Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sourdough and Snowshoes

Sourdough English muffins yum, yum. It's what I made this past weekend and the grand kids gobbled up hungrily, a sure sign that my strain of sourdough is very mild and not at all sour tasting. It was one of the surprises that I found when I received my original starts. One was over a hundred years old and had a potato base. The other much more recent, as in the last 15 years, created from California grapes and given as a gift. Neither are sour.

What I grew up on was a sour tangy concoction used in pancakes only. It was my best friend's moms and it wasn't until a few years ago that I found out it was made from store yeast. It was good in pancakes but I much prefer the diversity of the milder variety I have.  My best friend's mom also stopped their culture at whim and started a new one. Something I'm not interested in doing though mine will sit in the refrigerator for three months before use especially in the summer. I need to be much better at using them.

I wish I was more faithful at using my own sourdough. When I received my own starts we had only one child left at home and life kicked into a high gear.

 Before you could count on my being in the kitchen for hours each day. It was where we home school for fifteen years. I use to spin, knit, cook and puttering nearby when my help wasn't needed to teach or grade a paper. And I thought about life when the kids left home and how much simpler it would be. Beware kids leave home, come back, leave home and come back, and sometimes bring kids too.  

Yesterday morning is a good example of how my life has changed and isnt' at all what I thought it would be when I sat at the kitchen table home schooling our kids. My day was thrown way out of kilter as it often is and the sourdough tortilla plans with it. I was going to take hubby to the bus stop for work because we had had and were having a bad snowstorm with 40 mph winds. He couldn't get there with the car and I needed the truck to do chores. We have only one so we sat waiting with semis surrounding us  who were waiting too. All the roads around us that were closed during the night had opened except the one south where my husband's work is. The roads seldom close because there are so many mines along them and never for long because of the pressure to keep them open. We expected the bus to show up any minute. It didn't. The road remained closed.
Kirk decided to remain at home monitoring the road closures on the Internet after he dropped me off at the corrals. Or rather in the vicinity of the corrals. For I knew how bad the none plowed roads were the day before and I expected much worse. It was. But I had formulated a plan. I was going to use those hand me down cheap plastic snowshoes that had sat in our garage for years. That and a saucer sled of the kids to get the stock fed.  
Usually when we have a heavy snow storm with 40mph winds, we have bare ground and drifts. We had the drifts but no bare ground. In fact our whole lane at the corrals was just one great big drift. Not so big a deal yesterday as the snow was light, powdery, and new the day before yesterday and the four wheel drive on our three-quarter ton truck sailed through. The problem with snow is it settles and crusts and forms a pretty formidable force to plow through with age. This storm  had the whole area socked in with high and much higher levels of snow though this photo doesn't depict it well. These were deep ruts. I've got to tell you the snowshoes were awesome. I haven't been snowshoeing since college and we rented some to go into Yellowstone Park. Needless to say that was a long time ago.

We had one area behind our pens with lighter snow and I blazed a trail going back and forth a couple times hauling hay to the yaks on the plastic sled. Worked great as long as the going was smooth. The slightest incline sent the hay sliding off faster than a kid on a slippy slide. I learned to hold the pitch fork in the hay and pull forward as I drug along the sled with the attached baling twine.  

Despite the challenge and it was challenging since the round hay bale was on its side and not tipped up. The one I had been taking hay from had fallen over and was buried in snow. I fell once in a big drift, my snowshoes askew, and had to waller about like a beached whale. I  panicked for a minute that I'd do a complete face plant and not be able to get right side up again. Finally able to get a snowshoe going in the right direction I leaned on it and with the pitchfork in hand I stood up on top the drift once more.  

My biggest problem yesterday morning was once more time restraints. Our daughter had arrived at our home with the kids and was going to be late for work as I struggled to complete my task. I hate the clock most times. Here I was, stillness broken only by the squeaking of the snowshoes on the snow, learning something new, and I had to leave this bit of heaven to head back home to a world of constant demands. Oh I love the kids but these moments of complete peace are so few and far between.  

I've got to see how much a proper pair of snowshoes cost. Surely sales will abound with spring. I think back at all the times these shoes would have come in handy and I kick myself for not using them. Besides, the fun I could of had just traipsing off in the snow. Why do I need a new pair? The plastic snapped today in one place. Not surprising since they are ancient.

 But wait a minute, I was suppose to be talking about sourdough. Since those days of my youth I've learned quite a bit more about sourdough and even stumbled upon an article where scientists were studying its properties as a fight against cancer. Sourdough does have lactobacilli which is a natural antibiotic which fights against unwanted bacteria in your sourdough. Not sure if that was the thing they were interested in or not but one can't help but wonder if a steady dose of this natural antibiotic wouldn't benefit us all against the round of flus and colds that plague our society. When I think of the many things lost to our modern culture, I worry about our survival morally and physically. How much have we gained and how much with the gain of convenience have we lost?
Each time I pull my sourdough starts from the refrigerator after neglecting them terribly, I'm thrilled once more to see them spring to life, there surfaces bubbling happily, with just a little nourishment of flour and water.
As for the English muffins, I found out by mistake that you can mix the whole recipe and let it sit for eight hours before cooking and it still works. I have a tendency to loose my mind with children rushing all about me. You are suppose to to a Biga kind of thing and in a hurry I didn't remember that. Children rushing about has a tendency to do that to me. I'm so easily over stimulated. 
Today, life willing, (I've wanted to do this for the past two days) I'm going to grind some wheat and start some sourdough tortillas. I saw a recipe I want to alter. You knew I'd say that didn't you. Well, my mind has been whirling as I've cared for the four kids yesterday. No school, they couldn't keep the snow plowed away from the doors and parking lot enough to get the kids in. I'm thinking about the conversation I had with my cousin. She said her tortilla recipe has four cups of flour, 3 Tablespoons of oil,  I think the amount is 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and hot water. Quite a contrast in proportions to the recipe I used which did not have any soda, less flour -2 3/4 cups, and far more fat - 6 tablespoons and 1/2 teaspoon. Scientifically I can see why the recipe I used rolls out far more easily, it has more oil to coat the flour tenderizing the crumb.
The sourdough recipe I liked was somewhat similar to my cousins and I'm thinking I will change it and add more fat. Maybe coconut oil Herdog. How did yours turn out or did you get them made yet? I did see a recipe on the Internet using coconut oil so someone else is doing it too.  I want to try ghee also. Both lard and ghee being self-sustaining oils. Coconut oil is very healthy but we don't grow coconuts in Wyoming and when times get more difficult I want something I can easily get my hands on.

Why sourdough tortillas, well, they make the tortillas store longer, up the nutrition level, and digestibility too. I really do need to build a larger sourdough recipe file.  


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