A Desire for Tradition {more than a sourdough starter}

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Both my husband and I come from broken homes, so we have longed to establish tradition within our home. Traditions that will remain with our children and their children long after we’ve gone to glory. Our questions have always been: what traditions are worth holding, and how do we begin our own traditions without seeming artificial? After all, lasting traditions usually seem to be a multi-generational inheritance.

The Godly Tradition

Our most supreme tradition is the Godly tradition, a tradition my husband and I didn’t inherit; we were grafted into the kingdom of God during our high school years. In this, we seek a daily commitment to the Word of God within our personal lives, our words, our dealings, basically our very being. However, we often fail miserably.

This Godly tradition is our main hope for inspiring and sustaining the souls of our children, yet we also desire additional traditions. Over the years, we have sought to embrace many, but none have stood the test of time. Until, by the grace of God, now.

Traditional Food Preparation

In order to fully appreciate this new tradition in our lives, a bit of background seems needed. Although I would like to sound a bit loftier by saying that I have been preparing foods traditionally for years, I must confess that my journey of traditional eating has only been consistent for about a year now. And before that, it was sporadic during many a learning curve.

I inherited a genetic disorder that makes me more reliant on carbohydrates for energy. As a result, I often depend on grains and fruit of some sort. One day while busily kneading homemade bread (to provide my carbohydrates), my husband asked if I knew how people made bread before commercial yeast.

I fumbled for an answer, and said something relating to saving old dough. But the thought of doing this — or whatever was involved in natural yeast — somehow equated to requiring more work than if I continued to use my handy pull-out-of-the-freezer yeast.

Yet, as much as I tried to put the idea of natural yeast out of my head, it returned again and again to disquiet my peaceful evenings. Finally, I was compelled to find an answer — and found it to be sourdough.

More Than A Starter Was Born

Preparing, reading cookbooks, and watching video tutorials, I determined to make my own sourdough starter from scratch.

Seven days of trying, in the midst of being seven months pregnant, left me frustrated with a stinky, moldy flour concoction. Even my dog, after relishing in the prize of stealing the loaf of bread off the counter, would not eat it.

I had failed.

Discouraged at the waste of flour and time, and too stubborn to spend money on a starter culture, I fell back on my freezer yeast. For a time, that is.

A few months later, my sweet baby boy Nehemiah entered this world. The nights of quiet, moonlit nursing brought my thoughts back to stewardship. I thought of trying again to capture and concentrate natural yeast.

So, five days after Nehemiah’s birth, I began a new starter. This time it bubbled, smelled a bit strange, but ultimately provided us with bread that even our dog would be proud to eat (should she succeed in stealing it off the counter).

Starting a Starter

My Nehemiah starter, as I like to call it, was born.

Tradition At Last

Yesterday, while all of our little ones were napping, my eldest son and I sat, sharing a snack and just talking. Talking about our past year, the past few years, all of the places we have been, all of the places the Lord has directed us — and our future, the future home for our family, and hopes for a place nearby us where maybe he could raise his family if he was so blessed.

Feeling the need to multitask before the younger ones roused from their slumber, I began to make bread and mix new flour and water in a mason jar to which I would add my remaining sourdough starter. My son asked if he could mix the sourdough starter with the new flour and water to see exactly how it was done.

While mixing, his questions started coming. “How long have we been making sourdough?” My response: since Nehemiah was born.

He stopped mixing, a bit in awe that the “bugs in the flour” (his seven year old terminology) could be over a year old and had survived a cross country move from Oregon to Tennessee.

He then proceeded to say — and this remains precious to my thoughts — how he would like me to give him some of this starter when he is older. He would then like to give some of that same starter to his children, and then his children could give some to their children, and that’s how our very own Nehemiah starter would grow very old.

My heart swelled. I thanked God. A tradition, possibly a multi-generational one, now sustains our family. Traditional cooking, for a family lacking earthly familial tradition, became a tradition in itself.

For now, in our home, the best traditions may be those daily occurrences of reading the Word of God and perpetuating a sourdough starter — traditions not artificially imposed, but rather a part of the ebb and flow of daily living.

What traditions does your family follow or desire to follow? Were they passed down through the generations, did they develop without much trying, or are you making a concerted effort to put them in place?

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


    • Tracey Vierra says

      Hello Delia, I am glad to hear that you all have your own family traditions. I hope everyone looks forward to them with joy!

  1. says

    This is an awesome article, thanks so much for sharing Tracey! This gives me hope and encouragement that I, too, can make a sourdough starter for my family!

    • Tracey Vierra says

      Thank you, Jackie. : ))))))) Hopefully, my little Nehemiah starter will start working for you soon. I am here to help if you need it.

  2. Nat Leighton via Facebook says

    tradition of baking sourdough, cooking from scratch just the way our Father in heaven created all things to cook it at home.

    • Tracey Vierra says

      Thank you for your kind words, Nat. Glad to hear that sourdough has its place in your home as well. God bless.

  3. says

    I’ve been following you on Pinterest and followed your pin for this blog post. I love the tidbits of your history and this sweet story with your son. Most of our traditions are holiday-based although we seem to be at a stage in our family where we may be creating new, non-holiday traditions. We recently moved out to some acreage, started homeschooling this past year (11 yr old son and 13 yr old daughter), and I’m trying to get more into “homesteading” by cooking with whole foods and growing a garden. By the way, my husband is from the Sequatchie Valley – not sure if that’s part of the middle TN valleys you currently reside. It’s a beautiful part of God’s country.

    • Tracey Vierra says

      Thank you, Leslie. I appreciate your thoughts on the article. I hope you will share your family traditions as they develop, by the grace of God. So glad to hear that you all are able to have some land and home educate your children- sounds like we have a lot in common. : ) Sequatchie valley- hmmmm…. we are a bit new here, but I think that is near us, however a little South and East. I have yet to lay my eyes upon an ugly part of TN, besides the factory farms here and there. : ) May God bless you in the ways that you are seeking to serve Him and your family.

  4. Jamie says

    Dear Tracey-Well, that was just beautiful. What a lovely thought and such a gracious way of telling us. Oregon to Tennessee, you said. So we here in this little reformed congregation are always going to be part of the Nehemiah starter. That’s a fun thought. And so is the thought that you and Wardeh met in our home. What a lovely article and I look forward to reading more. Best regards to you and yours.

    • Tracey Vierra says

      Thank you! So very nice to hear from you and I appreciate your words to me. Our lives are forever connected to your little reformed fellowship- may God bless the work being done there. Nehemiah’s quilt, and sourdough starter are a frequent reminder of you all. If it would not involve another trip across the country, I wish we could all meet again soon for a good meal and edifying fellowship. High regards to you and your wonderful family as well. My other half also adds his regards to your other half. : ))))

  5. Anastasia says

    Dear Tracey,
    I appreciate your reflection on traditions. Forgive me for being so bold, being a stranger, but I’d like to give you a suggestion in your search for authentic, unforced and abiding family traditions. I too came from a tradition-scarce (evangelical protestant) broken home, and only as a single adult did I find the beauty and wonder of a spiritual home that is rich in Godly tradition. That home is the Orthodox Church. Now, as I raise my own four children far from my hometown (of Chattanooga) I am full of joy when I see how naturally and whole-heartedly they embrace this traditional life and flourish in this environment.
    I would like to encourage you and your husband to consider taking a look as you continue your quest for authentic tradition for your own family. This link could get you started:
    Again, forgive my boldness.
    Enjoy the journey.

    • Tracey Vierra says

      Hello Anastasia!
      I appreciate the orthodox tradition of religious faith, and actually have some close family friends of the orthodox faith. While religion is holistic, or at least I feel should be in ones life, I was rather reflecting upon the beautiful and simple traditions of everyday family life. I thank the Lord for the convictions he has brought to you and your family and appreciate you sharing your thoughts with ours. : ) God bless.

      • Anastasia says

        Well, yes, I guess I was thinking holistically, but also something about your post really resonated with me about the value of these little “t” family traditions that we’ve been blessed to receive in the Orthodox Church. Baking Lazarakia to share at church on Lazaras Saturday, dyeing red eggs for Easter, making Basil’s bread on the New Year and seeing who gets the coin…just lots of fun family traditions, filled with meaning, and a natural part of our life already enriched by the occasions themselves. But , no fear, I won’t be proselytizing on your very helpful blog any more :). I just heard the desire that you seemed to be longing for and wanted to share how that’s been filled in our home. For whatever that means to your nd yours. May God bless you as well.

        • Tracey Vierra says

          Anastasia, I so appreciate your thoughts and desire to share with me your meaningful traditions. Both my husband and I have yearned to learn more about the religious seasons of the year and have hoped to weave them more into the tapestry of our family traditions. By the grace of God, your post has encouraged me to devote more time into doing just that. Our faith is rich, yet our lack of adherence to it often leaves us spiritually poor. By the grace of God, progress can be made. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Best to you and yours!

  6. says

    This is a beautiful piece, Tracey. Thank you. We LOVE tradition in our home. We have three small sons and my husband is regularly teaching them his trade – carpentry – just like his own father did, and his father’s father before him. Today during school time I asked my 2-year-old what he would like to do when he gets older. He quickly, and simply, replied, “I jus want to be a builder jus like daddy.” It warmed my heart. It’s amazing how much joy can come from our children appreciating the simple traditions we pass onto them, without them knowing it. :)

    • Tracey Vierra says

      Thank you for your very kind words, Laura!!!! What a blessing to pass down the working with ones hands to your children through carpentry! I love that it has carried from one generation to the next and your son desires to do the same!!!! My husband and I often lament at the fact that we are not very knowledgeable about much with our hands besides getting them dirty gardening. We sure have fun though taking things apart and trying to learn the hard way, as well as building, and often, rebuilding things. May the Lord bless you and your young family. : ))))))

  7. Candi says

    Hi I am curious where your at. We recently moved to pikeville tn and are always on the lookout for like minded folks. Blessings to you and yours.

    • Tracey Vierra says

      Hello Candi! We are near Columbia, TN- so with all of the glorified hiking trails, or TN roads, I think we are a few hours from you. We would love to venture up to Fall Creek Falls Park one day- heard its great! I am curious as to what brought you all to TN????

  8. Tara says

    We as a family have just moved into the realm of cultures my sourdough is only about a month old at this point. We have added Water kefir and Milk Kefir, kombucha and Jun to our families diet. We also have several types of yogurt cultures we are beginning to try. The greatest thing I am finding is my 11 year old has readily taken to mixing and making and helping take care of all our cultures he said today when i go off to college I will have to have my fridge and my kefirs and cultures to take care of. My son who just left for college at this point comes to collect his kombucha or JUN every week or two, I said i will do this for now but soon you will learn to prepare it for yourself so you can always have some on hand. What a great tradition. In my head I picture my grandchildren and great grandchildren benefiting and using the same cultures i am caring for now. What a nourishing tradition to pass along for health and family happiness. Absolutely loved this post!

  9. says

    I have some sourdough starter that I’ve been feeding for ten years, and before that, my grandmother had it going for twenty years. This bread is definitely a tradition in my family, and I love the fact that it’s still going through numerous generations. It even made the move from east TN to southern Spain eith me and is still going strong. This story made me smile. Thanks for sharing. :-)

  10. Tara says

    I love the simplicity behind the thought of this. My family has a lot of antiques (not necessarily a high collecting value, mainly sentimental value) that I will one day be inheriting, but there’s something intrinsically more traditional about the sourdough starter. The thought that my girls will actually be able to experience the sourdough, becoming part of their daily lives, instead of sitting up on a shelf or in a dusty trunk. I was recently given a starter I was told was from Alaska and close to 100 years old. Although it hasn’t been in our family the whole time, it’s fun to think about the families it has blessed. I’m still really new to it and I’m sure I’ll make plenty of mistakes along the way, but my girls are old enough to make those mistakes with me and learn as we go! Thank you for helping me see value in something I probably would’ve taken for granted.

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