By, Ryan Grenier
When we purchased the Good Medicine Lodge back in late October of 2019, good friends Pat and Katie Miller, whom I respect immensely, gifted me a book called Tartine along with a dehydrated sourdough starter. I genuinely thought that this was a such a thoughtful gift and was so touched that they thought I had it in me to pull this sort of stuff off.
I hate to admit this… when we took over the B&B I did not do much cooking for the business. We had a staff that needed to be consistent with the dishes, Sara and I alternated days working and when I did work I was busy chatting it up with guests, and doing a bunch of random things around the inn. What free time I did have I was busy exploring the area. Biking, Nordic skiing, Snowboarding and adventuring with kids. Whitefish is such a magical place. To be able to share my passion for adventure with my two little guys has been such a gift!
Once the “stay at home” orders were set into motion and the lodge closed I had more time around the house. Keep in mind this time around the house was not really ideal for tackling projects and yard work. With a two year old and a seven year old, it was a matter of managing the non-stop screaming, pillow fights, throwing things, tears, and just getting into things they should not be getting into. For the most part I was able to get the kids outside but Spring in north west Montana can be a bit unforgiving with cooler temperatures and rain.
While one of us is working (mostly Sara, she is amazing at managing projects and her vision of Good Medicine is something everyone should experience) the other is managing the kiddos. With so much time around the house, I finally decide to tackle baking bread. I found a bread maker in the garage that came with the inn. I pulled it out and figured I would give it a try. It was pretty easy, and I was loving the idea of having fresh bread for the family with no preservatives. Then I wanted to see if I could use my dehydrated starter I had been storing in the fridge. I added water and flour to the starter and let the bread machine do the work. That worked pretty well and the bread was pretty good. I was on a roll!
At this point I was ready to tackle the “no kneed sourdough”. As I was mentally preparing/ digesting the steps of the baking process, I joined a Facebook group called “Perfect Sourdough”. I have to say that this was EXTREMELY helpful. Other beginners were posting questions and videos were posted from professionals giving me the confidence to tackle my first loaf. Ok, I’m ready to rock! But my starter is not… It took 14 days of feedings twice a day to get my starters up to speed.
As I was waiting for my starter to come to life I was experimenting with pancakes, crumpets and pouring over all the fun things you can do with sourdough.
The cookbook I’m using is named “Tartine”. Its from a famous eatery in San Francisco. There are so many great resources out there and finding your own path and recipe is part of the fun. Not only is the process of baking fun, the health benefits of this bread are pretty amazing. Just a quick google search will have you diving down the rabbit hole of this amazing ancient bread. The finished product is so rewarding! Once I cut into the loaf and I took my first taste, I was flooded with memories of my time in the bay. Zuni Café, market street, foggy summer afternoons in SF and friendships formed around the dinner table. It is like I could almost smell the woodburning pizza oven (most likely just a campfire that was close by). The process of making this was more than just putting food on the table. It was a step back to a time where we had no children. Sara and I were living in the bay area experiencing all the culinary offerings northern California was known for. I was there…
Being able to share this with my family has brought so much joy as well. Knowing that my two kids are forming their own memories waking up to the smell of fresh baked sourdough. Watching them devour it is comforting knowing that I am actively playing a part in their health and teaching them what quality food is.
Now that Spring has sprung and the first phase of the pandemic is coming to an end, Sara and I are developing our new Summer breakfast menu for Good Medicine Lodge. We are so excited to share the experience and new found love of sourdough with our guests, helping all who visit us to form their own experiences and memories.