Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Rising to the occasion

In our quest to keep my husband's arteries free and clear, there have been many (many many) foods we have given up. If it squeals, moos, clucks, gobbles or makes fish faces, we don't eat it. If it looks like dairy, smells like dairy and walks like a hunk of cheese, it's a no go. If it cracks like Humpty Dumpty, we're not buying it. And horror of horrors, we even stay away from extracted fats. Yes, even olive oil, And coconut oil. We eat olives, we eat coconut, we just don't eat the oil apart from the whole food. It's unconventional to say the least, but my husband's health issues are unconventional too, don't even get me started. Oops, I almost forgot the salt, we limit our salt intake. Because when it comes right down to it, the rules of our diet are simple. "If it tastes good, spit it out."

Hence, I'm one of those label lookers, ingredient dissectors, package perusers. The ones in the aisle at Trader Joe's to whom you just want to say "Would you just buy the idiot can of marinara sauce and get out of my way, Lady, how bad can a jar of marina sauce be?" But I ignore you and read on, carefully doing the math, comparing fat calories to total calories, checking the sodium content and examining whether or not someone snuck in something that squeals, moos, clucks, gobbles, makes fish faces or walks like a hunk of cheese. 

One thing Ernst hasn't had to give up is bread. Of course as our diet has morphed into one resembling a chimpanzee's in the wild, I have to stand there and check for fat calories verses total calories and look for that all-important sodium content. "Would you just buy the idiot loaf of bread, Lady..." 

I've never had the desire to bake our own bread, ever. Banana bread yes, zucchini bread of course, but not real honest-to-goodness, flour-on-the-counters, arm-muscles-rippling, make-the-house-smell-wonderful bread. Adding to this lack of bread baking desire, there is the little tiny issue of my wheat issues. As in, eating bread makes me puff up like a muffin high on poppy seeds. It's not like I haven't tried to prove my body wrong, oh have I ever tried. But waking up with muffin top above the neck is not a pretty sight, therefore I do a pretty good job of staying away from bread. Plus all the good sandwiches contain something that squeals, moos, clucks, gobbles, makes fish faces or walks like a hunk of cheese anyway.

Then I read Michael Pollan's book Cooked. His amazing writing style not only convinced me to try making totally-from-scratch sourdough bread, but I was sure that somehow I would be able to handle eating sourdough and not look like a poppy seed addicted muffin face the next morning. He kind of promised. 

So I mixed up some water and flour and set it out in our kitchen And we waited. We went away for the long weekend and I had a neighbor come over and stir the mixture up. It didn't quite go bonkers or anything, but it did start to bubble and smell like socks dipped in beer (that's good) and it increased in volume. I had made sourdough starter!!! The bread part was still to come, but making the starter from scratch is pretty fun in itself. I'm not super good at following instructions, and I didn't quite do the "feeding" right, and it apparently takes some time to develop the "mother" but I called it a success. I decided it was time to make the bread, the magical bread I could eat.

It's got bubbles! It smells bad! 
Next step was to take some and save it in the fridge and feed the mother and let it set out overnight, all fat and happy. We heard a pop in the night. I went to check.

The mother blew her top/

The whole process seemed really scary at this point, and I had a head cold, so I chickened out and stuck the mother back in the fridge with her baby and went back to bed. I got my courage up the next week and tried again. By this time I had seen so many videos on YouTube of how to make sourdough bread, I didn't know who to believe. There are some mighty strong opinions out there in the land of sourdough making. I decided it was just flour and water, how hard can this be, just do it. So I did. The rising part was simply lovely to witness.

Big and fluffy! It rose like a champ.

Hard and dense, it fell like a brick.
But it was bread, and it was sour and had a great taste, so we ate it. I woke up a few hours later with a stomach ache and then woke up again in the morning looking big and fluffy, yet feeling like a brick. So much for sourdough bread for me.

But this story of gluten intolerance has a happy ending. Feeding the mother, keeping her happy, means you end up with lots of extra sourdough mixture, All those bread experts on YouTube kept mentioning that you can use your extra sourdough starter to make pancakes but I was sure they all contained things that oinked and mooed. So I searched for "low oil vegan sourdough pancakes" and this came up from

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Yes, mostly in French and in grams, but a good start(er).

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So I made these. No oinks, no moos, no eggs, no oil.
Not much to look at, but still yummy.

Then I made these beauties. They were delish filled with jam.
Ernst thought they were the best thing since sliced bread.