Meet Stan
I walked from the kitchen, out to the open living room where my mom was reading the newspaper and my sister was working on her latest arts and crafts project.

“I would like to introduce my new friend, Stanley.Stanley doesn’t require much, and won’t need to be cleaned up after, but please don’t mess with him because he can be temperamental and well, stinky”

With confused looks on their faces, I held up the clear and blue Tupperware container that held my new friend: Stanley the starter.

How to make a Starter
Having a starter in your refrigerator is a great way to make amazing breads fresh everyday.It may seem to difficult for the typical home baker to keep a starter going and using it to make fresh bread, but it is the total opposite.Having a starter at your fingertips makes having that delicious warm bread that much easier.

For Stanley’s first job, I decided to make bagels.First I mixed together 2 cups of bread flour, 1 cup of warm water, and about half a packet of active dry yeast or about an eighth of an ounce.Mix them all together (the consistency should be like a sticky yogurt) and let it to sit on the counter.You only need to wait a short time before the yeast activates and Stanley comes to life, burping up hundreds if not thousands of little bubbles.Simply knock the container on the counter ever once and a while and you are ready to use your starter in about two hours or so.

Endless Possibilities
You may think that using a starter is only good for sourdough but that is not true.You can find recipes and formulas for just about any type of bread that you might want to make.Just simply adding more flour, yeast, and possibly a few other small ingredients and you have a dough.As of right now, my finished bagels are slowly rising in the refrigerator so that bright and early in the morning I can pop them in the oven and have a nice hot bagel for breakfast.

Tomorrow, I am contemplating making my personal favorite, brioche.Topped with a little butter and fresh raspberry jam made from our own garden is the best breakfast, or even anytime during the day.I already have requests for croissants and challah bread, which will be made in time.

Having your own starter is great for making anything, even pancakes! Just keep your smelly friend alive by taking out some starter and adding a little more flour and water every other day or each time you use some for a product.If well taken care of, a starter can last for many years to come!Once you start making breads from scratch, trust me you won’t want to go back to store bought breads!