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?