Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sourdough redux

The thing about a stand mixer is that it makes bread easy.  I don't have the same connection with my dough, but I am more likely to make bread regularly, which is good when you have a sourdough starter that you need to keep active and perky.  Also the bread I made in the last post, really did live up to it's smell.

I've got another batch of sourdough sponge rising right now.  I'll roll out of bed and bake it tomorrow.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Folks, I ought to write about sourdough.  I need to write about sourdough. I have had a very small jar of sourdough starter bubbling away in my fridge for weeks, and it survived me going off to Alaska for Christmas, and nearly my first act on arriving home was to start a batch of pancake batter so as to have a sybaritic breakfast on my first day of class.  Right now I have a loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread rising in the kitchen because I decided I would rather bake bread than buy bread this week.

My sourdough starter happened by accident, when a friend mixed up the necessary dry ingredients for naan and mailed them to me.  My naan did not work out quite right (suspect that the problem was the lack of a pizza stone), and I only made half the batch.  I stuck the rest of the dough in the fridge, vaguely promising to figure out what to do with it later. A couple of weeks later, I remembered it and pulled it out.  I smelled it.  It had the smell, the sour fermented smell that promises bread, fluffy pancakes,  and the best cinnamon rolls on the planet (you have not lived until you've had sourdough cinnamon rolls).  So I made pancakes.  Today is actually the first time I've made a loaf of sourdough, because pancakes are so simple and delicious. I'll let you know what happens.

Edit to add:
At one point Bird and I speculated about what hymns would be like if dogs wrote them.  I'm afraid that we thought they would mostly go: "I smell God! I smell God! I smell God! I smell Jesus! I smell God!"

The bread is in the oven, and I feel more or less or exactly that way.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


The Joy of Cooking is in many ways my all purpose cookbook. It is the repository of wisdom that I consult over and over, even when I am actually cooking from another cookbook entirely.  And it has my favorite easy chocolate cake recipe (make it with whole wheat flour and skip the frosting, and it makes a nearly respectable breakfast).  It contains my favorite piece of wisdom on dinner parties:
We can offer reasoned counsels and repeat the lessons of experience and tradition, but the truth is that tif the table is attractive and clean, the food and drink honest and good, the company amiable* and interesting, and the host generous and calm, an affair can be a resounding success no matter where the glasses go or who is sitting where. And that is our last word on entertaining. 
However even Joy sometimes falters as I discovered this afternoon.  A recipe for a soup contains this ingredient: One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice, crushed between your fingers... (pg. 310, 1997 ed.) How, I ask you, am I supposed to do that?  Is this a seventh degree kitchen black belt thing?

Fortunately the recipe doesn't contain kale so I won't try to make it today.

*"Amiable" is high on my list of favorite words.