Love vs Ownership

I can understand the confusion. Language can be a killer.

“My money” means, the money is mine. It belongs to me. If you take my money, there are laws to protect me. You can’t just get in my car and drive it away. If I own it, I can lock it up. I can keep it in the garage. I can put my money in the bank with a password. “And those are my shoes. Take my shoes off. Put the shoes back and wear your own shoes.” You can say all of that. Not that you have to be that way, but if you own it, it is yours. I don’t care what you do with it.

Then there is, “my wife”, “my boyfriend”, “my son”, “my sister”…

This is the part that needs to be cleared up. Some things lose their shape and color when you are old and some things become as clear to me as a bell struck once.

A shoe, cannot walk without a foot. Once you buy that shoe, that shoe is yours, no matter what you do. You don’t have to talk to that shoe. Or say what you want to it. You don’t have to hold that shoe. Wear it on your foot. Throw it in the closet and lock the door. But don’t fool yourself. If it is not a shoe–if it is a person–you don’t own.

So take care of your starter. Listen to it.

Mine has been in the fridge for a few weeks and I know it is time to feed it and warm it up. I have read a library of books on how to make bread with a starter. I have taken notes. But when it is between you and something breathing, you can’t read a book of someone else’s answers and expect them to be your own. All things breathing are not the same. This is how it works for me and the bread that makes me happy. And every time it is different.

Smell the starter. If it is off, bring it back. Pour away the liquid and throw half of the starter. Feed it about half its weight or size of all purpose flour and enough water to make a sour cream consistency. Leave it covered, at room temperature. Do the same again, 12 hours later and keep it up–repeat the step until the starter is full of a fine bubble structure right down the sides of the jar. It should smell yeasty and fresh and full of life. After the first throw away, I keep the half from every feeding in a separate bowl, and add this to my loaf with the fully pumped up and ready final starter. To that, I add about 2 cups of whole wheat flour, and in a moat around the edges, a spill of olive oil and two full pinches of salt. (I don’t take much salt in my bread. You might want to add more after tasting your trial loaf.) The batter should be fairly loose. Loose enough to beat with your hand. If it is not loose enough, add a little more water. If you can imagine quicksand. Now beat that thing in the bowl with 100 strokes. I switch hands, when one gets tired. Lift it up, oil the bowl, and set it back down. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest until about doubled size. Pushing your fingertips down the sides of the bowl, as you slowly turn the bowl clockwise, turn the ball of dough onto itself. Recover and set in the fridge for 24 hours, or at least overnight. When you take it out of the fridge, let it come to room temperature. Oil your bread pan. It can be a sheet pan, a loaf pan, or a cake pan. Sprinkle the board generously with whole wheat flour. Cup your hand, and using your fingertips, roll the ball into itself, starting at the top left of your board and moving diagonally down. It shouldn’t be too stiff. It should feel a tiny bit loose. Sometimes I laminate the dough at this point, if I feel it needs more chutzpah. You just lift it up by the middle, and let the ends fall from gravity. Tuck them under each other, do a quarter turn of the dough, and repeat. Roll the dough around itself a bit so that it comes back to a ball shape. Allow the dough to rest in the pan. Cover. Be sure the towel doesn’t touch the loaf. If it is on a sheet pan, I turn a mixing bowl upside down, and set it over the top, with the towel over that. Give it a slice with a razor blade, right down the middle, in sort of a “c” shape. Just through the surface. When the loaf is gentle to the touch, it is proofed. It should give to your finger. Put it in a hot oven of about 425 degrees and bake until the bottom sounds hollow. Try not to cut into it for at least 30 minutes.

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