Monthly Archives: September 2012

sourdough pancakes

sourdough is a very cool thing. every time you use the sourdough you take some of the starter to use and reserve some to stay in the fridge and keep the original strain alive. the oldest known starter is in san francisco at boudin bakery claiming 153 years.

when i was at home in alaska this summer i had my parents give me some of their sourdough starter that they’ve had for over 30 years that was passed down by a woman whose family reportedly had had it for over 100 years.

here is the story of this sourdough as told by my mother (and edited a bit by me):

We got this sourdough in 1982 in Edna Bay. We got it from a couple whose names were Michael and Jan. They had lived on their steel sailboat and got the sourdough when they lived on their boat and anchored in Port Alexander, AK from an older lady who liked them and their kid, Morgan. They built a
round house with cement, firewood logs, and the ends of wine jugs for light (in addition to some windows) on the land they bought on the island.
Anyway, the sourdough from the old lady in Port Alexander was from her 100 year-old starter since she was the offspring of original fisher folk who settled there in the early years.
We kept it going for years, eventually increasing it from a pint to a quart as we had more kids. We used to take it with us if we left the house for long periods in the winter to keep it from freezing. I would wrap it in a clean diaper and then put it in a ziploc bag and in my pack when we traveled (no restrictions on liquids in carry-ons.) It has been to Connecticut, Utah, Seattle, and San Diego during those trips.
So since we’ve had it the sourdough moved from the float house to the house on land in Edna Bay, to Ketchikan and now to Portland.

so, while it’s a super cool story, age reportedly only adds stability to starters, not extra deliciousness. damn. but that means you don’t have to wait 100+ years to have a sourdough pancake. check out joy the baker’s five or so day tutorial here on how to start a sourdough starter (i’m setting you up with her starting page, you’ll have to navigate the progression) since i’m not about to forsake the ease i’ve had in being given this starter anytime soon.

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mango mojito

i think that end of summer food rut i was talking about just ended. i finally made it to the saturday farmer’s market held in the space of two city blocks in downtown near portland state university. i usually go a few times a year but the amount of people herded into the space is less than desirable.

but there is so much beautiful and cheap produce! i bought an eggplant, a giant red bell pepper, and a couple poblano peppers for 3 dollars. i originally went because i wanted to get pickling cucumbers  but ended up buying a bunch of produce i had no plans for but it was so cheap and colorful and the basil smelled so good.. i couldn’t help myself.

this week i made some delicious and local dinners. you will read about those soon. i promise. but right now i have something so much better. i don’t know about your part of the country but here in oregon we are hanging onto summer. it’s almost 8pm here and its 75 degrees! hang on summer, hang on as long as you can.

so obviously warm late summer (technically fall) nights call for cocktails. because i’m not ready for cooler weather drinks i embraced the mojito tonight. at the store i intended on buying passionfruit puree to add some natural sweetness and extra flavor to the traditional mojito. well they didn’t have any but as i was walking to the register i was stopped by a perfectly ripe mango. done. here is your weekend cocktail.

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stove-top mac and cheese

i am in an end of summer food rut. this is supposed to be the time where you have so much bountiful produce you don’t know what to do with it but make a million new and delicious recipes. instead i find myself craving mac and cheese or tacos, depending how warm it is in the evening.

it wasn’t until today that i realized i’m really not a summer cook. i have a few summer staple meals i like but don’t really explore much beyond them. project for next year i suppose. for right now i’m looking forward to winter squash, weather conducive to eating soup, and getting back to eating apples. i already have at least 10 fall staples that i can’t wait to make but it just doesn’t feel right yet even though saturday marks the official beginning of fall. i don’t care. last week in portland we had weather in the 90s and this week is 70 all the way through. not fall. ok?

so here is the beginning of me coping with the paradox of wanting hearty fall food but not being ready to give up on summer and nectarines and peaches and berries and corn and delicious tomatoes… mac and cheese seems like a good start away from summer food.

this mac takes about 20 minutes to make because you skip the baking step that makes the top so crispy and wonderful, but it also skips the 30 minutes plus waiting for it to bake. (i have a secret for you, to have baked mac and cheese you basically make the sauce, toss it with the noodles, add some more cheese in the middle and on top and throw it in the oven.) i know it’s easy to get lazy and pull out a box of annie’s mac and cheese (or whatever kraft crap you put in your body) but this is worth it.

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peanut butter sesame cookies

gah! another week has gone by and i’m just getting caught up with last week’s creations and have nothing left after these cookies. not to say i haven’t been in the kitchen at all. but its more of a black bean tacos with assorted slaws to make sure vegetables are included in my diet sort of meal. granted, when we had my neighbor over he said they were the best tacos ever (but he eats taco bell) so i’ll probably give you the recipe next time i get lazy. on the menu this week is mac and cheese (with zucchini or not?) and figuring out exactly how to use my sourdough starter.

i’ve been experimenting in secret the past couple weeks with the 100+ year old starter i came back from alaska with. i’ve made delicious pancakes but can’t seem to get the bread under control yet. i wanted to be sure to have success before getting all excited and taking photos only to have it be a giant flop. you’ll get more of the sourdough story (hopefully) next week when i am more accomplished.

so, cookies… screw chocolate chip, i love peanut butter. the problem with chocolate chip cookies is you have a 10 minute window to eat them: they’re only good right out of the oven, when the chocolate chips are warm and melty but not so hot they burn your tongue and ruin your ability to enjoy the rest of the cookies.

this recipe, and a million alterations of it, is my favorite cookie recipe. i’ve made salty peanut butter cookies, peanut-hazelnut cookies, chocolate dipped peanut butter cookies, soy-sesame peanut butter cookies… you name it. there are many more to come as well.

tonight i completely intended to make a regular classic batch of peanut butter cookies (maybe topped with sea salt). i wanted to do something to thank some of the folks at my work for doing me favors so that i could get my bike loan by the weekend so i could buy my new beauty. halfway through i realized i forgot to restock the vanilla after i used the last of it so sesame got to step up.

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soy, ginger, and lime tofu with sautéed vegetables

i’ve been craving sesame soy green beans lately but wanted to find a way to turn it into more of a meal than a snack or a side dish. i figured the easiest way to do this would be to add more vegetables or serve it with rice or noodles but that still didn’t seem quite right.

tofu ended up being the winner that brought it all together as a meal, and it also means that i get to share with you my favorite marinade for tofu. sure its good covered in peanut sauce or grilled in teriyaki sauce, but its even better if you marinate it like this beforehand.

this marinade is actually responsible for my present love of tofu. i used to hate the stuff unless it was in miso soup (weird, huh?). granted, when i learned to love tofu it was by frying it into crispy little bites to eat as a snack, and i think anything fried has a pretty good chance of becoming a favorite.

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