The Sourdough Seduction

Michael Pollan’s book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, (http://michaelpollan.com) is one of the most influential books I have read, in terms of how I approach food. I have always found making bread to be magical, mystical, and spiritual. And I’ve had mixed success with sourdough. Had used it for a while, just wasn’t all that impressed, and pretty much gave up on it. But after reading Pollan’s book, I decided to give it a whirl. And OMG, I’m so glad I did. I had had a starter going and then went off on vacation, came home, and was truly at death’s door with pneumonia for most of last summer. So, the sourdough starter went by the wayside, and while I tried to revive it, something funky had gotten into the mix and I had to throw it out. Well, recently, I bought some more starter and got it going. I made the first batch of bread too soon, before the starter had become strong enough, but I kept feeding it and nurturing it, and the second batch of bread was amazing. Absolutely amazing. Everyone who ate it commented on how good it was. So, I will continue to use that. It is no more of a hassle than any other bread and I love that the dough is like a living organism.┬áIn making the bread, if I have any flat beer around, I use that for at least some of the water in the dough and it gives such wonderful flavor. It is definitely worth both reading Pollan’s book and making sourdough bread. The aroma is amazing…it makes you understand the meaning behind describing bread of the “staff of life”.

Saving time in the Kitchen: Chopping Onions

This is such a simple idea and I thought I had written about it before, but I must have just thought about it. I do not usually mind prepping vegetables for cooking, except for onions. I do not really like getting onion all over my hands, which happens even if one uses the processor, as you have to peel it. Depending on the onion, the smell can be rather strong….and before you know it, tears are streaming down my face from the acrid onion smell. So, as much as I dislike using onion flakes in place of fresh onion, sometimes I cave in and do just that. But, in the fall at Costco, there were giant bags of giant yellow onions. I bought a big bag. Since the onions themselves were huge, I could not use a whole onion in most of the recipes I make. I tried saving half in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin in the fridge, but sometimes those get lost and become science experiments. So, finally, I had the idea to chop the whole onion up, save the unused part in a glass or plastic covered container, and use as needed. Most of the time, within a week or less, I had used the whole thing. Saved me so much time and aggravation. I am wondering why it took me so long to stumble across this idea. It works so much better for me and also means that I usually have enough onion for any given recipe. The chopped onions keep well for a week, my fridge does not stink, and neither do my hands, except for the first time I chop the onion and then I use lemon to clean them of the smell..