Cookery Maven Blog

A New Year's Benediction

Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts -- adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take "everyone on Earth" to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires ... causes proper matters to catch fire.

To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these -- to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times in the midst of "success right around the corner, but as yet still unseen" when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here.

In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But ...that is not what great ships are built for.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., Letter to a Young Activist During Troubled Times

Chicken B'Stilla for a Double-Header Birthday Dinner

How does a Moroccan meat pie, typically served at festive occasions, end up on the menu for a double-header birthday dinner for two dear friends with December birthdays? Well, it all started with a box of oranges purchased for a middle-school fundraiser, took a left turn at a bag full of spices from Tanzania from Gen's latest African safari, merged with a CORE cooking class featuring Janel's phyllo dough recipes and then ended with an addicting spice mixture called Dukkah from Ellen. And somehow, those unrelated events and ingredients joined forces to create a dinner table filled with individual chicken b'stillas -- seriously good Moroccan comfort food. 

My first exposure to Moroccan food was a pound of oil-cured olives from Bill's Imported Foods in Minneapolis. I was stocking up on French feta and Greek Diamond olive oil when I spied a bin of wrinkled black olives in the deli case. I asked to try one and was blown away by the intense, almost prune-like flavor. I had never tasted anything like it before. Kiki, the matriarch of the Bill's Imported Food clan, suggested I throw a handful into my next batch of olive tapenande  or add them to a chicken tajine. I was immediately intrigued and bought a pound of the glossy, shriveled olives, went to Barnes and Noble to find a Moroccan cookbook (this was before all recipes were a Google search away), and made my first chicken tagine (made in a conical tajine pot and everything) that evening. I've been hooked on Moroccan cooking ever since -- the preserved lemons, olives and aromatic spices are perfect for dinner on a cold and snowy night.  

Over the years, my Moroccan food journey went from tajines to harissa (a hot chili pepper paste) to chermoula paste (a lemony/garlic/cilantro marinade used for fish) to b'stilla. I have to admit, I made my first chicken b'stilla because I loved the word (both saying it and how it was spelled) but it didn't disappoint when I took my first forkful. The combination of cinnamon sugar dusted phyllo dough surrounding tender chicken covered in a richly spiced lemony gravy was really something special. Growing up, chicken a la king was our version of comfort food but the b'stilla, while much more intensely flavored, has become a 'grown-up' version of my childhood favorite. 

Phyllo dough can be a fickle beast and tends to break and rip when I'm working with it. Of course, it could be user error because I have little patience for carefully peeling each paper-thin, dry piece of pastry off the pile and it's likely that if I took my time, it would cooperate. At any rate, don't be put off by the phyllo dough -- it's not that difficult to work with (as long as it's completely thawed). Chicken b'stilla is typically made in one large pie but I like making individual b'stilla pies because it doesn't matter as much if the phyllo is mangled when you place it in the dish....and everyone gets plenty of the buttery/sugary phyllo crust! 

The birthday dinner was a success. Aldo was dressed up in his red bow (which he chewed up right after I took his picture), the b'stillas were a hit, the vegan roasted vegetable couscous was surprisingly good (I finally found a good vegan bouillon), I found the birthday candles, and Julie and Peter were properly fêted with cakes, candles, and a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. All in all, it was the perfect way to close out 2016...with a good meal, good friends and a relatively well-behaved puppy named Aldo. 

Chicken B'Stilla
makes 10 individual b'stilla pies

8 - 10 chicken thighs, skin removed
8 - 10 chicken legs, skin removed
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
2 tablespoons Dukkah (recipe here)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Big pinch of saffron threads
4 cups chicken broth, preferably home-made or low-sodium
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
5 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
One 16-ounce box of phyllo dough (about 40 sheets)
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
Cinnamon sugar, for dusting

Put the chicken pieces, onions, garlic and spices into a Dutch oven and stir thoroughly with your hands or a large wooden spoon (you want to make sure all the chicken pieces are covered with the spice mixture). Cover and let the chicken marinate overnight in the refrigerator. 

Add the chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so that the liquid simmers, cover the pot, and cook for about an hour. You know it's done when the chicken is falling off the bone. 

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl. Strain the broth, saving both the liquid and the onions. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred it.

Clean the Dutch oven and pour the broth back into it. Whisk in the the lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook until you have about 2 cups liquid (takes about 20 minutes). Reduce the heat to low.

Beat the eggs with the honey and add to the broth, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk the sauce until it thickens enough that your whisk leaves tracks in it, about 5 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Stir the chicken, sweet potatoes, cilantro, and reserved onions into the sauce. Set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 400°F. 

Open the phyllo sheets package and cover with a kitchen towel (this helps keep them from drying out and breaking). Generously brush each individual oven-safe crock with melted butter. Brush 1 sheet phyllo with butter, center it in the dish and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar onto the phyllo. Brush two additional sheets with butter and press them into the dish. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of almonds over the phyllo, spoon in the saucy chicken and fold the overhanging phyllo over the chicken. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle about another teaspoon of cinnamon sugar over the top. Repeat with the remaining individual crocks. 

Bake the b’stillas for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for 20 minutes more. If the top seems to be getting too brown at any point, cover it loosely with foil. Remove from the oven, let rest for about 5 minutes and then enjoy! 

Yuletide Blessings

Remembering That It Happened Once
Remembering that it happened once,
We cannot turn away the thought,
As we go out, cold, to our barns
Toward the long night’s end, that we
Ourselves are living in the world
It happened in when it first happened,
That we ourselves, opening a stall
(A latch thrown open countless times
Before), might find them breathing there,
Foreknown: the Child bedded in straw,
The mother kneeling over Him,
The husband standing in belief
He scarcely can believe, in light
That lights them from no source we see,
An April morning’s light, the air
Around them joyful as a choir.
We stand with one hand on the door,
Looking into another world
That is this world, the pale daylight
Coming just as before, our chores
To do, the cattle all awake,
Our own frozen breath hanging
In front of us; and we are here
As we have never been before,
Sighted as not before, our place
Holy, although we knew it not.

~ Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997

The last words in Berry's poem, "our place Holy, although we knew it not", are guideposts for my navigation through the holiday madness that seems to be a constant companion to Christmas. This poem has become a reminder to explore the humble, ordinary aspects of Christmas (and everyday life) in order to find what's Holy right in front of me. To look for the true spirit of the holiday in Ted's favorite sausage and cheddar breakfast strata (complete with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup), in listening to the kids play Scrabble while I'm making dinner, in going for a walk on the beach or sitting around the table and catching up with my favorite people in the world.  

Don't get me wrong, I was a willing and exuberant participant in the Christmas madness when the kids were little. The hours spent trying to decipher instructions for assembling and applying stickers to hundreds of pieces of plastic are a distant but sweet memory. We tried to make sure our kids had a healthy dose of Christmas 'magic' when they were little and looking back on those Christmas mornings, I wouldn't changed a thing. It was the 'right' kind of Christmas for that time in our lives. But I've had to retool my thoughts about what that magic looks like when Santa has been debunked and the kids send me text messages with their Christmas wishlists. 

We've started to create the Dougherty 2.0 Christmas traditions and it's a collaborative effort (and another chance for me to practice my 'I'm-not-overbearing, I-just-love-you-that-much' shtick). Lord knows, I need help getting my act together as a Mom to a bunch of funny, smart, brave, compassionate, and committed young adults, and thank God they're co-creating our new Christmas magic right along with me. We play cards, make cookies, eat extravagant meals, drink wine, talk about how handsome George is, watch movies, wrap presents (and come up with creative gift tags), watch the pups while they open their presents, take saunas, make fires, play Chuck-It with George and Aldo, go on photo safaris, and a hundred other ordinary tasks that accumulate into a lifetime of cherished traditions . 

Now that Jack and Will (and soon Sadie) 'come home' for Christmas, I'm the one who is vibrating in anticipation of a Christmas surprise....except it's not a Barbie townhouse, it's our boys arriving home from Madison. When I walk in the porch and see Jack's shoes by the door, or Will's camera bag on the dining room table, I'm reminded how the space they've left behind can be, so quickly, reclaimed and reoccupied. That while our kids are growing up, they are not growing away and home will always be on Rittenhouse Avenue. When the house is full again, a deeply rooted contentment settles over me because I am " in the world It happened in when it first happened." I believe the world holds echoes of all life in its bones and the story of Mary giving birth to her son in a stable happened on the same Earth that I live on now.....that we, and our stories, are all connected. Berry's poem is about holding space for wonder and belief as we move through our lives; doing the mundane in concert with the miraclous. And that's what I carry with me as I spend this Christmas with Ted and the kids....the recognition that in the end, all moments are holy and all existence is magic. No assembly or stickers required.

Life in a Northern Town

Well, it's official -- I've written a book. It seems a little unbelievable that I pulled it off (with a lot of help from my editor, Kate Thompson) but I did and I'm incredibly excited to share it with you in September 2017!

Like most of the good things in my life, the book wasn't exactly planned but was the result of a 'what the hell, let's go for it' decision. My friend, Demaris, owns Apostle Islands Booksellers in Bayfield and she suggested I pitch a cookbook based on my blog to the Wisconsin Historical Press. After a few gentle reminders, I finally agreed and sent an email in October 2013 with a subject line of "A Cookbook, Of Sorts, From Bayfield" and a helluva opening paragraph that included, "I'm not sure what goes into writing/publishing a cookbook but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?" Needless to say, I was shocked when Kate got back to me with a request for more the form of a book proposal with five or six pages of questions.  

Paperwork and Mary D is not a recipe for success, on a good day, and it was particularly intimidating to sit down in front of a bunch of questions about a cookbook (of sorts) that I hadn't planned on writing. So, I did what I always do and plowed through it, answering the questions as best I could....except for one VERY important question, "percentage of manuscript now completed". I figured any author worth their salt would have at least 50 percent of a manuscript completed before pitching a book, so I answered 50 - 60 percent -- never dreaming they would ask to see it. But they did and I had to come clean in January 2014 with an explanation that, "50 percent of the book is done but it's in my blog format and I would like to tighten it up before I send a manuscript version your way. What if I pulled it together and sent it off in two weeks?" 

That's where the wheels fell off my book-writing wagon and two weeks turned into five months. The thought of trying to cobble a manuscript together from my disjointed blog essays and recipes seemed like a huge task and I found all sorts of reasons not to sit down and do it. Until Kate emailed me on May 23, 2014 and asked, "Are you still thinking about doing a book project? I’d love to hear more about it." Like most of the good and unplanned things in my life, Kate's email came at the perfect time. 

That morning, Ted and I decided to take the Karl out for a quick spin before the kids came home from school and we cruising between Basswood and Hermit Islands when I saw Kate's email. I was still thinking (every now and then) about the book but, to be honest, I wasn't sure if I was up to the task of writing an entire book. I have zero experience in anything author-related and the thought of throwing my inexperienced hat into the writing ring seemed far outside my area of expertise. These thoughts were bouncing around in my head as we were walking on the beach (self-doubt can be so damn persuasive when you start to feed it) and as I turned back towards the boat, those self-doubting thoughts were drowned out by another voice who told me to write the book because I'll be given the words. It was settled, I decided to try my hand at becoming an author.  

I sat down the last week of May and extracted, re-worked, and cobbled together 14 essays and 43 recipes from my blog and emailed it to Kate. At the beginning of August, another email from Kate arrived in my inbox with the sentence that marked the beginning of Life in a Northern Town, "We would like to offer you a book contract!" 

The writing and publishing process reminded me a lot of becoming a mother. It’s all good when that baby is safely tucked away in your belly but shortly after the birth, it becomes apparent there is more to motherhood than picking out cute little onesies and agonizing over the perfect name. And there certainly was a lot more to authorhood than I would have guessed when I signed my book contract during the summer of 2014.

It was a long process: full of deadline extensions, photo disasters (I accidentally deleted about 17,000 photos right before my manuscript was due in September 2015), revisiting grammatical nuances, realizing that consistency and brevity are not traits I naturally possess, appreciating why some authors drink (all that word nit-picking creates massive self-doubt that only a double tequila on the rocks can fix) and how a good editor is a writer’s best friend. In the end, the process of writing forced me to distill my thoughts and feelings about food, feeding people and why it matters where my food comes from. 

Food is love -- something I've always believed and experienced in my life. However, I never realized that more than when we were headed out to the BWCA in May 2016. Our dog, Seamus, had lymphoma and was nearing the end of his life but our trip had been planned for months and, after a consult with our veterinarian, we decided to leave him in the very competent hands of our good friend, Amber. My heart was heavy and I wanted to make sure Seamus knew how much I loved him while we were gone. So, I found myself where I often go when I'm sad, happy, worried or the stove, in my kitchen. 

I poured every bit of love I could muster into that pot of homemade dog food and it was at that moment I realized the power of cookery. The food I made for Seamus would nourish him, physically and emotionally (I hoped), until we returned home. It was a small thing but making his dog chow was a way to be present, even when I was away from home. Cooking is my currency; it's the way I connect, nurture and love the people and animals in my life....whether it's dog chow for a sick pup, cookies for a friend, or roasted chicken for my kids when I can't be home for dinner. 

And that's what I'm hoping to share with you through the words and photos in the book -- for me, it's all about home, love and connection. For more information about Life in a Northern Town, click here. I'm so excited to share the book with you in the fall!!  

Making Mary T's Mom's Lefse in Mary D's Kitchen

Up until a few weeks ago, lefse was an exotic Norwegian foodstuff unknown to the Dougherty kitchen. That all changed when Mary and I hatched a plan to make lefse (her specialty) and naan (my specialty) on a November evening. Mary showed up with all her lefse gear, pre-mashed potatoes, and an unexpected bonus, Swedish meatballs for a Nordic riff on a Mexican burrito. After I poured a couple of glasses of wine (a necessity when learning to make lefse), we got to work. 

I did a little research before Mary came over because I've heard that lefse is a tricky beast and between the rolling, transferring and flipping, there are all sorts of opportunities for disaster. And from what I gathered, it's the dough that holds the key to lefse success: only use Russets, don't overcook the potatoes, cool the potatoes completely before you add the flour, and don't overwork the dough.

Luckily for me, Mary is a lefse expert and she made the dough...which set me up for lefse success. They were much easier to roll out than I expected and I was feeling pretty cool when I pulled my first blistered, thin piece of potato/flour magic off the griddle. That said, I have yet to attempt making the dough on my own and chances are pretty good that my first solo lefse adventure could be troublesome.  Thank God, I know a lefse master who knows all the tricks of the trade! 

Mary's Mom's Lefse

4 cups mashed Russet potatoes (cook in salted water and mash with milk)
1/4 cup butter (add to mashed potatoes while hot so the butter melts)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons white sugar


Combine the mashed potatoes, butter, kosher salt and whipping cream in a medium bowl, mix thoroughly, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. 

Add the flour and sugar to the mashed potato mixture and mix until incorporated with a fork. Using your hands, roll the dough into a log and divide into 12 sections.

 Preheat the lefse griddle to 400°.

Dust a pastry cloth and sock-covered rolling pin with a small handful of flour (keep the pastry cloth floured and free of stray pieces of dough). Place the lefse dough ball at center of floured pastry cloth and, starting at the center of the patty, roll dough into a very thin pancake, trying to maintain a round shape.  Keep rolling, working from the inside out, until the red lettering of the pastry cloth is faintly visible through the lefse. 

Dust lefse stick with flour, then slide it under the middle of the lefse and carefully (and quickly) lift to transfer lefse to the griddle. Cook for 1 minute, or until lefse is steaming and small bubbles appear on uncooked side. Using lefse stick or spatula, flip lefse and cook for 45 seconds or so. Place lefse on a clean dish towel and cover with another. 

Lefse is best served right away with butter, sugar. If you have some Swedish meatballs laying around, I highly suggest a Swedish burrito...they are seriously good! 

Back in the Saddle


Back in the saddle, indeed. It's been quite a while since I sat down to pull together a Cookery Maven post and I honestly don't know where to begin. So much has happened in the past year and a half: Will graduated from high school and is at UW-Madison, Jack is a senior at UW-Madison, Sadie is a senior and is filling out college applications, Charlie is headed to the Conserve School next fall, I finished my cookbook (which will be published by the Wisconsin Historical Press in fall 2017), Seamus (our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) passed on, Aldo (our new puppy) is learning the 'Dougherty dog' ropes from George and Gus, we went to the BWCA for a week (and I only fell out of the canoe once), I have a job fighting factory farms with Socially Responsible Agriculture Project and we have an Italian student, Joele, living with us for the school year. 

Technically, I never left the saddle but I definitely took a pause in the bloggery world. Between writing a cookbook, dealing with a huge factory farm proposal in Bayfield County and the usual chaos that's my constant companion, I rarely found enough bandwidth to sit down and try to transcribe what we've eaten or where we've been. But I missed this -- the act of putting these little snippets of daily life into some semblance of order on the internet. So, here I am -- ready to roll and to begin again. Life is still so very good but it's taken on a more bittersweet tone: the kids are growing up and I'm searching for the gifts hidden in the spaces they leave behind.   


I have not been camping (like sleep-in-a-tent, no-running-water camping) for about 17 years. The last time we went to the BWCA, Jack was 6 and Will was 10 months....needless to say, I was a little out of practice. Ted and the boys have gone camping for the past couple of years and sometime last winter, when bug nets and pit toilets seemed mighty far away, I agreed to go along for the BWCA adventure. Ted is a camping wizard and I figured we'd be comfortable but what I hadn't counted on was how good, and I mean heart-warming good, it was to spend a string of days with the kids. It rarely happens anymore -- uninterrupted time with five of the most inspiring, funny and remarkable humans I know. I can't believe I'm writing this but I'm looking forward to next year! However next time, I'm definitely bringing along a different sleeping pad, more socks, sun-dried tomatoes, oil-cured olives and more gravlax. 


Will is midway through his first semester as a UW Badger and while I miss him like crazy, he's exactly where he should be. His senior year was a blur -- he took a geology class at Northland College, taught himself how to throw pots, grew a beard, let his hair get long and got a tattoo of Lake Superior. Somewhere between the days of Thomas the Tank Engine and Advanced Placement Calculus, he grew into a young man who I adore, respect and cherish. That old tired phrase where-does-the-time-go?, must have been coined by a woman who realized her kids were all growing up and leaving the nest. The days of endless diaper changes, Lego minefields and nap-time snuggles seem like another life when we talk now but I'm so tremendously proud and curious to see where Will's path takes him. I suspect it'll be a road less traveled...if the past 19 years are any indication. 

We rarely are all in the same city, let alone the same room and Will's graduation was the perfect opportunity to get a family photo. I am truly blessed (and not #blessed, I mean like what-did-I-do-to-deserve-this blessed) to have this family surrounding me. It blows my mind.  


 I planted this garden the first summer we were in our house. It's been 9 years now and the garden has hit its stride. The majority of the plants are in charge of the themselves -- they pop where and when it suits them, they grow and flower on their own schedule, and really appreciate a good, thorough weeding two or three times a summer. It's funny how you can get to know a patch of earth but I have and I swear to God, I can hear them talking to me when I'm working in the garden. The message this summer was 'steady on' and 'don't force growth, let it come'. Pretty good advice, if you ask me. 


We had a banner year with our tomatoes. It was a bountiful and long-lasting harvest and I have piles of frozen roasted tomatoes and cans of tomato sauce to prove it! 


Over the past year and a half, the name of the game for me was cookbook writing, photographing, editing, and recipe testing (in between fighting CAFOs, my other favorite past-time). I don't know what I was thinking when I first signed the contract -- I assumed writing a cookbook was like writing a blog post and oh boy, was I mistaken. Deadlines are serious, repetition is not cool and it's important to differentiate between broth and stock while writing a recipe. Kate, my patient editor, had her work cut out for her but thanks to her persistence, my cookbook, Life in a Northern Town, will be published in the fall of 2017.  I still can't believe it. 


George has a serious thing for cookies.....he really, really likes them.


I think it's a good idea to have one epic meal a year and last summer, we took epic to a whole new level with lobsters, oysters and some mighty fine champagne. It was a warm summer night and it was about as perfect as those nights can be. I made gallons of lobster stock for a seafood risotto that's going to grace our table over the holidays. 


I had this photo for the cookbook in mind well before I developed the recipe. Years ago, I did a Thai cooking class at Good Thyme and Becky took a photo of a trout tail hanging out of the pot.....and I loved it. Another trout in another kitchen but it's still one of my favorite photos in the book. 


And finally, this little man is Aldo -- named after Aldo Leopold and a nod to Joele, our Italian exchange student (Aldo is an Italian name). He's from the Chequamegon Humane Association and they told us he's part Labrador and part German Shepard. I think he inherited a fair amount of Labrador DNA because he's even more food-obsessed than George, which is saying a lot. He's very sweet, loves to chew on socks, prefers to sleep on the couch and is learning how to be a good little brother to George and Gus. All in all, he's the perfect Dougherty dog.

Chicken Thighs with an Asian Flair

Sadie’s playing volleyball in Duluth, Meghan joined the swim team in Bayfield and Charlie’s developed a very busy social calendar in Washburn. Given the potential for a massive scheduling fiasco, quick and easy dinners are the name of the game. 

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Snow Day

Why do I wake up early on snow days? Like really early, like 5:34 AM early?? We decided that Wednesday would be a ‘Dougherty Day’ regardless of what the Washburn School District had to say about the weather.

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Milkweed Magic

I put my garden to bed for the winter yesterday afternoon and in between pulling, cutting and pruning, I spent 30 minutes in full-out wonder at the symmetry and engineering of a milkweed pod. 

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Frosty Morning on the Beach

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted and its high time I get back into the Cookery Maven swing of things. I’ve been cooking, eating, drinking wine, taking pictures, and stirring the pot wherever and whenever I can but haven’t made time to sit at the computer and hammer out a blog post. 

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Building Bread & Community

I’ve always enjoyed making bread but hadn’t, until recently, taken the leap into bread made with wild yeast. Rebecca, my friend from Madison, posted a photo of a beautiful loaf of bread made from a starter that’s been living and growing for over 100 years and offered portions of the starter to anyone who wanted a jar of ancient, wild yeast in their kitchen.

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