Wednesday, May 30, 2012

[long][review] Sourdough E-Course

I feel like a prospector; panning through debris to find the occasional nugget of goodness.
The following is something of a review, something of an explanation as to why I have not included more sourdough starter recipes.  Many of the recipes that I’ve been preparing lately are from a particular website.  To respect their work, I will not freely share their recipes.  And for anyone wondering if I would recommend the site--keep reading:
In my efforts to learn more ways of using my sourdough starter, I repeatedly stumbled upon a particular website that touts its online “e-course” in many things sourdough.  The website first came to my attention when I asked a fellow starter-user for a particular recipe.  She sent me a link to a recipe upon said site.  
I should mention that my friend is religious.  So it came as no surprise to me that the site in question made small reference to a higher power.  I overlooked it for the sake of knowledge.
Eagerly, I started to look around, excited at the prospect of what I could learn!  And then I saw it--a political ad.  No, not a “my search engine thinks this will interest me” political ad.  Rather a jubilant endorsement of a political candidate.  Religion AND politics?  I was immediately turned off.*
Weeks, even months passed and I gave that site nary another thought.  But then I once again turned to the power of the internet to educate myself more on the subject of sourdough and again the site popped up.  So, I peeked around again.  Yep, there appeared to be some good information, but would it be worth sifting through the site to find it?
Had the site offered the information free of charge, I would have eagerly dived in then and there, but no.  It’s a pay site.  So I again clicked off the page and gave it little thought.  Until a third time that it again popped up in my search results.  (When I joked with my husband that SURELY there must be some hippies online willing to share their sourdough knowledge, he replied that they all must be living off the grid.  Apparently!)
After more hemming and hawing, I decided to go ahead and buy a one-month subscription to the site.  I accepted that my paltry fee would likely be spent in support of a candidate that I do not support.  I accepted that I would like have to sift through some dogma and maybe some talk of religion.  But if I could glean from the site some useful information, it would all be worth it.  
So, has it been worth it?  The short answer is, “yes.”  But I cannot give a recommendation to the site without another disclaimer.
In addition to the e-course on sourdough, my monthly subscription gave me access to the site’s other e-courses.  This includes a course on cultured dairy/cheese, and one on lacto-fermentation.  I also gained access to two ambiguous-sounding “fundamentals.”  It’s within these two courses that I’ve found the most disappointing misinformation.
Avoid the “fundamentals” and, for the most part, you’ll be fine.  But do understand that the creators of the site are fans of an eating trend that, while it features some great ideas (encouraging whole-food eating, avoiding processed foods), also features some ideas (more butter and animal fats will cure heart disease, high cholesterol is good for you) that are either anecdotal or based on psuedoscience.  
The website itself focuses little on the science of such of eating, but more on how to prepare foods so that they adhere to the “fundamentals.”  For someone like myself who DOES enjoy eating whole-foods, and who DOES often make foods from scratch, there are some good recipes and food preparation tips.  But please do not delude yourself into thinking that by cooking with lard you’re creating health food.  
As for the sourdough e-course in particular, there are some really great recipes.  I’ve made their tortillas, english muffins, crepes, and some bread.  I’m very much looking forward to making even more!  THIS section has the most useful information and is worth viewing, if you’re willing to overlook a touch of a religious talk.
So, if I DO find the sourdough information to be beneficial, why haven’t I provided a link yet?  Hmm, yes.  Why?  Well, that's worth explaining.  As my “review” isn’t exactly glowing, and as I’ve heard that followers of this food movement can be vigorously defensive, I’m still debating whether or not I should include one.  Yes, I’ve said that I am benefiting from and enjoying much (not all) of the information that is in the sourdough course.  But I certainly do not want a bunch of online bullies to pepper me with insults because I question the validity of some of the ideas presented.
If, though, you’re still interested in learning more--just let me know and I will happily, if privately, send a link.

Further reading:
*Now, would I have felt this way had the candidate been one that I like and/or support?  Hmm, tricky.  Maybe not, but I do believe that it is bad business to carry large political ads on your non-political commerce website.  When my small business was still active, I would’ve NEVER carried a political ad.  If anything out of fear of alienating potential clients!

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