Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Its Happening...

Fitzroy is officially in the "Beware of the Blob" stage. He escaped today. Not a slightly-bubbled-over escape... Not even a full circle cascade escape. I'm talking lid popping, bowl tipping, double waterfall ooze across the counter top escape!

Its my fault really. I've been overworking Fitzpatrick. Making it raise whole batches of croissants for 20 hour shifts, without even the backup of some commercial yeast. Which consequently the recipe had requested... >.>

And then there was the negligent feedings of last week. Barely once a day.  And then yesterday I just sprung it on him. Two or three feedings! Big feedings! Followed by snacks! Suddenly instead of barely ecking by at 3 ounces... he was suddenly excess of 7! Thats nearly half way up the container I keep it in, and I've already mentioned that he tripples when well fed!

I knew overflow was a possibility... I put it into lock down. Added a bowl to catch excaping ooze. But it wasnt enough. Fitzpatrick overpowered my defenses and tipped the whole bowl over somtime this morning. Oh well. I just scooped his very slightly dried out bubble puddle back into the container and carried on. I did just scrub down the counter the night before after all. And I needed those 7 ounces of starter!

I'm making buns you see. To make sandwiches. Asian Chicken Sandwhiche;s just like these from Use Real Butter.  Except 'just like' them because in contraindication to the whole hog approach Use Real Butter advocates, I'm actually going to do tofu. Though I hope it wont really be a concession.

I'm trying out an theory. That if McD's can make something as nasty and tastelessas mechanically separated chicken goo taste good enough to be widely accepted by the consumers, than a tofu patty prepared well should be able to completely outshine it.

Not that I'm implying the recipe makes a McD quality sandwich. Or that I think tofu tastes as bad as mechanically separated chicken. But mostly that fried chicken sandwiches make me think of that. And I want crispy fried tofu patties to be a thing.

So far my plan is to

MARINATE! Get that salt and flavor into the center of the curd!
BAKE! Pressing might be enough, but I'm too impatient, and want it dry!
BATTER AND FRY! To hopefully give a crispy fried outside. This I am following the recipe... basically >.>

And Irony of Ironies.... I now have my camera running again. But I lost my phone... Better pictures! But also more work! >.< Hence none here. Have to find my cord...

Thursday, February 28, 2013


My camera is dead... Ok not dead. Just... in a drug induced coma? Suffering amnesia? Short term memory loss? I'm not sure the exact medical diagnosis best fit to describe it, but from a technical standpoint, it has no memory left on its card.

Now, you may be assuming thats an easy fix. Just delete some! But you see... even in this age of data storage enlightenment, I don't have any sort of back up in place. So for the reeaaaallly important pictures. Family, friends, and favorites... Memories in JPEG(raw was a victim of memory shortages a long time ago). They stay on my card, you know, in case my computer crashes. And funny story, my computer crashed! After almost 7 years of faithful service, my laptop deserved a final rest. They do think they can get the data off, but I don't regret my Compact Flash safety net.

So to sum up my explanation with an explanation, any pictures I post in the next while are from my phone. My phone which happens to be by anyone reckoning, equally ancient as my deceased PC. Grainy, small, and blurry close up... Back in my day, food bloggers didn't all have lightroom and photoshop and 600$ macro lenses! And if they did I avoided their pages in abject and bitter envy. Anyway, these cant hold a candle to that, but they are photographic evidence, albeit inadmissible.
Braided chocolate loaf ready for the oven! Look at the beautiful stretch marks!! (who wore them better? The bread.)

The Challah recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Some sort of sideways batch sourdough ciabatta stuff I made spiked with commercial
yeast out of desperation to start actually using starter!
I've been using the 'basic sourdough' formula from Peter Reinhart's  The Bread Bakers Apprentice as guidelines, but I can't say I'm been a faithful formula follower. At all. But it does help to have a starting point instead of reinventing the wheel. But I like the freedom of just... baking on whim. Taking the generalized understanding of flour, yeast, time, heat, acids... and seeing how far I can stretch it. I made blackberry walnut bread today... which I'm sadly too full of bread rosemary garlic sweet potato bread to have given a decent try. My Wheat Berry bread hasn't even been opened.

It seems, that the solution to eliminating waste in sourdough upkeep is NOT baking 2 loaves at every feeding (ie twice a day). There's only so many loaves a 4 people can eat in a day! Every day! For two weeks straight, and counting!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Death Match

I think it is in every slothful blogger's psyche to hyper focus on their absence when coming back from a long one. Struggling with the internal guilt of ones own erstwhile enthusiasm and forgotten dreams of a functioning blog... And then it detracts from whatever they were inspired to write about in the first place.

That done, albeit indirectly... I'm here to do a list. A list of things I've made in the last couple weeks, in particular, the breads I've made, and those I intend to.

You see, I've started a sourdough culture. I like to call it Fitzpatrick, sometimes Fitzroy, sometimes even Francheska. Sometimes I sing songs to it...  When my infatuation with sourdough was young, like my starter... I'd sing "Tiny Bubbles" to it...

Later, as Fitzpatrick matured and began to hit its own stride... doubling, then trippling its volume between feedings I felt a more cautionary tune for my pet was required.

And finally, after many a feeding, some cuddling, and serenades a plenty  I've reached the "you actually get to make bread with it" stage! Hurrah!

So far I've made some commercial yeast spiked dough with my sluggish starter. Mostly just to salvage spent flour from it. A flat and badly developed ciabatta type thing. A tasty but impervious to toasting loaf or two. And now actual sourdough boules, that came out with a mild tang, full flavor and an indecent amount of oven spring. Chewy caramelized crust too. Of breads I'd report?

Non-sourdough Ciabatta - came out admirably for my first attempt with a wet dough
Chocolate Bread - still working out the balance, but a braided dark chocolate loaf... promising.
Basic Sourdough Boules
Challah - At least one loaf turned out beautifully... (the other I tried freezing and the thaw/bake might have been badly time and executed)

On the billet
Sweet Potato Rosemary Garlic Sourdough - (aka Smash-fry bread)
English Muffins
Cheddar Chive Torpedos (That one from that popular Peter Reinhart fellow's book)
Sandwhich loaf
Deli Rye (and subsequent ruben sandwich (made with homemade sourkraut possibly)
Wheat berry loaf
Smitten Kitchen's Black Bread 
'Amish' Friendship bread (pretty sure its not actually 'amish'...)

And then it gets even more vague... I want to get back to some whole grainy things. I want to explore mixins, added flavors... maybe an olive bread, or a feta and sundried tomato combo. I want to perfect the chocolate bread. Get the most sour out of the bread I can. I want to try different flours in varying degrees. See where I can go with it. Filled breads, quick breads, beer breads... which i guess is still a quick bread. But right now, my head-space is all bread all the time! My latest obsession. 

If I took care of my readers, I would come back with pictures and videos of my accomplishments... I could point out my camera is in past dire need of a memory card, and my computer died forever, but to be honest it likely wouldn't effect the outcome >.>