lies a unique spot called "Badger Hole."
Surrounded by Ponderosa Pine trees and lofty mountains, this was once the home of Badger Clark, named Poet "Lariat" of South Dakota in 1937.
No, that isn't a misspelling. This Poet Laureate wrote western poetry about cowboys, the prairies, the mountains, the Bad Lands. He was born in Iowa and raised in South Dakota. When he contracted tuberculosis, he moved to Arizona where he became a cowboy, believing that hard work in the open air was the best cure.
According to a biographer, while in Arizona, he started writing down some lines, and sent his mother a few verses. She submitted them to a magazine, which sent him a check for ten dollars. This was the turning point of Clark's life. "If they pay for such stuff," he said, "I'm fixed. A job without a boss, without responsibilities, without hours."
In 1910 he returned to South Dakota with his health restored. He leased a cabin site in Custer State Park and built a one room cabin, where he lived for several years while building the larger cabin he called "the Badger Hole." He built the cabin himself, including cutting the logs and collecting the stones for the fireplace.
Here he lived until 1957, when he died on September 26. The Badger Hole is preserved just as he left it when he was taken to the hospital in 1957. Electricity and heat have been added, but nothing else. The cabin is open to the public, and a volunteer docent gives guided tours.
But a poet's life isn't bound by dates, or even the home in which he lived.
from "Small Town" by Badger Clark
No smoke of factories uprolls;
No market roars with shouted bids.
The small town's finest fruit is souls;
Its prize commodity is kids.
That is the small town's latent power -
Some name upon its schoolroom page,
The future hero of the hour,
The future glory of an age.
'Twas always so; 'twill always be -
Small town, the great folks' starting place,
A small-town boy in Galilee
Re-routed all the human race.
from "Pioneers" by Badger Clark
A broken wagon wheel that rots away beside the river,
A sunken grave that dimples on the hill above the trail.
The wind sweeps, the larks call, the prairie grasses quiver
And sing a wistful roving song of hoof and wheel and sail.
One of my favorite poems of his is "Cat Pioneers." You can read it here.
And then there's his best-known work, that very few people know he wrote, "The Cowboy's Prayer."
When you're done reading the poetry, don't forget to come back here, because we're starting a project on Mondays in the Cafe.
In honor of Badger Clark, the homesteaders and cowboys of South Dakota, and good cooks everywhere, I thought we'd try a classic recipe: Sourdough.
I don't know about you, but I've tried sourdough in the past. Once I was given some that had been going for over a hundred years.
I killed it.
I've attempted starting my own.
I killed that, too.
But I've been reading, researching, and planning. Maybe it will work this time!!!!
So this week, we're going to begin the sourdough starter.
This is the equipment I'm using:
1 two-quart canning jar (it can be any glass jar or container, as long as it holds 4 cups)
a large, clean wooden spoon
cheese cloth, folded to several layers in thickness
And here are my ingredients:
1 cup rye flour (you can also use white flour, but I've read that the rye flour 'catches' the wild yeast more easily)
1/2 cup bottled water (without added chlorine)
The first day, mix the flour and water in a clean bowl with the spoon until completely combined. If there is some dry flour remaining after a couple minutes of stirring, add a few drops of water and mix it in. Put the starter in your glass jar or bowl and cover with the cheese cloth. Leave it on your kitchen counter at room temperature (70° to 75°).
The second day, there will be no difference in the starter.
The third day, the starter should resemble thick pancake batter and have a few bubbles on the surface. With a clean spoon, remove and throw out about half of the starter (about 1/2 cup). Stir in 1/2 cup unbleached flour and 1/4 cup bottled water. Cover again and leave for 24 hours.
The fourth day, your starter may be giving off a faint citrus odor. Again, throw out about 1/2 cup, then stir in 1/2 cup unbleached flour and 1/4 cup bottled water. Cover and leave for 24 hours.
On day five, if the starter is active, it will have risen in volume to about 3 cups or more. It will dome and then start to deflate. If it isn't at this point yet, repeat the fourth day instructions every 24 hours until it reaches this point.
When it is active, remove about 1/2 cup, then feed it again with 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. It's now ready to use, or to store until you're ready to use it. If you plan to store it, let it sit for one hour, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap and store it in your refrigerator. You should continue feeding cycle about three times a week while you are storing it, at least for the first few weeks. Once it's fully mature, you can feed it only about once a week.
Next week, if all goes according to plan and my starter has matured, we'll try a loaf of bread!
Consider this the cliff-hanger! Will the wild yeast refuse to be harnessed? Or will Jan kill her sourdough starter AGAIN??? Will the starter last long enough to earn a name? Tune in next week!