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Back to My Roots: Sourdough

I recently returned from a 10-day trip to Oregon.  Three of those days were spent in Portland with a fun and inspiring group of food writers and photographers, the rest were spent between Eugene and Florence, where I spent some time with my ex-husband’s family who I’m grateful have decided to keep me in their lives.  It was my first trip to Oregon since my husband and I separated in the spring of last year and though I was a nervous, emotional wreck in anticipation of it, the entire trip turned out to be a cathartic and healing experience.

Also, it was downright fun.

Whenever I visit Oregon I’m hit with a tidal wave of memories – some good, some bad, and some so mixed up and twisted together that they can’t be categorized.  I spent several years living in Oregon – first in Portland, then Eugene.  I think I grew more in those eight years than the first 19 of my life.  I moved into my very first apartment in Oregon.  I went to college in Oregon.  I met my husband in Oregon.  And it was in Oregon that I waded through the first two years of grief after my mom was killed by a drunk driver.  These experiences pushed, pulled, and sometimes dragged me along the path that led me first to Sicily, then to food blogging, and now here, to Fresno, back to my roots.

Twelve hours of driving with no one but a shivering, panting Boston Terrier to talk to left me with lots of time for self reflection.  On my drive home I thought a lot about how I ended up with this crazy career as a food blogger.  I thought a lot about what motivated me to start writing about food in the first place.  I thought a lot about sourdough bread.

I know a few of you have been reading my blog for years and maybe one or two of you even remember that sourdough was one of the first things I ever wrote about.  But I bet several of you don’t even know about my obsession.  That’s because I’ve never written much about the process of making sourdough.  I was intimidated by homemade sourdough bread for years before I finally jumped in and tried it, but I’ve been even more intimidated by writing about it.  I’ve been sharing my recipes for over five years now, but I’ve never been able to fully share with you one of my biggest passions.

That’s about to change.  Rather than sit around and try to plan a series of posts about making sourdough bread, I’m just going to jump right in.  Tonight I’m going to start the process of creating a new sourdough starter from scratch.  I’ll photograph it and write about the first steps and share that with you tomorrow.  I’ll then continue to share the process with you, day by day, until it’s complete.  It could take four days, it could take longer.  I’m trying a new method this time, so it will be a learning process for all of us, myself included.  If it doesn’t work on the first try, we’ll start over and try again.  I’ll continue documenting the process until we have our first loaf of bread from a brand new sourdough starter.

If you want to be able to jump in tomorrow when I share the first post, here’s what you will need:  a wide-mouth glass container that holds at least one quart (a wide-mouth mason jar is fine), whole wheat OR whole rye flour, and a couple small cans of pineapple juice.  Creating a sourdough starter really isn’t time- or labor-intensive and if you have kids, it could turn into a fun science experiment for the whole family.

I’ll be sharing more about my journey to Oregon over the next couple of weeks.  There were a lot of food-related adventures that I want to tell you about and I have several Oregon-inspired recipe ideas brewing.

See you tomorrow!