I have found this to be absolutely true. To really change, I must always look forward, and never look back.
I have found this to be absolutely true. To really change, I must always look forward, and never look back.
Making sourdough bread is a long process, but it is super easy! It really is worth the wait.
This bread has a crunchy crust and it so soft and yummy on the inside. It has that amazing tangy flavor that people used to think could only come from San Francisco. But you can get it right at home. That flavor comes from the process, not the region.
Here is all you will need:
If you don’t have a sourdough starter, follow my link to learn how to make your own. It’s easy.
Pour the cup of starter into a large mixing bowl. Add the warm water and 3 cups of flour. Beat vigorously with a spoon. It will be very wet and shaggy. Loosely cover this sponge with plastic wrap and put it aside to work.
This period of waiting can be very flexible, but allow at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours. A longer period (at a lower temperature) will result in a more sour flavor. I usually put this into my oven with just the light on to keep it warm.
After the sponge has bubbled and expanded, remove the plastic wrap.
Blend the salt and one cup of flour. Stir the flour and salt into the sponge then add more flour, a little at a time until the dough comes together. Turn it out onto a generously floured board and knead it for 3 to 4 minutes.
Give the dough a rest while you clean out and grease your bowl. Continue kneading for another 3 or 4 minutes, adding extra flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add only enough extra flour to keep the dough from sticking. Place the dough in the bowl, turn it once to grease the top, cover, and let it rise until doubled (1 to 2 hours).
Turn the dough out, then divide in half.
Shape each half into a loaf, and place on a lightly greased or cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet. (or a baking pad like I have in the photos). You can shape them into rounds, or even sandwich rolls. Any shape will work. I like these rustic loaves.
Let rise until doubled (this can take up to 2 hours). Don’t forget to slash the tops of the loaves.
For an extra crunchy and chewy crust, I always make a little bowl out of foil and put it in the bottom of the oven. I put a cup of water in it and the steam it generates makes the special crust.
Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes, until golden brown.
I usually leave my loaves rustic-looking because I love that texture and look. Just look at all those ridges and crackly crust.
Turn the oven off, crack the door, and leave the loaves in for another 5 minutes. Remove loaves to a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing (if you can wait that long). You will probably want to have a few slices while it is still warm.
After it is completely cooled, you can store the loaves in plastic bags. In bags, the crust will soften up.
These loaves freeze very well, too.
There is nothing at all mysterious about making or using sourdough starter. It’s an ancient technique and once you have made sourdough bread a couple of times, you will wonder why you ever made bread any other way!
Sourdough starter is basically just yeast that you have collected out of the air and fed to keep alive. It may seem like a slow process, but the result is well worth the wait.
Day 1: Combine 1 cup of flour (whole wheat, bread, rye, or even all-purpose flour) with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water. You really don’t have to be very scientific about this. You just want to end up with a mixture that is about the consistency of brownie batter. Put the mixture in a container (crockery, stainless steel, plastic, or glass) I keep mine in a quart canning jar. This is handy for when I want to put the lid on it and put it in the refrigerator. I have had a few people tell me that it is dangerous to put starter in a glass bottle because it could explode. These are people who don’t have much experience with canning jars. The rubberized sealing lids are specifically made to release pressure if it builds up too high, but I don’t have to worry about it because I don’t ever screw down the ring very tight.
Stir the mixture together until there isn’t any dry flour clumps in it. Cover the container LOOSELY and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 24 hours. You want to make sure you cover it loosely so that the yeast from the air can get into it. I used a loose sandwich bag over the top of the bottle. If the room is cold, the process takes longer, but it will still work. In the summertime, the process will be faster.
Notice I put a plate under the bottle because sometimes it will be very active and actually overflow the bottle. The plate makes it easier to clean up if this happens.
Day 2: You may see no change at all in the first 24 hours. Don’t panic. If you see any activity at all, it will probably be a little bit of bubbling.
No matter what the starter looks like at this point, discard 1 cup of the starter. That’s right, just throw it away. Then add 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup water to the container and mix well. Then leave it alone for another 24 hours.
Day 3: By this point, you will probably see some bubbles forming, and it will have grown. You will also probably notice a faint fermented smell. Some people say it smells a little like beer. Now do the same thing you did on day 2. Throw away 1 cup of the starter and then add a cup of flour and 1/2 cup water. (This is called feeding your starter). Then leave it alone.
Day 4: Your starter is probably ready at this point. Repeat the feeding process one more time. If your starter doubled in size a few hours after you fed it, your starter is ready! If it didn’t, let it sit the rest of the day with out a cover so it can gather more yeast. You also might want to try putting it somewhere warmer (on top of your water heater or in a warmer room.) You could even put it by an open window so it can gather yeast from outside. Then repeat the feeding process the next day.
There you have it! In the breadmaking world, your jar of starter is called “the Mother”. Now you just have to take care of it.
You can store it in the refrigerator, but you will still need to go through the feeding process once a week. Except this time, you don’t have to throw away the cup of starter, you can use it to make delicious bread!
If your starter jar has been in the refrigerator, let it sit out with the lid off until it reaches room temperature. (This will let it gather more yeast from the air)
Use or discard 1 cup of the starter (bake bread or give it to a friend to cultivate), and mix the remaining half with about 1 cup of flour and about 1/2 cup water (make sure water is room temperature). If your jar needs to be washed, you can do this step in a bowl and wash the jar during this time. Scrape the mixture back into the container. Let sit at room temperature with the lid LOOSELY covering it.
The mixture should have at least doubled in size within a few hours. If it seems to be sluggish and has not doubled in size, allow it to sit at room temperature for another 12 to 24 hours. Otherwise, at this point you can tighten the lid and place it back in the refrigerator.
Do this about once a week to keep your starter alive.
Next, I’ll show you how to make some amazing sourdough bread that rivals anything you can get in San Francisco!
Are you hungry?
What are you hungry for?
If you are like me, when you hear those questions you start going over a mental list of food options to decide which one will best satisfy your cravings. Italian food? Chinese? Steak? Mac and cheese? What sounds good?
However, I am beginning to realize how often I confuse physical hunger for something else entirely. There are some feelings of emptiness that are only masked by food, and never fulfilled.
I was at a restaurant a few days ago and noticed there was a long list of dishes on the menu under the category “Comfort Foods”. The mere fact that we have foods we eat to comfort us proves that we are expecting food to meet more of our needs that just physical hunger.
I weighed well over a hundred pounds when I entered kindergarten at the age of 5 years old. Obviously, there was some kind of emptiness I was trying to fill inside myself. Some might argue there must have been some kind of emptiness inside my mother that she was trying to fill by overfeeding her infant. (Either opinion works well as an illustration for this discussion, so don’t get sidetracked by finger-pointing.) My parents had attempted twice to adopt children before finally adopting me. In both of those cases, the birth mother changed her mind and took the child back, leaving my mother devastated. So when I came along, my parents were understandably afraid to get emotionally attached to me out of fear of being crushed again. My grandmother once told me that when I was six months old she had to insist that my mother start bonding with me. she told her, “If you knew that child was going to die in a few months, and you would only have him for a little while, you would cherish the time you had. So you just have to love him, even if he won’t be with you forever.”
I have no idea if or how this early experience affected my adult attitudes or my relationship with my parents. However, I can tell you a few things about myself that may or may not be related. When I was a child, I was terrified to be alone. If I woke up from a nap and found myself alone, I would scream in horror and go running through the house looking for someone. I couldn’t even deal with the THOUGHT of someone being left alone. If I was watching television and a character in the show was left alone, I had to stop watching. Even when the Scooby Gang would split up to look for clues , I would panic and cry.
Yeah, I was a mess.
But I outgrew that, thank goodness! By the time I was in High School, I was a loner who preferred to avoid crowds. In my 20′s I spent most of my time alone and loved going to see movies by myself.
Unfortunately, I am starting to understand that I never actually outgrew those feelings. I simply learned how to medicate them. I learned very early that food helped those feelings. As I got older I found other substances and behaviors that could medicate my feelings of loneliness, fear, anger, frustration, and longing. Eventually, I had so successfully masked those feelings that I didn’t even know they existed inside myself. But if I tried to remove any of those “medications” from my life, those feelings would rear their ugly heads, and I couldn’t wait to stuff them back down with anything that would make me feel better. These medications became my addictions and I found myself approaching my 40′s as a 485-pound alcoholic, pill-popping, sex-addict.
And yet, no matter how much I tried to feed my hunger, I wasn’t satisfied. I was like the example of the man in the scriptures:
…even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; (2 Nephi 27:3)
My soul had appetite, but I didn’t even know what I was craving. But whatever I was filling myself with, it wasn’t bringing me satisfaction. At some point I had to do as Enos did and turn to the Lord.
And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens. (Enos 1:4)
The hardest part of the recovery process is becoming honest. Honest with yourself and with others. Addicts will do anything to avoid looking inside themselves to discover those issues they have been trying to run away from for so long.
When I find myself being drawn toward addictive behaviors, I have to stop and ask myself what it is I am actually craving. It is amazing how difficult it is to admit when I am craving company, interaction, healthy touch, venting of anger, creative expression, sleep, stress relief, etc.
Most people think of addicts as selfish people who only care about their own short-term desires. The truth is that many of them became addicts from ignoring their own needs.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
Addiction recovery is a process of discovering what it is that you truly crave. What is your True Hunger?
So I ask for your honest input, no matter how difficult it maybe be. Comment and tell me your experiences.
When you seek comfort food, or drink, or addictive behavior, what is the comfort you seek? How do you find true satisfaction? And what is your journey like?
“You used to write? I didn’t know that.” That’s what my close friend said to me last week. And it got me thinking…
The truth is, I did used to write. I used to write for fun. I used to write as a way to connect with people. Teachers and professors used to tell me I was good at it. An English professor took me aside once after reading a story I had written for an assignment and told me, “You are a writer. You will always be a writer. Even if you never put another word down on paper, you will still be a writer inside.”
I used to write stories for friends. I loved making them laugh. When friends were away on church missions or at school, I would send them stories with characters based on people we knew as a way to keep them posted on the happenings at home. I wrote a long story for my Singles-Family-Home-Evening group, which I would share with them as a serial, one chapter at a time.
I decided to take all of those chapters and put them together to make a book. It wasn’t something publishers were interested in because it was really only meant for my friends. However, with modern publishing technology, books can now be printed one at a time, as they are needed. I discovered there was a division of Random House that offered this service and it wouldn’t cost me a dime. People could buy the book if they wanted to, and the publisher would just take a large cut. Did someone say free? Perfect!
So I put together two books this way. Now friends could buy nice copies of my stories. The problem was that other people bought the books, too. And the books weren’t ready for that. They were little more than rough drafts. No editor had ever worked on them, and all writers know that a good editor is just as important as a good writer, maybe even more so, if you want a book to be good.
My books weren’t ready for strangers to read them, and neither was I.
At first I was amazed that people who weren’t my friends would actually take the time to read a story I wrote. I got a fan letter from a man in Costa Rica, for heaven’s sake! But then the criticism started. At first, I could explain away the negative comments. “There are so many spelling errors.” (Of course there are. It’s just a rough story.) “How dare you portray a Bishop of our church in such a negative way.” (If you don’t think Church leaders have faults, you haven’t been around many of them, and you will someday have a harsh awakening.) As the criticisms piled on, I couldn’t explain them away fast enough.
I suppose there are some people who would have developed a thick skin from this, but I didn’t. The callouses never formed. I was left with tender open wounds.
Those books became an embarrassing symbol of my lack of talent. I stored away the outline of the novel I’d been working on and I stopped writing completely. Most of the times I would try to write anything, the words simply wouldn’t come. On the rare occasions when the words came, I would rewrite and erase the same sentences over and over again, each time declaring them to be terrible. My life as a writer was over.
I took up painting. I loved painting! It was fun! I’d paint pictures for friends and family. I was told I was pretty good. Then I entered some paintings in contests and they were rejected and criticized. I didn’t paint again for weeks. I probably never would have painted again if I didn’t have to teach students. Even now, I don’t paint for fun anymore. I paint to earn money, but the fun is gone.
Do you see a pattern here? I do.
Whenever I find something I am good at and enjoy doing, I let the trolls of the world criticize me until I can’t find the joy in it anymore.
A couple of months ago, I was cleaning my parents house and I ran across a copy of my book. I tossed it in the trash without even cracking the cover. I couldn’t look at it without feeling sick to my stomach.
However, finding that book sparked enough curiosity to make me look online to see if my books were still for sale. Sure enough, The Junction and A Shadow From the Past were not only selling, but available for Kindle as well. With a few clicks, I found myself at another site looking at reviews of my books. And I was stunned by what I read:
A Shadow From the Past is a fun story. Classic tale of boy who comes home and battles his past. The LDS background is just that… background. It doesn’t play a big part in the story, but it would be enjoyable for Mormon readers. Nothing really objectionable for younger readers. Overall, it reaches the level of a good book, but there are parts of this book that are truly magical and unforgettable. It’s a heartfelt book. For those parts alone, this book is worth reading.
The Junction is a very interesting story. It’s unlike any other LDS novel I have read. The author isn’t afraid to show the realities of mission life. This isn’t your typical rose-colored view of mormon missionaries. Yet it isn’t critical of the church or negative — just realistic. It’s an easy, fun read. It’s good to see something like this come out of the LDS community. I would compare it to Brigham City in style and feeling.
Okay, when I say I was stunned, that is not an exaggeration. I had convinced myself that there wasn’t anything good that could be said about anything I’d ever written. But here were a couple of people who actually enjoyed reading those books!
Look, I know there are always going to be people who find fault in what I do. I also know that constructive criticism can help a person grow as an artist.
In his book, “Look at the Sky”, George D. Durrant tells the following story:
I recall the first art class I took, way back in my early college days. It took all the confidence I could muster just to enroll. I knew that everyone else in the call would be Leonardo da Vincis and I’d suffer much self-inflicted humiliation as I compared my meager abilities with theirs.
I did my first painting for the class in watercolors. It turned out a little better than I thought it might when I first put the paint on the paper. Even so, I was shocked and filled with fear when the teacher announced, “I see that most of you have completed your first painting. So let’s all put them up here along the wall. When they are all in place we will criticize one another’s work.”
I thought to myself, I didn’t know I’d have to put my picture up to be criticized. If I had known that, I would have never taken this class.
But having no choice, I reluctantly put my picture on the far right of the display. I hoped that the criticism would begin with the pictures on the left side and maybe the class time would end before it was my turn. Or I hoped at least they’d use up all their criticisms on the other paintings before they got to mine.
As the discussions of the first few paintings were taking place, I didn’t say anything about anybody else’s efforts. I hoped my silence would indicate that I had no desire to criticize their work, and then, if they were Christians, they wouldn’t say anything about mine.
But the clock moved so slowly and the discussion so rapidly that with five minutes remaining, all eyes except mine focused on my work. My insecurities made it so that I could not muster the courage to look up. As everyone looked at my painting there were several seconds of silence.
Then I heard a girl’s voice. In a quiet, kindly tone she said, “I like the sky.” Those four words gave me a small feeling of confidence. I lifted my eyes and looked up at the painting. To myself, I said, By George, that is a nice sky.
From the other side of the room, a fellow spoke up. “but he has go the foreground all fouled up.”
In my mind I responded, Why don’t you look at the sky?
And then I thought, Next time he won’t be able to say such a thing, because next time my foreground will be as good as my sky.
Why can’t I be more like George D. Durrant? Why can’t criticism give me the determination to be better and prove them wrong, instead of just giving up and losing all confidence?
What if I had continued writing? What would I be like now, having an additional 15 years of writing experience under my belt? I can tell you one thing, if I had kept writing, my close friends wouldn’t be saying, “You used to write? I didn’t know that.”
I looked for that old outline of a novel that I stored away all those years ago. I found it and skimmed through it. Guess what, it was pretty good. But I don’t know how to write it anymore. I self-edit to the point that nothing comes out.
So here is my question to you, dear readers: How do you do what you do? How do you writers get the negative voices out of your head? How do you artists ignore everyone who says you are no good? How do you creative people go on creating when people tell you your creations are worthless? How do you not give up? How do you continue enjoying what you do?
I really want to know.
I learned everything I need to know about life in my grandpa’s garden. I can not look back on my childhood without picturing myself doing some sort of work on that single acre of land that seamed to be the whole of my young world. Most of the family did occasional work in the garden, but no one spent as much time at my grandfather’s side as I did. I was his buddy.
When I was nine years old, I moved into my grandparents’ home. The reasons for this move vary depending on who you ask. It boils down to two facts: my home life was terrible and my grandparents wanted me. I can say with confidence that no matter how difficult that move was for me at the time, it was absolutely necessary if I was ever going to become a stable adult. I went from an environment which consisted mostly of long periods of loneliness broken up by the sounds of my parents screaming at each other to the peaceful stability of living in a home with retired grandparents.
Grandpa loved having me work with him in the garden. In his sly way, he made it very clear to me that nothing else was as important. I remember getting up one morning and walking across the cold, brown linoleum of the Kitchen floor and eating a breakfast of basted eggs and fried baloney with Grandpa. “How are you feeling today, Wessy?” he asked.
“Okay,” I answered as I washed down my breakfast with our traditional icy cold pepsi. It was a different time with different ideas of diet.
He mixed another hot pepper in with his runny egg yolk and then said, “You know, if you weren’t feeling good and you stayed home from school today, you could help me rototill the tomato patch.”
“Would you let me run the rototiller?” I inquired.
“Sure,” came his reply.
I pondered this while staring down at my red plastic plate and stirring my egg yolks with my spoon which had the letters US stamped on the handle from WWII. (My grandmother had picked these spoons out of the garbage can in back of the USO building. Sometimes the soldiers would accidentally drop one into the garbage as they emptied their food tray. I still use these spoons every day.) “I really don’t feel all that good,” I said.
“Well you better go tell your grandma you can’t go to school today,” he suggested. And I scampered to my grandma’s bedside to tell her how sick I felt.
To the casual observer who might have seen my grandpa and me working in the garden, it might have seemed like he was ignoring me. He didn’t talk much as we puttered the days away. We didn’t have to talk very much. We were so much a part of each other that there was no need for chit-chat. There were long periods of comfortable silence that passed between us as we dutifully worked the garden. When we did speak, it was usually about an important principle of life that I wouldn’t have recognized without his direction.
I remember how we would pound wooden stakes into the ground at either end of the field with itchy twine strung between them to guide us as we hoed the rows for irrigation. The rows had to be straight and carefully tended during each watering because even a small blockage could cause the water to back up and flood portions of the crop. Grandpa saw this as a teaching moment and he likened it to our lives. He said that sometimes a problem can seem small and unthreatening, but if left unchecked it can cause irreparable damage. He would remove the small blockage with head of his hoe and the water would flow freely again. He talked about repentance and how it can get us progressing again.
The first time I saw a diagram of the Plan of Salvation was when it was drawn with a stick in the freshly tilled soil of my grandpa’s garden while he explained why we needed a Redeemer. It seems strange to say that one of my fondest memories of home is the dirt, but it is. Besides being the chalkboard for my grandpa’s garden classroom, it was the vital element that brought life to the garden. And Grandpa taught me how to read what it was on it, and in it. He would reach his calloused hand into the tilled ground and remove a fistful of dark, rich soil. He knew by smelling it and sifting it between his experienced fingers what ingredients needed to be added to the earth before it was ready for planting. Once the judgement was made, we would spend days adding manure from the chicken coup, or compost, or some other organic material to the soil until it was finally perfect. I learned that when the soil is right, it has a feel and smell that will ring true to the often neglected recesses of one’s soul.
Much of the bounty from our labors never made it into the house for others to enjoy. We would relish it together as we sat silently with our backs against the woodpile, glorying in what we had produced from the land. I still can hardly stand to eat store-bought tomatoes because they are only tasteless imitations of the dark red beauties that grandpa and I ate together, salting them with shaker that he kept hidden in the toolshed.
When the Summer sun would get too much for us, we would take a drink of the cold well water that would always chill our teeth. Sometimes Grandpa would pick a cantaloupe. We would rest in the tall weeds under the cool shade tree and enjoy the hot, juicy sweetness of the sun-baked melon as he cut off slices with his little pocketknife. It wasn’t always a cantaloupe; sometimes it was boysenberries gathered in his panama hat, or a handful of pea pods that we would shell together, or a pomegranate that we would slowly share, staining our fingers and leaving tiny crimson droplets on our dirty jeans that would remind me of the experience for months afterward. Even a crunchy raw turnip was a savory treat when picked and eaten with grandpa. I can remember sitting in the shade of the grape arbor, eating sweet seedless orbs and watching the trains that passed on the tracks just west of our property. And Grandpa would tell me of his experiences in the war — tales of horror and fear that I now know he rarely shared with other people. Sometimes I wonder why he confided so freely in me.
On December 1st, 1980, Grandpa was diagnosed with cancer. Ten days later he was dead. I was 12 years old. It was a long time before I could go into our garden again. When he left, he took the garden and my world with him.
As I got older, I found out that the things I learned in the garden didn’t matter to the world. Sure, it was a fine life for a retired old man — it was good therapy — but I was expected to be more productive, be ambitious, make money. But I felt out-of-step with the world around me. Everything seemed too fast when compared to the natural pace that I learned in the garden. Life rushed by me in a blur before I had time to even make sense of it.
My younger sister, who was raised by my parents in the home I escaped, is a successful accountant with her own firm. She is a go-getter who doesn’t rest. I’d never survive in her world.
For a while, I worked the garden by myself. I did it on a smaller scale, but it was still a lot of work for a kid, but it helped me feel close to Grandpa.
Over the years, the garden became smaller and smaller as I fewer family members visited and grandma and I didn’t need a big garden. As Grandma grew older and I became her caretaker, the garden became little more than a barren field. It is interesting how something that was so fruitful and beautiful with just a little dedication turns into an ugly wasteland as soon as it is neglected. I’m sure Grandpa would have found a life-lesson in that fact, too.
For many years, the garden neglected. After I married, my wife and I spent the first few years of our marriage living in a tiny shack in the back part of that property. I cleared the land and planted tomatoes, squash, beans, corn, and peppers on a section of it. I discovered that it is impossible for me to do gardening without feeling my grandpa around me. That’s not a complain, it’s more of a boast.
My wife and I moved away and have a home of our own now. I have a small vegetable garden in the backyard. I have filled our front yard with plants and flowers that I have grown from clippings or scavenged from other sources. I have beautiful succulents growing in pots and flowers blooming in beds. I often get compliments on our yard and interesting plants.
Grandpa is with me when I work in my own yard, too. I think about him and my childhood whenever I work in the yard. It’s funny how those simple times from so long ago have stuck with me.
My family still refers to that area as “the garden”, though anyone seeing it now for the first time would wonder why. It makes me sad to see it.
My wife and I plan to buy a few acres outside of the city in the next few years. I can’t wait to plot out my garden, raise chickens, and shake my fists at goats. It will not be in the place I grew up, but it will feel more like home than anywhere I’ve ever been.
I think about those things I learned out in the garden and I am grateful for those character-building lessons. I have noticed that the things I learned while gardening with Grandpa have done nothing to help me become successful or wealthy in the eyes of the world. I suppose I shouldn’t have skipped school as often as I did.
But when life becomes difficult, the things that help me make it through are not the things I learned in school, but the patience, faith, and character that I developed while working with Grandpa in the garden. So that was the best school of all.
http://alfoxshead.blogspot.com/2013/01/be-not-moved.html I love this so much. All I can add is AMEN