Saturday, December 04, 2010

Baking Sourdough Bread

I realized, as I was poking through my posts that I haven't written about bread in awhile.

Some of you are bored already and some of you are dying from your gluten allergies. Sorry about that, but I must carry on!

I've been baking bread, steadily, crazily and continuously all year long. Somewhere in February, I decided to take the plunge and create my own sourdough starter. After days and days of making a slurry of flour and water in little jars and throwing away half of the weird smelling goo daily, it finally started rising, and no longer smelling weird and funky. A month later, I made my first batch of bread. The first batch was kind of funny, but so freakin' yummy that we couldn't stop eating it. I bought a set of bannetons (Bread molds or forms made of coiled reed to help the dough hold its shape while rising.) and learned how to use them. I then created a second starter, this time it was a rye starter. You know, for rye breads.

White sourdough from Bread Baker's Apprentice. Rings of flour are due to the banneton being heavily floured. Pretty!

And I went to work on my slashing and steaming techniques.

Look at the gringe (ear) on that loaf of rye sourdough! Sexy!

Next thing I knew, I had bought yet another ridiculous bread baking book (Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman and no, I'm not being compensated, it's just an incredible book. Not for the beginning bread baker, though.) and was making bread that took even longer to make than the Bread Baker's Apprentice loaves.

Crazy? Oh yes. Yes indeed.

Next thing I knew there were sourdough bagels,

English muffins,

multigrain boules

and loaf after loaf of different sourdough recipes. They weren't all successful, but almost all were fantastic. Now, our every day bread is made of sourdough. It might be a whole wheat multigrain with rye flakes, flaxseed and millet or a nice rye (Hey, it turns out that I like rye bread! It's just caraway seeds that I object to in my bread!) loaf. It all depends on what I'm in the mood for that baking day.

It's also been terribly therapeutic.

The act of taking wild yeast (Captured from the flour itself, not from the air as a TV chef would have you believe. Wild yeast grows on the food source it likes. For example: wheat.) and flour, water, and salt and making something as basic, yet as lovely as bread is rather soothing. The babies may be crazy, but look at this bread!
Pain au levain. Sexy French sourdough bread.

Making it has been fun, and I've learned an awful lot. I even put some up for sale for a good cause and have given away dozens and dozens of loaves (Which is the only reason I'm not the size of a whale, at this point!) to friends and family.

It's a helluva hobby. Considering how far I've come in the last year, I'm kinda worried what next year's leap will be. Will I start grinding my own grain? Planting an acre of wheat? Aiee!

Well, instead of worrying about it too much, I think I'll go have a slice of the Jewish Rye with caramelized onions I have sitting in the breadbox. It's calling to me, you see.


Friday, December 03, 2010

Emptying the House and Doing Good Locally

Eric is about to take off for a week's vacation (It's his turn, after all. I took off for a week to go visit my mom for her 65th b-day celebration. To which I still owe you pictures. Ack!) and I will be all alone with the screaming children.

To maintain at least a modicum of sanity, I have determined that this would be a good week to work on de-cluttering the house*, starting with my old maternity clothes, infant gear and whatever gets in my way in the garage. Helping to motivate me was the Evening of Sharing we just attended at Caitlin's school. There were assorted organizations there asking for volunteers, money or gear and I decided it must be kismet. I have stuff and a burning desire to get rid of it and they have a burning need.

I don't have the patience to run any sort of a garage sale and my friend Christine is no longer local to coax me into it. Instead, any large, potentially valuable items will go up on Craigslist (Crib, anyone?), but for that I appear to need to take photos before posting. This leads to procrastination on my part, because I just can't get excited about taking pictures of my old washer. However, I am motivated to sell it off somehow, if only just to get some floor space back in the garage. (Possibly because I'm also afraid that Eric and I both carry Hoarder Genes and if we don't get rid of some stuff, it will be goat trail time!)

Also, I want to buy a larger vehicle to haul the loud, young people around in. A vehicle that will put them farther away from me. If I could drop a soundproof plexiglass sheet in between their area and the front seats, I would. Maybe install some knockout gas nozzles aimed at their seats, too. Yeah. That's the ticket! Anyway, any loot that I sell off I'm earmarking (Earmarking: it's not just for Congress!) for the new vehicle. I suspect it's going to be a loooong time before I get any new keys in my hands, but I thought if I had a plan, it would be more likely to happen.

Have you had any success selling off your gear on Craigslist and if so, what tips would you give me to ensure a successful sale? I'm not willing to ship anything, so e-Bay is out. Too much of a headache. If I get too overwhelmed I'm most likely going to set it all out by the curb, bit by bit, with a sign saying, "Free!". That always seems to get anything to go away.

Except for the mice.

Dang it!

* I find that I can open almost any drawer or closet or cupboard and put my hand on any number of items that I can get throw out. I keep asking myself as I run across these things why have I kept them so long? Why is that dead plant still sitting there in that pretty little pot? Let's just dump it in the compost and put that pot in the garage. Next season I can put a sempervivum in it. Why do I still have this 10 year old nail polish? Aging it isn't going to improve it. So I'm taking back my cabinet space, one handful of "stuff" at a time. I got a little thrill when I actually started putting bread in my breadbox. I know, that's just off the hook, right?** Right!

** I need to get out more, don't I?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Smells Like Christmas!

We just bought and brought home our tree today!

From Costco, of all places. What can't you buy there? Seriously! (They should start paying me to shop there, I love them so much. Or get a restraining order. Can't decide.) It was about 8' tall and Eric had to haul it in on his own, leaving a trail of dead pine needles up the stairs and across the living room.

That's OK, though, because December is Pine Needle season. Every day until we compost that puppy, it will drop needles and I'm OK with it because I can't get over how gorgeous it smells. My house smells like a forest. A lovely, dark green, pine-scented forest.

We'll decorate it tomorrow with the kids and attempt to keep the twins from smashing the decorations or pulling the tree down on top of themselves.

That may be tougher than you think, too. Those two are crazy! Other people have cat and tree stories. Ours will be about the twins who will cackle evilly and whisper their diabolical plans back and forth and then set forth and destroy everything in their path.

If only we could harness that power for good instead of evil....
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...