Superlatives aside, I did just finish a pretty amazing sandwich.
First, let me describe the creation that, to date, is the pinnacle of my gustatory experience in the realm of that iconic thing: the grilled-cheese sandwich.
It was consumed perhaps a month ago, when I dropped in on my friend Lori, who is a dab hand in the bread-baking department. Her loaves have risen to new heights of perfection, if I do say so myself, since I introduced her to my sourdough starter . W e call him Earl.
On t he day in question I was treated — with a messy, toasty, gooey delight , including homemade olive levain (a light French sourdough) — to a sandwich containing at least three kinds of cheese, one of which was blue, and thinly sliced crisp apples.
So I’m not even going to try and top that. But I was inspired to experiment — in keeping with our theme of Yukon origins — and am pretty content with my results .
The bread, I’ll admit, was another welcome donation from Lori the baker : A 90 per cent rye loaf , à la Earl.
I smeared it liberally with a chickweed, cilantro , and garlic scape pesto that had been hanging out in the freezer since August. Garlic scapes are the flower stalks that curl out of the top of the plant — my sources say that garlic that has been de-scaped is better for storage , and scapes are delicious fresh, pickled , or used in any recipe that c alls for garlic ; t he flavour is a little milder.
I then layered on some very thin slivers of roast moose – heart, leftovers gleaned from my neighbour , who confided that the heart of a moose provides a very large meal, even for a family of four.
I slowly caramelized an onion from our garden, adding it for sweetness. The cheese component consisted of three generous slices of goat milk , tome, semi-hard farmer – style cheese, that I made back in July. I topped the whole thing with a thin drizzle of hot sauce from greenhouse-grown pointy peppers. Just writing this makes me want another one .
So what is the point of this play-by-play, if not to make you jealous or hungry? Merely to show that something as plebeian as the grilled-cheese sandwich — which I recall from childhood as a compressed mass of industrial-style bread oozing bright orange cheese (or “ cheese ” slices if you weren’t careful) , smothered in ketchup — can become a labour of love. And one that is downright delicious.
Getting started with starter
1) A sk around. Someone near by probably has one squirreled away.
2) If you want to start your own, simply mix equal parts water and flour in a bowl and leave on the counter, covered with a towel to keep out flies and dust, until it starts to bubble. This may take a few days depending on what yeasts you have.
3) Try using some of the starter in pancakes or bread, and feed the rest of the starter with water and flour . I like quite a liquid starter. It may take weeks to get up to a full strength that will rise your bread as much as commercial yeast, but it’s worth it .
4) Store in an airtight jar in the fridge, and keep a backup in the freezer in case of emergencies. Every time you use it, take out half and feed the rest.
5) Give your starter a name.