or so on hand. That was mind blowing, let me tell you! Liberating. I really only have to keep a tiny bit on hand? YES! I have about 3 tablespoons worth of starter in my jar and I keep the jar hibernating in the fridge. (I had the two, Tiffany and Dazzle, in an ice chest driving out here from California to Alabama, with a banjo on my knee.) Its all the seed you need to feed indeed. (hee-hee)

I last used Tiffany Bubbles to make sourdough bread, so Dazzle has been feeling neglected. Even if I don’t plan on making bread (which of course I am) they all need to be fed now and again. I can keep them in the fridge for months on end. They will begin to look slumbery with a gray liquid slowing building up on top. That liquid is called ‘hooch’ and you can drain it off or mix it in, it doesn’t matter at all. So about every 3 months or so I get them out to feed them, usually making some bread in the process.

Oh, I also have Sourdough Sam now as part of the sourdough family. It was a dry powdered starter my aunt brought back from Alaska in an envelope that is now a jar in the fridge. He’ll get fed next.

This is back at the Inn, when I lived and worked at the Mistletoe Bough. There is more of this starter as you can see. He is still a baby.

So I’ve fed Dazzzle…

She will be sitting out all day. I will keep an eye out for bubbles forming. That’s the nice thing about using glass. You can see what’s going on in there. Peek in the sides and watch as bubbles form.

So, get out your starter. Get out a glass bowl (ceramic is fine. plastic in a pinch.) You will just need some water and flour.

ABOUT FLOUR

All you need is flour and water and I don’t really have to talk about water do I? Its tap or bottled or filtered, room temp. That’s it.

I have organic Arrowhead Mill white flour (it was on sale) so I am using that. Sometimes I use Wheat Montana. But organic is best, if you have it. King Arthur, Bobs Red Mill, Lily White bread flour, whatever. I steer clear of store brands. It just makes me cringe a bit inside. But I’m a flour snob, so take that into account and decide for yourself.

Some people recommend using a 50/50 blend of white and whole wheat flour. (Tartine bakery for one) They use that to feed their starter and make the bread. Go for it if you want. I once tried a full on 100% whole wheat starter. It died a miserable moldy death. Since then I’ve been afraid to use whole wheat. But I’m thinking a 50/50 blend should be good. I use white for the starter and add whole wheat in the bread itself, sometimes just a little for flavor, sometimes a lot. This is what I’m comfortable with. Its one of those “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” things. Of course, I now have three sourdough babies. So the day may come when I try a blend to feed it. (Don’t worry Tiffany, I won’t experiment on you.)

You’ve got your starter, the bowl and flour and water on hand? Lets pull out the starter into the bowl.

Then I add water. About a half of my little jar is what I use.

Yes, that jar will get a good cleaning.

Now I mix it up until it is a milky white soup looking thing. More like a chowder really.

Start scooping in the flour. You do not need to measure. You are going to learn to do this by feel, looks, texture.

Ooo, Georgia peaches!

I add 2 heaping scoops from a large spoon and mix.

This is what I refer to as Goopy starter

I add a little more until I have this thick goopy dough. Thicker than pancake batter.

Now before we continue, lets stop and have a talk about our friends, the bacteria.

You see, there are two kinds of main bacteria living in your starter, hand in hand with the wild yeast. (The acid is, in fact, given off by the yeast. I don’t want to say ‘yeast waste’ or ‘yeast pee’ because that would be gross.)

That would be Lactic acid and Acetic acid. Warmer starters kept at room temperature and more runny, liquid starters tend to have more lactic acid and are milder in flavor. This is how I used to keep my starter because I didn’t know there was any other way. Cooler, less wet dough tends to grow more acetic acid, which is more sour. At Tartine bakery, they like it less sour, make bread every dang day and have the starter at room temperature and, while not runny, definitely goopier. Cool and groovy.

I bake sourdough less often. I must needs to keep the starter in the fridge or I would be wasting an enormous amount of flour feeding it every day, sometimes twice a day. I also like a more tangy sourdough flavor. Hence, I keep my starter in the fridge between bakes and I keep a firmer dough.

If you made lots of bread, at least twice a week, then you will probably be keeping your dough out at room temperature. So thats a factor in favor of lactic acid. If you keep your dough looser, thats also a plus for lactic acid. Firmer starters, like silly putty and chilled starters favor the acetic, sour taste.

Any questions?

What if you want a less sour taste but need to keep it in the fridge because you don’t run a bakery and don’t bake bread every day? Don’t worry my little sugar lumps. That’s easy. Keep the dough more jiggly, looser. The rest will happen during the break making process, when you bake the loaves. For example, I frequently ‘retard’ the bread dough by putting it in the fridge over night. This chilling and aging stimulates acetic acid. I bake it the next day and it has more flavor. So if you don’t want it more sour (and its really not all that sour in the end) then don’t do this. Don’t retard it. Don’t chill it. But thats not until you get to the bread stage. We are still at the ‘feeding of the starter’ stage.

Besides, don’t over think it. The bread will be awesome either way. The more you make it, the better idea you will have on what you like. You probably have bigger things to worry about then what kind of acid is in your starter anyway.

See that picture above? How the dough is pretty thick, leaving a trail in the bottom of the bowl?

FROM HERE ON OUT, YOU ARE IN THE SAFE ZONE.

You can do no wrong. If you leave it like this, its good.

If you add more flour to thicken it like so…

…its still good. You can stop here and let it grow bacteria babies.

or

Adding more flour still, heaping spoons at a time.

Add even more flour until you can knead it a bit.

ITS ALL GOOD. WHAT EVER WAY YOU DECIDE, IT WILL WORK.

I’m just saying that for those nervous Nellies out there who think they may be ruining it.

The best way to ruin starter is to overheat it. That will kill it. Because its alive. If you are trying to keep it warm in the unlit oven with a lightbulb on because its winter and you are giving it a ‘push’, then you forget and decide to bake chicken for dinner and preheat the oven without removing the starter because you forgot it was in there, yes, that will kill your starter baby. If you mix it with really hot water (over 110 degrees), you will kill your starter baby.

But adding more or less water or flour will not kill your starter babies. Of course, they could starve to death if you put them in the fridge and forget about them for, oh, a year. But I’ve heard of people taking them out of the fridge after 6 months and feeding them, waking them up and they are still alive. I prefer to feed them at least every 3 months. (But since I don’t keep it written down anywhere, who knows? I should mark the date on the jar when I feed it. Yes! Brilliant! I will start doing that now.)

Your starter is fed. Now what? Let it sit in its bowl at room temperature to grow. The wild yeast is growing in the starter. It may be slow and sluggish at first, especially if its been in the fridge for a great length of time. The hibernating yeast is waking up, eating sugars found in the breakdown of the flour, winking at other yeasties and making yeast babies. By the end of today I should start seeing bubble action. At that point, tonight, I will take half of the starter out and either throw it away, or put it in a jar in the fridge to make pancakes or something out of it.

Out of whats left in the jar I will now add more flour and water. I have more to start with so I will add less water and flour. But I will get it back to the consistency I like. Runny, sticky, pasty, whatever. For me, thick and pliable. I will let this sit until morning.

NOTE: YOU NEED TO REPLACE THE JAR STARTER FOR NEXT TIME.

When do I put some back in the jar to hibernate again?

Good question Sonny-Jim.

After its showing signs of life and has been fed, so lets say after the second feeding. I fed mine this morning, thats the first feeding. Tonight will be the second feeding and they should be waking up by then. (especially Tiffany. Shes an active lady.) I wait a couple of hours after the active starter has been fed, then I take a scoop out, Put it back in my clean, sterilized jars and put it back in the fridge.

If I take starter out right after feeding, the yeast has not had time to wake up and multiply. If I wait too long, until its time for another feeding, there may not be enough flour food left to maintain the starter through hibernation. So

Second feeding, let sit 2 hours, take some out to replenish your starter jar for future loaves of bread.

So, recap. I will feed the starters again tonight, wait 2-3 hours then replace starter in my jars. At that point-technically I am done! I have fed my starters and replaced my stock. I can make biscuits or pancakes or cobbler or whatever out of the sourdough I have left.

Here are examples of Tiffany and Dazzle (before I renamed her). See how it looked when I first fed it? Back then I used a large mason jar. Then notice how it bubbled up? Thats some active wild yeast!

But I am going to make bread with it.

Well, to be more specific, I am going to use this leftover sourdough to make the leaven which goes in the bread.

But that is for another day.

Happy feeding my dears!

PS I sterilize my jars by either putting them in the dishwasher for a load OR I wash them by hand. Fill half way with water, put in the microwave for 2-3 minutes until it boils. The steam created by this sterilizes the jars. Then I don’t have to replace my cheap masking tape labels.

Irish Soda Bread: Deluxe & Every Day Version

(Some of the pictures are missing but this is the time of year for the Irish Soda bread recipe. Here is the recipe I used last year…and the year before.. So rather than reinvent the wheel, and because I dont have time to start from scratch, what with brownies in the oven and 8 loaves of bread cooling on the table, here is the re-run:)

“She’s sharp as a marble!”

“He’s tick-as-a-brick”

These are a few of the more polite sayings I picked up from an Irish gal I used to work with before the flood. She was a hoot, and I thought she was from another planet. She definitely took me outside my box. I doubt she even had a box.

Around this time of year, everyone has some Irish coursing through their veins. I know we do. We did the DNA test, so we know fer sure! And one thing we all can agree on is our love for Irish Soda Bread. The plain kind, craggy, warm, creamy on the inside with a hint of sweet. Or the deluxe version with rum soaked raisins and candied orange peel. 

We serve this up with a corned beef, potato and cabbage dinner (also called a New England dinner), or a stew or pot roast or shepherds pie. Leftovers are great warmed up in the morning and slathered with butter and honey or jam.

My recipe uses a mix of whole wheat and white all purpose flours. I also put in some ground oats. I have never seen an Irish soda bread recipe with oats, but the flavor and texture oats contribute are wonderful and toasty.

(Warning: I’m about to go on a small flour rant. You can skip it.)

For the wheat flour I have used regular whole wheat, white whole wheat and even whole wheat pastry flour, which is whole wheat ground from a softer lower protein winter wheat grown in the more moderately warmer southern states. It has lower protein which means less gluten. For cookies, biscuits, scones and so forth, you do not need a high gluten content. So whole wheat pastry flour works. Okay, I just erased a whole paragraph on flours. I realize that I will have to dedicate a post just to flours, or I will go on like this all day.

(Okay, back to business.)

The butter needs to be cut into the flour. You can use a pastry cutter, a food processor or even your fingers if you must. Here I am using a food processor to save time.

For the oats, you can chop them small with a large knife (Santoku works well with a rocking action) or if you have a mini grinder that you can pulse just once or twice. You don’t need oat dust. You are just making them small.

BY THE WAY: if you are using instant oats, which I have never used, don’t chop these up. they are already chopped fine. Thats what makes them instant..

Continue reading “Irish Soda Bread: Deluxe & Every Day Version”

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Happy spring to ya’! Shore and it should be time to find corned beef on sale at the stores any day now. This meal is no doubt the top #1 in the charts for my family overall. The one meal they all clamber for. And shall we talk easy? While you can glaze it or bake it, my go-to method is the slow cooker. Or, had I one, I would use an Instapot.  But I don’t. So lets talk about the crock pot method.

You will need some potatoes, like reds, whites or whatever you like, cut into halves or fourths, depending on the size of the potato. If they are russets, peel them first. And cut up some carrots too, an onion if you want. Put these all in the bottom of the crock pot. You will need about a half a head of cabbage cored and cut into wedges for later.

You cut open the corned beef package, plop the meat and any juices and seasoning into the crock pot over the veggies, and put in about 1-2 cups of water. It doesn’t need much. Turn it on low for about 8 hours. (I will show you variations to the basic down below). Now other recipes tell you to wash off the corned beef. But no, I have never washed off all that seasoning.  Keep it right in the pot.

Fast forward 8 hours.

Take out the meat and veggies and put onto a platter, which can sit in a warm oven or cover with foil. Put the cabbage, cut into a wedges, into the crock pot, cover and turn it on high. It should be soft enough in about 20-30 minutes. I sometimes put the cabbage in a large saucepan, pour juices from the crock pot over it and steam it on the stove top. It feels faster to me and I can start that before the corned beef is even done, just spooning out some juices from the crock pot.

So where were we. The veggies and meat are done. Slice the meat. (always make sure to let the meat rest before slicing, which you already did here). Serve the cabbage with the rest. I serve some of the juices in a measuring cup to pour over the plates for those who want it. (I’m being real with you here folks. Measuring cup. Yes, I do have gravy boats too, but this is too watery. Keep it simple).

Now about those variations. I discovered Trader Joes garlic mustard and love to slather that over the corned beef before cooking. Some people pour beer into the crock pot, some put brown sugar or apple juice or both into the water. I don’t. But some do.

What if you don’t have a crock pot or waited too long?? No worries little lady (or gent, or me). Especially if you are not used to the time change and “dang” its time to cook already and didn’t we just eat lunch?” Just get out your big ol’ pot, put the meat in with water to cover, bring to a boil, then turn it down and let the meat simmer for about 3-4 hours. Then add your cut potatoes and carrots to the pot for the last 20 minutes, then top with the cabbage wedges and steam the whole kit and caboodle another 20 min. until tender.

I like to buy flat cut. And do not think that leaner is really better. I made that mistake. Now I always make sure there is some fat running through it. I am picky and look through all the corned beefies until I find just the right one, or two, or three. Flat cut, some fat, not too much, but not too lean. Too lean makes it makes it too dry, tough or something undesirable. There is also point cut, which some people swear by. They seem to be a lot fattier, but if you pick through and find a good one, go for it.

And you really can’t over cook the darn thing, even if you tried. You could crock pot it 10 or 11 or 12 hours on low and it would still be wonderful beyond belief, melting in your mouth. Gosh I am hungry. I haven’t had lunch and now all I want is corned beef. If you have any leftovers. (like we ever do), you can slice thin for sandwiches. Or if you are feeling real ambitious, you can make corned beef hash for breakfast, a favorite of reenactors.

CORNED BEEF IN THE SLOW COOKER

  • 1 corned beef, not too lean
  • small potatoes, red, gold or white. amount depends on size of slow cooker and number of people eating
  • several carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
  • mustard (optional)
  • water

Wash the potatoes, but don’t peel. Unless all you have are russet potatoes. You might want to peel those thick skins. But it you have thin skinned ones, don’t peel. Cut them into largish bite size pieces.

Put the potatoes and carrots in the bottom of the pot.

Open the corned beef and slid it and any juices and spices over the vegies. If it has a seasoning packet, open it and stand by.

Brush a bit of mustard on the top of the corned beef. (totally optional). Sprinkle on the spices now, if you have them.

Put about a 1/2 cup of water, apple juice or beer into the pot. You do not need much because as the meat “melts” away, its juices fill up the pot enough to cook the vegies in. 

Now set on low for 8-9 hours or on high 5 hours. Any less and it might not be fork tender. 

During the last hour (if on high) or two hours (if on low) add the slices of cabbage to the top of the pan. You might have to tuck into the sides. But the meat will shrink up, so it should fit.

There, that’s it. I hope this helps. Enjoy! (and don’t forget your slices of Irish soda bread!

Hummingbird Coffeecake

Half a coffeecake for now, half in the freezer for later!

(Just a refresher for anyone wanting to make this again. Its kind of hummingbird season. Or brunch season. And little squares or wedges of this little cake are, as aunty would say, fabulous!)

Welcome to a Pandemic Quarantined bakers petite kitchen! Or maybe you have one of your own? Apparently loads of people who hitherto (yes, hitherto) have not had time to bake are now shoveling breads and pastries in and out of their ovens at breakneck speeds.  I figure this must be the case since flour shelves (and yeast and baking soda and …) were empty in every market and online for so long. This is a good thing. Bake away! Go wild! Try something new! I myself been turning out loaves of sourdough, challah, cookies and cakes faster than we can eat them. Thank goodness for freezers!  Even my  youngest made a loaf of Japanese milk bread and just yesterday a pan of peanut butter brownies from the back of the Bobs Red Mill label. All delicious I might add!

Baking is therapy. Its zen. Its soul filling.  It’s comfort brought by working with your hands to creating something new and unique. Because each batch of anything you make is unique, brought into this world, created by you to fulfill its destiny!  It’s knowing that this thing you create will nourish your family (or at least put a smile on their faces).  Measuring and chopping, toasting and mixing. Listening to music. Or getting a child to help in the kitchen. Is this goo really going to end up brownies? Is this lump of dough really going to bake into bread?  There’s a lot of faith in baking and cooking too. Spiritual.

But then the flour bucket runs low.

Chaos! Mayhem! Neighbor turning against neighbor! Fire! Explosions! Screams in the night!

Oh wait. That was Die Hard I watched the other night with son. Retro 80’s movie night. Ah-hem. Now its just nail biting anxiety. What if I feel the need to bake? What if we run out of bread? (In the back of my mind a voice was heard saying “that might not be a bad thing ms Hippy-hippy-shake!) Continue reading “Hummingbird Coffeecake”

Chocolate Zucchini Bread (or is it cake…?)

Bread…cake…bread…cake…

So confusing! And no one cares! Not after biting into this moist, chocolaty,  cake-like ‘bread’.

So here it is, high summer. Zucchini coming out your ears. I know lots of you started gardens this year because of all the free time you had per the Covid-19 crises. I’m not a huge fan of it (zucchini or the flu) and even I have 3 plants! (this comes from having a son working at a nursery).

With zucchini plants, often times you don’t find out you even have a zook until its the size of a baseball bat! What to do with those giant things?

Make chocolate cake of course! (duh)

Just call it bread, so it sounds healthier. I mean, after all, zucchini. Its a vegetable, so it has to be healthy right? (hmm)

This a very simple recipe I pinched years ago from the “just a pinch” website. It was posted by Missy Wimpelberg. Thank you Missy! Its amazing really. The zucchini just seems to melt into the cake, keeping it moist but not tasting ‘veggie’.

First, lets talk zucchini. Its a very watery vegetable. First you peel it, then cut it open, scooping out the seeds.

Then you grate it, using a box grater. Using a tea towel, squeeze out the liquid, as much as possible without turning it to dust.

That’s not so hard right? The rest just falls together.

Lets assemble the ingredients!

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD

  • 2 cups grated zucchini, grate, measure, then squeeze
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lg egg
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. instant coffee granules. (or espresso powder)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Put on some music. Get a cool drink. Grease an 8×4 bread pan. I use Crisco for this. You might want to spray it. Potaytoes-potaatoes.
  2. Get the zucchini ready if you haven’t already.
  3. In one bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, like the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. What? Not the sugar? No, thats considered a liquid, weird but true. Not the espresso/coffee? Nope, that blooms its flavor in the melted butter later. Trust me, or rather, trust sweet Missy. Whisk the dry stuff in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Now the wet stuff. In another bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until smooth. I use a hand mixer for this. Then add in the melted butter, instant coffee/espresso and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Slowly add the zucchini to the egg/sugar mixture.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the zucchini/sugar mixture. (in other words, add the dry stuff to the wet stuff). Add it in about 3 additions, don’t just dump it in all at once. (what was that? Too late?) Add the chocolate chips and mix just until everything is moist and mixed. Not beating it to death. We aren’t really making bread per say. We don’t need all that gluten you get from mixing.
  6. Pour, scoop, the batter into the prepared man, smoothing out the top. Pop into the preheated oven and bake for at least 50 minutes. Test it with a skewer and see if its done. Also don’t forget the touch test, gently pressing the top of the bread to see if its solid. If not, pop back into the oven for another 5-8 minutes. I hate going through all this just to have it sink in the middle from under cooking. Let cool 5 minutes, loosen the cake from all edged and sides of the pan and gently turn upside down. Let it cool completely on the rack.

There you have it. Simple really. What was that? The icing? Oh yes. Well, I do have a favorite wonderful, shiny glaze I like to use. This one isn’t it.  Sometimes I’m just in a hurry. I know you understand this. So here is my hurry chocolate icing.

You need only 3 things.

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup (I don’t really measure this, just pour out two bloops, eyeballing it for Tablespoon size.
  • 2 Tbsp. butter.

Put these 3 things in a glass container and melt in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds or so. Just until it is nice and smooth. Mix a bit more, to make sure all the chocolate is melted, then pour over the bread. Its not too thin, not too thick. If you want a thinner drizzle, don’t use the chocolate chip glaze here. Try something else.

Steak and Pepper Pasta

Hello friends, family and sweetie pies! Or wait. Maybe my friends and family are sweetie pies?

I hope you are all doing well. Using squirt bottles in lieu of toilet paper? Making do with cloth napkins instead of paper? How about making sourdough bread because you and the rest of the country are out of yeast? I’ve been to 5 stores in the last 3 days and none of them had yeast. Really? Like a sweet friend of mine pointed out, the shelves are stocked full of bread. So why the run on yeast?  Its a mystery.

Luckily I have Tiffany Bubbles and her bestie, Dazzle, my two sourdoughs, in the fridge. I’ve got one on the counter, being fed. They make ‘Dazzling’ sourdough breads! Nothing beats fresh sourdough bread, I’m hear to tell ya’.

IMG_7183
Here are my pets after feeding time. Napa was renamed “Dazzle” since this picture. She is a little slower than her older sister, Tiffany Bubbles. But I keep reminding her, its not a competition.

Anyway…

Lets get in the ‘wayback machine’ and revisit an old recipe that is a personal favorite. Not a family favorite. But definitely a personal. Its kind of strange, I will tell you that upfront. The sauce is just sherry and Parmesan. Sherry, as in the booze.

Its supposed to have another key ingredient that I leave out because of fear.

Pimento.

In the original recipe, you add a bottle of pimentos. I’ve never cooked with it. Its weird and red. It belongs stuffed in green olives, which I also never ate, because ew, pimento! Did I give it a chance?

No.

Will it end up like avocados, which I also feared and disliked until I was in my 30’s when we suddenly had a love affair and have been making up for lost time for ever since?

Maybe.

But I wasn’t going to let some little red bug-like pimentos stop me from trying a pasta recipe! (You, in your fearlessness,  may want to add the red stuff near the end.  But not this gal. I’m good, just as it is.)

The recipe was in a book with recipes from the back of boxes, bottles, jars, etc. It was a dish served in Colorado during the Olympics there about a hundred years ago (Okay, 1976. Just feels like a hundred years. I was in high school, jeez!

It is pretty simple, if you have some sherry around. Really, you must have sherry. It is a key ingredient. Even half sherry and half white wine would work well.

You need some steak. I usually use a sirloin steak. You could use skirt steak. Whatever gets your carnivorous boat to set sail. Sailing out into the lagoon of dinner, in a sea of pasta. Oh dear, I must be hungry.

Of course, hello to you vegetarians out there! Just leave out the steak and add mushrooms or zucchini or …? (which reminds me, we are about to be inundated with zucchini from the garden. Dang if they don’t grow so fast!)

zucchini

The original recipe calls for slicing the meat and sauteing the slices in butter. Which I did, like a good girl. But I found the meat would turn gray and kind of simmer.  To eliminate that, I would have to saute the slices in several small batches. Ugh! Then I found its so much easier to just cook the whole steak and then slice.

So no pimento and don’t preslice the steak. Other than that, I think its true to form.

This fed two of us with some leftovers. And leftover pasta on its own. I added cooked pasta, mixing it in until it looked just right. Not too dry. I used to just dump pasta in and mix, then found out that sometimes it was too much pasta-to-sauce ratio. “When in doubt, portion the pasta out.”

IMG_0702
I was so excited to eat it, I forgot to take a picture, so here are the leftovers. The picture really doesn’t do it justice. Its more wonderful than it looks. Like many of us.

Steak and Pepper Pasta

  • 1 lb. sirloin steak
  • pasta, about 12 oz.
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, (presses in garlic press. Only 2, really?)
  • 3 large onions, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 2 small green bell peppers, chopped (but whose to stop you using orange or yellow?)
  • 3/4 cup (or more) dry sherry (I sometimes mix sherry with white wine)
  • 2 tsp salt, some pepper
  • Parmesan, lots
  • Olive oil
  1. Start the water for the pasta because it seems to take forever to boil. Cook pasta when boiling. In the meantime, while waiting for the watched pot to boil…
  2. In a skillet, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter and saute the onions and peppers until crisp tender. (8-10 min.)  Another option (Yikes, more tweaking!)  is to caramelize half the onions,  then add in the rest of the onions and peppers when the caramelizing is almost done. I like to mix in textures . Set the veggies aside.
  3. In the same skillet, melt the rest of the butter (2 Tbsp.) in a skillet and cook the steak. I just season with salt and pepper. Flip, repeat. When reaching desired done-ness, remove from pan and place on a platter. This will be sliced thin when its time to serve.
  4. Add the garlic to the pan and saute a minute more.  Add sherry and seasoning. (Sometimes I would add some Lawry’s here or some other kind of seasoned salt.)
  5. Toss in some- lots- of Parmesan cheese to taste I mix in some to the whole batch, then more to each plate. The cheese and the sherry are the main hero’s here.
  6. Scoop out into a pasta bowl and add more Parmesan. (or even Romano, whatever you have.)

Dig in!

p.s. Here are some other ways to tweak. Add strips of kale or swiss chard to the veggies when sauteing. How about some sliced mushrooms or a diced tomato you have laying around because you thought you would need it on taco night and then forgot to use it?

 

Cheater Caramel Monkey Bread

Good morning friends, family and sweetie pies! (pick whatever category works for you!)

Lets be honest, who doesn’t love monkey bread? My monkeys all love it and so does mama monkey. But every once in a while I crave the monkey bread without all the work. Making the dough ahead of time, dipping each individual monkey bite into melted butter and sugar. Mind you, most of the time I love it. But just sometimes…

So here it is, my monkey friends, in all its cheater glory. No dough to make. No dipping. Just melting, cutting, layering, pouring, baking, eating, eating, eating…

Years ago I was visiting my mother. I mentioned that I was going to purchase a specific monkey bread pan because I had been using oversized bundt pans and loaf pans to make monkey bread.

“Oh wait, I think I have one,” she said and she began rummaging through the cupboards of her spotless little kitchen. Continue reading “Cheater Caramel Monkey Bread”

Mashed Potato and Chive Bread

Hello to you all! I am still amazed and impressed at how many people are baking their own bread now. Many are trying their hand at sourdough for the first time. Maybe because they have the time. (Unless you are in the trenches, working at hospitals, slogging it out at grocery stores, bless your hearts, every one!). Or maybe because they can’t get their hands on yeast. I have been making loads of sourdough and today just broke out the yeast for a change. But its like gold these days. I’m getting nervously low. Anyway, I had leftover mashed potatoes. I have chives in the garden. Soooo…

Lets get those guys together! Continue reading “Mashed Potato and Chive Bread”

Maple Pecan Scones

 

Hello ya’ll. Can I use that expression? No, I’m not from the south. Unless you count Southern California, then YES! I am a southerner! So, I hope ya’ll are not going too crazy in these crazy times. I hope ya’ll are taking time to learn something new, or treating yourself to, oh, I don’t know, maybe some scones warm from the oven.

My solution to this madness around us is to bake, then bake some more. Weed a patch of the garden, then bake. Wash something, then bake. And yes, I don’t fit into any of my work clothes anymore. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. The bridge with the banner saying, “Welcome back to Work Ya’ll!” I hope you are finding something to help your brain get through this without any damage to it.  Oh, my hubby let me cut his hair yesterday! (I was just thinking my hair looks like a throw back to the 70’s.) We have a Wahl kit and I watched videos. I’m certainly no threat to any hair dressers out there, bless each and every one of you, but he doesn’t have to go around wearing a hat to hide any damage I might have done. Not too bad. Now if my shaggy son would let me near him. He’s looking something like Big Foot these days. Tall and shaggy! Lets get those hairdressers back to work ya’ll! Continue reading “Maple Pecan Scones”

Chocolate Cake the Trendy New Old Fashioned Way

Hello out there from sunny SoCal!

I miss you all.

I am constantly amazed and impressed by how many people are going back to their ovens, rediscovering the joys and immense satisfaction of pulling your own loaf of bread out of the oven. Inhaling the fruity, bubbling aroma of a fresh pie, slicing in to a still warm coffeecake, stacking up a batch of homemade cookies.  Good job and applause to all! I hope you are enjoying the process as much as the results. This is one good thing about self isolation. We finally have the time to do that baking we always dreamed of. Or maybe we are using it as an excuse to not actually go clean out the garage/closet/shed/garden. “sorry hon, can’t help. I’m in the middle of rolling croissants. You know I’d love to help you replace the toilet…”

For being isolated, I see a lot of people on the road, enjoying parks, shopping, cruising the beaches on their bikes. its lovely weather and we here in OC aren’t really suffering from the virus as much as other areas. (Most of us think we already had it in Jan. anyway.)  Very thankful for that.

I had a request for gluten free brownies, so I made a pan, which turned out wonderful, thank you King Arthur for your recipe. So, since the oven is on anyway, why waste all that heat? I whipped up another small chocolate cake, gluten filled.

Whats to like about this cake? Continue reading “Chocolate Cake the Trendy New Old Fashioned Way”