Sourdough bread. I am so excited! I got a potato starter for sourdough bread from a friend. I am going to experiment with it a bit (knowing that if I fail, she will be happy to give me some more.) To feed the sourdough the recipe says to add 3/4 c. sugar, 1 c. water and 3 T. of instant potato flakes. I am so glad to find a starter that does not contain flour. Anyone who has done sourdough in the past will understand me when I say the mess that flour made in/on the jar really bothered me. Having a small farm where we grow organic potatoes, the first part of the recipe that had to change was the potato flakes. Also, as I am trying to be more sustainable and do not grow sugar cane, the amount of sugar will be decreasing to about 2 rounded tablespoons and will eventually be changing to honey, as our bees get established. So, I got out the starter today and put it on the counter to warm up. Then I washed, peeled, and cut up 2 small potatoes and put them in a small pot with water to boil about 15 minutes. When they were soft, I mashed up the potatoes in the water and left the pot opened until they cooled down to room temperature. At this time, I added the sugar, 1/2 t. salt (approx.) and the starter I got from my friend. I then mixed it well and transferred 1 cup of it to a quart glass jar with a canning lid loosely fastened and put it in the refrigerator. (Why would I put the rest in the refrigerator and eventually have to throw some out? It seems to me that adding more than a cup of the starter to the bread would just add more yeast to the bread to make a faster rising time. After all, aren’t we just waiting for the yeast to multiply and make oxygen bubbles in our bread?) I left the rest on the counter to bubble. My friend said she lets this sit overnight, so I will mix up bread in the morning. I can’t wait to see what happens! I remember my grandmother using potato water to make her bread, so I hope when I taste it that it reminds me of her bread which was delicious. By the way, one year my scientist husband did a science project with one of our kids where they tested which sugars worked best for growing yeast. They tested a natural sugar, a white sugar, and brown sugar. The brown sugar and the natural sugar did great, but the bleach in the white sugar started out by killing some of the yeast. We don’t buy white sugar any more. (Can you tell he’s a brewer?) Crockpot Experiment Update. So this was a failure, the towel did not keep it warm enough, so I had to turn it on high for the last few hours to make sure my beef stew was ready for supper. It was delicious, though. It is so true that we often learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. I will keep trying. Solar Oven. Yesterday my Countryside Magazine came in (March/April 2015) with an article on a solar oven by Jeff Hoard on page 20 and included the instructions to make it. This one is so perfect to put on our back deck. I can’t wait to make it. Using the base of a swivel stool to be able to turn it toward the sun is an awesome idea. This is the solar oven idea I have been waiting for. He made his with scraps on hand and has experienced using it almost daily for 10 years, so it has proven its worth. You can find Countryside’s website here, and Jeff Hoard’s website here.