In college, I worked at a camp called Cedar Campus, soon to be formerly an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship camp. The second summer I got to work in the kitchen on the Old Mill side. It was long hours, but a lot of fun. I discovered a love of bread in that kitchen. Not just eating bread, though that definitely happened, too, but baking bread. Through the guidance of one of my supervisors, Steven, I learned how to tell when there was enough flour in the dough, how to effectively knead, and how to shape perfect loaves. While I don’t bake for 150 every day anymore, I still get to bake for my family. It’s been a lot of trial and error trying to find the perfect bread for sandwiches for both my kids and my husband. Who knew they’d have vastly differing opinions on the perfect sandwich bread?!
Well, maybe I’ve found the answer. Or, at least, the beginning of the answer.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine gave me an oddly warm sour cream container at church before Sunday school started. I remember holding it and looking at him deeply confused. “Sourdough starter!” He told me, grinning. I brought it home cautiously, expecting it to die within days of becoming mine. See, I’m not great at keeping things alive. A friend mailed me some flower seeds she saved from her gorgeous and extensive garden last year. I started 36 seeds and now, a month later, have… 8 haphazardly growing plants. Needless to say, the prospects of caring for another living thing that doesn’t verbally tell me when it’s hungry was (and continues to be) slightly daunting. But, it’s been a few weeks, like I said, and it’s not dead yet.
Baking has always been therapeutic for me so the timing of the gift of sourdough was perfect. I have made several loaves and a few batches of crackers using discard. I am still trying to figure out how often the poor thing needs to be fed and how often I’m actually capable of baking bread. I’m trying to allow myself room for both getting to do something I love and being honest with myself about how busy I am as a homeschooling, stay-at-home, photographer mama. (That’s a mouthful.) But, guys, every loaf I’ve made has been delicious. Some have been misshapen and didn’t rise enough, but they’ve all been scrumptious. I found a recipe I didn’t quite love and have been tweaking it here and there trying to get it right. I think I’m close. Here’s to more bread success stories and pictures in the future.