Sunday, April 7, 2013


A picture of Chris and I on Easter Sunday last week :). We had a wonderful Easter weekend visiting my family on Saturday and Chris' family on Sunday. I LOVE being around my families!

So, the topic for this post is SOURDOUGH! A few weeks ago I captured 'wild yeast' in my kitchen and created my very own living sourdough starter. It sounds more exciting than how the actual process went down, but the outcome of a happy and bubbly starter was quite the happy occasion. Basically, I stirred together flour and water every 12 hours, and by the 5th day I had a bubbling starter ready to be used in baking. 

I have to say upfront that the secret to my success in making all of these sourdough recipes is the Sourdough A to Z e-book that I purchased from the people at GNOWFGLINS. It is $20, which may seem pricey for an e-book, but it is over 150 pages long and is unbelievably comprehensive. It has information about starting your own starter, a long list of resources and recipes, starter routines, and how to preserve your starter. I purchased the e-book along with 4 other e-books for a deal that was running a few weeks ago for $7.50. I was thrilled with getting such a good deal on such a comprehensive book. After using it frequently over the last couple of weeks, I wouldn't think twice about paying full price because it is such a great deal. I also plan on printing it out and keeping it in a binder in my kitchen because I am using it so often. Another thing I love about it is all the recipes give instructions for soaking/souring all the flour which makes for a much healthier end product. 

So, let me show you what I have done with my sourdough over the last couple of weeks. 

Pizza dough after souring for 8 hours. 

Kale and mozzarella pizza.

My first sourdough loaf! There is a long story about how things went down with this recipe. Basically it involves having a dough that was too wet, putting too much dough in the pan, and baking bread at midnight so it didn't overflow. It still turned out delicious though and despite cutting the rise time short there was a lot of rich sour flavor and a good crumb. I am amazed by the flavor with only flour, salt, water, and starter. 

Fried eggs and avocado on my first slices of homemade sourdough bread. Hmmm... so delicious. 

In the back (left) I have bread dough, the bowl on the right is for sweet potato sourdough cinnamon rolls, and in the front I have dough souring to make coffee cake. 

I let the bread go through it's second rise overnight in the bread pan and it over-rose and spilled out of the pan. Here are the remnants. The bread still turned out delicious, I just need to put less bread dough in my pan so it doesn't spill over. 

Even with rising all night and spilling over the pan, the texture is still really good. Look at all those air pockets! Next time I will just split the dough in half and make two loaves instead of one and I think that will fix the spillage problem. 

Blueberry sourdough coffee cake that we ate for breakfast this morning. It was very tender and flavorful without being too sour. I probably could have added a little more sugar as it needed a touch more sweetness. But I will definitely be making this again. 

Sweet Potato Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls. I made these for small group tonight, which got cancelled. So I haven't tried them yet. But they sure look good! 

Sourdough Crackers that are unbelievably crunchy and delicious. I brought these to our family dinner on easter and these were the few crackers that were left.  

I have also made 4-5 batches of waffles (that are just sourdough starter mixed with some eggs and butter and a few other things) and english muffins. 

Obviously sourdough started is a lot more versatile than I ever imagined and I have only cracked the surface of the recipes they have in the e-book. Things that I want to make soon include sourdough crepes, tortillas, gingerbread, pitas, and biscuits. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Physiological Reason For Why You Should Drink More Water!

I know this post is a major departure from talking about plants and recipes. But, I am in a Human Anatomy and Physiology class this semester and we have been learning about some really interesting stuff. Today I wanted to share with you what I have been learning about the kidneys. I hope you find it interesting and it might even give you motivation to drink more water :).

The kidneys are an incredible organ that are involved in many different physiological processes in the body. They are part of the Urinary System and besides filtering fluids, they also release hormones that stimulate bone marrow to synthesize blood, and they function in directly and indirectly controlling blood pressure.

Today we will talk about how the kidneys control chronic low blood pressure. The filtering mechanism of the kidney is  driven by blood pressure. So, proper pressure is very important for them to function properly. Water contributes to blood pressure so when we don't have enough water in our bodies, blood pressure goes down and there isn't enough blood volume for the heart to get blood where it needs to go. The cliff notes version is... an enzyme is released by the kidneys which binds to a plasma protein from the liver which gets converted to another protein by another enzyme which act to trigger several outcomes.

The one that I want to focus on today is the release of Aldosterone (a hormone produced in the pituitary gland) that tells the kidneys to reabsorb Sodium and water follows by osmosis. Osmosis just means the diffusion of water to an area of higher concentration. So, when there is a higher concentration of Sodium in the kidneys, water would diffuse to the kidneys to water it down and urine would be excreted. However, when Sodium is reabsorbed the water goes to the area of higher concentration (in the blood) and it raises the volume of blood which means the blood pressure would go up. Higher volume in a same amount of space, results in a higher pressure.

The interesting thing about Aldosterone is it is also released in periods of long term stress. It carries out the same function and triggers the kidney to reabsorb Sodium and water follows by osmosis.

So, if you were wondering, that is why watching your Sodium intake is important when you have high blood pressure, especially if it is resulting from stress. Because, one of your body's response to long term stress is to release a hormone that tells your kidneys to retain sodium and water by default.

When you are stressed it is especially important to drink enough water because your body is already holding on to extra sodium from the hormones released in response to stress, we don't need more of those hormones telling the kidneys to keep retaining Sodium because we don't have a high enough blood volume.

Basically, drinking water is so important. I could go on forever about the reasons why. But, just the one we discussed today is a good one. Drinking water is important for proper blood volume so the kidneys can perform their function of filtering the fluids in our body and ridding the body of waste.