Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blog, I miss you. Maybe we can reconnect soon?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Should I start this up again?

Even after a long time of not posting, I still walk around writing posts in my ahead. The biggest problem is getting sucked into spending too much time on the internet, but that isn't exactly a good excuse because it happens already. Really, if I do start to post here again I should think of it as a way to keep me away from other inane internet loopholes (like facebook) and document my life in Madison. I'd like to be a little more deliberate about things I post, and start to use tags, like making "Things I Love" a regular feature. And posting photos, and talking about recipes, events, etc.

Blogger feels so old and out of date, but I can't leave it after 8 years of goodness to me, so I will stay.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

hello out there.

i think of blog posts in my head every day, but never seem to log on. oh well.

things have been going well here in madison. spring is on its way in. i biked to work for the second time today, and highs were in the 60s. i'm so ready for long bike rides, concerts on the square, bbqing on the deck, reading in the hammock with chickens underfoot...more sun and warmth in general!

one of our chickens, penny, is sick. i don't think she'll be around much longer. for now i have her isolated in her own spot in the mudroom. we're really not sure what's wrong, but my guess is that she's eggbound, or else has some kind of internal disorder.

Here is a photo of Penny that I took the night before last:

And here is one of her looking healthy for comparison:

sad, huh? she's doing a little bit better today, but i'm not sure she's going to recover from whatever it is she has. :( the things i do for these hens makes me laugh. like checking her vent and putting ky jelly around it (it's supposed to help ease the egg out if it's stuck) and giving her a warm bath. pretty silly from a "these aren't pets" standpoint. i even used a hair dryer to fluff her back up again before going back out to the coop. she seemed to like it.

i would take her to the vet if it was affordable. but even though i love my chickens i can't justify taking a chicken i got for $2.50 to the vet which costs $81 (and probably $150+ after tests). plus the fact that it's more than likely she will die soon anyways. i will put her under if needed -- although i'm not sure of the best process to do so -- but for now she's in a safe spot and living fine.....just a bit uncomfortably.

i'm still tempted to get more chicks, but realizing how much i might be away from home in the next three months makes me think that waiting until next spring would be best. the original plan was to axe them off in the fall, when they're 2.5 years old. then we'll have chicken soup all winter and get chicks in the spring.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

i've joined the twitter bandwagon.

it's a bit like mini-blogging, so maybe i will then get into the habit of updating this real blog more. i hope so.

Monday, March 09, 2009

overheard on the bus tonight:

so you're growing out your facial hair?
yeah. i've given up girls for lent.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Welcome to the world Mathilde Lucie!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I just came back from the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival showing here in Madison. It was great! "Homegrown Revolution" was a bit hokey and horrible scripted, but "Red Gold" made up for it by being spectacular. Pretty neat, and inspiring.

2 girls. 1 Mission. A lot of fish. (USA, 2007, 12min)

The Water Front
What if you lived by the largest body of fresh water in the world but could no longer afford to use it? Residents of Highland Park, Michigan, have received water bills as high as $10,000; they have had their water turned off, and are struggling to keep water from becoming privatized. (USA, 2008, 22min)

Homegrown Revolution
In the midst of a densely urban setting in downtown Pasadena, radical change is taking root. For over twenty years, the Dervaes family have transformed their home into an urban homestead. They harvest nearly 3 tons of organic food from their 1/5 acre garden while incorporating many back-to-basics practices, as well as solar energy and biodiesel. (USA, 2007, 12min)

Red Gold
The headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers in Alaska are home to the two largest sockeye salmon runs on the planet. And at that same spot, mining companies have proposed to extract what may prove to be the richest deposit of gold and copper in the world. Native fishermen who oppose the dam are up against mine officials who say they will build a ‘clean’ mine that will leave the salmon’s habitat untouched. (USA, 2008, 55min)

Check out the tour calendar and try to see it near you. I think they might be switching out films at different locations?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I had never made bread before, until I tried the NYTimes No-Knead Bread Recipe from Jim Lahey, which went along with this article in 2006. It fast became a favorite, and with good reason. It's deliciously amazing, and so so simple. We've probably made it about 30 times since then, and would have devoured it more except we're not good at restocking our flour. Last fall the NYTimes revisited the recipe (1, 2) and changed it slightly for quicker timing. I haven't tried those since I've found the original recipe--with a few tweaks--works wonderfully for us.

The best part about this bread is the crust. It's actually crispy! The brilliant part of the recipe is the use of a lid for your cooking vessel and a very wet dough. Your covered pot becomes an oven inside and oven, and the wet dough makes a moist environment for the bread to bake in....resulting in a marvelously crispy round loaf of bread (better than the supermarket!).

Photo by my friend Ruthie.

This bread has been such a hit, not only in our own house, but with friends, that many people ask me about it. It's one of those things that I love to share because it's changed my life and I'm pretty passionate about this's so easy...and so good! I keep meaning to take photos of the process, so at some point I may update this post a bit more.

Below I'm listing my adapted recipe, which is much easier to do IMHO and still results in great bread. You can find the original using the links above.

Tips we've discovered:

*Instead of using those little packets of yeast, just buy one little jar of yeast and keep it in the fridge, it lasts for months and is faster and easier to use. The jar to look for is bread machine yeast (instant yeast).
*The dough rises faster at 70 degrees but in winter we keep our house at 55 and it works fine too so the temperature doesn't matter much. If you do have a cold house, one way to speed up the process is to put the bowl of dough in your unheated oven with the oven light on. The oven light will warm up the space.
*Sometimes I use a tiny bit more than 1 5/8 water if it seems to dry when you mix the ingredients, especially if I'm using a wooden bowl because it sucks up some liquid. I've never used less than the recipe amount, but I've definitely used more...up to 1/4 cup more.
*We rarely follow the exact times for the rises...generally we just mix the ingredients before bed, turn the dough the next morning and then bake it in the evening after work or late at night. We did make bread a couple of times when we had left it sitting for over 24 worked OK but not great so try to do it within 20 hours like the original recipe says. Find a schedule that works best for you.
*We don't use any special pot to bake it in like they suggest...just an inexpensive stainless steel soup pot (a cooktop one: either our 8 quart Cuisinart Classic Stock Pot, which is almost too big, or our 3 quart Cuisinart sauce pan. I've also tried a cheap $10 roasting pan which worked fine, but not as good...probably due to the wavy bottom), the most important thing is just to use some kind of pot that you have a cover for. Size also isn't so important: when Ruthie makes this bread she uses a very small sauce pot and it comes out fine. You just need to make sure that whatever you use is OK to 450 degrees. It shouldn't have plastic handles or a non-ovenproof lid. There are also other alternatives (that I haven't tried) if you don't have lids, or only have casserole dishes.
*We don't use a towel to cover it because it always sticks to the towel for us, so instead we just use a cutting board to cover it and then lay the dough upon in the last step. This creates much less mess--there's no laundry to do, and the flour only gets on your cutting board (not your counter).
*There's no need to even touch the bread with your fingers, just use a spatula for all steps! (Except possibly the very last ball-forming step).
*It's fine to skip the cornmeal/wheat bran. We have tried this part a couple times, but it wasn't as good, in our opinion.
*It's important to have your pot pre-heated, otherwise it may not bake right.
*If you're using the pot for multiple loaves of bread, you'll want to clean it out between uses, which can be tricky to do when hot!
*Adding in herbs or other ingredients works well too. Garlic is also good.
*We almost always make two loaves now, because one is not nearly enough!
*This bread makes wonderful croutons/stuffing when dried.


3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting (if you want)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 5/8 cups water

Time: Rising times vary, but you can start this in about 5 minutes.

1. [In the evening, after dinner]
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir with a (we use silicone) spatula until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. If it's not sticky and a bit gooey add some more water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a cutting board. Place the spatula on top to rest. Let dough rest [overnight] (at least 8 hours), preferably more, in the warmest place in your house. If your house is cold, place it in the unheated oven with the light on.

2. [In the morning, before work....or right when you get home in the evening]
Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Using the spatula fold it over on itself once or twice, or just mix a little bit. Cover loosely with the same plastic wrap or cutting board and let rest for a few hours.

3. [when you get home from work, or in the evening]
Make sure that your pot fits in your oven. It will probably be necessary to rearrange your oven racks, or take one completely out. Remember to do this before pre-heating! At the same time, if you've left your dough in your oven, make sure to take it out. A very important step. Also, put oven mitts or towels in close proximity in preparation for baking.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 2- to 8-quart covered vessel (stainless steel, cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, ceramic or anything else oven-safe to 450 degrees) in oven as it heats.

Option a) [My husband]
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to your work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Coat your cutting board with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on board and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, or longer, as you wait for the oven to heat.
Option b) [My lazy way]
Do nothing, or just use the spatula to fold it into a blob-ball, still in the bowl.

When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Transfer your blob into it either by hand, or using gravity by plopping it out of the bowl with a spatula. It may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Slightly shake the pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes (set a timer!), then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes (or more), until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

just heard from paul: "i forgot about the new year kiss. i should have been making out with ethan."

so, umm, yeah. i totally fell asleep at 10pm on new years eve. i hope that's not a sign to come. but i blame it on the bad movie--tropic thunder--i just couldn't keep my eyes open. every other night of this two week vacation i've been staying up way past midnight....just not on the night that counts i guess. at least nicole followed suite and also went to bed. the guys were left watching the ball drop on tv together, the sound of rain and furious wind in the background at the pacific coast.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

snowstorms. snowplows. frozen eggs. shoveling. ugg boots. hot chocolate. canceled meetings. school days. ice.

winter is here.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

the snowplow just went by our house. first time of the season. shucks.

Friday, November 21, 2008

there's this song on the radio that i love, and sometimes i sing along. i swear it was saying "scurvy love", but last night (after how many months?!) i found out i was wrong. lol. disburbia. oops!

maybe it's because of listening to captain bogg & salty's fun scurvy song.