The Mendelstahm family is coming to town tomorrow. From Florida and New Jersey, they will be converging here in our lovely burgh around noon-thirty tomorrow. Which means there will be snow.

When my mother comes to our town, there is always snow. The weather service yesterday hinted that there may be snow here on Thursday, but now the little snowflakes are gone from the weather forecast icon. This is irrelevant; there very well could be snow anyway. April 1st, 1996, out of the blue there was snow – ten inches of it, out of the blue, after a week of weather in the high fifties.  She’s only come to town a few times without it snowing, and once it rained like whoa, and the other time it was June. Always winter, never Christmas*: my mother, the White Witch, is on the move. Worcesterites, you have been forewarned.

In other news, the bread making has been going well enough that I’m branching out. I’ve decided to try to make scali bread, and last night set up what I have learned is a biga, a kind of starter-ish gloppy thing produced by sitting, covered, on my counter overnight. This morning I mixed in the other ingredients and got a pretty sticky dough for it.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. This brad has all kinds of things in it that I’ve never used before, including instant yeast (I’ve always used dry activated yeast), which has a funny smell to it that I’m not in love with, and dry milk, which I’m just generally suspicious of on principle. But when I mixed it all up this morning, it seemed to come together well. We shall see in about an hour, after the rise.

I used to make bread pretty regularly when my son was a toddler. Someone gave me a starter (two, actually, but we no longer speak of the Amish friendship bread incident of 1999), a lovely sourdough starter, and I took to it well. With starter, you’re kind of obligated to make bread once a week, at least, because the stuff grows as long as you feed** it, and dies if you don’t, which means you always have starter. You can keep the stuff going indefinitely – I’ve heard of some bakeries that boast their home starter at over 150 years old – how cool is that?

So I’m thinking about making a Moskowitz home starter. I went poking about on a few bread sites this weekend and found a pair of recipes. One of them involves honey and dark beer, which sounds joyous and magical. None of the sourdough starters involves yeast – you mix up the stuff, and whatever wild business is in the rye and white flours does its fanceh dance and yeasty goodness develops. Mindblowing, right? Actually I’m stoked. I think that when my mom and I go grocery shopping for the big meal on Thursday (zomg – I think we have fourteen people coming to dinner), I’m going to make a side trip to the liquor store on the way home for a bottle of Guinness. It takes about ten days to get from flour and ick to bakeable business, so think Good Thoughts, please!

***

*We’re Jews.
**You split it in half, make the bread with one half, and feed the other half so it grows more.

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