086 The Connection Between Cats and Grain

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Why is it that cats come from the same part of the world where people first figured out how to grow and store grain? Would we have bread if we didn’t have cats? In this podcast Kelly and Erik explore the ancient history, famous cats and take a detour into the world of distillery cats and ship’s cats.

Special thanks to Paul Koudounaris, whose lecture inspired this podcast, and the website Purr-n-Fur for information on ship’s and distillery cats.

Many thanks to our Patreon subscribers for making this podcast and blog possible.

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Instant Soup Stock=Happy Flavor Bomb

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I sat down to write this post and discovered I’d pretty much written it before–this is what happens when your blog is almost 10 years old. But you know what? I’m going to repeat myself, just because I want to.

Back in 2013 I linked to this post by our friend Pascal on making instant soup stock with foraged greens: Wild Food Soup Stock. It’s great! But foraged greens have a short season here, and lately I’ve been using a more domestic recipe from the great blog Food in Jars: Homemade Vegetable Soup Concentrate.

Check them out. You’ll see the ways in which they are similar. Basically you’re just taking all the tasty, aromatic parts of soup stock (onions, parsley, carrots, etc.) and grinding them up with salt.

Don’t be put off if you don’t have all the ingredients called for in either recipe. I’ve never followed either of the recipes exactly. Use what you’ve got.

The salt preserves the ingredients and is, of course, flavor in itself.  Because of all the salt, this soup starter/stock stays fresh in the fridge for months and months. It seems like a lot of salt, but not all that much ends up in any one finished dish. You will want to hold back on added salt in your recipe, though. I usually end up adding just a touch of salt at the end, but not nearly as much as I would without the stock base.

I love this stuff. I use it all the time. It’s one of my favorite cooking staples. I want you to love it, too.

What do you do with it? Well, we all know that stock makes everything taste better, and I do make and freeze stock, but that is a bit of a chore, and I end up being stingy with my stock, considering a recipe and wondering whether it is “stock worthy.”

When you have instant stock in the fridge, you don’t have to hold back.  Just sling spoonfuls of it into anything you’re making. It goes in the rice water, in the couscous water–into any cooked grain situation. It gets stirred into beans to finish them. It starts off all soups and stews. It can be soup in itself–just add some to some hot water and toss in whatever you’ve got in the fridge to make a quick soup. Basically, if the recipe is savory and calls for water at some point, the water gets supercharged with flavor.

The best thing is that one batch of this will last you for months. So just a bit of effort up front yields long-lasting rewards.

Please give it a try!

Sprouted Rye Class This Saturday!

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I’m teaching a rye bread class this Saturday May 14th at 10:45 AM at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Westchester. I’m going to walk you through how to start a rye sourdough starter, how to sprout grain and how to work with 100% rye doughs. There are still a few seats available so sign up soon. As a bonus, there will be a pizza lunch and community bread bake using the community oven built by Environmental Changemakers. To sign up for the class head over to the Los Angeles Bread Bakers Meetup Group.

How do I get started baking bread?

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The short answer to the question of how to get started baking bread is Josey Baker. His name is Baker, after all. While I’ve reviewed his book before, it’s worth repeating since I get asked for good bread recipes all the time.

Why do I like Josey Baker’s book? Baker is a former science educator. He’s good at explaining things in a clear, step-by-step manner. Many of the other bread books floating around right now are, in my opinion, overly lengthy and, often, confusing. Best of all, Baker emphasizes whole grain, sourdough fermented breads.

Baker has summarized all the popular methods out there right now in one place. Want to make a New York Times no-knead/Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day type loaf? No problem, that’s the first loaf in Baker’s book. Want to make a Tartine style loaf without reading a hundred pages of directions? No problem, that’s also in the book. Wan’t to graduate on to a style of whole wheat/sourdough breads pioneered by people like Baker and Miller? He’s got you covered. If that’s not enough, Baker also shares the excellent Cooks Illustrated Chocolate Chip cookie recipe as well as a recipe for moist scones (no, scones don’t have to be as dry as dog biscuits!).

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Baker and hosting him for a bread class here in LA. He’s a supremely nice guy, more than happy to share his expertise and spend hours answering hydration ratio questions. I don’t think there was a moment when he wasn’t smiling. His mentor is someone I consider to be the finest baker in the US right now, Dave Miller (who was profiled in Michael Pollan’s Cooked).

If you’re visiting San Francisco make sure to visit his bakery which is located within a cafe called The Mill.

084 How to Make Your Own Cheese with David Asher

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Want to learn how to make delicious cheeses in your own kitchen? It’s easier than you think. Our guest this week is radical natural cheesemaker David Asher, author of The Art of Natural Cheesemaking: Using Traditional, Non-Industrial Methods and Raw Ingredients to Make the World’s Best Cheeses.

During the podcast we discuss:

  • The difference between natural cheesmaking and the way most cheese is made in North America.
  • Using a kefir culture to make cheese.
  • The importance of quality milk.
  • What if I can’t get raw milk?
  • Easy cheeses.
  • The ins and out of rennet and how to make your own.
  • WalcoRen rennet.
  • Using cardoon flowers instead of rennet.
  • Tools you need for cheesemaking.
  • Hacking a fridge to make your own cheese cave.
  • Using leftover whey for fertilizer and cooking.
  • Making chèvre.
  • How to store cheese.
  • The cheese scene in Canada and the legality of raw milk.
  • Raw milk cheeses in Quebec.

To find out about David’s classes visit his website The Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking.

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.