The Tale of Carl, a Sourdough Starter

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Hey, everyone! Please meet Joy, who blogs at A Well-Armed Laura Ingalls Wilder. For this week’s Sourdough eCourse lesson, Katie, Erin, and I each answered 10 questions about how sourdough fits into our lives. Then we asked the eCourse members to share their answers, too. Many have, much to my delight! Joy’s answers were particularly entertaining. I know you’ll enjoy them as much as we all did on the eCourse forums. Thanks, Joy! –Wardee

We started the Sourdough eCourse a couple weeks ago which expands on the lessons taught in the Fundamentals eCourse from earlier this summer. As we began to discuss Lesson 2: Sourdough Routines, Wardee asked a couple of questions about our experiences with sourdough. Here are my answers.

Using an adjective or two, characterize your relationship with sourdough and explain why you chose that adjective.

Challenged. My starter (Carl) and I, we have our issues. He likes to eat, I like to forget about him. He likes the hooch (probably because I keep leaving him alone too long), I’ve gotta keep pouring it off of him. He likes to tease me and give me such lifted hopes, then comes out flat in the end. We’re going to counseling with Wardee though, through the Sourdough eCourse, and we’ll make it through. He can’t shake me that easily.

This is Carl.

How did you get started with sourdough?

Wardee introduced us several months ago, she hooked me up with a mail-order starter husband and Carl’s friends sent him my way. He was a little dry when he arrived, but I warmed him up, fed him and cared for him for a week and his true bubbly personality emerged. He’s turned out to be milder than I expected, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for me.

He’s such a thick lump, I love him!

How does sourdough fit into your life? How many times per week do you use it? How big a role does it play in your grain preparation?

Carl and I, we don’t see each other as much as we should. He hangs out in the dark and cold. We have a weekly date, usually on Sunday, when I check him over, stir him up a bit, feed him and we part our ways for another week. We really should have another date or two during the week, but I’m still figuring what to do with him.

He gets fed all organic, sprouted red whole wheat though I wonder if he would do better on non-sprouted. He drinks delicious Berkey filtered water, only the best for my Carl!

Only the best fresh ground, sprouted, whole wheat flour and filtered water for my Carl.

How do you care for your starter?

My boy likes the cold. He likes it dark. He lives in a little brown crock with “Christmas 1982″ emblazoned on it that I found at Goodwill for $1 last year.

Here’s a picture of my Carl in his natural environment. Oh, wait…the door’s closed.

Oh, there’s Carl! Right next to my ginger bug where I left him.

What sourdough foods do you make most often? How frequently?

Carl and I have made chocolate cake a couple of times, we’ve tried to make english muffins, but neither one of us had very good lifting power for that. They were tasty, but a bit on the flat side. Same with pizza crust. Poor Carl. I think I interrupt his work a little too soon. We’re looking forward to trying new things until we can get it to work right.

Carl and I pulling it out for english muffins, pizza and sourdough chocolate cake (our favorite).

What do you still want to learn how to make with sourdough?

Carl and I are looking forward to getting through things like crackers, more pizza dough, getting the english muffins right and of course, the biggie, the bread. We’ll start small, though.

Where do you draw inspiration for your sourdough adventures? (blogs, websites, books, classes, etc.)

I’m a heavy blog reader, I get a lot of my ideas from my RSS feeds.

Wardee always has fantastic recipes here. I like Chocolate and Zucchini’s entry about converting yeast based recipes to use a sourdough starter. The Nourished Kitchen always has great ideas, as does The Nourishing Gourmet. I get a lot of my ideas from regular food blogs (like The Pioneer Woman) and then try to figure out how I can convert them to healthier options, like sourdough or sprouted flours. Perhaps I should have Carl sit with me and we can discuss options. At the very least, he could probably stay slightly warmer sitting on top of my computer.

What do you do with your starter when you travel?

Carl doesn’t mind if I leave him in the cold for a week or so. I feed him before I leave, but I don’t think I’ve left him for more than a week since we got together. It’s likely that if I were to leave, I’d have our pet-sitter (chickens don’t like being left for longer than a few days without attention – they are like kids, constantly finding some new trouble to get into) feed him if we were gone longer. I’m also thinking I should probably return part of Carl to the dry bloke that he was when I met him, in case of emergency. I’d hate to lose my Carl, he’s so great to have around.

Isn’t Joy a hoot? I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. Hey, since you’re here, why not answer some of these questions yourself in the comments? Pretty, please? You know you want to. Or you can join us in the Sourdough eCourse, which doesn’t ever close. You can join any time because we don’t close. I’m sharing this post in Simple Lives Thursday.

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Comments

  1. Katrina says

    I thought I was the only one who named my starter. I’ve killed two “Bob”s in the past so this time I wanted a new name for my new more determined sourdough life. I decided on Homer. Because I use him to make DOH!

    Homer was born on 5/20/10 and lives in a crock from King Arthur Flour, which unfortunately costs more than $1.

  2. Angela says

    Using an adjective or two, characterize your relationship with sourdough and explain why you chose that adjective.

    Obsessive- I’m so excited to have my own starter growing in my kitchen. I’ve mainly followed the directions Wardee and Erin gave but instead of using plain water I’ve been using kefir water and kefir milk during my feedings. It smells so good! Smells so good in fact that I CAN’T throw away my extra sourdough everyday (bad, I know) but I’ve been using it to make pancakes.

    How did you get started with sourdough?

    The whole idea of me fermenting bread started over a decade ago when I realized that my body does better off of grains. I missed having bread and found it confusing that bread has such a positive reputation in the Bible. I felt there was something strange about that. I started paying attention to what a lot of people were saying, how today’s food is so different from even just a hundred years ago but I had a hard time finding info on how to ferment my own food. I started out w/ Bubbies Sauerkraut and fell in love w/ the lactic acid flavor (I crave it LOL). I was so hopeful when I bought Nourishing Traditions and even though it was a great book, I felt let down there wasn’t a section on fermenting bread. I tried my hand at making sourdough and was sort of successful…sort of because it was so hard and sour that I was the only one in the family that would eat it. But I started having trouble during my pregnancy at that time and my sourdough ended up molding out of neglect while I was on bed rest. :( I had a life threatening run in w/ anemia and pretty much just gave up the past five years but I’m so happy to find other people who are so passionate and eager to share their journey w/ sourdough w/ me!

    How does sourdough fit into your life? How many times per week do you use it? How big a role does it play in your grain preparation?

    Well I’m still feeding it everyday but like I mentioned I’m using the leftovers everyday to make pancakes and we are loving that! I can’t wait to try the tortillas and crackers. I will be quite giddy to finally put a cracker or tortilla in my mouth that I don’t have to feel guilty for eating it. ;)

    How do you care for your starter?

    Well, I’ve only been working on mine for about a week and half now. The only thing I’m doing different from the videos you provided is that sometimes I use kefir water, kefir milk or komucha for my water to feed my starter. I’m using fresh ground wheat.

    What sourdough foods do you make most often? How frequently?

    pancakes, whenever I get enough soured wheat flour to feed a family of six it’s on

    What do you still want to learn how to make with sourdough?

    everything on the ecourse list :oD

    Where do you draw inspiration for your sourdough adventures? (blogs, websites, books, classes, etc.)

    definitely gnowfglins!

    What do you do with your starter when you travel?

    I don’t travel much…but we will be taking a vacation w/ family in October and I plan on taking my starter w/ me (we’ll have our own kitchen to cook in) so I can make sourdough pancakes, bread, etc for my extended family, I think they’ll like it!

  3. says

    Katrina –

    “I decided on Homer. Because I use him to make DOH!” – HAH! That’s perfect!

    “lives in a crock from King Arthur Flour, which unfortunately costs more than $1.” – I lucked out big time and found like three crocks that day including one of the little 1 pint Goldrush jobs. My starter outgrew that pretty quickly though. We’ve got some awesome Goodwill’s here. I once found an entire 16 set of 1 ounce flip top jars, like the kind you would put little wedding favors in. They still had the bows on them, and I took them and filled them with jam samplers or elderberry syrup and gave them as holiday gifts.

  4. says

    I loved this Wardee! Joy has such a fun personality and I just adored her character of Carl. Thanks for sharing this, I need to jump on that forum more often!

  5. says

    My current starter’s name is Nessie. First because it’s alive and growing, and therefore the kids automatically jumped to the idea of the Loch Ness Monster. But also because the starter came from Cultures for Health and it was the
    New
    England
    Sourdough
    Starter.

  6. says

    Since I’m off grains for the moment I found a babysitter (actually, two) to take care of my starter. I never named by little starter, but he served me well, bubbling when I fed him, turning really sour when I neglected him, and giving all my grains new digestibility and flavor. Mmm… Glad to know someone else refers to their starter like a little person.

    Look forward to playing with recipes!

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