Hello from New England
I've been a fairly regular lurker here for quite some time. I started baking bread right around the beginning of the year, and haven't bought a loaf (or an English muffin or a bagel or a pizza...mmmmm....pizza....) since.
I got interested in breadmaking because of the BBA challenge, which I heard about on a couple of the food blogs that I follow. I'm a very comfortable cook, and a comfortable baker (I figure, what the heck? If I screw it up, I can always make it again, right?), but I'd avoided bread for, well, forever, because I found yeast intimidating. The blogs convinced me to by the BBA, and after I read all of Reinhart's informational materials, I made his ancienne...and haven't looked back. Since then, I've picked up a couple of other books (The Bread Bible and Hamelman's Bread), got my own sourdough starter going on my second try using the pineapple juice method here, and go back and forth between sourdough and breads made with commercial yeast, with only one or two minor disasters. Making my own bread ties in to my interest in buying local food and cutting out as many preservatives and additives as I can.
I'm already the person who gets asked to bring the bread to family events, and I attribute a lot of that to the huge amount of information I've found on this site. You people are the best.