Archive for June, 2008

Marks of the Master –

28 June 08

This is from a rather standard talk that I usually give to beginning woodworkers. While it is specifically geared toward craftsmen it has ramifications for everyday human endeavors.

In the world of craftsmanship there are 4 paramount principles that seem to be terribly difficult for people to grasp. This is interesting in that they are so simple as to be somewhat self-evident. I list them in ascending order of importance.

  1. The Master makes the task look easy.
  2. The Master knows how to correct errors and goofs.
  3. The Master knows when to stop improving things.
  4. The Master does not tell you where the imperfections are.

The master makes the task look easy. He has had years of training, practice and experience at the task. When I was teaching ballroom dancing many, many years ago we called this muscle memory. A task is learned and repeated so many times that the conscious mind is no longer concentrating on the individual moves but rather on the desired goal. The individual hand/body movements necessary are not consciously considered. Therefore the conscious mind can see the results rather than the technique used to achieve the result.

The master knows how to correct errors and goofs. The master had done the task so many times that he has committed just about all the goofs possible and has had to work around them many times. Since he had done all this so many time error correction is just about unconsciously automatic.

The master knows when to stop improving things. How many times in the accomplishment of a given craft task have we totally ruined all the previous work? Too many to count. The master has also been there many times and has learned when the task is about as good as can be reasonably expected and any further efforts will reduce quality.

The master does not tell you where the imperfections are. This may be the hardest thing of all to learn. The true master does not need words to tell you about his work. He lets the work speak for itself. As craftsmen we are so close to the work that we get a magnified view of the created article. We know intimately every slight blemish. We tend to be apologetic when showing our work to others. Try this the next time you are making something: When it is about as good as you can get it put it away for several days/weeks/months as necessary. Come back and look at the thing as though you were seeing it for the first time. You may be surprised at just how good your work is. The ancient Japanese had the philosophy that there is no perfection in life. They believed that perfection was an unobtainable but desirable goal that was more a journey than a destination. Most of the ancient craft objects have perished with the centuries, however, some of the pottery has survived. You can see breathtakingly beautiful objects in museums. Some of the best are terribly close to perfection. Since the artisans believed that there was no perfection in this life they would frequently make a deliberate imperfection in their work. Some examples are bowls that have deliberate indentations on the rim so that the rim is not perfectly concentric. We might do better to adopt some of their attitude and not get so terribly worked up when our own work is not perfect. Again I say, strive for perfection but do not expect to get there this side of the grave. And don’t tell people where the minor flaws are. You don’t need to apologize for your work. That which is made by man will always have some flaws. It may be quite useful. It may also have great beauty. If it is that bad, chalk it up to learning and get on to the next one.

Think about it. These principles can be applied to many things in life. When you are cooking for company don’t tell people how bad something is or how it wasn’t what you wanted. If is inedible, toss it. If it is edible, serve it without comment. Sit back and enjoy the company of your guests. It may surprise you how much some of them will like something that you consider less than perfect. The best cooking ingredient of all is love. Try it.


Sourdough English Muffins

26 June 08

Here’s an easy sourdough version of the famous English Muffin. Actually, the muffin is just a more bread-y form of the traditional crumpet. The Brits don’t call them English Muffins, only us American types do. They just call them muffins. This isn’t exactly the traditional version, it is a fairly easy sourdough variety that we like rather much. Goes very handily with Eggs Benedict, our primary use for them.

Figure a two day process. While the can be eaten fresh out of the pan, for toasted use (like the Eggs Benedict) they do better the day after. For weekend use I usually start a batch Friday night, cook them Saturday, use them Sunday for Eggs Benedict and freeze the rest. On the frozen jobbies I take them out the day before I want them and let them thaw in a plastic bag that is not sealed all the way – more like ¼ unsealed – we don’t want them soggy.

The Night Before:

90 g sourdough starter (1/2 cup)
15 g honey (1 Tbs)
240 g milk (1 cup)
290 g unbleached white flour (2 cups)

Mix starter, honey and milk in mixing bowl until smooth. Add flour and mix in. Cover with plastic and leave at room temperature in a draft free place.

The Next Morning:

1/2 tsp baking soda
180 g unbleached white flour (1 cup + or -)
1 tsp kosher salt
cornmeal for sprinkling

The Next Morning:

Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the surface of the dough. Add flour.

Mix on 1st speed 3 minutes. Mix on 2nd speed 3 minutes. Should be supple and slightly sticky. If you are doing this by hand just mix and knead until you get the right feel, probably around 10 minutes or so. You may need to adjust the flour up or down a bit until the feel is right.

Lightly roll dough to about 1/2 inch thick on a well-floured board. Take a 3 inch round cutter and cut rounds. An empty tuna can works ok if you don’t have the right sized cutter handy.

Put them on lightly greased sheet and cover with another lightly greased plastic sheet. Alternatively, use cornmeal sprinkled waxed paper for the bottom, sprinkle cornmeal over the top, cover with waxed paper. (The cornmeal routine is more traditional).

Rise an hour or more.

Preheat a griddle or large skillet with a light coating of butter, and heat until the butter sizzles. Use low heat or they will burn. Yeah, sure, you could use a non-stick skillet with no lube, but an iron skillet and butter makes for a better taste. Cook the first side for about 4 minutes and turn them over. About 4 minutes for the second side. Resist temptation! Only cook each side once. What you want is golden to dark brown but not burned. This can be fun to judge since you can’t see the bottom. At least I can’t, I seem to have misplaced my x-ray vision some years back.

This will make about 8 or so.

One of these days I’ll get around to writing up the traditional muffins. They are a bit more of a pain and involve a more liquid batter and proper muffin rings. I suppose I also ought to write up crumpets eventually. They are really very good.

Belief and Ignorance –

24 June 08

In the course of human history there have been many deeply held beliefs that are just not so. Almost all primitive societies have had some deep-seated fear of the dead. For many of them the vampire was the most common manifestation. The peasant mentality always sees a malignant cause behind any unfortunate event. There must be a cause behind every occurrence, if there is sickness, it cannot be because of poor sanitation or the spread of disease by some vector such as fleas or mosquitoes, it must be because of some local human (or dead human) and some evil practice.

In Europe the belief in vampires was particularly prevalent from around the 12th century or so up until the 19th century. The practice of desecration of the dead was widespread in Europe until the Empress Maria Theresa of the Austrian Empire passed laws forbidding exhumation and desecration of the dead in the mid 19th century. You think that the modern American government schools turn out any more enlightened and better educated people today? I don’t.

Another belief that was quite widespread was that the “Holy Grail” was somewhere in England or France and that the finder could use it as some magic talisman. This was deeply and widely believed and there is no calculating how much time and effort was wasted searching for it.

People fervently believed that the earth was flat and that it was possible to fall off the edge into an eternal abyss. This in spite of the fact that the ancient Egyptians knew quite well that the earth was round and had a pretty accurate estimate of the diameter.

Currently there are several unsupported myths that are beloved by the modern ignorant. The Theory of Evolution is preached as though it were completely proven. It isn’t. The way evolution is preached is as though there were no possibility that there was guidance behind the Creation of the Cosmos. Is it likely that only happenstance guides the formation of the Universe? Is it just as likely or more so that there is a God? Neither has been proven, but try to postulate God and you will be persecuted by the modern academic peasants. See Ben Stein’s movie for examples.

Another deeply held myth is that of global warming. There is no proof that the earth is warming. If so, there is no proof that it is not a natural cycle. That there is so much political and personal pressure that few climatologists dare disagree with the currently held view is rather like that of the “round earth” people in the Western European Middle Age. It can cost you your job if you disagree publicly with the myth. Al Gore is the new prophet of the church of liberal orthodoxy. Consensus is not science. Experimental, verifiable, and repeatable proof is science.

Yet another unproven, but dearly held myth is that of “alternative energy”. Now it is quite possible, indeed, even quite probable, that there are just as good, or even better ways of providing energy to move vehicles than fossil fuels, but they have yet not been proven or developed. Be it noted, if and when these are developed it will be by people who understand science and engineering. It will NOT be discovered by actors or politicians or any of the great unwashed that so fervently hold the belief that “Big Energy” is screwing them. It will not be developed by warm and fuzzy feelings about little cute animals. It will be developed and delivered by hard-headed business people who will expect to make money on their investment.

This is not to say that we don’t already have some alternatives that work on a small scale. We have not got any that are proven to work on a large scale (which we must have). There is a solar electric plant in Spain that looks very promising.

There are no large scale alternatives that are proven to work for transportation. Electric cars cannot deliver what we need as of yet. Neither sufficient range nor power are yet available and may never be. The weight of batteries is parasitic weight. Just as there comes a point of diminishing return with staged rockets, so it is with batteries, except that we do not throw away batteries as they empty and so must keep carrying the weight. Also, if everyone had an electric vehicle our present power grid and supply would be insufficient to carry the extra burden. Hybrids, as presently constituted, only deliver in city driving. The nice mileage reports that hybrids get go down the toilet in freeway conditions. Hybrids get even worse mileage than conventional high-mileage vehicles in freeway distance driving. Also, please note that all the high-mileage vehicles available are small passenger vehicles. Even the best companies do not have cargo vans and such. Like it or not, while good public transportation can cut down on the use of personal vehicles, it cannot cut down where vans and delivery vehicles are needed.

Basing policy, whether for oneself, one’s family, the country, or the planet, on wishful thinking inevitably leads to disaster. The idea of limiting access to the energy that we know works and that we currently depend on because people fervently wish that there were some free energy is suicide. Providing a public policy that encourages investigation into other forms of energy delivery is a goodness. Providing a whole lot of financing may not be such a good idea. Charlatans are alive, well, fat and happy on government grants. Basing policy on unproven energy sources because people want to believe is purely stupid.

Ethanol comes to mind as a boondoggle. We have tried it twice. It does not work. It takes more energy to produce it than it yields. It causes the corn farmers to smile, since it is subsidized. It causes the cost of food to go up for poor people that depend on corn. When we have floods, such as this year, that wipe out the corn crop the ethanol bunch is in trouble. Oh yeah, Brazil makes it work. Sugar ethanol, not corn. Well, what if we change our laws so that we can import from there. Won’t work. They are already maxed out just providing for themselves. And so on.

Financing the search for a grail that may or may not exist is just foolish. Basing our entire future on hoping that something may be developed is not very bright either. Cutting off our access to something that does work because we hope that something else will come along is like jumping off a cliff because we believe that we can fly. The reality will eventually catch us.

Now, having said all this, should we look for alternative energy delivery? Certainly. In fact, we need a much better and more comprehensive approach than we have now. While we do not want to jump off a cliff, if the drive to fly had not been there, we would not have air travel. But we got there by relentlessly experimenting and trying different approaches until we finally arrived at the Wright solution. This does not mean that there were not many dead ends until we came to powered flight. It does not mean that we have found the only, or even the best way to get people from point A to point B in the air. But we do now have a workable way to fly without killing ourselves (usually).

We are in much the same position regarding energy. We have a system that works. It is foolish not to pursue further research to see if there are not better ways of delivering energy. It is even more foolish – indeed stupid – to cut off that supply of energy until we have a better way or ways in place. We are going to see some terrible consequences from making policy based on wishful thinking. We may even cease to exist as a country. Possibly even a society. No matter how many pipe dreams people have there is always the reality of the sudden stop at the bottom of the cliff.

Another point from our history of flight. If we had a time machine and shipped a modern aeronautical engineer back to the 12th century he could not build an airplane. Before we could develop a workable flying machine we had to wait for the technology that would make it possible. Without the development of the oil industry and the steel industry the Wright’s could never have made the thing work. It may be that there are many possible ways to provide energy that we cannot even begin to develop until our technology provides us with the ways to do it. It may be that we figure out how to do it and then have to develop ancillary technology before we can deploy. We should also note that we searched for ways to fly for centuries before it became a reality. People wanted flight just as desperately as we now want free energy. Wanting didn’t make it so. Hard work and the correct technology and properly understanding and applying the laws of physics made it so.

It must be noted that most major cities can only last about 3 days without food and supply delivery. Even if we can grow food when energy gets sky high can we deliver it? And also note that a significant portion of our food supply comes from outside this country. No fuel = no food = starvation and riots in less than a week in most of this country. And without power how do we preserve food? Prevent spoilage and disease? Will it take cannibalism before we decide to get our own energy while we chase the alternates? Or will we be content for the Chinese to siphon off OUR oil by slant drilling from Cuban waters? (This is now!)

There is much talk of a Manhattan style project to get this “alternative energy”. People think that the project was started with no idea how to develop the bomb. Not true. The bomb was built on the theories that were already known and on the technological developments already done by Fermi and others. They had a very good idea of what they wanted to do. What they developed was the engineering to make the theory happen. We don’t even have good theory yet. We cannot develop the engineering until we have the proven theory and the technology to make it so.

As a last note of practicality, any new technologies that we discover will take a minimum of 20 years to properly implement. (Do we want to implement without testing long term consequences – again?) Can we afford to strangle ourselves for the next 20 years? I don’t think so.

When any society bases policy on the superstitions of its peasants it will fail. That is just as true today as it has always been.

Greek Night: Manitaria and Garides Tourkolimano –

20 June 08

I have eaten a lot of Greek food over the years. I like it. The second time I was in college the major was Greek, so that I could read the Greek plays and the Bible in the original. Also, being Russian Orthodox, I am completely at home with the Greek Orthodox. Same beliefs and services – different language and Saints calendar.

These two dishes are quintessentially Greek and also very easy to prepare.

Manitaria – Greek Mushrooms

2/3 cup olive oil – Greek or Cretan preferred
½ cup dry white wine – Greek preferred, but any decent wine will do
1 tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp fresh chopped
3 good sized cloves garlic chopped fine
4 Tbs chopped parsley
juice of 1 lemon
1-12 oz. pack Whole mushrooms – button preferred
salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything except the mushrooms and half of the lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the mushroom and stir to coat. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 10 minutes. Set aside in a non-reactive bowl and let cool to room temperature. Just before serving sprinkle the other half of the lemon juice and some fresh chopped parsley over it. We like it with Tzaziki sauce.

Tzaziki Sauce – Greek flavored yoghurt

16 oz. Plain yoghurt

Herself Sez: Plain Cabot’s Greek-Style Yogurt is an excellent choice!

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped fine
kosher salt to taste
4 clove garlic, chopped fine
1 Tbs olive oil – Greek is preferred
2 Tbs red wine, Greek Retsina preferred

Put the yoghurt into a tea towel in a strainer and set over a pot for 2 to 3 hours to drain. Scrape the yoghurt into a mixing bowl. Put the cucumber into another tea towel and wring all possible water out. Mix everything together and let it rest for an hour or so to meld the flavors.

Variations have mint, oregano, or whatever else you like added to them. (The mint is particularly nice).

Garides Tourkolimano – Greek Shrimp

3 lb. Raw shrimp
1 lb. Feta cheese, crumbled
1 tsp Oregano
3 tomatoes cut into wedges
1 cup chopped green onion tops
½ cup lemon juice
¾ cup cream sherry or Retsina, depending on your taste buds
Olive oil

Clean, peel, devein shrimp, set aside with a bit of the lemon juice drizzled over them. Coat a good skillet with olive oil and sauté the tomatoes, garlic, and green onion tops. When the tomatoes are soft, add the shrimp and oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. Sauté the shrimp until nicely pink, turning frequently. Add the feta and wine and boil for 3 minutes or until the feta melts a bit.

Serve with a nice Greek salad and you have a good meal. Greek salad? Easy, just combine any salad greens and veggies that you like, sprinkle it with some crumbled Feta cheese. Oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper for a dressing.

Helicopter Moms –

13 June 08

Or Dads is the latest buzz phrase coined by the popular press. You have surely met them – they hover over their children’s lives like a helicopter hovering over a strike zone. They manage every facet of their offspring’s lives so that no little thing can bring the least stress to their little darlings.

These parents not only run every aspect of the child’s life, they continue this bizarre behavior up to and through college, sending daily to-do lists, rushing to the student residence to do weekly laundry and grocery shopping. Some even go as far as daily wake-up calls.

The popular press is treating this as though it were a new phenomenon. No such. Back in the 1980s we were in Clemson, SC, where Herself taught at the University. As a mechanical contractor I frequently saw student housing, apartments and condos which were targeted at the student market. I would often see these mamas hanging around to do their little darling’s cleaning and laundry. Sometimes I could overhear them talking to one another about having to do all this for their dear offspring, who couldn’t possibly function without mama’s loving help. I thought that they and their little darlings were quite pathetic.

Not only have these people, overprotective fathers as well as mothers, screwed up their own lives, they have screwed up their little darlings as well. This behavior is a form of fear compulsion, usually called a phobia. These people are so fearful that something will happen to the kids that they do not let the child out of the house without a security patrol. The usual excuse offered by these “helicopter parents” is that they are keeping little so-and-so safe.

Yeah, the world can be and always has been a potentially hazardous place, but we have to function in same. It is not our job as parents to wrap the kidlet up in cotton and rubber. It is our job to teach the kid to function in this world. I see no reason why an adolescent, male, female, or otherwise, should not be able to clean house, cook a meal, drive, shop for groceries, navigate to a destination and back, stitch up a rip in a garment, exercise proper judgment about where to go, protect himself/herself emotionally and physically, and on and on and on……

If we have done our proper job as parents then we have raised a person capable of being tough enough to survive in the world. Part of that rearing is keeping the kid safe while growing up, but some of that does mean letting go in a rational manner.

One of the things which would drive a helicopter mom crazy would be to let her darling get dirty or scratched up. However, it must be noted that children who play in the yard, get scratched up, get dirty, and even eat dirt in the first few years of life have far fewer allergies than those who are kept antiseptically clean. Children don’t develop antibodies to things that they are not exposed to. After infancy/early childhood it is too late. Children’s bodies are miracles of growth and development, as are their minds. But only if the parents let them grow.

Putting the kid in mama’s (or papa’s) protective custody until the parent dies is rather like the old Chinese custom of binding baby girl’s feet. Just as the feet cannot grow past the binding the overly protected child cannot grow past mama’s influence. This poor individual will never be a human capable of taking on life without a caretaker, and will probably be incapable of successful and loving relationships with anyone else.

What does mama do when the kid finally gets enough gumption to run away from mama? If they do. How is the kid – now adult supposed to function without mama guiding every little step and holding his little hand?

Helicopter parenting is child abuse. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Our job as parents is to work ourselves out of a job.

Bloodline Another Hollyweird Myth –

9 June 08

Bruce Burgess has another Hollywood piece of unsupported BS – a movie called Bloodline, another one of these Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had kid(s) pieces of dreck. The first premise is that the “evil Roman Catholic Church” suppressed all evidence for 2000 years. Nonsense. This thing purports to be documentary. The evidence shows that it is just another mockumentary.

The West may not know about Mary Magdalene, but the Eastern Church certainly does. We were never dumb enough to confuse her with the prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet. Or Mary, sister of Martha, or any of the other Mary’s in the Scriptures. The Scriptures merely state that she was possessed of seven demons, which Our Lord cast out. She became one of the followers of Christ. She was one of the women who went to the tomb to wash and properly bury the body of Christ. She was the first to recognize the Risen Lord. This much is in Scripture.

While the Western Church has had many goofball ideas about Mary, let us examine the Eastern Tradition and see what it says. First off – titles: Mary is know as “Apostle to the Apostles”, “Equal to the Apostles”, and “Myrrh-Bearer”. Next, Tradition says that she worked with John the Apostle until she died peacefully and was buried at Ephesus. In the 9th century her uncorrupted body was exhumed, move to Constantinople, and reburied in the Church at St. Lazarus’ Monastery. The titles alone show that the “anti-feminine bias” that so many see in the Church is not true in the East and never has been.

While the Hollyweird crowd seems to think that these lies prove something about Jesus’ life, only liberals get that emotional about it. In the East we know the early years much better. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that this nonsense which is totally unsupported by any archaeological or historical evidence is true. In the Eastern view, Christ was God. Second Person of the Trinity. By His Incarnation, life, death, burial, Resurrection and Ascension He re-created the fractured Universe (not just Earth) and forever healed the breach between God and Man. Either He was God and did all this or He was a nutcase. No in between is possible in Eastern Orthodox theology. If He did indeed do all this, as we believe, then being married or not would simply not have mattered. And we would have simply recorded it as a fact of His life. It would not have changed our attitudes or theology one little bit.

Let it be noted that Rome does not and never has had any authority over the Eastern Church. Even if there were a Roman Catholic “cover-up” it would not have made any difference at all in the Eastern Church. We have never paid any attention to what Rome did or did not want.

So much for this latest BS attack on Christianity.

If the liberals of Hollywood were honest, they would admit that they are interested in attacking Christianity. Not religion, they don’t have the hatred of Islam that they have for Christianity. This is interesting. Granted that individuals can be and always will be nasty pieces of work, even those in the Church, Christianity is about forgiveness, reconciliation, and love.

If the libs wish to do a factual documentary instead of a hatchet job I would recommend that they take a good look at Islam and Mohammed. Islam is a religion of conquest and domination. Nowhere in Islam is there any doctrine about turning the other cheek. Nowhere in Islam is there anything about love and giving someone the cloak from one’s back.

Christ cannot be faulted on incorrect or hateful behavior, as much as the anti-Christian libs would like. Mohammed, on the other hand, is well documented as a murderer, a liar, a pedophile, a rapist, a slaver, and a petty revenge seeker. But the Hollywood liberals are either too stupid to realize that the Moslems would kill or enslave them at the earliest opportunity or they are too cowardly to tell the truth about Mohammed and Islam. It seems that they are much more interested in telling lies about Christ, since they know that we Christians are supposed to forgive them. If they told the truth about Mohammed, their lives would be in danger.

News media lies –

8 June 08

That’s not conjecture. I know it for a fact. My youngest son works for a Federal agency. Fairly high middle management or bottomside upper management, chose your favorite wording. Also one of my godsons works there. When Katrina hit, the youngest was on the ground in New Orleans that Sunday night. That’s the night before the worst hit. My godson was on the ground that Monday night that it did hit.

Both tell the same story. The youngest had set up one of the Federal supply depots and was ready to assist. It is not lawful for Federal intervention to take place without local permission. This was denied. He had to watch people die that could have been saved if the Louisiana and New Orleans authorities had not declined aid. It was never reported that way. The press was and is too busy trying to sandbag an administration that they hate way down on the gut level.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Bush supporter. I think that at best he has been a mediocre president. But, newsies should not lie. If they hate Bush, editorialize till the cows come home. On the editorial pages. But put facts on the news pages. Not lies. Either by commission or omission.

The next time that you hear that there was no Federal response, know it for the lie that it is. Know that it was the locals that bitched the whole thing up and let people die unnecessarily. Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco bear far more culpability than do the feds. Race played no part. Local stupidity and corruption are the main villains.

Herself Sez: Why post this here now? Lemme tell you. Local stupidity and corruption will be major players in the current election – not to mention media stupidity and short-sightedness.

Believe me – there was more, MUCH more, going on than the media ever told. And it won’t come out until GWB and some of his high officials write their autobios 10 years from now.

Five-Grain Sourdough Bread –

6 June 08

This is a rather standard multi-grain type bread recast as a sourdough. It is, like many multi-grains, disgustingly good for you. This has a rather nice, full-bodied tang from the sourdough, and a nice, crunchy-chewy crust.

To use grains in bread it is necessary to prepare them in the form of a soaker. This is just baker-speak for soaking the grains overnight in water to soften them. The penalty for not doing it as a soaker may be a broken tooth.

Any grains that you cannot find in the local grocery will be available from specialty baker’s stores, co-ops, health food stores, or from the web. I get mine from Barry Farm –

50 g rye chops
50 g flaxseeds
44 g sunflower seeds
44 g oats
235 g water
11 g salt

Mix all the grains, water, and salt in a bowl. Cover with plastic and let it sit overnight (or a minimum of 4 hours). The reason we add the salt at this stage is to keep any mold from forming overnight – especially in hot weather.

315 g sourdough
440 g bread flour
175 g water
1 pkg yeast
all of soaker

Depending on how wet you keep your sourdough you may need to adjust the hydration a bit.

Combine everything to the mixing bowl. Mix on low for 3 minutes. Mix on second speed for 3 minutes. Or stir it up by hand, then gently work the dough for 10 to 15 minutes. Rather a sticky dough to do by hand. Place in a greased rising bowl and cover with plastic.

Let rise for one hour.

Fold gently. Back in the rising bowl seam side down.

Let rise for one hour.

Divide into two standard loaves or make roll sized rounds. Each loaf fills a standard small loaf pan – grease them lightly. Or do free form. Or do standard sized rolls. Cover with greased plastic.

Let rise one to 1-1/2 hours until it looks about right.

Score with a very sharp blade. Steam the oven with a spray bottle for a good, chewy crust. Bake 400°F. 40 minutes for standard loaves. Less for rolls. You can do the thump test to see if they sound right. Or, for the more precise, shove a digital thermometer in from the bottom and aim for around 200°F to 205°F. Dump them out on a cooling rack and don’t cut until they have cooled properly.

If you’ve read the ramblings on sourdough you know that I usually do a one-third mix. One-third sourdough, one-third all-purpose flour, one-third water, by weight, not volume (100g, 100g, 100g). This works well for those of us who keep our sourdough in the refrigerator in quart Mason jars (don’t tighten the lid) and only feed about once a week or so.

I use a slightly different approach for this stuff. Mix it up the night before as 50g sourdough, 175g flour, 100g water. Use a smallish bowl and cover with plastic. The overnight rise with small sourdough to larger water and flour gives good opportunity for flavor to develop.

If you don’t want to fool with sourdough, you could do day or two pate fermente: pinch of yeast, about 3/5 flour, 2/5 water, mix it up, cover with plastic. Personally, I think that sourdough it as easy as it gets once you have your culture going.

Herself Sez: Yeah!! This is among my favorites of the breads the Ol’ Curmudgeon makes. Terrific as a soup-dipper, mahvelous-dahlink as a sandwich bread, and makes pretty doggone good toast, too! I really like this – can you tell??

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