The starter came back! (I thought he was a goner, but...)

My sourdough starter! He's back. I mean IT's back. Of course it doesn't have a gender. Or a name. I'm not that kind of starter mom, um, person.

You see, I grew a starter at the beginning of this summer. There were a few scary preliminary trials (think of that scene in Alien 6(?) or whatever--the one with Winona Ryder in it--where Ripley's wandering through a lab full of giant test-tube versions of herself, but they're hideously deformed...and if you don't know what I'm talking about, never you mind), but eventually one was successful. But then things started going wrong and my starter stopped doubling in volume after a feeding. (For those of you who don't know much about starters and are finding your eyes glazing over...well, too bad, I won't apologize! But if you would like to learn more, I promise to write more on sourdough starters later.

Let me just say that for a long time, my starter was all sullen, nambsy-pambsy froth and microscopic fizz:
but now he's back and doubling, with bubbles the size of North Dakota!
Seems to have something to do with the flour I've been using, but let's forget the nitty gritties for now.

It's 2am and I'm supposed to be working. But nope, I'm going to bake bread. I have to. An olive terragon...boule? Maybe. Or possibly just a simple sandwich loaf.

Why start at this ridiculous hour? Because with wild yeasts, you don't bake when it's convenient for you, silly. It's all about the feeding schedule, the starter's peak. Okay, and maybe I'm a bad scheduler.

I've measured out all my ingredients, revived some dried chilli pepper and tarragon (yes, yes, I know fresh is better, but I'm...conserving monetary resources) in a little hot olive oil,
de-pitted the olives and minced them up with my fingers... and now I'm waiting. Waiting to be absolutely sure my starter's at its peak, which means the highest point that he's going to rise before he starts to sink again (starters do that. And, yes, I realize I'm referring to my starter as "he" again). So now would be the perfect time to get a little work done. But nope, I'm writing this blog to all you kids out there hungrily reading my blog. (Do I hear crickets? Ha! Of course not.)

Oh oh, I think I just heard a familiar cough from out the window... My husband will be home soon and I can already see his face as he says, "What? Making bread? Now?" He doesn't like bread. He doesn't like my starter either (he was a bit traumatized by those Alien 6-ish trial starters; he also thinks I pay more attention to my starter than him; hunh...).

* * * *

Groan... It's now 5am. Haven't finished my work. My dough is doing its bulk fermentation thing. After about 25 minutes of kneading, I realized my dough was too dry. It kept tearing. So I kept moistening my hands under the tap. And I got a little too moisture happy. So now my dough is sort of indolently sprawled out across the non-stick frying pan (had some over-adhesion troubles when I used an ordinary bowl the last time), and I wonder if I'll have to spoon it into my makeshift banneton (banneton: the thingy my dough will rest in overnight--er, the night's almost over, but you know what I mean--in the fridge).

Ew, I hear voices. Lots of voices. I hate those first sounds that tell you you've missed your chance at a good night's sleep. Like stupid birds singing. There's even a rooster that lives somewhere in the neighborhood who has not got the dawn concept down. He will randomly crow any time between 2:30am and 6am, and I really pity whoever lives next door to him. How do roosters usually learn these things? Are they trained like dogs or is it instinct? Well, he needs to go back to rooster obedience school. Okay, definitely punchy. And my shoulder is starting to ache. Will hang in there for 20 more minutes, turn my dough one last time, and then let it rest for 18 or so hours. Great, even the dough will be sleeping before me. Okay, enough blogging already. Get to work!

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