Tag Archives: Local food

Sourdoughs

I first learned about sourdoughs in elementary school  – they were the men who  went out to California prospecting gold out in ’49, and some of them ended up in Alaska, too.

This was a sourdough:

Sourdoughs

Sourdough

300,000 prospectors came West, and sourdough was the bread they made.Because of them,  this, too, is a sourdough:

Sourdough round from Boudin Bakery in San Francisco, using the same recipe since 1849.

Sourdough round from Boudin Bakery in San Francisco, using the same recipe since 1849.

the 49ers flapjack at

the 49ers flapjack at OHP – another way to use sourdough

OHP stands for Original Pancake House - which open 101 years after the Gold Rush

OHP stands for Original Pancake House – which open 101 years after the Gold Rush

and then there’s Charlie Chaplin  Gold Rush

This Gold Rush was the 1898 Yukon Rush, and the 49ers

This Gold Rush was the 1898 Yukon Rush

and speaking of 49ers…san_francisco_49ers_banner_flag_7930bigSo, quick review –

49ers are gnarly men looking for gold and/or a football team.

Sourdoughs are gnarly men looking for gold or a type of bread.

So, how, pray tell, did sourdough get so specialSpecial sorts of flour , special water, special starters, special temperatures and maybe some  special crocks and OH, the timing and OH, the temperatures and OH,  the worry…..

And I keep thinking, a bunch of guys, far from home and many fending for themselves for the first time ever, without a mother or a sister or a wife or a rooming house landlady or a nearby baker to buy their daily bread are figuring out sourdough without the benefit of modern science or a warehouses of stuff. Living in tents and working all day and drinking all night they MANAGE TO MAKE BREAD OUT OF THE STUFF. And we’re still eating it and talking about it.

The hard part, I think, is replicating these sorts of rough and inconsistent conditions if you’re a professional baker. Sometimes you have to wait, or adjust or the result is a little different – or a LOT different. The results are not always exactly the same. Fine for the home baker, not so fine for the shop baker.

So would you want to make a sourdough?

Is it the flavor? or the texture? The keeping qualities? The challenge?

Last month at the South Shore Locavores meeting  Rosa Galeno

Rosa Galeno

Rosa Galeno

was divvying up a lump of sourdough starter. I took a couple of tablespoons home in a Styrofoam coffee cup (I know, there’s a certain irony. Sometimes you use what you have, end of story) and I’ve been feeding it a little flour and a little water every so often ever since. It is now a cup full (large coffee size cup full) which is enough to use and enough to continue….the question is what to make? I thought I’d start with something quick, like English muffins, but it’s now ready to go. And I’m totally obsessed with griddle bread at the moment.

Does this sound totally casual? I certainly hope so.

There are TONS of books, articles and web resources for sourdough. Don’t let them scare you.

It’s bread.

That whole staff of life thing.

Before we start baking we’re going to contemplate it a little, prepare our heads for what our hands are going to learn.

If you’re the I want to read about it sort, I’m not going to send you to the myriad sourdough places, but instead to 52 loavesBill Alexander bakes the same loaf every week for a year. THAT’S how to learn to bake bread. Remember, the first 500 don’t count.

Start with the starter

Start with the starter

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14 (really 12) of mine for 14

Fourteen is rather more resolutions then I usually make – if I top it out at 12, it gives me a whole month to work on each one….if I remember any of them by the 1st of February. So here, 12 is the new 14.

Since I started with the Food Tank article, there are a few of those resolutions that I’d like to revise a little anyhow.

First off, the order is not quite right…and some of the ‘resolutions’ make assumptions about your time and money, so here goes my version.

  1. Cook. Before you can cook, you probably need some sort of kitchen set-up. So start with Prepare Food . You need a place that offers the four elements – hot, cold, wet and dry: A stove/oven; a fridge/freezer; a sink with water and a counter/table. Each of these sections has it’s own variety of tools, but until you’ve thought what you like to eat and when and how, prep work is still in the fantasy phase. We’ll be working on this. I haven’t read the newest Pollen yet, but I have read interviews and excerpts, and I’ve recommended (and still do) his other books  Cooked
  2. Eat Seasonal Produce
    By purchasing local foods that are in season, you can help reduce the environmental impact of shipping food. And your money goes straight to the farmer, supporting the local economy.  Seasonal makes sense, but unless you live in Southern California, it can be a little limiting. But do take the local option when it is available. In the last few years, whenever I read of the local die-hards limiting themselves to a 100 mile diet year round, I suddenly want  mangoes and pineapples and Parmigiano cheese from Italy and all sorts of things that aren’t the least little bit of local. There are also the Fair Trade issues.which brings us
  3. Consider the ‘True Cost’ Of Your Food
    Based on the price alone, inexpensive junk food often wins over local or organic foods. But, the price tag doesn’t tell the whole story. True cost accounting allows farmers, eaters, businesses, and policy makers to understand the cost of all of the “ingredients” that go into making fast food–including antibiotics, artificial fertilizers, transportation, and a whole range of other factors that don’t show up in the price tag of the food we eat.  On the other hand, the monetary cost IS a factor when you go to cash out, so you can’t ignore it. So put your money where your mouth is, and don’t let the Food Bullies fill your cart (and empty your wallet) for you.
  4. Share Knowledge Across Generations
    Older people have challenges–and opportunities–in accessing healthy foods. They’re sharing their knowledge with younger generations by teaching them about gardening and farming, food culture, and traditional cuisines. It’s also important to make sure that older people are getting the nutrition they need to stay active and healthy for as long as possible. Don’t BE a Food Bully, especially to ‘older people’ who, for instance , may have given birth to you. If anyone gets to eat for enjoyment, it ought to be the 80+ crowd. BUT, take the time to learn about food culture and traditional cuisine. Keep those food traditions alive!
  5.  Go Meatless Once a Week
    To produce 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of beef can require 6,810 liters (1,799 gallons) of water and 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of pork can require 2,180 liters (576 gallons) of water. Beef, pork, and other meats have large water footprints and are resource intensive. Consider reducing your “hoofprint” by decreasing the amount and types of meat you consume. Most traditional foodways have LOTS of meatless options. This also lets your dollars go further.Whole grains are good and good for you.
  6. End Food Waste
    More than 1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted each year. Tips to reduce waste include planning meals ahead, buying ‘ugly’’ fruits and vegetables, being more creative with recipes, requesting smaller portions, composting, and donating excess food. This comes across as just a little preachy, but the truth is nearly half of all food purchased is tossed out. Time for a little more Saturday Morning Soup Pot, Gratin du Frigidaire, Whatever Fritatta,  and Stew of the Night Before the Next Trip to the Store. This is also a factor in the True Cost.  PS – You’re PLENTY creative – that’s how you got so much food around in the first place.

    Worm Bins (homemade)

    Worm Bins (homemade) – a whole ‘nother story

     

  7. Meet Your Local Farmer
    Know your farmer, know your food (KYF2) aims to strengthen local and regional food systems. Meeting your local farmer puts a face to where your food comes from and creates a connection between farmers and consumers. Local Farmers Markets are a great place to meet your local farmers. Farmers know all sorts of things about the food they sell.
  8. Buy (or Grow) Organic
    The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that at least one pesticide is in 67 percent of produce samples in the U.S. Studies suggest that pesticides can interfere with brain development in children and can harm wildlife, including bees. Growing and eating organic and environmentally sustainable produce we can help protect our bodies and natural resources. Not all of your local farmers are organic – the certification can be cumbersome -so pick a farmer you know, that’s why you want to know the farmer first. They’ll tell you how they’re growing it.
  9. Now for a few that got “overlooked”  Eat food. If there is an ingredient list, do you recognize what’s in it? Or is it full of things that you can’t pronounce? Read and think.
  10. Eat mindfully. Pay attention to what goes into your mouth. Grazing is good for cows and horses, not so good for people.
  11. Make a meal of it. At least once a day, sit at a table, with a plate. Standing at the counter is not a meal; neither is sitting in front of the TV or reaching into the fridge and ‘tasting’ as you go.  Cereal from a box? Not a meal.
  12. Eat with others. How often depends on how social you are. But once or twice a week.

What are your Food Resolutions for 2014?

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14 for 14

Resolutions, that is.

I’m at Frank Mand’s Sunrise Photo #365 – I’ll have comment on the resolutions tomorrow.

Happy New Year! Buon anno! Bhliain nua sásta!(There are several Irish possibilities…but of course)

from Food Tank:

1. Meet Your Local Farmer
Know your farmer, know your food (KYF2) aims to strengthen local and regional food systems. Meeting your local farmer puts a face to where your food comes from and creates a connection between farmers and consumers.

2. Eat Seasonal Produce
By purchasing local foods that are in season, you can help reduce the environmental impact of shipping food. And your money goes straight to the farmer, supporting the local economy.

3. End Food Waste
More than 1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted each year. Tips to reduce waste include planning meals ahead, buying ‘ugly’’ fruits and vegetables, being more creative with recipes, requesting smaller portions, composting, and donating excess food.

4. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Many diseases are preventable, including obesity, yet 1.5 billion people in the world are obese or overweight. Promote a culture of prevention by engaging in physical activity and following guidelines for a healthy diet. Gaps in food governance must also be addressed to encourage healthy lifestyles, including junk food marketing to children.

5. Commit to Resilience in Agriculture
A large portion of food production is used for animal feed and biofuels–at least one-third of global food production is used to feed livestock. And land grabs are resulting in food insecurity, the displacement of small farmers, conflict, environmental devastation, and water loss. Strengthening farmers’ unions and cooperatives can help farmers be more resilient to food prices shocks, climate change, conflict, and other problems.

6. Eat (and Cook) Indigenous Crops
Mungbean, cow pea, spider plant…these indigenous crops might sound unfamiliar, but they are grown by small-holder farmers in countries all over the world. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that approximately 75 percent of the Earth’s genetic resources are now extinct, and another third of plant biodiversity is predicted to disappear by the year 2050. We need to promote diversity in our fields and in our diets!

7. Buy (or Grow) Organic
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that at least one pesticide is in 67 percent of produce samples in the U.S. Studies suggest that pesticides can interfere with brain development in children and can harm wildlife, including bees. Growing and eating organic and environmentally sustainable produce we can help protect our bodies and natural resources.

8. Go Meatless Once a Week
To produce 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of beef can require 6,810 liters (1,799 gallons) of water and 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of pork can require 2,180 liters (576 gallons) of water. Beef, pork, and other meats have large water footprints and are resource intensive. Consider reducing your “hoofprint” by decreasing the amount and types of meat you consume.

9. Cook
In Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked,” he learns how the four elements-fire, water, air, and earth-transform parts of nature into delicious meals. And he finds that the art of cooking connects both nature and culture. Eaters can take back control of the food system by cooking more and, in the process, strengthen relationships and eat more nutritious–and delicious–foods.

10. Host a Dinner Party
It’s doesn’t have to be fancy, just bring people together! Talk about food, enjoy a meal, and encourage discussion around creating a better food system. Traveling in 2014 and craving a homemade meal? For another option try Meal Sharing and eat with people from around the world.

11. Consider the ‘True Cost’ Of Your Food
Based on the price alone, inexpensive junk food often wins over local or organic foods. But, the price tag doesn’t tell the whole story. True cost accounting allows farmers, eaters, businesses, and policy makers to understand the cost of all of the “ingredients” that go into making fast food–including antibiotics, artificial fertilizers, transportation, and a whole range of other factors that don’t show up in the price tag of the food we eat.

12. Democratize Innovation
Around the world, farmers, scientists, researchers, women, youth, NGOs, and others are currently creating innovative, on-the-ground solutions to various, interconnected global agriculture problems. Their work has the great potential to be significantly scaled up, broadened, and deepened—and we need to create an opportunity for these projects to get the attention, resources, research, and the investment they need.

13. Support Family Farmers
The U.N. FAO has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming, honoring the more than 400 millionfamily farms in both industrialized and developing countries, defined as farms who rely primarily on family members for labour and management. Family farmers are key players in job creation and healthy economies, supplying jobs to millions and boosting local markets, while also protecting natural resources.

14. Share Knowledge Across Generations
Older people have challenges–and opportunities–in accessing healthy foods. They’re sharing their knowledge with younger generations by teaching them about gardening and farming, food culture, and traditional cuisines. It’s also important to make sure that older people are getting the nutrition they need to stay active and healthy for as long as possible.

by Danielle Nierenberg

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