A Sourdough Saga

The fresh smell of bread fills my kitchen early in the morning at least once a week. Sometimes, if I am particularly motivated, one of the loaves is a delightful cinnamon raisin, which my husband devours. My son begs for a slice every time he sees me cutting into the round, crusty globes of goodness. He knows what’s good, I say. The flour that dusted my counters gets scraped into the bin. I put away my fancy scoring tools (an old paring knife), my bread baskets (sometimes I resort to lining a colander with a tea towel), and wait for the loaves to cool.

Routine pleases me, but intimidates me. I struggle immensely to start new habits. However, I have been maintaining my current sourdough starter for about six months now. His name is Dr Ian Malcolm, and he lives in my fridge, always waiting patiently for his weekly feed. Before him, I have tried and failed on two separate occasions to create and keep my starter alive. The first was in the beginning of the pandemic, when there were no customers where I worked and I desperately longed for a hobby. My good friend suggested I take this online sourdough course, which I’ve linked because it taught me all I need to know. I took the course, made my starter, made one loaf, and then washed my hands of the whole ordeal. The loaf was incredibly zingy and dense, and I was pretty disappointed by it.

The second time I tried to really keep a starter going was at the beginning of this year, but I think my municipal water killed it. But then, my mom decided to try her hand at sourdough, so I walked her through the process. When she made her first successful loaf, I was inspired, and tried again. Somehow the whole routine was much less overwhelming after seeing how simple it was to teach someone. But the most incredible part of this story is that Dr. Ian Malcolm is STILL ALIVE! Hallelujah! He saves me a lot of money at the grocery store. And he makes the most beautiful loaves:

my latest loaf

Now that I’ve been regularly integrated bread-making into my household routines, I find the practice incredibly relaxing. The process is slow yet rewarding. My family benefits in a tangible way from work I’ve done with my hands. But it isn’t as tedious a chore as scrubbing toilets or mopping my floors. The practice of bread-making is one I can easily find gratitude for. From the delightful way the dough feels as I fold and stretch it, to its delicious crunch when I make toast, I am creating a practice that creates joy. For me, for my family, for my dedicated instagram followers who are subjected to pictures of my most impressive bakes… And that joy has taught me how to invite gratitude and a smile into even the most tedious tasks I face as a homemaker.

And honestly, it goes a bit deeper than that. In my relationship with God there is such a reluctance on my part to look UP and see what He is doing, and to embrace His goodness as a daily practice. But the beauty of sourdough is in the routine. I keep it, I feed it, and with just flour, water, and salt, I can create nutritious loaves of bread for my family. The same way my sourdough nourishes my family through upkeep and routine, so God nourishes my faith through my daily acts of faithfulness. So, as I grow in my daily disciplines as a mother, wife, and homemaker, I am inviting in gratitude and joy, and looking to God as the source.

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