Monday, February 4, 2008

Art of Sourdough

I finally did it! I made sourdough! I was so afraid I wasn't going to be able to do it right, simply because it was all so new and unfamiliar territory. It turns out that in the end it was quite easy.

What are the big and scary steps involved? Why, it is mixing 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of water, covering with a cloth and letting it sit in a warm and dry place for three days. Oh, and don't forget to give it a little mix every 12 hours.

This is the healthiest variety of sourdough, as I used all whole wheat flour in the entire recipe, though any kind of flour can be used for the bread. The starter had a very pleasant 'sour' smell. It reminded me of dressing or vinegar.

When it came time to make the bread dough, I had a little trouble at first. The whole wheat was incredibly sticky. I felt like a little kid, squishing my hands in wet goo. Luckily, with a little additional flour tossed into the mix, it turned out soft, smoothe and pliable.

After sitting over night for 12 hours, re-kneading in the morning and sitting for another 6, the bread was ready for the oven. Before I knew it, the house was smelling like a bakery!

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I have to say, while a bread maker is convenient and can make some of the most fantastic, plump, gorgeous breads, I could never bring myself to use one. I know I've said on some of your pages, 'Oh, how I wish I owned one!' Well, I now realize that I really enjoy the full act of making bread by scratch. It's exciting and fun! I think a bread maker is totally worth it if you make bread often and don't have the time, but I think I'll stick to mixing, rolling and kneading, myself. Oh, and the occassional creation of sourdough starter! There's just something about the process that makes me feel more fulfilled and, as cheesy as it may sound (though I know you'll all understand), more in touch with my food and the energy provided for my body, health and well-being.

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For your viewing pleasure, le close-up:

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Being as bread cannot (or should not) be a complete, balanced meal, I made a hearty winter potato stew as the main course for our weekly Sunday dinner.

This stew is chock-full of potatoes, red peppers, mushrooms and veggie broth and seasoned with red pepper flakes, coriander, cumin, basil, pepper and Braggs soy sauce.

For a creamy texture, I puréed two ladles of veggies with 1 cup of soy milk. Then to complete, garnished with green onions and homemade sourdough croutons and wallah!

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Croutons are very easy to make. I thought they'd be more difficult but then, what do I know? I just cubed some sourdough bread, mixed with olive oil, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper and a tsp of thyme and tossed it in the oven on 375 for 15 minutes. They couldn't have been tastier!

...and because I love to go backwards on here, I will re-introduce the smoothie.

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I think it was quite a few posts ago that I claimed I'd be back with more smoothie recipes yet somehow managed to forget about 'em. Shame on me! Smoothies- especially of the fruit variety- are so healthy and packed with energy-creating atoms. I plan on making more. I also want to buy a juicer and start growing and juicing some organic fruits. I can't think of a better way to rid one's body of toxic matter and to revitalize and energize!

So, here we are. A Sunday morning smoothie:

1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 frozen banana
1 1/2 cups organic apple juice
1 tsp spirulina
1 heaping tsp soy lecithin (you can find this in health food stores)
1 tsp powdered psyllium husk for good measure

Blend it all up and drink it down!

What I love about smoothies is that you can mix just about any combination and it'll end up tasting fantastic. I like to have fun with different mixtures and experiments. As a matter of fact, I have a book called Smoothies, Shakes and Frappes by Sally Ann Berk, which is filled to the brim with different mixtures and are all vegan-friendly. I was quite happy to find that the author wrote in her preface that anything containing milk or egg can be subbed with a non-dairy version or egg replacer product. How sweet as that?

And! For those of you who like to party and aren't looking for the health benefits, exactly, but just want a sweet taste and a little fun, many of these drinks go great with a little vodka mixed it. Go ahead, try it. I won't tell anyone. ;)

Whoever said smoothies are a summer time drink is outta their mind!

Speaking of summer, this last dish is quite colorful and vibrant, just like the season: V-con's Quinoa, black bean, mango salad.

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I was a little hesitant to throw fruit in my salad, I must admit. I am the type of person that feels fruit should either stay by itself or be mixed with something sweet and fattening. Then I thought of The Tropical Vegan and how she puts mangos in just about anything and it got me quite intrigued. ;)

In the end, I forced myself to put those prior beliefs aside and give this dish a go. As I once said, I am not a fan of microwaves and my work has no toaster oven so I am kind of stuck with bringing in cold dishes. Therefore, I gotta keep lunches interesting. So, in went the mango.

Well, let me tell you, that was the best risk I've taken! The mango really ties the dish together. Mike, who hates all of my quinoa and lentil salads (I say 'hate' in exaggeration to bother him) said it was 'really good' due to the addition of mango.

So, maybe you have something there, Theresa. Mangoes are now on my weekly rotation. And you know where I think they'd be best? Why, right in a smoothie, of course!

25 comments:

mike said...

"(I say 'hate' in exaggeration to bother him)"
You're so good at it too.

-;>D

Yeah, I loved everything this week. I'm having some sourdough bread bits right now since I'm too hungry to wait for lunch.

And the soup was great. I wish I had some for lunch.
Yes, me who's sick of soup at the moment.

-:>D

Vegan_Noodle said...

My goodness, you sourdough bread looks delicious. I wish I could have smelled it wafting through your place! I am scared of making sourdough bread... mostly because of my complete ignorance of the whole starter thing. Oh, and I fully agree that the actual bread making process by hand is much more fun :-)
And yes, fruit in savory (I guess that's what to call it) can work wonders!! Mangos are just awesome anyways. Lovem em in smoothies, they are a staple for mine.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Oh the smell of freshly baked bread-- it can't be beat! ...except maybe by a mango smoothie!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Aww, I have the CUTEST picture in my mind imagining a little beagle pupsicle!

Megan the Vegan said...

that bread looks so nice. I love sourdough, but have never gotten up the courage to make it myself. Like you said...it's not rocket science. I just need to DO IT! Thanks for the inspiration.

aTxVegn said...

That bread looks fantastic! Kneading and mixing can be very therapeutic. Your soup and salad look great too. Agreed, mango in anything is super.

Ricki said...

Everything looks wonderful, and your photos are gorgeous. Since I'm deathly afraid of using yeast in breads (bad, bad past experiences!!), this is something I could even try. It sure looks delicious.

Kang Doy's Bloggy Blog Blog Blog said...

Call me when you buy that juicer. I plan on drinking many, many smoothies using that thing.

...And...and...what happened to that mouth watering chocholate cake you bought to practice Saturday???

Theresa said...

Yaay, I'm glad you tried mango in your salad, and glad you thought of me when you did it!

I'm with you--I love mixing and kneading bread and watching it rise and all the steps that are involved. I made bread with a starter last week and posted about it yesterday. Quelle coincedence!

Alcoholic mango smoothie.... the negatives of the booze are outweighed by the goodness of the fruit, right?

Veg*Triathlete said...

Wow! I think I'm inspired to try making bread, now, too! Yours looks incredible. So does everything else. I also love mixing fruits with salads & smoothies. And thanks for the message - I'm still sick, but a little better than yesterday. I think.

VeggieGirl said...

between the sourdough bread and croutons (I can't believe that was your first time making it - you're a pro, for sure!!), the smoothie (refreshing!), and the salad (I loooove mango!), I'm mesmerized - too much goodness!! and yes, every time I can find a good mango at the store, I make it part of my weekly (if not, daily) rotation :0)

Rural Vegan said...

Thank you for making this post! I have been wanting to tackle sourdough for ages now but am always scared off, it always sounded so difficult. The finished product looks worth attempting though, delicious!

Liz² said...

oh, you've inspired me! I always thought sourdough was hard, too. Is it really just 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour?? ooooooh...

and I know exactly what you mean about making bread by hand. There's something SO satisfying about it, so connected to ancient food and nourishment and honestly I think it tastes better! your bread looks amazing!

ElPato said...

Ummmm... Perfect? Happy Mardi Gras

Ruby Red Vegan said...

you're so right - smoothies don't even have to be a summertime drink! at the smoothie shop where i used to work, so very many people would line out the door for smoothies even in below zero weather! i never thought of using soy lecithin as a thickener - cool! i also need one of those clear glasses you have, just because they showcase the colors of your gorgeous smoothie so nicely.

i liked what you said about being in touch with the energy provided for your body when you made the bread... pretty awesome revelation there.

i've made quinoa black bean salad too. it's awesome because it has fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. three cheers for balancing the food groups! mangoes are so great. it's like, when you have them for the first time or after a long time of not having them, you wonder where they've been all your life!

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

I recently fell in love with quinoa. Yours looks awesome! I bet fruit would be really delicious with it, even though typically I agree with you & say fruit should be either with something fattening or all on its own!

I have always been intimidated by sourdough, but maybe you've given me the push to try it... We'll see.

Anardana said...

Wow! All of your photography is so great. The bread is very impressive!

Lizzy said...

Oh wow I can totally imagine what your apartment must've smelled like! I would love to bake my own bread sometime.

The quinoa salad looks great! I just recently bought quinoa for the first time, but I haven't tried it yet. Would you mind sharing the recipe of the salad?
Mango really does make everything better, especially salad(which I had never imagined to be a combination that would interest me, but I was proven wrong ;))

I love smoothies so much!! At the moment I'm looking for a nice glass bottle so that I can make myself a smoothie in the morning and take it to work with me.

Alec said...

Suzie, that bread looks frickin' delicious. My wife actually said to me this morning, "Let's try and make bread this weekend" (it will be our first time trying it). Of course I replied "giddyup" and I made her write it on the calendar. Cool coincidence! That smoothie is making me drool too... I concur any time of year is the perfect time for a smoothie. And 'hiigh-fiive' for quinoa! One of my all time favorite foods, along with beans and peppers. You got it all there! I've tried that V-Con recipe and love it too!

Candice said...

Do something you fear each day right ? see it turned out great! excellent job!

springsandwells said...

Oh WOW!
Your bread is so gorgeous!! Dang! I am still busy harboring my fear of homemade sourdough! Sourdough bread is just about my favorite thing in the world... so I'm sure I'll get around to it someday. I also have a fear of eating an entire loaf of sourdough bread in one day, and that fear is surely much more legitimate!

By the way, you can request a vegan meal on any airline flight where a meal is served. Meals that they classify as "snacks" can't be specially requested, but any actual meal can. :)

textual bulldog said...

Mmm, the bread and soup both look so yummy!

Leng said...

Hi, I just found your blog. Your food looks really appetizing! Nice job on the pictures. It's so crisp and clear. I sometimes have a hard time making my pictures so clear. I need a LOT of lighting. What kind of camera do you use? oh and your bread looks yummy. I totally agree with you on how great it feels to make your own bread. My husband doesn't understand why I do it because it's so time consuming. Only fellow bread makers can relate.

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