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Sourdough Bread

 

Hmmm.. crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside!

Hmmm.. crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside!

Having started a sourdough starter about a month ago, I have launched into full scale baking experimentation.  And it’s fun!  I’m not patient enough to have started it from scratch.  I used one of those Goldrush brand yeast strains.  Maybe one day…

 

Anywho.  Here are some of my experiments:

Sourdough loaf with pepper and dried onions

Sourdough loaf with pepper and dried onions

Sourdough rolls with marbled cheddar

Sourdough rolls with marbled cheddar

I used the same basic recipe for both breads, just varied the additions.  I can post the recipe if you’d like, although I have to say that I find that I have been adding a lot of additional flour to get the texture right.  I guess that’s where intuition comes into play.  

I keep my starter in the fridge for most of the week, letting it out for about 12 hours starting Monday night.  Then I feed it and the baby starter that I will be using for my bread.  After about another 12 hours I place it back in the fridge to rest.  I wish I could feed it everyday, but I don’t bake that much and can’t justify using all that flour.  

I am surprised at how different it smells every time I feed it.  Almost like wine one day and stinky cheese the other.  But I guess that’s what’s great about it.  And the bread has always had great flavor so I am not going to attempt to fix something that is not broken.  

( A note to all the bloggers out there… Have you ever noticed that when you have not been reading for a while the tone and depth of your posts changes?? I am having a hard time expressing myself just now because I have been a bad girl and have not indulged my mind very much as of late.)

To close, I also made a great version with Italian herbs and mixed in some sun dried tomatoes before the last rise… Kolby told me it smelled like Subway bread.  Not sure if that’s good or bad, but he said it was amazing.  Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of that version.

I wonder what I’ll do this week?

Fig Tart

 

Finished Product

Finished Product

So here’s my first tart!  I have to say it was incredibly delicious…. Ok, it bordered on the rich side, but what can I say?  The crust is shortbread, filling is lemon cream, and the topping is of course figs with a glaze.  I will definitely be making more of these although next time I am going to experiment a little more with the filling and topping combo.  Leave a comment if you’d like the recipe; frankly I am feeling a little lazy. Hehehe.

Theft

 

 

Hmm. I don’t like to be a negative person.  It rots the brain.  But theft is part of the culture we live in and must be talked about at some point. 

Last night I met some friends at a bar in Tempe called Grahams Central Station.  It’s not a cool place to hang out at all and I am embarassed to say I actually spent some time there, but alas it’s true.  Nevertheless.  At some point in time it was decided that another venue would be more agreeable to continue the party, so after securing a ride back to my vehicle, we all headed to Scottsdale.

I should have known it was a bad idea to leave it there as it’s so close to Guadalupe, a town known for it’s lawlessness.  But I didn’t want to waste gas going back and forth to Scottsdale.  (It never accurred to me that my truck would be broken into in a huge public parking lot full of cops most of the time.  but hindsite is 20/20 if I’m not correct.)  So I left my baby, The Beast, in the then crowded parking lot and headed off for more frivolity.  NEVER AGAIN……

I was dropped off at about 8am at the front of my truck, and at the time all I noticed were the bird droppings on the hood and windshield.  Then I got in and went to unmute the stereo.  All that remained of my once beautiful Panasonic touch-screen deck were the connection wires.  I did a double take.  Then noticed the dark glass on the passenger seat.  And then on the second row seating… which lead my eyes to the back of the truck.  The ENTIRE window was gone.  All I could do was stare.  I slowly slipped out of the drivers seat and onto the hot pavement.  From the outside it looked even worse.  There was broken glass all over the bumper, trunk area and third row seating. 

I got back into the truck and did a quick review of the rest of the items I remembered being in the truck when I left it last.  Cds. Check.  Bathing suit. Check.  Towel. Check.  Books. Check.  Everything else was still there.  I put the keys in the ignition and drove to pick up the mail for Kolby.  (He’s in Europe for three weeks.) 

I still can’t believe it happened and have to go out into the garage every once in a while to make sure it really did happen.  It’s so weird to think someone was in my Beast without my permission doing whatever they wanted.  I am grateful that that is all they took.  But it still stings to the bone. 

The insurance adjuster will be out soon to take a look at the damage and start the claims process, but somehow that does not make me feel much better.  I will never put that expensive of a deck in my baby again.  I don’t care how cool it looks.  I don’t want to go through this again. 

And the kicker.  When there’s a power loss to the unit, you have to enter a security code to get the darn thing to even power up.  So I guess the joke is on them.  Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.  Thank God I removed my makeup kit last week when I had her cleaned…. otherwise I would still be sobbing.

I don’t know what the moral of the story is.  I hate that theft is a part of our culture and the good hardworking citizens of the world have to take a portion of their paycheck and set it aside to help them sleep at night.  Sigh.

 I have pictures but they are not loading for some reason…. more frustration.

Dinner

Sorry, no pics today… just musings.

All the recent press coverage and blog posts about the rising cost of food, starvation, and the evils of GMO have had me thinking about food more than ever. I love food. I love everything about it except those 5 pounds I gained last month. ( Why do I always gain weight when I’m happy? Someone please tell me..) So I’ve been eating, cooking, and reading about cooking a lot. And I have to say thank you God for this simple pleasure of the senses. Again I digress.

All this time spent almost obsessed with the subject I have come to realise I love sharing a meal with people weither it’s a tuna sandwich in front of the tv on a Monday night or a celebration feast with all the trimmings and wine and so forth.

Tonight I was able to share a meal with some I knew, someone I was getting to know, and some complete strangers and it was wonderful.

Of course the entire episode was preluded with a rousing game of beer pong. But that’s for another day. Shopping for the food was fun. Prepairing the food was fun. And the best part of the evening was when I looked around the table at all the smiling faces, watching the glow that comes from satisfaction, and realizing that not only was every’s plate completely clean….Every last spear of aspargus… every roasted baby dutch potato… every piece of garlic bread.. and every slice of chicken saltimbucca, they were full. It was like magic.

I don’t know what the future holds for this kid and I can honestly say I’m not too worried. But I do hope. I hope I will be able to share my love of cooking with those I love. I hope I can continue to grow in my love of well prepaired food and help those around me to take a little more joy from this simple task of sustaining the body. And I hope to share in many more meals like the one I shared tonight.

Apricots from Schnepf FarmsI didn’t know it when I was little but my grandmother and grandfather used to have a farm and garden in Indiana.  They raised chickens and grew most of their own food.   ( Later my mother would tell me of the summer she spent breaking the necks of the chickens they raised and boiling them to remove the feathers.  Or my Uncle’s method of chopping the heads off.. I’ve been told they really do run around for a little while after the event.  But I digress.)

When they moved to Mesa, Arizona they had to abandon the practice to a certain extent because of the harsh climate of the valley.  But they had two small, perfect little apricot trees growing in the backyard until I was twelve.  I became aware of them at about age 6.  Most of the year they were bare and the limbs too thin and weak to climb.  For climbing I preferred the grapefruit tree which is also now gone.  Then in the spring would come the leaves…. and then the blossoms.  And finally the fruit.  My grandfather was gentle but stern in his warnings to wait until they were ripe to eat them.  Can you imagine being a small child looking at the tiny little fragrant globes of orange and being told to wait?? 

So I would on the swing-set and think of other things until the day arrived when he would take me out into the backyard and fill my little awaiting hands with the plump, juicy fruit.  I was a messy child to begin with.  But I was an absolute sticky midget after I ate apricot after apricot standing in front of the trees… the juice dripping from my mouth onto my chin and then shirt.

This would go on for a few weeks until we’d either eaten them all or the neighboring birds had.  How I hated the birds those few weeks.  And then I would forget all about them until the next spring.  As I got older and began to shop for myself I would look forward to apricot season in the stores.. I didn’t know anyone with a tree anymore.  But they would always disappoint. 

This year I have been satiated.  For Mother’s Day my family took my mother to Schnepf Farms, in Queen Creek and we picked peaches and apricots in the hot sunshine.  I was a little sad at first because all of the tree ripened fruit had been picked.  But we took a chance and grabbed a little box of the hard fruits to take home to ripen.  And ripen they have.  The smell coming from the box is intoxicating, and brought back the memory of those two lone fruit trees rustling in the occasional breeze.  And of the old cliche… Good things come to those who wait.

 

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