Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sugarbushing in the City

This weekend, Slow Food BU joined the Urban Homesteaders' League for Sugarbush in the City: A Walk and Talk with Meg Rotzel. Meg took us through her neighborhood in Jamaica Plain, showing us how to identify Sugar Maples.

Key traits to look for when identifying a Sugar Maple:
shaggy, grey bark, a dome crown shape, and three-pronged winter buds

We then learned about the sugaring process, or boiling down the sap into maple sugar. Meg recommended doing this outside over a turkey frier, although it can be done indoors as well (especially if you have a wood stove). Did you know that it takes 40 gallons of Maple sap to produce just 1 gallon of syrup?! The sap is boiled at 119 degrees fahrenheit until most of the water is boiled off, at which point it is moved to a finishing pot and heated to 218 degrees fahrenheit. It is then filtered into containers of your choice (Meg uses jam jars).

Grades A, B, and Meg's homemade syrup on
waffles from Centre St. YUMM...

The day ended with delicious waffles at the Centre St. Cafe where we got to taste test Meg's syrup with other A and B grades. I think it is fair to say that Meg's home batch came out on top!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bread Makin' & Bakin' with the Urban Homesteaders' League

Last weekend Slow Food BU joined forces with the Urban Homesteaders' League for a Bread Making workshop at Myles Kitchen. The Urban Homesteaders' League's Lisa Gross showed us how to make whole-wheat no-knead bread.

Lisa mixing the no-knead dough.

Charlotte Dion of Northshore Permaculture walked us through the process of making our own sourdough as well as sourdough culture.

Charlotte showed us how to shape the sourdough...

...then everyone joined in the fun!

Everyone went home with their own loaf of sourdough and sourdough culture (did you know that every sourdough culture is named for where it originates?).

The final product. Lisa's bread was so
delicious it was gone before it was even cooled!

Lisa's No-Kneed Whole-Wheat Bread Recipe


4 c. lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. kosher salt
5 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
cornmeal for the baking surface


1. Warm the water to about 100 degrees (lukewarm).
2. Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and mix.
3. Pour in the water.
4. Mix in the flour with a spoon. Do not knead.
5. Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise for 2-5 hours.
6. Refrigerate, or proceed onto the next section.
7. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 10 days.

On Baking Day:

1. Prepare a pizza wheel or cutting board with flour.
2. Sprinkle the surface with of the dough with flour.
3. Take half of the dough.
4. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. The bottom of the loaf will appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but this will flatten out during resting and baking.
5. Gently mold the ball into an oval.
6. Fold one side of the dough in thirds like a letter--don't fold down too much.
7. Bring up the other side to meet it and pinch in closed (this is called a letter fold).
8. Place the loaf on the cornmeal covered pizza wheel or cutting board, let it rest, loosely covered with saran wrap for about 40 min, if fresh, 90 min if refrigerated.
9. 20 mins before baking preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a dutch oven or large cooking pot (WITHOUT plastic handles) on the middle rack.
10. Dust the top of the loaf with flour, make diagonal slash marks with serrated knife.
11. When the dough is ready, take the pot out of the oven, and place the loaf inside it. Cover the pot with the top.
12. Bake for 30 mins with the top on and 20 mins with the top off.
13. When done, allow the bread to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before cutting and eating.