I got my sourdough culture as a dehydrated little teaspoon package back in 2013. I started hydrating it right away and right when I was ready to bake with it, I couldn’t find it anywhere! I asked my husband and he told me he thought it was left over pancake batter from breakfast so he dumped it out and washed the bowl, just to be nice. I almost cried, bless his heart.
I sent another self addressed stamped envelope to get more starter and waited another six weeks for it to come. When it arrived I baked with a frenzy! I learned all I could about sourdough and shared my starter with anyone who cared to join me in becoming a die-hard sourdough bread baker. I was a chicken loving, bread baking, crunchy homestead mama.
Fast forward two years and our little homestead had to be sold so my husband could do grad school work. No more chickens, garden, or even yard to call our own. We lived in a tiny 900 square foot townhouse squashed between many other townhouses, and all six of us (only four kids then) piled into 2 bedrooms. My heart ached for greenspace and the simple homestead life I had left behind to support my husband through school. We both worked hectic schedules while I homeschooled our oldest and it was rough.
I had a dear friend who told me during this time “You need to find something to make” (thank you Kris!) and she mentioned that making yogurt in a crockpot was incredibly easy. She knew that at the heart of all the rough, there was a feeling of discontent in me because I wasn’t doing what had previously helped me feel accomplished: make things. I am reminded of a quote by Corrie Ten Boom, one of my favorite authors and an amazing woman “Beware the barrenness of a busy life”. I felt that keenly. My life felt barren because I was too busy to slow down and do things for the sake of doing them, not just to check off my ever long list.
So I decided to start carving out time of every day, it actually ended up being in the early morning, to go back to making things for the satisfaction of doing something well. I re-hydrated some sourdough starter that had been sitting for 9 months and started baking again. Next, I attempted yogurt in my small postage stamp sized kitchen and it was incredibly satisfying to hear my husband say “hey this is really good, what brand is it?” and I told him I had made it. He said he didn’t realize you could home make yogurt and I told him that I was pretty sure that at one time, everything was homemade. He said that he wanted homemade Oreos next (I still haven’t tried that).
I want to share with you the “why” behind what I do more than the how, and I’m not about to reinvent the wheel for things that have already been done well. You can find a great Instantpot yogurt recipe here and another great crockpot yogurt recipe here.
All this to say, homemaking yogurt and sourdough got me started on a path of making things I could easily buy simply for the satisfaction of doing it. There is a refining process in working with your hands, and honestly, it gives you less time to waste every day. We’ve made furniture, cutting boards, spoons, salt and pepper shakers, even a chessboard, tables, and more. All in just a couple hours each evening! We still watch the occasional movie, but probably only a few per month, the majority of the time we find more enjoyment in doing things.
Sourdough bread and homemade yogurt started me down a path that I hope I don’t stray from: doing things the hard way because it makes me better in the long run.