This is going to be a self indulgent post. Let my apologize up front for that. Under “categories” I’ll classify this as “musings”. Since spending some time at home with my folks, and then going through old photos looking for some scans recently, I’ve been an introspective or even nostalgic mood. Bear with me?
You’ve probably heard me say this a few times before: I grew up on a small family farm in the mountains of San Diego County. We moved there when I was just going in to 1st grade. Parents had an orchard, which is still there today; my mom kept large gardens in which we grew everything from Asparagus to Zucchini. Mom has expressed her surprise several times that I’m here helping Sue and that my brother is working the family land with his wife. She said that, growing up, neither of us were very interested in the farm, and yet, here we both are. I think, as we grew up, we realized how good the food always was, how the vegetables were always so fresh. Who wouldn’t miss that.
Something else that I missed after I left home, was my mom’s baking. I don’t mean the actual baked goods – although they were, and still are, always delicious. I missed being in the kitchen with my mom. Helping her, or just watching her. One of my favorite sounds was hearing her wedding ring tap on the bread loaf pans as she covered them with flower. The first time I did that myself while making quick breads, after being married, the sound brought to my brain so many memories; smells, tastes etc. I remember that mom always had a crock of sourdough starter in the back of the fridge… always – for as long back as I could remember. I can still see that old dark brown stone-ware crock, metal closure and orange rubber ring. She’d had that starter from before I was born. Ok, not that exact starter, but generations from the original. Since you always use and replenish starter… it’s kind of like a member of the family. After a while I decided that, if I missed that cooking, I’d better learn!
I borrowed my mother’s Tassajara Bread Book and created my own sourdough starter. Made some bread a few days later. It was just flat. Not at all like my mom’s. What was wrong? How could I figure this out??? Well, go back to the expert. Mom said that my starter just was too young to give me that sour-dough flavor that I’d always loved when she made bread. So, what did she do? She took out her starter, the one she has had since the beginning of time, and proceeded to split it with me, so that my starter would have a more mature flavor, but that means hers took on the dullness of a younger generation. Sure is good stuff now – mine is now four years old, with an edge from my moms. I’ve been using and gifting the Tassajara bread book for years now. If you are jumping on the quarantine baking bandwagon, I recommend this for all types of bread baking recipes, not just sour dough.
Today, I jumped back on the baking bandwagon by setting up a sponge for some sourdough loaves to be baked tomorrow. Before adding 5 more cups of flour tomorrow, we’ll take 1 1/2 cups of the sponge and add it back into the starter to sour for next time. I keep my starter in the fridge, but a long, long time ago, the miner 49ers kept their starter right in the cupboard, because they used it every day in their flapjacks, breads, etc. because they didn’t have any yeast or other leavening agents. Enough with the history lesson, and enough with my indulgent writing. I truly hope you don’t mind this and I thank you for your patience with this one 😉 .
Yes, you bet there are other things going on on the farm. I’ll update you on all the happenings next time around. It’s all good stuff, I promise. Until next time, as always~
Thanks for reading!