I have not been feeling very well, so what else is new? It comes and goes. I have been told that it is an allergy to an organism that grows in this area and that the Indians used to call this area “Sick Valley”. I don’t know, but I am looking at what I eat for possible solutions.
I have been making my own bread in hopes of it being healthier than store bought. I like whole grain breads. I don’t care if my bread is fluffy. I like dense bread and my whole grain bread is typically pretty dense. I do not add gluten because I suspect a connection between gluten and the rise in celiac disease (a disease I do not want to develop).
As it turns out, I may be correct about that connection, but not in the way that I thought. Jesse Hawkins is an herbologist who recently made a one-time offer of a free eBook called “Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread”. Jesse offers a course on herbology that I would LOVE to take some day. She is down to earth and a sister in Messiah. She avoids new age stuff that has no real foundation in biology.
Jesse spent years researching the history of bread making. It used to be considered the staff of life and was the base of many diets for thousands of years. So, how did bread become the “enemy”? She sought to find out. In her book, she explains how bread used to be made and details all the changes that came about over the last 100 years…changes that completely change the end product into something that bears little resemblance to what once was.
In reading this book, I have learned so many things about flour and about bread. For example, I did not know that refined flour is NOT a recent invention! And whole grain flour is NOT necessarily the best and it does not, by itself, make an ancient loaf. I had no idea. The key is what happens to the flour in the old ways. It is totally transformed so that the end result has very little gluten left in it. In fact, there are some with celiac disease who have not reacted when eating bread made with this process. Could I be onto something even for my own health?
The kind of bread I am working on making is called “sourdough”. Now, I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think of is San Francisco sourdough because we used to live in that general area. But sourdough actually means bread made from the wild yeast of the area as opposed to baker’s yeast. The process of using wild yeast, coupled with long rising times that allow bacteria to work on the flour results in the flour being totally transformed. This transformation just does not happen with baker’s yeast.
Wild yeast can be caught, batched and sold. Or, you can catch whatever is wild for your area. Each area has different flavors and rise times. That is why you have Italian, San Francisco sourdough and so on. Some breads have that sourdough taste familiar to so many, but some do not. I caught my own yeast, making my own starter and it was amazingly easy! Jesse shows that you do NOT need complicated ways of doing it. It could not have been simpler.
I started to catch mine a couple of days ago. It happened pretty fast…and on my first try! This morning I made dough for my first loaf. It is now about 11 hours later and it looks like it may be ready for the pan. Tomorrow morning I will bake it. The actual amount of time spent on the bread is very little and I don’t have to time everything precisely like I do with baker’s yeast.
I know there is a learning curve, but I am hopeful. I also like the fact that there is a Facebook group that Vintage Remedies started specifically for those of us out here who are trying this method of baking. I get to ask questions and receive support. I am excited about what may lay ahead. I have a feeling that my family is going to love this. I will have to figure out how to make the dough braidable for challah, though. This dough is typically very wet. I will have to experiment and, of course, draw upon the wisdom of others who have gone before me. Who knows? Perhaps, I will be adding my own wisdom as I figure out how to do sourdough challah.
Here are some photos of my sourdough starter. If I had only known how easy it was, I would have started on this venture sooner. Of course, I am very grateful for Jesse’s book. She gave me the incentive to do this by explaining the health benefits and by showing how simple it really is.
Look at all the wonderful bubbles!
So now, just as I am seeking the ancient ways of the Creator for my spirit, I am also seeking the ancient ways of baking for my body.