I like projects, I especially like projects that have me learn something new. But ‘projects’ is vague and could mean climbing all the way to the top of Windley Key (I drove by it once) or finding trash bags that fit in my kitchen garbage can (I’ve tried, I can’t). I’ve had projects where I dye up wool, spin it into yarn and crochet it into sweaters. That’s a good, solid project that lasts many months. I actually have a couple more of those projects in the queue, but the flyer on my spinning wheel is shot and needs to be replaced. Also, I will do a thing where I make every single part of dinner from scratch. Like making a falafel dinner where I grind the chick peas and make the falafel, make the pitas, the yogurt, the feta, the tabbouleh, the hummus and everything else from beginning to end. But those only take up a day or two of my time. After I pull my food coma’ed ass out of bed the only project I face is cleaning the kitchen and then I’m as directionless as a high school student who thinks he understands Camus (but Sarte is smartre).
Well, my next big project is bread. I’ve never particularly cared for baking. There’s a sort of precision that makes me shy away from it. But I love bread and I do really need to have a project, so what the hell. Did a little noodling, asked my friends for advice, got a hell of a lot of advice! I also got some sourdough starter from a friend. I think that’s my favorite part, using a starter from a friend who get hers from another mutual friend.
I want to learn about bread in general and sourdough specifically, so that’s what I got. I literally read The Bread Bible from cover to cover. It sounds a bit tedious but all that repetition smashed all kinds of techniques right into my brain. This is a good project because I’m thinking it will be a solid 3 years from now until croissants. That’s the goal, croissants and I want to get there the long way around. I want to understand every damned aspect of what I’m doing.
How am I doing now after about 8 weeks? I am a bread weenus.
Well, there’s my first sourdough. I was so proud. And oh holy shit did it suck. It was terrible. It had a nice crust and the inside was a bit tight but mostly okay. But it was so sour. It was inedibly sour. It was as sour as your mom when your dad tries to use fart jokes to flirt with the waitress. My guess? I think at some point between making the starter sponge and one of the rises I ended up killing the yeast and the lactobacillis took over. It wasn’t even good for croutons. It sucked and it had to be tossed.
That’s the soft white sandwich loaf from The Bread Bible and it was awesome. It was so damned perfect and we made sandwiches on it. It was soft without being mushy, the crust to crumb was balanced just right. I loved it, David loved it, Ted, the guy that lives in my attic and spies on us, liked it! I think even Paul and Mary would have liked it.
Tonight it was sour cream and ginger scones with mango curd (seriously, make this. I make it all the time and use the leftover egg whites to make meringues but this time I didn’t feel like futzing with meringues so I gave the egg whites to Chester and made scones instead). They’re a tad dense but not too much and I could just keep eating them. To be fair, there’s a lot of stuff I could just keep eating including off brand cheesy poofs and Necco Canada wintergreen lozenges. I’m not picky.
A friend told me that my flour budget is going to go through the roof and she was right. I need a few different flours for different things and they get used up so damned quickly. But also my butter budget is creeping up there. Our new grocery store is 47 miles round trip (it’s a short, stupid story that isn’t at all interesting) so I end up having to buy a lot at once.
Next up, sourdough cheese crackers made with discard starter, popovers, brioche and another sourdough loaf. I will make a good sourdough loaf or die trying.
It’s good, I’m there. I’m making bread.
And a shout out to David. He made a new dog bed for Chester and it also doubles as a good backdrop for my pictures. Thanks David.
Other big projects on the horizon…..