Tuesday, March 6, 2012

sour and sweet

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to bake sourdough bread.

The girl did a little reading.  She found a place where she could get deactivated sourdough starters, and ordered two little packets of dehydrated goodness.  One of them, she opened.  The other one, she tucked away for a rainy day.

But she never had much luck with baking sourdough.  She tried and tried, but the bread never seemed to rise properly.  It tasted okay, but it was very dense.  Then life's business stepped in, and the little starter began to fail.  It didn't thrive.  The girl let it go in the process of packing and moving, and the starter was no more.

Once, the girl was given a fresh starter.  But she was confused by wildly varying instructions, and the starter died.

Fast forward a few years.  The girl developed a new passion for sourdough bread, and bought it regularly.  She began to think of that other deactivated starter, and finally decided to go for it.  She studied up on the stuff.  She took meticulous care of it, following instructions precisely, fretting over whether it's warm enough, getting enough air.  Did it look right?  Was the kitchen too cold?  What was wrong, that it wouldn't perk up properly?

The girl studied and studied.  She felt that she was cramming for a test.  She watched video tutorials, asked people's advice.  Finally, she deduced that she'd neglected the second starter for too long - it was, simply put, too old.

And so, she starts fresh.

A friend has offered to share some of her starter, and she eagerly accepts.  When she brings it home, she vows to take good care of it.  She feeds it regularly (and with great tenderness), learns more about the problems she had in the beginning. At long last, she has a bubbly, healthy, happy sourdough starter.  And there is much rejoicing!

And not long afterward, she pulls this out of the oven:

She swoons.  She is in love.  Her husband is in love too....and they are not just in love with each other...but with the wonder that is sourdough. Great sourdough tastes awfully sweet!

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