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Trying to Bake Bread

We eat a lot of bread at our house, mostly because sandwiches are an easy lunch when there are no leftovers to be had. And, in case you didn't know, my mom is one of the greatest bakers of bread who ever lived. I learned how to make bread from her, a little, I'm not as good at it, but I thought "Hey, what a great way to save a little money."
File:Jean-Fran├žois Millet (II) 005.jpgI'm not sure that I'll be able to keep it up, but I'm hoping to start baking our bread, all of it, in bulk and freeze it so we don't have to buy a loaf or more a week. I'm also hoping it will be a healthier alternative, as I can make it whole grain wheat.
My first attempt wasn't so great. It didn't raise well and the flavor and texture wasn't so good. I had used a packet of instant yeast, and I'm not sure if it was the yeast, the weather (my mom says humidity levels can greatly affect how it turns out), or the recipe I got online, or just me (I'm leaning towards the latter).
However, my husband has been so kind as to eat some of it without saying he was disgusted. And my mom gave me some advice. She suggested I make my own sourdough starter (it's the leaven). So, I followed, what I hope, is an easy recipe of 1/2 cup starchy water (I used water I drained after boiling potatoes, but you can use water after boiling pasta, or pineapple juice?, that's what the website said), 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and stir well in a jar, covered with a coffee filter attached with a rubber band, and I am waiting. (The site also suggested placing the jar in your oven with the light on to create the right atmosphere.)
This is what my starter looked like last night. (Yes, those are Shelby's paintings that adorn our kitchen wall, and the picture on the calender is of my sweet little nephew, Jackson. His mom so wonderfully and graciously makes everyone in our family a calendar each Christmas with pictures of all the grandkids on them. God has truly blessed me with wonderful sisters-in-law.)
You have to feed your starter about every twelve hours until the yeast starts to make bubbles. Here's what my starter looks like this morning after it's 5:30 feeding (above). And it went back into the oven with the light only on.
Here's what I saw when I opened it a few minutes ago! Are these bubbles?!? Wow, okay I'm going to have to call mom to see what to do now. Sounds like bread will be baking within a week. Mmmm. Let us hope for better results, for now though, I'll have to buy at least one more small loaf at the store :(
Happy Baking, everybody!

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