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The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Catchin' your own sourdough

"It's alive!  It's alive!"  That quote comes from the 1931 version of "Frankenstein."  And for you book readers, it's NOT in the book! 

What's alive?  This sourdough starter sitting on my kitchen counter!

O.K.  Maybe the thought of Frankenstein creeps you out.  So how about a nice exchange from Laura Ingalls Wilder's book By the Shores of Silver Lake:

"But how do you make the sour dough?" Mrs. Boast asked.
"You start it," said Ma, "by putting some flour and warm water in a jar and letting it stand till it sours."
"Then when you use it, always leave a little," said Laura.  "And put in the scraps of biscuit dough, like this, and more warm water," Laura put in the warm water, "and cover it," she put the clean cloth and the plate on the jar, "and just set it in a warm place," she set it in its place on the shelf by the stove.  "And it's always ready to use, whenever you want it."

I love sourdough bread, sourdough biscuits, sourdough crackers, sourdough cinnamon rolls, etc. etc.!  These things are all easy to bake but they all require a sourdough starter.  You can buy one or you can catch your own.

Did you know you have wild yeast and bacteria floating around in the air around you?  You can't see these little critters in the air, but they are there!  And they're just what you need to make your own starter.  Since in the past few months I have given away several jars of my sourdough starter, I thought I'd share how you can easily get your own.  All in the comfort and privacy of your own home!

All you need is a jar or crock, 2/3 cup of flour, and 1/2 cup of water.  Mix the flour and water and if it doesn't look very thick, add a little more flour.  (You can use whatever flour you want.  But some are a bit easier to start with, such as soft winter wheat.)  Now stick the jar on your counter and tell it "I'll be back." 

The next day, you need to feed it.  Add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water.  The next day after that you will hopefully see some bubbles.  If you don't you may want to move it to a different location.  Keep feeding it every 12-24 hours.  Once you see some nice bubbles at the top, you can begin baking with it.

Or if you don't want to bake yet, just cover it - loosely! - and stick it in your refrigerator.  When it's in there you only need to feed it once or twice a month.  Get it out the day before you want to bake with it, and feed it.

I keep mine on my counter, so that it's ready to use at any time.  You'll see in the top photo that I cover mine when a little towel and rubber band.  You do not need to.  I started doing that this summer after a swarm of fruit flies decided the starter was yummy and tried to move in.  If you leave your starter out, you need to feed it once a day or every other day.

Sourdoughs taste different depending on where you live.  Think of San Francisco sourdough!  Yum!  I think that is my favorite tasting one. 

One last thing, since your starter is a living thing, you just may want to name it.  (Yes people really do that.)  When my friend C visited last month, she took some sourdough starter home with her.  She was so surprised that mine did not have a name.  She pointed out that Tabby and I are always naming things.  (For example, if anyone gives us a plant - that plant will be named after that person.)  I responded lamely that I hadn't thought of a good name that stuck.  She laughed and said she was going to name her starter "Big Bertha."  "Bertha!" I responded in amusement.  She said I could call my starter the "Mother of Big Bertha."  Oh goodness no!  That name was just not pretty to me at all.  I finally decided "Bertie" would work though.  So now there are two batches of sourdough starter out there, that are relatives, named "Bertha" and "Bertie."  Ha!  

Assigning one of your children the job of feeding your sourdough starter "pet" can be fun.  Hunter enjoys feeding Bertie for me.  :)

A good book on sourdough is The Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread by Jessie Hawkins.  Also there is an excellent e-book called Sourdough from A to Z by GNOWFGLINS.  Finally, here is my very favorite sourdough biscuit recipe:

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”- Matthew 4:4

Now.  What post would be complete without a picture of one of the growing puppies?  

Tabby took this adorable photo.  One of her assignments for school tomorrow is to do a photo session with all the puppies.  I can't wait to see the results!  (She took a bunch of really fantastic chicken pictures today.  I bet she posts a bunch on her Goat Chick blog tomorrow.)

Bread and puppies.  Sigh.  I love writing but I miss having a specific topic to stick to.  Like Lilly.  But maybe someone out there will find this post of interest.


  1. I have always been given my starter. Had no idea how to start my own! Good info.

    1. It is funny - there are so many things I think are too hard or that only companies make. And to find out it's easy to do. I love learning things like this. :)

  2. Wow that's really interesting, I might have to try it! I love the idea of homemade bread but we live so close to so many places that bake homemade bread I don't do it. Still I might have to try!;) Love love love the puppy picture she is quite the photographer!

    1. I don't live near to a bakery - so I understand why you just go there. But maybe you can try catching sourdough and baking once or twice with it - as a homeschooling experiment! :)