Sourdough Pizza Party!

 

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Back in Septemeber, the sourdough baking bug had struck me, and apparently, I  was ahead of the trend that would be sweeping kitchens all pandemic long. In the time since cultivating my starter, I  have had a few folks ask how I  made it. I  referred them to this video. https://youtu.be/2FVfJTGpXnU I  like this method and I  found the video to be easy to follow and straight to the point. I  will recommend that whatever recipe you follow just always stick to that ratio of flour to water and it will work! Another protip is to get yourself a scale. This will take all the guesswork out of the process a gram of flour and a gram of water. They are both equal, a gram is a gram. So even if it always seems to be 201 grams of flour don’t sweat it, match it to 201 grams of water.  I  have a link to the scale that I  use every day from measuring my coffee beans to all sorts of ingredients it has helped me grow my skills in baking and try new recipes. OXO 1130800 Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display, 11-Pound, Silver

 

First I  will provide a formula then talk about what I  do and if you have any questions or if I miss anything let me know in an email!

Levain Mix-

  • 100g of your mature sourdough starter
  • 100g of bread flour or Tipo 00 (Italian pizza flour)
  • 100g of whole wheat
  • 200g of water (room temp)

The final mix-

  • 850g of bread flour or Tipo 00
  • 150g of whole wheat
  • 610g of water (room temp)
  • 20g of salt
  • 200g of levain mix
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • flour for work surfaces
  • This will make about 8 balls of dough at 263g per ball.

Anyway fast forward to the global pandemic… flour, yeast, sugar, and most baking staples have flown off shelves. I  have my mature starter waiting in the back of the refrigerator ready to emerge from its temperature-controlled nap to get to work. I  will generally discard and feed on a Wednesday and use that discard to build a levain for a weekly ritual of inviting 2 people over to bake up anywhere from 6 to 8 crusts of a variety of toppings.

I am baking a two-part dough build and that has become something that I am fine-tuning and really on the verge of perfecting each batch. The first part is a 1-1-2 of starter, flour, and water. After the levain has had about 3 or 4 hours to double it is ready to have the remaining water, flour, and salt added into the mix.

In a large bowl add all of the levain then dissolve the salt into the water. I  get pretty hands-on with it and try to break up the starter in the water. Then add all the flour in gradually. Once all the flour has been hydrated let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes up to 30 minutes. After that period has expired it is time to begin to knead the dough. I guess I  should do a video to show these steps at some point too…

But for now, the kneading process is key! On a floured work surface turn out So take time to work the dough pressing it out and away and fold it back over on itself. This process should take about 15 minutes if you are doing it by hand. You will know the dough is ready for bulk fermentation if it springs back when you press it down.

If you are using a stand mixer( with the dough hook) you should let it run on low speed for about 5 minutes. I  let it rest for 5 and then turn the mixer back on low for a minute or two then turn it up to high. I have a 7 qt Kitchenaid low is 2 and high with the dough hook is 4. Speeds any faster aren’t recommended by the manufacturer.

Now it is time to enter into bulk fermentation. In a clean large bowl drizzle enough EVOO to coat the bowl and dough ball. Place your dough ball in the bowl cover and let sit of 3-4 hours or until it has doubled in size. The goal is that it has doubled in size and not a specific amount of time has passed. Typically I  set a 3-hour timer on my phone. Check the dough and then set a new timer of 45 minutes or an hour.

Next, I  get out a small container place it on the scale, and zero it out. I  just use this to keep my scale cleaner. Now turn your dough ball out onto a floured work surface. Using hands, a bench scraper or a knife cut your dough into balls that weigh 263g. You can just cut off what looks to be about an eighth of the ball and add or take away from the ball. If you are left with some extra dough split it up and share it with the other balls.

There are several ways to shape a dough ball. The goal is to have a round ball with a tight surface. So I  generally start by working the bottom into itself and t turn the ball on the bench or in my hands to seal it up. Once done with this step I  place on a flour sheet pan and flour the tops of the balls cover with plastic wrap or another sheet pan and let rest in the refrigerator of 24 to 48 hours minimum.

Remove them 2 hours before baking. Top with whatever you have laying around!

I  recommend using fresh mozzarella and making a red sauce from San Marzano tomatoes, a couple of leaves of basil, and salt. Blitz in a blender and it is ready for your pizza.

Bake in your home oven is possible! Max out the temp and use a pizza steel that has been preheating for about 45 mins to an hour… I  have personally cracked about 3 pizza stones so don’t bother getting one. The next bit of kit that makes it easy is a pizza peel linked below!

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Even my countertop convection oven turns out a mean pizza!

Happy baking a send me any questions or pictures of your pizza!

Alex

Gear Links-

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet (2 Pack), Silver
OXO 1130800 Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display, 11-Pound, Silver
Rubbermaid High Heat Scraper 9-1/2
Kitchen Supply 12-Inch x 14-Inch Aluminum Pizza Peel with Wood Handle
1/4 x 16″ x 16″ Steel Plate, A36 Steel, 0.25″ Thick

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Homemade Oat Milk

So y’all I gave it a shot to make a homemade plant-based milk. I choose oat milk for two reasons one I love coffee and I have heard it mixes well with coffee and secondly I have a can of oats in my pantry.

After much searching it seems like there are two camps. Soaking and not soaking. I opted to not soak my oats as I didn’t have a bag to squeeze the pulp out with and I read that it will make the oats slimy.

So this recipe isn’t to hard and fast you have a bit of wiggle room. So keep in mind that you can adjust the ingredients to make it fit your needs.

For a basic oat milk

1 cup of oats

4 cups of water

Pinch of sea salt or kosher salt

1 tsp Vanilla extrac optional

1 date (pitted) or 1 Tbsp of Agave Nectar (I eye balled a squirt of it into the pitcher and adjusted to my taste)

Put all items in a high-speed blender. Secure lid and blend on high for a minute taste for salt.

Pour into a nut milk bag and squeeze all your rage out of those oats.

If you are feeling creative make a chocolate version with a tablespoon of your choice of coco powder placed in as you are filling the blender with ingredients and blend it all together. Or throw some fresh berries in a batch for a berry delightful treat.

Make sure to label your milk with a date and use within 5 days.

Lost in loss

I think most of us have had something happen to us in our personal lives that have struck us in a way that has caused you to get lost. I feel that events like the.

I started this post on June 29th and got to where that last sentence ended. As I frequently do I put my writing down and let the thought breathe and see what else bubbles up and boy oh boy did some shit happen. Looks like I am turning this one from advice to holy shit the house is on fire and we need everyone to put it out. Okay, I am going to walk that back it isn’t that bad but still bad. On July 3rd, 2018 my father passed away suddenly from what was most likely cancer of some sort.

So there’s that… What do you do when someone who was a constant voice of advice, guidance, and support is gone? So this forces me to look at my life closely and what will his legacy be and how can I honor him and do what is best for myself too.  Is it about me or him?

I think it is about him maybe some of the lessons or things he taught me are meaningful to others. My father had this seemingly endless knowledge about how to build or make just about anything from framing a house to plumbing. I think one thing I never truly appreciated was he knew when to say I don’t know how to do this, but I know some who is an expert and can help.

So I went home at the end of August to celebrate his life and this was a time to face the reality of this loss. Which created more pain and hurt around this loss and is part of the reason why I held off publishing this.

Quick update

Doing my best and making lots of positive changes in my life. Work has been busy and I have a blog post about yoga that I am working on for release this Sunday! My hope is to make this an ongoing series of articles on specific topics that helps to demystify yoga and bring some good resources to you.

Sat Nam!

Alex

Biking to Work

This week I took my bike to work two days this week! Luck would have it that I chose the two coldest days this week to ride to work. While this wasn’t that bad part because I layered up and kept peddling and got pretty warm. The part I wasn’t thinking of was how I like to do things after work like going to yoga class and that it would take longer to get home. In this post, I hope to share some of the successes and failures that I had with my attempts to bike to work.

Now for a little about my bike! I ride a Panasonic Sport 500 steel framed road bike that I had picked up while living in Pennsylvania in the Suburbs of Philadelphia. It had been refurbished and has these wider tires than a road bike would normally have but with some of the potholes and the general state of the roads here in Memphis, these make of a smoother ride.  I have a rear bike rack that came with the bike and I have two pannier bags that are perfect for groceries or all of my things for work.

On the first day when I rode to work I beat everyone to work and was sitting outside waiting for someone to come and unlock the building, that was a cold and long wait but it was well worth it to be early to work I felt extra prepped and ready to go for everything that my day threw at me. But the thing that I had forgotten was that I had to be at work late that night and would have to face some harsh traffic in order to get home. But lucky, I managed to get a ride home and that saved me from having to cross a major highway at 6:00pm. I then went to a Reiki share and gave Reiki to two clients and that was an amazing gift to end the day with.

My route to work has become easier to navigate and I am more comfortable with making the journey across the city and I also feel better about my riding on the streets. Now on the second day was again the first person to arrive… I was again prepped and ready for everything my day threw at me. But I was really tired from having been up late and trying to be awake at 4:00am so that I could bike to work. I think the two yoga classes I took that night after work also did me in. Needless to say Thursday and Friday I chose to drive to work because I had overdone it.

I want to share some key pieces of gear that I think you need to bike commute. I have a rechargeable headlight and tail light that makes me visible to drivers on the road. These are a must have if you are going to do any kind of biking on the roads. They seemed to work well for me I will include a link to the ones that I have on my bike. The next must-have item would be a rack of some sort on your bike. You can get away with using a backpack for awhile but this will most likely leave you with a sweaty back. If you plan on this being your main mode of transportation to and from work you will need some bike fenders. My bike doesn’t have any but maybe on a future set up, I would like to have them.

My verdict is that I enjoyed riding to work and with enough time to prep and the right gear this can be something I could do multiple days of the week!

Sat Nam,

Alex

Two Weeks

I have practiced a daily meditation now for about two or three weeks and it is one of the best things I have ever done. I feel a deeper sense of who I am. I have been sleeping better, having better dreams, and generally more positive interactions with the people in my life.

Here are three quick tips to get started:

1- If you are a total newbie there are some great free apps that will get you started! I recommend Stop, Breathe, and Think. It comes with some great tracks and it asks how you feel mentally and physically. Which it helps to figure out which meditation to have you back on track.

2- My second tip is to pick a time of day I strongly recommend early in the morning! This can forever shift what your days look like take it from me I hated getting up in the morning dreaded hearing my alarm before going to school growing up. Now I will get up and start my day with a short meditation and it gets me on my way to my day! If you can’t do that take 5 minutes in your car before entering your place of work!

3- If you fall off get back on! Consistency will make it easier and easier it will also open up new doors. Be prepared for every day to be different.

Hope these few tips are helpful!

Sat Nam,

Alex

Watching the Sunrise

I was in Florida for Christmas break and I took the chance to go to the beach and watch the sunrise. The first day I tried to go there was fog and we didn’t get to see the sun crest above the horizon and illuminate the water and sky. So I went home and vowed to return the next day. I mean I live in Memphis and there is a sunrise like the one you can see in Florida anywhere around.

My father and went back to the beach witnessed a truly amazing sunrise it was something that I will not soon forget. But this past week my mom sent me pictures that they had gone together to watch the sunrise, which made me so happy I want to see my parents enjoy there lives together because of all that they had done for me and my sister.

I had started this post before they had done that and I am glad that I had put this down and picked it back up. I think that is an important part of the creative process work on something and allow it time to breathe and then revisit it. You will always be surprised with what you come up with I know that has always been true for me.

What creative pursuits are you taking in 2018? Don’t be shy!

Back soon with more.

Sat Nam,

Alex

2018 New Year Resolutions

I don’t personally prescribe the idea that I can make major changes to my life and have them turn out as I envisioned by taking the first day of the year and trying to change everything about myself. That’s why I am posting this on January 2nd.

I argue that we should spend time setting intentions and then those intentions become our thoughts and our thoughts become the actions that we move into reality. In this post, I just want to share how I use this practice to help me advance myself towards a goal and how I have failed on some of these things.

Okay, how do I sent an intention?

Think it, speak it, repeat.

First I take time to carefully develop this intention. Usually, my intentions are about a broad area of focus, for example, my health and well-being. Severally years ago I decided that my diet was going to be an area of improvement for a new year. (this has been the only one I have managed to make work out) I choose to eat a vegetarian diet. I have worked at it now for about 5 or 6 years. So how did it stay stuck this long I set the intention that I needed to improve my overall health and I saw this as being a great way to achieve this goal.

So taking that same example of going vegetarian I then proceed to speak it in my mind and out loud to myself. Then I would write about what I was going to do to execute on this change and like I have said this has worked out for me.

Let me know what your intentions are for 2018 and how it goes for you!

Sat Nam,

Alex