Saturday, February 08, 2014

Baking Day :: Steps

For my friends who want to make No Knead or Dutch Oven Bread. We started dough last night, and now, about twelve hours later, it's time for them to take the next steps. If you would like an easy, and still delicious, bread, I cannot recommend this recipe enough! We are forever indebted to Alicia Paulson for pointing us in this direction!

Your dough is bubbly on the surface and it's risen a lot! Time to move on to the next part...

I prepare a surface with a dusting of flour.

Then I gently scrape down the dough, away from the bowl, so that I can invert the bowl and let the dough fall out and onto the floured surface.

Transfer complete! Now I dust my hands in flour and gently turn the dough into a ball.

Here we are. This is going to sit, covered, for fifteen minutes. Keep it someplace warmish, and if it's a dry or hot day, cover with plastic or a cloth that's a bit damp.

Here's the other half, from Linda's dough. After fifteen minutes… or twenty, or thirty. I will generously dust a baking sheet with flour, or cornmeal. Then flouring my hands, again, I will remove the dough from the bowl, and turn it into itself, forming a loaf, and setting it on the baking sheet, seam side down. I'll post more, soon! Janice, I hope this helps Dan.

Fifteen, or twenty, or thirty minutes later…

Your dough had a little rest. Flour the surface that you'll bake the bread on, and with well-floured hands pick up the ball of dough.

I'm tucking the sides of the dough in and forming a loaf… the part where the ends meet are called the seam, and you'll place the dough seam side down.

More shaping. The less handling the better… just be gentle.

Sometimes I make a round loaf. This will be a long loaf… rustic style. You could also set this in a bread pan. Be sure you've floured or lightly oiled whatever your baking your bread in or on.

Now cover your dough and let it have a final rise. A warm, but not hot spot, for about two hours. The dough is going to rise… approximately doubling in size. You'll know it's ready when you poke the dough and it doesn't spring back… you'll have a teeny dent that stays in the bread. Pre-heat the oven! 475 degrees… but I bake at 450 degrees in a convection oven, which if I understand it correctly is hotter, because of the fans??

When the oven is hot, in goes the dough, and you can expect to bake for at least 30 minutes. About fifteen minutes into baking I spray water from a bottle to create a cloud of steam. This makes a wonderful crust on the bread. Before I had a water bottle, I placed a small oven-proof dish in the oven, and in the middle of baking I tossed ice into the dish, so it would make the steam. Oven temps vary, and I rely on smell and sight. Bake your bread until it looks good enough to eat!

These two loaves were baked yesterday.

Crunchy crust, soft inside. Also, these have dill, onion, and poppy seeds.

Here is a round loaf, with no herbs.

Of course it's delicious hot, but be sure you have a serrated knife and you saw the bread, without pressing down. Hot bread that gets crushed will get dense and doughy. Gosh, I hope you have butter on hand, or fresh eggs! Enjoy.

Friday, February 07, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Throwback Thursday

July 2008 :: Maria and Betty.

Our new chicas are a wonderful bunch. They make me happy and definitely keep me busy. We even have a Buff Oprington, Lilikoi, who is marvelously large and quite sweet. But I do miss Betty. Lady Betty Orpington. Of the many pleasures and honors I have enjoyed in blogging, my imagination-run-wild with my chicken muse has been one of the most fulfilling. Something about that chicken gave me the nerve and will to do things a bit out of reach and to extend support and encouragement to others, as well. When she passed away last summer, I wonder if I didn't lose a bit of my confidence and flare with her. I think she deserves to be, not only remembered, but honored, too. In small ways, in whatever capacity I can, I want to keep the Lady Betty Orpington Foundation alive and crowing for STEAM. Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and the curious, creative, interested, people, young and experienced, who need a shout-out, and support.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

A Little Fresh Squeezed

Our orange tree is giving pretty good fruit, and quite a bit, too.

There were three citrus trees in the garden when we moved into the Bird House four years ago. The lemon tree was doing the best, but we couldn't even be sure what the other two were. They lacked water, and sun. Out went the overgrown shrubs that blocked light and littered the yard. And we repaired the irrigation lines to that part of the yard. We've been enjoying lemons most of the year from the start, and now the oranges are giving their first fruitful season. I'm still not sure what kind of oranges they are, but they're getting better every new season. Last week we planted a lime tree, and two years ago we put in a blood orange.

Who remembers when orange juice was served in small glasses? Seems like lots of foods are super sized these days. But I still remember when orange juice was offered in a modest glass, and now, I think I know why!

It takes a lot of oranges to fill a pitcher with fresh squeezed juice. A lot of fruit, some extra effort, too!

Making our own juice… delicious, and a nice reminder of what a special treat it really is.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Garden Journal

Maria needed a homework break. Lately she's been feeling easily rattled, a bit distressed by this and that. My solution, tonight? A visit to the garden, where she kicked the soccer ball, pulled weeds, fed bunnies, and planted peas. It's cold outside and damp from last night's shower. Good pea weather, I hope. The hens came running to greet us. They're fun company in the garden. A chicken can lift your spirits, as much as dirt, sprouts, and carrots, so I think this time was well spent.

Seeds and sprouts, harvests and feasts~
A record of what's growing on in our Bird House Garden.

Monday, February 3, 2014
Cloudy, 57/48F. Rain forecast for Thursday.

Bed 2: Carrots
Barrel: Peas

Bed 1: Spinach, carrots
Bed 2: Carrots
Bed 3: Radishes, lettuce, beets, beans
Bed 4: Garlic, nasturtium in bloom

Harvest: Blood oranges, lemons, oranges, lettuce, spinach, carrots

Monday, February 03, 2014

Five Good Things

Just a small sample of the mess from this weekend's Accidental Rube Goldberg Disaster! It really was a remarkable, quick succession of events, and I guess the grand finale was the fire extinguisher exploding all over everything! At our place, the groundhog's prediction is for six more weeks of cleaning!

Good Things…

1. Diana and I enjoyed delicious bowls of gyoza ramen, Friday night.

2. Max made all the necessary changes to his schedule, so he could take a second math class this year: Hello, Honors Pre-Calculus!

3. We tried taro durian something. It wasn't great. But, hey… it was fun trying!

4. Alex has us so well prepared for disaster(s,) we have everything we need, on hand, to cope with our latest mis-adventure.

5. I repaired our bed, and after a week sleeping on the living room floor, it feels quite luxurious!

Happy Monday. Do you have some good things to share?

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Winter, Says the Groundhog

Well, it's official. There's no doubting the great prognosticator: Winter is here for six more weeks. If I had the least suspicion of the authenticity, the genuine legitimacy of Phil the Groundhog as weather forecaster, I have only to turn to Warren and Emily's expedition to central command: Punxsutawney, PA. They saw it all go down, and it was legit.

Sorry, Warren. I know you're ready for Spring. For Blue skies, with temperatures well above freezing. Have courage.

We're a bit disappointed, too. Not because of winter, not because of cold weather, and a long wait for spring, but because we didn't get to have as much fun a Groundhog Day as last year. Last year we were on a Winter Quest! We went into the woods, in search of winter and snow. We had a picnic beneath the pines. It was beautiful and inspiring. The woods smelled good. The air was cold. We reveled in patches of snow.

The year before last, we were reveling in a day of backyard pleasures, with chickens and cats, and recounting the fun we had in the power outage. The first time we celebrated Groundhog Day, was with a bonfire and backyard campout the night before, and Groundcakes for breakfast! When we can, we like to go all out.

This year we were foiled by an Accidental Rube Goldberg Disaster. Yesterday a shelf in the garage came loose, and sent things crashing down. The shelf itself landed on the fire extinguisher, which propped the shelf, but also broke the pin: The entire contents of the fire extinguisher sprayed, quite dramatically, everywhere! Everywhere. The noise from the falling stuff, breaking glass… it was terrific, and as we ran to the garage we were met with a solid vapor of dust, like a gas. We had no idea what it was, and you can imagine how scary that felt. We literally had to wait for the dust to settle before we could figure out what-the-heck-happened. The dust covered every surface in the garage, through the hall and into the kitchen. If it's in our house, it needs cleaning. This pretty much redirected all our plans, hopes, dreams, and paper towels. Sigh.

No one was hurt. And there was no fire, or earthquake, or rhinoceros stampede. We're grateful. We have dust masks, and our humor is intact.

The stuff in a fire extinguisher? Nuisance Dust! So apt. So very apt. "Filled with Plus-Fifty C® Sodium Bicarbonate Dry Chemical Powder. HMIS 1-0-0. Talc, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Nuisance Dust. Irritant."

We have six more weeks of winter. And so, perhaps in the next six weeks we will find a day when we can go in search of snow, or picnic beneath pines. Locally, our winter lacks rain. We may get some tonight, tomorrow. The nasturtiums down by the lagoon are thriving. So are the ones growing in our garden bed.

No more Bird Watcher sightings, but we do see some lovely birds.

And dolphins, too. I'm glad we've made little excursions, walks, and outings to enjoy the sights, and appreciate the weather. We especially love walking in the rain! Whatever the season, whatever we are celebrating, it's always so much better with time to enjoy nature.

"Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius."
~Pietro Aretino