Friday, November 30, 2018


The first Christmas that our daughter was working for the Seahawks in Seattle we knew she wouldn't be able to get home for Christmas...sports and entertainment expect their people to work holidays. We decided that we would go to her instead, so we rented a room in a hotel not too far from where she was living. Being the traditionalist that I am I insisted on packing a box with our smallest ornaments and then we bought a tiny potted tree to put them on. I also brought Christmas stockings to put on either side of the tree, so we had a mini version of the Christmas decorations from home. I don't think that Sweetie cared one way or another, but it meant a lot to both me and Katherine.

While I had been in Seattle in the summer when she moved up and we took a road trip to move some of her things, we visited Macrina Bakery and I fell in love. Their baked goods are wonderful and the vibe was great, too. For the Christmas visit I ordered their cookie assortment ahead of time and when we picked that up we also bought some pastries for Christmas morning. Heavenly! At some point during the trip we also made it to Elliot Bay Books which is a famous bookstore in an old building. It is enchanting if you like bookstores & Sweetie and I both do. There, among other great books, I found the Macrina Bakery cookbook, which I promptly bought to take home.

One of the recipes that I found most interesting was how to make your own sourdough starter using organic grapes, preferably your own grapes, so that you get local wild yeasts into your starter. The grape skins collect the wild yeast and the crushed grapes impart an interesting flavor to the starter.

Unfortunately it was late December and the local grapes were gone until the next fall. You better believe that the next fall I was right there, checking the grapes at the foot of the driveway for ripeness, ready to make my starter.

Making a sourdough starter isn't difficult, but you have to follow the directions and feed it every day for 10 days. You also need to think of it as a benign that needs to be fed once a week forever. I kept mine going and happy for a couple of years but let it go when we left on a long trip. Then I made another starter the following fall and began again. I loved having the starter in the fridge because it made it so easy to bake bread and the bread had a lovely tang.

Right now I don't have a starter because a few months ago Sweetie asked me to severely curtail my baking so that he had fewer temptations while losing weight. Although I miss my favorite hobby, my own weight is dropping, so it's probably a good thing.

If you want to read how to make the Macrina-style grape-based sourdough starter, check the post HERE. King Arthur Flour also sells a kit for creating a starter and they have lots of recipes for using starters, too.

Once I had a starter going, it was easy to bake bread and fun to experiment with converting favorite bread recipes to sourdough versions. I got so carried away with baking bread that I started a new blog called Bread Baker's Dog so that this blog wouldn't become a bread blog but would stay a blog with lots of enthusiasms to explore. After a while keep two blogs going was exhausting, plus I started to be more moderate with my bread baking, so that blog is rarely used. I still love baking bread. The latest was another take on the Snowflake Bread from HERE. I used non-dairy butter and cinnamon sugar and brioche was wonderful. One day, hopefully soon, I'll get my index updated so that it will be easy to find the bread recipes. In the meantime, there are plenty to start with in the index. If you are viewing this on your phone or tablet, scroll to the bottom and click on View Web Version. That will give you the version with the index link (a photo of a set table with a russet table cloth) on the right hand side. There are over 1,000 recipes on the blog and at least 500 in the index.

This is the last November post. I've enjoyed sharing food memories with you and revisiting some of my favorite recipes, too. In December I'll probably return to doing one or two posts a week, but that doesn't mean I'm not O.K., just caught up in Christmas preparations like many folks. After all, cookies don't bake themselves! I can bake cookies because most of them will be given away as cookie assortments to neighbors and friends. Yay! Looking forward to baking again.


  1. I had heard of that grape thing! I also found another recipe (which I cannot find just now -- figures, doesn't it?) wherein grapes are used IN the bread to augment the yeast. It is a kind of sourdough flatbread we made ages ago, and it got gigantic bubbles in it! It as tasty.

    I am going to TRY and do a bunch of iced snowflake cookies this year for our chorus - I'm slowly getting my mojo back as well (in between rehearsals), so we'll see. Maybe it'll be a good New Year/Valentine's gift, too.

  2. Would love that flatbread recipe Tanita, if you find it. The snowflake cookies sound wonderful. Just starting to gear up for holiday baking. Maybe I'll start on Wednesday while it's raining!