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!
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.
For your viewing pleasure, le close-up:
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!
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.
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.
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!