Tuesday, July 1, 2008


A few times a year, my husband and I travel to the San Francisco Bay area on business. We always allow a few extra days to get in some pleasure, and there is so much to be found there. Besides all the wonderful things to do and see, there are a seemingly endless number of excellent restaurants, and we do make the rounds. We discovered Gordon Birsch several years ago.
Gordon B is a microbrewery, and has tasty brews, but they also have absolutely mouth-watering food in great quantity. One of our favorites is their garlic fries. If you love garlic, these are to die for! An enormous amount of fresh, finely minced garlic scattered all over lovely golden-crisp fries, (and Teriaki wings) with a smidgen of (?) fresh parsley flakes to make it beautiful as well as help the odious after-breath. Of course, if you have enough of the micro brews, you could care less. One mug is plenty for me, so I go armed with Clorets, and even then, it takes a few to take the garlic mouth out. Most of all though, I love sour sourdough bread!
I love San Franciscan sourdough so much that I am secretly beginning to plan our eating excursions around it. Its crunchy outer layer appeals to my senses, and then the inner spongy core melts in my mouth, releasing that indescribable flavor that is reserved for real sourdough lovers. Now, sourdough breads are not all alike. Made from a “starter,” its flavor depends on this living yeasty entity. The longer a starter is left to grow in the air, the sourer it becomes. So, you are very likely to find these more sour versions where sourdough has been appreciated for generations. It is something of a honor to have a starter that has been around for longer than most people. On the East Coast, where I live, sourdough bread is very tame, and tastes like a regular yeast bread. It pales in comparison. So what is a sourdough junkie to do? …Make your own! So, after much Googling, and talking to myself to bolster my confidence, I determined to create my own starterr.
Making your own starter is very easy, and really just takes patience. Mixing flour and de-chlorinated water in equal parts, it is just a matter of dividing the starter, and adding more of each every day for about a week. Suddenly, it takes off and you have a yeasty-beasty starter, and every day after that it gets more tantalizing in aroma and flavor. My grandson and I started this together. He was a little disappointed that it didn’t bubble and foam right away. (We tried one started with yeast last summer, and it foamed out of the bowl, which positively delighted him.) It tried both our patience, but one morning I was surprised to find it had come to life vigorously. This photo was taken just before I went upstairs to get my shower. I heard a crash and ran back down and found that the two plastic containers had quickly bulged upward, throwing the top bowl off. I found it upside down on the cutting board. Nothing was lost because of its thickness and the plastic wrap, but DG didn’t get to see it in all its bubbling glory when he arrived 30 minutes later.

I think I will name it Bubba. It is a living thing after all. ….Just like a pet.

We made a pizza with the starter later that afternoon, and it was gooooooooood! …And now, the first loaf of sourdough bread…

It was a little tough crust-wise. In fact, the next morning, I stepped on a tiny piece that had found it’s way to the carpet, and thought it was a large thorn. Well, for first try with no-yeast bread, I thought it was great. Nice rising, the texture was a little more like cake, not airy like yeast breads. The flavor was unmistakably sourdough!
Here is a link to help anyone wanting to start their own sourdough: starter:http://www.io.com/~sjohn/sour.htm

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