I just finished putting a double batch of sourdough in the oven to raise. In two hours, I will make it into rolls and let it raise for two more hours and then I will bake them into the MOST delicious sourdough rolls for Thanksgiving dinner.
I have been fascinated with sourdough starter since I was a child. My mother had both Herman cake and Amish Friendship bread starter fermenting on the counter and in the fridge as I was growing up. I was always very interested in the end result of those starters but since I've grown up, my obsession has been with sourdough.
I think it began with one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books (By the Shores of Silver Lake, I believe) when Laura describes to a guest how to make sourdough starter and bread. From that time to this, I have hankered after having my own starter.
Recently, King Arthur Flour had a deal where if you bought their stoneware crock you would get the starter to put in it for free. I had almost bought the crock and starter several times before but it was a bit dear so I had resisted. Well, if they were going to offer me such a deal, I was bound and determined to take advantage of it. I tried to order it a few days later and the website said it was not available. Undeterred (a deal is a deal after all), I called the company directly and they said that they had pulled it from the website because the overwhelming response they had to the offer had caused them to run out. They kindly took a back order for me and in late summer my crock and starter arrived.
I carefully followed the directions and then left everything sitting on the counter to "proof". My husband wandered out into the kitchen a little later and picked up the directions and perused them. Then he called out to me and said "Honey, it says you have to feed the sourdough." and I replied "Yes." and then there was a long pause and a slightly worried voice call out "WHAT do you FEED it? Small villages? The cat?" Needless to say, I cracked up and then went to explain the wonders of sourdough to my husband.
Since that time I have used the starter to make quick breads (zucchini and banana), waffles, a tomato based sourdough bread, a sourdough bread with instant yeast and traditional sourdough bread. They have all been really delicious with an extra gold star for the waffles and the traditional sourdough bread. So go out and get yourself some starter or make some from scratch. I recommend the sourdough starter from King Arthur. They can trace its provenance from the 1700's. As far as I know you only feed it flour and water but you may want to watch out for the cat when the starter is out fermenting on the counter.