Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sourdough Adventures

In February, I decided to reward myself for completing all the essays and paperwork required to apply to do my senior projects. My reward manifested as the creation of my first sourdough starter. A lot of friends supported and cheered my effort, but I was also told I shouldn't be dismayed if it doesn't work the first time. Apparently, sourdough can be tricky and starters can be difficult to keep alive.
Mine flourished. It lived and grew on top of the fridge. I fed it every day and encouraged it with kind words. It grew SO well that after only a week, I decided to try it out in a recipe.
Roasted garlic and rosemary focaccia. Success! Even though my starter instructions said to feed everyday for two weeks, I went ahead and stashed it away in the fridge. Sourdough doesn't just hang out in the fridge, though. It requires a weekly commitment, at least. So every week I have been pulling out the starter to feed it and using the extra to make whatever I can.
 The second week, I made an herbed sourdough pizza crust, topped with sweet potato and spinach.
 After that, a sourdough fougasse with seeds and nuts. It was delicious, but didn't turn out as pretty as I would have liked. Fougasse has a notoriously 'rustic' look, and has even been called ugly. Mine is almost there, but I think it looks a bit too puffy and the holes are not clearly holes.
Last week's carrot cake was a very pleasant surprise. I expected some hint of sourdough flavor, but there was none at all. It was moist and cakey and perfect. Definitely in my file of sourdough recipes to use again.
This week's fougasse is a little bit better, but I think I still need to work on it. Perhaps splitting the dough in half to make two loaves would allow me to get the dough thinner and more spread out on the pan to avoid the closing up of my pretty slices. Good looking or not, I can't wait to tear off a chunk and scoop up some roasted red pepper hummus! Nom nom nom!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Community Foundations in Kyrgyzstan

The journey is almost over... I am now officially in my final semester at Prescott College. But, I still have a lot of work to do before graduation.

I am currently working on capstone projects for two majors, Globalization and Religious Ethics and Arts and Letters. For both projects, I will be working with the Asylzat Craft Cooperative in Karakol, Kyrgystan. The final products of these projects will be a full project report including a 3-year business plan for the cooperative, with the goal of helping the cooperative become financially self-sustainable, and a book about Asylzat and my experience there.

A photo from my last visit to Asylzat in fall 2012
I am SO excited to go back to Kyrgyzstan for the beginning of April. And, even more exciting for me, is the opportunity I have to share the experience with my mom, who has bravely accepted the daunting task of being my research assistant.

To prepare for this trip, and to kick off some strong financial support for the cooperative, I have started a crowd funding campaign that anyone can contribute to. Check it out here: http://www.gofundme.com/79jy2w .  And share it with your friends!