Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sourdough Bread And Beach Plum Jelly

How has your summer been so far? Busy? Hectic? Fun? The feeling you want to do so many things and not enough time to do them? That's about how my summer has been so far.

Something I wanted to accomplish for a long time was to make sourdough bread from scratch, without using store bought yeast, making my own "starter" by mixing just flour and water and allow the bacteria that's in the air to ferment the dough. This was how things were done years ago.

The process took time and patience, but seven days later I had a lovely sourdough starter that I was able to make 3 loaves of sourdough bread, and it was not only delicious but very nutritious.
A good sourdough starter can last for years, even decades, with the
proper loving care! Sourdoughs were originally produced by wild yeasts. The starter (or sometimes called a sponge) is a flour and water mixture that contains the yeast used to rise the bread. You can buy dried versions and then activate them or you can make your own, catching the wild yeasts indigenous to your area.

If you would like to try your hand at making sourdough bread you need to start with a sourdough starter. Instructions below:

Things You'll Need
Refrigerator room

Step 1
Mix one cup room temperature water with one cup flour in a bowl. You can use all purpose flour, wheat, rye--anything your heart desires. Loosely cover the bowl with a kitchen towel.

Step 2
Let that mixture sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours. You should see bubbles starting to form.

Step 3
After you have bubbles in your starter, discard half of it and add another cup of water and another cup of flour. Mix this thoroughly, and put the starter in the fridge.

Step 4
Two days after you refrigerate your starter, discard half, and mix in another cup of flour and water each.

Step 5
Two days later, check your starter. It should have risen in the refrigerator. If it has doubled, it's ready to use. If it hasn't risen, give it more time.

Step 6
After your starter has matured, feed it about once a week by discarding half and mixing in a cup of flour and a cup of water. Kept on a regular feeding schedule, your starter will last indefinitely. To keep it replenished, you should feed it after you use a portion of it to make bread (with the cup of water, cup of flour mixture).

The Recipe:
3 1/2 cups rye, kamut, spelt, or whole wheat flour, which ever you prefer
3 cups rye flour
1 quart sourdough starter
3 cups filtered water
1 1/2 Tbsp salt

1. Mix all together, with a heavy duty wooden spoon 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Pour the dough evenly into 3 well greased bread pans.
3. Place the bread pans aside on a counter for at least 7 hours, covered loosely with a dish towel.
4. Once they have risen sufficiently, basically double in size and close to the top of the bread
pan, they are ready to be baked. The longer they stay out the more sour the taste, which I personally like.
5. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour

This simple basic sourdough bread is very tasty and nutritious. Especially toasted with butter and my homemade Beach Plum Jelly.Beach Plum Jelly is the taste of summer.

For the past 3 years we could not find many beach plums, but this year they were abundant.

This elusive, bittersweet, stubbornly hardy fruit is worth the while. Make no mistake: with their piquant zest, their edgy bitterness, like authentic British marmalades, beach plum jellies, jams, syrup, may become an acquired taste for you too. For true aficionados, the ravishing products of the prepared native fruit are addictive.

The beach plum is a low-growing fruiting shrub or small tree native along the sandy dunes of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts all the way up to Newfoundland. It is most common on Cape Cod where beach plum has become a cottage commercial venture for Beach Plum Jams and Jellies. They bear over a period of about a month in late summer, their fruit ripening at graduated intervals on each individual shrub, so they must be harvested by hand in small batches
After spending about an hour picking these berries on a beautiful summer day at Short Beach, Russell and I managed to collect quite a few berries and preserved enough jelly to last us for a while, well into the late winter, early spring.

We especially enjoy eating our Beach Plum Jelly during the winter months reminiscing summer's activity, and days at the beach. The sun, sand and surf, the wind gently blowing, sea gulls flying and calling out a plaintive cry; the signs of summer slowly nearing it's end as we quickly gather our precious berries, a gift, that helps us reflect back to our creator and the summer past.

Recipe for Beach Plum Jam

2 quarts beach plum

2 1/2 cups water

3 1/2 cups sugar

Pit and cook beach plums in water about 15 minutes

Add sugar and bring to a hearty boil until thickens

Pour into sterilized jelly jars and process in a canner for 10 minutes

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog on some of my summer activity. Maybe you will be inspired to try and make sourdough bread, and beach plum jelly, it will add another adventure to your life, and you really haven't lived until you try it!

This is Raven-as the crow flies

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August First - As The Crow Flies!

July has come to an end, and a new month begins - August.

To me time is speeding up, it's flying by so fast. Still we have the same amount of time, and yet not enough time to get everything done that you would like to. Don't you agree? Of course the most important thing we focus on is spiritual things. That is our priority, and if we continue to put that first in our life, we will have lots of time, " forever", to do all the things we didn't have time to do in this old system of things.

Of course one thing I try hard to make time for is this blog. And it is the first of August, and so as tradition calls for it, Raven delights to blog every first of the month.

The month of August, what do you know about it? I hope this blog will enlighten you to some interesting facts about August.

The word August, is a Latin word meaning; inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic: an august performance of a religious drama

The month of August is named for the Roman Emperor Augustus. ( Before he became Augustus, this Caesar was named Octavian). He completed the calendar reforms begun by his great-uncle and adoptive father Julius Caesar. The Roman Senate, in order to curry favor with the tyrant changed the name of the eighth month. The name was changed from Sextilis which actually meant "sixth month".

The eighth month had been called the sixth month for over centuries, because the Roman Senate had rolled back the beginning of the year to January 1st in 153 B.C. but had not changed the names of the months to conform to their new position in the calendar.

August or Sextilis (at that time) originally had 30 days. Numa, in his reform took a day away and Julius in his reform in 46 B.C. gave a day back. When the Roman Senate designated the month August, they stole a day from February to build up July making June equal to the month of July (the month of Julius). Today it continues to carry 31 days.

It is interesting to note that in one secular reference it said, "eight years before Jesus was born, the name of the month changed from Sextilis to Augustus in honour of the Roman Emperor Augustus Caseasar, because many of the important events in his life happened around that time of year".

So it goes again, naming months after sinful imperfect, men, treating them like gods, honoring them instead of our heavenly Father Jehovah God, the one who made "times and seasons, months and years". (Genesis 1:14; 8:22; Psalms 74:17)

What else about August?

The Anglo-Saxons called August, Weodmonath, which means weed month, because it is the month when weeds and other plants grow most rapidly.

The birds are already planning to fly south for the winter. The insects are noisier and more numerous in August than in any other month.

Summer is about half-way through. We are still in the "dog days of summer", since the conjunction of the sun and the dog star, Sirius, occur throughout August.

This is perhaps the busiest month for businesses, since most people take their vacations in August.

Did you know that Friendship day is celebrated the first Sunday in August ~Sunday August 1st, 2010~ is Friendship day. But for true christians, friendship day is everyday! "A friend is loving all the time.......", Proverbs 17:17

The children will go back to school. Families will take that last weekend get-away before the cold sets in.

And for us, August 27, 28, 29, we will be privileged to attend our District Convention. Jehovah takes such good care of us. Can't wait for this spiritual feast.

I will end this blog with a little weather-lore for August.

The hottest days of the year often fall in August.

"Dry August and warm doth harvest no harm".

"If the first week of August be warm, the winter will be white and long".

For all those who love the snow, lets hope we have a white winter this year!

Our thoughts and prayers are with Old Crow who is recovering from hip-replacement surgery. Get better soon Crow, we miss you and want you crowing with us again!

This is Raven-as the crow flies!