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Simple foods… What’s this site all about anyway? Well, as the title suggests, simplicity. Not only in food, but also in life. Its about getting your hands all into everything, investing time into the things you eat and possess, figuring out how to be a little more self sufficient, and become better stewards of the planet.

In the world we live in, everything is handed to us. But how many of those things do we really need to buy? Do we know where half of it comes from? How it was made?

There’s a lot of things we don’t know about what we eat, wear, and use. Many of those things we can make ourselves. Or at least make wise decisions when sourcing them. Although we aren’t going to make absolutely everything ourselves, go completely off grid, and avoid grocery stores completely, maybe we can step out of our comfort zone, slow down, and start pulling at least a little of our own weight

So when was the last time you got your hands dirty? Got involved? Learned something new?

How does today sound?

 

Geronimo.

How to Start a Sourdough Culture

What is a sourdough starter(or levain/culture)?

Something that starts sourdough.

No but really. Way back in the day, before humans could grow and commercialize yeast into those handy dry packets or fresh blocks, bread bakers has to get their yeast from one of two places: leftover brewing yeast or a sourdough starter.

Yeasts are natural occurring tiny living things. They’re all around us and most commonly found in flours, particularly rye flour. These wild yeasts aren’t hugely populated however, so how do we get enough of them to make bread? We create the perfect environment for them to grow and then keep them in our little yeast “terrarium” until we are ready to use them.

Perfect environment:

  1.     moisture
  2.     food
  3.     oxygen
  4.     temperature

It will take about a week to grow a healthily populated starter useful for bread making so if you’re planning on starting one, sooner rather than later is suggested.

Step 1:

1/3 cup Water (filtered is best but whatever works)

½ cup  Rye flour(remember more wild yeasts in rye)

1 tbsp  Honey( these sugars will give the yeasts a nice head start)

By weight, it’s equal parts water and flour.

Mix the ingredients in a plastic container with a lid or a jar

Leave with lid slightly ajar until the next day

Step 2:

12 hours later, its hungry.

Equal parts(by weight) white flour and water

Step 3:

Repeat indefinitely.

Feed your starter once or twice a day.

Day 6: After about a week, your starter will be predictable and active. You can bake bread with it now!! (ADD PICTURE OF STARTER HERE)

*You will need to throw out some of your starter when you feed it otherwise you will end up with a massive unnecessary amount of starter.

*once your starter is healthy and active, you can keep it in the refrigerator and feed it every 2 or 3 days instead of every day. Make sure you take it out and feed it at least 12 hours before bread making

*when baking bread, always remember to make a little extra so you can perpetuate your starter

*always name your starter and label it. Its good luck. (mine is called Sir Charles II, duke of Levain)

3 Secrets to the Best Blueberry Pie

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Ever tried making blueberry pie before? Ever notice how easily is gets all runny and watery? Or put too much flour in and get a pasty thick filling? How do you solve these problems? 2 ways:

1.Tapioca

just grind a couple tbsp in a spice grinder and it thickens without changing the flavor or making it pasty

2.Granny smith apple

Green apples have one of the highest amounts of pectin you can find in fruit. Shred it finely and add it to your blueberries.  You won’t know there’s apple but it will thicken and impart a wonderfully acidic element to your filling.

(the third secret is the flavour. Try adding almond extract and/or maple syrup to your filling! Its amazing!)

 

Pie crust dough (see recipe here)

6 cups fresh blueberries (frozen is fine too)

1 green apple, peeled and grated

3 tbsp finely ground quick cook tapioca

2 tsp citrus juice of choice

2 tsp zest of choice (optional)

¾ cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp butter cubed

1 ½ tsp almond extract(optional, can also be replaced with vanilla)

1-3 tbsp maple syrup (optional, retract a tbsp of sugar for each tbsp syrup added)

  1.    Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2.    Place 3 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat.
  3.    Mash berries several times to release juices. (Note: If using frozen berries, don’t mash, just reduce).

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  1.    Cook until half of berries have broken down and it’s reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Let cool slightly.
  2. In large bowl, mix apples, cooked berries, raw berries, zest juice, sugar, tapioca, extract, salt, syrup. So… the whole shebang.

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6.   Fill pie crust with mixture and cover with second piece of crust in whatever beautiful way you’ve come up with (or found on Pinterest, let’s be honest) I tried out some oak leaf thing. I might be more careful not to stretch the middle hole so much next time when I’m placing the top crust on the pie.

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  1.    Brush top and edges of pie with egg mixture and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Chill in freezer/fridge for 10 min if dough seems very soft.
  2.    Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees
  3.    Reduce temperature to 350.Bake until juices are all bubbly and crust is a delicious brown colour or 30 to 40 minutes longer.

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10.Cool 4 hours, slice, enjoy!

*if using pearl tapioca, reduce to 5 tsp

Want to know another kind of pie? Using the Contact me page under the menu, tell me what kind of recipes you want to see and I’ll start baking!

Thanks for reading! Tell your friends and Pin on Pinterest if you liked this recipe or blog and help me teach people valuable life skills!

xoxo

-Mandy

Books

If you know anything about me, you know I love books. My dream house has a giant library in it, I love the smell of them, and I love being around them.

So this post is a compilation of books I own and love and will continue to update as I inevitably buy more. And more. And more.

Feel free to send me suggestions and books you want me to review and I’ll read them and either put them on this list or let you know its not worth it. 

#1 Pick currently:Animal Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Hobby Farm Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to Raising Chickens, Ducks, Rabbits, Goats, Pigs, Sheep, and Cattle

The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs
by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg(or the vegetarian version, if that’s more your style)

Bee Manual: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Keeping Bees
By Claire and Adrian Waring

Alinea
by Grant Achatz

How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition): 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food
by Mark Bittman (or if you’re vegetarian)

Momofuku
by David Chang

Mastering the Art of Baking
by Anneka Manning

Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hammelman

On Food and Cooking
by harold Mcgee (dull but packed with info)

La Varenne Pratique Part 2, Part 3, Part 4,

Country Wisdom & Know-How: A Practical Guide to Living off the Land
(they also have other versions like: Garden Wisdom and Know-HowSurvival Wisdom & Know HowNatural Healing Wisdom & Know HowWoodworking Wisdom & Know-How

Wine: A Tasting Course
by Marnie Old

Grow Organic, Cook Organic
by Christine and Michael Lavelle

 

Wishlist

The following are books I will one day buy, read, and possibly recommend to you

Artisan Cheese Making at Home by mary karlin

The complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing, and Sausage Making by Philip Hasheider

Infuse by Eric Prum and Josh williams

Self sufficiency by Abigail r gehring

Practical Projects for Self sufficiency by Chris Peterson

The Seed Garden

Do you have any favourite books you want to share with me? Any books you’re thinking of buying but aren’t sure yet? Please tell me which titles have your interest and I’ll look into them and possibly review them.

Any books on this list you would like a more in-depth look at? Let me know and I’ll make a post about it and why I love it.

 

xoxo

~Mandy~

Hands Down Best Pie Crust(s)

Pie Crust.

Are those two little words daunting? Have you ever attempted to make a crust that ended up dense, greasy, soggy, collapse, or just not flaky at all? Or have you just avoided the whole thing, thinking its way too much work?

Don’t be discouraged, there is hope for all! Here in this handy post on this handy(at least I think so) blog, I have so lovingly displayed  2 wonderful pie crust recipes. If one seems too complicated (unlikely) then the second one is even easier and almost as good.

This recipe takes 5 minutes to put together and 1 hour to rest. You can make it a head of time and keep it in the freezer for a whole long while so that’s a plus.

This is my go to pie crust. Every time I bring a pie somewhere, I always get compliments on the crust. My boyfriend loves it and my cousin says she would eat it on its own, no filling. But don’t take their word for it, make it yourself and find out!

All Butter by-hand pie crust

2 ½ cups flour

sugar (anywhere from 1 tbsp to ¼ cup, however sweet you want)

1 cup cubed butter (COLD)

1 tsp salt

¾ cup ice cold water

  1. 12511140_10153768521904361_1332945442_o Mix all dry ingredients together
  2. Cut* in the cold butter until pieces are pea sized12544088_10153768521879361_1144264280_o 12544918_10153768521859361_241827817_o
  3. mix in ½ cup of the water with a spatula, adding the last ¼ cup little by little until the dough comes together
  4. divide into two rounds, wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour.  (or freeze for 3-6 months)12499311_10153768521834361_900693551_o12511425_10153768521804361_909747031_o
  5. roll out gradually, fit into pie plate, and chill once more to relax before baking

* cut the butter with a pastry cutter or  with your hands by rubbing the butter and flour between your fingers in a “counting money” type of motion

* COLD COLD COLD everything has to be cold or the butter will get soft, squish and ruin all your precious flakes. And we can’t have that can we?

Half butter half shortening machine pie crust

In case doing it by hand is too daunting for you, this recipe is almost just as good.

1 3/4 cups AP flour

3 tbsp cornstarch

3 tbsp sugar (or more, if that suits you)

1 tsp salt

5 tbsp cold butter

3 tbsp and 1 tsp cold veg shortening

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (white or rice wine works too)

1 1/4 cup cold water (THE LIKELY HOOD THAT YOU WILL NEED THIS MUCH IS LOW, BE CAREFUL WITH WATER USAGE one time 90g worked perfect for me, but another time it didn’t so use discretion)

1.Combine dry ingredients

2.beat with paddle attachment 15 seconds until all mixed

3.add butter and shortening and beat on low for around 3 minutes or until sandy/gravelly texture

4.Add vinegar. Add water 2 tbsp at a time while on med/low speed until dough comes together

5.Wrap and chill at least 1 hr until ready for use

 

Need Pie filling recipes?

Heres one for Blueberry. It includes 3 secrets so you might wanna check it out 😉

If you want to know right away when I reveal these next delicious fillings, subscribe to my blog on the right hand column and you’ll receive an e-mail when I have a new blog post!

Coming soon:

Apple

Pumpkin

Want to know another kind of pie? Using the Contact me page under the menu, tell me what kind of recipes you want to see and I’ll start baking!

 

Thanks for reading! Tell your friends and Pin on Pinterest if you liked this recipe or blog and help me teach people valuable life skills!

xoxo

-Mandy