Bread, Amish style

The latest bread baking is done! I have found that yeast seems to like listening to Happy Hardcore, it makes the little critters foam and froth and go buck wild! This session of bread baking involved an ‘Amish’ style white bread. It has quite a lot of sugar in it, for a change I used white sugar instead of brown sugar or honey. Added a good slug of salt as well. Whether it was the white sugar or the Happy Hardcore, the bread rose like mad and turned out really nice. The loaves are pretty big though, makes it a bit hard to cut the bread. I think I may have to turn it on its side to get even slices.

In other news the compost heap is going nuts. I opened it up to add some funky leftover salads and bruschetta and the damn thing was steaming. That’s right, it’s sitting there at around 40ÂșC or so, and in the cool air today it was out-gassing like a dying star. Smells like… silage. Especially since I added the lawn clippings. I gave it a good stir and watered it down, which seemed to make it steam all the more.

bread, demo day, and ice trees

So I chose to disappear for the long weekend. I did not go anywhere, I was sort of online, but I was pretty much checked out and away from the social side of my computer for most of the weekend. Instead of doing things online, I did things around the house.

I attempted bread batch number five, this time increasing the moisture content of the dough. Sadly I ran out of white flour, and had to add more whole wheat flour then I expected. Compensated with a bit more yeast. It ended up pretty good, though it is a bit… spongy. Approaching the texture of a panini bun or a foccacia. I also made a dozen cinnamon raisin buns that turned out all right, I don’t have the dough quite right for cinnamon buns, and I think I over-baked them by about 10 minutes. They taste pretty good though.

Sunday was spent in the not-a-garage ripping it apart. The previous owners had converted the single car garage into an office/work area for a PC repair and recycling business. There were all sorts of benches and shelves in various states of death. The floor was covered over in layers of half inch OSB plywood and that plastic stuff you put on the side of houses for moisture protection on a foundation. Thier was a huge shelf built into one wall, and the garage door itself had been covered over with a freestanding ( sort of ) wall. Everything came apart pretty easy, except for a few stripped screws.

Most of it I tore down by hand, which is usually an indication that something wasn’t done right. A few scary moments when I uncovered a hidden junction box where the previous owners had connected some copper cable and run a loose cable over the free standing wall to a light switch by the side door to the garage… and then covered it over with layers of duct tape and plastic sheeting ( not vapour barrier, just some sort of thin plastic… like giant saran wrap ). When I first pulled it out I was freaking, it looked like the duct tape/plastic covering had electrical burn damage. But what looked like burns on closer inspection turned out to be dozens of dead pill bugs that had dried and rotted to the duct tape. Fascinating.

By the end of the afternoon I had ripped everything down and Sarah and I measured our SUV to see how it would fit in the garage. It is going to fit, but barely. It’s pretty tight, the garage is from the mid 70s, so I’m surprised at how tight a fit it is going to be, since the mid 70s was full of boat-like rides. Means less storage in our garage then I would like. There is currently a big pile of plywood, scrap lumber, metal shelving, and drywall in my back yard, if anyone wants some please take it, otherwise the peeps at 1-800-GOT-JUNK are going to get to come over and do a dump run.

Monday I did nothing. Woot. Today I woke up to trees covered in 1-2mm of ice, and they made a noise in the wind like tens of thousands of fairies cracking their knuckles. Very strange…must be due to me waking up at 4:40am and being unable to properly sleep after that.

Markies Manhattan Chummer Chowder

All right chummers, here is a recipe that lets you feed your closest chombas on the cheap. It’s as easy as making flash off an immie on Red. You’ll need yourself a big ass pot, a pile of seafood chum, and some veg. Feel free to use krill and soy substitutes if ya strapped for chyen.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of Seafood Chum* ( found in frozen foods aisle, contains shrimp, clams, mussels, squid tentacles, squid bits, and maybe some cuttlefish… I call it chum for a reason… )
  • 1 pack shrimp ( or krill )
  • 1 litre Chicken Broth
  • 700ml Motts Clamato*
  • 700ml Tomato Juice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 250ml frozen corn
  • 4-6 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced ( 1-2cm cubes )
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons thyme
  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • pepper to taste

* Note – if you do not have Motts Clamato Juice on hand you can use 450ml of Tomato Juice, 150ml water, a dash of worschester sauce, 50ml of clam juice, a pinch of celery salt, and two dashes tobascco sauce.

Directions:

  1. Saute mustard seeds in oil for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add onion, and saute for 3-5 minutes until glossy and partly translucent.
  3. Add garlic, saute for 1 minute.
  4. Add chicken broth, Clamato, tomato juice, and diced tomatoes. Add bay leaves, corn, celery, carrots, chili powder, paprika, and thyme. Stir, add pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add Seafood Chum and shrimp and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add diced potatoes, let simmer until potatoes are tender but not mush.

Serves 6-10 hungry joeboys and razorgirls.

beets beets the magical food…

So last night I was out of ideas for supper, and all that was left in the fridge were some beets and mushrooms. So I made a meal of warm oven roasted beat and beat greens salad with almonds and pecans, served with a mushroom and roasted garlic alfredo pasta. It sounds pretty fancy does it not? But the fancy does not stop at the dinner table, oh no.

This is a bit gross, but within 2 hours my… more fluid based bodily waste was the colour of butternut squash. It was like I was peeing Halloween. The real horror did not come until this morning, when I caught a glimpse of the more solid of my bodily wastes.

Ever spill some magenta printer ink?

Yeah.

That colour should not come from the human body. Apparently I can’t process the colours in beets very well. So beets are now the magical food, when you eat em you get purple poos.

bread, attempt number four

So I’ve taken to baking bread, and I think I’m getting close to a viable skill. I did my fourth batch yesterday and I’ve got the ratio of whole wheat, white flour, and various grain components down pretty solid. My bread is not as dense as a brick, and it has good loft and texture. It is still tasting a bit yeasty, but I don’t mind that so much.

The next phase is to perfect the moisture level in the bread. This batch came out a bit dry, I think I over baked the bread. Did not have a cooking thermometer to test the internal temperature of the bread, so had to guess using kebab skewers and tapping the bread in strange manners. If I can get it moister it will improve the texture a bit, and make it a lot better for sandwiches. I think this batch was dry due to over baking, and maybe the oats… oats suck up water.

I started baking bread because I made the mistake of reading the ingredients list on the bread we like, and failed to recognize 40% of the crap in mass made bread. That and it is costing $3.50 – $5.00 a loaf. FIVE BUCKS. That gets me enough ingredients to bake 10 loaves. So, because I’m getting old and cheap, and because I don’t want to eat poly-triglyceride 1,4,5, I now bake bread every now and then.