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I’m making Kefir Bread. That is a long-fermented loaf leavened solely with milk kefir. Here is the first part – a mix of 50g goat milk kefir/50g wholegrain spelt flour. It’s like a sourdough starter (but without the days of preparation). I’ve left it in a warm place for just over a day and it’s done this.
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Next will come more wholegrain spelt flour, salt, a little honey and some water. And again a warm place.
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I’ll show you the loaf when it’s done. It is a recipe I worked on for a long time in the UK, but this is the first time I’ve made it here in Italy, with Italian spelt. Fingers crossed.

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My Birthday Borscht! This includes home-made beet kvass, chicken stock, beef stock, beef, lots of cabbage and lots of beets. I ate it with foraged dill (quite a feat, considering lockdown!), fermented ginger carrots and a chunky slice of wholegrain spelt sourdough covered in goat butter.
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Thanks @darra.goldstein for the recipe. It helped make turning 45 very special.

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Identifying food intolerances and restricting can be a super-hard thing to do. My son, now 6, has had them since birth. We’ve been on an incredible journey to work with these, and our own, health issues.
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It is, however, just this restriction plus a generous dollop of passion that has guided me in my kitchen creativity.
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Here’s what came out for lunch: Left-overs Bread ‘Lasagne’
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Restriction – no tomatoes or dairy for my son for a few weeks as we fine-tune his responses to stuff.
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Passion – I’ve been really fired up recently about bread waste (the UK throws out 40% of the bread that it buys).
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I fried up some onions, mushrooms, garlic and red pepper. I added left-over chicken, red wine and some capers. I created a ‘lasagne’ with layers of this mix alternated with sourdough bread. I covered the lot in ample chicken stock. I baked for 40 minutes. Whilst baking I whizzed up some fresh basil, parsley, garlic, nutritional yeast and cashews into a ‘pesto’.
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It was amazing and, I hardly ever say this, perhaps even better cold.
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And my son doesn’t feel like he’s restricting at all 🙂

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I am well and truly a cat person….but I haven’t had a cat for over a decade. We’ve moved too much. Fingers crossed – now we are back in Italy, my soul’s home – we might be able to give a home to one soon. For now, my sourdough starter semi-takes its place! I carry it around with me, giving it priority, finding it the warmest place in the house.
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Here it is with me as I cooked courgettes in yesterday. The heat from the cast iron pan helped give it the boost it needed to be ready to raise some sourdough pizza.
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Keeping a sourdough starter warm if your house isn’t is hard. There are plenty of ways to do it though – check out my article How To Keep Your Sourdough Starter Warm (get to it by clicking on the link in my profile) if you’re curious or need help.
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And if you want to share cat pictures or tales with me, I can live vicariously through your cat-ownership for now 🙂

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May I introduce spleen crostini? It’s new to my acquaintance, but I think it’ll become a firm friend. It is (I am not joking) really good!
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We we offered the pig spleen free by our local farm when we were buying liver. I searched the internet for how to cook it. I should have guessed, being in Italy, where offal has been prized traditionally, there’d be a traditional recipe making it heavenly. I was really happy to find @julskitchen telling me what to do.
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I mixed it up a bit – onions, garlic and carrots, no celery. White wine not red. Some spare chicken stock. No tomato paste. Lots of oregano. The bread we served it on is the soda bread from this month’s #ancestralcookup that I toasted then smothered in lard. The spleen tastes smooth and delicate, much less strong than liver.
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I sent a photo to our farmer. Food like this is connecting – to the animal whose life it was, to the farmer, to the food cycle, to creativity, to tradition. I love it.

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Cakey, moreish, chompable, satisfyingly-squeezy, rich, comforting…soda bread it so very good. And with my guide, you can bake it easily whilst still ensuring it’s nutrient-dense. The link is in my profile…I’d love it if you’d cook along with me this month.

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Next week it is my birthday. I will be 45. And what is the ‘treat’ I’ve requested? I want to make Borscht – the Eastern European beet soup/stew – for the first time. I’ve been eyeing the recipe in the Russian cookbook from @darra.goldstein for months.
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So here’s the beet kvass, that I need to let ferment for at least 5 days before I can use it as one of the ingredients. The spice mix you can see in the jars with the beets (garlic, caraway seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds) was inspired by my Polish friend. I’ve only every made beet kvass with just beets before – but apparently this is how they do it where she comes from and the thought got me excited.
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We also need, among other things, a beef joint, a whole load more beet and a cabbage. I think it’ll take about 3 and a half hours.
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My kitchen apron is purple. It was meant to be 😉

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Have you ever eaten off a table? I mean literally the food served directly on the table and no plates? I am totally in love with this ‘Polenta on the Table’ recipe from a @chef_valentina cookbook I picked up in a charity shop in the UK. The image she creates of everyone digging in and then forks chinking together at the end has me bouncing up and down wanting to cook and serve it.
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How would you feel eating food like this? Seriously….do you think I’m bonkers?!
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I have a thing about tables. Ours is chestnut wood. We bought it second-hand from an Italian lady – it was made my her husband. I love what Valentina says about tables:
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“The best kind of table is one that is much battle-scarred and imbued with flavours of a thousand and one meals prepared and eaten on it with love and care.”
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Sigh…

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All rose petals are edible. Water kefir on a second ferment is a great place for them. They give a delicate floral flavour to the bubbles and make it look a shade like pink champagne.

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Is a pizza a pizza if it doesn’t have tomato or cheese? Perhaps it’s a focaccia (or as they are called in Tuscany, schiacciata)? This was supposed to be a Fitascetta, but it’s not as I couldn’t find red onions in the groovy local shop that I have fallen in love with since lockdown.
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Arghh…you know what (she says quietly considering she lives in Tuscany), I don’t really care what it is. Or if it breaks the ‘rules’. What I know that it tastes d.i.v.i.n.e. 🙂
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Sourdough spelt dough, mixed by my 6-year old, topped with lard-fried onions, olives, olive oil, garlic and oregano from the garden. Every ingredients is organic. It took 5 minutes in our oven – that’s the quickest I’ve ever got a pizza done. It makes such a difference to the base and dough.
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We’ve got a huge wooden table in our kitchen. There’s extra space. I wish you could come and share…

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