Food Saturdays: Sourdough success (and doubts) edition
I work at home, but I’m really busy, and don’t have time to cook elaborate meals every afternoon. (Who does?) The temptation to order in can be really high sometimes, even though, as I noted before, I invariably get annoyed with myself because the time waiting is longer than cooking said elaborate meal would have been. To fix this problem, what I’ve taken to doing is making a week’s worth of veggie burgers on Sundays, which takes less time to do than ordering in would, and you eat for a week with ease off it. These are made with cooked beans, oats, egg, basically—I use Bittman’s recipe, except I bake it for 15 minutes on one side and 10 on the other at 350 instead of fry it in a pan. This is mainly because it’s easier, and I can use the time it’s baking to wash the dishes and do other things. I put it in Tupperware and eat one a day with homemade bread. For sides, what I do is when I make a soup or grain dish for dinner, I just make a lot of it, and scoop some out as a side for lunch each day. It’s been working great.
In this picture, the grain is some millet I cooked with onion, garlic, and tumeric. And broccoli, of course. The reason the bread looks different is I had run out of homemade bread and was forced to use store bought, which was definitely inadequate.
We got a present of Rudy’s BBQ sauce from Austin, so I thought Saturday would be nice for using it. This is a meal that requires prep work that’s only time-consuming in that you have to start early. But you can leave it alone. What I did was start all this, go shopping, and make it when I got back. Early in the afternoon, I pressed the tofu, started soaking the beans and (of course) let my bread rise. (I cheated and used regular yeast, but will get back to sourdough starter soon.) Left all that to do its thing, and went shopping.
When we got home, I put the bread in the oven and turned the heat on under the soaking beans. Then I took the pressed tofu—you want it really thin and dry—and then roll it around in some of the sauce. It cooks for like 45 minutes at 325. Put that in, and then peeled and cut up the sweet potatoes and some onion, put that in the beans with some garlic, chili powder, the dreaded and controversial cumin, and a little smoked paprika. And a bay leaf, for good measure. Cook until the sweet potatoes are soft, which doesn’t actually take that long.
This is an occasion where I cheated a little and bought an over-priced organic tomato at the store, because nothing else but tomato would work on my time schedule, but everything else produce was farmer’s market. I made BBQ tofu sandwiches with homemade bread, tomato, and some horseradish mustard for spice. The chili was on the side. It was a meal that was way better than it would have been, I think, if made using shortcut ingredients like canned beans or hamburger buns from the store. But it was actually pretty easy.
Trying to grow my starter meant I was feeding it more than I was using it, so I had to get rid of some of it quick, especially since some tips from Lindsay had it in a pretty decent place, bubbly-wise. (I’d slide it in the oven while it was cooling down after cooking.) So, I decided to make a low-investment sourdough product to use a cup of it, and settled on sourdough pancakes, complete with organic blueberries from the grocery store. This was delicious, but I remembered why I don’t eat pancakes generally, as they sit in lumps in your stomach.
Stir fried sweet potatoes and refried beans
Sweet potatoes are tasty and cheap and abundant this time of year, but I think there’s a limited scope of what most people think you can do with them. But I got lucky, and found this recipe for stir-fried sweet potatoes. It’s fucking fantastic, and I made it with some brown rice. For a side, I took some of the black bean chili from earlier in the week, refried it and mashed it up for refried beans. They were kind of lumpy, since I used the potato masher. Next time, I think I’ll try the immersion blender and see where that gets me.
Sourdough sandwich bread
Cobbling a bunch of suggestions together—including adding a little instant yeast—I was able to make a decent loaf of sandwich bread out of the sourdough starter. However, I’m coming around to the idea that it’s more trouble than it’s worth. I wanted to make sourdough to save money, but since you have to put so much flour into it and you still often have to grab at the instant yeast, I’m not feeling that’s happening for me. Also, I found a place in the neighborhood that sells bags of instant yeast for cheap instead of the expensive little packets. That changes the equation, shifting the expense onto the sourdough over the instant yeast. I’m thinking I’m going to use what’s left of my starter to make some stuff and then drop it. It was a fun experiment, but I’m not into baking to become a fancy at-home baker. My philosophy of cooking, as noted before, is about being simple and straightforward, and the amount of fussing over sourdough, while easier than you’d think, was also more time-consuming for less value than I thought. But feel free to plead with me to get back on the train! I’m up for arguments.