WFP: More sourdough, greens, and pickles!

Since I’m such a newbie when it comes to sourdough, and bread making in general, I’ve decided to just go for it and do at least one sourdough thing a day for a while. I haven’t been making bread often enough to feel comfortable with it, and my results are just so variable, it’s hard to stay motivated about it. Plus, I haven’t been doing it enough to get my starter super active. So, that’s my challenge this week. Starting today… and if I end up with more loaves of bread than I know what to do with, I’ll just freeze them and use them when this baby makes an entrance! I can’t lose, really.

Anyway, I decided to try sourdough pita bread. 

And of course I had my little helper! It’s close to impossible to keep clothes on her these days… but I guess you’re only 2 once!

The only problem? They didn’t really turn into pita bread. They were more like naan, which was great- I’m happy to make that too! But in the recipe it was supposed to puff up, but it only did in little spots, so we weren’t able to treat them like pockets. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I’ll try the recipe again soon. Anyway, we had a lovely dinner of grilled lamb, fresh lettuce, sautéed mushrooms and onions and greens, and a simple eggplant sesame puree (from the very last of our frozen eggplant!), and a garlic yogurt sauce. We just piled it all on top of the bread and it was really nice!

I’m not going to let this sourdough intimidate me! I’m looking forward to the challenge. One thing every day. Although every time I do anything with flour I end up looking down at this:

I’m having a love affair with greens. Seriously, once you start eating them, you develop a taste for them like nothing else. I can feel my body’s need for their goodness… My friend and I were talking yesterday about how we know people who don’t eat vegetables if it’s up to them. Just bread, meat, cheese… and sometimes potatoes. That just seems so sad and crazy to me! Jeff and I went out to this local Italian place with some friends last week, and there weren’t any vegetables on the menu. I mean, except for the eggplant in my eggplant parmesan and side salads. But seriously. Everything was pasta and sauce and cheese. All served with bread and butter. So beige. Tasty, but missing something. Jeff and I were both laughing about how we’re so used to having ribbons of green throughout our meals, we both noticed when the meal lacked it. I almost wish we had brought a little dish filled with chard or something to stir around in our pasta… that would have made it! Anyway, these are five greens that I can’t get enough of these days. L to R, we’ve got: arugula, purslane, lamb’s quarters, spinach, and swiss chard. Arugula, so rich and peppery… I’ve developed such a taste for it! Purslane, a weed by most people’s standards, but an amazingly delicious thing. It’s slightly lemony and hearty and cooks up with a slight crunch. Lamb’s quarters- also a weed, abundant and incredibly nutritious, but no real flavor to speak of… kind of just green and fresh. Cooked or not, it’s lovely. Spinach, classic and versatile. And finally, swiss chard… buttery and crunchy, the leaves and the stalks are both lend flavor and texture to any dish. See? A love affair. 

I throw these in just about anything these days. They are amazingly good for you, super easy to grow (basically fool proof), and you could find the purslane and lamb’s quarters on the sidewalk if you look. One of my favorite ways to eat these greens is just to lightly sauté them in a little butter, salt and pepper, and a splash of lemon juice. I’ll often add some garlic, or a little onion, or sometimes a dash of tamari sauce. Beautiful, no?

And then finally, I harvested my radishes. We had some on salads, but mostly I wanted to pickle them. Lacto-ferment them, that is.

I packed what I had left into a quart jar, added a tablespoon of good sea salt, 4 tablespoons of whey, and enough filtered water to cover. This seems to be the standard recipe for lacto-fermented vegetables (per quart). Unless it’s something that you grate and can pound the liquid out of (like sauerkraut), in which case you omit the water. Also, if you don’t want to use whey you can add another tablespoon of salt and that should work. Anyway, I’ve gotten so I’m pretty confident that things will go well with this kind of fermentation- because I’ve done it wrong before, and you will know when it’s bad. My only issue was that I couldn’t keep the radish pieces below the brine, which is really important for keeping everything safe and good- the lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process. So, I went out into the yard and found a good sized rock and a couple of collard leaves. I washed them well and spread the leaves on top of the radishes and weighted it down with the rock. Voila!

I checked on it just now and it’s already smelling slightly pickled! So fun. If you want to learn more about why this way of traditional pickling/preserving is so so good, go here. And here. And here. Anyway, last year I made pickled radishes this way, and I really missed them when they were gone. 

So that’s what I’ve been up to! Hopefully next week I’ll have lots of sourdough successes to share with you all. 


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