Cooking and Food

Complete Sourdough Starter with Fantastic Recipes!

My longtime friend Kim recently made my family VERY happy when she passed along a quart jar of bubbly sourdough starter! Now I know why the forty-niners guarded their sourdough with their lives. For more about that be sure to check out the link.

Read no more if you are trying to avoid such scrumptious treats as the BEST caramel topped long johns you’ve ever had, deliciously fluffy pancakes and soft sweet homemade breads…

But if you want to wow the hubby and kids, and do it via these EASY recipes…keep reading!

Sourdough Starter

To make your initial batch of  starter, combine the following ingredients and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours, stirring only occasionally. I use a glass quart jar with a piece of cheesecloth on the top, held on by the jar ring.

  • 1 envelope yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (I use warm potato water)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 TB instant potato flakes (I substitute about 4 TB cooked potatoes, mashed with a fork)

Store the starter in the refrigerator until ready to use, and yes, it does smell sour!

About 24 hours before you want to bake bread, take the starter from the refrigerator and “feed” it the following:

  • 3 TB instant potato flakes (or 3 TB cooked mashed potatoes)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (again, I use warm potato water)

I usually feed my starter in the morning and let it sit out on the counter all day, covered with the cheesecloth. Stir occasionally throughout the day. That evening mix up the bread dough as follows:

With a wooden spoon and a large bowl and lots of muscle, stir together these ingredients:

  • 1 cup starter
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 1/2-7 cups flour

Allow the bread dough to set out on the counter overnight–covered. Put the jar of starter back in the refrigerator until you need it again.

The following morning the dough should be ready to shape into bread, rolls, cinnamon rolls–whatever. It is also very good rolled flat, cut into rectangles and deep fried for long johns and frosted with caramel frosting:

(This could NOT be easier)

Caramel Frosting

~tip–do not make this till all your long johns are fried, otherwise it will harden in the saucepan. Wait till they are fried, make the frosting and immediately spread it on the warm long johns…it spreads easily and hardens to the perfect consistency. I’m telling you, these are too good. I usually make half the dough into a loaf of bread and the rest into long johns, otherwise, it makes WAY too many long johns.

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 3/4-2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter or marg. and add brown sugar. Boil over low heat, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add milk and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Slowly add powdered sugar, beating well after each addition. Spread on long johns and enjoy!

Allow bread or rolls to rise in warm place about 2 hours. This is after you’ve let the dough sit out for an equivalent of overnight, or 8 hours. Shape it into rolls or bread loaves and let rise 2 hours then bake rolls at 350*F for thirty minutes, bread at 400*F for 35-40 minutes. Make sure your loaves are done in the middles. :O)

This starter also makes wonderful pancakes!!

Sourdough Pancakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2-3 TB sugar
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups starter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 TB oil

Mix dry ingredients together, then mix liquids together and add to flour mixture. Cook on hot griddle.

This starter can also be substituted for buttermilk in recipes.

As a rule of thumb, try to use your starter at least once every 10 days. It needs fed that often to maintain a healthy, yeasty action. If you have extra, take out a cup of starter and give it to a friend with these instructions!

Have fun!

P.S. Most starter recipes call for a cup of white flour and a cup of warm water to be added as the weekly “feed”…I like this particular version because you use real potatoes instead of white flour. However, I’m still experimenting on using whole wheat flours. If any of you more experienced cooks out there have successfully substituted honey or some other sweetener for the starter, please tell us about it in comments! TIA!

Farm Life Home

Baby Chicks Arrived!

chicks09Up at 5:50 A.M. anticipating a phone call from the neighbors…who were anticipating a call from the Post Office…saying, “Come get your chicks!!”

Yes, you too can order chicks via a reputable hatchery.  Or check your local farm store, many of them advertise “Chick Days” this time of year and have everything you need to get started.

In our case, our CSA farming neighbors, Farmer John and his sweet wife let us order fifteen broiler chicks along with their 150…and today was delivery day! I actually waited about an hour for “the call”, at which time I fished three girls out of bed where they’d been snoozing fully dressed for a half an hour, loaded them in the vehicle and off we trucked down the road to the farm.

All 165 chickies were packed in two smallish post office boxes, little mounds of vibrating yellow. According to John, they’re packed tightly to ensure they’ll stay warm. After all, day old chicks need to be in 95 degree temps to thrive. Thus, a heat lamp is an important part of chick-rearing!

We stayed at the farm long enough to watch John’s wife count out the first thirty-five chicks and introduce their little beaks to the waterers, familiarizing them to their new digs. Picked up on a new-to-me tip while watching:  use a cut and slightly smashed garlic clove in their waterers as a natural antibiotic. That’s helpful info when you’re trying to go au naturale!

Collected our little cheepers and their organic feed and headed home to settle them in a warm home, a thigh-high produce box from Aldi’s that’s about 3’x4′ and honewchicks09gging a whole corner of my already crowded laundry room!

Aren’t they sweet? Just don’t get too attached, as I’m telling my girls…in 6-8 weeks these Cornish meat broiler babies will be in the freezer…yes, we are not naming this batch. No siree. I’m not wavering on this not one little bit. But oh they’re soooo cute…

Yes, it feels like Spring has officially begun Winter’s thaw. Meet one of our two baby Boer goats and hopefully soon I’ll get pics up of our three Australian Shepherd puppies who are one week old today! babygoat2

You’ll remember my similar post last year when we pioneered our way through raising baby chicks for laying purposes. Those twenty-five babies are full grown beauties shelling out about 18 eggs a day. We LOVE chickens! If you are serious about pursuing this calling, *wink*, I highly recommend this book: Living with Chickens by Jay Rossier. While our chicken house was still a work-in-progress, I used to take this book out there and dream while thumbing through all the glossy pics of chickens and myriad chicken houses across the U.S.A.

If nothing else, get yourself a copy for the coffee table conversation it will bring…and maybe it will come in handy in the next few years. You just never know.


After all, I ordered laying hens last year for a reason. I’ve come a long way to thinking I could butcher my own meat. And it too, remains to be seen.


Taking Our Debt to Christ for Granted

Here in America, we can hardly fathom being tortured for our faith. Watching our husbands or wives being beaten, electrically shocked, knifed, used as urinals. Enduring repeated imprisonments because the call of God for the lost souls around you is so great, and God’s love is so much a part of who you are, you can’t take care of #1 with any kind of peace. Having to send your children to safe houses so they aren’t targeted by child-prostitution/slavery rings as a deterrent to your dedication of staying the course God has set before you.

Is God speaking to you this week, today? Are you feeling an urgency to share your faith with your co-worker, a fellow bus-rider, that teenager dying with cancer? What about showing compassion, Christ’s love, to those you’d rather ignore and hold bitterness against?

Listen to this from the first part of Hebrews 2:3,

…”how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”…

How can we neglect our salvation? How can we disobey, through negligence, what God has called us to do in this lifetime. We have only one, and it could end any minute. What would you do differently if you knew it would? Live like each day is your last. No more procrastination, no regrets either. I’m preaching at myself here, and it is heavy on my heart.

If persecution comes to our country, will you be able to stand? Will your children? Are you letting God’s light infiltrate every facet of your life, private and public? Are you seeking His ways in His book to us? Are you willing to trade your dreams for His? Are you willing to die to self?

Are you scared of what others will think, how they’ll react? If you’ll be prosecuted, or targeted by special interest groups? How minor these things appear in light of torture and death of loved ones, yet they cripple Christians in America on an hourly basis.

“It must be understood that there are no nominal, halfhearted, lukewarm Christians in Russia or China. The price Christians pay is far too great. The next point to remember is that persecution has always produced a better Christian–a witnessing Christian, a soul-winning Christian. Communist persecution has backfired and produced serious, dedicated Christians such as are rarely seen in free lands. These people cannot understand how anyone can be a Christian and not want to win every soul they meet.” –excerpt from Richard Wurmbrand’s book, Tortured for Christ. ( for free copy of book)

Hebrews 2:1,

“For this reason, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

Lest we drift away and neglect what Christ did for us on the cross.

That resurrection power is alive and at work in places where His people live, work, breathe and die for Him. We don’t have, because we don’t ask. It’s much to easy to drift away. Seek Him with a pure heart, and prepare to be amazed at what He has for you.

All He’s asking for is obedience. Do you have it in you?

“A faith that can be destroyed by suffering is not faith.” –Richard Wurmbrand