Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's a Sourdough Special

August 29 - Day #4

(Starter, Reflector Oven, Biscuits, Dumplings, Pancakes, Corn Bread)

Sourdough Starter

Liquid layer on top:
Naturally occurring alcohol,
Before use Stir it in or pour it off.
Today we are learning the basics and many uses of keeping sourdough starter for bush craft cooking that would make anyone a happy camper. This is also thee most traditional and natural way for all your baked goods. Sourdough starter is just a mixture of flour, water and yeast. There is  natural bacteria and yeast in the air all around us, so if you only have the flour and water, leaving the container uncovered for a few days will allow the yeast in the air to become part of your mixture and the fermentation process. Whenever the recipe calls for a cup of your starter just replace what you take with more flour and room temperature water ( keeping a pancake batter type consistency, not too thick and not too watery ) this is called "inoculation" or "feeding" your starter. I have had the same container of sourdough starter for 4 months, some have had their starter for years.. If you can get a cup of starter off of a friend it would make it easier to get things going, just feed it to make more. Upon taking the lid off and smelling it you should understand why its called "sour"dough. Lastly if you aren't using it often, keep your starter in the refrigerator. It needs warmer temperatures to ferment and grow, there is a possibility of mold to grow on the top after awhile when not using it. No worries, just skim it off the top and stir before every use. If your sourdough starter freezes, it's ok, this will not harm the starter and is actually a good way to preserve it when taking a break from its use. I do not buy anymore bread products from the store, it's fun, it's easy and everything you make tastes satisfyingly delicious.

Reflector Oven 

You tend to appreciate your meals more when effort is put into the gathering of fire wood, creating the fire, preparing the meal and paying close attention to cooking the food that is going to give you the energy needed to stay strong and healthy. We do all of our cooking over an open fire and making sourdough bread definitely puts a smile on everyone because it's delicious and in abundance. To make a batch of biscuits for the group we use a "Reflector Oven".  Basically it's a metal (aluminum) rectangle with one side left open and a ledge on either side for your baking tray. The open side faces the fire and cooks like any oven but more fun!! May have to turn the tray around once or twice while cooking. There was plenty of Yukons Gold all semester to top it off :)

Sourdough Biscuits

• 2 cups sourdough starter
• 1/3-1/2 cup oil or fat
 • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
• Spice as desired

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Dump in starter and oil and mix. Add a 1-2 tablespoons of water to the soda, stir it up, then mix in. Drop biscuit-sized balls of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until they’re just starting to brown. Biscuits are our bread of choice in the bush because they’re so easy. We bake these in the bush all the time because there is no proof time, just mix and bake. They look great when they’re browning in the reflector oven. To make a loaf of biscuits, cut the recipe in half and bake in a 9” pie pan.

Sourdough Dumplings

Mix up a batch of sourdough biscuit dough. Scoop spoon- fulls of the dough into the top of a simmering stew, keeping them afloat by not dropping from a height. Cover quickly and don’t peek for 15 minutes.

Sourdough Pancakes

• 2 cups sourdough starter
• 2 tbsp. sugar
• 3 tbsp. oil or fat
• ½ tsp. salt
• 1 ½ tsp. baking soda

Mix ingredients, leaving baking soda until just before your batter is ready for the pan. Dilute baking soda in 1-2 Tbsp. water and mix into batter. Don’t beat it, just mix it in. Batter will bubble from the soda. Fry on hot pan or griddle.

Sourdough Cornbread

• 3 cups sourdough starter
• 2 tbsp. oil or fat
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 ½ cups cornmeal
• 1 cup flour

Use either white or whole wheat flour. Mix dry ingredients first, then add starter and oil. Mix well. Pour dough onto floured surface or leave it in the mixing bowl and knead the dough with your hands.  Place loaf in greased bread pan, or break up into smaller loaves and put directly on baking sheet. Set in a warm place for a half hour to four hours; the longer it sits, the lighter the bread. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. You can also test for doneness by thumping the loaf with your finger. If you hear a hollow sound, the bread is done.


Use your imagination, have fun and ENJOY!!!  :)

Lifetimes Apart..

 Over a decade has now passed since my enlistment... I thought that it all may have been a dream but photos like this make me think again.. Here's to surrendering the past so I may continue to live in each moment of the present.

      Aticus -  2003 -  Private Holt                          Aticus - 2013 - Yukon

Friday, December 13, 2013

Snowshoe Expedition 2014

My first video (Introduction). Follow my upcoming journey as we venture into a winter wonderland! For this trip (as a group) we have started a separate blog specifically for our February Boundary Waters Expedition 2014 in the Superior National Forest of Northeaster Minnesota. We will be traveling by snowshoe and pulling toboggans through deep snow fall, 40 below temps, cover 100+ miles in 25+ days.. I'm really looking forward to the Aurora Borealis, Crystalline stars and the stillness of this vast and beautiful snow covered wilderness. bwwinter2014.blogspot.com Check out our blog to read more about this journey, our goals and overall purpose of being in these moments along the way. Smiling always  :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013


-My thought on stepping outside the box, then realizing there never was a box to begin with.

"I disconnected from it all, upon discovering I am connected to it all..." 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Never Nothing Going On...

August 28th  -  Day #3

("Sit spot", Natural Shelter, Fuzz Sticks, Net Bags)

Woke at 0615 for my routine of breakfast and compiling notes of yesterdays events into my log book. After Day 2 if feels it more like day ten with all this information packed into our days. Its a great change of pace and I can really feel it physically, being on my feet and working with my hands from sun up to sun down. It's a productive exhaustion that is truly wonderful and I'm eager for more :)

"Sit Spot"

"Sit Happens"
We do this for about 30 minutes before starting the day or seeing anyone else. A "Sit Spot" is exactly as it says. Find a place in the forest, on the edge of a field or by the river where you can just sit. This is a place of solitude, a place to focus and observe away from people. All you have to do is be still, listen, wake up to everything around you and as the sun starts to rise you will begin to notice the forest waking up too with all its inhabitants beginning to move about. As you do this day after day, you will notice the birds and other animals getting used to your presence, they may come closer to you and they may not hesitate to investigate you a bit more. If you have never done this, I recommend counting the things you see, any movement or close your eyes and count all the sounds you can hear (how many bird songs, winds, leaves falling, a stick snapping, red squirrels or a plane in the sky) how many sounds can you keep organized in your head by counting them? You would be very surprised...Try it, its pretty neat. Just be in that moment and become aware that there is never nothing going on :) 

Natural Shelters

Tim began the days instruction with natural shelters, concepts, components and designs. The first shelter I chose to create was the Quad-Pod, beginning the process by selecting a site in the woods that was level and wouldn't be flooded by potential rain fall. By building a box spring out of logs my body is off of the ground and body heat wont be transferring directly into the earth. Then using, ferns, leaves and pine boughs I created my mattress (this can never be too thick). You want the shelter big enough for you to sleep comfortably but you don't want it any bigger, the smaller the space the most heat is retained around your body. Using four poles I harvested with my axe and by placing them at the corners of my box spring/mattress , I now had my shelter frame. To secure the poles at the top I used my rope that we braided together yesterday (See Day #2) also putting a bundle of ferns sticking out of the apex to shed water droplets, the idea worked great! One side of this shelter will be left open for a fire and we will be using our tarps for the roofs (All natural shelter is definitely possible but with 10 students, time is a factor and material gathered would be 10x the amount) Each shelter that we build, we will spend at least 4 nights in. The only way to find out if you built it right or figure out anything you would do differently is to sleep in it. Sleepless night, cold, wet? FAIL..... Slept great, warm, stayed dry? PASS.....   

Fuzz Sticks

         How do you get a fire going with one match after multiple days of rain??? Hey, I'm glad you asked :)  Know that there is always dry tinder in the forest and this is a skill everyone should be aware of.  Using your knife or axe if you have one, go into the forest to locate some dry, dead, standing trees. Not to be mistaken with rotten, dead, standing trees... The trees you are looking for are not big, about 4 inches diameter and have an almost hollow sound when you knock on them and the inside is dry as can be. Because the wood is standing, the rain trickles down the tree, not really absorbing into the wood, such as you would find with a tree laying on the ground (most trees laying on the forest floor will be rotten). Get a few foot long sections of this tree and split it up into sticks not too much bigger then thumb width. Then using your knife (you should always have a knife in the wilderness) hold it up against the wood and carve away from you, trying to create thin layers that peel all the way down the stick. You want to stop at the end before completely shaving off each layer, making a feathering effect. The idea is "one match" will be able to ignite this tree, which you made possible by creating multiple smaller surface areas for the flame to catch. After you have made a bundle of these feather or fuzz sticks, make a tipi out of them where you will light the fire. BEFORE you light it, make sure you have more tinder on standby, twigs that snap or birch bark to maintain and sustain the fire after you get a flame. You do not want to light your Fuzz Sticks after all that hard work and then run off into the woods, scrambling to find more tinder as your flames dwindle and die... 

Net Bags

A simple way to make a net bag to carry your food, gear or in my case, the essential element of water. Start with an even number of strings, doubling them so they are twice as tall as the container you want to hold.. Ok, tie an overhand knot right in the middle of your lengths of string so they are all secured together. Got it. Ok, now place the overhand knot in the bottom center of your container, pairing up two strings at a time, tie another overhand knot to secure the pairs together. Now begin tying overhand knots matching up one string from one pair with another string beside it from a different pair. Keep doing this until you have a bag.