sourdough day 2

So this morning I got my sourdough starter out of the refrigerator and mixed up my first batch of dough ever. I wrote about day 1 yesterday. So welcome to day 2.

I will remind everyone that this is not my recipe, the recipe and instructions come courtesy of Tracey Deschaine who owns Dixie Picnic a marvelous scratch kitchen in Malvern/Frazer. If you live locally I hope you will patronize her business and she has been one of the bright lights in this whole stay at home of it all during COVID-19 by gifting starter and selling flour to those who wish to try.

I will be honest and say it took me almost a month to get fresh flour. Everyone has been sold out of it and even King Arthur is on a backlog for catalog ordering. But because of the generosity of Tracey some of us have been able to buy it when needed.

I actually have made bread before. Even focaccia. I took a baking class with Patricia Polin the pastry chef at The Master’s Baker. But I didn’t venture into bread making solo until now. Bread is like a fun science experiment!

So I used the food scale just like Patricia and Tracey taught me and measured out:

10 oz. of sourdough starter

8 oz. warm water

1 lb. bread flour

1.5 oz. of canola oil. (Tracey calls for Crisco but never use it so I don’t have it)

1.5 ounces of oil ends up being 9 teaspoons.

So I followed Tracey‘s instructions and first I mixed the water and starter and then I added the rest. I mixed the dough until it came together and was smooth and pliable in the bowl. I then let it rest covered with a linen towel at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Then Tracey‘s recipe asks for 0.5 oz (0.8 TBSP) of salt. That’s roughly 2.4 teaspoons. I mixed the salt into the dough and kneaded until the salt was all incorporated and the dough was once again smooth. You can feel the little granules of salt and when you stop feeling them it’s mixed.

I then took my dough and put it in a clean lightly oiled second mixing bowl and covered it with saran wrap. It will sit there and rise at room temperature for about eight hours until I take the next step.

I also decided to grow my starter again today so I could just bake next week again. The last picture in this post will show you that my bread is already starting to grow in size.

What I will do later is shape the dough and de-gas it, i.e. punch it down to remove large air bubbles. Then it will rest on a cookie sheet covered with the saran wrap I use to cover the ball this morning until tomorrow in the refrigerator. Then I bring it out to start the final process before baking.

So stay tuned and fingers crossed that I can do this right and make Tracey proud!

learning something new: sourdough bread

Our friend Tracey who owns a local scratch kitchen called Dixie Picnic is an amazing bread baker. One of her breads I love is her sourdough.

Well she gifted me some of her starter. So today I grew it. You can see the result in the above photo. The black line on the jar is where it was before I “fed it“.

I popped my starter back in to the refrigerator and tomorrow I will make my dough, and the next day I will bake. She gave me really clear step by step instructions and it’s kind of a three day process.

I used to be very intimidated by making bread but she and other people have encouraged me to learn and I’m having a whole lot of fun!

I have heard stories of people who have had the same strain of starter for decades. That blows my mind! I found an article where it talks about starter that’s over 100 years old and that was in 2011. There was an article in 2018 about Sourdough starter that was over 120 years old! That’s a crazy kind of antique to have, right?

Even recently in San Francisco this kind of a cool thing has started happening. A mystery person has set up a Sourdough kiosk offering how to make bread with it. And apparently it’s 100 year old starter. I think it’s really cool! Seriously… a phantom baker with what is supposed to be San Francisco’s oldest starter and only a couple of people have or had it.

Phantom Bakers Sharing Sourdough Starter In Walnut Creek By NEWS24-680 – Apr 26, 2020

If someone famous hasn’t already said the true measure of a community is how it rises to help others during a time of crisis – we’ll say it now.
Over in Walnut Creek, outside the entrance to Buena Vista Elementary off San Juan Avenue, an anonymous baker with a talent for making sourdough bread is sharing the wealth with neighbors.
A self-help kiosk complete with a recipe and history of the starter – which is over 100 years old (attached below) – along with sample containers of precious starter are fresh and replenished every day.

The history of sourdough bread and sourdough starter is fascinating to me. And I never knew about it until I started doing research after Tracey gave me some starter.

I also discovered this article:

Before DIY sourdough starters became popular, there was home economics Mary-Leah de Zwart, University of British Columbia May 5, 2020 4.30pm EDT

My niece is sheltering at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s making sourdough starter for the first time because she couldn’t find any dry yeast. It’s like having a newborn for the first three days — keep warm, stir three or four times a day, watch for bubbles, feed regularly after use. On cold winter nights, old-timers used to take their sourdough starter to bed with them.
Meanwhile flour is also scarce. A well-known flour company has run out of its usual bright yellow bags and has to use white ones instead. It seems everyone is baking these days.
Questions come to mind. Are people re-enacting the traditional household activities of their mothers and grandmothers? Does this signal a massive change in society?

We don’t really know. Søren Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism, once wrote that we live life forwards and understand it backwards. People may simply be stocking up on baking supplies while they’re in quarantine. It may or may not be largely limited to women who are baking.

Caring for one’s sourdough starter will not alleviate the fear of loss of control, but, as psychologists suggest, it offers the physical and emotional comfort of working with one’s hands. It makes me wonder if people are trying to remember what their home economics teachers taught them, or wishing they had taken home economics electives.

I have found some things on the Internet for those of you who are interested in learning how to do sourdough bread:

King Arthur Flour: Sourdough Starter

All Recipes: Sourdough Starter

The Clever Carrot: Sourdough Bread: A Beginner’s Guide

You Tube: The Ultimate Sourdough Bread

You Tube: I Love Cooking Sourdough Masterclass

Tasty: How To Make Homemade Sourdough Bread

Taste of Home: Country Crust Sourdough Bread

Food Network Sourdough Bread

Knead Not Sourdough Recipe | Alton Brown | Food Network

haters gonna hate

Haters gonna hate COVID19 shaming style

Hey Taylor Swift you are so right, haters are gonna hate. And when I agreed to be interviewed by Bill Rettew for The Daily Local this was one of the things that I told him often happened to bloggers. No not mommy bloggers who write about Disney or who are compensated bloggers for pimping out products in exchange for compensation, or bloggers who stick to sharing about gardening, crafts, cooking, i.e. safe topics. I mean bloggers like me who tackle local issues, current events, and even politics.

As long as I color inside the lines, I am good. But the minute I am vocal about things that concern me, or even current events including the COVID-19/coronavirus, I am somehow a bad person, someone who must be targeted, disciplined, called out. According to these people who do these things you aren’t supposed to speak, you definitely aren’t supposed to care about your community or the greater good.

The reporter had wanted to talk to me because before Coronavirus full onset had happened and it was essentially a news topic because it was happening overseas, I went to a horticultural event that ended up having Chester County’s 2nd coronavirus victim also in attendance. Public health reports on this person, a man much younger than I came out a week after the event, just as we were all getting glimpses of what is now our new normal. The reports stated he had mild symptoms and was at home.

I stated all along and it’s true, that when I got to this event which had been going since early in the morning that Saturday it was close to their ending time. I went to see a specific plant vendor and to buy a book. There weren’t many people there in that part of the event. There were a lot of people in the actual meeting house across the way, but I did not have tickets for those talks and wasn’t in that building at all.

I was in and out in a short amount of time and went home. Yes, I was less than happy when I found out I was at an event with someone who tested positive. But I did and my family did exactly as we were told to do by my doctors at Penn Medicine AND the county. We took the most conservative approach. I was NON symptomatic. We all were. It meant NO symptoms. NO fever. NO cough. NON SYMPTOMATIC .

Today I am off self-quarantine. Yesterday after 5 PM my lovely husband went to the CVS drive thru to pick up my cancer and thyroid meds we could not get for days because of self-quarantine. Medicine that is not an option for me and I was running out. If I can’t pick up the meds, he is the only other person as my spouse who can get them.

After he got my meds, he stopped at a local business that was essentially empty to pick up beer. A friend’s business that was closing last night until the governor says businesses which are non-essential can re-open. Social distancing was observed and paying by card he and the clerk at the counter had zero contact.

My husband came home and literally wiped down the whole inside of the car, everything he bought home and washed his hands. We had dinner.

Then the comment appeared as captured above by a screenshot. Oh goody, a stalker. You will note the made up profile name. Before I blocked and reported them, I looked at the profile. Nothing real about it. Just someone looking for an A-Ha moment to get at me. And how creepy was it they were ummm seeming to follow my husband around? It makes you wonder if they drive up and down your street too and go through your trash, doesn’t it?

People sometimes disgust me and this is one of those moments. They would not target a traditional journalist or writer like this, just me as a blogger. The point of transparency and education since I decided to talk about this first on my blog and then to a reporter escapes them. They just wanted to get at me, shame me.

But what did this person do instead when they chose to do this? They actually discouraged other people from coming forward to report they had been around someone who was exposed.

Think about it, I know I did the right thing by reporting that I had been at an event where a COVID19 victim was. The event did the right thing by telling us that poor person was in attendance, but if you hadn’t bought lecture tickets, they had no way of knowing specifically who was there. So how many people do you think who may have stopped at this event actually reported they were there like I did?

People are scared about this virus . I am scared about this virus. My one and only sister and one of my step-siblings live in New York City which was described as a virus epicenter with among the most victims in the US I think.

So shame on whomever this person is for rolling up with personal animus and misinformation. I will note they should be more concerned about the groups of kids and people still out there going around barriers to closed playgrounds and basketball courts because those groups of people in close contact like THAT? They are the ones who are going to spread the virus.

I am doing my part and so is my family. Instead of trying to stalk, harass, call out your friendly neighborhood blogger, why don’t you do your part and take care of your family?

I will note that the comments have since disappeared. I don’t know why or how or who. It’s just discouraging that even at times like this as people are trying to pull together and do the right thing, some people just suck.

more foodie fun….in glenmoore!

It is just a foodie fun weekend this weekend. This evening we went to Glenmoore Deli and Country Market which is located at 1941 Creek Road, Glenmoore, PA 19343. (Phone 610-942-4321)

The proprietress/chef is Christie Keith and she is another kitchen wizard I am lucky to know. Her place is a cool little joint in the delightfully sleepy village of Glenmoore. It’s a weekend breakfast and lunch place and it’s another hidden gem that more need to visit.

I will warn you, it’s a cell signal no man’s land, so call ahead to make sure they are open and when you get there, you unplug and enjoy your meal.

I know, I know I have kind of turned into a breakfast and lunch and brunch person. It’s what I really like.

Every once in a while, Christie does a special dinner. There is no liquor license here, so you can BYOB but a lot of people just don’t. There is always some wonderful teas or lemonade or coffee or infused water served.

This evening it was a Polish dinner. It was nothing short of amazing. Pierogis that were delicious and light and fluffy. Kielbasa. Tiny meatballs on fresh arugula. Borscht. All sorts of homemade fresh pickles. Cucumber salad. Kolaczki. Honey Almond Cake.

It was delicious. We were seated with a lovely local couple as the tables are sort of family style after a fashion. People came with their families, and young and old and every age in between, we just enjoyed a wonderful meal.

Christie is calling this her Comfort Food Series and we can’t wait for the next one!

Check out Glenmoore Deli and Country Market for breakfast or lunch one weekend. They have a Facebook page so keep an eye out for Christie’s next fun dining adventure!

have you visited magnolia cottage shop in malvern/frazer yet?

I have written about Magnolia Cottage Shop before, but it really is quickly becoming a favorite place so I thought I would post some photos. I went to pick something up there today and I just love it. It’s nice to have a store that has a wonderfully curated selection of gifts with all sorts of antique and vintage mixed in. 

Magnolia Cottage Shop is located at 288 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern/Frazer. Their phone number is 484- 320-8022.

The owner really goes out of her way to have fun things that you just don’t find every place else. One of the things she carries which I really like are the Wickit Good Candles. They are a hand poured craft candle with Chester County roots but are hand-crafted at the Jersey shore.

Wickit Good Candles have wonderful scents that are not overpowering and overwhelming. I like a candle that gives you a waft of a beautiful fragrance, not something that smacks you in the face and smells like grandma’s old potpourri.

For those planning bridal showers and even baby showers in the spring, this is a great store to pick up presents that are fun and have whimsy. 

They also have monogramming available for things purchased in the shop which I really like because they are bringing in these bags which will make awesome shopping totes or beach/pool bags. I don’t know about you but I’d rather carry my vegetables from the farmers market in a cute bag!

And I am my mother’s daughter in that regard…. I just love monograms and personalization.

So if you haven’t had the opportunity to check out Magnolia Cottage Shop, also keep in mind that they do things like offer small group workshops, classes, demonstrations and even some Young Rembrandts Chester County children’s art classes!

farm boy fresh…hooked

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Today I finally made it to Farm Boy Fresh in Malvern.

“Don’t take my picture!” he said “Look at this apron!”

Oh Chef, the thing is this, pristine aprons to me mean y’all aren’t having fun creating your food.  (Besides, I am the home cook who can kill an apron almost as soon as I put it on!) So a little smudge of something on your apron is a good thing.

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I have been wanting to get to Farm Boy Fresh and as today is Thursday, it was chicken basket day, so instead of just writing about how amazing everything looks, I went for a little look see myself. (I wrote about them earlier this month.)

Yes, seriously, we have a classically trained chef who trained with people like Emeril Lagasse right here in Chester County.  Living his best life with his wife on their lovely farm and cooking breakfast and lunch….inside the Sunoco Station at Routes 30 and 29 in Malvern.  Yes, where Three Crazy Ladies was.

While there, Chef Paul Marshall was telling me about the chicken he uses when he was preparing my order and a couple of others.  He uses Poulet Rouge.  I had not heard of that type of chicken in years.  As in I saw them on a farm once in France when I was like 14. They are a russet red chicken with long legs and a bare neck.  Seriously.  I realized those were the chickens I saw ummm…. decades ago.

I did a little reading when I got home and these chickens do indeed have longer legs and they are less round than some chicken breeds can be.  They are known for their flavor and apparently they have thinner skin.  I actually found a farm down south that raises them and you can buy them and other heritage poultry and meats from (Joyce Farms).

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I am not sure if this is where the chicken today came from, but the chicken I had today was so good it was like a religious experience.  Did you ever have lunch that smelled so good and looked so good that it was like there was no time for social media and food photos and you just ate a meal without taking it’s photo?  You know the way it used to be before we were Instagramming, Tweeting, or Facebooking?

That was today.

The chicken was hot, juicy, and fresh and there was that lovely fluffiness of perfectly cooked chicken that had not only a good dredge with flavor, but buttermilk. And a little bit of a flavor profile that gave it just a little reminiscence of a kick but not spicy.  Super subtle.  Served with the chicken was this slaw that I am guessing was Napa cabbage (my favorite) and I am not sure all what else, but it had Asian influences and seemed to be more of a vinaigrette and essentially I could have dined on that alone it was so good.

IMG_1919I also bought a yummy blueberry chia muffin, chocolate chip cookies,  and a jar of hot pepper jelly.

You know what else I liked?  I got to hang out and talk to the chef.  I have a friend from high school who is a chef (Carlo DeMarco of 333 Bellrose in Radnor), and have met others over the years through friends and family and they are a lot of fun to speak with.

Since I like to cook, I like to learn, and all of the chefs I have met are happy to talk food and share.  Chef Paul Marshall is no exception.  He was so nice and very interesting and I also loved hearing him speak about his wife Julie who apparently grew up in the area.  That was awesome.  You have to totally and immediately appreciate and respect someone who obviously adores their spouse, and their eyes light up when they speak of them.

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My friend Sherry Tillman, who created First Friday Main Line and owns Past*Present*Future in Ardmore can tell you that I am a food geek.  Whenever we were doing out food events years ago like Foodapalooza, she always knew she had someone to go to the participating restaurants and photograph the food and chefs and speak with them. That is my idea of fun.

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Soon at Farm Boy Fresh there will be amazing high boy farm style tables so you can eat in and not just take out.  It is totally quirky to have an amazing chef cooking in a gas station, but you know what? That juxtaposition just works. This is fun.

Farm Boy Fresh is a welcome addition to the lunch and breakfast places in Chester County.  It’s so great to meet someone that just loves what they do.

Go get yourself some breakfast or lunch.  Farm Boy Fresh is located at the Sunoco at 7 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern (the corner of Route 30 and Lancaster Ave in East Whiteland Township)

I will note for the record that I was not compensated for this review.  I went in to buy lunch and I will be back! I am Farm Boy Fresh hooked!

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happy valentine’s day

Aren’t these adorable looking? They taste as good as they look! Valentine’s Up Cakes from Dixie Picnic in Frazer.

I am cooking a nice dinner for us for Valentine’s Day and I decided that I wanted Up Cakes for dessert.

Maybe we might have to eat dessert first?

Have a nice Valentine’s night everyone ❤️

they had me at beignets: farm boy fresh has landed in malvern

Full disclosure: haven’t been there yet. But I will be going. They had me at beignets. And a breakfast and lunch menu that looks fun and has some Louisiana and other flair to it. And I actually love a good breakfast and lunch place, don’t you?

So yes, they had me at beignets and if Chef makes gumbo, I may volunteer to ladle it out. I found a bio of the chef-owner Chef Paul Marshall on the Blue Star Stove website. That in and of itself amuses me because one of my best friends swear by these stoves. Chef Paul Marshall has quite a culinary resume and I would say we are lucky to have him local.

His Farm Boy Fresh is where the Three Crazy Ladies was at the Sunoco Gas Station at 7 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern or… the corner of Route 30 and Route 29. They are new enough that Google Maps doesn’t pick them up yet. So here is my version of a map:

Now I checked with them for a menu because they don’t have a website up yet (they are new and renovating) and heard back from them very promptly:

Hey thanks for reaching out. We don’t have a website and are looking to update the Facebook page in the coming weeks. We getting a system installed shortly that will allow for online ordering. Paul Marshall is the owner and chef, he has a long career as an executive chef in restaurants and wanted to do something local to bring his food in an affordable quick environment. The cafe is going through some renovations as well, new bar tables will be in the shop soon, so you can eat in store. I have a menu, I’ll attach it here.

Umm yes so this is a chef with some serious chops. Found this elsewhere:

…From his childhood on the bayou in rural Louisiana, the land of cayenne pepper, roux, seafood gumbo, beignets, and Andouille Sausage, Paul always showed a passion for cooking. During seven years under the watchful eye of Fernando Oca he learned classical French technique. Marshall returned to his New Orleans roots to work under Emeril Lagasse at Commander’s Palace. There he further developed his passion for ‘the new’ New Orleans cuisine, a melting pot of French, Spanish and American flavors.

Chef Marshall also was the Chef de Cuisine of Oscars at The French Brasserie in The Waldorf Astoria. Since then, he moved to Malvern, PA with wife Julie …

I like quirky. And I also love food with Louisiana influence (well except for catfish. I just don’t cotton to catfish.) And you have to respect someone with a passion for their craft. So below is the menu and I will be visiting soon. I learned about them from someone in my area!

I hear they are open while they are renovating, but it possibly could be a little bit limited while they polish and shine, which is totally reasonable. That’s why I haven’t been yet. But I will be stopping by soon!

favorite places: dixie picnic in frazer, pa

Hands down one of my favorite places for breakfast and lunch in Chester County is Dixie Picnic in the Lincoln Court Shopping Center on Route 30 in Frazer/Malvern.

I realized that although I have been enjoying the place for years, I have never written about them. Well I need to rectify that.

It’s not fussy, it’s not pretentious, it’s good food, well-prepared, served with a smile. It’s a wonderful scratch kitchen and I love sending people there because they are always so happy that they’ve gone! And now through the website you can even order online to pick up. And they have catering available!

The owners are as lovely as can be, and when we went today for breakfast we could smell the delicious smells of baking bread. (Their sourdough bread is my favorite.)

Today my husband had an omelette which is his usual go to go out to breakfast fare. It arrived the table fluffy and pretty.

He said it was delicious as always!

I tried something different today. I tried their avocado toast. I have had it a bunch of places recently where I wasn’t thrilled with it. It’s a pretty basic thing to make but some people just do too much. Today was perfect.

It arrived on a slice of their lovely sourdough bread and the avocados were just perfectly ripe and slightly smashed with an over easy egg on top. I added a little salt and pepper and some Tabasco sauce and oh my it was awesome! Truthfully it’s the best avocado toast I have had anywhere.

Something else they are known for that I did not have today are the upcakes. Delightfully homemade simply iced cakes in an array of flavors every time you go in the door. Some of my favorites include the carrot cake upcake and the red velvet upcake . And they also have this devil’s food one that has this amazing mocha frosting. And if you’re looking for something that is a lighter and fluffier upcake try the lemon. Upcakes are magically delicious.

Dixie Picnic is a wonderful Chester County business and I hope you give them a try!