Hurricane Rena's

local ingredients, worldly flavour

Category: Food (Page 2 of 2)

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter


Last week I wrote about making sourdough bread using cooked whole grain dish leftovers. Today I will write about how to make and care for the Sourdough Starter.


My first sourdough starter was given to me by a friend, she said it came from the original batch of San Francisco sourdough. I carefully fed it every couple of days until finally, I forgot. It went rotten and moldy. I had heard that I could scrape the moldy surface off and keep using it, but I didn’t want to take that chance. Maybe in the pioneer days when the nearest package of yeast was hundreds of miles away, and if I wasn’t going to see anyone else I could get some sourdough starter from, maybe then I would consider scraping off the moldy surface of my rotten starter and keeping on using it. But such is not the case in my life.


I found several recopies on the internet and one in the Lighthouse Cookbook, by Anita Stewart. Its a cookbook that celebrates the unique cuisine that has evolved among the BC coast light keepers, where self sufficiency is more than a niche or an interest, its absolutely necessary for quality of life when one only gets food supplies once a month and everything must be pre ordered. No going to the store if you forget something around there.


I actually prefer to use both yeast and sourdough starter if I make bread. This is based on the recipe in the Lighthouse Cookbook, but is my own interpretation, of how I made it when I needed to.



1 tbsp yeast

2 cups boiled water, cooled to lukewarm

1tsp salt

3tsp sugar

2 cups all purpose flour


It can be made with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water as well.

Dissolve the yeast in warm water, add sugar and salt, then mix in flour. Leave out on the counter, loosely covered for 3 days. I store mine in a glass canning jar, with the lid on top but not tightened during this stage.

If you have wine or beer brewing in your house, keep the sourdough starter in a different room to avoid crossing yeasts.



Stir it each day, add a little bit of flour and water each day.

After 3 days, you need to feed it equal amounts of flour and water, and also give it “air” by mixing it up in an open bowl. Leave in the bowl for an hour or two before using to make sure it is activated.


This is a good time to use some or give some away to friends.


Return some to the canning jar after, and once every 4 or 5 days, feed it a similar volume to itself of flour and water. This is the basic sourdough starter that gets kept alive between using it, and improves with age. My current one is about a year old and tastes just like the “ hundreds of years old” one I was given that was part of the original batch of San Francisco sourdough. Strange how that happens, Eh?

But that’s because the same wild yeasts live here on the west coast as lived in San Francisco centuries ago according to experts.

Whole Wheat sourdough bread using up leftover Kutia

whole wheat bread made from leftover kutia

whole wheat bread made from leftover kutia


Eariler this week, while getting ready to celebrate Ukrainian Christams, I wrote a post about how to make healthier Kutia using sprouted wheat, and eleminate 6 hours of labour intensive preperation for a traditional Ukrainian Christmas food. Today, I will tell you about a method to use your leftover kutia from Christmas to make a beautiful loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread.

This method of bread making can use up any leftover whole grain dish. Kutia is especially good because it gives the flavour of honey, poppyseeds, nuts and fruit to the bread as well. I learned how to make bread this way when I was light keeping on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Bread does not travel very well by helicopter in boxes of other groceries, it ends up stale and squished and not that good within days of getting there. Better to learn how to make your own, a bag or bucket of flour travells well and keeps well.

So you get out your sourdough starter if you have one, and feed it. It gets fed flour and water, an equal amount to what you have of starter. Half of it gets returned to its jar. “Feeding the Pet” we say in our house, because sourdough starter is a living thing that needs to be cared for weekly if you keep it refrigerated and every couple of days if it kept in a warm place. I had a jar of sourdough starter given to me by a friend, who said it was over 100 years old, part of the original batch of San Fransisco sourdough. In my early days of sourdough baking, I forgot about it, it died and went moldy. I had to throw it out. Then I made my own from a recipie in the Lighthouse Cookbook. Funny thing, it tasted just like the 100 year old original batch of San Fransisco sourdough. I heard thats because sourdough starter captures wild yeast spors and the same wild yeasts live on the west coast now as lived in San Fransisco 100 years ago. If you don’t have sourdough starter, don’t worry about it. Just let your bread rise in the refrigerator overnight. It will become slightly sourdough within 24 hours.

In the bowl with your sourdough starter, if you have one, after you have taken some out to keep it going, refilling its home container with the same amount you took out, you mix in the leftover kutia.

You add 2 teaspoons of yeast pellets,and let the mixture sit for 4 minutes. Then you add an equal amount of flour as the mixture of liquids you are stirring together in your mixing bowl. Drizzle a little oil onto it if its getting sticky. Adjust the flour or add water to get a dough that won’t stick to your hands, or the bowl. Then knead it for 5 minutes.

Brush the dough with oil and let rise in a warm place 4 to 6 hours, or 8-12 hours in a cool place.

Once it has risen, the dough will be soft and sticky again. Flour and oil may need to be added as you punch it down and knead it again a little. Form into loafs, or put in parchment paper lined bread pans.

Let it rise again, 1 hour in its shape. Brush the top with a mixture of oil and water

heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the bread in the preheated oven. Bake at 400 10 minutes, then turn it down to 375 and bake for 30 minutes. By this time you can check on the bread. Tap on it to determine if it is done.  A cooked loaf of bread will sound hollow, a doughy loaf will not.

This bread will be a rich reddish brown color, with a nutty flavour. The slices are hearty and rustic, with a crisp crust, and slightly sweet. Best when still warm out of the oven served with butter.



wholewheat sourdough bread made from leftover kutia

wholewheat sourdough bread made from leftover kutia




Ukrainian Christmas

Tommorrow is the last day of Christmas around here, the final feast, the last hurrah of the holidays for another year. In my family, Ukrainian Christmas eve is celebrated with a vegitarian feast of traditional Ukrainian food. Somewhat traditional. I am going to discribe for you a dish that I make in a whole new way from the way my ancestors made it. Kutia, wheat, the staff of life, according to tradition. The process for making it in my childhood included pounding it for hours with a baseball bat in a pillowcase, boiling for hours in pot on the stove and finally mixing chopped fruit, poppyseeds, nuts and honey in it for a whole grain pudding dish which was eaten first on Christmas Eve.

I do something a little differently. I sprout the wheat first. Symbolicly, wheat represents the staff of life. However, wheat sprouts tend to occupy this place in my menatily. Organic wheat sprouts. It cuts about 6 hours off of the preperation time, adds vast amounts of nutrition, and changes a source of starchand carbohydrates to a source of vitamins. The staff of life indeed.

To honour the symbolism of the dish, one needs to make sure that the wheat being used is not geneticly modified, or sprayed with Roundup just before harvest, as a lot of conventional wheat has been known to have happen. This is actually being studied as the possible reason why so many people have developed allergies and sensitivites to the golden staff of life, so to speak. So honour our ancestor’s symbolism by using organic wheat. Anything else can hardly be considered the staff of life. Besides, it probably won’t sprout.

I get the wheat from a health food store that is sold there to be used for people growing wheatgrass sprouts at home for juicing and a superfood packed with enzymes and vitamins.

2 days previous, you fill a quart mason jar 1/3 full of organic wheat kernels and fill the rest up with water

drain the water in 24 hours, and rinse the wheat.

Rinse it twice a day for the next 2 days. There should be some splitting and tiny little wheat srouts poking out from the seeds.

The maximum nutrition from this dish would be if you were able to eat it raw, but the grains may still be too tough. Simmer gently in a pot with water or apple juice  until soft. Usually less than 1 hour.

add chopped almonds or walnuts, poppyseeds, dried cherries and honey. Blend in a food processor.

This is Kutia, a dish traditionally eaten first on Ukrainian Christmas eve representing the staff of life, which is an ironic food that a great many people have become allergic to in recent years. There are conflicting veiwpoints in society at the moment as to whether grains and wheat in particular is good for you. From wheat sprouts to white flour, from wheatgrass juice to the Atkins diet which reccomends eleminating it totally from our consumption. From being blamed for the obesity epidemic to being honoured on Christmas Eve, this is wheat, and its value, or its harm, is all in how it is prepared, and how it is grown.





The Search for Radiation Free Nori Sheets

Hi. I have been searching for radiation free nori sheets to make home made sushi ever since I heard about radation leaking from the disabled melted down nuclear power plant at Fukashima Japan into the Pacific ocean.

The first thing I did after this disaster happened was buy a huge package of both nori and wasabi, which would have been made and exported before it happened. It is now 2014 and I have run out. I have been searching for a Canadian made source of nori sheets, but have not found any. I used to buy nori that was made in Richmond, years ago at the Chinese grocery store in Courteny BC, but since the historic Chinese grocery store closed down, I have not been able to find it. For a while, we made rice balls with sushi rice and fish inside them and rolled them in some locally harvested nori flakes, but it was never quite as good as sushi made with nori wraps.

So I asked at grocery stores and health food stores, at specialty stores and big box stores, if any one knew if the nori they sold contained radiation from the Fukashima nuclear disaster, and if anyone was trying to find a source of nori that was not radio active. Most could not answer.

As a commercial fisher, I realized that our fish and seafood was not being tested for radiation to my knowledge, by buyers or the goverment or anyone. This made me very uneasy. Nori is a seaweed grown off the coast of Japan and China, directly in close proximity to the worst ongoing nuclear disaster the world has ever known. And nowhere is there evidence of the main commercial crops of nori being tested for radiation. No storekeeper that I have encountered, even those who sell “organic” nori sheets can tell me if its been tested for radiation. So I finally found a source that tests thier product daily. Its not a source in BC like I am still hoping to find for some genuine homegrown nori sheets, but at least its tested, both on site and in north America. Here’s a link to the site that sells it.

and here is some information about the product, from their site. I searched for a Canadian, or North American supplier, but did not find one that shipped to Canada. Wonder if the Nori Sheets made in Richmond are still available anywhere? I have searched for them for years, but can not remember the brand name. At least these people are having theirs tested.

Product information

“About our Nori – Organic, Kosher, Radiation FREE Welcome to! Our Raw Organic Nori is:

Certified Organic USDA & EcoCert
Certified Kosher By Orthodox Union
RAW – UN-Toasted UnCooked, our nori is dried at under 85 degrees F.
Sealed in packages of 50 sheets for Freshness
Package has a Zipper Lock Seal to reseal and retain Freshness
100% Radiation and contaminant Free – tested in the USA every batch!

Our product is USDA / Ecocert Certified Organic, as well as Kosher Certified. In addition we also test at a independent Laboratory here in the U.S. for more then 450 potential contaminants including pesticide residues and heavy metals, as well as many different Isotopes of Radiation. Out Nori has come out 100 percent “Non Detectable” in every single category.

We use only 1 species (Porphyra Yezoensis) in ALL of our Nori production. This species is in the Red/Purple Algae family and considered the Highest in Nutrition. ALL of our Nori Sheets, Flakes, and Powder are all made from Porphyra Yezoensis and only the top 15 to 20 percent of Harvest makes are grade for item production. The sheets, powder, and flakes are all USDA Certified Organic, Ecocert Certified Organic and Kosher Certified

Our Nori is available in Flakes, Powder and Full size sushi Nori sheets. The sheets come sealed in a package of 50 sheets.


The Tsunami disaster occurred off the northern coast of Japan on the Pacific Ocean side. Our Nori growing site is in a 4000 acre Certified Organic growing area located below the southern tip of Japan in the Sea of Japan near the China coast. To be classified as Internationally Certified Organic growing waters, the area is weekly tested and must have an minimum of 3 year continuous “Clean” results to make this classification. The “Ecocert” program based in France, is much stricter then the USDA Organic program.

The prevailing winds and currents near Japan, travel from south to north, eventually circling around and head from north to south down the western coast of the United States. Even though there was virtually no threat to our geographic location, our factory conducted Daily Radiation Testing early on with continued testing still on going. All tests have shown 100 % non detectable results.

In addition, we send samples to an independent Lab located here in the U.S. (New Jersey) We test for all known isotopes of Radiation from earthquake disaster and have been found 100 % non detectable in all categories.

Please be assured that our Raw Organic Nori is safe and unaffected. We will continue to constantly monitor our supply to ensure the safety of our customers.”


So although it is grown in Japan, it is tested both in Japan and the USA. Most of the commercially available nori is not even tested. I know, I looked into this because I love sushi and I want to do my best to avoid radiation from the fallout of Fukashima. How can we continue to enjoy the seafood we love?

Not reckless abandon, but not needless paranoia either. The answer is to find a trusted and tested source.


Solar baked red velvet cake

Who would ever think that chocolate and beets would go together? Its such a surprise to find that they do, quite well, in red velvet cake. A cake featured in the movie Steel Magnolias, in the shape of an armadillo. Of course, many modern day Red velvet cake recipies call for copious quantities of Red food coloring, but  this is not something I would voluntarily include in any cake I make.

I learned how to make red velvet cake on one of my work trips to the west coast, where I had to buy groceries as I was on my way to the helicopter, and accidently got charged 13$ for 4 beets through a mistake at Thrifties. Always remember to check your reciepts folks, even if your on your way to a flight. So there I was with my horribly expensive beets, trying to think of something real special I could make with them that would make it all worth it. Which is how I came to learn how to make red velvet cake.

At this time, the sun was just begining to shine regularly, and it was time to get out the solar cooker. Or make a new one, since I didn’t pack my own with me. So I made solar baked red velvet cake. A cake baked in a solar cooker will take twice as long as a conventional oven, and may not rise as much. It will also be moist, more like a steamed cake, because solar baking requires glass ontop of the cake, a sealed in environment. You may have to turn the cooker so that it is getting maximum sunlight on all surfaces.

I used to not have an oven when I lived on my sailboat.  So I made cakes and bread either in the solar cooker if it was sunny or on the Cobb BBQ. As an alternitive, I could also bake cake in my pressure canner. But nothing pleased me like baking it in the sunshine.

Here is the recipie

  Solar baked Red velvet Cake


¾ cup pureed beets

1/3 cup oil

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract or ½ tsp vanilla powder

1 ½ tbls cocoa powder

1 ¼ flour

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tbsp flax meal (optional)

3/4 cup liquids, either milk or yougart with a beaten egg in it

puree beets and oil together, adding sugar and vanilla. Seperatly combine dry ingredients, add to batter alternating between flour mixture and yougart mixture.

Pour into a flat, round cake pan or pie plate. To cook properly in the solar cooker, the dish must be black and have a clear glass pyrex plate overtop of it. Or the cake pan is set inside a larger black cast iron pan that will absorb and store the heat. Place this in the reflector once the thermometer indicated 100 o C or close to it. Solar cooking is not so much of an exact science. It will likely take 1 ½ hours, possibly more, depending on the intensity of the velvet solar baked

and if you would like, here’s a link to plans of how to build the solar cooker I am using to bake this cake. I made it  on the scene from Tuk Tape, a mylar emergancy blanket and coroplast.

solar cooker plans

Page 2 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén