Tag Archives: sourdough bread

COVID-19 Chronicles Days 30 – 36

Well, I finally did it.  Four baking sessions later, and I finally found the perfect sourdough loaf… it’s got the flavor I was looking for, but it’s also soft.  Like, soft enough that you can use it for sandwiches.  And it doesn’t crumble.

Having finally found THE ONE, I sent the recipe to my mom for both the starter and the bread so that she could go to town.

When I was a kid, my family would go to this little restaurant in town (the only one for a while) and have dinner together… usually with my grandmother in tow, too, after her weekly hair appointment.  The food was good, home-cooked food… you could get a cheeseburger if you wanted one, and I probably got one quite a bit at first, but I think I remember that my go-to was the grilled cheese and french fries.  Anyway, the woman who owned it baked pies and sold slices in the store.  Big, heaping, meringue-covered pies along with fruit pies… my favorite was her peanut butter meringue.  I had a slice every single week until I went to college.

The restaurant closed several years ago, and she retired.  No one took it over, so the recipes were, I thought, lost forever.  But, never being satisfied with the word “no” I decided to try to hack it back in the mid-2000’s… and after a few flops and failures, I finally figured it out.  I don’t make it often… it’s really more or less for special occasions or when I need some comfort food… but I figured COVID and the social isolation I’ve been doing for a really long time now is as good a reason to make one as any (and I happened to have a spare pie crust).

That was exactly the comfort food I needed.

Anyway, enough about food.  In other news:

My county back home saw its first COVID death.  I didn’t know the man, but my father taught with him back toward the beginning of his career.  The man was in a nursing home, and I hear that several other patients there (and some of the staff) have also contracted it, though the other person there that I know seems to be getting over it now.

My parents still do not leave their house for any reason except to get pre-ordered groceries, which they now just let them load into the car.  They don’t even roll down the windows to say that substitutions are okay.  Given dad’s asthma, that’s really the best move, I think, even though I know it is hard for them to be away from the grandkids.

My family is still healthy.  I have a slight, dry cough and had a small fever, but I don’t think it’s COVID… probably more to do with allergies or a sinus infection since it’s accompanied by sneezing and seems to be fine if I take Benadryl.  I haven’t asked to be tested, but, then, I haven’t been around anyone or done anything and I am certainly not sick enough to warrant a trip to the doctor.

The curfew in Hillsborough County got rescinded, and the mask addendum did not pass.  I bought some masks but they aren’t here yet (with my luck they’ll probably get delivered after this whole thing is over), so I try to move quickly through grocery stores if/when I have to be there.  For the record, I don’t understand why people have now decided that wearing a masks makes you invincible in places like the grocery store.  Like, when this thing first got started, people were moving through those lanes like I’d not seen… well.. ever.  Then the masks came out and now, people who wear them meander through the aisles like it’s really a life and death decision about whether they want the original flavored fruit snacks or the tropical ones.  Or they stand there texting.  Or reading Facebook.  Or whatever they do.  I really want to scream, “DON’T YOU PEOPLE KNOW THAT YOUR MASK IS NOT A FUCKING SHIELD??!!” as I walk through the grocery, but I don’t.

Stuff I’m Celebrating:

  • Pie.  And homemade sandwich bread.
  • The first of the pre-ordered Baby Yoda (okay, okay, The Child) arrived. He is fabulous.
  • I was one of the lucky ones, when the Build a Bear ones got released, and managed to get one of the Baby Yoda toys before they sold out.  I mean, it is probably going to be months before I actually see him in person, but I am congratulating myself on my ability to move on that quickly.  So yes… I “secured the asset.”
  • Also, my fiance is a professional photographer with commercial experience.  That means photos of the food I make are usually well staged and of professional quality (as long as he’s here when I am making them)… even if taken on an iPhone.  That also means that my portfolio updates don’t have to have a massive pause button even though the rest of the rest of the world has basically stopped moving… we’ll be turning my apartment into a photo studio soon.

 

COVID-19 Chronicles: Day 27-29

Yeah those loaves were NOT what I had in mind… I had to throw them both away.  There wasn’t enough starter to try again, so I’m replenishing it.  I’ve got a different recipe, its ratings are pretty good, and I’ll try again.  Note to self: whatever they say, I still need to add yeast IN ADDITION TO the yeast that’s growing in the starter.  (And no, the starter isn’t dead… it still bubbles when I feed it.)  Moving on…

Yesterday, Hillsborough County instituted a curfew (we’re still grounded, so it’s a curfew on top of being grounded).  They said that it was because too many people were still gathering together in private places.  In a way, I get it.  And it doesn’t affect me much because, well, I don’t have anywhere to BE after 9:00 anyway.  I’m in bed by 10 usually, since I log into work so damn early, but it’s the principle of the thing.  Like when my first grade teacher couldn’t figure out who was screaming in the bathroom and so she took the whole class out in the hall and paddled everyone (this was back in the days when corporal punishment was legal).  I was lucky enough to be sick that day, or I’d have gotten it too.  I WAS THE QUIET KID… though you wouldn’t guess that about me now, more than likely.

Anyway, along the lines of luck – I FOUND TOILET PAPER.  AND PAPER TOWELS.  That is a big deal because I was not one of those crazy people that bought a fuck ton of it as this got started (stocking up on food instead, remember) and as the shelves have been pretty bare since those days, I had begun to worry about having some on hand when I ran out of the little bit that I did have.  To the point that I was limiting myself to two squares per toilet use… and not cleaning things with paper towels (using washable dishtowels instead).  The dishtowel trick isn’t new… it’s just more frequent… and it doesn’t work on cat vomit.  At any rate, I went home from the store feeling pretty good.

It’s the last trip I’ll be able to make for a while because apparently as of Thursday the county is going to start requiring everyone to wear masks in public places.  I don’t have a mask.  It is impossible to GET a mask.  I don’t sew that well and couldn’t effectively make one if I had the material, so I’m fucked.  I ordered some off of Etsy last night (with a Star Wars theme, because I have to make something decent out of this shitty situation), but they won’t be here for a week or more… so what I got today (and what I already had on hand) is going to have to last until they arrive.  Mom said she’d sew me one, but I don’t know when she will get to it.  This particular thing… I don’t think is fair… I mean I get WHY you would do that, but it’s not like masks are readily available to people, and for those of us who can’t sew and who are literally having to order them, you have to give us some TIME to get them.  Or provide them.  Two days is not enough warning.  Honestly, I think this is particularly a little extreme.

Knee has been acting up again.. probably from non-use.  I started stretching and doing leg lifts (with weights) again today, then of course walked through the grocery store.. unloaded my car up two flights of stairs (four times).  Moving helps.  I have to stop being so damn stagnant.  That is the one thing I miss about the apartment complex I used to live in, because there’s no real walking path here.  I mean there’s a sidewalk, and it’s usually pretty deserted, but there’s some weird swamp property or something that’s on either side of it with no trespassing signs on either side and someone sits out there (on both sides) all damn day (always with a different license plate) just watching it.  It’s beyond bizarre, and I’m a little paranoid about what the hell is going on there, so I don’t go near it on foot.

Noblegarden on WoW.  Working on the achievement.  Been trying to get “What A Long, Strange Trip it’s Been” since I got the game and I always just kind of tire out before I can get there.  Oddly, doing the Easter Egg Hunt is kind of relaxing.  I mean I figure I can get half of it now, do the rest another year… you may ask how I know I will keep doing this… well… because I haven’t stopped since 2008.  I don’t see that changing.

Back to WoW, I guess.  I’m out of words.

Stuff I’m celebrating:

  • Got a notification that the Baby Yoda I preordered back in February is now processing.  (I know he’s “The Child” but until they give him a name, he’s Baby Yoda.  Even after they give him a name, he’s probably still going to be Baby Yoda.  Disney kind of screwed themselves, imho, by not giving him an identifier up front.
  • Found more bread flour.  That’s almost as difficult to find as the paper towels and toilet paper.
  • Tomorrow is Wednesday and I get to run a training.  That will give me a break from the writing projects I’m working on and it also helps me to break up the day a little.
  • After a day of seemingly continuous vomiting (yesterday), Milo and Cleo are both feeling much, much better today.  We had a very active game of fetch several hours ago (yes, they both know to bring their toy back so I can throw it again).

COVID-19 Chronicles: Day 26

Today was eventful and worth writing about on its own…

I woke up with the goal of completing three projects:
1. Bread baking.
2. Fixing my garden gnome (his hat had a big hole in it that I wanted to seal).
3. Taking my trash out to the dumpster (I pay for valet trash here but since the virus got started, they’ve been skimping on pickup a lot – even though I still pay for it – and I don’t like for it to just sit in there).

I started the bread with a new recipe this morning that actually said not to add any additional yeast – that the starter would take care of everything. So I took it at its word and put it together, let it sit in the pan to rise, but honestly it had a weird look to it and I didn’t have a good feeling about it from the beginning, but I’ll try anything once (and I didn’t want to waste all the flour I’d used).

Sure enough, though, an hour and a half later, it was the same size it was when I put it in the bowl. I separated it into loaves (like that would make a difference) and thought I’d see if it would do better that way… left it… started on the next project.

The trash part was easy. I had to double bag it because it had been sitting in the can for so long that it was leaking, but that wasn’t a problem. The weather was decent and it was a nice little walk (and probably the furthest that I’ve walked in flip flops since I hurt my knee back in 2018). I stopped by the Beetle to get the supplies I’d purchased at Lowes for the gnome and brought them up – checked on the bread… nothing.

I was feeling pretty defeated by this point, but I didn’t want to toss it all and start over (logistically, I couldn’t have anyway, since the starter needs to rebuild itself) so I made a separate mixture of dough with a little bit of yeast dissolved in warm water and flour, with the intent of adding that to the dough I already had to see if it would give it a boost (the same concept as adding a little bit of water and cornstarch to a broth or something to thicken it).

Then I went out on the patio to work on the gnome. This is where things got sticky. Literally. I bought a can of Great Stuff from Lowes (the stuff you use to seal up cracks and shit). I sprayed some in the gnome but apparently went overboard because it just kept… growing… out of its head. At first I tried blotting it with a paper towel (which is also stupid, given the general shortage of those), but ended up getting it all over my hands. Again… stupid… it is incredibly sticky… and it did NOT wipe off like I thought it would.

So while the gnome’s head was erupting like some sticky, yellow-ish volcano, I got up and decided I probably needed to wash my hands as soon as possible… except that it’d already started to dry… and my hands were sticky. Like so sticky that they got stuck to the doorknob.

Finally wrenched them off the doorknob and got to the bathroom (again, another sticky doorknob), tried to clean it off with soap and water (nope), Dawn (nope), elbow grease (nope), and by this time I’m really panicking because it is ALL. OVER. MY. HANDS. And I wear contacts that HAVE to be taken out at night, and I don’t want to do that with glue-like shit all over them.

At this point it’s all dry. Some of it will peel off, but most of it is just… like a second set of skin… so I pray that my iPhone will still recognize my fingerprint to unlock (it did) and I start frantically looking up stuff to take this off with. The internet suggests Goof Off… I don’t have any and don’t want to drive anywhere to get any because I didn’t want any of this shit to get on my Bug’s steering wheel. It then suggests… well… using a three-blade razor to gently shave your fingers.

Surprisingly… that worked… at least enough so that I think I’ll be able to take my contacts out later.  The gnome looks like it’s grown out some fancy Madonna-quality ponytail… but I can chop that off tomorrow. 

 

 

gnomeBut there was still the bread to tangle with – I dumped the new dough into a bowl with the old dough and let it sit for another hour. Finally, got some action… it rose enough to split it and put it back into the loaf pans.

At this point there’s no recipe for this bread anymore, I’ve added so much shit to it that wasn’t originally in the written version, so I had to really guess as to how long to let it rise in the loaf pans, then how long to bake it.

At any rate, about eight hours after I mixed the dough, I finally have two loaves cooling on the stove. I have no idea if they will do what I wanted them to do (I was going for a softer loaf that retained the sourdough flavor but that was pliable enough to make sandwiches with and was less crumbly)… but I’ll find out tomorrow when I slice into it.

 

 

 

 

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COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 17-25

I guess this is going to end up being a weekly thing instead of a daily thing. That’s fine. Seriously. Nothing exciting happens day-to-day that is worth recording except that I wear a different t-shirt every day (yes, I’m still getting dressed… but I wear my yoga pants during the day).

The Sourdough turned out pretty good for the first time out. The finished product was a little floury, a little crumbly… I am not sure whether it’s because I used too much flour, or used all-purpose instead of bread flour. Regardless, it made AMAZING toast… garlic or regular… butter both sides, bake it at 400 for 10 minutes, flip it, do the other side… (sprinkle garlic salt on each side in the last 3-4 minutes of cooking). HEAVEN.

The starter is built back up enough to try it again this weekend (that’s one of the things on my list to do tomorrow), and I’m nearly out of the loaves I made last weekend, so I’m going to try it with those two modifications.

Ormsby managed to find some flour in Bradenton last week, too, and brought that up for me on Saturday. I wasn’t out, exactly, but I was running low and, at the time, couldn’t find anything except the little bags, and I thought finding those were an accomplishment. Just glad they didn’t put a limit on how much of that I can have. At least not yet.

Milo had some kind of urinary event last weekend that ended with my taking him to the veterinary urgent care. I didn’t even know there was such a thing… I knew there were hospitals, and those cost a goddamn fortune, but I had no idea there were literal urgent care clinics for animals. Anyway, I couldn’t go in with him so I had to wait outside and take care of it all over the phone. It was bizarre, but I was told he behaved. They don’t think he had a UTI and he didn’t have a blockage… they think stress, probably from all the change. The only thing I can think of that’s changed is that I’m here all the time. I guess I stress him out? Huh…

Still playing WoW. I read someone actually finished all of the achievements in the game the other day – basically beating the entire game. I was mildly jealous, but also glad that I have… something… of a life. I mean it’s not much, but I do play other games. And I write. Sometimes, when there’s not the Plague, I run around… go places… have fun… speaking of which I am still kind of pissed that the 90s party got canceled, but am at the same time glad I didn’t splurge on stuff for it, since now it probably isn’t going to happen.

Wonder if the Toy show that’s supposed to go on next month will still happen… if the shelter at home order is extended, probably not. I really don’t need anymore toys… I have some on preorder that I haven’t even technically paid for yet…

Oh well. Still healthy. Still isolated. Still haven’t run out of TV to binge watch or WoW achievements to get. I’m good.

Daily Developments:

  • Sourdough starters – if I keep feeding it, I may never be without bread again. There are other things to do with the starter that I found, too, that might be delicious… pancakes.. muffins…popovers… it seems the list is neverending.
  • My leg (the one that had the knee injury) is still slowly getting back to normal, but I’ve noticed that it’s starting to want to behave in ways it hasn’t before. I’ve been using this time to really stretch it (since I can’t go to the gym) and build the elasticity back in it. Getting there.
  • The Hilton Doubletree has released its Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, thanks to the Coronavirus. Disney released its Churro and Dole Whip recipe. I’m not saying that I want this to continue, but from a culinary perspective, this has been a very productive time.

Things I’m Happy About:

  • My sister posted photos of my youngest niece playing with a frog. Like, literally letting this giant frog climb all over her head, ride around in her pocket, and even one where she was kissing it. I didn’t see them until close to midnight and I was almost asleep — then I laughed so hard that I couldn’t go back to sleep right away. Her kids are the best.
  • Speaking of, my family is still healthy. All of them. Even my grandma, who is in the nursing home. That’s definitely something.
  • Finished reading “The Rise of Skywalker” yesterday. Couldn’t put it down — I haven’t obsessively watched that movie (only a time or two when it was out), so reading the book was actually much better. I had forgotten some parts, and it wasn’t just a rehashing of what I’d already basically memorized. Now that it’s over, I’ve ventured into Clone Wars.