Last Friday night at our seed swap event in Clinton, Liz–our Arts Council president–told me there was a guy set up at the Hilltop Cafe in Ortonville selling a truckload of Texas sweet onions in 50lb. bags for $37 apiece.
I stopped at 8am Saturday on my way south for Easter–the semi trailer was there, but I guess it was too early in the morning for most people to consider buying enormous bags of enormous onions. Thankfully, he was there on my way back.
I ran out of my own garden onions over a month ago, and to me this was like those Christmas boxes of clementines–a seasonal treat. The guy had backhauled the onions from the southern border in order not to run empty–I can’t fault that kind of reasoning.
The onions are very fresh–I sliced a couple (and they weigh a couple of pounds apiece) and am cooking them down slowly for soup–very slowly because they’re so juicy. These aren’t the rock-hard dry-cured storage onions I grow.
I’ll cook them to a soft caramel mass, add a little wine, some thyme, hot pepper, celery seed, and salt, and stock of whatever kind seems good, and have a tasty soup for dinner tonight.
I’ve also been feeding a sourdough for a couple of weeks now–have made some bread with it and a crust for the pizza I brought to the aforementioned seed swap and potluck dinner.
You can say I cheated because I started it with the Red Star yeast from my freezer–I’ve tried to start them with nothing but a little flour, water, and honey and haven’t had success. This one has been bubbling along happily, and made it through the long weekend in the fridge with no problems.
Having that sourdough going makes throwing together a loaf of bread or a pizza crust even quicker than usual–I just dip out a cup or so of the starter and proceed with the salt, oil or butter, and sweetening plus more flour until the dough comes together enough to knead a little. It doesn’t seem to need a second rising like it tends to when starting from scratch.
Feeding the starter is as simple as adding a little liquid (water or beer) and mixing in a little flour on a daily or every-other-day basis. Going away for a couple of days requires nothing more than feeding it before leaving and sticking it in the fridge. It’s good to throw a towel over the top to keep out dust.
It probably won’t ever be truly tangy like the classic sourdoughs of San Francisco–that comes from the specific strains of yeast that live there. From what I’ve read, a sourdough evolves over time–and starting with commercial yeast gets it going, but local yeast strains will take over eventually.
So, maybe in a year or so, the loaves baked from this starter will embody the true “taste of Clinton.”