About

For most of my life I’ve loved to read and to make stuff. My mother says I taught myself to read when I was 4, and I never looked back. I also liked fooling around in the kitchen, but my mother wasn’t really into cooking, so I learned a lot of that on my own, too. My sister and I had the Betty Crocker New Boys and Girls Cookbook (1965), and naturally I had to make the Enchanted Castle Cake. I learned how to bake bread when I was 14, and I bought a copy of the Joy of Cooking when I was 17. My aunt and uncle gave me Mastering the Art of French Cooking for my 19th birthday, and the first thing I made was soufflé. I’ve always been more of a baker than a cook, though.

I’ve been editing nonfiction since 1984, so I make my living reading, and I’ve continued to fool around in the kitchen, mostly with baking and mostly baking sandwich bread and pie. When our niece used to visit us during her breaks from college, she’d get me to show her some cooking things (including soufflé, of course), but I kept having to tell her, “This is just how I do it. I have no idea if it’s the right way.” Finally, I took a basic cooking class, and that changed my life. After that class, I signed up for a 4-day baking class at King Arthur Flour. The day Michelle taught us to calculate desired dough temperature, I knew I was really a baker. Now I’m trying to learn, through classes and through continuing to fool around in the kitchen, how to bake more than bread and pie.

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2 responses to “About

  1. Sandy

    I got some free sourdough starter from Carl Griffith’s 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter with no instructions. I read your article on it but still not clear to me how to do this. I am new at this…forgive me. Can you explain to me step by step how to work with the dry starter? I would appreciate it very much as I have it still in the envelope afraid to do anything. LOL

    • Hi Sandy, it’s actually pretty easy. The directions are on the Carl’s Friends site, but it’s not obvious where. Here’s what you do: Put the starter and 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in a container, stir it up, and let that sit for a few minutes to soften the starter. Then you’re supposed to mix in 1 tablespoon of flour to get a starter the consistency of pancake batter, but that was way too thick when I did it. They say you can add more water, and I did. I used a glass peanut butter jar, and I’m still using the same jar. I’m also using a 1-quart yogurt container to collect what gets discarded when I feed the starter; you can use that in recipes, so there’s no point in throwing it away. Anyway, let the baby starter get going, which will probably take about 8 hours on your kitchen counter, and then feed it again, let it sit for another 8 hours or so, feed it again, leave it for 8 hours, and it’s ready to use. You don’t discard any starter while you’re getting it going. Feed it equal amounts by weight of flour and water (equal volumes work pretty well, too). Good luck! I just made another loaf today; this starter is really good stuff.

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