I never imagined – when I took this job or at any other point in my life- that this blog would end up being my ‘food and ag confessional.’ But, seeing that I’ve now shared with all of you my former(ish) fear of chickens, I might as well own up to my relationship with bread.
We’ve been on a break.
An, “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of thing… except it was the bread. But it wasn’t me. It was my roommate.
For about a year and a half I lived with a dear friend in Vermont. There were many good times, and many of those good times included food. There was an epic roast turkey Easter, followed by a dish washing dance party for the history books. She was the only other person I’ve found that enjoys milk, wine, pickles, olives and cheese… at the same time. We put cinnamon on everything. There’s probably no other person in my life who has impacted the way I eat more than she did. Including my relationship to bread– she was gluten free. To make shared meals easier, I essentially became gluten free too. Bye bye bread, bye bye pasta.
It wasn’t a cold turkey break up… more of the slow fade of two friends who just don’t have time for each other anymore. Sometimes we would meet up at my favorite local bakery, but mostly all bread and I had in common were memories of meals gone by.
Now that I am settled here in New Hampshire, gluten-free living has happily gone by the wayside (no offense, my gluten-free friends). But, I have been slow to catch up with my one-time friend, bread. Recently, Leaven had a $1 loaf sale (!!) and a couple ended up in the freezer. The Bread Peddler had a great honey wheat slicing loaf at market a few weeks ago that I can’t wait to pick up again. Opportunity seems to have awakened some old feelings.
It seems there is some unwritten rule to my life that goes something like, “don’t do anything unless it requires more work and makes your life harder (and maybe better).” Count the ways… house, dog, wood stove, chickens, cat …[pet] sourdough starter.”
That’s right. I decided this weekend (a rare full weekend off, so obviously I got into trouble) that starting a sourdough starter would be a GREAT idea and experiment. I was inspired by this recent NYTimes article.
I am friends with a couple, also in Vermont, who has a great starter they’ve been using at least a year. The husband took time off to raise their baby (now 13 months old) and reconnect to his passion for cooking. A smarter, more patient me would have waited until I visit in June to take some of his starter… but the actual me started it myself on Sunday.
I chose it because it’s a step-by-step, no fuss recipe with ingredients I already have. Basically, add flour and water and stir. Then do nothing. Then add flour and water again (and again for 5 days). I used filtered tap water and King Arthur All-Purpose Flour I had in my home.
Obviously I have complicated things through worry and anxiety. I am worried my kitchen is not warm enough (it’s the coldest room in the house), so I moved it to a cat-free zone in the wood stove room (oh no, is that too hot?). Today (Day 2) I was worried the mixture was too dry, so I added a little extra water (warm this time). It’s next to my work computer, so I check it constantly. No bubbles- I really wanted an over-achieving starter that bubbled right away!
After so much time away, I am getting pretty needy and demanding with my one-time friend.
I’ll be sure to let you all know if my new project is a successful one, and what I am able to make if I can get it going!