Thursday, March 01, 2007


Today marks the end of my Month of Not Spending. I decided, after looking disgustedly at all of the things filling up our little Cape Cod (CDs, action figures, books we haven't read, yarn I haven't knit) that in February -- the shortest month of the year -- I wouldn't add to the spoils. Only a month, I realize, but I'm hoping that taking little consumerism breaks will help me be a more conscientious consumer, and not pick up things thoughtlessly. ("Hey! The Footloose soundtrack for $6.99! I haven't heard this in years!") You will notice by the dates of my posts that I got that pressure cooker in just under the wire.

I wasn't completely strict with myself. February is a heavy birthday month for us, and I didn't put restrictions on birthday gifts, although I did make a couple small things to complement the purchased gifts. And my favorite yarn is being cleared out at KnitPicks so I used a gift certificate I'd received at Christmas to buy enough for a new sweater, which a friend said doesn't really count since "that purchase had already been made." (I like the way you think, Kitty!)

I was amazed at the difference in our checking account in one month, so I've been feeling very Amy Dacyczyn-like. Consequently, I thought I'd try my hand at sourdough bread, which is purported to be "the cheapest bread you can make" since it contains such a few, very humble ingredients.

This morning I made the starter, which means combining:
  • 2 cups room-temperature water
  • 1 Tbsp. yeast
  • 2 cups white flour
You mix this in a non-reactive (non-metal) container big enough that the starter can expand, cover it loosely with plastic wrap so that some air can get to it, and let it sit on your counter for a couple days until it gets a bit gamey. By the weekend, I should be in the bread-making business.

I had some starter going years and years ago. That time, being the lazy cook I am, I didn't want to go to *all the trouble* of mixing up the three ingredients, so I stuck them in a quart Mason jar, twisted on the lid, and shook the dickens out of it. Then I covered it loosely with plastic wrap and went for a long walk. By the time I came home, thick starter had exploded all over my counter. So today I went through the *very* tedious process of stirring the ingredients for 30 seconds. Just like our forebears had done.

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Anonymous Leneta Kitchel said...

Well! First regarding your sourdough. Back in the 70's when we lived in Richmond, we got some genuine sourdough (usually known as San Francisco sourdough or Alaska sourdough) from mail order somewhere, so Larry says. It was wonderful, and makes the most delicious pancakes in the world. In a few years, it "died" and not knowing how to start another I went out of the sourdough business. There's another sweeter sourdough recipe which is fed with milk - sometimes called Herman (who knows why)- which I have had for 30-some years. Even though our fridge died once while we were out of town, killing the "Herman", at that time I did have friends who got me going again. Now when we travel, Laura baby-sits with Herman, and it continues to survive. The milk sourdough, Herman, doesn't make such delicious pancakes, but it is very good for breads, biscuits, waffles, shortcake, etc. All very economical and pretty easy. I'm happy you have what I assume is the original Alaska-type sourdough. Make us some pancakes sometime. Phil will remember them I bet.

Regarding the month of no purchases! I didn't know you were doing that. A few months ago there was mention in the Sierra Club magazine of a group of friends who contracted to go a full year buying nothing new. Did your idea come from there? We've been discussing that and thinking it was a cool idea. Difficult to do, I think. There'd need to be loopholes for necessities like food and toilet paper. Gonna do it anymore? We'd contract with you. Leneta

6:02 PM  
Blogger Cindy K said...

I read about the no-spend idea in a book review in Heifer Intl magazine. The book was called something like "My Year Without Shopping." I've also heard of the pact you read about, and my undestanding is that 1) they can buy necessities (so if your underwear wears out in Month 1, you're not going commando for 11 more months), they could eat out (something the author of the book above didn't do), and they could acquire non-consumable goods if they bartered for them (so if you took a stack of books to Half Price, you could get new books that didn't exceed the trade-in value). Other than that, they didn't acquire any hard goods/nonconsumables. I've thought of doing it maybe a month on/a month off. My rules would be pretty lax since I'm providing for the boys. It's cool for me to go another year in the same jeans so long as they're decent, but poor M produces floods about every other month. :)

You'll have to introduce me to Herman. I found another, less austere, recipe for sourdough that sounded intriguing. I might try that next. Although I don't know that I could ever bake/consume enough to keep two sourdoughs going!

3:31 AM  

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