Sunday, February 14, 2010

Round Food Pt. 2- Sourdough Pancakes

I guess it's already been established that I have a bubbly sourdough sponge that demands being fed at least once a week. I've taken to baking two loaves of bread on the weekends, eating one immediately, and freezing the other for later in the week (a routine that I look forward to every weekend). You might be surprised at how quickly a loaf of bread can be devoured when it does not come pre-sliced (or not at all).

While I love the sourdough bread I've been baking, I knew that there was more one could do with sourdough. A co-worker lent me a book of Montana recipes. Included in the pages of this book were recipes for just about every mammal and bird that calls Montana home. It was a book for the climate-hardy residents of the state that is apparently under snow for half of the year.

Much like the residents of Alaska, Montanans also had their sourdough, and they made pancakes as well as loaves of bread. This recipe was taken from this book. I love my weekend mornings, and I especially enjoy having company on weekends, when I can turn on the stove and flip pancakes happily while drinking coffee and engaging in morning banter.

I've made several varieties of pancakes in my day, but they usually have whole wheat flour in them as well as other cereal grains that are good for you. These pancakes are Plain. Delicious. Pancakes. They are started the night before to give the batter a little more umph and turn out a bit chewier than other types of pancakes. They also don't taste all that sour to me- which may be less prominent after you drizzle maple syrup all over them.

Sourdough Pancakes

2 c sourdough starter
1 c flour
2 eggs
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbs oil
1 tbs baking soda

Mix the sourdough starter and flour and enough water to create a medium thick batter. Cover and let sit overnight.

In the morning, add 2 eggs, sugar, salt and oil. Mix. When griddle is hot add baking soda. Cook as any other pancake (with a buttered skillet).

Makes enough for 4. If serving 2 people, I recommend halving the recipe.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Round Food, Part 1

I want to talk today about round food. This, being in the midst of citrus season, is fitting. But I don't want to talk too much about citrus, and not because I don't love it- quite to opposite. I have been eating as much grapefruit as is socially acceptable... and only a little bit more.

I want to talk about recreating foods (or attempting to) that you love. I once worked as a lunch and coffee slinger back in Portland. It was, in fact, the first job I had post college. I do not use the word 'sling' lightly. The lunches were prepared at a different location and by the time it got to the cafe we threw it on a plate and slung it at the customers. Really. The different location at which the food was prepared at was actually a catering kitchen, and food was usually well prepared and quite tasty. I suppose one doesn't 'sling' tasty food and that that verb is usually reserved for gruel or food of a similar consistency. But I digress.

I haven't worked there for almost 4 years, but there is one lunch item that has persistently been on my mind. Alas, I was unable to get a recipe before I left and have never attempted to duplicate it... until recently.

Gorgonzola and caramelized onion polenta gratin.

Yum? I think so. The key flavors and textures are pretty self-explanatory, though I still have some tweaking to do- As I remember it, it was much cheesier. I do recommend keeping caramelized onions in your fridge at all times- they do a great job of enhancing everything from polenta to pizza to scrambled eggs.

The other round thing that was made recently was supposed to be a pie. Nic bought some home-canned cherries and requested a pie. I personally don't deal too well with cherries other than to eat them fresh- they're a littl fussy to mess with, what with all those pits and not a lot of fruit to show for it, compared to other stone fruits. So the jars sat in our pantry for about 6 months. A few weekends ago Nic cooked them down in their syrup and created a nice thick cherry pie filling. However, the filling was less than an adequate amount for a full pie, and Nic only made a single pie crust, and so we made a cherry galette.

I am a big fan of naming things as you see fit. I once made what was supposed to be a lemon cake, but the cake turned out to be (a lot) more dense than I had hoped, and so I called a lemon torte. You can get away with a lot by remembering this little trick.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Sense of Accomplishment

I had a thought about a month ago, that I had not had a quarter-life crisis in some time. It could be because I've been busy with life and work (I mean this full-time volunteer thing that I do), or that I haven't had time to question the path my life is headed in. It also might have something to do with the fact that we have a 2 year lease on our apartment and I have a year contract with AmeriCorps. I don't know exactly why I'm less restless than even a year ago, but it may have something to do with time-intensive projects. If you're at all familiar with my penchant for projects, then read ahead, I've just finished a big one.

I've been spending an inordinate amount of time knitting in the past few months- which might also be blamed for my lack of presence here, in the inter-world. I've been quite focused on this project- a cardigan, 'Jarrett' by Kim Hargraves. This cardigan has been able to keep my interest throughout these three months (almost to the day) I've spent on it. Some motivating factors that have helped guide me to completion have included- the countdown to less frigid months (which would prevent the recipient from being able to wear it until next winter) and the lack of daylight hours (which gave me less time to spend outside and therefore more time to spend inside, on the couch, with my knitting). One great thing about knitting is that it is quite portable and can be done while enjoying a movie or podcast if you are comfortable with multitasking.

This being my first knitted garment, I am pleased as punch with how it turned out. The most important part in the completion of this project is that it fits! I gave myself bonus points for it fitting well and looking good. Only after I began knitting the sweater I began reading and paying attention to knitting horror stories- stories that do not appeal to non-knitters, and are about knitting in the wrong gauge (which I thoroughly checked but began to doubt myself), and knitting two right sides instead of a right and a left side. Luckily (or because I was extra careful), the sweater was completed without major incident.

Nic should be credited for picking out the color of the yarn (lichen) as well as the buttons (which were purchased at Bolt in Portland). Nic's mother, Becky, should be credited with helping me out with the final seaming, washing and blocking as well as encouragement and support throughout the process.

I, however, am going to take all of the credit for knitting.