Friday, December 28, 2012
Sunday, September 30, 2012
I love bread. Almost all bread. I love the smell of a bakery and can usually ferret out one on a roadtrip from 10 miles away. I love to bake bread as well and that brings me to this:
Ciabatta. I woke up yesterday with a hankering to bake ciabatta, having never done so previously.
So off I went in search of recipes on the innertubes and came across several that looked more than promising. Trouble soon followed.
At first glance, all recipes have this thing I had never heard of: biga. What the heck is this? Simply put, it's a starter of fermentation that adds that special chewy texture and I dare say, flavor to the ciabatta which distinguishes it from most other breads. It is not sour.
So, while I went into this day of baking wholeheartedly, I was quickly squashed back with the understanding that ciabatti take 2 days. The next stumbling block was which biga to make, the one that takes 24 hours and is thick, or the one that takes 8 hours.
I tossed the coin and went with the 24 hour. It used a more whole wheat/rye mix and I thought that sounded really earthy (I love rye) and made it using this recipe. I could always make the other method another time.
Then, as I was cleaning up the bowls and counter, I thought.... well, wait a sec. If I do this and it doesn't rise, I will be out 24 hours.... let me do the other method now and I can always freeze bread if they both work well! So, I went with this recipe. If you try this one, you'll see that the biga is much thinner which makes sense because it starts in as little as 8 hours or overnight.
All that was yesterday and what a rainy day it was. Perfect for baking bread, in my book. Today, well, it's still raining out there steadily and I have been working my through the 2nd step in ciabatta baking.
With this first recipe, I am about half-way through the rising process, something that should take 3 hours or so. I am very excited to report that the thick, slow biga rose beautifully overnight, tripling in size as it should have.
Once the loaves are in the final rise, I will start with the other recipe and see how that one is looking.
A few hours later, this is what the first loaves look like.
I made rolls and one loaf from the second recipe and await the final rise.
And here is the results of that one. Again, nowhere near the bubbly holes I expected but the flavor of this bread is outstanding....... If I do this again, (and I will) I will reduce the amount of salt in the first batch to >2 teaspoons...... but I really liked the flavor of the wheat/rye blend.
With the second, I will try to touch it less and hope the bubbles don't disappear.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
This disturbs me.
Now, this does not sound serious or life-altering but still. A few months ago I sat around 153 and wanted the exercise to reduce that. But now, 160. That's 7 lbs EXTRA. I am not a math-whiz but is that like a 6% increase? I don't know... but yesterday, I was so uncomfortable. I felt like a balloon. An overfilled balloon. It was frightening in the sense of out- of- controlness.
Does anyone out there have REASONABLE suggestions? I am going back to reducing all carbs and see what happens.
Something has to happen because this is unmanageable!
So, I came up with a quilt and have turned into a pattern that will be available for free on our store's website shortly.
I am posting this quilt pattern here first, however, because I was hoping that someone(s) would like to make it and be my spot-checker for mistakes. It measures 56" x 62" and is a snap to make.
To print the pattern, click on the printer icon in the upper left corner. You can increase the view by sliding the bar next to the printer button and you can view it full screen by clicking on the monitor button.
If you would like to sew this quilt and let me know what you think, I would be very grateful. I am getting into this modern quilt thing.......
In the meantime, I am going to throw this one onto the quilting machine and have a blast using modern quilting motifs in white thread. I'll post that photo later.
Monday, July 9, 2012
I even stayed away from sewing for several weeks and I think I benefited from this as well. Even plogging. Haven't done that since the R n R 1/2 Marathon back in March. I think of it all as a vacation but don't think for one minute I've been sitting around watching Netflix and popping popcorn. (okay I have been doing that.....) but it is summer and the vegetables have been belching out of the garden and that means canning, peeling, freezing, pickling and not in that order!
I have cleaned out the freezer as well to see where we stand in there and now I almost can stand in there! Except it's a chest freezer so I would look rather silly. And cold.
What I really really truly want to do is get 4 or more quilts on the machine (one at a time, naturally) and knock them out. I bought a couple of new books which I wrote briefly about at Bright Hopes Quilting and found some new design I want to practice, but first I have to dredge the machine out from under piles of draping stuff.
Yesterday, I started tackling the excavation in order to get where I wish to be and I hope by Wednesday to actually have a quilt ready to go.
In a bid to re-enter the quilting room gently, I did complete this little quilt in one day.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
All the wonderful things this fictional woman, Julia, will experience as she ages under the policies set in place by Prez Obama.It's sad to me because it plods along for 67 years with the least amount of risk or change or goal-settings. She goes to school, goes to college, goes to work at 23, decides to have one child, after working full-time for 19 YEARS!!!! she takes govt. money to start her own business as a web-designer and works another 25 YEARS as a business owner (presumably) and retires.
Julia retires. After years of contributing to Social Security, she receives monthly benefits that help her retire comfortably, without worrying that she'll run out of savings. This allows her to volunteer at a community garden.
(The community garden. You know, you gotta love it, even Michelle gets to massage Julia's life.)
So to me it is sad because Julia has lived a life of such limited scope. She didn't get married. She didn't travel. She didn't break any hearts along the way. She went to school for 5 years to do the same job for the next 44 years. Then she got farmed out to slave in a garden that produces vegetables that other people get to eat.
It's creepy because everything she DOES experience: school, higher ed, surgery, pregnancy prevention, medical care, business, retirement and volunteering, is processed through the ever-watchful eye of someone else. Someone else gives the seal of approval.
And BTW, how can ANYONE in 2012 tell me what Julia can live comfortably on in 2076? So, 300 years from the founding of this great nation, this administration has Americans' lives all sorted out.
All we have to do is not vote for Romney? Do we live in a vacuum? Will absolutely nothing happen between now and oh say, 2058 to make a slight hiccup in this Master Plan?
Oh dear, Well, let's lighten things up with Iowahawk; the repository of fine writing blended with hilarious whacky.
This is what the Hawk envisions for Julia
I especially love the last line. C'mon Julia!!! Let's garden!
Thursday, May 3, 2012
So who is Elizabeth Warren and why am I writing this post? She has been a Harvard professor for quite some time now and had listed her heritage for 10 years in faculty minority law professor directories as such but removed it at Harvard because she didn't think it pertinent or something.
Now she comes out and says she checked the box all those years in an effort to get included in get-togethers "with other people who are like I am" and she assumed the heritage was true because she grew up in a family that talked about being Native American and her grandfather "had high cheekbones like all Indian have".
Now, I don't know and I don't care what the truth is to her heritage and her hiring at Harvard but they did use her heritage to tout their faculty's diversity so clearly, Harvard cared.
Harvard Law spokesman Mike Chmura told the Crimson that of 71 law school professors and assistant professors, 11 were women, five were black, one was Native American and one was Hispanic.
"Although the conventional wisdom among students and faculty is that the Law School faculty includes no minority women, Chmura said Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren is Native American," the Crimson reported.
Well, I read this quote on MJHAWEYE'S blog this morning and got such a chuckle of it I wanted to share :
But if you took a look at MJ Hawkeye, age, 66, I could pass for Tonto. I have cheekbones so high they're above my eyebrows. My hair has to be thinned with a lawnmower. I could live to be older than Methuselah and I'd never go bald. Some guys wear caps when it gets cold. I wear my hair. I have a chest so big it should have staves around it. My complexion so dark I tan in January. I'm the kind of guy who could run around shouting, "Whoo-whoo-whoo and get away with it". Elizabeth Warren is a phony.
And that's all I have to share.
Oh except this: She is trying to deflect the criticism to her opponent. It's all Scott Brown' fault that she is getting bad press
“The only one as I understand it who’s raising any question about whether or not I was qualified for my job is Scott Brown and I think I am qualified and frankly I’m a little shocked to hear anybody raise a question about whether or not I’m qualified to hold a job teaching,” she said, pushing to put Brown on defense. “What does he think it takes for a woman to be qualified?”
I didn't interpret this has anyone questioning her qualifications to hold a teaching job. Did you? I interpreted this as questioning whether the job she got at Harvard was under false pretenses, intentional or not. The fact is she listed herself while as a professor at U Texas and U Penn as minority and she dropped it after hiring on at Harvard. Now, unless there was another American Indian working at Harvard, Lucy has some 'splainin' to do.
Unless, by 'minority', she was referring to her sex. I think there were only 11 women out of the 71 law professors.
Monday, April 16, 2012
The peas are really coming in now but I think the ones that did germinate are not the English peas but the snow peas, of which you eat the pods rather than wait for actual peas...... oh well! So much for home-grown peas n carrots! I will try (harder) again next year to get it right.
I am off to Sam's this morning......
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
This allows the onion layers to swell and let any grit rinse out. You don't want anything like that in a great soup.
and toss them on the compost pail and continue chopping and rinsing. You will always find more dirt and grit in this area because of the way leeks grow in soil. I goo almost to the tips of the greens, especially if they are still bright and tender.
Here you can see the ratio of leeks to potato. Obviously, that can be reversed if you so choose. Me, I like the onion.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Then we moved to the Far East and my path was crossed with a dish called Beef Rendang which is a spicy sweet aromatic and thicker version of what we might call 'stew'. I first tried it in a restaurant, I believe, and could buy it ready-made in tins (dreadful) but eventually was taught to make it by the housekeeper of a man who lived next door to us in Brunei.
The housekeeper/cook was a transvestite to begin with and I never knew which persona I would meet each day working out in the garden or running errands. At first I thought they were two different people, and I suppose that really is most accurate. But not germane to the story.
1 1/2 pound boneless beef cubes, cheap cuts are fine
5 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick (about 2-inch long)
3 star anise, I use powdered star anise 1/4 teasp. This is not the anise seed!
3 cardamom pods, or 1/4 teasp of the seeds from within
1 lemongrass (cut into 4-inch length and pounded) I used the stuff in the squeeze tube as the lemongrass is harder to find here
1 cup thick coconut milk (canned. Try to get a can from Thailand, not Mexico. It is prepared a little differently)
1 cup water
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp (soaked in some warm water for the juice and discard the seeds )(good luck finding this. I substituted 7 prunes and added 1 Tables of Lime juice)
6 kaffir lime leaves (very finely sliced) Sorry, I grow my own here in the South. Again, Good luck. try an Asian Grocery store
6 tablespoons kerisik (toasted coconut) (couldn't find it, omitted it altogether)
1 tablespoon sugar/palm sugar or to taste
Salt to taste
1 inch galangal (Ii have powdered )
3 lemongrass (white part only) (Squeeze tube, (again)
5 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
10-12 dried chilies (soaked in warm water and seeded)
- Chop the spice paste ingredients and then blend it in a food processor until fine.
- Heat the oil in a stew pot, add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom and stir-fry them until aromatic.
- Add the beef and the pounded lemongrass and stir for 1 minute.
- Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the meat is almost cooked.
- Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik (toasted coconut), sugar/palm sugar, stirring to blend well with the meat.
- Lower the heat to low, cover the lid, and simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is really tender and the gravy has dried up.
- Add salt to taste. If not sweet enough, add more sugar to taste.
- Serve immediately with steamed rice and save some for overnight.
Okay, that fine recipe is from the link on the name above and it is superb. Galangal is a root much like ginger but different and you might find it at the Asian Grocery. I brought alot of these these ground dried spices back from Thailand and will search for them locally the next time I cross the lake.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
We spend several days out in the field planting and setting stakes for runner beans. I had already seeded 7 varieties of tomatoes and transplanted them into larger pots last week. At this point, they are hardening off to be planted in the plot and raised beds along with fancy peppers.
In the ground we now have:
Potatoes, zucs & cucs, yellow crook-necks, Silver Queen corn, Blue Lake, Moonlight runners, black-eyed peas. Soon to add the tomatoes and after the potato harvests, I'll plant okra!
In the raised beds, we have a few rutabagas left, celery, 3 kales going to town and they are SO good, carrots, a mix of salad greens, French shallots and English peas (quite the UN out there)(they refuse to speak with each other)
In the afternoon, I seeded more skinny eggplant (J has become a big fan of the eggplant lately) butternut suash, a zuc called the Contender (wouldn't you plant something with this name?) marigolds and zinnias and I just found another seedpack of eggplant that need to be seeded.
I have been slowly weeding an preparing to set in the eggplant and peppers and this year we are going to designate one of the beds for cantaloupe. I intend to train them upward and will support the fruit in slings. This because when we had them in the lower plot, something made off with all but two. The raised beds are protected by a fence.
Now, as I returned from Nonna's last Sunday, I stopped along the highway to get some shots of the lovely wisteria that has bloomed out along the roadways. It is only a brief time to enjoy them as they will be history again in two weeks and I swiped some seed pods. I want to try to propagate plant for myself. I know they are invasive so I must choose a site wisely. I think I know just the spot!
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
A couple of years ago, I met a mother/daughter duo in a quilting class who, after we established a familial Italian connection, told me an intriguing story about a tradition from New Orleans called St. Joseph's Altar.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Here are R and P at the start of the race..... all fierce and ready to rock.
I found some sport tape at the Expo the day before and wrapped my right ankle and left knee is an effort to give them some added support. The good news is the ankle felt great the whole way through. The bad news is I have done some damage to the knee regardless the tape and by mile 9 .5 , I was in agony.
But Rachel and I slowed down to walking fast. Even at that, we were passing other walkers. I had no concept of the time that had passed and was determined I would cross that finish line in under 4 hours.
That was somewhere behind the the NOMA in City Park and as we approached the buiding itself, I saw hand-made sign reading ".25 miles".. Me: "REALLY!!!! REALLY???? It's only a quarter left???!!!!"
So we made a break for it and eventually ran under a huge scaffolding I mistook for the end...... Oh no wait.... keep going! Keep going!!!! So we plogged a little further and crossed.
YEA!!!!!!!! WE did it, now what do we do???
Here was the best part and now that I am more familiar with what to expect, I want to do it again.
But I was really hankering for that free beer and jambalaya we were promised. We hadn't eat much for breakfast and I was ravenous at this point.
We never found the free beer....... We finally found and I stood in a beer line that NEVER advanced for what seemed to be over 10 minutes. I saw people with cash in their hands standing there but never saw anyone ever leave the front with beer..... Meanwhile R and P went in search of food and came back with 3 styro cups of absolutely delicious jamba but they cost $5.00 each! Hmmmm... we clearly were doing something amiss.
We finally gave up on the beer altogether and tried to go back to get another water bottle or two but once you leave the gauntlet, you may not return.
So the question immediately after the run was "would I do it again?" At that time, the answer was a firm no. But enough days have passed now and the answer is yes. I will and here is why:
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
The nutrition standards for pre-K lunch require milk, two servings of fruit or vegetable, bread or grains and a meat or meat alternative. The school didn’t receive a high grade from the January assessment because the home-made lunches didn’t meet those guidelines.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Two are finished and the third on needs quilting but I have another to get on the big machine first. It is for a cousin and will be picked up in early March. I'll post a photo of it when it is done.
*I don't feel sorry in the poor poor pitiful me.... I feel sorry there aren't more hours in the day to do everything. There are just too many fun things to get involved with out there!!!