Renaissance Mama

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Yeasts of the (not-necessarily-southern) Wild

I got a request from my sister-friend Jenn {Miracoli Farm in Kentucky} to post my sourdough starter recipe and instructions, and some information on capturing wild yeast.

Sourdough is amazing.  Besides the resulting sponge for bread baking, one of the by-products – hooch – has a slew of uses in your kitchen, as you will see below.  Get comfy, this is a long post.

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Catching Yeast

For sourdough starter, all  you need is flour and water.  And in the winter, when active yeasts are more dormant, a little sugar to help your starter along is useful.  You also want a large glass jar or glazed pottery crock {cleaned out well and rinsed with screaming hot or even boiling water}.  I use my grandmother’s bean pot and it is perfect!  The cover isn’t too tight fitting, which allows the sponge to breathe.

Combine 2c. organic flour and 2c. water.  Add up to 2 T of sugar (winter time especially).  Set aside on your counter with a piece of cheesecloth over the top.  If you live in a brand new house, or a house that hasn’t been cooked in a whole lot, you may have a little more difficulty catching yeast because there isn’t as much in the air.  You can also put your crock next to your fresh fruit bowl/basket, especially if you have some thin skinned organic fruits that are local to your area or off your own land.

Next day, you can dip out some sponge to make pancakes, and feed the sponge with 1 1/2 c. each of flour and water.  Go ahead and sprinkle in a little bit more sugar if you feel like your sponge isn’t bubbly enough.  It eats sugars.  Keep it on the counter and feed your sponge for another 2-3 days.  Then you can store it in your fridge.  Make sure that at least once a week you are pouring your sponge into a glean glass mixing bowl and giving your crock a good scrub.  Then return your sponge to the crock and pop it back into the fridge.

Whatever you remove to use for recipes, replace, or you’ll run out.  Often, life gets busy and you wind up with an over abundance of sponge because you’ve kept feeding the little critter.  This is a good time to share with a friend or neighbour.  Dip a cup or two out into a clean sanitized jar with a pretty fabric lid cover!

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Catching Yeast

You may find that you get a layer of beery liquid on the top  of your sponge {may be dark or light}.  That’s hooch.  You can stir it into the sponge, or you can ladle or pour it off.  Stirring it back in will intensify the flavour of your sourdough, so it is completely up to you.  If you decide to stir it in, I recommend only doing that once or twice.  After that, you may find that the flavour is too intense, even unpleasant.  If you decide to pour it off, save it!  You can use it for soaking grains and flours, veggies, and meats.  You can actually drink it {I’m not a fan}, or you can collect it and harvest the yeast to brew your own beer.  Basically, what you have is a wort, which is the little sibling of beer.

To collect wild yeasts using your hooch:

Place the hooch in a sanitized container – you can use a short, fat jelly jar {wide mouthed variety} or a bowl or a petri dish (if you’re feeling all mad-scientist).  Some folks like to make a gelatin medium by boiling the hooch and adding gelatin powder.  That could be fun with the kids, but isn’t imperative.  Just leave your hooch out for a few days, in a cool location in the house {near your fruit bowl or bread box is perfect}, or out in the yard in high summer where it won’t be disturbed and in proximity to a fruit bearing plant {grapes or brambles are great!}.  You can also plop a few {local} organic thin-skinned fruits right into the hooch or set them on top of your gelatin medium.  What you’re looking for is a pale beige or white substance, smooth and pasty.  If you get something fluffy or spikey, you’ve got mold.  Discard and start again.  Mold is NOT good here.

Using a sanitized spoon {or a nutpick in the case of a gelatin medium}, scoop up that yeast and place it in a fresh jar of hooch.  In a few days, it will get cloudy and you will get a layer of foam on the top {krausen}.  Then you will notice a precipitate gathering on the bottom of the jar.  That is yeast cake.  If you really want to, you can do a change of hooch and go again, but that’s all you.

Pour off the hooch and save your yeast cake in the fridge, in a covered glass container or a zippy bag.  And use as you would for breads.

1 oz. fresh yeast = 1 packet or 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast.

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Catching Yeast

For Brewing:

You can use a pint of this yeasty hooch to make a gallon of beer.  A litre will make 5 gallons of beer.

I haven’t any beer recipes for you, I’m afraid, but you can get them all over the web, especially from the Homebrewers Association.  Lots of recipe sharing going on over there on their forums.  I do, however know some places for you to get your hops. 🙂


Be My Valentine

{Celebrating Every Day} | Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day has always been a big favourite of mine.  Other than Christmas, it is the only holiday that I am likely to go a little bit overboard with – decorations, menu, treats.

So I thought I’d share some link love to some fun recipes and crafty goodness.

{Celebrating Every Day} | Valentine's Day

My loves will wake to a table laid with mugs decorated with hearts, filled with chocolate goodies.  Breakfast will probably be Irish oats and cream with sliced red fruits {we’ll have to see what I can find at the market}, or egg in a {heart-shaped} hole with a smaller portion of oats on the side.  And cocoa.  Must have cocoa on Valentine’s Day morning.  With whipped cream and pink and red sugar crystals sprinkled on top.

{Celebrating Every Day} | Valentine's Day

I dipped into my considerable stash and pulled out some Lamb’s Pride wool in Rosado Rose and Ruby Red and crocheted the sweet little hearts you see here using the quickest little pattern from Skip to My Lou.  Crazy fast to work up and addictively rhythmic.  You may find yourself with a basketload by the end of the night.  {I just made the tiny ones, I think they’re perfection}.

{Celebrating Every Day} | Valentine's Day

I always try to make the entire day full of treats, culminating in a nice meal for my sweethearts.  I haven’t decided on a dinner menu, but cream tea at eleven may include these adorable mini tarts from The Sweetest Occasion {they have lots of other ideas for Valentine’s Day, too, so plan to visit for a little while}, and these gorgeous pink-iced choux pastries from B Comme Bon *.  For our afternoon snack time – le goûter – I am hoping to make these lovely crépes * in both sweet and salty versions.

{Celebrating Every Day} | Valentine's Day

*Both recipes from B Comme Bon are written in French with metric measurements, so I have translated them into English, with standard American measurements for those of you who want to make them, but can’t read French, or don’t have a food scale {I highly recommend getting one, the measure-by-weight method is most excellent, especially for baking}. Links to each recipe below::

La Vie en Rose Crépes

Choux Roses

ETA:  This sweet post from my friend Kim.  And this beautiful shot of some cookies her gals made with a link to the recipe.

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Sourdough for Breakfast

One of our family favourite dishes is sourdough pancakes.  Several years ago, I made my first batch of sourdough starter and was swiftly overrun.  I wasn’t, at that time, using as much bread as we do now.  Our family has expanded two-fold and grown older, with larger appetites.  In fact, I may have trouble keeping enough starter in the house now.

So if you are feeding a starter and haven’t anywhere to give away your extra, you can use your glut of starter to make a batch of the finest pancakes you will ever have the pleasure to eat.  And what is really neat is that YOUR sourdough will taste different to mine because our wild yeast strains are different.  There may also be seasonal differences in your yeast as most strains go dormant in winter, leaving fewer to grow.  And the more you bake, ferment, and soak whole, fresh foods, the more you build up the yeasts living inside your home.  When we first started, we had very little wild yeast and now the starter fairly comes alive as soon as we start mixing.

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Sourdough Breakfast

Sourdough Pancakes:

  • 1 c. of sourdough starter
  • 2 c. milk
  • 2 ½ c. of flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • ¼ c. melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1 tsp. of salt

Leave your starter out overnight for best results.  Alternately, take your starter out and allow it to come up to room temp.  Mix ingredients together and let sit for 10 minutes or more.  Drop onto a hot, oiled or buttered griddle and flip wen bubbles pop on the surface.  Serve with real maple syrup, molasses, honey, or jam.  Or serve with warm, stewed fruits.  Makes approximately 30 pancakes.

This afternoon, we will also be trying our hands at making sourdough bagels.  I’ll post a recipe if they turn out.

I’m looking forward to what sourdough will be like on the farm!

Sourdough starter instructions here.



We missed this exhibit at the WAM this weekend.  I am so disappointed because I am in love with the concept.  I am so inspired by art in everything that I do.  I am always looking for more ways to bring that into our lives.  I want to help my children to create things for themselves from what inspires them – in nature and in art.

Check out this video clip from the “Flora in Winter” exhibit which was posted to the local newspaper:

I especially love the idea of taking inspiration a client’s favourite art pieces (painting, sculpture, fashion) and musical pieces to create a unique design concept for their wedding or party.  There is something so personal about what attracts us to particular pieces.  It speaks volumes about us, about who we are, who we hope to be, what touches us, moves us.

Too fat…

Have you read this article?  I have seen it circulating for the past several days on Facebook.  I avoided reading it until this morning.

This is a major source of pain for me personally.  I am trying to accept what this writer is saying.  Because I know she’s right – on some level of my consciousness, I know she is right.

My kids have NO photographs of me.  I haven’t knowingly allowed photographs to be taken of me since the birth of my first child (nearly 21 years ago), with a small handful of exceptions.

I was a dancer when I was younger.  Tiny, never willowy, but fit.  I am appalled by my current size, third trimester of pregnancy notwithstanding.  This horrid self image is limiting to every single thing in my life.  Everything.

I have become a prisoner to my own self image.  It must stop.  Starting today.

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