After Mom and I were done at the NH Sheep and Wool Festival last Sunday we skipped over the border into Vermont to visit the King Arthur Flour company store.
Since I've been using KAF products exclusively for my baking since the 1990s the prospect of visiting their store in person was fairly exciting.
In fact, I've suggested this as an outing to Hubby a couple times since we moved back to NH but since he doesn't bake he's always squirmed out of it. Mom doesn't bake, but she likes baked goods, so I knew she'd be up for it.
If you get their catalogue then you have an idea of what we saw. Basically, all those items in the catalogue right there in front of you so you can actually make all those impulse purchases that pass through your mind when flipping pages or looking at the website. In addition to more flours out of more grains than you can shake a whisk at.
In addition to shopping part of the plan was to get a bite to eat. It was a rainy day that Sunday so we thought soup would be the way to go.
The soup of the day was Vegan Tomato Bisque. That raised warning flags because I haven't met a vegan soup I liked. Even during our trip to France summer before last I had a vegetable soup that was so tasteless we figured it must have been vegan. But mom and I ordered the tomato soup anyway.
Sorry, guys, but it was really....bland. Mom and I agreed it needed cream or a chicken stock base. Either of which would have defeated the vegan purpose. Happily, the dull soup was the only disappointing part of the trip.
My wallet did not escape unscathed despite my attempts to control myself. Mainly I bought a bag of the Ancient Grains Flour Blend to have a healthy option on hand, a bag of dough improver to make bread easier to knead, and a present for my mother-in-law.
But the piece de resistance was a container of their fresh sourdough starter. (This is not a picture of how the starter comes from the store. This is a picture of my starter after I started waking it up. The starter from the store is in a little bitty container that isn't intimidating at all.)
Now, I already killed some of this sourdough starter back in the 90s when I was living in Texas. Although after reading all about sourdough on their blog in the last few days I wonder if that old sourdough was really dead. But that was more than 10 years ago, so I'm not going to mourn it.
You might also recall that I recently killed a sourdough starter while living in CT. But that was from a very old, powder souvenir starter from California. I think it had issue to begin with.
On Thursday I finally got the container cleaned and woke that sucker up. All day Friday it was going gangbusters, which was very exciting. Actually, I just took a peek at in the fridge and it still looks bubbly and happy.
I have dubbed it Seymour, for what I hope are obvious reasons. Although it might be more logical to name it Audrey 2.
On Friday I whipped up a batch of bread following the Rustic Sourdough Bread recipe that comes with the starter. Only I subbed in 1 cup of the Ancient Grains Blend for that whole "healthy" bread illusion.
I'm rather pleased with the results. It might have come out a little denser than I anticipated, but I think that is the influence of the whole grains. Also, I haven't been baking bread from scratch much lately. Additionally, it's been raining, like, all week here and I'm sure the humidity affected things.
When it first came out of the oven Hubby had a sliced and declared it good. This was a breakthrough because the only bread I've baked that he's really liked so far was the Scali Bread, which is good bread, but limiting in baking options.
Since then, however, Hubby has denounced me as both a siren and a saboteur and declared that he won't be eating any more home made bread until he has reached his weight loss and fitness goals. Mainly because there is no way to know the actual nutritional value of my bread. sigh.
I, on the other hand, have chosen to put on nutrition blinders and finish the loaf. Sure, my bread probably isn't as good carb-wise as that sprouted grains stuff we buy in the store, but I can't imagine it is all that bad.
Of course, this puts me in a pickle where Seymour is concerned. As you might know, if sourdough starters aren't used every week they at least have to be reduced and fed. Well, I'm not going to continue to bake loaves of bread that I'm the only one eating. I guess I'll just maintain Seymour, discarding a cup each week, until such time as Hubby is ready to play along.
Speaking of maintaining a starter...there is a lot of feeding and dividing involved before you can actually use it.
At one of those steps the directions say to remove a cup and either discard it or give it to a friend. Anticipating this step I had arranged to give that cup to my friend Judy. Well, I plopped it in a container and left it on her porch since she was out and about when the time came.
She sent me an e-mail that it's missing!
Now it's a very vigorous starter but I can't imagine that it managed to get up and walk away on its own.
At least, I hope it didn't.
Maybe I should check the fridge again.