Happy Birthday Nanny!

27 04 2010

Today my Grandmother is 92.  An amazing and creative woman I’ve introduced you to before, I wanted to take a moment and tell you how proud I am to be her granddaughter.  How happy I am to get to have her in my life. And how funny it is that all the hipters are now wearing her favorite shoes (although never with the same amount of style.)

You’re awesome Nanny!


Ah, the History Channel

27 04 2010

Yes, there is a casualness with which people are killed (which is why growing up we called THC the Blood & Guts channel or the Hack’em Up channel), and there is a patriotism that doesn’t even border on egotistical entitlement, but I’m really enjoying the new series America: The Story of Us and suggest you watch it.

Last project?

17 04 2010

I sat down and finished these fabric weights, thinking it would likely be my last project on my 1950s model 401a Singer barring some costly electrical system repairs. And wouldn’t you know? It worked better than it has in months. I think it’s afraid of my new Brother… I know I’m a little afraid of it.

Sourdough bread

13 04 2010

I love sourdough bread.  Lucky enough to grew up in California, sourdough was my go-to bread.  And I have now “caught” some live yeasts from the air in my backyard.  Mmmmmm…live yeasts.

Anyway – some friends and I decided to start a food club and making bread was our first project.  We looked up how to make a starter and I found this guy online.

Having tweaked this recipe for my own area and tastes, and after successfully keeping my starter alive for over a month now and making a few different loaves, here is my interpretation, starting with a bit of starter pulled out of the fridge.

Pour the starter into a large glass bowl and add in 1 cup each warm water (warm to the touch but not hot) and flour (I go back and forth between whole wheat and all purpose flour.  When it starts to look bubbly and smell sour, scoop out 1/2 cup and put it in a jar with wax paper as a lid with a little hole in it (or if you have some fancy crock thing that would contain the starter and give it some air, by all means use that).  Pop that puppy in the fridge because that’s your starter for next time!

Now mix in:

  • 2 Tbs olive oil or softened butter
  • 4 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Once the mixture is coming together start kneading it with your hands.  Add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup more flour (w/w or a/p, your choice) or more, depending on your climate, until you get a nice smooth dough.

Put in a clean bowl and cover with a tea towel to rest in a warm place until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and put into a lightly greased loaf pan for the its second rise (doubling again).

And then place into a cool oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes (my oven runs hot so potentially 45 minutes) or until your bread is golden brown and, if not in a loaf pan but on a cookie sheet, thumps when you tap the bottom.  Allow to cool – for a neat trick to remove your loaf have part of that time be on its side – and enjoy!

A word on timing – I put the starter out to proof as soon as I get home from work, mix the dough right before I go to bed, and move on to the next step in the morning, allowing the bread to rise in loaf form all day before baking at night.  I’ve also had success completely disregarding those times.  The longer the proofing stage sits, the more sour your dough, which is a good thing.  So don’t stress out about time.  And feel free to add things like rosemary or whatever your favorite herb is.  Just change it up to suit your life and enjoy fresh, cheap, ho-made bread.

What they do when we’re away…

13 04 2010

The hubby and I came home yesterday to find that our darling dog had scratched a quarter size gash into the back of her head.  How did she reach that spot?

It’s a little hard to see in this shot because we’ve washed and doctored it up at this point.  Still pretty ridiculous.

Erl & Directions

7 04 2010

People regularly ask me for directions.  Today’s askers were a little crestfallen when I told them about how long it would take to walk from Chinatown to Japantown:

An hour.  It was either that or Haight/Ashbury.  But since they couldn’t figure out what I meant by blocks – as in: “go 4 blocks that way” “how long is a block?” – I patted one on the shoulder and said good luck.

A foreign touristing couple on the same walk back to the office were sure they knew me.  I told them I just have that kind of face.