Using Your Starter and Changes to Ovenmitts

Hi everyone!

I do have a post for you guys today, but it’s over at ovenmittsblog.com! I’m in the middle of transferring from WordPress.com to self-hosted wordpress.org, so I currently have both sites up and running right now…

Hopefully sometime soon I’ll get it all figured out and have you automatically redirected over there, but until then you’ll have to bear with me – I have no idea what I am doing! To make it easier, you can go ahead and re-subscribe to the new RSS link over there, or resubscribe to the emails.

You’ll find a post tonight about knowing when to use your sourdough starters that we just made. I hope it’s helpful!

Please let me know if you have any questions about the move, or if you see something that isn’t working right. I could really use the help!

Oops.

I had great plans for today:

1) I was going to get up early and finish studying for my Organic Chemistry exam. Which I did – except the whole “finishing” part.

2) I was going to do well on my Organic Chemistry exam. Unfortunately, I don’t feel as confident as I had hoped. Maybe it’s just me, but OChem is difficult.

3) I was going to go for a run. I also did this! And it was superb. Until I realized that I had the only keys to the house and I had no idea what time it was or how long I had been running. So I sprinted home. Up hill. And destroyed my legs. And two hours later, my boyfriend still isn’t home. At least I got some exercise!

4) I was going to make kettle corn and share it with you guys. But 3 attempts later, this is all I have to show…

Doesn’t that look appetizing?? And to top it off, the smoke from the popcorn-making set off the fire alarms in my brand new house. That’s not embarrassing or anything.

5) I was going to make fried green tomatoes. But I really don’t feel like being scared of the gas stove, cleaning the kitchen, and doing dishes all over again.

I guess it’s popcorn for dinner, then…

Do You ever have days that just don’t seem to go your way at all?

Today was mine. But overall, I am so blessed. The worst of my days are infinitely better than the best of some peoples’. I have the opportunity to go to an amazing university; I have the blessing of being able to run, and living in such a place where hills are literally outside my front door; I have a wonderful boyfriend and a roof over my head; and I have this great little blog here where I can vent all I need, and finally realize how good I have it. I feel so much better now :)

I’m Back!

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the long hiatus. I had the most wonderful weekend, but it was so busy I didn’t have a chance to post or even take a single picture to share with you!

We went up to AJ’s parents’ place for Thanksgiving and ate lots of incredible food, relaxed a whole bunch, and supremely enjoyed ourselves. AJ’s mom even made some meat-free stuffing for me, and it was incredible! I’ve never had stuffing before (I always thought it looked gross), but I’m definitely a fan. It even made great leftovers last night!

On Friday we came home and moved to our new place! My parents met us up here and it was so great to spend some time with them as well. I was sad to see them leave, but Christmas is just around the corner (can you believe that?!?). We’re in our new place now and almost everything is put away, but we still have some work to do. We’re so happy to be here – and I’m stoked to have a kitchen that is clean and actually works!

That being said, I haven’t had the chance to cook at all. So I don’t have any recipes to share with you today. BUT, I’ll get back to it tonight, and I’ll have something for you guys tomorrow. Thanks for hanging in there.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Did you do anything fun?

Pumpkin Pie

I know I said I was going on vacation, but I just couldn’t resist! I really felt obligated to share this pie with you. It’s how I’ll show my thanks for being here with me.

I already told you I like mini pies. They’re the perfect size. Who wants to make a whole 9″ pie for two (or three) people? Besides the fact that you eat twice as much, half of it goes bad (or soggy…) before you can really do any damage. And! When I make mini pies, it gives me an excuse to make them more often.

But, I do realize that some of you have large families. Or that you’re making it to share. Or that you just really really like pie! I recommend tripling both the pie crust and filling recipes if you decide to make the 9″ pie. You’ll likely have a bit left over, but that’s better than the alternative!

I also already told you that my boyfriend is a (keyword) self-proclaimed pie expert. Especially when it comes to pumpkin pie. So how did this one hold up?

Incredibly well.

He only had one complaint – The crust is too flaky. Now, I’m not sure that’s possible. Maybe he just likes it a little chewier, but I, for one, am a fan of this:

Give me all the flaky I can get!

Pumpkin Pie

Print this recipe!

For the mini 4″ crust:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp whole-wheat pastry flour (or 2 Tbsp AP flour)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
4 Tbsp Earth Balance butter, straight out of the fridge
2 Tbsp ice water

For the filling:

1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp each ground ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp white granulated sugar
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 can pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 450F and lightly oil a pie dish.

For the crust:

Combine flours, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry cutter or two knives until you have chunks about the size of your fingernail. Add the water one tablespoon at a time, tossing well. The dough should be a bit rough, not sticky at all, and should just hold together when you squeeze it. You can add a bit more water if you like, but too much water will make it difficult to roll out and less flaky.

Squeeze the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes while you make the pie filling.

When you’re ready to roll it out, place the ball of dough between two layers of plastic warp and roll into a circle. You’ll want to make the circle a couple of inches wider than the diameter of your pie pan, or it won’t go all the way up the sides.

For the filling:

Combine lemon juice and non-dairy milk in a small bowl. Set aside for a couple of minutes.

Combine flour, cornstarch, spices, and salt in another bowl.

Mix pumpkin, sugar, and oil in a large bowl. Add milk mixture and mix well. Add half of the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the rest of the flour and mix very well. Be sure not to leave any chunks of flour!

Roll out your pie pastry. Gently place it in your pie dish and add the filling. Leave about a 1/4-1/2 inch room above the top of your crust – the filling will rise a bit while baking.

Bake the pie at 450F for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350F and bake an additional 30-35 minutes. To check for doneness, gently shake the pie dish in the oven. The center should jiggle slightly. Allow to cool for several hours, preferably overnight.

Now I’m off for my vacation. Have a great Thanksgiving, and eat lots of vegan pie!

Buliding Your Starter – Days 4-7

Hi all! Just checking in today. Hopefully you noticed some changes in your starter. Mine rose a bit more today and is starting to develop a pretty bad smell… Who knew that would ever be a good thing?? :)

Here’s the level it was at after feeding yesterday, just a bit below the tape…

And here it is today! It is definitely above the tape – success!

Sorry about the picture, all my photo stuff is packed up and ready to be moved! So camera phone it was…

I highly encourage you to smell your starters every day. Don’t just stick your nose in there and take a big ol’ whiff… You might knock yourself out with the smell. But, smelling it can help convince you that something is happening in there ,if you’re doubting. The starter should start producing a “sour” smell in the near future, if it hasn’t already.

One thing I forgot to mention is that yeast has more activity in a warm environment. If your house is 60 degrees, it’ll still work, it just takes longer. To help give it a boost either turn the heat on in your house, or find a warm place for it to sit (which is what I like to do since the heater gets so expensive!). Try the top of your fridge, in your laundry room, over the stove… anyplace up to about 78F is good. Even a bowl of hot water in the microwave helps a lot.

I’m going to be going on a short vacation for the next few days, so I won’t be posting much. Just follow the same routine as yesterday (throw out half, then add 2 oz bread flour, 2 oz water). You’ll pretty much keep this up until it is “ready” to be used (which I’ll post about when I’m back).

I hope you all have a really awesome Thanksgiving! Remember that Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday to eat lots of tasty food (although it is a BIG plus), but it is a holiday to really think about all the blessings you have. Tell your friends you appreciate their friendship and all they do for you; thank your boss for giving you a job; thank you parents for raising you right; and thank your significant other for… well, being significant.

If I have time tomorrow, I’ll post a recipe for a vegan pumpkin pie! Don’t get your hopes up, but keep those fingers crossed!  Check back tomorrow for the best pumpkin pie you’ve ever had! It’s both vegan and soy-free. Awesome!

Building Your Starter – Day 3

Welcome back! How are your starters doing? Mine hasn’t had much progress. I marked the top of my starter with a piece of tape, and, while there was a little bit of growth, it was nearly at the same point. I could see some little bubbles forming on the side of the jar, so I know it’s working!

Now you just have to feed it again. First throw out about half of what you have. There is a reason behind doing this. Whenever you feed your starter, you want to double what you have on hand so that the yeast have enough to feed off of. So if you start with one cup, you double it to two. The next time you feed it, you’d have to add another two cups for a total of four. The next time you’d end up with eight…

As you can see, it can get out of hand. Once you start using the starter in your recipes, you won’t have to throw half of your starter every time you feed it. But, until we get a strong starter going, we need to keep the amount in check.

So, throw out about half of what you have. I made a guess and then weighed my jar:

This is about 17.5 oz. If you recall, my jar weighed 13.75 oz. So, there’s a little less than 4 oz left in the jar, just what I wanted! Remember we added a total of 4 oz of flour and 4 oz of liquid the first two days for a total of 8 oz. Thus, the 4 oz I have left is just about half.

Now, feed your starter just like you did yesterday. Add 2 oz unbleached, unenriched bread flour and 2 oz water. Mix together and replace the lid.

If you did it right, the level of your starter should now be at the same level it was yesterday. I left the tape in place when I fed mine today, and afterward it was about the same height:

Hopefully we’ll start to see a little more activity by tomorrow. Even if you don’t see any activity, don’t despair! I can’t stress enough how sourdough takes patience – not just building the starter, but in making the bread, too. This does not translate into “difficult” or “time-consuming,” as the hands-on time is just like any other bread you make. You just have to plan ahead a little better.

I’d love to hear how your starters are doing! And, as always, I’m so happy to answer any questions you have – email me at ovenmittsblog (at) gmail (dot) com, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

Building Your Starter – Day 2

If you’ve just come across this post, be sure to check out my Intro to Sourdough to get you started!

Today’s task is even easier than yesterdays – all you have to do is feed your starter a little flour and water. You probably didn’t notice any changes in your starter since you made it yesterday – that’s okay! Mine didn’t either:

Today we’ll just be using bread flour and water. Add 2 oz flour (or a little less than a half cup) and 2 oz water (or a 1/4 cup) to your starter. Mix it together really well.

You’ll notice that it’s a little easier to mix together today than it was yesterday, even though the ratio is the same. This is good! It means things are happening. Replace the vented lid or saran wrap and leave it out on the counter again.

If you’re curious, you can place a piece of tape or rubber band around your container to mark the top of your mixture. If you do this, you will be able to see if you’ve had any growth!

Do you have any previous experience with sourdough? Do you have any questions related to starters or sourdough breads in general?

This is my third time building a starter, and the first two times were successful. My first starter used commercial yeast (gasp!) and, while it looked and acted like a sourdough starter… it never made bread that tasted sour. So I made a new one using this method and I can’t tell you how good the bread is. Each time I eat it I think to myself, Wow, this bread is so awesome! I’d say I’m more than pleased.

Have a good Sunday!