I bought a book. I bought a bag of flour.
I didn't buy a big enough bag of flour.
In the past months I've been tinkering away at a few projects. First, it's harvest season and I've been putting up as much as time permits. Along with fermenting and pickling, Joy from Empire Valley Farms has lent me her food dehydrator and it has been filled several times with tomatoes, chile peppers (I'm trying to make my own chile powder/paprika), and even strawberries.
Second set of projects include cheese making. I can tell you right now unless you own a cow or a goat it isn't any less expensive to make your own versus buying from a cheesemonger or grocery store. What is different is the sense of satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself.
Third project: sourdough bread. I know how to make it awesome, I'm just trying how to figure out how to make it more than one loaf at a time awesome without having to purchase a ten thousand dollar deck oven with steam injection. Follow me...
I never had much luck with sourdough bread before. In the past if I could get a starter going it would get pushed to the back of the fridge because of scheduling conflicts. Eventually it would be thrown out. I seem to be onto something good now though; If I miss a day of feeding it's not the end of the world. The hardest challenge seems to be finding the time to proof and shape the dough. Basically I have to count backwards: if I want bread Friday, I need to feed my starter well Thursday morning. When I get home that evening I will make the actual dough with final shaping taking place some 4-6 hours later. The bread will proof overnight in the fridge then be baked first thing in the morning.
Some days the bread looks like the picture above. Shiny, blistery, dark golden crust...other days it comes out like a brick. I admit more than once it has come out completely blackened on the bottom due to my experiment with fire bricks and a seven hundred degree barbeque. Yes, more than once. Learn as I go.
The great thing about sourdough bread: even when it's not perfect is still is delicious. Especially with homemade cheese. And dried golden tomatoes. And basil not-yet-frost-bitten from the garden.
Sourdough bread is fermented with wild yeasts. In the cheese below, Cabecou, I used an isolated culture to transform regular grocery store goat milk into four creamy disks of white bliss macerated in olive oil and spices (yay for having goat milk in our little town!). My first 'real' cheese, I am completely smitten with what is achievable with the help of good ol' fashioned print books and online sites.
Would anyone be interested in starting a cheese club in the Aylmer area? We make cheese on our own and meet once a month or so to taste each others goods and learn as we go. Sharing is caring. And cheese goes great with wine - hint hint.