On the menu – spinach pesto and sourdough

Friday

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I’m trying to eat more healthily, that is not to say that I’m suddenly going to restrict naughty stuff, I’m more going about it, in the way of what I’m adding to my diet not taking away (although I am trying to eat more mindfully too, as in ‘when I eat that chocolate bar, am I really enjoying it?’, the surprising answer to which is, no not really, whereas when I eat good cake, it’s ‘yes, yes, YES!’, so I think the cake can stay and maybe the chocolate could get eaten a little less often ….). Anyway, the ex-scientist that I am, I’m quite into the science behind food and I’ve known for a while that really I should be eating more nuts, except I’m not really that keen on them, I’ll eat cashews, peanuts and at a push almonds but the nuts that are actually, really good for you? Nope. So the spinach pesto above (which I had added pancetta too) is a step in the right direction for me, as it has walnuts in and for this walnut hater, this pesto is absolutely delicious. You can find the recipe here, I certainly will be making it again and again and again.

Sunday

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Another thing I’m trying to eat more of is good bacteria, so I thought I’d finally bite the bullet and do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and finally get a sourdough starter going. I followed the instructions for both the starter and the bread from the book, Modern Baker by Melissa Sharp and Lindsay Stark; the starter was pretty easy to get going and with my post-grad experience in microbiology, I got rather geekily excited about it. The bread though, well, something went wrong, I think, as you can see from the photo above, I don’t think I got the proving right. I found the dough to be incredibly sticky and hard to handle, the result was edible, I didn’t poison anyone and it actually tasted quite nice but it was, well, not right.

I’m not going to give up though and actually, the fact that it didn’t go quite right the first time has made me perhaps even more determined to make sourdough than if I had got the perfect loaf first time. It feels like making sourdough is the perfect challenge for me to learn, as it appeals to my science background, my love of cooking and the crafter in me (as there definitely seems to be a craft to this). I plan on making another loaf next weekend, I’m going to stick with my starter but (sorry Modern Baker people), I’m going to follow the method for the loaf from James Morton’s Brilliant Bread instead, the handling of the dough seems a bit different to the Modern Baker method, so I’m going to see if that works for me. I’m also going to have to find a better place to prove my loaf too, as I think my kitchen being a bit too cold did not help.

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