Don’t forget the yeast

A couple years back I was watching a cooking show on Netflix that talked about making sourdough breads. (Among other things) And in section of the show talking about making sourdoughs breads I learned something really interesting: You don’t need a sourdough starter… you can make your own.

My interest was peaked. Really? I thought part of what was cool about sourdough was that someone had to share a starter with you. Nope… in fact, you could start your own sourdough with just two simple ingredients… flour and water.

That’s it? How is that possible? It’s possible because of yeast. And, as the show pointed out, you didn’t even need to introduce yeast to your homemade sourdough starter at all. In fact, it’d taste better if you didn’t. Instead, you let where you live introduce your own special yeast, wild yeast.

Wild yeast? My brain ‘ploded right there in my living room.

Yes, there’s yeast unique to you floating around in your kitchen just waiting for some bread and water to bring to life.

And so I did that. Put a soupy concoction of mixed up flour and water on the counter in a jar in the kitchen. Each day for a couple weeks I dumped out half and added in a new half. And after a few days all sorts of magical things started to happen as the flour and water started to ferment and wild yeast moved in and made something out of nothing.

Over the next few months I kept that routine going. Dump half the starter each day, add a cup of fresh starter, wait until the next day… it’s bubbling and gassy and full of gluten and doubling every single day… and turning into better and better sourdough bread.

I gave up this wild yeast experiment after a few months. Primarily because we forgot about it on vacation once and it was really, really nasty when we got back. (Salvageable, technically) But also because this experiment led to me making a loaf of sourdough bread every day. And the problem with making a loaf of bread every day is you end up eating way too much bread and start to multiply, a bit, just like your sourdough starter!

But the point is, I suppose, two-fold:

  1. Nature provides the yeast. It’s unique to your setting. But it’s not something you need to buy if you’re patient enough to wait.
  2. Yeast is the secret ingredient to all bread. Most breads are some combination of water, flour, salt, and yeast. Without the yeast you don’t really even have bread.

Humility is the Yeast in Your Life

Setting aside the role of yeast in the Judeo-Christian metaphor of Passover just for a second… (I mean, you could write a book thinking about that. So let’s just set that metaphor aside.)

Humility is the yeast in your life. You can have all the right ingredients to be a good and productive person, you can have education, experience, access to resources, on and on and on.

But the most important ingredient for being a great person? I think it’s humility. The most important ingredient in leading a life you love is washed with humility.

The best people I know in my life have humility kneaded right into the meat of who they are.

Wild Humility is Available Universally

As I think about it here is what’s so crazy about humility. It’s available to literally every single one of us. Just like a wild yeast… you don’t need a book or a training session or anything else.

It’s just right there waiting for you.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

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