Hugh Addington, born in 1894, began cooking sourdough biscuits and hot cakes for his family’s sheepherding trips in Idaho’s Seven Devils Mountains when he was a boy. He continued using sourdough all his 84 years. A staple in the camp box, and later in his kitchen, he kept his starter fed and ready. If he ever ran out he made more with this recipe.
I am his grand daughter and I won’t tell you how many years I have been making more than biscuits and hot cakes with his starter. If you want some of my favorite recipes for what to do once you have the starter, just ask.
What you need:
small glass jar with lid
pot for boiling potatoes
small crock or glass mixing bowl
1 or more potatoes
1 cup reserved liquid from boiled potatoes
1 cup flour, all purpose flour will do but you could try whole wheat flour or bread flour
What you do:
Boil the potatoes until soft, making sure you will have at least a cup of water left when done. Leave skins on if they are organically grown. Drain, reserving liquid. Use the potatoes for any recipe you like. Cool to room temperature the reserved liquid that the potatoes have been boiled in.
When liquid has cooled to room temperature, measure 1 cup of it. Stir the cup of liquid into to the cup of flour in a small crock or glass mixing bowl. Don’t use a blender or mixer for this, stir by hand.
Cover the crock or glass bowl with a paper towel or light dish cloth and let it sit on the counter for 24 – 48 hours. It will gather yeast from the air and begin to ferment. You will probably see the hooch form on top of the batter. Hooch is the fermentation, rather ugly and brownish.
Gently stir the starter, pour it into the glass jar, put on the lid and store it in the fridge until ready to use.
To use the starter, take it out the night before. You have to make a “sponge” or “freshen” it. Put a half cup of starter in a crock or glass mixing bowl. Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup warm, not hot, water, cover it lightly and let it sit for 6 hours or longer.
Feed the starter every week or two. I feed mine almost every time I use it so I don’t run too low. Add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to the starter, stir it in to mix. Or take some of the sponge and stir it back into the starter. Store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it again. If you don’t use the starter within 2 weeks, add flour and water to keep the little yeast organisms alive.
Here is my recipe for whole wheat sourdough bread baked in a 3 quart cast iron sauce pan.
The story of sourdough, and all the recipes, fascinates me. I could write too much about it. Search the web and you will find plenty of help. Here is my source for learning more about starters and recipes. If you click the link at the very bottom in this source, you will find really good easy recipes.
Potatoes can be cooked lots of ways over a campfire or your grill at home. At Boulder Lake (near McCall, Idaho), Linda prepared the night before our hike and packed the foil packets up the mountain next day. For each packet she sliced a potato thin, added sliced onion and a dollop of mayonnaise and then sealed the edges and stored the foil pouches in a zip lock bag for the hike. Problem is the packets leaked and made a messy puddle in the bag. Hard to handle at the fireside when Deb removed them to put them in the coals.
My recipe is different, maybe healthier and less messy. You can make them at the campsite or the day before if you are going hiking or paddling to your lunch site. Each hiker could make their own. Let kids help!
What you need: You can eat these right out of the foil. Remember to take a fork.
For each person:
1 quart sized zip lock bag, if you are going hiking or kayaking. Otherwise use a small mixing bowl.
Tin foil large enough to contain the ingredients and have room to seal the edges.
1 medium sized potato diced or sliced thin
1/4 cup onion diced or sliced thin depending on how you cut up the potato, add more or less to taste
2 tsp. olive oil
Seasoning: a sprinkle of your favorite herbs or seasoning plus salt and pepper to taste. Try any combination of these: chopped chives, basil, rosemary, garlic, cilantro, jalapeños peppers, celery, curry powder, or premixed seasonings. Experiment to find the taste you like. You can season each bag differently or for each person’s choice.
What you do:
If you are doing this the day before put all the ingredients in a quart sized zip lock bag. Seal it and gently massage the bag to lightly coat the potatoes and onions. Add more oil a little at a time if needed. The oil should just coat the food, not puddle up in the bottom of the bag. You could use a larger bag and mix and store enough in it for several people if you like. But if you will be on the move, I like each hiker or paddler to carry their own weight. Refrigerate until you are ready to leave. If you are doing this at your campsite, not on the move, you can use a mixing bowl instead of bags.
If hiking or kayaking, each person carries their own bag of ingredients and the foil to wrap it in. I suggest putting the small bag and foil in a gallon sized bag to double your insurance against leaks along the way.
Time to cook it:
When you are ready to eat, make a cooking fire that has coals, not much flame. Massage the bag again or mix the ingredients in the bowl to be sure everything is coated with oil. Then spread the foil flat and gently squeeze the ingredients out of the bag onto the foil. Seal the edges by folding and rolling them to keep the good stuff inside. They cook faster if the foil packet is rather flat and the spuds aren’t heaped together too thickly. Set the foil packets among the coals, not in the flame. Don’t crowd them too close together. Keep the sealed edges on top. If you are using a BBQ grill try this on the rack with the hood down. Check them in 20-30 min. depending on how hot your coals are. When the potatoes are as soft as you like them they are ready. Eat them right out of the foil.
Share the joy in your comment. Let me know how this works out for you and tell me where you were when you made them. How did you season your?
When Tim and I caught up with the 4 others at the lake Deb was constructing a little fire. Not what I had in mind for a day hike. A deer skull perched atop a tall stump; red huckleberry branches stuck through its eye sockets. Dramatic, elegant, haunting. Linda thought the many colors of fall leaves on the berry branches worth sharing. The men had already gone fishing. Linda showed Deb the bottle of seasoning next to the foil wrapped potato slices and then she was gone, off for a walk. Deb asked me how to cook the potatoes. I asked her what else was in the packets before I told her how I have cooked them before. Here is the recipe. Tim had already moved to the lake to fish, dissolving into the landscape with the other men.
I found myself alone with Deb. She pulled out a section of newspaper and started the crossword puzzle. We visited a little but I could see I was distracting her. Realizing I was going to be here for a long time, I wished I had brought my knitting project. What would I do with myself? Maybe I would sketch the mountain across the lake in the sandy beach. I took off to explore.
No journal, sketch book or camera so I decided to use my cell phone and take lots of photos to test its camera capability. Midday light is hard to work with and I had no choices for shutter speed, or aperture. What you see in this blog came from a $30 Tracfone.Fair enough.
On the sand bar that split the lake in two I found mammoth basalt outcroppings next to some granite and quartz veins. I stacked 5 cairns atop boulders and photographed them from many viewpoints.
The men caught several cutthroats and Deb laid them in foil, sprinkled their skin with the seasoning, folded the foil edges together and set them in the fire. Linda came back from her walk. She had hiked on to Anderson Lake. I had eaten my peanut butter–honey sandwich and some plums so I only tasted a big bite of trout that Tim had squirted with lemon. Just a little fishy tasting, slightly undercooked, yet wonderful next to the lake where they had lived an hour before.
We ate and then the men fished again. I walked completely around the lake and took more photos of the surroundings and teeny toads and the diversity of animal tracks. The boot print mingled with bear tracks talked to me about why I live in wild mountains. So did the dry crusted footprint left by a barefoot young person or a woman. I am so small and temporary in this world. And that is as it should be. Like the tracks, I too will last only a short while. I accept it.
We hiked down the rocky trail aside Boulder Creek and sat in lawn chairs around a dog crate-turned-table, covered with a bright printed cloth. We shared fruit and pretzels in pretty bowls and cold beers. It was a long and relaxing day, not the way I usually hike, snack, and return to whatever happens next in the day. This group has been doing this for 6 years. I’ll probably go with them again just to push myself up trails faster. And now I know what to expect. My own slower hiking pace is accepted by them, we each had our solitude together. With them I learned, again, to spend a long time on the mountain. No hurries.
Information about Boulder Lake,near McCall, http://www.idahoconservation.org/events/explore-idaho/southwest-idaho/boulder-lake