Simplified Jim Lahey NYT No Knead Bread Technique
Simplified Jim Lahey No Knead Bread

When someone comes to me asking how to get started with making bread I usually point them to Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread technique which was made famous in the New York Times, video link here. It is a dirt simple way to get tasty bread which most of the times comes out looking nice. However one potentially daunting part of it is the use of a dutch oven preheated to 500 degrees that one has to put the dough into. I was discussing this with my neighbors as a great thing to do with kids but the dutch oven step had me concerned. I therefore decided to try it with cold metal bowls and cookie sheets instead. As you can see above and below my first try didn’t come out perfect but I think it came out well enough to document it here.

Sourdough Starting Restarting
Tartine loaf from restarted starter

As a software engineer I know that having backups is important in case things are accidentally deleted or destroyed I also know that testing backups is an important thing to do. Simply having it doesn’t count. For my sourdough starter that I’ve been keeping going for over a decade and that the neighbor who gave me some has kept going since the mid-70s the fear of accidentally killing it means that it gets a backup. The backup is in the form of drying it out and storing it like that. I did this several years ago with mixed success. Now that I have a food dehydrator I have a much better backup. It’s so good that some friends want some for themselves to get started with sourdough. I therefore have decided to document the process of reactivating the dried starter. This whole process takes 4-5 days to go from dried flakes to making a fully raised real loaf of bread.

Sourdough Discard Individual Roll
Sourdough starter discard individual roll

While sourdough discard can be used for many purposes from English Muffins to pancakes to pizzas, sometimes I just want to use it up quickly and easily and no fuss. I do this by using all of the starter to make a sourdough roll. This won’t be the sexiest best roll you’ve ever had but it is tasty and is the equivalent of a “one pot” past recipe but for sourdough bread.

Rumford's Soup: Filling and hearty, Yes, but nutritious and tasty too?
Rumford's Soup

I’m making my way through my podcast backlog (now down to “just” 25 hours) from the oldest to the latest episodes for a change. Buried in the backlog was this Gastropod Podcast episode on the history of potato usage in food history. It is the usual combination of history with some tasty tidbits. One apparently not so tasty tidbit was the use of the potato in what’s called Rumford’s Soup. This split pea, barley, and potato soup was designed as food for the poor and imprisoned in Germany by Sir Benjamin Thompson. Their contributor described it as having “mixed” reviews. It’s intended purpose was to feed these masses but Thompson himself thought it being tasty was important and believed that it was. What’s the real scoop on it? I decided to make a batch myself and look at it’s nutritional viability using my trusty

Sourdough Ciabatta Bread Recipe
Finished Ciabatta Bread with interior shot

I’m always looking for new ways to use up my sourdough starter “discard”. When I started doing sourdough over a decade ago my go to was always pancakes followed by English Muffins. Recently I’ve mostly been using it for pizza crusts using the King Arthur Sourdough Pizza Crust recipe. I’ve tried various bread recipes but was never that impressed with them until now. This sourdough ciabatta post by user P.J. Smith over at The Fresh Loaf bread making enthusiast site really did the trick. His recipe is heavily inspired by this one posted by Jason Molinari on USENET back in 2006. Mine below is heavily inspired by his.

Nutritarian Three Bean Impossible Chili

I’m trying to dial back in my diet a bit. As part of that I’m reviving my attempt to diversify my nutritarian diet recipes. I have my go to Nutritarian Black Forest Mushroom Soup recipe that I make even when I’m not in a dialed in diet mode along with a few others. I wanted something more. Flipping through the recipe section of Eat to Live my eyes and stomach were drawn to the Easy Three Bean Vegetable Chili (alternate link here). I’ve used it for some inspiration for my own Impossible Meat based three bean vegetable chili recipe below.

Nutritarian Three Bean Impossible Chili


As the weather gets cooler in lots of the world a nice hearty but healthy dish is so much more tantalizing. If you are a big fan of rustic sourdough breads then this is a perfect dish that captures all of the joyous flavors along with some healthy vegetables. I first discovered this recipe in this Guardian article but I’ve since made a few tweaks to it. My go to bread for this is either the Yohan Ferrant Do Nothing Bread or some Tartine bread.

Bread Experiment: Yohan Ferrant’s "Do Nothing" Bread

I never heard of Yohan Ferrant’s “do nothing” bread until the post showed up showing pictures of another member’s experiment with in back a few days ago.  I love no-knead bread, and the it sounded like this was very much like the NYT recipe but without yeast and with whole wheat flour.  I decided to follow the recipe exactly as stated on The Northwest Sourdough Blog’s article on the topic (link) and video here.

Sourdough English Muffins

While it may seem anti-healthy to some people, especially Paleo-inclined people, one of my hobbies is bread making; specifically sourdough bread.  In order to do that you need a starter for leavening of that bread.  it is the equivalent of yeast in a traditional recipe, but it using wild yeasts.  One of the downsides to this is that you have to feed it every week or two.  The question then becomes one of what to do with all of the excess every two weeks.  Pancakes are a great option, but one that I recently made and am sharing is a recipe for sourdough English muffins.  I got the original recipe off of a website, but I’ve since lost track of it so can’t give them the proper references that I would like to. The below recipe makes about a dozen muffins.

Nutritarian Black Forest Mushroom Soup Recipe Review

While on the surface eating the nutritarian way sounds like mostly salads, raw veggies, and fruits, there is actually a lot of potential variety in meals.  I’m a huge salad person, but even I would grow tired of that.  Luckily I’m also a big soup/stew person, and the Eat To Live book has several of those recipes.  The one that I decided to try first, since it jumped right out at me was the Black Forest Cream of Mushroom Soup,which can also be found at Furhman’s website here.

Twenty Minute Pizza Experiment

Pizza is one of my go to meals to make when people come over.  Everyone likes it, depending on the toppings, I can accommodate a lot of different diets (especially with some of the paleo crust recipes that are out there).  I have my bread machine recipe for making pizza dough. And I’ve been told that people like my pizza.  All told, I could whip up a batch of my traditional pizza dough and have a pizza out of the oven in about an hour–that’s from nothing but flour, water, oil, and toppings to a ready to slice pizza.  A friend sent me this video, on how to make it in a frying pan in twenty minutes, so I figured why not give that a shot to cut the time by a third.  So, how did it go?

Super Salads

Eating a whole foods diet, whether it is paleo, vegan or anything in between, can be a laborious process in terms of the volumes of vegetables that you are eating.  I love vegetables, so that doesn’t bother me much.  I actually enjoy the challenge in the same way I enjoy distance running.  Since most people don’t enjoy either of those two things, you can see why many paleo people turn into the “bacon and steak with a side of broccoli” paleo-vores and vegans can fall into the processed food trap.  Not only do you want to get a lot of vegetables you want a diversity of vegetables.  If all you are eating is pound after pound of broccoli you aren’t doing as well as you may think, but still much better than most people.  Salads are a great way to get size and variety of vegetables in your diet.

"Better Than Fries Potatoes" is easy and tasty, but timing is off

Have you seen this picture before?

Better Than Fries Potatoes (courtesy Pinterest)
Better Than Fries Potatoes (courtesy Pinterest)

You can find recipes all over, and the premise is quite simple.  One that will be universally available is from this link on Pinterest.  After seeing this several times I decided to try it myself tonight, but with a twist.  I tried both a regular and sweet potato version.

Fresh Homemade Garlic Hummus

Hummus to me seems like one of those impossible foods: something that is good for you, tastes great and easy to make.  I wasn’t actually sure about that third point until today, when I tried my hand at making hummus for the first time.  The results were so outstanding that I think I will add this to the list of things that I will continue to just make from scratch at home from now on.

Making Pasta: Started off disasterous but saved it in the end…

What better way to start off a series of diets that discourage the consumption of gluten and grains than by making pasta!  It actually wasn’t my intention to do it on this sort of schedule.  I had been planning on trying to make pasta for several years now, but in the past year I’ve just been getting more and more stoked about the idea.  This led to a nice manual pasta maker and some other utensils showing up on my Amazon wish list.  Thankfully I actually got these things for Christmas.  The timing could be better of course, but I was determined to actually try my hand at making pasta before these items would be verboten for half a year.  The results, in the end anyway, turned out amazing!

Virgin Diet Shake Not Too Bad

As time marches towards the beginning of the diet experiment, there are a few more recipes and eating styles I need to experiment with.  Since the first phase is the JJ Virgin elimination diet plan (to see if I have any food sensitivities) I wanted to make sure that I had what was going to prove to be the most controversial part of that down: the morning shake.  Most of the Virgin Diet meal plans are simply making whole food meals that eliminate the seven most common system irritants: soy, corn, gluten, dairy, artificial sweeteners, eggs and peanuts.  However making your own health shake is a big part of the morning suggestions.  I therefore tried it for the first time this morning.  I think with some modifications I may be able to actually like it rather than just tolerate it.

Momo’s Granola Bars Is A Recipe Worth Repeating

I first heard of Matt Frazier “The No Meat Athlete” on the Rich Roll Podcast last week. The guy is basically an average Joe that decided he wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Along the way he became vegan and blogged the entire process. He has a new book out as well, but the recipes I posted last week (humus and the granola bars) were the things that caught my eye the most. I decided to try out a good homemade health bar recipe and I think these are it for me!

Making your own yogurt is a piece of cake

As I was getting more and more into doing from scratch food preparation I really wanted to but was always intimidated by the thought of doing anything with dairy.  Making your own cheese or yogurt sounded like nothing but a ton of trouble and something I was bound to screw up.  After talking to a friend about the concept of making fresh yogurt he said he doesn’t eat store bought yogurt anymore and that it was incredibly simple to make.  I’m here to say that he’s totally right, but having tried lots of different techniques to get “store bought” texture without the additives, I can tell you there are definitely ways to screw it up too.  Bottom line is if you can bake a Duncan Hines box cake, you can make yogurt.

Oven Baked Mexican Quinoa Casserole

During my vegan experiment week one of my favorite new recipes was this delicious concoction that I found on Vegangela. The blog is a treasure trove of tasty looking vegan recipes. My friend Eric was nice enough to direct me to the site and afterward I had a field day looking for my next recipe. This Oven Baked Mexican Quinoa Casserole is exactly what I was looking for.

Paleo Week Test Day 6

The sixth and final day of the paleo test has been completed.  Why isn’t there seven?  I’m calling tomorrow my Sabbath so I’m going to have a day of rest, already!  Most of the day was a rehash of various meals from the week but the ending came in the form of a most delicious homemade paleo ice cream (yes you read that right)!

Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna (Vegan)

Another Engine 2 Diet recipe I’ve been dying to try since I first picked the book up years ago is the Raise The Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna. The idea of having a vegan lasagna sort of broke my mind. I’ve had vegetable lasagna, but that still had tons of cheesy goodness, and often used a meat-based sauce as well. My favorite lasagnas are still the ones loaded with different kinds of meats, cheeses and then topped off with even more cheese. Could a low fat vegan lasagna be up to the challenge; or actually could it even be edible? With tons of good reviews online I just had to try it for myself, and overall wasn’t disappointed!

Candle Cafe Brown Rice & Lentil Vegan Burgers

Meal two for me trial vegan day came in the form of another Engine 2 Diet book recipe, the Candle Cafe Brown Rice and Lentil Burger. I’ve really enjoyed some good black bean burgers, even when I am in full on omnivore mode, so I was looking forward to trying this recipe out. While made as is it wasn’t bad, I think with some tweaks I could turn this into something I’d go to on a regular basis during my vegan phase.

Rip’s Big Bowl (Modified)

As a fan of eating in bulk, for better or for worse, I was always looking forward to trying the “Rip’s Big Bowl” breakfast from the Engine 2 Diet book.  Rip provides the full recipe description on his website. So I don’t mind sharing the full details of it here.  This breakfast is basically an assortment of various cereals and fruits with a good dose of your favorite milk substitute (or milk if you are not vegan).  I found it quite tasty and filling, although I did make some modifications.  Bottom line, I would totally eat this again!

Three Sisters Vegan Rice and Beans

Growing up I was never a fan of beans in general.  In college I remember thinking how disgusting it was that my roommate would eat these bean burritos.  Refried beans looked like caca, regular beans tasted like chalk and any kind of beans would spontaneously conjure up why the tried and true limericks were invented by children.  As I grew older I learned to appreciate and then like beans.  After learning a few techniques I didn’t even have to deal with bad side effects of any sort.  After listening to Dave Ramsey talk about “rice and beans” eating to save money for months on end I started to actually crave the stuff and have tried some recipes!

Paleo Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

Experimenting with recipes for each of the types of diets I’m planning on trying is going to be key to having any success. I have tried some Paleo recipes off the internet for health bars and some other things, but I only have one Paleo cookbook in my library, Practical Paleo, by Diane Sanfilippo. This is the first entree I’ve ever attempted from this book. I was hoping for the best based on the description.

Picture of Me (Hank)


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