Another Attempt at a Sourdough Starter

My first attempt at a wild yeast sourdough starter successfully grew a nice crop of mold.  Down the drain with that one.  Apparently Grossmutter Rahn (the German grandmother whose recipe I used) had more yeast in her kitchen than I have in mine.  I called in reinforcements… I called my mom 🙂

We talked through how I made my starter and compared to her experiences.  I like how gardening and baking are discussed by my parents and my in-laws.  They never tell you how you should do this or that.  They tell you how they do it… and let that awkward pause serve to not so subtly point out that their way is NOT how you just tried to do it on your own.

So what did I learn? She stirs her starter… I let mine sit undisturbed.  Her’s is very “liquidy” while mine was a thick batter.  She also suggested putting some of my homebrew in to give it a little kickstart without resorting to the active dry yeast from the grocery store.

Fri AM


I made a quick trip to the store for rye flour.  I cut the recipe in half this time after seeing just how big of a batch of starter I made last time.  Thursday night I mixed up 1 boiled and peeled riced potato, 2 cups rye flour, 2 cups of potato water, 1/4 cup honey plus some extra for good measure, 1T raw sugar, 1t salt, and an extra cup of water and half cup of homebrew… hefeweizen… apropos I thought.  This starter is wetter, sweeter, and beer-y-er than the first attemp and will get stirred a couple times a day.  The picture above is the morning after right after stirring.  A few bubbles were making their way to the surface.

Fri PM


I stirred it up again Friday night and it looked quite happy right before bed.  And Saturday morning before the weekly farmer’s market trip…

Sat AM


A layer of foam is on top of the batter as my starter is now very much a happy success!

I started a few other projects this morning, as well.  Raw milk and chili pepper stems went into my new Yogotherm, so I can say I made yogurt from scratch without needing help from Dannon.  There’s some enzyme in chili pepper stems… we’ll see…

I scalded a bit of raw milk and mixed it up with a bit of corn meal, rye flour and baking soda for a salt-rising bread starter.  This one has to stay warm, so I have the mason jar in a pot of hot water that will get refreshed with hot tap water a few times a day.  I set out some soured cream for cultured butter later today.  Oh look! Something shiny!  Maybe I have food ADD…

Sourdough Starter

I have enjoyed all of Michael Pollan’s books.  I’m 3/4 of the way through his latest, Cooked, and am once again thoroughly enjoying his writing and narration.

The outline of the book follows the ancient 4 elements: fire, water, air and earth.  In the book, Michael Pollan addresses them in that order looking at fire through whole hog roasting, water through braising, air through baking bread and earth through fermenting.

I feel like I’ve stumbled into his thought process on my own albeit quite by accident.  I have smoked meat over a fire, just not a whole hog – yet.  I made Julia Child’s beouf bourguignon last year.  I started making whey bread this year and I have enjoyed my mother’s sourdough for years.  I fermented my own sauerkraut and pickles last year.  It’s pretty neat to read a book that I can so completely relate to from cover to cover.

I was in the middle of the bread section while visiting my folks this weekend.  I was compelled to dig through her cookbooks and found a real gem amidst the few bread cookbooks.  And it was written by a German.  Gotta love it when your food fancies and your heritage mesh.

I started my sourdough starter tonight.  There were several versions in the book for both yeast and sourdough starter.  Several contain malt and hops.  I think my hops out of the garden might just make bread yeast this year… Anyway, here is the sourdough starter I picked:

sourdoughIt was the first one in the section and only the village idiot would go against Grandma!  Of course I didn’t have any rye flour in the pantry, so I used some semolina I had for pasta.  The honey is local honey for an extra bit of homegrown flair.  Anybody up for some sourdough on Friday?  I’ll probably end up with a few loaves… first come, first serve… no deliveries… you have to come for a visit to get your loaf.

Chicken ‘n Noodles

“…just another excuse to bake a casserole” Those Crazy Christians by Brad Paisley

I made Chicken ‘n Noodles for Alan and Krystan tonight.  I surprised myself with the realization that I hadn’t ever made chicken ‘n noodles before today, only beef ‘n noodles.  Spencer and Logan were quite upset that I was giving away the entire pot.

I picked up some noodles from Lynette at the farmers market and then picked up my pastured chicken order from the dairy yesterday morning.  I generally followed Ree’s recipe and was quite please with how it turned out.  I skimmed the pot while the ckicken was boiling – she didn’t say anything about that.  I didn’t use chicken soup base – pastured chicken tastes better than any store bought stock ever will.  I used thyme leaves instead of ground thyme.  I used onion which she says is optional.  I used fewer carrots.  Lynette’s noodles are the thin, small noodle-y noodles rather than the larger, thicker dumpling-y noodles like Reames.

noodlesThe boys are already asking when I’m going to make a pot for us…