Well, it’s been over a month since I last blogged. When I last checked in, I mentioned that we would probably be moving in August. This is still the case. My husband got a job offer to teach in the UAE and it does indeed look like we will be moving to the Emirates. But unfortunately, I still have no concrete details. Until there is a final contract and an actual location in the UAE, I don’t feel comfortable speaking in definite terms. Things will probably turn on a dime in the next couple of weeks and get very crazy, very quickly.
In the meantime, I feel a bit homeless and disconnected from my surroundings. I’m not here, not there, somewhere in between. Even without confirmation, we have had to begin to act on things that will need to get done before we move. Paperwork for Daisy, thinking about how we will move and what we will move, who can take over our apartment. So on and so forth.
I have steered away from crafting in the last couple of months. When you are in a nomadic state of mind, the last thing you want to do is create more things to pack up and lug across international boarders. Instead I dove into a creative hobby that will travel with me as knowledge, not as bulk. I made a sourdough starter, which is now just about two months old, and began learning the art of making sourdough bread.
Like many people who have gotten into sourdough in recent months, I was inspired by Michael Pollan’s Netflix series, Cooked (which is based on his book of the same name). If you haven’t seen it, do watch. The cinematography is amazing and it’ll get you all excited about good food (and imagining yourself barbecuing with Michael Pollan in his backyard in Berkeley). In one of the episodes he focuses of the science and history of bread. He talks about the gluten-free trend and proposes that most people who have some level of gluten intolerance actually have a problem with commercial yeast and if you eat bread made with only wild yeast, like a sourdough, your symptoms of gluten intolerance will go away. Well!! As a person who has followed a (almost) gluten-free diet for the last few years, I was all ears.
First, let me say that gluten intolerance is a real thing that is not exclusive to people who suffer from celiac disease. I have struggled daily with gluten intolerance, or something or the sort, for my whole life. I just didn’t know it. When I was little I was constantly at the pediatrician for a chronic sinus issue. I had mucus trapped in my sinus cavity, making it very difficult to breathe through my nose like a normal person. It was miserable, but I didn’t know anything different. I just thought that was my life. My pediatrician prescribed the same antibiotics over and over, told my mother to put a humidifier in my room and gave me nasal decongestant sprays. At the time, I thought this doctor was decent, but now I think either he absolutely did not give a damn about my health or he was a complete idiot. He never once proposed testing me for allergies. Now, testing for a gluten allergy probably wasn’t much of a thing back then, but had he given me any allergy test at all, I would’ve given him an A for effort. My mother saw an exposé on a sinus surgery for people with chronic issues and for years she told me I needed to have that surgery.
I finally cracked the case myself just a few years ago when I read a very random book from the library on metabolism types. The book included questionnaires to help determine what type of food sensitivities you might have. Low and behold, I scored through the roof for gluten sensitivity. The test basically concluded, “Yeah, you probably have sinus issues, chronic bloating and eczema.” This was the story of my life! I did an elimination diet to see if, in fact, that was my problem. To my surprise, without gluten, I was able to breathe like never before and my chronic potbelly that I thought was just my body type went away instantly.
This discovery has been freeing for me, but as a true lover of baked goods, eating a gluten-free diet is a new kind of prison. So, I was eager to see it Michael Pollan’s wild yeast assertion would hold up. Now, after about a month and a half of eating sourdough bread regularly, I can say he is correct. I can eat long-proofed bread made with wild yeast, without any of my normal symptoms! I’ve made a 30-hour sourdough loaf from the Bien Cuit cookbook several times now. It’s a good recipe for beginners, but beware. Even though it’s a called a 30-hour loaf, it actually takes longer than that from start to the point where you get to stuff your face with good bread.
Sourdough is a whole world of it’s own. You can keep it simple or you can make the process as detailed and as scientific as your heart desires. I haven’t even begun to tell you the facts about why sourdough is so nutritional or how to make a starter. Next sourdough post, I promise!
Here are a couple of really useful sites dedicated to sourdough bread: