Late on the evening of Sept 7, I started Nancy Silverton's sourdough.
Within the 1st 2-3 days, it was very bubbly and active. After that, the liquids and solids separated, thick layer of pinkish/brownish liquid, and the whole mass began to acquire a "cheesy" smell, much like Parmiggiano-Reggiano.
The ferment period went fine; at one point last week I had seen what I thought was translucent specks of white mold floating on the liquid (these could've actually been mother, i.e., acetic acid bacteria + cellulose). I scooped it off along with some offending liquid using a ladle, then added 1 cup of flour and 1 cup water as suggested in the book, and stirred. That was the only maintenance I did.
Today is day 14, and is the 1st day of feeding. When I got back from the long weekend birthday celebration, I popped the top. Today the smell was similar but less cheesy and more vinegary. The top layer of alcohol had begun to turn to vinegar, as there was that sheet of clear cellulose (the mother!) floating on top. Poured off most of the vinegar liquid, discarded the cheescloth bag which contained the organic red grapes, stirred the rest together, measured out the portion I needed, then fed it with flour and water.
Even when pouring off the liquid, I could see it sparkling/bubbling. This to me suggests it's pretty healthy.
The refreshed mixture smells a little "cheesy"; I think this is probably OK, and will actually add some nice character to the bread.
So far so good. I wonder if it went too long without feeding (supposed to start feeding on Day 10). Should've fermented pretty well by now though, and the feedings should keep it nice and healthy.
The feeding schedule I plan is: 7am, 12pm, 5pm. Will keep you posted on how it goes!