starters and stirrings:
Greetings from the land of Dough. By now all of you have hopefully tried some of the latest breads; It could have been Maple Autumn Rye or Walnut Sage (all the sage came from free pick from Earthbound Farms herb garden) or the White Rye sour toasted sunflower seed. I have been loving my new baking book called BIEN CUIT (well baked) The baker is Zachary Golper from Brooklyn.. his love is leaving the doughs for up to 24 hours in the fridge .. then baking them right from the fridge at high temperatures which results in a burnished.. the “almost but not quite burnt look” and simply put: the longer a bread has a chance to sit.. big chains of molecules break down into smaller ones producing amylose, maltose into glucose.. proteins into amino acids and we get to taste AMAZING FLAVOR!! This baker has me making pumpkin flour out of pumpkin seeds, finding white rye, using maple syrup with rye.. he is pushing the dough into unchartered territory and I am pushing it or gently folding it into your hands.
Some of you may know that I bake in a $99 oster table top oven.. You are right. IT IS NOT ABOUT THE OVEN. its about good ingredients, a bakers temperament, and a very healthy sourdough starter and then you have a fighting chance at good sourdough. I also use a quarry tile set on the base rack of the oven which holds the heat better and helps with getting good even color on the bread.
I am getting closer and closer to achieving what are called the “Ears”.. that beautiful way the top of the bread opens… creating a flap or an overhand on one side.. It is just so tricky. it involves timing, a light touch with the lame (this razor on a stick gizmo that slashes bread) and proper angling of the wrist.. Yes. It turns out to be one of the most elusive parts of this whole baking process.. Just take it from me.. I cannot wait to bake another bread just to see if I can get the proper opening on the top of the bread again.. Yes it is an endless quest.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT: I wrote a piece that will be published in Edible Monterey Bay in September about a long correspondence in letters I had with a wonderful food writer named MFK FISHER culminating in a chance to meet her at her Glen Ellen Ranch in 1989.. suffice it to say along with the piece, there are photos and you will see pictures of my little bakery on the hill here in the highlands.
MISE EN PLACE: (everything in its place)
As we have swung out of summer and are now falling into fall.. there have been graduations and weddings, birthdays, funerals and anniversaries.. many milestones in peoples lives. In my life my mama turned 90! I remember when Paul simon sang: “how terribly strange to be 70.. and now we are entering the bold new 90’s.. talk about unchartered territory. I have a patient turning 100 this week and lucky for her she can afford help!! What will happen to the rest of us living way beyond what we ever thought possible?
I had one brief shining moment of great insurance coverage thanks to that long ago great missed president: Barack Obama. It was called the Affordable Care Act.. Now I heard from my insurance that “do to the uncertain times” we are living in (translation: due to the greed and wrath and corruption of Trump) Anthem will have to pull out of providing subsidies so that I will no longer be getting affordable insurance.. yes for me obama was a kind of Camelot.. especially as a single part time working woman in America. He was looking out for me.. oy.
I am profoundly greatful for the Osio Cinema back again here in Monterey.. because where else could I see great independant movies (even if its is just me and a friend in the theatre) like Paterson and I, Daniel Blake… both miraculous movies.
PLEASE STRETCH your bodies.. as a physical therapist… I cannot tell you how important it is to keep those muscles like rubber bands.. not like strips of leather… as we age.. it makes getting up and sitting down not hurt half so much.. Raise you arms to the sky and breathe at least 3x a day …
THE LONG FERMENT:
Lastly: I am looking forward to baking new breads and still hope for better “ears on the tops, to more dancing, to traveling to possibly Cuba or Greece or elsewhere, to looking up at the moon and to watching the sun go down. to digging in the dirt.. and communing with my friends..