My very first starter, and I think I need help
I think I need help. While attempting my very first starter, I used the San Francisco Starter recipe by Barnard Clayton from his 30 something year old book, The Complete Book of Breads. I used one cup of whole grain flour and one cup of fat free milk. I originally put it in a ziploc bag, and it bubbled for one day. Then I moved it to a glass jar and it continued to bubble. On day 3 I moved it to a much larger glass container with a sheet of plastic wrap held by a rubber band, and it didn't bubble so much. On day 3 I also added half a cup of whole grain and half a cup of tepid milk. All I saw later that evening was a thin layer of an almost clear liquid, and I noticed a slight sour smell. No bubbling. Day four, same thing. On day four I put less than a pinch of sugar, but nothing happened. Today is day five, and same thing--clear layer of liquid, no more bubbling, same slight sour smell. It is NOT pink--it looks like the color of tahini. I have kept it at a constant temperature of about 80 degrees. I have stirred it everyday with a wooden spoon, and I have opened the plastic wrap to let out gasses. No more bubbling. How do I know if my starter is OK? Should I pitch it and start another one using a different liquid? I have seen so many blogs and starter recipes which use liquids other than milk, but Bernard Clayton's starter recipe is the only one I have seen using milk. Is there something wrong with using milk? Just to be clear, I want to make sourdough French bread, and I want it to be from scratch. I do not want to use any active dry yeast. All I have been doing for the past week is searching for starter recipes & sourdough bread recipes, and reading them, and thinking about them, and worrying about my starter. I feel like a drug addict who has just discovered crack. I have not turned on my stove or oven for fear that too much heat will kill the starter. However, I have kept my warming lamp on.