Have you guys seen Michael Pollan's Cooked on Netflix yet? It's awesome, please go watch it! I don't need much to be inspired to cook or more specifically, cook from scratch but Cooked definitely struck a motivating cord for me. Ever since watching (more accurately binge watching all 4 episodes), I have been baking a different loaf of bread from scratch just about every day. 

Most recently, I started researching how to make a sourdough starter from scratch. I don't cook with wheat mostly because I tested positive for an allergy to it years ago. That said, I am not opposed to eating gluten; I think our general problem with it and why we have made it the culinary villain of the 21st century is because of how much we have used and abused wheat over the past many decades. The further we have gotten from harvesting, procuring and cooking our own food, the more we have allowed large companies to turn these otherwise highly nutritious crops into edible non-food. (I just came up with that little gem of a phrase, but I have a feeling it's going to stick around in my vernacular from now on!) I have very little doubt that if we all truly ate locally grown foods and as much as possible ate foods much closer to their original state, we would all be doing A-ok with things like gluten. That said, that's just not the world we live in currently. So for the meantime, I am going to keep trying to eat whole foods and make the most out of incredibly nutritious grains/seeds.

WARNING: This recipe is not simple, quick or low maintenance. 

The purpose of this recipe is to inspire you all to slow down, practice patience and give yourselves an opportunity to put some love back into the cooking process. At least it was all of that for me. I have a hard time waiting for my bread to cool before taking a bite, never mind enlisting the self-restraint to watch flour cultivate bacteria for 5-6 days straight before making a bread dough and then watching that rise for another 2 hours, baking and fully cooling. Oy. 

The thing is, the more time and effort you invest in your food, the more you enjoy it and develop a healthy relationship with it. I spent 6 days working on this loaf of bread, you better believe I'm not going to devour it in one sitting or even be tempted to. I will savor every slow, glorious bite. I'm half kidding but the truth is that we don't think about what we eat, how fast we eat or how much and I truly believe it's partly because we put almost no effort or time into our food. 

Anyway, enough of the lecture, here's the recipe:

Ancient Grain Sourdough Starter

1/4 cup amaranth flour

1/4 cup quinoa flour

1/2 cup filtered water

about 5 ORGANIC grapes 

To start, you will need a bowl and a porous cloth or cheese cloth and a warm place to keep your starter.

In the bowl, whisk flours and water until smooth. Very quickly rinse grapes, just to remove impurities, but do not scrub off the white film (you need that). Tuck grapes into flour mixture, cover with cloth and set aside in a warm place (70-80 degrees is optimal).

For the next 5-6 days, you are going to need to feed your starter 3x/day. Set an alarm on your phone so you feed the bread starter about the same time each day. To feed the starter, simply add 1/2 cup flour + 1/2 cup water, mixing again to fully combine. You can use any variety of flours you want, I have tried: amaranth, quinoa, teff and buckwheat. 

After the first day of doing this, scoop out about half of your starter (discard or set aside to make a quick sourdough pancake, sourdough biscuits, etc). Then feed the starter again. You want to have about 2 cups of starter at all times, so once the volume gets too much again, scoop some out before feeding the starter. This helps stabilize the starter. 

After completing the 5-6 days, place starter in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and feed it once a week (removing a bit of the starter before feeding each time to keep the volume down). 

Here's a quick recipe I used for my first sourdough bread!