Little Foodie

Sourdough English Muffins For The Man I Adore.

DSC_0004 DSC_0010 DSC_0014 DSC_0025 DSC_0028DSC_0025

My hands crack and bleed from the dry Wyoming climate combined with the bottomless pile of dishes that stack up in our kitchen sink.  Making every single thing from scratch without a dishwasher is beginning to take its toll.   Dough rises, seeds soak, something roasts, and yet another dish is dirty.  I find meaning in this alone.  However, much motivation comes from a husband who appreciates every single thing these hands make.  He notices the details and finishing touches.  He notices the garnish, the pinch of paprika and love I sprinkle on top.  He thanks me daily for his lunches and snacks and apparently speaks highly of my kitchen endeavors while my hands are at home, in another experiment, another mess, another dirty dish.  Not enough can be said for how much this means to me.  Surely I would chop, whisk, knead, arrange and garnish even if he didn’t find amusement and delight in these tasks but when he does, my joy is doubled.  My heart spills over.  I feel like I need a second heart to help carry this beautiful load.  Like a handwritten letter from a friend or a snow day that keeps us all home together.  Like not one but two cocktails on date night, to accompany appetizers, AND dessert, unexpected happenings mean so much.  A pleasant surprise always makes the moment sweeter.  Without expectations, joy is amplified.

One of my favorite things about Christopher is his lack on entitlement, how he expects nothing.  When I cook or bake for him, I get to see yet another quality I adore so much…his passion for life, his zeal for the mundane, the value he puts on things others take for granted.  I don’t know anyone who can talk about the smell of bacon, the freshness of grapefruit and the perfection of bread, butter and jam, like he can.  He has a gift for finding symbols weaved in and around all that fills up our lives and a gift for the details.  He has a gift for making even an English muffin seem like a feast for Kings.  This means we can eat English muffins for dinner beneath eggs, avocado, jam and cream cheese.  We can eat them on the floor with a cold beer  and be completely content.  This means I receive just as much thanks and honest excitement for English muffins for dinner as pulled pork taco’s or his favorite sun-dried tomato pasta.   With him, English muffins are as good as cargo bikes, windy days, forts and limes.  Almost as satisfying as pizza in Naples or croissants in Paris.   We can eat English muffins for dinner and feel like we have got the whole wide world on our plates and at our fingertips.  We have each other, and so I think we do…

Makes 8 Sourdough English Muffins

1/2 cup sourdough starter

1 cup whole milk

2 cups flour

3/4 tsp. sea salt

1 tbsp. raw honey

This recipe is super easy you just have to plan ahead.  You only knead about 10 minutes to prepare the dough before its long rise, and about 10 minutes  the next day to shape before it has another quick rise.  Then another 15 minutes to cook the muffins.

The day before you want to eat your english muffins, prepare the dough.  This dough needs to rise for at least 15 hours but can go as long as 24.  The longer you let it sit, the more sour the muffins.  Combine starter, and milk in a stand mixer with the dough hook attatchment(this can also be done by hand, it will just take a little longer.)  Let mix together until combined.  Add honey and salt and continue to mix for another minute.  Add flour and let the mixer knead for 5 minutes.  Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with a towel and it let rise for 15-24 hours.  I place my mine in the oven with the light on.  After it has risen, generously flour your countertop and add a little more flour on top of your dough if is too wet.  You don’t want it to be stiff, you just want to able to knead without it sticking to the counter.  Knead for a few minutes by hand and separate into 8 equal pieces.  Shape them into the balls and then using a rolling pin to flatten them out a bit.  Sprinkle with cornmeal or semolina flour and let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes.  In a well oiled skillet, on medium heat, cook muffins for about 5-7 minutes on each side.  Once they are cooked on the stove, you can also put all the muffins in a oven heated at 350 for 5 minutes to ensure they are cooked all the way through.  It just depends on how hot your skillet was before you stared.  Once they are cooked, let them cool completely.  This step is really important for the inside to resemble and taste like an English muffin.  Wait at least an hour.  Slice open, with a serrated knife, toast and spread on your favorite topping.

An Unbirthday, Birthday Cake For Octave!

DSC_0069DSC_0083DSC_0081DSC_0076

Your blueberry stained hands pressed firmly into the oven door.  Your curious eyes, my expanding heart, our baking cake rested sweetly in time.  It was neither too fast, or too slow, it was just honest.  You learned a new word that you passionately repeated until you had me giggling, in awe, in wonder, in love…

Cake!! My little lady; today I baked you a cake!  No birthday, no party, no reason.  Sometimes special things don’t feel as special on traditionally special days.  So, today on a Wednesday, I celebrated you in a way I have always longed to.

From the moment I knew you were in my belly, I dreamed of baking you a cake as I labored and welcomed you into this world.  To say your birth did not go as planned would be an understatement.  I didn’t get the chance to labor with you on my own and at home.  I didn’t get the chance to bake your cake between contractions while your Dad captured those special moments.  I had daydreams of moments that never happened.  I had daydreams of the liberating story I would tell you year after year on your Birthday.  I had daydreams of this special cake that would start with your labor and continue through your adult life.  As silly as it sounds, I mourned not getting the chance to bake you a cake.  I tried again when you were days old, only failing miserably from exhaustion and an unscrewed jar of sprinkles.  As your first Birthday grew closer, I searched the perfect recipe for months.  I was finally going to bake you that Birthday cake.  I learned the hard way that sugar and flour are in cakes for a reason.  My ambition for a “healthy,” cake got the best of me.  I even tried twice.  I cried unnecessary tears as if the fate of your birthday cake symbolized the course of your life.

Today your Birthday cake mishaps were redeemed.  With no expectations, no pressure and no reason, I baked you a cake.  Not a Birthday cake, just a cake.  A cake that says, I am so madly in love with you, I think my heart is going to explode.  A cake that erases  all the past disappointments because it was all worth that moment when your blueberry stained hands, five dimples and repetitive kisses left me to fall in love with you all over again.  We waited and watched your cake bake.  All 45 minutes, we sat and watched and read books before the oven.  You have learned to wait patiently in front of our oven because you know what comes next.

Today I learned that cake just tastes better when you eat it for no reason at all.  Baking the cake becomes the special occasion, and through that, reasons to celebrate soon follow.  Today I baked a cake and I celebrated you.  On the 24th of April you had your very first Unbirthday, Birthday cake.  A lemon basil cake with cream cheese frosting, because I adore lemons and I love basil but most of all I love and adore you.  I now realize, it really can be this simple.

Lemon Basil Cake

Slightly adapted from Ally’s Kitchen

 1 1/2 cup rice flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 sticks + 1 tbsp. salted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/2 cup greek yogurt

1 cup basil leaves

Zest from 1 lemon

4 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 ounces cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325.  Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well.  Add lemon juice, zest and extracts and beat for a few more minutes.  Add flour and baking powder and beat until combined.  Lastly add in yogurt with chopped basil leaves and fold together.  In 2 well oiled, 4 inch cast iron pans evenly pour batter between the two. (You can also use a 9 inch pan if you don’t want a layer cake. Or, make cupcakes! You will just have to adjust the baking time.) Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.  Beat together cream cheese, and butter, adding in powdered sugar and vanilla last.  Store in fridge while cakes cool.  Frost, garnish, eat and love!

Squirrely Cheese Crackers

DSC_0023DSC_0028DSC_0046DSC_0037DSC_0051

In  few days we are traveling to Atlanta to celebrate a family wedding.  Octave has flown many times in her 15 months of life but now she is a walkin’/dancin’ machine and she hardly ever sits still unless she is eating.  I know this time will be much more challenging so I am planning ahead of time, preparing snacks that I know will entertain and be good for her little belly during our flights.  There was once a day when happy puffs made her happy but she has moved on and wants whatever I want.  I wanted to make a cheese cracker, because who doesn’t love cheese?  They seem like the classic toddler snack and yet I love them too.  There are Annie’s organic cheddar bunnies that are pretty tasty and cute, but nothing can beat squirrels, fresh out of the oven!  These will be enjoyed during our flights but I know they will soon become a family favorite that we will eat again and again.  This recipe was inspired by The Homemade Pantry cookbook.  I used oats instead of white flour, mixed up the cheese and added some apple cider vinegar.

1 cup oat flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. dry mustard powder

3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut in cubes

4 oz sharp cheddar, grated

2 oz parmesan, grated

(you can use all cheddar but since we had both I wanted to mix it up!)

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar + 3/4 cup water + 1 ice cube

Mix apple cider vinegar into 3/4 cup water, with 1 ice cube.  Let sit to chill while you begin the recipe.  You can grind 1 cup rolled oats in a food processor to create the flour.  Mix flours and salt together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low.  Add in butter and mix until it resembles a crumbly texture (about 30 seconds.) Add in cheese and mix until all ingredients are combined. 1 tbsp. at a time pour vinegar mixture in while mixing on low.  You will repeat this process until dough forms(about 6 tbsp.) Mound dough into a square and wrap in plastic and place in fridge for 30 minutes. Once it is chilled you can preheat your oven to 350.  On a lightly floured surface roll out dough 1/8 inch thick.  If the crackers are too thick they don’t have that crispy cracker quality to them.  Cut into your favorite shapes.  I am have a friend who gave us this awesome cutter for Christmas and I can’t get enough of it! Transfer dough to a baking sheet and bake for 22-24 minutes.  Let them sit on the warm baking sheet, out of the oven so they get crisp.  They are even crispier once cooled completely and that is when they taste best.  Store crackers in an air tight container for up to a week.

Beet Berry Smoothie

DSC_0012DSC_0053DSC_0044DSC_0056DSC_0005DSC_0027

I have yet to find a color more beautiful than juiced beets.  These roots are one of my favorite foods because of this.  While I enjoy the taste, I am most smitten with their color.  Their nutritional content is also quite enticing.  I try to find any and every way to incorporate them into our diets and yet juiced is probably my favorite way.  I sometimes put a few ounces of beet juice in Octave’s milk, making it a very special pink milk!  This idea evolved into a smoothie adding in, banana, blackberries and bee pollen.  When Octave doesn’t feel well, is fussy or just being picky, she will always go for a smoothie, making us both happy.  I am often on a mission for this little lady to get as many  nutrients and calories as possible.  While her appetite is big, she herself is tiny.  This is perfectly normal and just who she is but I still can’t help but want to fill that belly full, just making sure she is nourished:)  While a juicer is needed for this recipe, if you don’t have one there is still hope.  Most whole foods or other natural food stores have a juice bar and will gladly juice anything you want if you first purchase the produce.  If you are already at the store, it is even less involved than juicing them yourself.  The juice will last up to 3 days in the fridge.

Beet Berry Smoothie

Makes 16 oz

1 frozen banana

1/2 cup frozen blackberries

1/2 cup  nut/oat milk

1/4 cup juiced beets(1-2 beets)

1/2 tsp. bee pollen

Peel and cut 1-2 beets, it just depends on size, and put them in the juicer.  Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  This smoothie is thin enough to drink through a sippy cup but Octave prefers a big girl cup and fancy straw!  Even little ladies have preferences.

Nut Milk

DSC_0011 DSC_0015 DSC_0017 DSC_0027

For the last week we have had lingering granola and flax cereal with no suitable companion for them in our kitchen.  Rather than going to the store to buy milk, I decided to use the nuts we have and finally make my own.  It has been on my list of things to try and since I am dedicating 2013 to making almost all our foods and household products from scratch I thought there was no better time than the present.  Homemade nut and oat milk is way more nutritious, unprocessed, cost effective and you can make nut butter with the remaining nuts.  I used hazelnuts and a few pistachios because that is what we had but you can try your favorite nut or a combination of what you have lying around.

It is so simple that all you need are 4 things…

Raw nuts/Oats

Filtered water

Cheese cloth

Blender

Soak 1 cup nuts (I used ¾ hazelnuts, ¼ pistachios,) in filtered water overnight. Soaking nuts makes them easier to digest and you also receive more of their nutrients this way.

The next morning, blend nuts with 4 cups filtered water. I also added 1 pitted date and a shake of cinnamon. Vanilla bean could also be added for more of a treat.  Blend well, about 60 seconds.  Place cheese cloth in a large bowl and pour milk into cloth, straining the milk through and squeezing out any excess liquid.

Stand back and marvel at your homemade nut milk! Pour and enjoy. Store in the fridge for up to a week.

*I used the left over nuts and mixed them with a little honey and cinnamon to eat on toast or use in baking.

* You can also make milk from oats, using the exact same process. I highly recommend using one or two dates in it though.  If you hate to waste, the remaining oats in the cheese cloth are the perfect consistency for a baby/toddler oatmeal and also just the right portion. Add some cinnamon, a little milk and ta-da!