A Journey of 1000 Miles Begins with…

…A Starter. I guess that should more correctly be, “A journey of 1000 loaves begins with a starter.” Three days ago I wetted flour, just regular King Arthur all purpose flour with an equal amount of water to begin my bread making and bread eating journey.

Each day since that beginning I have added more flour and water to the mixture, stirring it all in, checking for signs of life. I already detect bubbles, I wisely began my journey in a two gallon glass vessel, so that I can see beneath the surface of  my starter.

IMG_4548

Of course I will never fill this jar with starter, but I am glad I started it here. Sometimes when I am doing a new thing I wonder constantly if I am getting the desired results. Seeing my starter developing bubbles alleviates a tiny bit of that. By tiny I mean I am still probably overly concerned about all of the steps to come. I am amassing all of the information that I can find on the topic, which is surprisingly hard to come by.

To start with I would at least like to see a recipe for bread that does not call for sweets or yeast to be added. My ideal recipe will just have stone ground flour, which means that the germ was never milled separately from the rest of the flour. I have found this in the Air chapter of Pollan’s book “Cooked.” He also name drops the bakers and food writers that he got his recipe from. Searching the internet for ideas on how to make whole wheat bread that has no all purpose flour, added yeast or sugars in it is very hard, though. There is a good website devoted to the topic, a page on facebook, a few leads that I have managed to discover…

King Arthur flour is a good source on the internet, plus they sell wheat.

Mel’s Kitchen Cafe is a good site, but there is sugar, flour and yeast over there.

Peter Reinhart is an authority, and here is a link to his book on the topic.

Of Course, Michael Pollan’s book is where I am getting both inspiration and leads.

I now have everything I need to get going, except my starter. You cannot begin without it, and you cannot rush it in any way. There is no shortcut around starting the right way. Baking natural fermented bread requires the patience of a farmer. Essentially I am right now farming wild yeast. It cannot be tamed or fertilized into my time table but operates at its own speed for its own reasons. I must wait. As soon as this colony is established I will never have to take this step again. My journey will have begun and every additional step will be easier if I take the right first step.

Where I am headed…

“But here is the most curious fact: People whose diets contain adequate amounts of all these good nutrients from sources other than whole grains (from supplements, say, or other foods) aren’t nearly as healthy as people who simply eat lots of whole grains. According to a 2003 study by David Jacobs and Lyn Steffen,* epidemiologists at the University of Minnesota, the health benefits of whole grains cannot be completely explained in terms of the nutrients we know those grains contain: the dietary fiber, vitamin E, folic acid, phytic acid, iron, zinc, manganese, and magnesium. Either there are synergies at work among these nutrients, or there is some X-factor in whole grains that scientists have yet to identify. We are talking, after all, about a seed: a package that contains everything needed to create a new life. Such a recipe still exceeds science’s powers of comprehension and technology’s powers of creation.”

Excerpt From: Michael Pollan. “Cooked.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/M1StG.l

You cannot beat natural, and even though fermented foods aren’t literally ‘natural’ they are unquestionably still firmly on the side of being within nature’s plan. When foods rot they do not go away, they become more valuable to the future. Our own future includes rot, and when we do, the cycle of life will have been completed. That’s the last step, and between here and there will be plenty of controlled rotting, delicious eating, and fun learning…

About dcarmack

I am an instrument technician at the electric utility servicing the Kansas City Missouri metropolitan area. I am in the IBEW, Local 412. I was trained to be a nuclear power plant operator in the USN and served on submarines. I am a Democrat, even more so than those serving in Congress or the White House.
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