What I'm really excited about is the New York Sourdough. As promised in the Science of Cooking Recipe, after three days the bread was dry on the outside, but inside it was bubbly with the arrival of transient yeasts making a home! And the best part? It does not smell like cat puke. It smelled "slightly sour," the way it should.
Continuing to follow the recipe, I added 1/2 cup of flour and enough water to work it into a dough. I placed it back into the mason jar for another two days, and when I came back it was a blob of yeast bubbles.
And the best part? IT STILL DOES NOT SMELL LIKE CAT PUKE. It smells like a ripened cheese.
The only disheartening bit: after I pulled off the dried outside, there was a mysterious greyish spot in the center. I decided to continue the experiment, at a possible risk to my personal health. I added another cup of flour and a cup of water, and let it rise another twelve hours.
Mike, who comments here, made a very astute observation. He suggested that perhaps the reason bakeries keep the same starter for a hundred years is that is may be difficult to grow a starter that is appropriate for baking. Additionally, even the Science of Cooking notes "Working with starters takes practice. Many variables—for example, the amount of yeast in the air and the temperature of the room—will affect the fermentation process. It might take a few tries before you get the flavor you like."
Both of the starters are ready for baking, but unfortunately I am leaving town for the weekend. I plan on baking two loaves of bread, one from each starter, when I return.
I feel as though I am one step closer to surviving on the Oregon Trail. Next, I'll practice typing BANG really fast.
In the meantime, I'll be baking apple pies with my mother in Ohio, using 17th, 18th, and 21st century recipes.