Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Some #phenology of bread

With the temperatures today and the past few days, we're expecting a major press release from Sen. Inhofe announcing "I told you so!" The house is cool enough to make sourdough starter we fed unhappy and sourdough itself say "What do you mean, rise?" (It's -17℉ outside, which has dropped the kitchen air temperature to the mid-to-upper 60's, according to our handy-dandy instant thermometer that we'll use later to check bread doneness.) Nevertheless, we persisted, although we never thought we might live somewhere that gets too hot (in Summer), and too cold (now), to make bread baking easy and convenient. We're cheating a little by preheating the oven and using the escaped heat to make the fed starter, the sourdough, and our hands, feel better.

sourdough bread from our homemade starter
sourdough bread from our homemade starter
Photo by J. Harrington

Later, we'll try a variation on the artisan bread recipe we've used for several years, but we'll make it with gluten-free flour. Some of us like sourdough; some prefer artisan bread; some think they're gluten-intolerant, others, no. The pantry is getting complicated with the varieties of flour. We may need to get more serious about our baking efforts and getting better organized (a never-lasting goal).

artisan bred, where we started
artisan bred, where we started
Photo by J. Harrington

An email in our in basket this morning suggests we pick up Saturday's CSA share as early as possible, to minimize the likelihood of having the contents freeze. Since our CSA drop / pickup is at one of our favorite coffee shops, we think we can readily accommodate an early pickup. Maybe we'll even be sitting there waiting for the CSA boxes to arrive.

We took a short break to do some errands. Our Jeep, which has waited patiently in its stall for the past few days, started right up. Then, as we drove down the road, our fancy dashboard informed us that all four tires were down 5 to 6 pounds of pressure. Air contracts when cold. In the good old days, before high tech touch screens (which don't work well at -15) and air pressure sensors, we would have happily driven around never knowing about the low tire pressures. Since adding air now would probably create a need to let some out when temperatures climb, we stopped by our friendly local service advisor to confirm our suspicion that there's enough air pressure that the tires won't jump off the rims, and decided to pretend we couldn't see the nagging notices all over our high tech dash. Isn't progress wonderful/

Two loaves of sourdough bread just went into the oven. Our very own hybrid version of artisan bread dough is rising in a bowl on the counter. One boule of that will get baked later. If our artisan-loving, gluten intolerant housemates like it, we'll bake some more. If not, we'll heave this batch of dough and try a different recipe next time. I think the poet has been bitten by the bread baking bug and become alliterative. Wish him, and his guinea pigs, luck with his experiments.

                     Bread



Each night, in a space he’d make
between waking and purpose,
my grandfather donned his one
suit, in our still dark house, and drove
through Brooklyn’s deserted streets
following trolley tracks to the bakery.

There he’d change into white
linen work clothes and cap,
and in the absence of women,
his hands were both loving, well
into dawn and throughout the day—
kneading, rolling out, shaping

each astonishing moment
of yeasty predictability
in that windowless world lit
by slightly swaying naked bulbs,
where the shadows staggered, woozy
with the aromatic warmth of the work.

Then, the suit and drive, again.
At our table, graced by a loaf
that steamed when we sliced it,
softened the butter and leavened
the very air we’d breathe,
he’d count us blessed.



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