Calculating Recipes with Baker’s Math

Last post, we talked about all about the science of starters. While you’re nurturing your culture, let’s take some time to talk about all the recipes you’re going to tackle once you’ve for a healthy starter going. Ladies and germs (or, I should say, lacto-bacteria), may I present: Baker’s Math.

If you’re a math person, get ready to learn a new kind of percentages that just might drive you crazy at first. If you hate math, consider this a chance to finally master something that wrecked your GPA in high school.

Recipes for bread (and beyond) are often written in “Baker’s Math,” “Baker’s Percentage,” or “Flour Weight.” While it initially looks baffling, it’s actually a great way to convert recipes between English and Metric mass systems (ounces and grams) and increase or reduce the amount of bread you’re making.

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Raising a Sourdough Starter

To bake sourdough bread, you’ll need a starter. You can get one from a friend or relative, buy one online, or you can grow your own.

Growing your starter

A 100% hydration starter contains equal parts of water and flour. When you’re ready to bake with it, it’ll create a light loaf with a familiar, tangy sourdough flavor.

During the first few days, the yeast and bacteria will start to grow slowly.

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Sourdough As Divine Chemistry

If you’ve ever had store-bought sourdough bread, you’re probably used to a very particular flavor: tangy, pungent, in a word… sour. While this kind of San Francisco sourdough is famous for its bite, sourdough bread can taste as mild as a simple loaf of pain au levain. The wide range of flavors comes from the fact that “sourdough” doesn’t refer to a particular style of loaf so much as a way of leavening it. While modern store-bought loaves of bread are made with single species of commercial yeast, S. cerevisiae, sourdough breads rely on a process called lacto-fermentation to create a crisp, flavorful loaf.

To really understand what makes sourdough bread special, let’s take a quick look at the regular stuff: baked goods made with commercial yeast. Called baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, instant dry yeast, or active dry yeast, strains of S. cerevisiae are in all kinds of foods. Fermenting everything from wine to doughnuts, commercial yeast is convenient, predictable, and simple to use. Dry yeast can be stored at room temperature for months, making it easy to bake whenever the spirit moves ya. After adding water, the yeast instantly starts to grow and multiply. And because all commercial yeast belongs to the same species, we can take a pretty good guess about how it’s going to act in a dough.

With so many good reasons to use commercial yeast, why go to the trouble of messing with sourdough? It can taken a dozen more hours to rise, requires weekly maintenance, and can sometimes leave you with disappointing results. But when it works – and that is often! – making sourdough satisfies your palate, gut, and ego.

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Easy, Wheezy! Decongestant Salve

Even though it’s officially spring, both the weather and my lungs are holding on tight to winter. It’s all kinds of rainy and cold outside, and I can’t quite shake the stuffy nose I picked up last week.

Easy, Wheezy! Decongestant Salve - MamootDIY.com

I whipped up a little homemade VapoRub (Viva Peru!) to get me through the next few days of this cold, and – BONUS – to help me take on the spring allergies I know are coming as soon as everything starts blooming.

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De-Stress With Homemade Scented Play-Doh

Good folks of the Internet, the last month and a half have been ROUGH. I’m working as a therapist at a high school right now and my clients just seem more scared every day. See, the school where I work is full of brilliant Black and brown kids who aren’t sure what the government is going to do to them and their families. Between the (overturned and forthcoming) Muslim bans, rescission of protections for trans kids, and anti-Latinx sentiment going strong, we’re all more than a little worried.

Scented Play-Doh - MamootDIY.com

To help, I’ve got a Saturday afternoon project that’ll get your mind off the state of the country for half an hour and help you cope with it when real life comes back into focus. Because while we keep fighting, we’ve got to sustain ourselves with moments of joy and silliness. Making playdough is one tiny thing you can do today to give yourself a break from the darker stuff.

I use playdough in sessions with my clients all the time. The shy kid and I play together until they’re comfy enough to talk. The anxious kid gets a ball to take with them to squeeze in class when they get called on. The angry kid smashes playdough instead of plates when they can’t handle their dad’s yelling anymore. The kid who finally feels a little better asks for playdough to share with a friend who’s going through a rough time. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it helps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DpevnLCNYc

There are tons of ways to use your playdough therapeutically, but fidgeting, smashing, and observing are three of my favorite places to start.

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Snowbound Soap

Welcome to the end of first snow day of the year! I’ve been snuggled up inside all day hanging out with my plants and baking cookies (with a quick jaunt into the cold to play capoeira to shake off my cabin fever).

Snowbound Soap - MamootDIY.com

I’ve been waiting this whole unseasonably-warm season for an excuse to post about my favorite new  creation: snowbound soap.

Snowbound Soap - MamootDIY.com

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En Lo Pequeño Radica La Fuerza: Herbalism for Quiet(er) Revolutionaries

For as long as it’s existed, A-Camp has been one of my favorite places. It’s also been a place that turns the worry knob in my brain up to full blast. I worry that I’m too small or maybe pretending to be big but what if I’m too big and then everyone can see right through me and what if seeing through turns into looking past and and and and and.

So this year, after a winter that was more cold than cozy, I wrote a love letter to myself in my application and planned to lead nothing but arts and crafts for four days. Y’all! We made tiny grills, sewed coptic-bound books, and made jewelry out of recycled beer cans, but my favorite activity was the herbalism knowledge share I hosted. We were a ragtag group of queers and damn if every single person there didn’t have something to teach me.

I came home from camp with a low humming calm that my body had known before but forgot the year it first knew blood. I’m not saying I came back perfect or fixed, but I stopped confusing devastation with depth and started to feel the whole way around things. Like maybe the earth is a warm place. Like maybe I make it warmer.

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