31 March, 2010

Mid week recount of our weekend adventures...

We were invited to our friends' house for dinner on Saturday for a meal of traditional Polish food! I fearlessly offered to make the "Polish Bread" or as i have always known it, Sourdough. I even braved offering to bake it in my Dutch Oven...
Well... what i didn't tell them was... *sigh*

I have never made Sourdough Bread before.

There! I said it!
My mom was an awesome camp cook and would always volunteer to teach people how to make foil dinners on fire coals, how to cook Cornish Game Hens in the fire pit, and of course how to cook in a Dutch Oven.
Did i ever pay attention? Did i ever really care? No... lol I was always more interested in wandering off on my own to contemplate the complexities of pine cones, find moose poop (to indicate to dad where i thought he could go hunting the next day), and try to cross rivers by jumping stones like they did in the movies.
Occasionally, my mom would MAKE me help her in the camp kitchen, but i did so begrudgingly and always staring out at the lush ferns, tantalizing Huckleberry bushes, and lichen longingly. I was a nature kid. I loved learning all about wild flora and fauna... and my mother taught me all about them too...
But when it came to cooking i was only ever interested in foil dinners and baking cookies at home. Forget the breads. Forget the Game Hens.

Well despite my best efforts of not learning things, my mother inevitably left some pearls of knowledge embedded in my brain, and for that i'm glad. I remember how to fillet a fish. I remember what parts of the Halibut are good. I know where it's best to shoot a moose so it doesn't run too far. I can cast a line, pan for gold, and identify fallen Eagle feathers. I remember how to start a campfire without kerosene or lighter fluid. I remember how to find a good campsite, and pitch a tent quickly. I've helped mom set up camp at dark, and i value the warmth and light of a gas lantern.
And fortunately, i remember to never wash my Dutch Oven (which belonged to mother) with soap, remember to oil it between use, and how to cook some things in it.
I have watched her bake beautiful Pineapple Upside-down Cakes, Killer breads, and melt-in-your-mouth meats. She was most famous for her Sourdough Bread though.
I thought, "Self, it's time to resurface those things that mom has taught you and make her proud."

I dug out her recipe (which was one i laminated a while ago to my delight), and began the starter. I fed it a couple times, stirred it twice a day for 4 or 5 days, pouring off some of the sourdough "hooch" now and then as i saw fit. Finally, Saturday arrived and i was excited to begin my adventures in Sourdough Breadmaking.

I wont share the recipe just yet, as my mom had a special way of writing her recipes, which i will still have to completely figure out before sharing... She wrote recipes very concise relying on already known knowledge and just as a reference for herself...
HA! Fortunately, it was just what i needed to fill in the gaps of what i remembered and what i didn't. I even got a little online help for what the recipe itself didn't cover.
(someday, i plan to write out a cookbook for posterity using my mom's recipes and writing down the stuff that she knew as well as my own experiences with the recipes, tips, and photos)
This is during the initial rise. At this point it has already doubled, but i was greedy and left it to rise a little longer... hehhe
I made my dough and kneaded it until it passed the "windowpane test" - basically knead the bread dough until a small glob rolled into a ball stretches out evenly into a translucent membraney "window" without tearing - set it into the oiled Dutch Oven, and placed it near the wood stove to keep warm and rise.
About 2 hours later, the dough was pushing the lid off the dutch oven, so i punched it down a little and at this point I thought it would be a good time to start the coals.

We didn't have many briquettes and NO lighter fluid, so V went out and started some try timber. Once it got burning strong enough, we started adding the briquettes we DID have along with some regular coal for fires.
hehe! My handsome husband took a break from sawing wood for our shelves upstairs and for firewood to help me with the fire.
Warming my toesies by the hot briquettes and coals...
Once the coals were ready (or as ready as i could tell) i placed them under and over the Dutch Oven and began the baking process! One of the things i was surprised to remember was how many Briquettes i needed to heat the Dutch Oven to about 325F (160C). Just take the size of your Dutch Oven and double it. Twenty Briquettes for a 10 inch Dutch Oven. For Baking, i should place two thirds on top and one third on bottom.
But i didn't have enough briquettes!!! So i improvised.
Every 15 minutes, i went out and turned the oven and rotated the lid a little so there weren't "hot spots" (a tip i found on the internet somewhere...) and in the mean time...
 ...hung some laundry outside!!! This was our first "warm-ish" and dry day of the season, so we were happy to get more clothes dry quicker with the wind and sunshine (which is blocked by a cloud in this photo). Actually, it's freaking cold here in Rathcormac today but it's CRAZY windy, so i have clothes out on the line hoping they'll dry before the rain comes later.
After about an hour outside baking, we brought it inside to have a look. Unfortunately, all of the briquettes were dead and no longer giving enough heat to finish the bread, so i had to stick it in the oven in the house (inside the Dutch Oven still) for about 20 minutes. I let it cool inside the Dutch Oven and VOILA! A beautiful, Huge, loaf of Sourdough bread!
Ick. Here is me holding half our loaf of bread. Look how great the crumb looks! Ahh... So happy. And it tasted awesome too! So glad i'm on a diet. No more photos like this, please. *shudder*
The bread was a hit at our friends' party and they asked me to make another loaf for them for Easter.

I'm still trying to understand how the Roman Catholics celebrate Easter, but apparently one thing to do is bring a basket full of food to church to be blessed... WOW! An actual PURPOSE for the Easter Baskets that i've grown up with! haha!
We didn't have a basket, so Karina lent us one of hers. V is excited that we will be celebrating Easter the way of his traditions. I am excited to experience it too, actually. I've never done anything like it.
V expressed that he was a little bummed that we don't have a decorative white cloth to line the basket with... so i offered to make one. I think he was a bit skeptical at first.
Remember the curtains i made recently? They are lined with some white cotton fabric on the back. Since i had plenty of fabric left over from the curtain project, i just cut a small square of white cotton, sewed a single fold hem around the edges, then embroidered a little designed on all four corners.
Hahaha! Embroidery is also something my mother taught me a million years ago... I even used my very first wooden embroidery hoop on this project that was purchased for me when i showed an interest in learning back when i was maybe 7 or 8 years old. My first time embroidering something seriously in almost 20 years was a little shaky at first. In the above photo, you can kind of see a difference in my first try (the flourish in the middle of the three) vs. my final try (which is at the bottom). All in all, it came out well, i think - 
It looks nice in the basket, and V is happy :) So i win.


Related Posts with Thumbnails