Sunday, May 31, 2009

water+flour+(a little dedication)=beautiful bread

This post may end up falling into the category of "Deep Thoughts Rarely Are"but bare with me, I have to get this out of my head so I can stop thinking about it and get on to the next thing today.

Yesterday, Chef Tess, and I were having  a little Facebook exchange.  I had set my status to "Instant Gratification has got to be the world's BEST motivator".  She replied "except for a really good tart Sourdough, that's worth waiting for."  And it is.  I LOVE a good tart sourdough.  I used to  make sourdough at home from a wonderful starter which had instructions on how to sweeten it if it should become too sour.  In over two years time it never got too sour for me. So I got to thinking about the beauty of waiting on something like  a good tart sourdough, versus instant gratification.  I decided that the the two experiences are not mutually exclusive. 

I don't know if you've ever made sourdough, but if you have, you know that your "starter" is nothing more than flour + water, left to ferment.  It has to ferment for a couple of weeks before its strong enough to produce a loaf of bread.  Used too soon, one would have to borrow the leavening power of yeast, or end up with a flat, ugly, tasteless bread, a rather "Poor" excuse.  (I'll explain in a moment why I put poor in quotations).  Sometimes, people will add a slice of cabbage, or some mashed grapes to the sour to make it ferment faster.  I've always thought that sounded like an ugly way to make something become beautiful.  I'm willing to wait and keep my starter "clean".

When I wrote about instant gratification being an excellent motivator, I had been referring to the rather quick success JP and I are having using the Total Money Makeover.  Because of circumstances involving some choices we've made, we are enjoying having saved our Emergency Fund, and paying off our first debt in just 21 days from the time we checked the book out at our local library. ( you too can do this without ever spending anything extra this is not any kind of sales pitch, "secret program", or otherwise scammy idea.  It is pure and simple exactly what you've always known.  Its just that its put into a step by step process so you can actually DO the things you've always known and have success making your money work for you instaed of against you.)  So, I was thinking money.  I was thinking how motivated I am to continue with this program having such quick and substantial success.  And then Tess brought DOUGH into the equation and you  We all get that right?

So I continue considering waiting on this sourdough and I realize, yes, that sourdough starter must be waited on, and the loaf itself when you finally get to bake it has to raise forever, but its so delicious.  And I realize, whenever I have started a new sour-starter, it has ALWAYS begun to ferment by the next morning.  Two simple ingredients, water + flour, mix together to become something different, something that will bring flavor and loft to a greater mass of water, flour, and this time salt.  And we can begin to see this process within 24 hours of the time I begin, and that gives me motivation to continue.
And so I begin to realize that if we let water be our discipline, and flour be our money, the two mixed together immediately begin to create something bigger than they started out as.  They begin to work together to become something that eventually will bring flavor and loft to (I'm going to borrow a phrase from Tess here) "the Bread of Life" (go read her bread of life section she posts every Sunday to her food blog. Its often quite inspiring.)  But the key is not being in a hurry.  Yes, a little instant gratification, a small amount of fermentation overnight, can give you hope to keep doing what you set out to do.  But it must be tended for some time before its ready to use. A daily stir, a daily feed, are required.  Left ignored it will turn ugly and smelly.  Tended daily it will become beautiful and fragrant.  Used too quickly it will be flavorless and flat.  Used in combination with yeast (can yeast be consumer debt?) It will look the same as real sourdough on the outside, but once its opened up, the difference will be clear, and the taste only an imitation of the real thing, a bitter dissappointment. (This is why I put poor in quotes up above, consumer debt makes you poor, -oh how I know-, while making it look on the outside like everything's ok.-Can you say "No Bishop, we are fine.  We have everything we need.  The baby has diapers, we have milk, we're fine."  Nevermind we bought it on credit because we were too proud to say we don't have any money for diapers or milk this month.--Just so we're clear, living within your means does not mean living just under your credit limit, it means living with what you have cash for.  Hard lesson learned.)

Sorry, that segue got a little long, back to my original thought.

The real thing is SO worth waiting for.  But those tiny little bubbles you see the next day, right after you start combining your hard work and effort with that flour and water, those are what keep you waiting because they let you see that your method is working.  They give you hope and confidence that what you're doing will actually become something beautiful.  I don't think this applies only to finances, didn't grandma tell you ANYTHING worth having is worth waiting for?  Yeah, she did.  And for me, its having financial peace of mind.  Its worth the wait, but I'm awfully excited about the small amount of bubbling we're already seeing after applying just a small amount of well balanced discipline.


Kristina P. said...

I was just reading the new Ensign, and it talks a lot about finances. This fits right in line with that!

Heatherlyn said...

I'm going to try to find that book. It sounds worth reading!

Nicole G. said...

Our bishop introduced our ward to the total money makeover in March 2008. We buckled down and got disciplined and paid off over $25,000 in debt in a year. It's the only reason I am able to stay at home now. We never could have survived on one income before with all of the payments we had. Now we are down to my student loans and our car payment...with me staying home I think it will be 10 more years before those are paid off, lol, but we are on the right track and surviving on 1/3 of the income we had just a few months ago.