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Almost Autumn

by SmithorJones on September 16, 2010

in Cooking, Life

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Fall!

Almost all of the pieces are in place:

  • Football season has officially begun – and if you’re a 49er fan, well – so much for the “will they or won’t they?” question after the dismal opener last weekend. Sigh.
  • Our queue is exciting again. The fall TV season has begun and our favorite shows are back – with a few new ones to try out.
  • Parents of school-age children all have smiles on their faces.
  • Even is celebrating the occasion with their “Fall Blowout Sale.  And, may I ask – why is it that whenever everybody’s practically giving away really cool stuff – I do not even have that much to spend? Not that I’m complaining – just wondering.
  • The apples are coming on ripe. The little apple tree has produced some decent size apples. They haven’t fallen yet, but I shook one of the limbs today and three nice size apples fell to the ground. They’re a pretty green color – I have no idea what kind of apples they are. They aren’t as sour as Granny Smiths, but they could be those. The skin is a little tough.

Anyway, I’m kind of enjoying planning a pie now.

I use the term “pie” loosely. I did not inherit my grandmothers’ pie-making DNA it seems. Recently, my friend Joanne gifted me some peaches from one of her trees and I decided to make peach pie. I took my time and tried making that pie crust just like I remember watching my grandmother do. I even chilled it a little like Alton Brown said to do once when I was watching his show.

SURELY this time, it was going to work right? No. Not even close. It was all crumbly when I went to roll it out. Soooo…know what I did? I just tossed it in the bottom of a casserole dish, threw the peaches which I had made into peach pie filling, on top of that, then tossed the other crumbly mess on top of the peaches and baked it.

Guess what? It tasted just like peach pie! Next time (if there is one) I attempt to make pie crust, I’m going to try using my little food processor. I do not have a full size one, but maybe if I do small batches of it I can somehow get it all mixed up just right to come up with a crust that actually works. Although – I’m not too proud to go buy the ones already made up at the store. I just do not always have those on hand when I get
the idea to make a pie. And besides, I prefer making things with ingredients I’m familiar with and trust.

Which brings me to my next thought:

I’m back to making a batch of sourdough starter. I used to keep sourdough starter for years. You can do that you know. You just “feed” it a little sugar and some flour regularly, maybe thin it with a splash of water now and then. I got tired of the responsibility of keeping my starter going and eventually just tossed it. Decades later, I’m wishing I still had it…I should have taken some out and frozen it. Hindsight, you know.

So, anyway, I’ve been baking bread relatively regularly lately, and this week I decided to restart the process for some sourdough. I dragged out my book Alaska Sourdough
– which I see they have re-designed the cover art for at least – and got the recipe again.

Now, the simplest way to get sourdough starter going, is to have a friend who already has some give you a cup. Then you just add a cup of flour and a cup of water and maybe a bit of sugar and soon you’ve got your own starter bubbling away. Barring that – or if you just want to make your own from the beginning – here’s the way to do it.

Sourdough starter:

You take two russet potatoes and boil them until their skins fall off. Take the skins out and toss those, and mash the potatoes until they’re smooth. Then add water to that to make a thick potato water that’s about two cups worth. Then, you add two cups of flour and a couple tablespoons of sugar to that. Mix it really well so there are no lumps, thin it with water if necessary (you do not want it like paste, you want it like pancake batter) – then, just set it aside in a warm spot with a dishtowel over the top and wait.

You need to stir it down daily, and every few days add a couple spoonfuls of sugar and flour and possibly water if it gets too thick. After a week or two it’s good to use – and it only gets better with age. As you use it – replenish it with flour/water/sugar as above.

It’s kind of fun watching the bubbles increase and stirring it down each morning.

Although, I must admit, while doing that, I cannot help wondering who was the first person who saved some old, sour-smelling potato “soup”, watched it ferment and then thought to themselves “Hey, I know! I’ll make bread out of this.” You know? Why would that occur to anyone?

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