Sourdough: a Healthy Adventure

Sourdough is an adventure in a jar. It’s a simple example of dominion in the kitchen. Water and flour get transformed into a bubbling colony of microscopic bacteria, oozing their tangy scent as they aid our digestion.

Even sourdough bread recipes are less of a science and more experimentation and adventure. Your starter controls how long it takes to raise, the flavor, how much flour to add and so on. Yet the added mystery is totally worth it because of how much healthier sourdough bread is.

I used to not like sourdough bread. The flavor was too pungent. But some foods are worth learning to like. As Brad Belschner pointed out, “Good taste, like good morals, is acquired and built. If something is obviously superior, then why shouldn’t we teach ourselves to enjoy it?”

The Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread

What makes sourdough worth acquiring a taste for?

Wheat was designed with phytic acid to preserve the kernel until it was ready to grow into a new plant. The phytic acid protects the kernel and prevents the nutrients from being consumed until the grain is planted. While this is great for the wheat, it causes problems for us. Not only are the nutrients carefully guarded, the phytic acid actually leeches nutrients from our bodies. Occasionally this can be a good thing, like if you wanted to detoxify your body of heavy metals, but usually the point is to obtain nutrients from our food!

The solutions to this problem include soaking the ground wheat in an acid like vinegar or buttermilk before baking, sprouting the grains, or making sourdough.

Sourdough is the simplest option and has been used for centuries. It wasn’t until the middle of the 1800s that commercial yeast even became readily available. Before that, you had to capture the yeast. Sourdough starters were treasured and even passed on for generations.

As the wild sourdough yeast spreads through the flour it eats the sugar and causes it to ferment and rise, while breaking down the protective phytic acid. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Make Your Own Sourdough

Folks have been making sourdough for centuries—before they had ovens or running water. Making sourdough is simple. Yes, it takes longer than regular yeast bread to rise, but your patience is paid off in a better, healthier loaf of bread. So embrace the adventure and make your own sourdough bread!

Want to make your own starter? Here’s how. 

Want to purchase a starter? This one’s highly rated.

photo by Jana Koll

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

11 Creative Uses for Canning Jars

Canning jars are one of my favorite kitchen items. Not only do I love to see the pantry lined with home-canned goodies, canning jars have so many other practical uses.

When you find them used, canning jars make one of the most economical glass storage containers ever. I keep a look out for canning jars at garage sales and thrift stores to add to my collection. 

Canning jars aren't just cute. Here are 11 practical and creative uses for canning jars.

11 Creative Uses for Canning Jars

  1. Fill with flowers. They make cute quaint vases, especially with ribbon or raffia tied around the top.
  2. Use as cups for little ones. They are sturdy and don’t tip over easily.
  3. Collect loose change. It’s amazing how quickly it adds up!
  4. Store smaller portions of bulk purchases like beans or barley and use them as part of your kitchen decor.
  5. Keep weevils or ants from infesting your pantry by storing sugar, flour, and other tempting food in glass jars.
  6. Fill with cookie or brownie mixes for inexpensive gifts
  7. Use canning jars as adorable holders for homemade candles (another wonderful gift idea!)
  8. Keep your favorite bulk herbs fresh by storing them in a tightly shut canning jar.
  9. Hold drippings from bacon, sausage, chicken, etc
  10. Use canning jars to store leftover soup or other liquids. Not only does the glass not leak chemicals, but you can see what’s stored and use it before it spoils.
  11. Store homemade herbal salves, toothpaste, and other natural products in small glass jars.

As you can see, a cupboard full of canning jars opens up the door to many practical and pretty uses.

Canning jars help prevent chemicals from leaching into your food (which might happen with plastic storage containers), protect your pantry from pest infestation, and turn homemade projects into beautiful DIY gifts.

These are just a few creative uses for canning jars. What is your favorite use for them?

photo credit

Western Burgers

Western Burger

Western Burgers: healthier, cheaper, tastier and almost even easier than running to get a Big Mac (at least once they’re in the freezer!)…

All you need is:

  • Dough (Any dough works, but I included the recipe my sis-in-law gave me ’cause it’s so yummy.)
  • Browned hamburger and onions (seasoned with whatever spices you wish)
  • Cheese

Dough:

Combine:
2 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar (or other sweetener)
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
3 cups flour
Combine, add and mix well:
2 T yeast
1 cup flour
Continue adding more flour (about 5-6 cups) until dough is soft and cleans the side of the bowl.

Western burger stepsOR make your favorite dough.

Let it rise ‘til doubled. Punch down and roll into fairly thin 8-10 inch squares.

Cut into four smaller squares. Scoop a spoonful of hamburger and cheese onto each square.

Fold over the edges. Place the edge side down on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Repeat.

I generally make several meals worth and then shape the rest of the dough into mini-pizzas to pull out of the freezer for another quick meal.

Let rise ‘til slightly puffy, then place in a 350* oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Remove to a cooling rack and brush with butter.

They are delicious dipped in barbecue sauce, ketchup or miracle whip and freeze beautifully. When Joshua is at school during dinner time, we often eat them alone for a super simple meal but they go great with homemade fries, macaroni & cheese or salad.

part of Tasty Tuesday and Tempt my Tummy Tuesday

The Ridiculous Freedom of Homemaking

Contrary to popular belief, the modern homemaker has one of the most freeing careers ever. What other calling let's you create and organize and choose your activities with such freedom?

G.K. Chesterton begins his brilliant and thought-provoking article “Woman” by demolishing the argument of  an acquaintance who urged him to embrace communal-kitchens.

His acquaintance argued that communal-cooking would free women from the tyrannical constraints of the kitchen. Chesterton disagreed. Why?

Not because Chesterton believed woman should be tied to the kitchen, but because it is in the kitchen and in the home that the creative power of dominion shines most brightly in the average home today.

“The average woman,” argues Chesterton, “is a despot; the average man is a serf.”

The average homemaker is a despot. The freedom she exercises is unheard of in most careers.

I know many amazing women who have full-time careers in addition to homemaking. My hat is totally off to you ladies. This post is simply meant to encourage those who have chosen the path that many view as a mindless waste of talents for what it really is: a freeing and rewarding calling. 

The Ridiculous Freedom of Homemaking

Why would a woman want a career Chesterton asks? Why change the freedom of home-making for the drudgery of working for a boss?

The idea of homemaking being the freeing “career” is refreshing. It’s radical. Most importantly, it’s true.

Within our homes we can decorate and teach, organize and cook with a creative freedom that doctors and lawyers can’t hope to match. We can start our own business or grow our own food, if we so choose. Or we can develop curriculum or make our own herbal “medicines”. Or do all or none of these things.

What other calling offers so much freedom? The modern homemaker has an amount of options that is unheard of in most careers.

So in his article Chesterton urges women to “cook wildly” and to embrace the creative dominion of making a home for our husband and children.

“I am for any scheme,” continues Chesterton, “that will make the average woman more of a despot. So far from wishing her to get her cooked meals from outside, I should like her to cook more wildly and at her own will than she does. So far from getting always the same meals from the same place, let her invent, if she likes, a new dish every day of her life. Let woman be more of a maker, not less. ”

Few careers boast half the freedom a homemaker exercises everyday in the choices she makes as she runs her home.

Embrace the freedom of building your home

The blogosphere (and Pinterest!) is filled with a gazillion ideas for making our homes more beautiful, more organized, more sacrificial, or more self-sufficient.

Many of these ideas are amazing. But the freedom of homemaking allows each of us to decide the “wild and wonderful” way we will run our home for God’s glory and our family’s blessing.

So, as Chesterton urged, embrace the delightful freedom of building your home.

photo credit/ photo credit

If You Were a Millionaire, What Would You Keep Doing?

If you were a millionaire, what would you do?

For most of us, the thought of millions of dollars to spend brings up dreamy visions of grand European tours, villas on the beach front, a new Mercedes, or the opportunity to construct an orphanage in a war-ravaged area.

Thoughts of being a millionaire bring up all sorts of grand visions. But what things would you keep on doing if you were a millionaire?

If I were a millionaire, I would still want to garden. (photo credit

What would you still do if you were a millionaire?

Lately I have been thinking about a different question though: what things would you continue to do if you were a millionaire?

When you are trying to be frugal, it is easy to focus on all the ways you can save a few dollars and make the paycheck last.

Living within your means is an important part of being a faithful steward, but so many frugal things are truly enjoyable—things that are enjoyable whether you make $30,000 or $30,000,000 a year.

In his fascinating book The Millionaire Next Door,  Thomas Stanley points out the frugal habits of many of the world’s wealthiest. Do these millionaires do these things because they have to? No. They do these frugal things because they want to.

So what things that you’re doing right now would you continue to do if you were a millionaire?

Here are a few of my favorite frugal activities that I would want to keep doing if we were millionaires:

  • Stay home most days.
  • Hang sheets and towels outside to dry in spring. The smell of clothes hung outside is intoxicatingly delightful.
  • Enjoy simple days outside and soak in the golden glory of creation.
  • Watch (most) movies at home. I’d much rather watch a movie cuddled up on the couch with Joshua than in a crowded theater.
  • Grow a vegetable garden. There are few things I love more than playing in the dirt and watching food spring from the ground.
  • Live minimalistically— I hate clutter and shopping

This list looks different for everyone, but treasure the things you would not change if you were a millionaire.  They really are finer things!

What about you? What would you still do if you were a millionaire? 

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]