# Monday, March 10, 2008
I let my piima culture die over the winter, which made me sad.  I have remedied the situation however, and now have not only a new healthy piima culture but some fil mjolk as well.  I haven't tasted the fil mjolk yet, but it sets up very nicely at room temperature, and has a much sharper "buttermilky" smell than the piima.  Both are room temperature "yogurt" cultures that come originally from Scandinavia.  I also made some skyr last week, which didn't work out particularly well.  I think I left it too long at too high a temperature, so it was very grainy and sour.  It did produce some nice whey though, that will see it's way into lactic acid pickles over the next little while.  I just finished some sauerkraut and some fermented bean paste before the whey was done, and they soured much more slowly than the ones using whey I made last year.  I left some of the whey out to see how sour it will get.  I'm itching to try some of the traditional Icelandic whey pickles, but need good sour whey (syra or mysa in Icelandic I think) to make it work. 

I'm recovereing from a wintertime slump into too much prepared food and cooking a lot.  It's so much fun to try new stuff.  I managed to dehydrate a batch of Ethiopian berbere over the weekend, so it will hopefully keep longer and take up less space that way.  I want to experiment with adding some to green pea flour for "instant" backpacking food.  I think it should work pretty well.  Only one way to find out...

Monday, March 10, 2008 6:14:51 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 6:05:46 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, April 23, 2007

In my ongoing quest to reproduce the flat bread unearthed in grave finds at Birka and other locations, this weekend I got to try baking them in an earthen oven.  I'll post pictures soon, but until then, a brief summary.

The oven was constructed by some friends of mine last fall.  It's made from adobe, and is a dome shape about 4 feet in diameter and 2.5 - 3 feet high, with a smoke hole at the top, and an opening in the side just big enough to admit a metal baker's peel. 

We fired the oven for probably 2-3 hours before any bread went in.  For the first loaves, which were more modern sourdough loaves, we left some of the coals at the back of the oven, and put the bread in at the front.  This left the oven way too hot, and the loaves blackened pretty seriously before they were done all the way through.  For my flatbread, I scraped out the rest of the coals, and relied on the heat of the oven walls. 

I used several different recipes, but the one that worked best was 1/2 whole grain barley flour, 1/4 oat flour, and 1/4 green pea flour, plus about 1/2 tsp of salt.  I made a stiff dough using buttermilk, and left the dough unrefrigerated overnight to sour (it didn't, much).  The dough was shaped into two flat "loaves", each about 8" in diameter, and 1" high.  The surface was pricked with a knife before baking, to increase the surface area of the top crust and encourage drying.

The loaves went into the oven, and backed for probably around 20 minutes.  As the oven cooled a bit, subsequent batches took slightly longer to firm up.

The result was quite good, with a crisp crust, and a nice texture.  Not light, more like a heavy scone or batter bread in consistency.  It went excellently well with some simple soft cheese and dried fruit. 

I'll have some pictures up, hopefully this evening.  I got pictures of the whole process.

Monday, April 23, 2007 11:36:11 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I'm continuing to play around with lactic acid fermentation at home.  The saurkraut came out pretty well, although next time I think I'll let it go a bit longer to see if I can manage a stronger flavor.  The second experiment was fermented bean paste.  Both recipes and suggestions around same came from Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, which I've been reading a lot lately.  It has some very interesting things to say about what we eat as compared with what our ancestors ate, and why their way was probably better, which resonates well with me. 

For the beans, I cooked up a batch of black beans, after soaking them overnight with some whey, as per the instructions.  The cooked beans got mashed in the food processor with most of an onion, some salt, and 4 tbl. of when left over from the skyr.  The resulting goo went into a mason jar, which sat atop my fridge for 3 days.  It didn't seem to do much until the third day, when it grew about an inch taller in the jar, and looked a bit fizzy. 

As no mold was in evidence, I went for it.  The resulting bean mash is quite sour, and is excellent (if you like that kind of thing) on nachos along with some piima cultured cream, and also in wraps with some lettuce, cream cheese and pickled jalapenos.  Good eating. 

Next experiment... sweet potato.  And another batch of cabbage, since we tore through the first batch with some brats in beer last night.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 9:31:14 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I haven't tried making saurkraut in years, and the last few times I tried I got moldy cabbage, not saurkraut.

This time I'm trying my new favorite secret ingredient, whey leftover from skyr production.  It seems to be doing the trick so far.  I got some preshredded cabbage, since I'm lazy, and added a tablespoon of kosher salt and a 3-4 tablespoons of whey, along with some caraway seeds.  We're into day 2 at room temperature, and it's really starting to smell like saurkraut, with no mold in sight (knock on wood).  If it survives until tomorrow, it goes in the fridge thenceforth. 

I may be trying some more fermentation experiments over the coming weeks, so we'll see how they turn out too. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 12:46:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]