Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some Projects

Last week when it was eighty degrees, I bought flannel on sale to make a skirt. My sister asked me, aren't you so excited about a flannel skirt today? Not really! But I figured it had to get cold some time. Today it hasn't gotten over about twenty nine, and my flannel skirt feels great! This is my first try with the pattern, and it turned out a little large, but I love the style!

Gores and godets make it fitted around the waist, but very full by the time you get down to the hem.

Another project I finished is a stocking cap.

I found the pattern here through Knitting Pattern Central. I really like the cables. This pattern is fun and challenging. Working with double pointed needles and a cable needle takes some juggling.

My next knitting project is mittens. My sister has used this pattern and they turned out beautifully. I am excited about making some myself.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sourdough Feeding Schedule

I pour off about half my sourdough every night and feed it with 1/2 cup flour mixed in 1/2 cup water. If I am planning on baking the next day, I don't pour off so I am sure to have plenty. If you think your sourdough has died, don't pour it out. Just keep pouring off and feeding it. It will come around. Remember to use pure water to feed your sourdough, because chemicals in tap water can kill it.

For more help, go to Sourdough Home or Wild Yeast Blog. (my favorite bread baking website!)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Free Knitting and Crocheting Patterns

My sisters and I love to knit. I have bought a few knitting books, but they are so expensive. Then we discovered that there are thousands of free patterns on the internet! My favorite site is Knitting Pattern Central. They have a lists of patterns according to catagories such as hats, mittens, lace items, and so on. For you crocheters, there is also Crochet Pattern Central. Their site is set up exactly the same as the knitting one. I want to knit fingerless gloves with a mitten flap. Yesterday I tried googling fingerless gloves, and up popped lots of patterns.

Right now I am making a cabled stocking cap worked in the round. This is my second project to work on double pointed needles, so I am still learning how to keep the tension even.

Knitting can be an expensive hobby, but I've been able to keep my costs down by always buying my yarn on sale. Hobby Lobby is a great store for sales and clearance. Yesterday I bought several skeins of Vanna's Choice yarn 20 percent off at our local Alco. Yippee!

For lots more frugal ideas, visit Biblical Womanhood.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sourdough Mistake and Lesson Learned

When I posted The Sourdough Project Day Three, I said that I did not plan to feed my sourdough as often as some people said. I was feeding it every two or three days. That, my friends, was a mistake. I starved it to death! It stopped foaming and sat there and began to smell bad. I also think that using tap water hurt the sourdough. Chlorine kills yeast. Now I am using our filtered drinking water. Well, I had read that it is possible to revive a forgotten starter with lots of loving care, so I decided that would be the best thing for me to do. I began pouring off half my sourdough twice a day and feeding it. After two days of this treatment with no response, I included a pinch of sugar in the feedings. Still no foaming, not even a few bubbles to give me any hope. Finally I decided it was beyond rescuing, and I would start again. But as I was pouring out the sourdough, I saw a few bubbles in the bottom! Hope! I kept that little bit in the bottom of the bowl and fed it with a little flour and water. That evening my sourdough started foaming and looked like it has life! Today (two days later) it is still foaming, and I plan to make sourdough bagels tonight for tomorrow's breakfast.

If you have a stater going and need more recipes, here are some websites I've been getting recipes and ideas from.

Wild Yeast
Sourdough Home

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sourdough English Muffins

I made English Muffins yesterday evening, and they turned out pretty good! Two mistakes I made were adding too much flour which resulted in a denser muffin without as many characteristic holes. Then I rolled them a little too thick so some of them were slightly doughy in the center. But toasting the muffins took care of that problem. We ate them for breakfast this morning with homemade apricot preserves. Yum!

Sourdough English Muffins
1 cup starter
1 1/2 cups milk
5 1/2 to 6 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

In a ceramic bowl, mix starter, milk, and 3 cups flour. Cover and leave 2 to 24 hours.

When the sponge has developed, mix the sugar, salt, soda, and 2 1/2 cups flour. Stir these into sponge. Cover and let work up to an hour.

Flour counter and hands. Turn out dough, knead 2 to 3 minutes until dough is smooth and no longer lumpy. With a floured rolling pin, roll out 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

Notice my can in the background? It makes a lovely english muffin cutter.

Cut out circles 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Place muffins on a cornmeal sprinkled cookie sheet, and let rest 15 minutes.

Place 4 or 5 circles on a lightly greased skillet on low, low heat with cornmeal side down first. Cook slowly 10 minutes, gently flip muffins over, and continue cooking 10 minutes.

Cool on rack.

Split the muffins with a fork, toast, and enjoy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Creative Leftovers

Our family has always eaten leftovers. I remember being shocked the first time I heard someone say they threw away leftovers because nobody would eat them. What a waste! It is true, leftovers can be boring. Especially when you eat them the same way the very next night. We try to make ours taste like they are new, not just heated up food from yesterday. To reheat casseroles, try making a little more sauce, cream soup, or whatever is in the recipe, and drizzle over. Add some fresh cheese, bread crumbs, onions, etc on top. This takes away the dry, reheated texture. Throw odds and ends of vegetables in a pot of soup. Before our family was as large as it is now, and we eat every bit, I remember my mom had a bowl in the freezer that she always put leftover vegetables in. Then when she made vegetable beef soup, she would add those frozen vegetables. Soup is a great leftover hider! You can throw in vegetables, rice and other grains, or gravy. Use your imagination. You never know what recipe you may come up with that will be a new family favorite! Steaming is a good way to heat up pasta or rice without drying it out. Use extra spaghetti sauce to make lasagna. We like dressing made with leftover cornbread and biscuits. Like the vegetables, save them up in the freezer until you have enough. Day old french bread is good in bread pudding. Cinnamon raisin bread is delicious as well.

Banana Bread Pudding
8 cups cubed day old french bread
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sliced firm banana
(1/4 inch pieces)

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup milk
1/4 light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the bread cubes in a greased 4-quart casserole; pour butter over and toss to coat. In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs; add milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in bananas. Pour over bread cubes and stir to coat. Bake uncovered at 375* for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Meanwhile, for the sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan. Combine sugar and cornstarch; add to butter. Stir in milk and syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a full boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; stir in the vanilla. Serve warm sauce over warm pudding.

Planned leftovers are actually a good way to save time. Making an extra casserole to put in the freezer dosen't take much longer than making just one, and is very convenient on a busy day. Here is my favorite planned leftover recipe.

Day One:
Cuban Black Beans
cooked black beans
cooked rice
shredded chedder cheese
fresh tomatoes, chopped
green onions, sliced
sour cream

On each plate, layer rice, black beans, and corn, and sprinkle cheese on top. Put the tomatoes, green onions, and sour cream on the table for everyone to put on their pile as they want.

Day Two:
Santa Fe Chicken Stew
4 whole chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 small onion, diced
15 1/2 ounce can whole kernel corn, undrained
24 ounce can black beans, undrained
14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
10 ounce can rotel tomatoes, undrained or 1 cup salsa (We usually use a combination.)
1 1/2 cups prepared brown rice
garlic, cumin, and salt to taste
chicken broth from cooking the chicken
(The original recipe calls for the canned ingredients. Substitute leftovers as you have them.)

Place first nine ingredients in a crockpot. Add chicken broth to make the stew the consistency you like. Cook on low for three to four hours.

Ladle soup into bowls, and sprinkle with Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Serve with tortilla chips and extra salsa.

And finally, a recipe that uses leftover oatmeal. Honestly, the thought of reheating leftover gluey oatmeal is kind of gross to me. But these muffins are delicious.

Breakfast Oatmeal Muffins
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup leftover oatmeal
1 cup raisins, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and soda. In another bowl, combine oil, eggs, oatmeal, raisins and vanilla; add to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 350* for 18 minutes.

For more frugal tips, visit Biblical Womanhood.

The Sourdough Project Day Four

Well, I had a change of plans, so I am making English Muffins instead of the bread. They fit into our menu better. I mixed my sponge last night. Sorry- there aren't any pictures. I was too tired. By last night the sourdough had completely stopped foaming, and had a yeasty slightly sour smell. I poured off what I needed for the sponge, and fed my sourdough with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour. Then I was surprised to see it start foaming again! What I am figuring out is that the yeast eats up all it can, so it stops foaming. Then when you feed the sourdough, it starts up again. Back to the sponge...The recipe says to let it sit for 2 to 24 hours and the longer the better. I'll make my muffins this afternoon, so it will sit about 16 hours.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Sourdough Project Day Three

This morning the sourdough is even more separated than it was yesterday. You can see a definite alcohol layer on top.

I think I will start stirring it twice a day. Some sourdough recipes call for feeding the sourdough regularly to keep it going. This recipe only says to feed it when you take away from it. I am planning to feed mine more often than that, but probably not twice a day.

The sourdough is smelling yeasty, but not really sour yet. The bubbling has nearly subsided. I think I will mix the sponge this evening. Here is the bread recipe.

Classic Sourdough Bread
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups warm water
5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Making the sponge: Blend starter thoroughly. Pour one cup of starter into a glass or pottery mixing bowl. Replenish stater.

To the starter in the mixing bowl, add the warm water and about 3 cups flour. beat vigorously. Cover sponge with plastic wrap. Let work 2 to 24 hours. (The longer the better.)

Blend the salt, sugar and soda into 2 cups flour. Mix this into the sponge. When the dough begins to hold together, turn it out onto a floured board and knead 4 to 5 minutes. Add flour as needed to make a fairly stiff dough.

Give the dough a rest while you clean out and grease your bowl. Continue kneading 3 to 4 minutes. Place dough in bowl. Let rise 2 to 4 hours.

Knock down the dough and shape into 2 long french-style loaves. Place them on a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet and let them rise another 2 hours or so.

Toward the end of rising, place a baking pan on the oven bottom, and preheat the oven the 450.

Slash loaves and brush with cold water. Pour 2 or 3 cups of water into the pan, put the loaves on the rack above the steam and bake about 25 minutes.

You can also use this dough to make pizza crust or pretzels.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Sourdough Project Day Two

The sourdough is still fermenting. This morning, about 24 hours after I mixed up my sourdough, the foaming had receded, and it had a mild yeasty smell. The sourdough had separated into layers. You can sort of see them in this picture.
There is a flour mixture layer, then an alcohol layer, and then another small flour mixture layer on top. The purpose of stirring daily is to mix the layers back together.

After stirring, the sourdough has a thick stretchy texture. Put the bowl back in its warm corner.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Sourdough Project Day One

I am still learning how to make a good sourdough. All the recipes I have used so far did not start with any cultivated yeast, but relied completely on yeast from the air. This time I am trying a sourdough that begins with a tame yeast, and then goes wild. As Carla Emery says in the Encyclopedia Of Country Living, "it is difficult to work with invisible livestock"! This is a King Arthur recipe.

Sour Dough Starter With Yeast
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar or honey (optional, but I am using it)
1 tablespoon yeast
2 cups flour

Pour the water into a two-quart glass or ceramic jar or bowl, add and dissolve the sugar or honey and the yeast in that order.

Stir in the flour gradually.

Cover the jar or bowl with a clean dichcloth and place it somewhere warm. (I covered mine lightly with a piece of waxed paper. I have had sourdoughs grow into the towel before, and that makes a huge mess. My bowl is on top of a bookshelf in our living room. That was the warmest place I could find in our very cool house.)
The mixture will begin to bubble and brew almost immediately.

Immediately after mixing:

Fifteen minutes after mixing:

About half an hour after mixing:

Let it work anywhere from 2 to 5 days, stirring it about once a day as it will separate. When the bubbling has subsided, stir you starter once more and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it. The starter should have the consistency of pancake batter. (Note: It is not necessary to refrigerate the starter. That is only if you are not going to use it right away.)

Monday, January 5, 2009


There has been a sad passing. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, two children, John Dough and Jane Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 350 for about 20 minutes.

If this made you smile for even a brief second, please rise to the occasion and take time to pass it on and share that smile with someone else who may be having a crumby day and kneads it.