Lots of years ago I had a sourdough starter that I dutifully kept alive and happy in my refrigerator. I would pull out that yellow plastic container every so often, bake something, and then feed my starter as per the instructions I was given by whoever gave me the starter and then put the delightful monster back in the ice box. It was a grand merry-go-round and gave me a link to the past. You know the ‘49er miners and all the rich history that comes with that. Then my starter turned on me. I opened it one evening to stir it and get it ready to produce pancakes the next morning and whoa-it had somehow taken on an air of- well it had taken on an unfamiliar air. Not that sweet sour-y goodness that I was used to getting as the lid was lifted off my yellow Tupperware container, but a smell of burnt plastic and bad broccoli. So out went the starter, Tupperware and all the good feelings of being part of the past that I had become part of. Until a few weeks ago.
We, my other half and myself, are it seems always looking for a new project. He more than me as he has that builder gene, you know XY-B. These times of new projects I lovingly refer to as, “Another wild hair.” I remember hearing that we will soon have a 1955 pick-up to go gallivanting about in. Or the time I was privy to the announcement that we would soon have an ancient throwing machine called a trebuchet, (pronounce tre-bo-jay) that now sits grandly in the yard, uh all 20 foot tall and about 1500 pounds of trebuchet. Both of which he built from the ground up. So when he came in earlier this summer and announced that we were about to have a new outdoor bread oven built of left over bricks and assorted items from his vast array of leftover parts an pieces of previous wild hairs, I was not surprised. Not complaining mind you. He put up with a few of my wild hairs over the years. But those are other stories. No, I just went with the flow. And soon we were baking bread outdoors. Now I still don’ know why it was important to bake bread outside, but it is grand bread. So chalked full of carbs and calories that even a whiff would put sixteen pounds on a skinny high fashion model, and that is before you slather it with butter. So you can imagine what it has done for me!
Soon the two loaves of plain white bread morphed into cinnamon rolls and beer batter muffins and on and on to the newest addition to our bread making exercises, sourdough. Ah, finally we are there. The first thing I realized, after I tore my kitchen apart, looking clear under and to the back of the bottom cabinets that I hardly ever go into because I have no idea what is really in there anymore, was that I had indeed thrown away my yellow Tupperware starter container. I was sadden by this revelation and remember vividly thinking as I threw it in the trash oh so many years ago because I just didn’t have it in me to wash out that glob of ick, “Someday I will be sorry I threw that away.” Well that day arrived and I did feel the kick in the pants from my evil twin that threw out my very lovely container. Dang!
I know a little about how and why things cook and develop. I did take Home Economics for goodness sakes and I’m pretty sure when you bake and apple today it is the same process and outcome as baking an apple in the olden days, when I learned how. So when I went to begin a new starter why was it that I needed about 50 pages of how to make a sourdough starter printed out for me from the internet from my wild hair partner? By the time he had all the information gathered up my kitchen already smelled of that rich sour dough-y aroma that had wafted down from the hills and up the valleys of the west in the 1800’s. As the starter grew stronger he began assembling bread recipes to try and I said let’s just make traditional round loaves of sourdough bread. He thought we would make loaf loaves. Well sourdough just doesn’t loaf as well as it rounds, so rounds we made. So as not to be said I don’t bend to the desires of others, I did increase the size of my starter so we can make both loaves and rounds the next time. Which will be after the next pile of honeybuns, shredded wheat and rye breads. I can see elastic pants in my future.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.