I can make cornbread in a cast iron skillet--which I guess is the bread of my culture--but I do it from a mix, so that wouldn't seem to count. Making yeast breads (without a mix or machine) seems the epitome of intimidating. And yet...sometimes Ben in our office--who happens to live only a few blocks from me--brings bread. Amazing bread. Not only is the bread really special in taste, but it is made from a starter his mom has used since Ben was in school.
Last night, Ben gifted John and I with some "starter" and coached us on how to care for it and make bread from it. The thing with a starter is that it is actually alive and you have to "feed" it. So this morning, I got up....fed it per Ben's instructions...and if all goes well, we will have bread by tomorrow night!
Last time I tried to make something with a starter--kombucha--I got a little freaked about it because it looked like snot and was called a symbiot. I've watched too much Star Trek not to be afraid of a rapidly growing symbiot, so we are definitely calling the starter "yeast" and not something living and growing rapidly in our kitchen that might take over the universe. Besides, if Ben's mom has had it for 20 years then I figure we're safe. Of course, if we start producing biodiesel in our garage, you might want to send a team...