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Living the Simple Life With Sourdough

By Lacy Razor 

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What is so great about simple living? That is a rhetorical question. Yep. When I am not sailing past shoppers in the Commissary (that is the military’s idea of a supermarket) giggling at buggies which are piled high with prepackaged foods, laundry detergent, yogurt sticks, dog treats, bread, and soda – I am enjoying the look on people’s faces when they discover that I make everything in their cart, cupboard, or pantry in my little kitchen. That is a swinging-on-the-gate feeling if ever there was one. Hey, don’t judge me. I’m just easily entertained. I still get a kick out of scrubbing my baseboards with an old toothbrush, a pail of water, and a bar of homemade soap.

Simplifying life is a reward in itself. In today’s world, it is easy to get discouraged because of all of the bad (violence, oppression, chemical warfare – in our supermarkets as well as on a global level – healthcare or the lack thereof, waste, disease, and more). While I am certainly not in denial about the state of things, I choose to focus my attention on making a difference in my own home, community, and life. As Mohandas Ghandi so eloquently put it, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – but in being able to remake ourselves.”

Homemade Sourdough Bread

Here’s a simple living joy that I personally love: Sourdough Starter a.k.a The Mother Sponge. This little bit of genius – bowing to the breadmakers of yesteryear – can be kept indefinitely at room temperature if fed a simple diet of flour and water. A sourdough starter is not only a handy way to produce fabulous breads but a great way to stop paying ever-rising prices for yeast and/or bread at the grocery store.Sourdough Ingredients

Here’s my method (possibly not the best method but it works for me):

2 cups unbleached, unbromated flour
2 cups warm water (I use the water that I’ve boiled potatoes in to provide additional starch)

Add water to the flour in a bowl. Blend the ingredients and pour into a plastic gallon-size zip-loc bag.

You should keep the starter in a warm place; 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal because it allows the yeast already present in the flour (and in the air) to grow rapidly. I keep mine on top of the microwave. Feed the starter by using a cup of it (or throwing it away – which is wasteful so just make pancakes with it, ok?) and then adding a half-cup of flour and a half-cup of water. Do this every day. Within three or four days (it can take longer, a week or more, and it can also happen very quickly) you should see lots of bubbles and a pleasant beery smell. The starter will begin to puff up, too. This is all very good. Once a froth develops: you have made a sourdough starter. Now you can reduce your daily feedings to just once a week. This starter can be passed down through your family.

Did that sound ridiculously easy? Well, it should. People who thought you could fall over the edge of the world made this stuff all the time.Sourdough Starter

Any bread recipe (that does not call for quick-rise yeast) can be altered to use a sourdough starter — just substitute the yeast/water/sugar mixture with a cup of sourdough starter. Never made bread in your life? Terrified of trying it? Click here and see the tutorial. Email me if you have questions.

Oh yes, one more thing: the hooch. I personally think that is the coolest word in cooking. The hooch is a dark liquid that will form on the top of your starter. Do not panic. Just pour it off. And say “hooch” a couple more times. Have a good chuckle and hum the theme song to The Dukes of Hazzard.

Check out all the good sourdough stuff at GRIT here.

Please visit the Razor Family Farms Web site.

8/14/2008 11:01:22 AM

I was always scared of sour dough starter up until now. Thanks, so much for this post and your site!

8/7/2008 10:17:52 AM

You know whats even easier than making your own starter? Having someone give a cup or so of theirs when they want to get rid of it during a feeding. *nudge nudge*

8/7/2008 7:53:22 AM

Yum! Yum!! I use to make sourdough bread all the time! But I let my starter die. Thanks for the recipe for the starter. I loved the hooch part-you are too clever!

8/7/2008 7:53:17 AM

Yum! Yum!! I use to make sourdough bread all the time! But I let my starter die. Thanks for the recipe for the starter. I loved the hooch part-you are too clever!

8/6/2008 10:28:29 PM

Oh yes, I meant to say that bread looks absolutely yummy!

8/6/2008 10:26:03 PM

Lacy, I really enjoy reading your blog! I payed a visit to your website today, and had a wonderful time looking around. You mention making your own laundry detergent in the beginning of this post. Making my own soap and laundry detergent is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. The only reason I haven't done it yet is because I'm afraid of the lye! I have visions of me doing something perfectly stupid and blowing things up! Maybe not quite that bad, but I can easily see me burning myself or making a mess. I usually always have some kind of rendered fat on hand, so that wouldn't be a problem. Maybe I'll get brave one of these days and try it, and if you should here an explosion coming from the vicinity of PA, you'll know it was just me and my experiment in soap making!

8/6/2008 3:06:17 PM

Dear Lacy, I was really happy to see this post. I have a terrible time eating bread that has the yeast in the packages. I have tried to make bread with them many times and have ended going to the Doctors. Now I can eat bread again. This post on Grit about sour dough is awesome. More natural. If we continue to eat more natural foods then we can start to be happier. Please continue to write for them. I am sure that you have many more innovative things that are healthier. THANKS AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

8/6/2008 2:43:28 PM

Wow, that does sound ridiculously easy! Definitely will be doing this, and I'm sure glad you added the part about the hooch...who would'a known? Thanks for sharing.

8/6/2008 1:31:46 PM

That DID sounds ridiculously easy! Especially since I have flour always readily available on my counter. I love this idea because I've always used the quick rising yeast, which is getting rather expensive these days. Those loaves look divine! I must try this :)

razor family farms
8/6/2008 1:16:23 PM

Thank you for your comment! I can't wait to see pictures of your sourdough bread and pancakes! Yum! -Lacy Razor

the cotton wife
8/6/2008 1:11:43 PM

I love that line about people who thought the Earth was flat - I'm adding that to my all time favorite quotes. Thanks for the recipe - I'm going to try that soon!

the cotton wife
8/6/2008 1:09:59 PM

"Did that sound ridiculously easy? Well, it should. People who thought you could fall over the edge of the world made this stuff all the time" Ha! That's one of my favorite quotes ever. Thanks for the recipe - will be trying it soon!!