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Black Russian Loaf

I must first let you know that I am extremely interested in learning new things. I believe as long as we are learning and experiencing a great life, we will not get stale and boring and keep a sharp and quick mindset. With this in mind, once a friend gave me some sourdough starter, I was immediately deep in research and experimentation. What is this strange white goop and is it really that good for me? The starter my friend gave me is purported to be over 80 years old and came from the San Francisco area. Can really old stuff be good for us? I also learned that this goop is full of bacteria! Isn’t bacteria bad? Turns out, like a lot of things, there are good bacteria and bad bacteria. I next learned that making sourdough is a fermentation process. Like beer and wine? I was beginning to really get interested now.

Turns out that there is a rich and long history surrounding the making of sourdough breads. Excavations in Switzerland found a sourdough loaf dated to around 3700 BC but the origins of sourdough fermentation process can be traced even further back to the Fertile Crescent where agriculture got its start. For most of human history, once man gained control over fire, bread has been an integral part of providing a basic sustenance. In all that time, the bread made was a type of sourdough. It has only been around the last 150 years or so that we have developed fast acting yeasts that make bread-making faster, but not necessarily better tasting.

It is a sad realization that there are many folks who have not experienced San Francisco sourdough breads. Some French bakers brought their sourdough to San Francisco during the height of the California gold rush around 1849 and it has been part of the San Francisco culture ever since. Most tourists head for Fisherman’s Wharf to get some world famous seafood dishes which go amazingly well with their world famous sourdough bread. Every time I’m at our local airport and a flight just got in from San Francisco, I see lots of people carrying their most precious souvenir, a loaf of San Francisco sourdough bread.

Moving on from San Francisco, when the Alaskan Klondike gold rush of 1898 hit, sourdough went with the miners who carefully guarded their sourdough starter by carrying a pouch of starter on their belt or even around their neck. They were under the mistaken believe that cold would kill their starter when it is actually high heat that kills the good bacteria. These miners are still know today as “Sourdoughs” and the term can refer to any old timer who remembers his past glory.

Which brings us to today…

During my research, I found many great sites dedicated to the art of sourdough bread making. Almost all of them lamented the fact that there weren’t many sourdough bakers left. My personal journey has shown many folks know something about sourdough but haven’t ventured into actually baking some. Many of my young friends seek a healthier life style but still buy overly processed and tasteless breads. I get knowing nods of support when I share some amazing waffles, biscuits, crackers, jalapeno/pepper jack bread or my current favorite black Russian bread, all made with sourdough. I’ve made beignets, cinnamon rolls and even sourdough tortillas! As our tag line says, “If it’s made with flour, we make it sour!”

I have a backlog of recipes to try and look forward to having you join me on this fabulous food journey. I hope to inspire folks to get back in the kitchen and make good, healthy food for their families. The time is now to stop buying overly processed and chemicalized (is this a word?) artificial foods and get back to knowing every natural, organic item that goes into our food and into our bodies.

Keep it Happy, make it Sour!

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