Monday, January 12, 2015

New year new posts...

Ok, so the holidays kinda wiped us out on posting for a little while, but we're back.

We went down to El Segundo for Christmas and had a pretty good trip. We did not: blow our car up , blow our bank accounts, blow up at each other, or any other problems of that sort. We did get to: see my Mom and Bill, See Lisa's parents and some of the sibs/in-laws/nieces-nephews/other relations, dig some tourmalines (separate upcoming post (have to get Lisa to download the pics...)), pick a pearl (6.75 mm pink from a place at the Redondo Pier), run around in a Japanese grocery store (with attending Okinawa flashbacks), make pancakes for dinner, and other adventures that may come up as part of future posts.

Christmas stuff is actually still up here at the house as both of us had to jump back into "real" life almost immediately on arrival back home.

We did get a request this week that I wanted to respond to... One of the sister in laws asked about sourdough starter...

As part of our Christmas adventures we took some starter and made biscuits and gravy, and pancakes at Lisa's parents house, and I'm guessing that it went over because we got asked to make more pancakes (BTW I set a personal pancake record for number of people served in one meal... 12).  The portion of old Sudden Death that went with us died (due to some unwanted flies trying to get a bite); however, Sudden Death lives! I kept some in the refrigerator up here and it weathered the two weeks just fine. It would be sad to loose old SD as he's the longest lasting starter I've ever had (not really a big achievement some of the serious starters are old enough to collect social security!), but it would not be a disaster as they aren't really that hard to start...

There are basically two ways to start a starter: (other than buying one...)

1 the 'wild capture' method:

Basically put some water, flour, and sugar in a bowl. Mix well, and wait for what ever local yeast buggies happen to be in the area to start growing. Um no thank you... I've seen enough technicolor mold and other less than desirable buggies and I prefer a more consistent, dependable method.

2 the 'mix it your self' method:

In this method you start with the same basic mix of flour, water and sugar.

I use the following:
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 tablespoon of sugar

Put it in a bowl that's at least double or triple the volume you're starting with (trust me give it too small a container and it will try to escape!). Wake up a teaspoon (or packet) of active dry yeast in a little warm water (that's warm not hot (we want to wake the little beasties up not make soup!)) and mix it in.

Note: Use non expired (by markings on container or just plain dead) active dry yeast. Don't fool with rapid rising yeast, yeast protein or any other 'modified' yeast products. You want a good strong yeast not a modified yeast or yeast derivative...

Now you cover your mix  with a towel, paper towel or similar covering that will allow the mix to breath and let it sit overnight.

The next day you can use your starter for whatever fun recipes you find (there are even a couple on the blog here...). Try to save a quarter cup of starter to keep it going... you really can keep one going for a long time.

Your starter will be happiest living on  a room temperature kitchen counter. Generally it is best to feed it regularly (like every 12 hours if it's on the counter) and use it regularly (it tends to build up pretty fast so you have to use it or throw some out on a regular basis). Most reasonable people will tell you to either use it or discard down to a 1/4 cup and feed it a quarter cup each of flour and water at each feeding (when you're going to use it soon (4-12 hours in the future say...) you can feed it more to build up).

You can also keep it in the refrigerator and feed it once a week. If you do this there are a couple things to be aware of...
1) let it warm up a couple hours before you try to use it in a recipe;
2) cover it but let it breath (starter releases CO2 if you put a tight lid on it you're building a bomb...); 3) when it stays in the refrigerator starter will generate a liquid, this is normal. The liquid is actually an alcohol product that comes from the yeast only partially breaking down its food. Opinions very as to whether you should stir the liquid in or drain it off, (I usually drain it off) but if you want to avoid it all together keep your starter on the counter! BTW if the liquid is black that really creeps me out and makes me wary of your starter (you may have some unpleasant bugs going there...time to start again).

The last thing about starter... a starter that sticks around should really have a name. The name is up to you, but it should have one.

Lisa's book chapter is coming along. So are my novella and novel. Yes... the novella was supposed to be out last month but that didn't happen. I decided some stuff needed to be added; it turns out it's really hard to write in a moving car (or at your in-laws kitchen table with family running around); and for some strange reason my writing partner insists on working on her doctorate and sleeping! It will be out this year though (before November) and the novel will be out late this year or next year. I also have some non fiction stuff coming up but more on that later...

I'll tell you more about the characters in the stories I'm working on in later posts (probably most of that will go on on my writing blog (I'll put up a link here when that happens)). In the mean time I found a fan video for the Avengers that resonates with me. I'm not writing an Avengers story (I create my own characters thanks!) but with the song I can place one of my characters in the place of just about every character in the video:

And no, I am not being derivative... I'm just saying that if my characters were superheros I know which one of these guys each of my characters would be.

Well, that's it for today... one of us will be writing here again next week.

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