A pot of stock is cooking on the stove; our beets in the garden are huge, and the weather has turned blustery. Time for borscht.
But, I've been thinking about bread lately. I used to make it all the time, but other things have displaced the time I used to use for bread making. Before school began last year we bought a bread machine, and we've used it constantly; it makes a loaf that's good for the sandwiches my kids bring to school every day, and we haven't had to purchase bread since then.
When I started thinking about a rabbit-stock borscht my thoughts turned to bread again, and I remembered a beautiful recipe given to me a decade ago by a co-worker's mother in Des Moines, Iowa. Inga's mother, Vija, gave me a jar of starter for her Latvian rye bread, the most wonderful sour rye I've ever tasted. I made it for awhile, but over the years I lost the starter. I've continued to make rye bread occasionally, but nothing has compared to the still-sweet, slightly fermented rye I first tried all those years ago when recruiting for Peace Corps. It was probably a night like this when I wrote down the recipe in her kitchen as I watched her make it.
So, even though I should be asleep now, I just brought out my big stoneware bowl and added a few cups of rye flour, enough warm water to make it thin like pancake batter, about a cup of sugar, and a teaspoon of yeast. That'll be my new starter. The recipe uses only rye flour and has no added yeast. I added a little to start the fermentation, but I won't add any more.
Within a few days I'll have a big pot of borscht and a loaf of Vija's Latvian rye bread.
birch and grasses alone on the snow, grey sky indistinguishable. the flat world falls into the edge of time, lifeless, dull wedge of horizon and soundless ...