As we stoked the Community Oven, warmed ourselves near the flames and waited for the wood to burn down to embers, Bliss and I had a nice chat about her history in Cambridge, her involvement with Hubbard Hall, the renovation/reuse of the Freight Yard, the Cambridge Food Co-op and the Community Garden. Bliss is one interesting and hardcore lady! She was on-board the eco-local living bandwagon long before it ever became fashionable or the responsible thing to do. She built her own home, has animals and chickens, buys everything organic and local, grinds her own grain, and gardens (both personally and professionally), she is a basket-maker and makes her own reeds by beating lengths of wood… these things among a long list of other talents. She is a modern day pioneer in the tradition of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
We were gathered to bake bread and in conversation it came out that around the time of September 11, 2001, Bliss had signed up for a bread baking class at a local French Bakery and Pâtisserie. She was unable to attend so her husband went in her stead. He took notes and each student left the class with a recipe and a piece of sourdough starter. She has kept this starter going for 10 years now and she offered me a piece. YES YES YES! This past week, over the course of three days, I made my first two loaves of Whole Wheat Sourdough, baked on a stone in my oven. The results were delicious: tender and springy crumb with lots of air pockets, amazing crust and a fabulous sour tang. Thank you Bliss for this wonderful, and hopefully eternal gift!!