Husband Follies Number 4 – Suffering For Sourdough
It’s been a while since I wrote a Husband Follies blog, and I guess it is because it took me about a year to get my sense of humor back after a horrific year in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Watching friends, neighbors, community, and the public at large suffer so profoundly for so long would drain anyone of their humor.
It’s not as if my husband has stopped supplying ample material for me to write about. He always supplies a steady stream of material with his quirky personality and earnest seriousness about odd stuff. And that my friends, is why The Husband Follies series exists! (Please visit the search bar in my blog for the other Husband Follies blogs if you need some laughs and want to get caught up with the entire series.)
He even suggested this blog, as did my kids, who have been watching this mad scientist phase with wonder, as have I.
It all started with his visit to his son Chad and family. Chad is a master baker and health food enthusiast. (And a renown pizza baker too.) My husband Gary tasted Chad’s sourdough bread and called me and said it tasted like cake and that he was going to learn to make it!
Cake? Did you say cake? Anyone who knows me knows I have a sweet tooth a mile long (particularly for the bakery variety) and I am the ultimate carb addict. So it sounded good to me.
Except apparently I did not understand the SCIENCE behind making sourdough bread. Silly me, I had no idea that it takes MONTHS to create the sourdough starter – which is the dough to make the bread. There are books and books on this, and making sourdough, the “healthy” bread, is apparently, a thing. Count us in!
If you do the research, sourdough is the healthiest choice of all breads, and it has lots of healing qualities due to the good bacteria it has within. Easy to digest, yummy, low carb index, – well that sounds absolutely perfect to me. For someone who has never seen a piece of bread she didn’t absolutely salivate over, I could not wait.
With patient tutorials from Chad, my husband began making his starter. He spent approximately a thousand dollars in supplies, in order to perfect the scientific lab of our kitchen, and made his first batch of starter. It takes months to let it ferment and build up bacteria and the natural yeast that makes it rise and my husband is a very patient man. So I watched and waited, at times with fascination, and at times with amusement.
He kept his little mason jar on a perch in the living room at a certain temperature where no one would touch it. (Uh, oh, we will get to THAT later.)
Each and every day, he fed his starter with more flour, along with water boiled to exactly the right temperature, and both measured with precision. Only certain utensils could be used as well and he was aggravated when these utensils were used for other purposes. This was a perfect exercise for my meticulous engineering type husband. Each day he would study the bubbles and examine the life of the growing bacterial organism of sourdough starter.
When he would show it to me, I would feign horror and scream, “It’s Alive!” Gary laughed the first time, but not any time thereafter.
Two months in, his sourdough starter gave an SOS. It was barely alive and my husband gamely tried to save it.
NOPE! Starter attempt number one was an utter failure. Goodbye starter.
The scientific experiment began anew again, and this time, Gary was more careful with room temperature, water temperature, and even more meticulous with measuring.
Finally, after four months total of waiting, the starter was ready to be made into dough. My husband was so proud of his successful creation, he sent word out to friends and neighbors that he had some starter to spare, and several took him up on his offer. I was impressed that they even knew what starter was, and what to do with such a thing.
Once he had it ready to make dough, he did another face-time tutorial with Chad, and made the dough. It made a beautiful loaf of yummy bread. Yes, one loaf. Four months and one loaf. It was a bit rough in texture, but toasted with butter, it was heaven. Love at first bite.
Gary was instructed by Chad to smear a bit of the good starter on wax paper and put it in the freezer in case he ever needed it. Gary followed those instructions.
After the one loaf, Gary was anxious to re-build his starter and made an even more successful batch of bread, in greater quantity. And he did just that after another bit of time, mixing enough dough for four loaves. The only teeny problem was that Gary bought a brand new plastic tub to mix the dough in. The edges of the tub were razor sharp. While kneading the dough, Gary sliced up his lower arms enough to be accused of being a “cutter.” He didn’t have time to file the edges down after he noticed the pain during mixing and once he committed to the mixing, he just did it and bled. (Outside the tub, fortunately the precious dough was untainted.)
Talk about sacrificing for your art! Suffering for Sourdough! (Side Note- Actual text to Gary: “Did you take any photos of your cut up arms? I need for my blog.)
His arms cut up with hundreds of tiny slices, Gary still successfully made four tasty loaves, even if they were a bit flat. (“I’ll make sure I make them higher next time,” he promised.)
Yet, here is the kicker. Gary was preparing still another starter, adding to his small portion of used starter, and he left the mason jar on our counter on a day when our housekeeper Viki comes. (Viki is like a member of our family who we love dearly by the way.)
The starter was usually on it’s perch in the living room, but Gary left it in the kitchen.
When Gary arrived home, the starter was gone and the mason jar was washed and clean. Gary did not know whether to laugh or cry. Four months of his science experiment gone due to a very thorough housekeeper.
Fortunately, he remembered the smeared frozen starter on wax paper in the freezer and today when I came home, I saw a beautiful new mason jar with his starter. Peering at the jar, I see pocking and bubbling which is a hopeful sign.
More sourdough bread ahead for me, and a successful science experiment for the mad scientist sourdough maker!
Lucky you! My husband has projects too, but they mostly involve reading every book in the house (hint: there are thousands), and every page of an encyclopedia, or riding across the country by train 5 times and sleeping on the seats (and yes, I have accompanied him several times on those journeys, or did until my back cried uncle). I never know what he is going to teach himself next–pool, blues harmonica, racewalking. He is a fount of enthusiasms. It has been an interesting few decades observing him.
Hilarious! I was there when he was starting it, don’t tell him the bread looked liked mandel bread!!!
Very admirable that Gary is taking painstaking measures (very literally), to recreate Chad’s masterpiece of dough. However, a painter doth not an artist make! Meanwhile, as he continues his trials and tribulations, I hope he has bought a new tub… in addition to his beautiful mason jar! Throughout my life, I have heard people say, “I would give my right arm for (fill in the blank”). I feel that, literally, Gary is doing just that… for dough!
… And not the kind you spend!!! Although it might be his left arm, I’m not sure. LOL.