The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

Adventures In Sourdough IX: Onion Sprout Focaccia October 18, 2010

Filed under: baking,bread,CSA,San Diego,sourdough — Amanda @ 21:19
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Onion Sprout Focaccia Stack

After six months of bi-weekly CSA boxes from Suzie’s Farm, one of my favorite ingredients is onion sprouts. These delicate little sprouts pack big onion flavor, and while I love to eat them sprinkled over salads, I’ve also discovered that they add great onion flavor when baked into bread!

Onion Sprouts

This recipe is based on a no-knead focaccia recipe from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger. I use the standard yeast version as a deep-dish pizza dough, but I’ve also converted the recipe to use my 100% hydration (equal flour and water by weight) sourdough starter.

Recipe Conversion from Yeast to Sourdough

I used my home-grown San Diego Bay sourdough starter; after about four months of inactivity the refrigerator, it peaked in activity about 16-20 hours after its second feeding. It was a little bit past peak by the time I used it, but was still had enough power to leaven the focaccia in about 2 hours.

Bubbly sourdough starter

After setting aside 12 ounces of starter for the focaccia, I had about four ounces left to keep in the fridge. I fed this with flour and water (3 ounces each), and used masking tape to label the jar with the date and activation notes, so I know what to expect next time I use it – this is a very handy method if you sometimes neglect the starter for a few months, like me :)

SD Starter Labeled for Storage.

To make the focaccia, I combined 12 ounces sourdough starter with 16.5 ounces (about 3 1/3 cups) flour, 1/4 cup water plus 1 cup milk, warmed to about 105 degrees F, and a generous 1/4 cup olive oil.

A good kitchen scale makes weighing flour fun!

After mixing those ingredients in a stand mixer until well combined, I added about 3/4 of an ounce of onion sprouts (I just eyeballed the volume and weighed them afterward for the measurement, so feel free to use more or less depending on preference for oniony flavor!), and mixed for about 3 more minutes on medium speed, ensuring that the onion sprouts were evenly distributed.

onion sprout focaccia, before rising

I drizzled the bowl with olive oil (don’t be shy – the olive oil is what makes this focaccia spectacular), and turned the dough over to coat it with the oil, then let it rise until doubled in size, about two hours.

Focaccia Dough After Rising

I then turned the dough out onto a parchment lined half-sheet pan, spread and stretched it to cover the bottom of the pan, dimpled it with my fingers, and let it rest for about 20 minutes while heating the oven (with baking stone on the bottom rack) to 450F.

Focaccia before baking

After fifteen minutes in the oven, I lowered the heat to 350F and baked for an additional 20 minutes, until the top was golden. Chuck has declared this to be the best focaccia I’ve ever made, and he should know – while it was cooling, I walked out of the kitchen and folded some laundry, and by the time I came back a corner was missing! I guess the scent of freshly baked bread and roasted onions was too hard to resist!

Onion Sprout Focaccia

To make the focaccia with yeast instead of sourdough starter, use the following ingredients: 1 package (or 1 Tbs) Active Dry Yeast; 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 1/4 tsp salt; 1 cup warm water; 1 cup warm milk (105F- 115F); 1/4 olive oil; 3/4 ounces onion sprouts.

Delicious oniony crumb

I’ll be submitting this to YeastSpotting, my favorite online source for bread baking inspiration!



A Bourbon Tour of Kentucky: Day 2 October 16, 2010

Filed under: vacation — Amanda @ 10:01
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Wild Turkey Distillery


On Bourbon Tour 2010: Day 2, we traveled from Lexington to Bardstown. Our first stop of the day was Wild Turkey, a bonus distillery we added to the itinerary after squeezing in two tours on Thursday.


Me with the Wild Turkey sign


We arrived around 11am, and a sign on the door said the next scheduled tour was at 12:30, but there were enough visitors that an extra tour was added to the schedule, and we only had to wait for about 15 minutes.


Care for a Turkey Ride while you wait?


Where Buffalo Trace celebrated its colonial-era roots, Wild Turkey was an homage to the industrial revolution – giant metal buildings loom above the road as you approach the turnoff to the distillery, and its easy to imaging the grounds as they were in the late 1800s.


Our first view of Wild Turkey


Wild Turkey was on summer shutdown, but the tour was still thorough. We followed giant yellow turkey tracks through the grounds to see the giant steel fermenters and tall red grain silo.


Following the turkey tracks...


We also got a great look at the column still used in the first of two distillations.


Column Still


The barrel warehouses at Wild Turkey were light-colored metal, and there were a lot of them – Wild Turkey appeared to be a much higher-volume distillery than the others we’d  visited thus far. I asked if each barrel was tasted before bottling, as our tour guide at Woodford Reserve said happened there, and was told that at Wild Turkey they just sample one barrel from each rick to determine whether its ready for production.


Barrel Warehouse at Wild Turkey



Wild Turkey Barrel Stamp


We got to sample two bourbons each at Wild Turkey, so between the two of us we sampled Rare Breed (the barrel-proof version of Wild Turkey), Russel’s Reserve 10-year aged bourbon, and Kentucky Spirit, a single-barrel bourbon.


Tasting bar at Wild Turkey


Even though we’d originally planned to skip it, we were glad to have stopped at Wild Turkey since it was so different from the other tours we took.

We stopped for lunch in Lawrenceburg, a fairly small town in central KY, and happened to park right in front of Heavens to Betsy, a small bakery / lunch counter serving yummy sandwiches, quiches, cookies and cake. The tomato pie and double chocolate cake were especially good!


Heavens To Betsy, a great lunch spot in Lawrenceburg



Chuck especially loved the chocolate cake!


Distillery #4 was Four Roses, a brand which had been available on oversees for about 40 years until just a few years ago, and one which I wasn’t familiar with before we visited.


Vistor Center at Four Roses


Their bottle design for the higher-end bourbons is very elegant, with the four-rose emblem molded into the glass. Four Roses was also on summer shutdown, but they gave a good tour that really emphasized they technology behind their distilling process.


Model of the distilling process


We learned that they have 10 different base bourbons that they blend to make their products – five grain bills * 2 strains of yeast – and all 10 bourbons go into their yellow-label product. This was very different from the other distilleries we visited – Woodford Reserve had only one recipe, Buffalo Trace had two, and Wild Turkey used one for their five bourbon labels and one for their two rye liquors.


The (not-so) secret formulas!


We also learned about the testing that Four Roses performs on the corn that is brought to the distillery, including the 15-second microwave test for corn, which they use to check the aroma. We even got to peek inside the receiving lab to see the where the corn-testing magic happens.


Grain Receiving area



Inside the grain lab



Inside the grain lab


Their video was also very tech-oriented, showing us the inner workings of a column still and the production-line software they use to control the fermenting and distillation. It was quite a contrast to the other tours, which emphasized the human aspect of the bourbon production and the artisanal skills of their master distillers.


Inside the column still



Four Roses: a box for sampling the distillate



A view of the grounds at Four Roses


The Four Roses tour was also the only one without a barrel warehouse visit, as those were all off-site. They did emphasize how their warehouses were the only single-story ones – six ricks high – so that the heat level was more consistent throughout and the bourbon therefore ages more consistently as well.


Me on the bourbon-barrel swing at Four Roses



Chuck on the barrel-swing


At Four Roses we got to taste their single-barrel bourbon as well as a 10- or 12-year aged bourbon.


Four Roses Barrel Stamp


After we left Four Roses we drove to Bardstown, which was smaller and less pedestrian/tourist-rich than I had imagined. In California there would have been art galleries, cafes, antique stores and gift shops on every block, but Bardstown only had a few points of interest.


Jailer's Inn, Bardstown


We stayed at the Jailer’s Inn, the old county jail (operational for about 200 years, until the 1980’s) turned into a Bed & Breakfast. We stayed in the “Library Room”, which was nicely appointed with a sitting area and comfy (if somewhat creaky) bed.

The old town cemetery and schoolhouse were also just behind the inn, so we wandered around looking at remnants of historic Bardstown for a while.


The old town cemetery



Grave of a Pennsylvanian who fought in the Revolutionary War



Sometimes the grave-marker math is not so good...



A very small school house


For dinner, we went to The Old Talbott Tavern, conveniently located right next door to the B&B. The tavern was a fun place to enjoy some Kentucky specialties – we tried Burgoo, Kentucky’s signature stew, and Hot Brown, an open-faced sandwich with turkey, ham, cheese, bacon, and tomato.


Fountain near the Bardstown city hall



Happy Kitten Adoption Anniversary! October 9, 2010

Filed under: animals,kitties,San Diego — Amanda @ 4:00
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October 9th, 2010 marks the second anniversary of our kitten adoption adventure! This was the year of the CSA, when the cats got to investigate all the new vegetables that we brought home – they’re very aware of their environment, and have to inspect everything new that comes into the house, as the pictures below show:

To adopt cats or kittens and support a great local shelter in San Diego, visit, the organization that brought Athena and Zephyr into our home!



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