2 cups all purpose flour (yesterday I used bread flour it was all I had)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 large egg
1 cup puréed pumpkin (15 oz)
1 cup sourdough starter-( fed within the last week and you have to let it warm up from out of your refrigerator for at least two hours)
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup or even 1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup flaked coconut or raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Directions: Mix all wet ingredients except for sourdough starter.
Add spices. If you don’t like as many spices in a pumpkin bread as I do just decrease it. I am a cinnamon fiend I love cinnamon.
Stir in sourdough starter.
Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed. everything has to be incorporated so you’re just going to have to pay attention. I do this by hand not with a mixer.
Pour into a lightly greased Bundt pan and bake at 350° for approximately one hour. I use a metal skewer the skinny kind like you used to close the back of a turkey to test to see if the baking is complete. Toothpick or skewer should come out clean.
Cool in pan at least 25 minutes before removing from pan.
My final COVID-19 cooking note is if you can find canned pumpkin at a reasonable price by it because the prices attached to it now are absurd.
I made 3 quarts of chicken bone broth in my small Instant Pot. I had a chicken carcass I had frozen along with some gizzards from another roast chicken. To that I added celery, curry powder, salt, onion powder. Salt and pepper to taste.
I strained the broth and put it in my old Dansk dutch oven with two squash I had roasted in the oven (one was a spaghetti squash and one was an butternut squash.)
I also roasted two ears of sweet corn and took it off the cob and added it.
In addition I added two little Serano peppers from the garden with the stems cut off and cut in half and one sweet onion and threw it into the pot with a little chunk of turmeric and a little chunk of ginger and more curry powder.
When everything cooked down a little I cooled the broth slightly and puréed with my hand immersion blender and add 1 can of light coconut milk.
It is refrigerated for a couple of days and I will then reheat and serve.
Every time around this year and even into the winter my late father would make a soup. It was a pure peasant soup. It would be based around what he found fresh down on 9th street at the Italian market and from the local merchants there.
The soup would have cabbage, potatoes or turnips, onion, celery, carrots, tomatoes, fresh herbs, beans, and something cured like a small salami – a cured sausage. He liked soppressata. He would cut it into little chunks or rounds.
We were over at a friend’s house the other day and they have this amazing kitchen garden like I dream about but have no room for. So they gave us a bunch of fresh vegetables including Swiss Chard and fresh kale. Today’s vegetable box from Doorstep Dairy had a beautiful purple cabbage. So I knew I was making soup even though it’s somewhat humid out.
My father would often use a beef stock base but a lot of the time it was a chicken stock base. So last night’s roast chicken carcass went into the instant pot this morning to make bone broth. I also tossed in a little salt and pepper and zaatar spice blend.
While bone broth was cooking and cooling I chopped up all the vegetables. I threw them into my big Great Jones “Big Deal” pot. I really love their cookware and I have a few pieces now. I added a few cups of water, maybe four. I added salt and pepper and some fresh herbs. This morning I had picked basil, thyme, sage so that is what I used.
I left the vegetables almost completely covered on low and just let them cook down for probably 60 minutes. The tomatoes I used were a bunch of fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden. Probably about enough to fit in a pint container but I halved them. When the bone broth was finished (I just hit the setting for broth or soup) I fished out all the bones and the gizzards and disposed of them and added the broth to the pot.
Then I added a chopped up a small whole dry salami that I had purchased at the Tasty Table Market & Catering in Berwyn. After that I drained two cans of beans and tossed those in. You can use whatever canned beans you like. Things like cannellini beans, pinto beans, even black-eyed peas.
Now the soup sits on a simmer until some point this afternoon when I will start to cool it down and put into containers. Some I will freeze and some I will use now.
I have to tell you the soup smells really good. And it’s also a smell that I have memories of. Of course I’m a little more about cleaning up the kitchen as I go along then my father was and when he would make one of these soups it would look like a bomb exploded in the kitchen afterwards.
This soup is always best when it sits for a couple of days and then you heat it up because it gives a chance for the flavors to completely meld . All you do is serve it with a little crusty bread for the table and some grated cheese on top. It’s a basic peasant soup and it’s loaded with vegetables and you don’t really need anything else.
I hope you can follow along as to how I made this. There is no formal recipe it’s just some thing that my father made and his mother made and who knows how many other relatives in his family made.
I used my small Instant Pot to make the bone broth if you are curious about how much chicken broth to add. The small Instant Pot makes 3 quarts of broth. Now the soup condenses and cooks down because I let it simmer on a very low setting for a few hours.
You know I can never do a recipe straight, so I will let you know that to my brine I added pickling spice and dill. And a little red pepper flakes because I want hot peppers. I processed them in a hot water bath and I had brine left over for five small jars of pickled tomatoes. I just used the same brine but threw in dill and basil into each jar for the tomatoes.
I don’t know how everything will taste when everything is all pickled up, but I can tell you the brine smelled awesome.
Of course I didn’t pay attention while handling my chili peppers and my hands feel slightly as if they are on fire and I won’t be touching my face anytime soon.
Something I did not expect this year is how much canning supplies have gone up in price since COVID-19 came to visit. We have paid a premium for so much for so many months. But I am guessing that a lot of people are almost homesteading because we’re all home so much more.
I may do more pickled tomatoes as it gets in to fall but I have to decide if I am making apple butter or some kind of a jam this year. Ideally I would like to do fig preserves but I don’t know if any of my friends will have extra figs I can buy from them yet, or if I will be able to source them locally at a farmers market.
When you pickle things they look so lovely in the jar. I know that sounds weird but they just look nice.
1 cup unfed sourdough starter, at room temperature (if you store your starter in the fridge, just let it sit out for about an hour before starting)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 to 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (I used three large bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
for the glaze (optional):
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 – 2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously spray a Bundt pan (you can use a 9″ x 13″ pan if you would prefer). In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the sourdough starter, mashed bananas, oil, yogurt, egg and vanilla. Mix together until everything is fully combined. In a (separate) large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, sugar and spices. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (The recipe offers a cooking time of 35-40 minutes if you are using a 9″ x 13″ pan.) Allow the cake to cool in the pan (on a cooling rack) for about 10 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack itself and allow it to cool completely. To prepare the glaze, mix the melted butter and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl, then slowly add enough milk to make a smooth, flowing glaze. Stir very well to ensure that you have removed all of the lumps. Once the cake is completely cool, use a spoon to drizzle on the glaze.
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!
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.
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.
￼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:
The other night we had a roast chicken. I hung onto the carcass and threw it into the instant pot yesterday and made bone broth from it.
This morning I got out the broth, removed the fat, and added the rest of the chicken that was left over to it and set that container to the side while I prepped the vegetables.
I chopped up one of the remaining onions that I have and threw it into the soup pot with a little bit of olive oil. To that I added a bunch of diced celery, and a small bunch of sliced up carrots, and some fresh new potatoes. I added a little salt and started to cook the vegetables down.
As the vegetables started to cook down I added a chopped bunch of mixed kale and baby bok choy and some other greens that had come in a farm box. To that I added a can of white cannellini beans.
Then I added the broth and the bits of chicken and a bouquet garni of fresh herbs from the garden. The chicken soup simmered away for a few hours and now it’s cooling to be eaten later in the week.
Did I need this little miniature cookbook? No but this little cookbook booklet was sitting on a shelf when I went barn picking this morning￼.
It’s partially a little time capsule but it is also a great little how to book for making piecrust, apple dumplings, chocolate layer cake, biscuits, sour milk gingerbread and more.
These are old school recipes like your grandmother would make. Now mind you I don’t cook with lard, and I think that is part of this cookbook. It was a gimme and advertising for Armour Lard￼.
And this booklet was created by Fannie Farmer in 1912!
Yes you are looking at photos of the entire booklet. It’s from 1912 so no harm in sharing. Also note the letter from the Principal of the Philadelphia School of Cookery on Powelton Avenue in West Philadelphia. Needless to say I don’t even think the building exists any longer!
Over Christmas a friend remarked they had made a dessert out of the old “Merion Square Meals” Cookbook which I remember when it was new in the 1970s. A lot of local Gladwyne and close on vicinity ladies contributed it to it. 200+ pages of fun. Some recipes I would still try today, and some recipes caught in a time capsule. It was from a time when a lot of ladies still did their own cooking, and cooking for entertaining. It wasn’t always a we deliver catered affair!
So I went digging through my cookbooks, because I knew I had a copy. A copy I had bought as an adult second hand from either Harriton House’s annual fair, Church of the Redeemer’s Christmas Bazaar (or whatever it was called), or from the book tent at St. David’s Fair (hands down one of the most ideal places to find fun old books!).
I finally found it way up in a book shelf, with it’s very plain brown plastic comb spiral facing INTO the shelf. So I posted on my social media a photo of the cookbook and it sparked a lot of memories in people. You never see this cookbook pop up much.
Some asked me to post some of the recipes, so that is what I am going to do. But first, the preface and cool bits of history:
Now for recipes. I just pulled out a bunch of recipes at random. My edition is from the original printing. It apparently made a second appearance in 2008 or so according to Main Line Today Magazine:
Merion Square Meals
(Gladwyne Library League, 219 pages) First printed in 1978, this old-school community cookbook is packed with the sort of blue-blood fare—spinach vichyssoise, beef stroganoff, Swiss chicken divan, gazpacho aspic, Hoosier pie, triple chocolate sin—certain to have guests reminiscing at your next dinner party. A short history of Merion Square and a dedication page to its original author, Patricia Van Arsdale Murray, offer a connection to the past and bring a little Main Line tradition back to our modern kitchens. Proceeds from its sale go to the Gladwyne Free Library.
So Gladwyne Library League? You might want to resurrect it again because people are STILL interested in this awesome local cookbook! Here are the recipes I am sharing from my personal copy: