Klondike Letters Project

Translating experience into memory through inspired creation.

Tag: food

Sourdough

The last few months I’ve been working hard on getting the Kickstarter rewards out to all people supporting the 2017 season! One of my favorite rewards for backers is passing on our sourdough starter. During the various gold rushes in the 1800s, sourdough was a staple for prospectors. With just flour, water, salt, and a bit of starter you could have a hearty loaf of bread to fill your belly. In the cold northern winters, stampeders kept their starter in a pouch around their neck to keep it warm and alive (though actually, freezing starter only makes it go dormant and it can be revived!). Prospectors who made it through an entire winter season was dubbed a “sourdoughs” because they had managed to keep their starter (and themselves) alive.

Sourdough baking is sort of like a long-term scientific experiment. When we first started making bread, our loaves came out dense, kind of flat and a bit… well, under-baked in the center. But we kept trying, testing different water to flour ratios. We read blog posts and books on kneading vs autolysing, gluten development, steam bathing etc. etc. etc.

Now, several years in, we have a pretty consistent loaf coming out of our oven. So we decided to document the process, which is by no means perfect, but hopefully will give you a head start into the sourdough experiment. Below is the recipe and some tips:

No-knead sourdough

1000g (7.5 cups) flour

650g (3 cups) water

20g (1 Tb) salt

100g (1/3 cup) sourdough starter

Mix flour and water together and let sit for at least 30 min and up to 3 hours. This autolyses the flour and lets the glutens start developing early.

Add salt and sourdough. Incorporate fully. Then let rest in a warm spot until doubled in size and bubbles develop on the surface (this can take 8-24 hours depending on how active your starter is and how warm it is. Our dough rises much faster int he summer than in winter.)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. If you are baking in a Dutch oven, preheat the pot thoroughly as well (we let ours sit in there for a good 45 minutes). In the meantime, turn out risen dough onto a floured board and gently stretch and fold over into a loaf shape, trying to preserve as many of the bubbles as possible. Let rest while the oven is heating

Sprinkle sesame seeds or rolled oat on the bottom of pot (optional) then slide in the loaf. With a sharp knife, make 3 cuts on the top of the loaf. Cover, and place in oven.

Bake at 500 for 15 min, then turn oven down to 400 and bake an additional hour.

Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Let cool as long as possible! It is still cooking inside and will steam out. A good plan is to bake before you go to bed and let cool overnight. then you will have fresh crusty bread in the morning!

Sourdough

Wow, what a great start to our Kickstarter Campaign! I’m gonna take the opportunity to tell you about one of our weirder rewards – The Sourdough Zombie!

Sourdough starter is amazing – it’s a live culture that can transform a bit of flour water and salt into the most delicious loaf of bread. It can be frozen and stored for months and then brought back to life with a bit of gentle thawing and feeding. You can divide it and share it with friends (or Kickstarter backers). Thom and I got our sourdough starter from my dad, who got his in Skagway, Alaska! After 5 years, and 3 moves, it’s still going strong and makes a wicked loaf of bread! We had a little fun doing a Facebook live video the other day of the baking process:

The Stampeders were required to pack a literal tons of goods and equipment over Chilkoot Pass and into Klondike. Their piles of gear were dutifully checked my Canadian Mounties stationed at the pass to keep an eye on the gold-hungry crowds rushing for the goldfield. On the recommended list of goods is 400lbs of flour for that daily sourdough bread. Once a stampeder had survived a winter in the Klondike they were dubbed a “sourdough”, ostensibly because they had managed to keep their sourdough starter alive and consequently been able to feed themselves through the lean months of the year. When I first hiked the trail I met a family from Fairbanks who were carrying their sourdough with them, so they could say their sourdough had come over the Chilkoot Pass! I made a little animation of my conversation with them because I just loved the idea of a sourdough zombie!

Sponsor a Klondike Letters Postcard on Kickstarter

Happy Birthday Klondike-Goldrush!

Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park turns 40! There was some celebrating today at the visitor’s center.

Before the Artist's Talk

Before the Artist’s Talk

 

After the Artist's Talk

After the Artist’s Talk

Always fresh, always seeing

The Chilkoot Trail opens for the summer today! Happy Hiking!!

Belly full of warm soup which is nicely spreading through my body, extending down to my fingers. Listening to the windows rattle, slightly dreading going back out... what I want to remember is the look on Yanik's face as he reached the summit, and hearing the enjoyment (excitement!) in his voice as he said that this was his favorite day thus far. I want to remember to see the world like that: always fresh, always seeing. Huzzah!

Belly full of warm soup which is nicely spreading through my body, extending down to my fingers. Listening to the windows rattle, slightly dreading going back out… what I want to remember is the look on Yanik’s face as he reached the summit, and hearing the enjoyment (excitement!) in his voice as he said that this was his favorite day thus far. I want to remember to see the world like that: always fresh, always seeing. Huzzah!

This amazing snickers bar!

Hi self,  It's 2012 right now and I'm obviously 16 years old. My hand's shaking so bad I can barely write. I'm about to eat this amazing snickers bar. I just climbed the Golden Staircase, and reached the f***ing summit. It was a lot different than all of the other stuff I've done. I don't know where I'll be a year later right now but I hope it's somewhere good.  P.S. I love you self!

Hi self,
It’s 2012 right now and I’m obviously 16 years old. My hand’s shaking so bad I can barely write. I’m about to eat this amazing snickers bar. I just climbed the Golden Staircase, and reached the f***ing summit. It was a lot different than all of the other stuff I’ve done. I don’t know where I’ll be a year later right now but I hope it’s somewhere good.
P.S. I love you self!

Hot tea with Southern Comfort

Wildflowers blooming in the snow - an eagle soaring in the fog - cold wind- beautiful vista - rocky, rushing creeks - hot tea with Southern Comfort - granola bars -  looking forward to a hot shower and my warm be - do the trail again sometime.

Wildflowers blooming in the snow – an eagle soaring in the fog – cold wind- beautiful vista – rocky, rushing creeks – hot tea with Southern Comfort – granola bars – looking forward to a hot shower and my warm bed – do the trail again sometime.

Soupe du chocalat chaud

Les escaliers d'or sont très cocheux mais quand on est arrivé au sommet on a mangé de la soupe du chocalat chaud.

Les escaliers d’or sont très cocheux mais quand on est arrivé au sommet on a mangé de la soupe du chocalat chaud.

Mom, chocolate and hot tea

Hello!! So you just went up and over the Chilkoot Trail Golden Stairs!!! You are completely frozen but you are accomplished. You can't really write because your hands are frozen. It took five hours to get here and you still have to do four hours left, but its mostly flat or downhill. You are so strong! I'm proud of myself. Just keep thinking of Mom, chocolate and hot tea and you can do it! Be strong!!!! You can do anything.

Hello!! So you just went up and over the Chilkoot Trail Golden Stairs!!! You are completely frozen but you are accomplished. You can’t really write because your hands are frozen. It took five hours to get here and you still have to do four hours left, but its mostly flat or downhill. You are so strong! I’m proud of myself. Just keep thinking of Mom, chocolate and hot tea and you can do it! Be strong!!!! You can do anything.

Sourdough Zombies

Back in 1898, thousands of men and women arrived in Skagway with gold fever. They were headed for the Klondike goldfields over the Chilkoot Pass. Around their necks, they carried packets of fermented dough to make bread on their long, cold journey. If they made it through their first year in the bitter North, they were dubbed “sourdoughs”, after the bread that kept them alive during the endless night of winter.

Animation: Corrie Francis Parks
Banjo Pickin’ : Ranger Kyle Kaiser
Interviews recorded at the top of Chilkoot Pass.

This is the first in a series of animated postcards from Chilkoot Pass. Read more about the project here.  These mini-documentaries are rooted in reality, with live interviews  and photos from the Chilkoot Trail as providing a catalyst for my personal memories and playful reinterpretations. As an artist, this is about as fun as it gets!

Day 13 smooth(ie) sailing home

7 July
Carcross

trailart020Car(ibou)Cross(ing) – a boom town turned small town. More of a locals place, locals who make room for the train-scheduled tourists. That shore-hugging train ride along Lake Bennett brought me and my fellow smelly trampers out of the wilds and into this civilization. The Caribou Cafe feels new and modern in a comforting IKEA sort of way – i.e. functional minimalism in wood. Open, airy with lots of art on the walls. I understand why Steph recommended this place to me. 3 ladies in matching green sweatshirts chatter in German with the owner, Heike. They are guides of some sort but where are their tourists? Having an ice cream in on Main Street no doubt. I am pleased with my purple smoothie. This is clearly the place just enough off the beaten path that the interesting people rejoice in discovering, as I have.

bestofchilkoot070And so the trail is over. A hotel and shower await me in Whitehorse. And hopefully a beer and something not cooked over a pocket rocket. I don’t think I will do any reflecting. That’s what the trail is for. And the art. We shall see what comes…

Read all the post from the Trail Journal.