topic_interest is exactly starter
2020-10-12T09:40My wife and I were both home from our jobs by mid-March because the COVID-19 pandemic had, for all effective purposes, practically shut down our home state of Alabama. During our long sequestration from the world, we often baked together to pass the time. Tamsie has a sourdough bread starter that was handed down from her grandmother, so to keep the starter “alive”, she has to bake bread every month or so, which of course requires yeast. I believe that millions of Americans were at home baking during that time because we were out of dry yeast for her bread and, though we searched every grocery within a 20-mile radius of our home, we looked to no avail; additionally, yeast was back-ordered on Amazon, Walmart online, and every other online store. We were beyond desperate for that yeast, and the starter had to be near death when, at long last, I discovered an in-stock yeast on Amazon and ordered six pounds of it. Needless to say, I ordered entirely too much and thus unintentionally became that obligatory hoarder with which we’ve all had to deal during the last seven months. Thus, we had to bake dozens of loaves of sourdough bread to use that yeast! My wife is a dentist, so we baked bread for all her employees and left it on both their front porches and garages. We also baked for our neighbors and our families. The sweet smells of sourdough bread and sticky buns filled our home for nearly six weeks, as baking became an inane, daily ritual in the Rogers household! Today, whenever I smell fresh bread or cinnamon rolls, I think of our time spent together with our puppies in the kitchen, laboriously prepping, waiting for the yeast to rise, baking, and cleaning on a daily basis. I am thankful for this time, and though we now laugh about and much fun is had at my expense over my overzealous yeast spending-spree, whenever I smell fresh bread, I will forever be transported to our happy kitchen along with its aromatic sights and smells during the early weeks of the pandemic. It is truly amazing to ponder what we take for granted in our daily walks, and though I am obviously glad we are standing on firmer ground than in spring in relation to COVID-19, I miss our time together in the kitchen, which seems lonely and destitute without the sweet aroma of fresh sourdough bread. My association with this simple, yet happy memory during the pandemic is reflective of the joys we should be seeking in small things. Our daily lives are measured by our relationships, our serenity and contentment, and the joy we both provide and glean from others. The extended time at home with Tamsie allowed us a “factory reset” of sorts in our lives, one that brought our already-happy marriage much closer together; consequently, we no longer take life’s simple, quiet moments for granted. In some ways, the lasting human effects of the pandemic on relationships have been positive, in that each of us has had ample time to again focus on those whom we love.
2020-05-20I decided to start making a sourdough starter a couple months into quarantine like just about everyone else. I had a fairly large stockpile of flour in my cupboards because I bake fairly often, so I didn't have to worry about dwindling supply at the supermarket too much. My grandma taught me how to bake from a pretty young age, and my mom made bread with an electric bread maker for years, but I'd never attempted my own loaf without a bread maker, let alone a sourdough starter. A starter always seemed like something out of reach and far too difficult for an inexperienced bread maker, but with armed with encouragement and tips from some friends via Discord, I set out to make my own. These are photos of my process, from my beginning mixture of flour and water to my first sourdough loaf (and my starter's permanent 'home'). I'm fairly proud of it. It took me about 2 weeks to get the starter to really start; I'm guessing in part because I only had all-purpose flour and not the suggested rye flour. There was a lot of troubleshooting involved before it really started to mature. It's been an interesting process, and I'm really glad I tried it. Starters are far more resilient than I had previous believed, and the bread is fantastic. It's been a somewhat calming respite from everything, even though I feel fairly selfish giving myself that with everything that's happening.