Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sour Salt and Super Soap

The other night, my lovely friend Elissa gave me a little scoop of her sourdough starter. Tonight, I will start the sourdough bread. Tomorrow morning, I will bake it. I'm pretty excited about homemade sourdough. However, in order to begin this endeavor, I had to find some Sour Salt (aka Citric Acid). Elissa didn't use it in hers, but she also said her bread wasn't sour enough...and I am a fan of extra sour sourdough bread, so I definitely wanted to make sure I found some! Unfortunately, nobody has ever heard of this "sour salt" stuff. Ok, I'm exaggerating. But I called Berkeley Bowl, Whole Foods and Safeway, and none of them even knew what I was talking about. I resorted to emailing the Berkeley Freecycle list, because I only needed 1/4 tsp, and I figured maybe someone would just give me a little bit. I got a ton of responses, pointing me to Indian markets and Kosher websites ($1.99 for the bottle, $8.99 for the shipping? I think not!), which struck me as sort of funny...but I guess when you think about it, they're in the same general vicinity, geographically-speaking, so maybe it makes sense that the spice would be a crossover?

Anyway, thanks to one Freecycler's note that most Indian grocery stores would be closed on Mondays, I walked (.8 miles each way, in my Easy Tone shoes, woo hoo) down to the Indus Food Center on my lunch break. I had called in advance, and the woman on the phone confirmed that they were indeed open, and did in fact have what I was looking for. However, when I arrived, they appeared to have sold out. I guess being the only place open on a Monday means you'll sell out of your Citric Acid? Maybe? I don't know. I was disheartened, but thought it was a little funny that I had walked almost a mile to a store only to walk away empty handed. At least I got some exercise, right?

I decided on a whim to walk back to work on the busier storefront-laden street (rather than the quiet residential street). I had some extra time before I had to be back at work, and I figured I could browse around and window shop on my way back. I noticed a store called Middle East Market, and figured I might as well check it out. From the street, they looked like they might have Citric Acid...what can I say? They just looked like that kind of place. And I was right! A giant (considering how much I needed) 4 oz. bag for only 99 cents! What? Crazytalk! I purchased it right away, and the guy working at the register told me about how he and his friends used to eat it straight when they were kids. Like, dip their fingers in the bag and just eat it. He said he didn't recommend doing it though, and I will follow his advice. But hooray for Middle East Market! Love ya!

I had about 15 more minutes to kill, so I thought I would finally check out Juniper Tree, a store I've driven past many times and have always been curious about. As much as I whine about Christmas decorations starting the day after Halloween, I will admit that it was the beautifully decorated Christmas trees in the storefront that initially drew me in yesterday. It smelled so good, even from the sidewalk, and the music (non-Christmas, just good music) was inviting. I couldn't resist those sparkly trees! I'm really glad that I decided to check this place out, because they had 2 and 4 oz. plastic containers that are perfect for the bagged spices that had been smelling up my spice cabinet. Curry and Cayenne powders are delicious, but they sure do stink up a cabinet when they're just kept in plastic baggies. My new plastic containers keep things odor-free, and they look pretty too. Win-win!

I wandered around the store a bit, marveling at all the soap-making equipment and smelling the delicious soap (handmade by the lady working at the counter). They had some beautiful little ornaments and general decorations, though they were a bit out of my current price range. I will definitely be coming back here though, for soaps and containers and little gifty things. And maybe just to wander around, because it just smells so darn good in there!


  1. Ooh...Easytone. Let's talk. Worth the money or no?

  2. Just took my bread out of the oven, sour salt did the trick! So funny, I went to that store right after you told me about it and the guy told me the same story about how they used to eat it!

  3. Easytone = totally worth it. If you wear them, that is. I mean, if you buy them but never wear them, they won't do anything for you ;-) But yeah, I totally notice a difference when I wear them. When I was unemployed, I wore them (and my FitFlops) pretty much everywhere I went, and I was walking a lot more then. I notice a difference when I wear them for "dedicated walks" (ie: 3.5 miles around the lake, walking to the library, etc.). They're comfortable, and you can definitely feel your butt/thighs working more than in regular tennies!

  4. When I saw the title I thought you were referring to Lo Salt--it's this awful product that uses potassium chloride and maltodextrin in conjunction with sodium chloride to make a low-sodium alternative to salt. They hand it out in little packets with chips at school. It is DIS GUS TING. Tastes like aspar-salt. Or Saltcrulose. Like metal. BLEURGH.