Happy Easter! Holy Week is hard, and after Lent, it's like a one two punch of contemplation and dark before the dawn. Then there's Easter. Hallelujah indeed.
To celebrate resurrection, spring and new life, I'm awakening my sourdough starter. It's the first starter I made, when Kali was a baby in NYC. I fed it all the way down here, and have used it for years. People who claim starter must be eternally used and/or fed do not know starter well. We have often left ours dormant for a year or more at a time.
I opened it after church today, and smelled. Lovely. The dark liquor on the top looked almost black, and deep, and swirly. I poured it off into my bread bowl, and dug a spoon into the starter itself. It was the color of rich, fresh flour, but better. More honey colored. It smelled like the best apple cider you've ever come across. Delicious. I just want to go breathe it some more.
Into this I stirred a cup each of whole wheat flour (red) and filtered water. I feed starter with what ever I have on hand. White, white whole wheat, red whole wheat or rye. They all work beautifully. I started it with rye originally. It's beginning to bubble. That's a piece of heaven, truly. I wish I could blog the good, clean, sweet smell of it.
I love the metaphor, the peering into the fridge to look for the starter. It wasn't where I remembered it being. I wondered if it was viable, but even the black liquor smelled good, and underneath it was quite alive. Maybe I'll make it a Spring tradition. I like the idea that it was more of a dormant state between active life and new life.
This is all really a digression, though. What has me really excited is an idea that occurred to me as I stirred the fed starter.
Florida houses are by definition moldy houses. I don't care how much you spend, there's so much mold in the outside air, it gets in, and everyone's got at least a little. We battle it, we hold it at bay, and sometimes it wins. Hence the tear-down house phenomenon.
There really can't be any happily old architecture in Southern Florida. At the very least the interior contents have to be replaced fairly frequently, and even gut renovations are often required. Nasty chemicals are involved, and there's no option. The mold is quite toxic.
But what if, like populating the intestines with beneficial flora to keep unfriendly yeast and bacteria, we could populate the house with beneficial, or at least neutral yeasts, molds and mycological life?
It makes sense. Here's another example.
In Florida, you can make it so you have no medium sized creatures in your yard (possums, racoons, skunks, for instance,), and no reptile hideouts, but then you may suffer an abundance of palm rats (which to my NYC eyes are like pretty little squirrels without the fluffy tails, but rats nevertheless), which then require another heroic solution.
But if you make something of an undisturbed habitat, then likely a possum will move in and eat the rats (better a possum than the other two options!). And king snakes move into the hedges and tree banks and eat both rats and other more aggressive snakes.
This happy little system works at our house. No furry beasts steal my fruit or veggies. The dog and cats keep them out of the house. Everyone's happy. At night sometimes we hear the possum, possuming around in the leaf litter (which I also don't rake, but relocate as mulch around the yard). It's actually rather pleasant. An occasional basking snake on a hedge top, or zipping through the yard is kind of cool.
So why not? Why not innoculate the house with some happy blend of colonizing fungi and flora, and do what it takes to keep it happy? Then only an unhappy house would get dangerous mold and nasty mildew. What about that?
Any mycologists and bacteriologists want to chime in here? Any air conditioning radicals? Is it possible that some combination of the wild yeasts in sourdough starter, the flora in lactofermented foods, and a shiitake log could pleasantly populate the house and keep the nasties at bay? I'm only slightly joking about those specific examples. You get the point.
I can't be the first person to think of this.
The kids are jacked up on Easter candy superaction, Tim is napping on the couch, and we have a p90x yoga date later today. A walk on the beach, then crab legs and filet mignon for dinner. Insert contented sigh.