Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I need your help

Last weekend I helped lead the NFC women's retreat at Twin Rocks Friends Camp. It was a lot of fun, but by the time I got back, I had started to feel sick. I spent most of last week moving from bed to couch and back again. Any time I tried to accomplish something, I ended up horizontal again after just a few minutes. So I was less excited than I had expected when I got a package from King Arthur Flour. A few weeks ago, KAF came to town. I went to the bread-baking classes they offered and gladly jumped through the hoops attached to the gift cards they passed out at the end of the day to order a few things I'd been drooling over from their catalog. I got some specialty flour and yeast and a couple of flavorings. But the big treat was a 250 year old sourdough starter.

Turns out, this was the perfect time for it to come. I had just enough energy to feed it before I adjourned to the couch to re-read all the neglected sourdough information in my favorite baking cookbooks. It needed several feedings of flour and water to expand and refresh its rising power, but by the next day, it was ready to be mixed into a batch of dough. After a night of rising on the front porch (I really will clean out my fridge when I get to feeling better) and a morning of rising out in the garage, I baked up my very first loaves of sourdough.

Oh, but they were delicious. But to make more, you have to keep the starter alive. This means feeding the starter at least once a week and using the excess in bread or pancakes or crumpets or any of the myriad other tasty sourdough options. I've divided it in two and converted one half into a stiff starter (they are supposed to be slightly less sour and last longer between feedings). In the next few weeks, I plan to dry some as an emergency backup and share some of the fresh starter with anyone who wants some—anybody? anybody? The girls are already addicted to sourdough pancakes and I'm looking forward to experimenting with new bread recipes. If this sounds like a lot of work, you're right. I'm sure once I work it into my schedule, it won't take up as much space in my brain. But right now, it feels like a new pet.

So I need your help. I think if I name the pile of goop—the only thing in my refrigerator I am trying to keep growing—I'll be more likely to remember to feed it. Any suggestions?


Michelle said...

I LOVE Sourdough bread more than, well, more than A LOT of things. I really do. And just looking at those pictures is making me drool...for real.

But I'm a really horrible starter keeper. I tried last year with some stuff from Julie. I killed it.

But ANYTIME you want to use up some starter and bake me some bread...I'll pay you and Thank You!!

Michelle said...

I'm realizing that by focusing on drooling on the pictures...I didn't quite read the last bit of what you were asking help with. Hmm, may I suggest the wonderful, glorious name of Michelle. Now, if Michelle was stuck in your fridge, you'd want to make sure and feed her, right!? And of course if you name the lovely goop after me, I'm sure it will also help you remember the last bit of my last comment.
Sincerely, Michelle

kathy said...

I'm terrible at picking good names out but I do have sourdough memories. We had sourdough pancakes every morning for breakfast all of our growing up years. We got our starter from a logger friend in the coast range and between our two homes, we had sourdough bread (mom baked 8 loaves a week), pancakes, biscuits, and something there's no name of that's baked in a cast iron skillet in the oven. Yummy. Mom kept it in an old crock on the counter and if we missed using it a day, it would bubble over the top. She hated that because it made such a sticky mess. When the stuff on the sides of the pot dried, she'd give the flakes to other friends as starter. Very weird stuff!

Sherry said...

Bethany! Here I am catching up on your recent posts. Reading from the top down gave me the story backward, including the breakage and then the sourdough starter. Michelle suggested naming it after her but I think you should name it Sharee, pronounced like my name but meant to be shared. Of course there's always Tippy (nickname for Multiply) or Flake (for what you share with your friends). I've yet to develop a taste for sourdough, having lived the first 50 years outside the Pacific Northwest.

Jeanine said...

ok, If I get some starter from you, do you think they will let me take it on the plane and bring it back to North Africa? (provided it is no more than 3 oz)... MAN! do I miss sourdough! I remember when I lived in New Zealand, trying to convince the local baker to make some sourdough bread... Ahhhh the things I miss about the Northwest - I'm probably going to gain 20 lbs this summer! Yikes! I think you should name it Methuselah so it will last you a really long time!