Sourdough starter, grants and the weather

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The frost and mist of this morning

Todays mix of frost, mist, bright sunshine, hail and sleet have been a weather roller coaster.  Whatever it throws at us it’s quite nippy out there. The wood burner is back on this afternoon after I thought we had a great laundry day first thing I shoved an extra wash load on and now the house resembles that of widow Twanky (Widow Twanky is a character in the Aladdin pantomime and is a washer woman, her house is shown on stage with rows of washing hanging –  for all you none UK people).

As we are out for supper (yes again ) at friends I am enjoying a no cook day. Aside from the day job my thoughts have been directed to a grant application for planting trees, an orchard and putting in a pond. They must have read my mind when they put that together. It’s all for a very specific area within a smallish section of the Towy valley which we fall into.

It’s based on a points system and although we only have a few acres I am very hopeful that we will have enough points to at least attract their attention. I and T-W-O have never applied for a grant before but we hear about other people getting money for hedging and tree planting. We are never sure if this is just rumour or fact. I will draft a letter with our proposal to post with the form and then cross our fingers while we wait for some correspondence.

Today I am trying a sourdough starter for the first time which if it works will allow me to make sourdough bread at the weekend. I have often considered that they must have performed this ritual rregularly before the introduction of commercial yeast. My concern is the lack of heat in the house so the ‘starter’ will have to live near a radiator. My starter will be a cup of white bread flour and a cup of warm water. This will go into a jar with the lid loosely put on and then into the living room where the fire is warming the room. It will have to move round with us during the day to keep it in a warm place. Of course for those with an airing cupboard and central heating you have a perfect home for your starter, remember it needs air so don’t screw the top down.

After this you need to throw away half the liquid each day and add a half cup of luke warm water and half a cup of flour to it. It should start to bubble it may gain a beery smell and a beery topping of water. This is all ok but you may want to pour off the beery water or you can stir it back in but it may add to the sour taste.

NB. Don’t use a metal container or a metal spoon for your starter. Don’t let it get hotter than 100 degrees C you will kill it. Use a sterilised jar. I cleaned my jar then dish washed it. I also filled it with boiling water not too long before using it. You can heat the jar in the oven for a few minutes to kill anything nasty as well. But get the jar below 100 degrees before you add your mixture.

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