I’ve had a yeast infection of the mind lately, and the only cure is more bread. Within the last four months or so, I have fallen for the subtle art of baking breads. I have made sandwich breads, banana breads, Christmas breads, Challah variations, and a rye bread. I have a few types of unique bread recipes that I am going to try this summer, in addition to my Daily Bread. I am going to bake biscotti when I return from the beach, and later I will attempt bagels, baguettes, English muffins, and pretzels. Bread making is fun and in a weird way, atavistically pleasing. I always think begin to think Biblically when I start baking, with the Bible’s references to (obviously) daily bread, but also the parables about feeding the 5,000 (lot of flour), “man does not live by bread alone” (sort of diminishes my work), and the “yeast” of the Pharisees.
Also, I like it because there is nothing like fresh-baked bread, as my dad always says. It tastes better, saves money (really), and adds another dimension to eating bread in any form. Whether it’s a sandwich, roll with dinner, or banana bread snack, baking bread means that the bread itself is appreciated. Sure your Pb&J is good, but wouldn’t you admit that the bread is just the vehicle for the condiments? The bread is replaceable when it’s manufactured, not to mention packed with weird things like soy-lecithin and xanathan. Sure, making bread doesn’t save that much money, and it probably makes up that saved money in the amount of time it takes to monitor, knead, mix, and bake the bread. But baking is fun habit that produces a product that everyone appreciates, and…I knead the dough (had to).
So, my desire to be cutting edge in baking bread recipes that have been around for thousands of years has led me to my latest experiment. I have commenced the tastiest, most useful science project I have ever conducted. I am making my own sourdough starter. I began the process by asking myself: how did people without packaged yeast bake yeast-requiring bread? Typically, they did what I am doing. You see, yeast actually is all around us. It’s in the air and on the counter and in your mouth right now! This yeast that is chilling in your ear right now is the same yeast that you pay to get from supermarkets, and I hate supporting The Man, so I made my own yeast. But, because yeast already is alive, I’m not making it, per say, but giving it a cozy apartment. I combined a certain amount of water and a certain amount of flour, and am now a yeast baby-sitter. I monitor the yeast mixture, stirring twice a day, feeding once a day, and skimming the hooch (fermented alcohol [I’m currently tipsy]). This creates a sourdough yeast that I can incorporate into basic bread recipes to make sourdough bread!
magically turns into
Here is the cool thing though. You may have heard that San Fransisco is famous for its sourdough bread, and you most likely thought: how is that? Why would their sourdough bread taste any better or different than my sourdough bread? GOOD QUESTION. The answer is quite believable, and that is because it is the truth. Yeast in different geographical areas is different. Radically different depending on the area. The yeast in San Fransisco yields bread that has a distinct sour, corn-meal, lime and cotton taste to it. So, every geographical area essentially has its own sourdough bread. Heck, every house has its own sourdough bread. Can you say Stenberg Sourdough Bread?
Another cool thing, the longer you keep your yeast alive (and we’re talking years here), the better it gets. By better I mean more flavorful, and so the best sourdough proofs are literally passed down from generation to generation, and are unimitable. So, my sourdough will have a distinct taste when I use it, that it will never have again. No other sourdough bread will have the same yeast sampling, be the same age, and be the same virility of bacteria.
So, for these reasons, and weird other ones, I have made my own yeast!
Oh yeah, razors.
I bring up razors because in the book No Impact Man, Colin Beavan talks about using a single-blade straight razor to shave his face. He does this because they are more eco-friendly because they are not disposable, and therefore you are not throwing plastic razor heads away for the rest of your life. If you can’t imagine the razor I am describing, think Sweeney Todd. I want to buy a razor of that ilk so I can be more eco-friendly, and because I think it would be really cool to shave that way. Certain proponents argue the shave is better, it’s more comfortable, and blah blah blah. I think the impetus in me that makes me want to bake my own bread is responsible for making me want to shave like a demon barber. So, if you have my phone number and you’ve managed to read this whole post, give me feedback on whether or not you think I should buy a single blade straight razor.