My summer is quickly drawing to a close, with full-time school duties starting in just over a week. I can't believe how fast the time has flown! I've been busy but not manic. I've canned several chutneys, pickles and relishes for Christmas. The girls and I have been at the pool and we've seen a few movies (yes, one was Inside Out and yes, I cried my way through it). Megan has been screened and accepted into the orthodontist training program that Anna is a part of, and now we have two girls receiving orthodontic treatment.
One of the more exciting projects this summer was when DH's parents visited. DH and his father turned my IBC tote into a rain barrel. I finally found someone local who would deliver a 275 gallon food grade tote, already cleaned and not expensive. It sat in the back yard for three months, its monstrosity upsetting DH who knew he'd have to do something with it. It only took them four days, but he and his dad repurposed it and it works very well! The day after we set it in place, Tropical Storm Bill blew through and filled it up. A couple of weeks after that we got a little more rain, and then nothing. We have emptied it watering our garden during these last hot weeks. I hope it rains again soon - the plants like rainwater much better than city water.
The IBC tote as it terrorized DH for months.
The IBC tote after DH and his dad cleared bushes, laid a cement foundation and wrapped it in heavy black plastic as an algae deterrent.
The overflow port, which thankfully does not leak!
Another little summer project was making and feeding sourdough starter to use in my summer baking. The girls love my sourdough bread more than any other and as it got too hot to use the oven, I started baking sourdough sandwich bread using my bread machine. It only took a few tries to get it to where I like it, and that is the recipe I'll share with you here. I use a T-Fal bread machine - if you have a different machine, you may have to play a bit with the ratios to get a loaf you like best.
Sourdough Sandwich Bread for the Bread Machine
1 1/2 cups fed sourdough starter
3 tbsp. olive, canola or grapeseed oil
1 cup warm water
2 cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend
2 tsp. xanthan gum
3 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast
Pour the sourdough starter, oil and warm water into the bread machine's bread pan. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour through the yeast. Pour the flour mixture onto the sourdough mixture. Turn the bread machine on. You will need to help the machine knead the batter - use a soft spatula, scraping the sides and the bottom. Watch the mixture closely - if it is too dry, add more warm water a couple of tablespoons at a time. The mixture should be a very thick batter at first, to the point of it looking too thick. As it keeps kneading, the batter will get smoother and not as thick, so don't add too much water! If by chance the batter is too thin, add a little more flour or a couple of tablespoons of flax meal to thicken it up.
After several minutes of kneading, the batter should look thick and smooth and it should mound only a little bit in the middle. Close the cover and let the bread machine do its thing. As it bakes the top should be domed and it should look like a nicely risen loaf of regular bread. When the baking cycle is finished, remove the bread pan from the machine.
Run a thin spatula between the loaf and the pan to help loosen it, then shake the loaf gently out of the pan onto a cooling rack. The bread will smell fabulous and you will want to dig in right away but don't give in to temptation! The bread needs to cool before slicing or you'll end up with gummy bread. When cool, slice and enjoy!