Dinner That’s Days in the Making

I’ve been putting in a lot of hours lately between workshops, conferences, and end–of-last-year reports. That can mean catch-as-catch can meals and little snacks here and there.

With a fridge cleaned out from pre-travel noshing, things are getting a little thin in terms of real sit-down meals. But in between typings and travelings, I’ve been prepping some seriously slow food meals. I mean really slow food meals as in, I’ll get around to finishing that project tomorrow–or the next day–or…

Round about the holidays, I started getting a craving for rye bread. I think it had something to do with all the pickled fish I was consuming–what with living amongst people whose culture it is to eat such things. I picked up a portion of rye flour at the Granary Coop, and I’ve made more than a couple decent loaves.

I like to soak rye flour for a day or two before making it into bread. I don’t know why I started doing that, but something Klaas Martens said at the Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society’s winter conference last weekend confirmed my intution: rye is harder to digest than a lot of other cereals. That’s why rye is traditionally “soured,” fermented, or soaked before using in recipes.

Three (four? five?) Day Rye Bread

So, this is what will be my next batch of bread–when I get around to it. I started some rye flour soaking a couple (three?) days ago–just about a cup whisked into some water with a pinch of sugar. I left it for a day or two, and then I whisked in a little more liquid and some all-purpose flour.  Notice all those bubbles? That’s the wild yeast that lives here colonizing and fermenting my mixture.

Tonight or (more likely) tomorrow at some point I will add more flour, caraway seeds, honey or molasses or sugar, sunflower oil or butter, and a little salt, and I’ll make this into a loaf of bread that’ll be absolutely scrumptious (at least, based on my previous experiences).

Or, I’ll just take a scoop out and use that to start a loaf–I have a small crock into which I could toss the rest and just let my beginning sourdough prosper with regular feedings of flour and liquid. That’d be quicker than starting over each time–especially since I usually don’t think about doing so until I’m on my last little heel of delicious homemade bread and wishing there was more.

I’m all about instant gratification, dontcha know!

On another slow food front, I started a split pea soup last night that just might be ready sometime later tonight if I’m patient enough. I wasn’t patient last night, and I took out and thawed in the sink a lovely thick Pastures A Plenty ham steak. I ate the bulk of that rather large piece of meat with my own garden’s onions sauteed in butter, saurkraut given to me by a friend who pitied my kraut-less pleas, and a sweet and spicy mustard.

The steak had a bone and a few gristly bits, and I took those parts and what was left from my feast and started simmering them with green split peas.

But it was too late at night and my simmer was too low to create something edible quickly. As anyone who adores the sludgy green concoction knows, split pea soup takes patience. I turned the heat off before I went to bed and refrigerated it when I woke this morning (no, this is not ServSafe approved behavior).

26-Hour Soup

When I returned home this afternoon, I brought it up to heat again, and also started some garden onions and organic celery (yay, Bonnie’s Hometown Grocery!) to saute in butter. The peas have now come together in a mass of green smoothness, the ham is removed, diced, and replaced, and the celery-and-onion pan is deglazed with red wine. A little more simmering, and a late supper will be ready.

Or maybe it’s lunch tomorrow.



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