Monthly Archives: January 2012

Adventures in Potato Bread!

So today I decided to use up some of the 10 lb bag of potatoes my boyfriend and I picked up from Costco and have yet to finish. So I pulled out another recipe from Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” and made the potato cheddar torpedoes. It uses the some of my sourdough starter but it only took a day to make instead of two. It was fun making a flavored bread instead of the play breads I’d been making, and it was an awesome combination, sharp cheddar, red potatoes, and fresh chives. I knew the moment I saw it in the book, I’d be making it at some point. So here we go!

the ingredients to my potato bread
Here are my lovely ingredients. The murky liquid in the measuring cup is the water that I boiled the potatoes in for added potato flavor. The chives and the cheese will come later.
partially mixed potato bread
This is only half of the final amount of flour. I knew I’d be kneading it after it rested so I didn’t bother trying to mash up all of the potatoes.
final kneaded dough

Polka dots!

Trying to get all of the chives worked in there was kind of a pain in the butt. But the dough was sticky enough that at least they didn’t fall out. My hands still smell like flour and potatoes.
shaped potato bread loaves
The dough rose super fast so I punched it down once because it still had a 30 minutes left of fermentation. The cheese is finally rolled up  inside the dough, jelly roll style. Next time I will try to slice the cheese thinner. Based on how much cheese the recipe called for it didn’t cover all of the dough so I ended up cutting more.
baked potato bread
Finally came out of the oven and it smells AMAZING. I can really smell the sweetness of the red potato and the chives.  My scoring is a little bit better this time around but the loaf that was closest to the back of the oven still got much darker than the rest even though I turned them halfway through and made sure to pull them away from the backside of the oven. Hmmm…there must be a hot spot there or something. A little annoying but it should take away from the taste at all. I love how you can see all the chives sprinkled throughout the dough and the cheese that melted out of the top and crisped up. Mmmm…. only 30 minutes before I cut into them!
UPDATE:
I finally cut into the bread. It was super soft and fluffy inside. I didn’t cut in far enough to really get at any of the cheese but what I did get was tasty. Next time I’ll make sure to get a better distribution of the cheese. Sadly though I overcooked the loaves a little, the crust has a slight burnt taste to it 😦 I had a lot of things going on at the same time so I didn’t pay attention to the time as well as I should have. Next time will be better!
cut loaf of potato bread
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Book Review: Death Most Definite

Today I finished reading “Death Most Definite” by Trent Jamieson, the first novel in the Death Works trilogy.

It’s been a fun read, it was hard to get into at first, I know nothing about Australia so some of the vernacular made no sense to me, but I managed to settle in. The main character, Steven de Selby is a quirky kinda guy. I love his idea of the Pomps and everything about death. Treating death as a business, one that comes with a decent pay package, Where there are Regional Managers, RMs is fun to read about. It’s been very well developed. He also goes into how the Pomps feel differently about death because of how they grow up, they don’t fight it. It’s logical to me and I like that.

I do have a few issues with some aspects of the novel that seem rather less developed. The relationship between Lissa and Steven for example. Ok, I can understand the love at first sight thing. But with Steven it seems a little forced. Like boom, instant love. His reactions to is almost seem like an addiction. And the entire time I got no real sense that she loved him too but first chance they have BOOM, sex in a not very sanitary place. Desperate times call for desperation but still, I feel like her reciprocation came out of left field a little bit. Not that I don’t think they’re a cute couple, they are. I just think the sex could have been left out. And it being used as a gag several times later on.

Another big issue I have is that with everything in the novel going on, it’s almost like a zombie Apocalypse, there is little to no mention of what’s going on with the regular people. Do they notice what’s going on? With the events in the novel it would seem to be impossible for anyone not to notice. Every time something happens it seems like they’re in a deserted area. And when he goes into cafes (which he does quite often) the only people we are introduced to are the baristas. What about the other customers? People talking about the strange things going on? I really wanted to know.

Anyways, The ending was good and set it up for the next novel, “Managing Death.” It should be interesting to see what Steven does with how things are left at the end. This was the authors first novel and I think it shows a little. But I do have high hopes for the next two novels.

I give it a 3 out of 5.

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Adventures in Bread, Pt 2

The bread from yesterday was delicious. Nice and chewy, the crust had a good bite to it. I wish it was more sour but I’ll take what I can get. The crumb was good, it had a lot of larger air holes in it which made me happy. I don’t know if I did something different or if it was just the different dough.

I think next time I make bread with the starter I’m going to try my dad’s way of doing it. He uses a no knead recipe that you just mix and let ferment for 12 hours. Not kneading is such a strange concept to me that I’ve avoided doing it. But I’ve had the bread my dad made that way and it’s quite tasty.

Now I just wish I had a baking stone. Or even parchment paper and cornmeal. Ah, the things I would do with money.

my finished bread

OM NOM NOM

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Adventures In Bread!

I finally pulled that sourdough bread out of the even. It smells AMAZING. But I will do the right thing and wait 45 minutes for it to cool to perfection before cutting into it. I used Peter Reinhart’s basic sourdough recipe from his book “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” and my dad’s sourdough started that he started about a month ago.

Some of my process:

Starter from the fridge

My pre ferment pulled from the fridge to warm up a bit. As soon as I pulled it out and as I was kneading it I could smell the delicious sour flavor.

final dough fermenting

Raise my minion!

Dough before it ferments

shaped loaves

My shaping sucks =/

My batards after shaping. I still can’t get the skin tight enough so during the final proof they mostly ooze outwards instead up upwards.

loaves pulled from the oven

Mmmmm....

I had some problems with scoring the loaves before I put them in the oven. This dough is a lot denser than others I’ve done and my knife is cheap. That’s another thing to add to the list of things to buy when I finally have money. I don’t know why one got blistered on one side like that. I turned them halfway through. Unless when I turned them, they got pushed too far to the back wall. They smell amazing though. The crust seems nice and crunchy. Sigh… only 30 minutes before I can eat them.

 

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My New Sourdough Starter!

In his retirement, my dad has begun baking. Never has he been particularly interesting in any sort of cooking, much less baking. Not that I’m complaining, I love fresh bread, it’s why I make it myself. It’s just rather….strange.

But anyway! He’s been working on sourdough bread, something I haven’t had the time to explore, and when I went home for the weekend he gave me some of his starter 🙂 Later tonight I’ll get a loaf started and tomorrow I’ll bake it. I’ll post more of my process later.

sourdough starter

Mmmm... smell that yeasty goodness

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Minecraft ._.

So, my boyfriend got me addicted to minecraft yesterday. It’s insanely fun. You can explore pretty much forever. And create anything you want, two of my favorite things to do in a game. Which does not bode well for my classes that start on Monday, ha ha.

minecraft waterfall

Underground waterfall!

My boyfriend and are are currently building a base together working on opposite ends. He’s filling his area with lava and wood, while I’m taking over what looks like an abandoned railway station. So much to do, so little time!

my base in minecraft

The entrance to my base

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Ice!

I didn’t get around to post these yesterday but it seems like winter has finally come to Chico. It lasted well into the afternoon. Today, by comparison, is fairly warm. And supposed to rain sadly.

grass covered in iceIce drip

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Why I Hate eReaders

Hate is a little misleading. I hate them in that I hate them for myself. I hate when people know I love books and assume I would love an eReader. But that’s exactly it, I love books.  
For me, a part of the whole experience is holding that book in my hands, smelling the scent of paper and ink that only novels have. (textbooks have an entirely different smell. More chemically, less pleasant.)
I can also list the many other advantages books have over eReaders: they never run out of batteries, if they break they’re still readable, and the ink is easy on the eyes.
Part of what I love about books is the whole experience that you just don’t get with an eReader. Starting with going to the bookstore and being surrounded by the many books, being able to see each one. Walking down the aisle looking at the different spines until one catches your eye. Where you can pick it up and feel the heft of it, feel all of the work the author put into it. It’s just not the same when you’re scrolling through a list of covers and names. Maybe you’ll go in for one book but spot a few others and pick them up too.
You don’t get the experience of cracking open that new book, putting the first dent in the spine. Sure, you could put a dent in your eReader but that would more likely just piss you off. The eReader never changes, it doesn’t get that well read look a book would, It could be anyone’s eReader, unless you decorate it with stickers or something.
I’ve fallen asleep with books in my hands and in my bed and never thought of it. Fall asleep with an eReader though, that might be a costly night of sleep.
For as long as I can remember, one thing I’ve always wanted when I become “adult” and own my own home is to have one room in my house to be a library. The idea of being surrounded by walls of books and knowing I’ve read every one of them, I get tingles. The same library with an eReader would be a tablet sitting on a table. A space saver certainly, but one I’m more than willing to give up.
The only thing I need to enjoy a good book is a warm blanket or sunbeam and a cup of tea; I don’t need or want to spend hundreds of dollars on a gadget that takes away most of the experience.
With all that said, I do agree with the idea of eReaders in part. Anything that helps get more people to read is at least partly okay in my book. And thinking about all the advantages they have for schoolwork is astounding. No more heavy textbooks students need to lug around, prices could be dropped, don’t need a whole new edition, updates can be done through wifi. It eliminates a huge amount of waste from the old editions of textbooks that get trashed every year. No need to clean out all the graffiti written by bored students (which, from experience, is a pain in the ass).
Using an eReader or not is really about personal preference, at least for now. I’d imagine, as sad as it is, that one day in the future there won’t be any more paper books, except perhaps in museums or as novelties. That is the way our society seems to be moving. I’ve always been an advocate of accepting change because it’s going to happen whether you want it or not, but this is one change I hope people everywhere fight against.
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WordPress Blackout

So I just discovered that WordPress is one of the websites going dark tomorrow to protest SOPA. I think protest in good faith is always a good thing; however, I wonder if this is the right way to do it. This won’t impact the ones making the laws but it will impact those trying to speak out against it. I don’t know…

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Teatime and daily rituals

 

I’m kind of a nerd in that every day I’m able at three o’clock I have tea time. (The Brits have their teatime at four but I just can’t wait that long.) I brew a pot of tea and assemble a plate of snacks that I will consume while sitting at my kitchen table and reading. It usually lasts for about an hour.
At first I started it because I would get hungry and bored since school isn’t in session. But As I continued, brewing the tea, cutting my apples, and picking out whatever would go with it, usually some baked good, cheese, and for awhile, walnuts from my mom’s coworkers tree, I realized how incredibly relaxing the whole process of it was.
It was time I took out of my day where I didn’t think about anything else but making my tea and food and possibly about which book to read. It was even more relaxing that the actual reading of the book and consuming of the food. A lull in the storm of adult responsibilities.
It started to make me think about other things I do that are rituals. When I drink coffee in the morning its more because I’m used to it than for any real kick from the coffee, the simple act of drinking that familiar warm drink in the morning is what wakes me up, not the caffeine. There are smaller rituals that you may not notice. The order in which I shower, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face. What music I listen to when I do certain things.
Now when I don’t do a ritual I feel strange, off balanced, like something’s missing. It’s interesting how these small rituals are such a part of our daily lives. How they make up who we are.
So, what are some of your daily rituals?


 

my delicious teatime meal

Today's teatime, a gala apple, walnuts, cheddar cheese, a slice of potica, and a pot of tea

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