Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Sourdough Killer

Because it is Valentine's Day, I want to take a moment to thank you for your friendship and support of this blog. I value each of you and especially appreciate your comments. They buoy me up and spur me on to new discoveries. I even love being corrected, most recently, thanks Linda. I need kept in line for I love truth and knowlege. The journey to discovery is always nicer when accompanied by friends. Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!!
See this? Well I pretty much tortured it to death. Think I'm kidding, well I'm not. I used this sourdough start that began as a cabbage leaf to see just how much abuse sourdough could take and keep on ticking. Believe me, it isn't like the Timex watches of my youth that went through the washing machine and were banged up until you could barely discern the time through the battered face but still worked.

Nope, sourdough starts have finite rules and deter too far off the beaten path and they die. Mine wasn't quite dead but it was croaking when I threw it out. Could I have resuscitated it? Sure, but it had a major problem that I rediscovered about red wheat. And I have an old old start in the fridge that I need to test and see if it is still alive. No big loss since I've discovered I have the power to create a start and loosing one isn't the end of the world. Besides, I can't handle multiple starts at once. I have far too many irons in the fire as they say. That is why I'm presently working on six blog posts of different subjects in the same week.  Talk about ADHD and Autism. Stopping this run away brain is like stopping a freight train.

A cranky freight train because I'm feeling a bit out of sorts having dealt with sick grand kids for the past week and without one of my thyroid medications since I ordered late and the pharmacy is a bit slower than usual getting all the other hormone mixtures made up for me. I mean made up become I have custom compounds for a complex malfunctioning body. Add to that I'm still fighting the asthma and sinuses despite enough medicine to have killed a horse. Since my rule is, pretend to be nice even if you don't feel it because others don't deserve to be miserable just because you are, so I've decided to torture my sourdough start instead. I wanted to see just what it does when I don't treat it nice. See, I have a mean streak in me.

I've just never truly grown up. I'm still that "How come? What for? Why?" child. When I was little and cranky, I bet I probably kicked someone just to see how they'd react. Not because they had done anything wrong. My mother never knew what to do with me, she still doesn't.

 So I used water out of the tap, I used cold water out of the tap. I used cold flour out of the refrigerator. All these things I discovered make a sourdough start unhappy. Water should at least be filtered to remove chlorine and cold sets it to shivering, not bubbling happily. Did I feel bad about my misbehavior, NO! And most torturous of all, I started the dehydrator with more potatoes and sweet potatoes for flour and the start was sitting up against it in glass of course because you use glass or crock for a container and the thing pretty much died from heat exhaustion. It definitely grew hairy things anyway which totally fascinated me further and I wondered just what these beautiful and delicate creatures were.

So you kinder and more gentle folk, temperature is a biggy. Had my nursing instincts not already been used all up on the grand kids,  I could have taken some start from the middle, since it wasn't growing any pink or orange mold, and nursed it back to health. But I didn't want to. See I am cranky. Because in part there was that wheat problem I eluded to in the beginning.
But before I overheated the sourdough start, but after part of the torture campaign, I made a batch of buckwheat pancakes with it figuring I had to do at least something besides grow the stuff.
I ground the buckwheat seeds into flour, (buckwheat is not wheat, it is not even related but it is gluten free.) and mixed in the sourdough start along with brown sugar, oil, an egg, and a half a teaspoon of baking powder. Remember my start wasn't too lively at this point. The recipe I glanced at and got a basic drift from before throwing mine together called for 1 1/2 teaspoons of soda and a 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder so all in all I was still using little leavening because of the start. Something to keep in mind since even if you need some baking powder or baking soda to give your sourdough a lift, you are still minimized the amount of leavening you have to use making your survival storage supplies of the items stretch.
I let the mixture set a bit and bubbles formed so I figured all was good. No more leavening needed.
Bubbles formed on the cooking pancakes so all appeared to be working well. But there was a problem I had forgotten. Buckwheat is a dry grain. That is the reason you keep doing things so you don't forget. So all in all we had such a lovely breakfast, yum, yum. of pine needle tea, bacon, and buckwheat pancakes. Can you tell, I'm being sarcastic.

The texture  of the pancakes was a bit grainy and I really needed to have used home-made Meagan's buttermilk only Meagan is dry and not milking so no high fat buttermilk. Despite this, I needed something with high fat content so maybe sour cream would have done to soften the crumb of the pancakes and moisten them. Too late. Though next time when we have buckwheat, buckwheat will be an addition to another grain and I'll use a high fat pancake mixture. If anyone is a big buckwheat fan, this is when you pipe in with advice. 

On a survival note, I've grown buckwheat and the little patch I did taught me I need a big patch and learn how to dehull it. As for the wheat issue, I'm going to torture you and say stay tuned. Not for long though. But right now I've got a new bread making book I'm wanting to study closely. It is phenomenal so far answering many of the questions I've had for years. There are even Stud Muffins in it. Stud Muffins, and I thought that was just some kind of endearment someone made up. No, there is actually such a thing as Stud Muffins. 

But forget the Stud Muffin, this book is full of just my thing, science, science, science plus how toos on converting your recipes to create different flavors and textures are all in this dictionary size book. I'm already in love and I've had it one day. Must be love at first sight. The author even goes into sourdoughs so I've got so much more to try on the subject and share of course. But enough, I've got five more posts to work on. Have a wonderful Valentines Day.

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