I'm pleased to report The Great Sourdough Debacle is at an end. I went back to the directions that came with the starter, and found I'd been skipping an important step during the feeding process. I'd been giving the starter it's weekly rations of flour and water, then popping it right back into the fridge. I forgot the step of leaving it out for a couple of hours to get good and bubbly. After it has a good burp, then I'm supposed to park it back in the fridge. I fed it several times this week to build it back up again, and... Voila! A couple of gorgeous, light, well-risen loaves. They're baking as I type (Hurry up, hurry up, HURRY UP!). This weekend: sourdough pancakes. How many do you want?
As I made the bread today, I took the time to really enjoy the zen of the process. I made the sponge last night so it could do it's thing. When I woke up, I peeked under the towel and felt thrilled by how much it had grown, and the smell! God, the smell. Pure heaven. Now for the fun part: As I mix in the final ingredients, I watch my new KitchenAid mixer do all that muscle work I used to resent. Technology working for me. Yay! Then, I turn the dough out onto the floured counter and get down to kneading. I love the feel of the dough, silky and elastic, as I turn and press. I know it's alive under my hands - I can see bubbles coming to the surface with each turn. After it's risen and been divided, I pop it into the oven and the exquisite torture of smelling freshly baking bread sets in.
I don't take the time to enjoy getting from Point A to Point B very often. So many things in life are on autopilot these days. I need to remember to find roses on each of life's paths and take the time to smell them. Especially if they smell like bread.