Herb Harvest 2020

I’ve always enjoyed picking herbs from my garden. But I typically just pick what I need for mmmmm for culinary use. I’ve been harvesting more herbs this to dry and save for medicinal and beauty uses this year.

Scroll on to see what’s been in my herb basket this year.

Sage, Calendula, and one big Mullein leaf.
Basil!
Mint and Catmint
Spearmint
Cilantro
Roses!
I lay my rose petals between two paper towels to air dry.
Pretty little Calendula flowers. I air dry these the same way I do the rose petals.

DIY Trader Joe’s Garlic Salt

We love Trader Joe’s spice grinders. We like the Lemon Pepper, Everyday Seasoning, and Garlic Salt. If you haven’t tried them, you really should.

What what do you do when you find yourself smack-dab in the middle of a pandemic, and you can’t run out and buy more? You get creative and make your own.

Garlic Salt is the seasoning I use the most. It’s basic and I find it to be the most versatile. I use it on the kids chicken strips that they eat every day for lunch, and I REALLY like it on our sourdough crackers. If you want to try to craft your own, save an empty grinder and mix the following together.

Homemade Garlic Salt:

3 tsp parsley flakes

3 tsp dried minced garlic

2 tsp onion flakes

2 tsp salt

Chocolate Chip Sourdough Batter Bread

I had a bunch of starter to use up today.

This is about six cups of mixed starters including – quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, spelt, and all purpose. Use whatever starter that you have.

At least six cups to be exact. What should I do with all of it? Invent a new batter bread of course! It uses up a lot of starter and it’s yummy!

The recipe below is for one loaf. You can easily double, triple, or in my case quadruple it depending on how much starter you have to use up.

Sourdough Chocolate Chip Batter Bread:

2 cups sourdough starter

1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all of the above together until well blended.

Then add…

1/2 cup of flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup+ chocolate chips

Mix well. Add more flour if needed until the batter resembles the texture of soft cream cheese.

Grease a loaf pan or 8×8 casserole dish, pour in your batter, let it rise 1-2 hours or until your batter is about 1/2 inch from the top of your pan if using a loaf pan, or about 1/2 way up if using an 8×8 pan.

Poured in the loaf pans. Ready to rise.

Bake at 400 for 35 minutes. If using a loaf pan or may need 10 minutes more. To ensure that the bread is done, check the center with a skewer as you would test a cake, or use an instant read thermometer. Internal temp should be between 190-200 degrees.

If the bread is already looking brown at the 35 minute mark, tent with foil and continue baking if more time is needed.

It’s tasty!

Lemon Blueberry “Bunny” Cake – regular and sourdough versions!

Isn’t he cute?

This cake is not only cute, but delicious. He certainly brightened up our Easter table. And he’s allergy friendly too. This cake is free of eggs, nuts, and dairy. I made it with sourdough, but if you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can easily make it without. Modifications for the non-sourdough version are written below the picture of the recipe card.

Regular (not sourdough) Bunny Cake:

To make this cake without sourdough, simply omit the sourdough, and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Use 3 full cups of flour and use 2 tsp of baking powder instead of baking soda. Follow the rest of the recipe as written.

Garlic Herb Sourdough Batter Bread

 

 

This batter bread is delicious, savory, and filling. Trying as a surprise side dish with dinner. It’s great way to use up your extra sourdough starter.

Garlic Herb Batter Bread:

3/4 cup sourdough starter

1 tsp. salt

1 cup water

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbls garlic powder or granulated garlic

1 tbls Italian seasoning

handful of sliced black olives

Add all purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time until the batter resembles a stiff buttercream frosting.

To bake, spray a casserole with oil. Pour in the batter and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes.

Banana Chocolate Chip Sourdough Batter Bread

Try this with your mature sourdough starter. (Note: If your starter is not mature yet, you can still make this. Double the starter and baking soda and decrease the water half.)

1 cup activated starter (this means starter that has been fed within the past 2 hours)

1 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup oil

3 mashed bananas

Mix all these wet ingredients. Then add….

2 tbls cocoa powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp baking soda

Handful of chocolate chips

Add flour until the dough resembles a stiff buttercream frosting.

Pour into an oiled or buttered casserole. Let it rise, covered, in a warm place until it reaches the top of the pan, or about 2 hours.

Remove the cover and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Poured into casserole. Ready to rise.

Risen for two hours. Ready for the oven.

Apple Cinnamon Sourdough Batter Bread

We’ve been playing with sourdough at my house lately. If you’d like to learn how to make your own, I highly recommend the Art of Homemade Bread Class taught by Carolyn Thomas at Homesteading Family. She has a whole section on sourdough that is excellent. She breaks it down into simple steps that so that the follow through is easy.

My daughter even decided to do sourdough as her science experiment this year. We have had 10 different starters growing at our house. Which means we have been baking A LOT!

Here is my latest favorite.

Apple Cinnamon Sourdough Batter Bread:

Add 3 approximately 2.5-3 cups of immature (or mature) starter to your mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt, and about 1/2 cup flour. Stir to combine. Let this mixture sit and bubble while you butter your casserole and chop your apples.

Generously butter a glass casserole dish and set aside. Peel and chop 3 apples. Pour the chopped apples into the bowl with the batter, and add 1 tsp of cinnamon, dash of cloves, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 cup cream, 1/4 cup mild tasting oil, 1/4 brown sugar. Stir to combine. Then add flour 1/4 cup at a time until your batter is stiff like a cold buttercream frosting. It may not take much flour if your starter is thick. I added less than 1 cup to mine. Once you have achieved the right texture, pour into your prepared baking dish and sprinkle 1/4 cup of brown sugar over the top. Cover and let it rise for 30 minutes. Then back at 400 for 40-45 minutes.

About 3 cups of immature spelt starter.

Buttered casserole.

3 Opal apples. Use a sweet apple like Fuji, Gala or Braeburn, rather than tart.

Peeled and chopped.

Add to batter.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Be prepared. The baking soda will make the mixture foam and bubble.

All combined.

Poured into pan, covered and set to rise for 30 minutes.

Fresh out of the oven.

How to make batter bread with a mature starter:

You can also use a mature starter to bake batter bread with just a few modifications. Take 1 cup of your mature starter and add 1 cup of warm water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 cup flour. Let this mixture sit and activate for 2-2.5 hours. While it sits peel and chop the apples. Add the apple, cinnamon, cloves, oil, and 1 tsp baking soda to the batter mixture. Stir and add flour until the dough is a stiff batter. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and let it rise 2-3 hours. Bake 400 for 40 minutes or until the dough temperature is 190 degrees.

August 29, 2020

Edited to add that this also comes out great in a loaf pan. I like to make it in loaves when I want to have extra to freeze.

Instant Bone Broth

I’m so thankful for these little homemade chicken bullion cubes. My son has been sick the last two days. He won’t eat much when he’s ill, but he’s always up for chicken soup. I can feed him homemade bone broth in an instant any time I need to by just reconstituting with boiling water. This is one of the most rewarding things I make. And if dehydrated it’s shelf life is a good long time if refrigerated. You can specific instructions on how to make them by taking a peek in the Pantry.

Sprouting Grains

Sprouted and ready to store in the freezer.

I’ve been sprouting spelt for the last 9 months to grind to make our bread each week. I was so intimidated by the idea when I started. And I really couldn’t find any reliable information or consistent techniques online. But, now that I have it figured out….. it’s so easy! There’s really nothing to it. Once you have it worked into your routine, you can easily sprout a batch ahead, and always benefit from the additional nutrition that sprouting makes accessible to your body in your breads and baked goods.

Easy Steps to Sprouting Grain:

(These steps work with any grain.)

  1. Soak your grain in a large bowl overnight, or for about 10-12 hours.
  2. Drain into a mesh colander and rinse.
  3. Return the drained grain to the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel.
  4. Rinse every 6-12 hours, depending on how fast it dries out until you see little tails at the tips of each seed.
  5. Spread on your dehydrator and dehydrate 110-120 degrees (I usually do 115) until the grain is hard and cannot be indented when pressed upon by the end of your fingernail.
  6. Store in sealed mason jars in the freezer if you don’t plan to grind your grain within 2 days.

That’s it! Give it a try. Sprouted grain makes a softer flour, is easier to grind than unsprouted, and I think makes lighter baked goods.

Unsprouted spelt berries.

Cover with water and soak for 12 hours.

 

Sprouted. See the tiny tails on the tip of each seed?

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Before dehydrating.

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After dehydrating.

Dehydrated and ready to go in the grain mill.

In the mill. About to become flour.

Compare: Left – after dehydrating, Right – before dehydrating.

The Benefits of Baking Day

I have a page in the “Kitchen” on my blog called “Baking Day.” In it I wax poetic thinking of Ma Ingalls and my great-grandmother, Maggie, working in their kitchens. I imagine them in their vintage aprons, leaning over their wooden kitchen tables, kneading their bread. They have flour dust on their faces from swiping back the wisps of hair from their faces that have fallen down.

Not many people have a baking day anymore. Each day is much the same as another, running from one errand or activity to another. But, for the last 2 years or so, Saturday has become my baking day. I often will go grocery shopping in the morning, and spend the rest of the day cooking. It’s exhausting but rewarding. Sometimes it’s hectic. Especially when we have another activity that day that cuts into my baking time. But, I’m learning to guard my time on Saturdays as much as possible. That time in the kitchen is valuable to me. And it can be quite pleasant. If the kids are outside, I can sing, listen to music, listen to a podcast, or just get lost in my own thoughts. The kitchen is a good place for that. I’m finding that between technology, daily appointments, and the responsibility of teaching and caring for the kids (all of which have their place in life), I don’t have enough of that quiet time in my head.

Baking day helps me be well prepared for my week. On a typical baking day, I produce a lot of breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and sometimes dinner prep that help me survive Monday through Friday when I just don’t have the time to devote to the kitchen. Below are some photos of what I typically make. Would a baking day make your life easier? I’m finding that I really do need mine.

Sprouted Spelt Bread

Banana chocolate chip muffins.

Snacks for the week.

Sprouted spelt waffles for breakfast.

Granola for hubby’s breakfast.

Elderberry herbal syrup.

Fun with Ferments – 3 new ferments in my kitchen

I had fun with ferments in my kitchen today. Two old favorites – Beets with clove and cardamom, and Jalepeno, Garlic and Onion Relish. And new to me, making my own Apple Cider Vinegar using apple scraps. You can read the fermenting instructions by visiting Maggie’s Cellar. I find ferments to be so fascinating. I hope you try it.

Dehydrating Tomatoes

I decided to take the advice of my friend Carolyn Thomas at Homesteading Family and dehydrate some of my end of the season tomatoes. It was fun and easy.

We’re still getting the last of the ripe tomatoes off our cherry tomato plants. Since this is about the only vegetable that I seem to be able to grow prolifically, sometimes we don’t eat them up fast enough. Enter my dehydrator.

I simply sliced them in half, and seasoned them with a bit of salt, pepper, granulated garlic, oregano, and savory. You could use any seasonings you like.

Lay them out on the dehydrator tray and dehydrate at a temp below 150 degrees until they are crisp.

If you have a few that are past the point of saving, then squirt out the seeds into a bowl, cover with water for a day or two to loosen all the gel, and then lay out on a paper plate to dry for the next year’s growing season.