Tutorials

{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. 🙂

[subscribe2]

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Cranberry Sauce

We eat a lot of homemade cranberry sauce here from late October when the first fresh cranberries begin to arrive, right through to January or February when they disappear again.  Our favourite is smooth sauce, and this one is sublime – and simple.

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Cranberry Sauce

 

Nissa’s Homemade Cranberry Sauce

  • 3 lb fresh cranberries, picked over
  • 4 c. sugar (I love using organic sugar)
  • 4 c. water
  • 1 T. whole cloves

 

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Cranberry Sauce

Place everything in a great big soup pot.  Bring to the boil.  You’ll hear those berries POP! and that when you know that they’re doing their thing. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until all of the berries have popped and the liquid begins to look thick and glossy.  Give them a stir every few minutes.

 

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Cranberry Sauce

There is natural pectin in the berries, no need to add a thing.  You’ve just got to cook them long enough to get the full benefit.

When the berries are done, remove the pot from the heat and press the pulp through a sieve or a food mill {I’m longing for one of those to make my job easier!}. The wider and shallower the bowl/dish, the faster the sauce will set up.  That’s important when you simply can’t wait until tomorrow to dive in.

It’s not difficult to make this most glorious ruby sauce.  I promise you will never eat the stuff in the tin again.

*Tip: Serve butternut squash or pumpkin bisque with a dollop of this sauce right in the middle.  Also quite nice spread on crackers or toast {for breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving}, or plopped into a bowl of hot cereal, or made into a PBJ.  Or, just grab yourself a spoonful straight from the bowl.  Yummy!

{Making a Home}:: Preparing to Feather the Nest

I am nesting.  I’m only halfway  through this pregnancy, but I have a good excuse…  We should {finally} have our occupancy permit for the farmhouse next week – just before Thanksgiving!  What a wonderful something-to-be-thankful-for.
There is still an awful lot to be done, and there will still be much to do after we’ve moved in.  The next week or two will make the farmhouse look like a beehive. Brian will be making the nearly-two-hour drive from his job to the farmhouse to finish laying subfloor, paint, lay tiles, install cabinets, and oil and wax the wood floors.  Our dear friend and oil man will be delivering some oil and priming the furnace.  Paint and floor finishes don’t like to be applied in a chilly house.
Jack will be heading back to the farm every evening – a 40 minute drive – to help his Pa.  And the rest of us will be joining in as often as we can.  In the meantime, between placing orders for materials, I’m trying to get some work done on several projects, decide what will – and will not – be coming to the farmhouse, knitting… and making all-purpose soap.
It seems I make a new batch of soap every time a baby arrives.  This one is a little early, though I’ll probably need to make another right before he arrives.  Here is my recipe:
{Making a Home} | Soap Recipe
Nissa’s All Purpose Soap:
  • 1 Bar Olive Oil Soap (I used a bar of Sancta, which smells like Chrism), shredded
  • 1 c. washing soda
  • 1/2 c. Borax
  • Hot Water
  • Saucepan
  • long handled wooden spoon or French whisk
  • 5 gallon bucket with a Gamma lid

In a saucepan, combine soap shreds and water.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the soap is completely dissolved.  Pour into your bucket and add soda and Borax.  Stir well until combined.  Add hot water, stirring all the time, until the bucket is half full.  Place the lid loosely over the top of the bucket and store in a safe place, away from little folk (we don’t want them lifting the lid and falling in!).  Keeping the lid loose at this stage will allow the soap to do it’s thing without the gas bubbles blowing the lid right off.  Next morning, add more hot water, stirring all the time, until the bucket is full.  You can add more scent at this stage – up to 4 oz.  Fragrance oil is a bit stronger than EO, so add a little at a time until you’re happy with it.  Now clamp that lid down tight.

Use 1/4 c. to 1/2 c. in each load.

If you have a particularly dirty load, add peroxide to the wash (especially good for cloth dipes in my experience).  If your fabrics won’t tolerate peroxide, add some white vinegar to the rinse, or add more Borax and washing soda to your tub.  If you don’t want scent in your cloth diaper wash (or in any wash) just use unscented OO soap as your base.

This bucket will last you 160-320 washes (depending upon how much you use).  That’s pennies per load, and you control the ingredients.  You can also use this soap in the dishwasher, and on tile floors, countertops, sinks, and appliances.  We use it for absolutely everything.  It even makes an excellent pre-soak for baby stained (or other grubby) clothes.

{Making a Home} | Soap Recipe

{Made for Learning} Time and Money

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

Learning how to tell time and to count money is an important milestone in a child’s education. It is as important as learning to dress oneself, to tie one’s shoes. It gives him a particular kind of independence and confidence. And there are other benefits as well. He will learn, gently and naturally, how to skip count (by fives, tens, and more); and about fractions.

 

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

 

Teaching time is a simple as can be.  You’ll need a clock.  You clock can be battery operated (without the batteries) or electric (unplugged).  You can use a broken clock so long as the hands are still moveable, and will stay put when you set the time.  Ours was purchased from a discount department store for under ten dollars.  My only criterion was that the clock be analog and not digital.  This clock is large enough to be read easily, yet small enough to be handled comfortably by small hands.

Explain the parts of the clock, show your child how the hands can be moved with the knob or dial, and – if you’d like – introduce him to “AM” and “PM”.  If your child is, or will be, taking Latin, explaining the origins of those two labels will be a nice introduction and connection.

Next, demonstrate different times by demonstrating to your child how YOU make the different times with the clock, as shown on a series of pre-printed cards (which can be easily created with slips of paper or card and bright markers).  I chose to demonstrate the quarter hours from twelve o’clock.

 

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

 

Let her have a go at moving the hands to get her accustomed to moving the dial – backward and forward:

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

Now let her try setting the time from a card:

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

 

Show the different ways in which a particular time might be expressed, including how the same time would look on a digital clock.

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

If you are a military family, it might be fun to add expressions for the twenty-four hour clock.  You might even be able to find an analog clock that has twenty-four hours on it (usually printed in tandem to the usual twelve hours).

Now try another…

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

Beautifully done!

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

Make as many cards, and try as many different times as you are happy doing at one time.

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

 

Teaching a child to count money is just as simple.  The only tools you need is a jar of change and possibly some small bills.  We collect loose change from our wallets, and have a quart sized jar filled almost to the rim.

We tipped our jar of loot out into a lined tray. It keeps all of the coins from rolling away, and muffled the rather loud jingle.

 

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

 

I created labels for each denomination with its common name and its value.  I also made labels to tell how many of each denomination equal one dollar.  I then placed one of each type of coin below its label.  This helps with the sorting activity.

Sorting coins by denomination helps familiarize your child with each type of coin by sight and touch.

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

Practice creating stacks of ten of each type of coin:

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

One dollar equivalents for each denomination.

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

Now, have him make equivalent change from each denomination. Place a one dollar bill on the left, with its label. On the right, place the label that tells what the equivalent in coins is. Here, Louis is counting nickels.

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

Dimes.  With help from Sophie.

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

Dimes, neatly stacked. Always emphasize tidiness. Subconsciously, this instills a sense of care and good stewardship.

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

Now some pennies. Stacked neatly in groups of ten. This is sometimes a tedious activity for a child. Help from you, or from another sibling can make it more engaging.

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

James is helping here to pick out pennies from the pile. He feels like he is doing something meaningful to help, and he is also learning to distinguish pennies from other coins.

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

 

Ask questions like: “How many stacks of ten pennies do we need to make 100?”,  “How many stacks have you completed?”,  “How many more stack do you need to make?”   These encourage skip counting, addition, and multiplication.  Later, this will help the child relate to simple fractions and decimals.

Sophie counting the stacks of pennies, while James counts single pennies out for her to stack:

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

 

Keep the activity light and fun.  If your child becomes bored or frustrated, gently suggest finishing another day and pick up your tools.  This is an essential skill to learn.  It’s a good idea if they have have memories associated with it.  but that is true of all of childhood, isn’t it?

 

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

 

Encouraging care and tidiness when putting tools away is pretty important.  This activity is one of those that can easily devovle into chaos, noise, and mess.  “Gently, softly”, and soft praise for their care.

James putting away the coins. Using a jelly funnel makes it easier and less messy:

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

Josie tucks the neatly folded bills into the top of the jar. Learning to help and be neat starts early here. 🙂

{Made for Learning} | Time and Money

 

 

{Made For Learning} A Moveable Alphabet

Moveable Alphabets are one of the most important (and fun-to-use) tools in a Montessori-style schoolroom.  At least, that’s how our family feels about them.  And they are easy and fun to make at home.  Here’s how::

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

Sort your letters - vowels from consonants. If you wish, put half of your "Y" s in each pile.

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

Gesso, and two different colours of paint. I chose blue and red because they are more traditionally Montessori style (pink in place of red also works). You choose whichever colours you like.

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

Paint each letter with a coat of gesso and allow to dry. The gesso comes right off of the brush with warm, soapy water.

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

Paint two coats of coloured paint on each letter. Blue for vowels...

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

... and red for the consonants. Next, apply two coats of varnish. You will need to wait a minimum of one hour between coats.

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

A purpose-made or purchased box is best for storage, but something like this little box with a clasp will do for a time. You really do want something that will allow you to keep each letter separate... Like with like. I'll show you how to make a proper storage box in an upcoming tutorial.

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

 

Scrabble™ Tiles also make excellent upper case moveable alphabets – and it’s a great way to recycle!  You can also purchase blank tiles from Etsy – purchase alphabet transfers in the scrapbooking supply section of your craft store.  Simple varnish over the top, or apply a couple of layers of Mod Podge.

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

 

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

Your kids will be saying this about you, too. (Thanks, Will!)

Resources:

Cut out wood letters available for just under $12 for each set of upper or lower case letters.  I suggest 1/8″ thick baltic birch letters in Arial, (Garamond and Rockwell are also available) – 2″ tall by 2″ wide. {These are my favourite ones, but more expensive}

Cut wood letters sold in packs of 36 are available at Michael’s crafts (and probably at Hobby Lobby) for about $4/pack.  I bought four packs.

Scrabble letters are available on Etsy, and eBay, and can also be found at neighbourhood yard sales, flea markets, and car boot sales.

%d bloggers like this: