A loaf of bread can be something absolutely beautiful to behold…

I made my first loaf of sourdough bread with Herbert last night!

Well… more like I started him Saturday, miscalculated my proofing time by a considerable amount due to D&D and Chinese New Year dindin post-game and so ended up giving this first loaf almost a full 24 hours of proofing once the oven was preheated and it was time to bake.

WOW!

Herbert made for an AMAZING loaf of sourdough bread! The raisin & rye starter gave it absolutely fantastic flavour that I honestly didn’t expect.

Some would say that this is not the prettiest looking loaf, but to me, it’s actually my most beautiful loaf of bread to date and really damn tasty! ^_^

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The recipe is the same recipe as I’ve used in the past for Charlesford.

One thing I’ve noticed is that Herbert makes a far wetter dough than I remember Charlesford ever doing. I think it’s because I experimented with Herbert and he started out life as being mainly rye flour (freshly milled from our CSA) and then I added whole wheat flour (also freshly milled from our CSA) later on. The texture that rye gives a sourdough starter is quite a bit different than a straight up wheat flour starter – it doesn’t become nearly as “gluey & goopy”, but more “oatmeal-y” if that makes sense.

When I finally got around to punching down Herbert, about 22 hours after initially mixing together the dough, he was oozing all over the place, almost impossible to keep together as a cohesive mass and sticky as all hell. When I tried to shape it loosely into a loaf, I originally had it sitting on a wooden cutting board, but it was just spreading out all over the place and I was worried it would ooze off during its final rise so I just gave up and dumped the whole thing back into a stainless steel bowl, practically burying it in extra flour in hopes that it wouldn’t get stuck to it or the saran wrap that was covering it for the final rise.

It probably wasn’t the most brilliant move covering it with so much flour, just because flour doesn’t really taste the greatest when it just sits on the surface of bread. Next time I will try to remember to use my silpat instead. I managed to dust some of it off after I pulled it out of the oven, but it’s definitely not photogenic with all the flour, either.

Like I’ve mentioned in the past, my kitchen seems to be cooler than the ideal “room temperature”, so when making a no-knead bread, perhaps the cooler temperature and the longer proofing time gives the sourdough starter extra time to develop flavour through longer fermentation. Given that my normal everyday schedule is kind of wonky and 18 hours seems to be a difficult time frame to achieve, I’m going to see what happens if from now on I just leave future breads to proof for 22 hours like I did this weekend and then bake off at the 24 hour mark.

Needless to say, I’m pretty darned pleased with myself & Herbert ^_^

Introducing, Herbert

I’ve been down and out sick for the last couple of days and spent all of it in bed.

As a result, I’ve been watching a whole bunch of Youtube vids to pass the time and, when I am able to, reading my brand spankin’ new copy of Peter Reinhart’s book Whole Grain Breads.

We’ve been getting 1kg, bi-weekly, deliveries of freshly milled whole grain flours since about October and sharing the bounty with J & Ms.R. It doesn’t really make sense to split one small bag every couple weeks and in the process make a huge mess everywhere, so we’ve chosen to alternate who gets the week’s delivery. This “better” method has each family getting a fresh bag of flour once a month. If we get something new (ie: rye or barley flours) like we did for the Christmas delivery, then I just split the bag in half between our two families.

So far, I’ve not used any of my flours because I had some regular store bought stuff that I had on hand that needed to be used up before I wanted to open my first bag of whole wheat flour. Every delivery we’ve received has since been residing in our deep freeze, as recommended by Country Thyme, to prevent the flours from going rancid.

I wanted to do something really special with these flours, especially with my first loaf, but knowing from past experience how different whole grain flour is versus regular, all purpose, flour can be; I knew that I would need some help and expert guidance. This is where my new bread book comes in. I am extremely keen on working with the Whole Grains cookbook and rather excited at being able to try a few new methods of bread baking which I am hoping will be successful.

I’m not even close to finished reading the book, but in the interim, having watched all sorts of Youtube vids, I am especially wanting to try my hand at making a sourdough starter again — but with a new-to-me method.

The video can be found, here. If you want to read the accompanying blog post, it can be found: here.

There aren’t all that many details to go with, so I’m just winging it as it shows in the video. We’ll see what happens over the next few days. Cross fingers and hope for a substancially bubbly and active yeasty beasty ^_^

Herbert, meet the world!

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In the meantime, since this new experiment will take at least a good solid week or more, given the temperature of our kitchen most days, I’ve been considering whether or not trying the “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day” method would be worth attempting at some point as well. The biggest reason I am shying away from trying it is because it would require me to go out and buy one specialized ingredient: vital wheat gluten.

There could be a possibility of needing VWG in any of Reinhart’s whole grain recipes, but since I’ve not read the recipes chapter yet, I really don’t want to buy a bag of it. In my mind, and this could be a very incorrect belief, I think of VWG as a food additive, and I would prefer that my breads have the least number of “growth enhancements” possible and in the meantime, would rather just steer clear of using it.

So where does that leave me?

I guess I have to patiently wait for Herbert’s appearance and read a little bit faster!

Eggs Benedict, Charlesford-style!

I haven’t quite decided, but I think this year’s Father’s Day Brunch was probably my best attempt yet at making eggs benedict.

The day started off a bit frantically because I accidentally slept in and we were supposed to be at Mom & Dad’s for 11am, but otherwise, I think we had a really nice breakky with everyone on Sunday morning.

I have altogether given up any hope of being able to masterfully serve breakfast to six people all piping hot at the same time. I am not capable of pulling those sorts of rabbits out of my hat, as much as I try. It’s never gonna happen and I have no idea as to how one might actually go about doing that sort of thing anyhow. If you think about it, unless you’re a restaurant, it’s an impossible feat. But to be honest, I am okay with that.

In the end, breakfast was actually quite simple: Homemade eggs benedict, Charlesford-style, and some fresh berries.

I realize that not everybody in my family finds this tidbit of information as amazing as I do, but it still makes me incredibly proud: I made everything from scratch!

The English muffins surprised me — the single tablespoon of wildflower honey that I used in the recipe made the muffins so incredibly fragrant and gave them a lovely marbled effect when you fork-split them in half for toasting. It’s a shame that I don’t actually have a picture of the english muffins split & toasted, because it would be lovely to show you how intensely dark the honey swirls were throughout the muffin.

As to the hollandaise sauce, I think I have finally found the recipe that my whole family enjoyed. It wasn’t too lemony and was perfectly seasoned, not to mention an absolutely stunning yellow as the picture above can attest from using my farm fresh eggs for the sauce.

I can’t remember which recipe I’ve used in the past for hollandaise, so what I ended up using was actually the recipe from the Culinary Institute of America(!)’s website. I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to use their recipes in the past, but it certainly did work and it was really nice being able to have their Youtube videos to watch for reference. I think I had stumbled upon the videos originally because I was thinking that one day I might like to try making my own english muffins — not sourdough, just plain, and the CIA videos were suggested.

The original compilation of videos is actually a three part series Mother’s Day brunch where they showed you how to make eggs benedict from scratch, start to finish — english muffins, hollandaise sauce & poaching eggs.

Since I had already found my own english muffin recipe that I am pretty pleased with, though I do think I would like to try making them again, since they didn’t quite have the proper nooks & crannies that I am used to in a store-bought muffin, I only needed the recipe for the hollandaise sauce. Like I said, I’m surprised, but my entire family enjoyed the hollandaise as is, so I guess this will officially be my go-to-recipe.

As a side note, I made the full recipe of sauce and there is a lot of sauce to be had, lemme tell you. Usually what I will do is I will halve a the recipe because my family just doesn’t eat sauce, of any kind, in copious amounts — and especially hollandaise, with its never ending amounts of butter. Since I woke up late, and I had to be at Mom & Dad’s for 11am, I just made the whole recipe as it was and I am glad I did. I really don’t think that the CIA recipe would be easy to halve without some dire consequences. The numbers are just too weird, so just close your eyes and enjoy the taste sensation of homemade hollandaise, knowing that this is not an every weekend occurance.

Culinary Institute of America’s Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise Sauce

Makes 2 cups

1/2 teaspoon cracked peppercorns
1/4 cup white wine or cider vinegar
1/4 cup water, or as needed
4 large fresh egg yolks
1 1/2 cups melted whole butter, unsalted
2 teaspoons lemon juice, or as needed
2 teaspoons salt, or as needed
Pinch ground white pepper
Pinch cayenne (optional)

Combine the peppercorns and vinegar in a small pan and reduce over medium heat until nearly dry, about 5 minutes.
Add the water to the vinegar reduction. Strain this liquid into a stainless steel bowl.
Add the egg yolks to the vinegar reduction and set the bowl over a pot of simmering water.
Whisking constantly, cook the egg yolk/vinegar mixture until the yolks triple in volume and fall in ribbons from the whisk. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and place it on a clean kitchen towel to keep the bowl from slipping.
Gradually ladle the warm butter into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
If the sauce becomes too thick and the butter is not blending in easily, add a little water to thin the egg mixture enough to whisk in the remaining butter.
Season the Hollandaise with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne if desired.
Serve immediately or keep the sauce warm in a bowl over simmering water.

Charlesford English Muffins

This is it!

This is what I’ve been waiting weeks & weeks & weeks to make!

I am officially in the midst of making Charlesford English Muffins, from scratch for Daddy Day Brunch!

It’s rather exciting.

The recipe appears to be relatively easy & straight forward. As per usual, the only thing you need in abundance for this recipe is time. The ingredients themselves are rather few & far between, and that is a-okay with me.

This year’s menu is not all that much different from past incarnations. I’ll be making eggs benedict made with farm fresh eggs, the choice of Ham and/or Smoked Salmon, homemade Hollandaise sauce and whatever else Mom chooses to add to the spread. This year’s newcomer is going to be the eggs as well as the English Muffins!

Tomorrow I will have to post pictures of the muffins themselves once cooked, but in the meantime, if you too would like to have homemade sourdough English muffins for Father’s Day Brunch because you will happen to be the person in charge of making the annual spread for at least six people, you better get a move on because it will take at least 8+ hours for the first round of sitting around doing nothing.

The recipe I’ve fiddled the teeniest tiniest bit, only because I don’t have any milk in the house. Instead, I used water with some skimmed milk powder and then proceeded as instructed from the Frantically Simple blog.

Charlesford English Muffins

1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 cup water
1/3 cup skim milk powder
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp honey
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
cornmeal

8+ hours before you plan to make your English muffins, mix starter, liquid and flour.
Cover with a clean towel and let it rest, at room temperature.
Whenever you’re ready, sprinkle honey, salt and soda over batter.
Wet your hands and knead dough in the bowl to combine ingredients well. If it starts to stick, wet your hands again.
Scoop up a scant 1/4 cup dough with a wet measuring cup, with as little flour as possible, try to roll the dough into a ball and plop onto a seriously cornmealed surface.
Cover dough with your towel again and allow to rest for one hour.
On an electric griddle, preheat it to about 275° and preheat your oven to 350°F
While you’re waiting, gently flip the naked side of the dough balls over to cover with cornmeal.
When the griddle’s hot enough, GENTLY plop the muffins onto the hot surface and cook for about five minutes. The bottoms will be a nice golden brown.
Carefully flip, using two spatulas if needed, and cook for another five minutes or so.
Finish the muffins for another 10 minutes in a 350° oven.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
When you’re ready to eat your fab creations, split the muffin horizontally using a fork by gently poking all the way through & all the way around with the tines.
Toast, and spread with butter & jam or butter & honey.

Charlesford Crumpets

SO YUMMY!

Time and time again, it never ceases to amaze me how incredible homemade stuff tastes.

When making a homemade rendition of something, some things require a lot of work, some things require very little work, some things require absolutely no work whatsoever.

Where do homemade crumpets stand along that spectrum?

Well, if you already have a sourdough starter hanging around and you’re either trying to figure out what to do with the stuff you’re supposed to be discarding or your sourdough pet is becoming way too large & out of control — plus you’ve noticed that at this point making multiple loaves of bread is pretty much out of the question since you’ve already made yourself three loaves already, crumpets are totally the way to go. They’re practically instant gratification with very little work. (You will probably notice that except for the one time at Day 4 in the sourdough starter recipe that I don’t ever tell you to discard anything when feeding.)

This recipe is so quick & easy that it really does put the store-bought crumpets to shame. Not only that, but they’re actually faster to make than pancakes or french toast, believe it or not. The nice thing about the recipe is that when you make them, by my lazy method, you get 10 nice crumpets and don’t end up with a bajillion of them. If you’re lazy like me and have no desire to buy or even make crumpet moulds, then just fry them by the spoonful. I could try to get all hot’n’bothered by the fact they’re not perfectly symmetrical or as thick, but it really didn’t concern me one bit. In fact, for me, having thinner crumpets means that you can eat them straight out of the pan faster with butter and jam!

The original recipe came from Chocolate & Zucchini and it can be found here. I’ve made no changes to the recipe beyond my own laziness of not owning or buying crumpet moulds to make them store-bought looking. If you wanna go ahead and find yourself some moulds, by all means, have at it otherwise just do as I did and drop the batter by the quarter-cupful onto the frying pan.

Sourdough Crumpets
270 g/1 cup starter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
oil for greasing

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together starter, sugar & salt. Set Aside.
Lightly grease and preheat a cast iron frying pan over medium-high.
When the skillet’s hot & ready, whisk the baking soda into the sourdough batter and watch it foam.
Make three, ~1/4 cup, crumpets at a time into the pan.

Cook for a few minutes until the surfaces are mostly dried then flip for a few more seconds so the tops can dry.
Transfer finished crumpets to a wire rack to cool.
Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve toasted (or straight out of the pan) with butter & jam.

Sourdough Rye Experiment

The Hubbs really likes a good rye bread.

I’ve never made rye bread. Ever.

I am quite impressed that once I took Charlesford out of the fridge for an hour or so while I went grocery shopping, I came home and found him to be supremely bubbly & happy! He hadn’t even been fed yet and he was excited and rearing to go!

Last night I had sitting in a warm place, the beginnings of my very first sourdough rye dough. I found some awesome Youtube videos about The Baker’s Percentage and how to go about using it when making bread and it makes so much sense!

Having said that, the recipe that I am currently test-driving for my first sourdough rye gives measurements for both volume & weight. I haven’t changed up too much of the recipe thusfar other than I’ve cut the recipe down by half and omitted the caraway seeds. The only reason I’m omitting the caraway this time around is because I want a seedless loaf to eat at a later date.

I am thinking that Empyress was correct in her assumption that I am very likely to become VERY obsessed with bread-making, even if I didn’t want to be. I have all sorts of fantastic ideas running through my head as usual and not enough time, people or stomach space to accommodate for all this bread.

The original recipe is from the Sourdough Home website and the recipe is referred to as a Bohemian Rye Bread.

Charlesford Rye a.k.a. Sourdough Rye Bread

205g Sourdough starter
230g water
230g flour
205g rye flour
21.5g salt
18.5g softened butter

In a large bowl dissolve the sourdough starter in water then add remaining ingredients.
Stir until the mixture is too thick to be comfortable, it’ll be shaggy.
Cover with a towel & leave to rest for ~15 minutes somewhere warm-ish.
Knead for a few minutes or so, until the bread just comes together.
Form the dough into a ball, oil your bowl & the dough ball lightly then cover and leave somewhere out of the way for ~18hours
Once the dough has risen, turn out of the bowl and with wet hands, gently degas & shape into a nice ball.
Let rest on a floured surface, making sure to lightly flour the top, then cover again to rise for 2 hours.
After 1 1/2 hours rising time, preheat oven with a small, cast iron dutch oven with lid, inside to 475F for 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, slash top of bread a couple of times with a sharp knife.
VERY carefully remove pot & lid from oven, sprinkle cornmeal on bottom of pot, place dough inside and quickly replace the lid.
Reduce heat to 450F and bake bread for 30 minutes with lid.
Remove lid from pot, reduce heat to 400F and bake bread for another 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Transfer bread to wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour. DO NOT EAT!!
Once cooled, slather with butter and enjoy your new loaf of bread.

Success!

I did it! I made my first sourdough loaf of bread with Charlesford!

I’m so incredibly pleased at the results of my first loaf, but it can definitely use a few tweaks and adjustments to get the loaf where I would be 100% happy with presenting it as a proper loaf of bread, sourdough or no.

The crust is fantastic — the bottom of the loaf has a light coating of cornmeal and is a very handsome dark golden brown. It has just enough crustiness to give you some good solid crumbs when you slice the loaf with a serrated knife or if you’re feeling manly & rustic you could tear it into generous chunks. The top crust is perfectly golden brown colour and just “chewy enough” if there’s such a description to exist.

The loaf’s interior is actually a little bit too dense in a couple of places, so I don’t know if this is an indication that the loaf could have used another hour or two for the second proofing or perhaps use a little more of the sourdough starter to help boost the strength of the yeastie-beasties to make the amount of bread dough rise.

Flavour-wise, my loaf was actually a little too yeasty tasting for my liking. Again, my thoughts are that perhaps more proofing time for the second-rise before baking, might help fix that problem. In terms of sour-ness, it wasn’t at all sour compared to a loaf you’d buy in the store. On the one hand I was a little disappointed, but on the other, I was kind of okay with it because it’s already a really nice, hearty, bread that’s so much tastier than anything storebought.

What surprised me, through some of my original sourdough starter researching, was discovering that traditionally, sourdough bread isn’t supposed to actually BE very sour tasting to begin with. The whole sourness thing is more of an American phenomenon and sourdough breads that you buy at the grocery stores aren’t real sourdoughs at all: They’re just an everyday yeasted bread with an acid added to it for flavouring. Disturbing yet no real surprise there, once you think about it, especially since everyone’s into “biggy-ing up” flavours in all sorts of food.

I am not even close to being an amateur bread-baker, so I will have to do a more research to help fix these issues that I have. I have NO plans on becoming obsessive with my breadmaking — this is hopefully just gonna be a (bi-?)weekly experiment, seeing if I can eventually get a really nice loaf of bread that I can be proud to share with friends and family.

Onto the nitty-gritties!!

Firstly, I am slowly starting to realize that when making a sourdough starter, I should expect it to take a lot longer than whatever the recipe might state. One week in internet land is equivalent to about two or three weeks in my world. It’s kind of strange, but now that I am aware of this anomaly in the spacetime continuum, I can move on as planned. What this means for you: If you don’t have life within the first week, don’t despair. Keep on as you are and know that whatever is expected to happen, will happen in its own time.

Secondly, a couple of notes about where I got my recipes from. I can’t begin to tell you how many different recipes for Sourdough Starters I’ve read in hopes of getting something that would work for me without wasting so much flour just to get things going. In the end, I fiddled with a recipe for Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter, submitted by SourdoLady, to The Fresh Loaf website. There are tons & tons of starter recipes online, so by all means, if you already want to try your hand at some other recipe you have bookmarked in the past, go for it and grow your own yeastie-beasties!!

Thirdly, making sourdough bread, not including the prep-work for making the starter, takes time. Lots of time. This is not a recipe that uses instant yeast so you can bang out a loaf of bread in three hours. This bread takes, ideally, closer to twenty-four. But don’t panic because most of that is totally hands-off time just hanging out somewhere out of the way on the counter or in the fridge. Time spent actually manhandling your bread dough is probably something closer to twenty minutes total.

So with those few points in hand, I think we can get on with the adventure of making sourdough breads!

Sourdough Starter
You will need: 500ml Mason jar with ring, cheesecloth (or kleenex) + large container with lid (eventually)
Orange juice (to start)
Whole Wheat Flour (to start)
White Flour (to feed)
Filtered Water (to feed — I use boiled water that’s left to cool to room temperature)

Day 1:
In your 500ml jar, mix 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour + 3 Tbsp orange juice
Cover with cheesecloth & secure with metal ring, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
Don’t forget to name your new sourdough starter!

Day 2: Stir well
Add 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour + 3 Tbsp orange juice
Cover again with cheesecloth & metal ring, and let sit at room temperature 24 hours.

Day 3: Stir well
Add 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour + 3 Tbsp juice
Cover again with cheesecloth & metal ring, and let sit at room temperature 24 hours.

Day 4: Stir down, measure out 1/4 cup starter and discard the rest.
Put the 1/4 cup starer in the large container with lid
Add 1/4 cup flour (your choice: white or whole wheat!) + 1/4 cup filtered water
Stir well, cover with cheesecloth & secure with metal ring, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 5 & onwards:Repeat this step until mixture starts to expand, bubble and smell yeasty.
Add 1/4 cup flour (your choice: white or whole wheat!) + 1/4 cup filtered water
Stir well, cover with cheesecloth & secure with metal ring, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

When you think your sourdough starter is of a decent size (let’s say around 2+ cups worth), is stinky, bubbles with vim & vigour when fed, it’s time to try your first loaf of sourdough bread! At this point you can keep it in the fridge if you like, but just remember: When you want to use the starter, feed it after you’ve stirred it down & measured out the amount you want to remove for use.

The recipe that I used for my first sourdough loaf was found here. Biggest reason I chose this recipe was that it made a relatively small loaf that would be more than enough for The Hubbs & myself to finish in a decent amount of time. I didn’t follow all the intructions, but I would highly recommend that you take a look-see at what the original recipe has to offer as guidance for making the perfect loaf. The original recipe is chock-full of instructions (plus starter recipe) and way more detail than I am interested in for my own bread-making.

Homemade Sourdough Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups warm filtered water (I use boiled water that’s been left to go cold)
1/4 cup sourdough starter
Cornmeal

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Stir your sourdough starter well & remove 1/4 cup for bread dough. Don’t forget to feed your starter!
Dissolve the sourdough starter in the water.
Pour the water mixture on the flour while stirring.
The dough will be pretty shaggy, like a no-knead loaf, so don’t bother trying to knead & make pretty.
Shape the dough into a ball and cover the bowl with plastic.
Leave the dough to rise for ~18hours at room temperature.
Gently deflate dough and re-shape into a ball.
Let rest on a generously floured surface, covered with a floured tea towel to rise for another 2 hours.
After 1 1/2 hours rising time, preheat oven with a small, cast iron dutch oven with lid, inside to 475F for 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, slash top of bread a couple of times with a sharp knife.
VERY carefully remove pot & lid from oven, sprinkle cornmeal on bottom of pot, place dough inside and quickly replace the lid.
Reduce heat to 450F and bake bread for 30 minutes with lid.
Remove lid from pot, reduce heat to 400F and bake bread for another 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Transfer bread to wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour. DO NOT EAT!!
Once cooled, slather with butter and enjoy your new loaf of bread.

Cross your fingers & wish me luck!

Charlesford is officially big & strong enough for me to sacrifice part of his being to make my first ever loaf of sourdough bread!

I’ve never made sourdough so I’m kind of anxious about the ability for it to rise. I’m excited and scared all at the same time.

Seems kind of stupid to be so emotionally invested in a ball of bread dough.

Sometime tomorrow I will have a freshly baked loaf to call my very own ^_^

WE HAVE LIFE!!!

I admit, it’s kind of a stinky life, but it’s still life ^_^

Cross your fingers our pet sourdough starter, Charlesford, will thrive, become something spectacularly tasty, and most of all: hope I don’t accidentally kill it. Cuz we all know how many times I have tried and failed to grow a sourdough starter from scratch.

I am pretty pleased that Charlesford actually grew. My first attempt last year at sourdough failed pretty miserably and I was so sad & disappointed. I don’t even know why I’ve been so keen on trying to make a starter from scratch since I didn’t exactly grow up with eating sourdough breads at all. The notion that you can make something from scratch — and I mean *scratch scratch*, just makes me so excited for some reason.

It’s just so cool. It’s just so cool, especially considering that I was seriously debating on whether or not to fork over 8(!!) bucks for a supposedly famous, well-established, dried sourdough starter from Alaska’s Klondike days when we were on vacation.

I’m hoping that maybe in a few more days time, I might be able to start using the starter properly instead of discarding stuff everytime you feed it. It always seems like such a shameful waste to be throwing out something like half your starter everyday. I can’t imagine how people could justify it in the “olden days” if they had to make a starter from scratch.. but then again, they probably didn’t have to worry about these things since they knew HOW to do these things properly, unlike myself.

ANYWHO.

The “recipe”, or method, that I used this time around was submitted by SourdoLady from a website called The Fresh Loaf: Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter. So now, Charlesford sits contently in a 1.5L mason jar, breathing & bubbling away as he should, until I figure out what to do with him. The Hubbs is a huge fan of sourdough breads and it would be nice if I could find a good recipe to show off Charlesford’s tang and abilities. I just hope that he doesn’t get out of hand, size-wise, if I don’t end up baking with him at least once or twice a week. I know you can feed them and put them in the back of your fridge to go into hibernation and will easily recover after a couple days of fresh food and a warm place to wake up.

In other news — I started up the Aero Garden again with a few different herbs. I find it most disappointing that I still can’t seem to grow herbs indoors or out, without the aid of the Aero. It’s just such a shame that we have no windows with adequate sunlight in the house and I’m having to resort to this method of growing things. I suppose it’s better than not having any chance of growing stuff myself, so I guess it’s not so bad.

It’s been less than five days and already three of the pods are sprouting: thyme, basil & savoury. The garlic chives, parsley, & oregano haven’t shown any signs of life still… although, no, wait.. I think the oregano ~might~ be showing something, but it’s hard to tell. There’s just the smallest green dot in the bottom of the pod that I can see. I do hope they grow. In fact, I am actually considering doing the something Empyress mentioned she was going to do with her current Aero Garden herbs which are nice and lush.

Since her herb garden’s full grown and we are, for the most part, safely into spring on our way to summer, she’s going to transplant everything into pots and disconnect the Aero for the rest of the season so they can continue grow larger, outdoors, without restriction. Once summer’s over and the days become shorter and the evenings a lot cooler, she will start up the Aero again so she can continue to have fresh herbs.

I don’t think I will wait until my herbs are full grown and established before putting them into pots, but hopefully starting everything in the Aero will help give them a bit of a boost & head start, as opposed to planting everything straight from seed. CPerhaps what I might also do is once the first batch of herbs have gone out, I’ll plant more seeds into Aero pods and start some other stuff which might do better indoors — like maybe the Medusa Peppers I grew last summer or some cilantro? Fresh cilantro in the house would be wonderful.

Cross your fingers for me and let’s hope that we have an amazing summer filled with backyard honey from the Ladies, a wonderful bounty of fresh herbs and a great experience with our first time with Noble Farm’s CSA veggies! ^_^