The “Covid Times” has seen all of us try our hands at a number of things we never thought and even imagined of trying. For our team, baking with sourdough was one of them, all thanks to Joyce who graciously shared her starter (all the way from Germany? Via New Zealand?) with us. Prior to this I’ve barely tried making any loaf of bread, the closest experience I’ve had was an attempt to focaccia a decade ago, which ended up as good paper weight to keep our table napkins from flying away. (You know the tagalog phrase “Kapag binato ka ng bato, batuhin mo ng tinapay”? Let’s just say the tinapay would’ve hurt a lot more).
I enjoy working in the kitchen a lot, I’d describe it more as play time, a time to be creative more than anything, but as you’d imagine, it’s quite hard for me to follow recipes let alone come up with one. So hang in there! I am also by no means an expert cook, and moreover an expert baker, I barely qualify as experienced even. FYI I don’t have a kitchen scale, I just take out a pen, paper, calculator, measuring cups, and a Googled sheet of conversion tables. I just enjoy figuring it out on the fly and the spontaneity of all of it. I call it #rebelbaking. So I’m sure you’ll be fine, if not better than my attempts! 😂
Pre-fed starter (100% hydration)
Flour (I used bread flour for this)
Rosemary (I find dried thyme works very well too)
Time (we should have a lot of this)
Patience (we should have even more of this)
You’re probably wondering why there are no amounts on the ingredients list. If you’ve tried baking with sourdough, it’s mostly about the percentages and ratios, and depending on what you’re making the percentages change. So you don’t have to muster so much of a certain ingredient if you don’t have it, flour is always 100% so it usually is the limiting ingredient (aka runs out the fastest)
So for example, the basic percentages I like to follow for focaccia is, 60% leaven, 100% flour and 80% water and 2.5% salt. So if you have 100g of flour, leaven should be 60g, water 80g, and salt 2.5g.
I usually start of by pre-weighing all the ingredients. I then proceed to mixing the water and the Beet puree/soup, then add in the leaven. Make sure it’s well mixed otherwise you’ll end up with an uneven distribution of sourdough in your bread. Then slowly incorporate your flour, mixing well (I don’t have a mixer so I just mix everything by hand) before adding more flour, so that you’re dough doesn’t get lumpy. Be prepared to add in more flour depending on how watery your puree is. You want a good firm pliable (can be held as a ball) consistency on your dough. I find a higher hydration on dough makes for softer bread but also means more difficult to handle. When you’ve finished mixing all the ingredients (you can add your herb earlier if you’re using dried ones, later if you’re using fresh ones), leave the dough to rest for 30mins before proceeding to your stretch and fold (you can Google the best way to do this, I prefer the coil method). Stretch and fold your dough 3 to 4 times depending on (well mostly you haha) every 30 mins or so. After the stretch and fold, let it rest for 6 to 12 hours (depending on your schedule and the room temp.) hotter it is, the faster your dough ferments. Also the later it is through the night, the more groggy and impatient you get and might end up tearing the dough apart hence, your schedule. I find baking with sourdough is more flexible to your schedule, at least in my experience.
When the bulk ferment is done, transfer it to your baking vessel of choice (I find cast iron is best, I don’t have a Dutch oven but they say it’s good too), at this point you may opt to let it ferment for another hour, or you may proceed to putting dimples on your dough. Add your topping of choice, don’t forget to preheat your oven and blast it up to its highest setting. Depending on your vessel and oven, baking may take about 20 to 30 minutes.
Beet focaccia approximate ingredients I used:
227g preferment 45%
487.5g bread flour
0.5 cup Beet puree
Few sprigs of rosemary
by Cara, largely inspired by https://veganlovlie.com/sweet-potato-flatbread-no-added-oil/
I’ve found the secret to perfectly soft, pliable, WRAPable kamote rotis (after the 4th try lol) and it’s super easy!!
Yield: 6 rotis
- 1 cup all purpose flour, more for dusting
- 1 cup kamote (about 2 medium pcs)
- hot water
- optional: herbs, salt, any desired additives
- boil / steam your kamote until soft and easily mashable
- transfer immediately to a bowl and mash with a fork while still hot. (you may opt to peel the skin but i stopped doing so, it adds nice bits of color to the roti)
- mix in the flour onto the mashed kamote. the kamote must still be hot or it won’t mix well with the flour. optional: once it’s half mixed, add in any herb on hand & a bit of salt if desired.
- depending on the type of kamote you’ll get, some are drier than others. if the mixture is too dry, mix in a bit of hot water at a time until you are able to form a smooth cohesive ball of dough that doesn’t crack. be careful not to mix in too much water! let rest for a few minutes.
- flour your work surface and roll the dough into a log. divide it equally into 6 pcs. flour your hands and roll each of the 6pcs into a ball then flatten the edge a bit to create round discs as seen above. dip each ball onto a bowl of flour and set aside.
- roll out each of the balls one by one into your desired thickness. the dough should be pliable enough to roll pretty thin. add more flour if it sticks to your work surface
- preheat your skillet / pan to medium-high heat. once it’s hot enough place your roti in. Leave for about 30-40 seconds until it starts to bubble a bit. Flip and leave for 10-15 seconds. You can flip 2 more times for 10-15 seconds each til you see some brown spots.
- Optional: quickly pass your roti to an open low-medium flame 2-4x to see your roti balloon! This helps the roti to become more pliable and form a nice little pocket when torn apart.
- Most important step!! Once done, immediately store your roti’s in a closed container with a towel on the bottom. the steam is key to help soften the rotis and make them pliable.
And voila! What I love about this is that the color of the rotis come out different each time. Eat with saurkraut or any available dipping sauce, or turn into a WRAP!
You can store the roti dough in rolled out balls or in log form in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days max in my experience, or in the freezer if longer. Add more flour to roll out if coming from the fridge.
It takes three weeks or 21 days to adopt a new habit. Coming out of the 10-week lockdown, considered among if not the strictest and longest in the world, what do we find ourselves doing differently, what are we seeing differently?
To be honest, we thought we had a good sense of the challenges that our farmers and consumers face given the current food system. This awareness and the desire to help address these vulnerabilities animate the work of our community: the Good Food team, our farmers, and our subscribers and retail customers. However, this global pandemic and our society’s response have shown the shocking extent of the inequalities, the sharp, painful divisions that spelled sacrificing certain conveniences for some of the lucky ones, and acute hunger and grinding poverty for the greater majority we realized we have come to depend on to enjoy those conveniences.
There should be no doubt about it: despite the difficulties we face Good Food is among the luckier ones. We owe it to our community that we continue to be of service, from our hardworking, enterprising farmers to our conscientious subscribers and consumers who despite their own hurdles during the lockdown supported Good Food as we tried to get our bearings. We made adjustments to protect the team and ensure employment for everyone, but we still do a lot of things differently to make sure we’re able to fulfill our responsibilities and that people are fed. We also either discontinued or dialed back on certain activities to ensure everyone’s safety. We’d like to share with you some of the changes that will happen over the next quarter.
While Good Food Sundays has become a beloved routine for those interested in connecting with like-minded folks, supporting small and sustainable local producers, while enjoying delicious vegan food and drinks, we are not likely to open it anytime soon. Cases of coronavirus infections continue to rise with the easing of the lockdown and with it a false sense of security that comes with returning to a bit of normalcy. Admittedly we cannot in good faith open the market while there is little to no public health effort to flatten the curve and risk everyone’s exposure. As we are a small business that also depends on our income from Good Food Sundays, this was not an easy decision to make, but we are doing so in the interest of minimizing risk and ensuring people’s safety.
In lieu of the Community Kitchen and Farm Work Weekends, we are moving our lifestyle support online. We started with “Sprout Joy,” a collaboration with Muni Community and Forest Foundation Philippines. The meet-up featured our very own Gio Paolo Espital, who talked about growing our own vegetables, and Rina Teoxon Papio, founder and chief soilmate of Green Space, who talked about composting. These two home activities enjoyed a surge in interest during the quarantine. Creating good soil and growing our own food allowed us to reconnect with nature and the outdoors. More importantly, the ability to grow our own food was and will always be an active gesture of hope and agency in a time of constraint and great uncertainty. If you missed the meet-up, you can watch the recording here. What other food-related topics are you interested in? If you have ideas, let us know! You can email us here.
Our CSA, the heart of Good Food, continues to remain strong. We are now able to offer multi-week subscriptions, as operations become a little bit more predictable and diverse organic produce more available. And because CSA is about creating a better food system built on social justice, health and wellbeing, and ecological responsibility, we have been actively listening and participating in conversations and actions that will move this agenda forward, such as participating in the round table discussion on public health and recovery initiatives after the lockdown. We believe that this is what makes Good Food different. The work of providing food goes hand in hand with protecting everyone’s rights to it and promoting equitable access, and our partner farmers and subscribers choose to work with us and buy from us because they know they can contribute to the conversation through Good Food.
Therefore for those of you interested in learning more, here is a quick but comprehensive view of the state of food and agriculture in the Philippines given the pandemic. In Greenpeace’s three-part series, “A Better Normal,” we learned more about the actual challenges and hardships our food producers faced, the best practices of different local government units and civil society organizations (including Good Food!) to ensure food security of their stakeholders and communities, and the much-awaited dialogue between our food security front liners and government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, National Nutrition Council, National Economic Development Authority, Climate Change Commission, and the Office of Senator Kiko Pangilinan, the author of Sagip Saka Act. The three installments might be a bit long for some of you, but we find that it helps listening to them in the background as we prepare our meals for the day. It has made us better appreciate each ingredient, each produce we prepare for our loved ones.
Finally we hope to continue working on improving the access of urban poor communities to healthy, safe and affordable food. If there is one good thing that came out of this pandemic, it’s the fact that we have been able to work with this much-neglected sector through Lingap Maralita. Pre-Covid, we have often wondered how this was possible. When the pandemic struck, there was little room for overthinking or strategizing—we needed to act fast with friends and make sure people were fed. And now, what started as an immediate response to alleviate the hunger in two communities experiencing acute hunger in the early days of the lockdown transformed into a platform to demonstrate solidarity and interconnectedness. We look forward to turning this into a sustainable program for better, wider impacts, and we will share with you details once they have firmed up.
And so we would like to end this letter with a favor to ask: if you are a subscriber can you share the story of Filipino farmers and how community shared agriculture can help? Doing things differently can be very hard for many people—we like the comfort of our habits and routines. But sometimes we need new habits, new routines, new ways of thinking to recreate this world. We hope that the story of community shared agriculture will help us imagine a better normal for farmers and eaters—and if we can imagine it, we can create it.
May you and your loved ones be always safe and strong,
Char, Ernest, Joyce, Cara, Gio, Mabi, Ate Celia and Kuya Luis
as of May 2020/**/
by Gio Espital