The Amish Science Experiment


March 26, 2010 by skwishface

There is a danger in folks finding out what you like.

Word got out to my family that The Husband and I enjoy dragon-themed stuff. Now our house is covered in dragons. Dragon quilts, dragon figurines, dragon picture frames, dragons everywhere. Not that I’m complaining. I really do like dragons.

Friends noticed that I enjoy black t-shirts. Black is slimming and t-shirts are an easy way to cover my torso without having to think too hard about it. Now my closet is full of nothing but black t-shirts. Each with a different slogan or amusing image. Some I’ve had longer than I’ve had my Husband or my dog. Not that I’m complaining. I really do like black t-shirts.

Now everyone knows that I like to cook. Now my kitchen is bursting at the seams with cooking stuff. Random stuff that I would never think to obtain for myself. Orange peelers, big plastic meat-claw thingies, the best thing ever, the other best thing ever, and this:

Not that I'm complaining. I really do like to cook.

That is a gallon-size ziplog baggie containing a colony of billions of tiny, happy micro-oganisms. They bee-bop around and eat and burp, and make bread. Specifically, Amish Friendship Bread starter. I’m not sure what exactly the Amish have to do with this, particularly since a key ingredient is instant pudding mix, but there’s something very appealingly fifth-grade-science-fair-project nostalgic about the whole mess.

It’s like a really boring pet that I keep in a bag. I mush it and burp it and feed it on the 6th day, and then divide it into parts and bake some of it. Raising yeast just so I can kill it and eat it …. this is the closest I will ever come to real agriculture.

A coworker handed me this baggie, along with a list of intricate instructions. Certain things must happen on certain days. You can’t use metal bowls or utensils. Presumably the metal is somehow bad for the yeast. I imagined pouring the mixture into a metal bowl and watching in horror as it all suddenly curdles into decaying black mush to the agonized chorus of a million tiny souls dying in terror. Or something.

(if you don’t have a pushy coworker around to give you a bag of starter, the internet says that you can make your own)

So I followed the instructions. The first time I baked up a batch of yummy, fluffy cinnamon-sugar encrusted muffins. They were delicious and satisfying. I dusted my hands to signify a job well done, and turned to walk out of the kitchen. Then I stopped. I turned slowly around, like a victim in a horror movie.

There they were. Staring right at me. Accusing me. Daring me.

*scary music*

See, when you make Amish Friendship Bread, part of the instructions has you setting aside other baggies with mini-colonies of yeast. To give to other people, along with instructions. So that they can bake bread and then divide up the mini-colonies and give them to other people along with instructions.

It’s a damn chain letter.

Remember that one book in The Babysitter’s Club series where Mary Anne got a chain letter that cursed her to wear this one freaky necklace thing and if she didn’t then there would be nothing but heartache and misery and bad luck and her boyfriend Logan would break up with her, and since she was the only Babysitter with a steady boyfriend this was kind of a big deal, so it was very tense for about a hundred pages but in the end it turned out that the necklace was actually a good luck charm and not only did Mary Anne and Logan not break up, but she managed to convince him to dress to match her for Halloween and they both dressed up as cats, like from the musical?

That’s exactly how I felt.

This baggie of yeast compels you to make bread every ten days. The instructions bully you into making nothing but cinnamon bread every ten days. But I found a couple of variations that can make having this bizarre slurry of microscopic pets bossing you around worthwhile, and they are magnificent. Like convince-your-high-school-boyfriend-to-wear-fur-tights levels of magnificent.

Years later, I suddenly have questions about Logan....

 I’ll post the recipes at some point in the future. Once I get the Jellicle Cats theme the hell out of my head.


4 thoughts on “The Amish Science Experiment

  1. Lori says:

    Very entertaining reading; but here’s the thing…your faithful readers don’t have bags of Amish slush in their fridges; so – “What do we use instead”?

  2. eth says:

    You are so funny. Please do post those recipes, I have three bags awaiting their demise as we speak!

  3. […] April 4, 2010 skwishface Leave a comment Go to comments As I may have mentioned before, I was recently the lucky recipient of a bag of Amish Frienship Bread Starter. A happy, bubbly […]

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