Tag Archives: bread

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I didn’t get some things done, but made good progress on others. I still need to create a couple of shticks for Lisa’s radio show, and I have one more to schedule. That one is weeks out, but the author requested a specific date and I want to accommodate her. I know how I feel when making plans. I would want to know it’s a done deal. It is a done deal, I just need to get on with it.

I dedicated my time to my own fiction. It came to around 3000 words. I don’t have a complete count, but somewhere around that mark. My main character has to cover up one eye, because the townsfolk decided it’s the evil eye. I also created four tiny monsters with more to come. They haven’t even taken to sea yet, and that’s one of my biggest obstacles here. Act one involves the guy trying to live up to his father’s reputation. He will decide to take his own path, and that’s the part that occurs at sea.

Doesn’t sound like a problem, until you think of promoting it as a pirate story. Will people stick with it long enough to get to the parts I advertise? It may be something that sorts itself out in the second or third pass. Right now I have to draft the damned thing.

I might carry those flighty readers along with some symbolism, and an eye patch could be part of that. His eye is fine, but it’s now permanently red. That scares the general population.

I’m also dealing with travels and conversations. This is touchy, because I want to do some world building and have some of these conversations. However, too many campfires and such might irritate some folks. Like I said, this is the draft process

I’d like to work on it tomorrow, but I need to keep up with the promises I made others. I may need to have a Lisa Burton Radio day and be happy about it.

In other news, my bread rose for about 30 hours and turned out awesome. (Awesomely? Is that a word?) Old What’s Her Face bought me a banneton, also called a brotform, for Christmas. This is a special basket for raising free-standing loaves of bread. I’ve never used it before. It helps the loaf retain its shape on the final rise. It also adds a cool spiral shape to the top crust.

Today was the day. I also used my peel and baking stone for this one. Here’s how it turned out, and it was great with our corned beef.

You can see the spirals the basket made before I added the expansion slices. To use the peel, also in the photo, I added some corn meal to it and the baking stone. This isn’t for flavor, it’s to keep things from sticking. My only mistake was taking the bread from the brotform while the oven reached temperature. This gave it time to spread and I should have done it at the last second. Next time: Dump, slice, bake in about five seconds.

It already has a wonderful sour flavor, and that’s the result of the long rise. My bread usually doesn’t develop that until the next day. No idea why.

I’m skipping the Irish whisky tonight. Old What’s Her Face bought me some cool Irish stout from a small brewery. Beer is very Irish too, so I’m not disappointed.

Hope all of you who are celebrating do it with care. We’re staying home and may rent Justice League on TV. Maybe.

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I’ll take it…

Old What’s Her Face kind of ate up any opportunities I might have had on Saturday. We still managed a nice date night, and I got one of the Lisa Burton interviews all scheduled. Most of Sunday was spent responding to interview requests. There are so many questionnaires out in cyberspace now that some of them have to produce a post. Thanks for all the reblogging everyone.

Yesterday morning, Tituba the sourdough told me she was ready to go to work. I built a standard, no recipe, dough. Water and flour to make a batter, palm full of salt, glurg of olive oil, about half a spoonful of starter, add flour until it looks like bread dough.

Sourdough is a symbiotic organism. The wild yeast raises the dough like you might expect, but it’s the bacteria that gives it that sour flavor. To make it come out right you want a long slow rise. Their symbiosis works like this: Yeast produces alcohol which bacteria loves. In return, bacteria protects yeast from mold.

Last night it was raised, but looking a bit blah. This morning it was blowing the lid off my bowl. I punched it down, formed a loaf and cleaned up the small Dutch oven I use for bread. Start rising all over again and turn my attention to other matters.

There are still some interview requests trickling in, and it’s to a point where I can let them stack up. I’ll get to everyone today, but I needed some quality time with my work in progress.

I have all four characters on the page now. Addressed some women’s issues from a historical (Or not so historical) perspective. This was mostly stage setting. She’ll round out her story later on after she gets comfortable with the other characters. My characters blew up a building, stole some gold, and one is carving a turnip/yam kind of thing for some reason. The main guy has made some heavy remarks about his father, which sets up something nice down the road.

I didn’t do a word count, but I’m finally over five-digits. That’s got to be pretty close to 4000 words one way or another. I could do more, but don’t want to get rummy over it.

My Apple Pencil needed a recharge, then I used it to make an updated blog banner. I think it needs to be a bit more Spring-like before I trot it out, so the snow sculpture remains for now.

I should still schedule my free days for Enhanced League, but the primo time for this title is the end of the month. That means I can put it off for another week, and I will.

Since everything is ready, I assembled and scheduled another LBR interview. That means I’m two weeks ahead, yay.

Tituba needed cut and fed so she’s happy to work again when I need her. This bread is nothing fancy. No free standing loaves, no French bread, just a nice Dutch oven variety. This is what I get with my leftover stew tonight.

Maybe I’ll turn my attention to some lightbulbs that need replacing. Then I can work up a shtick for an interview that’s already returned the questionnaire. It may have been a slack weekend, but today was pretty productive.

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Holiday Week

This is a holiday week here in the USA. For my international friends, Thursday is our Thanksgiving.

This kept me up late Monday, because my work scheduled a potluck. Makes sense, we have to stay up all night Wednesday to cook, why not do it Monday too? I had enough chile verde to take home for supper last night.

Tonight I have to bake dinner rolls. I made the mistake of baking these for Thanksgiving many years ago, and everyone demands them now. It’s a raised dough product, so hours of rising and punching down, and re-rising are part of my evening plan. My wife said we need a TRIPLE batch this year. I actually have one giant-sized bowl I might be able to make it all at once in. I’m sure I have to wash it first, and will have to wash it during the process because it’s also my storage bin for the finished product.

Bake time is another issue. I only have so many sheets, and the rolls have to raise one more time after they are shaped. This year, I’m going to be thankful for getting it over with.

Things have slowed down online. I’m noticing it on all fronts. Since I ended my big promotional push, I have a lot more time for other things. I’ve even expanded beyond my “must read” list on WordPress. Some of you may notice some likes on blogs I haven’t visited for a while.

I took a vacation day Friday. We have company, but I don’t know if they’re all going out for Black Friday. I don’t see it being a productive writing day, but it could happen. Pure luck of the draw, my flex day is Monday and that could be a writing day.

I hacked out another “anthem” piece for my Enhanced League baseball stories. I’m pretty happy with it. This one is about the extra guy on the team. The one who fills in for injured players and the lack of respect for his job.

In other news, I have a fun Lisa Burton Radio post scheduled for tomorrow. I couldn’t sell Thanksgiving to anyone as a good day, so I wrote this one on my own. It isn’t about one of my books though, so if you get a break in the action tomorrow you might want to check it out.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it. I’ll be thinking about you slaving over your cornbread stuffing, and green bean casserole while I punch down dough.

PS: Don’t forget to thaw the turkey.

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It’s a writer’s weekend

Old What's Her Face* is still in Nevada visiting family. I've had the house all to myself, and hit it about as hard as I felt like.

I haven't broken the 20,000 word mark on The Yak Guy project. I added a few bits to plant things that will payoff later. I stalled when it came time to name things.

Choosing names is always hard for me. I think everything sounds horrible. Yak guy is at a place where he needs to choose a name to find other people like himself. He has certain memories stripped away, and I don't like any of the names he's coming up with.

There are two warring factions in this story, and they need names too. There I am, freaked out over names. Some will say to keep writing and fix it later. I have a really hard time doing that.

To break things up, I started a short story. I nailed down just over 3000 words in two days. Looks like it's going to be a legitimate short story, and not a micro-fiction. I really like where it's going, but it needs some cleaning up. Part of the problem comes from first person point of view. I must have written 27 sentences beginning with I. (If you need an example refer to this paragraph.) I made a pass to clean that up, but it still needs work.

I finished two of three critiques. I printed the last one, but am stalling. The guy sent in double the allowed word count intending for us to do half this month, and half next month. Just another weirdness I possess, and I'll probably have to work up the whole thing. I don't want to print it twice, or re-do the first half next month.

I finished another character pass on The Playground too. There is one left, and it's a big one. I'm getting close to needing some beta readers, but not quite.

I spent a little time with The Twilight Zone, and Hitchcock. Later I'm going to check out the season finale of Ash vs. The Evil Dead.

I also baked bread and tried out my new clay baker from King Arthur. It came out with a beautiful blister crust, and I kind of want to tear into it right now. The house smells pretty darned good.

I still have to get some posts scheduled for next week. There are guests coming over, and I have work to do on their posts.

My wife won't be home until mid day tomorrow, and I might get more accomplished tonight and tomorrow morning. I really want to break 20,000 words on Yak Guy before I head back to work. Fingers crossed that I'll come up with some good names.

I seem to have this shut off at about 2500 words. After that, I need to constructively daydream the next part. My outline cards are mile markers, but I still have to come up with stuff between them. It seems as if that isn't everything in the tank. I can still write short fiction and dedicate brain cells to it.

So update the blog, kill a few deadites, and back to… Something. I'll figure out something.

* Entertaining Stories, protecting my wife's identity since 2013.

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Was Grandma right?

I write science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal stories. In my mind, they’re related, but are a bit different.

I write my novels, this blog, the occasional micro fiction, and am probably going to attempt a few short stories.

The blog covers a pretty broad spectrum of topics. Cooking, foraging, writing, reading, plus the writing cabin stories under the Muse category.

When I read, I like online articles, comic books, your blogs, and more. Novels I read are pretty broad based. I read the kind of stories I write, but I love a good detective story, courtroom drama, historical fiction, horror, westerns, biographies, and more.

So am I becoming a jack of all trades, and master of none? I am more than the blogger and writer you see here, but I share. Thus the stories about sourdough, gathering morels, growing peaches, going out with my wife.

I don’t think that makes me so different, but what about my writing? Am I covering too many bases? I understand I don’t have to change a thing, but would I be more successful if I focused more? What if I focused on novels, and blogging about novels?

Just kidding! I’m going to keep doing what I enjoy. One thing I refuse to let go of is my personal enjoyment of this. Chances of getting rich here are slim at best. Chances of having a good time are excellent. I’m having a great time.

My grandmother used to say I bounced around like a fart in a skillet. Maybe she was right, but I’m enjoying myself.

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The Science of Sourdough

Many readers have expressed an interest in Tituba, my sourdough starter. I started her sometime in the 1980s and really don’t know how old she is. One of the secrets is knowing how to put her away for long term storage. I used to freeze a small sample, but these days I dry the sample and refrigerate.

A sourdough starter is a wild yeast culture, but that’s pretty simplified. They really don’t travel all that well, and will eventually become a culture of your local wild yeast. That’s why I never feared adding other yeasts to the mix.

Active dry yeast is the hothouse flower of the yeast world. It will only last a generation or two under the crock environment. Its best use is to medicate an ailing starter, knowing it will all disappear and leave your wild beastie in place. I’ve added champaign yeast, brown ale yeast, and active dry yeast to mine at times.

The lifespan of one yeast organism is somewhere around the blink of an eye. I have no doubt that some hybridization occurred, but Darwinism leaves me with a decent starter. She was born in Nevada, and may be more of an Idaho wild yeast these days.

There is a microscopic war going on all around us. We want yeast to leaven our bread, but yeast is under a constant attack. The enemy here is mold. Tituba needs an ally.

Enter lactobacillus. This simple bacteria hates and kills mold with extreme prejudice. It loves the alcohol produced by the yeast as it devours the flour I feed it. I get bubbles that raise my dough, and the bacteria gets the waste product of fermentation, alcohol. (Every military in history thrives on alcohol.) The bacteria in exchange, keeps the mold at bay.

But wait, there’s more. Sourdough bread has a distinct tangy flavor. This flavor isn’t available to bakers who use active dry yeast. That’s right, it is provided by the lactobacillus.

Tituba is a symbiotic organism. She consists of both a wild yeast culture, and a colony of lactobacillus. She makes great bread too.

I baked my first loaf of the year this morning. It turned out great. I left it out overnight to ramp up the sour flavor. The house is usually cold enough at night, but this time it over proofed a bit. It was about to crawl out out of the Dutch oven when I got up. It fell a bit when I sliced the dough prior to baking. Still, it tastes wonderful.

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A Saturday Update

I managed a little writing time this morning. I didn’t get the word count I’m accustomed to, but it was good stuff. It included fairies and teeth getting knocked out. I’ve absolutely reached that Act II slog I hit every time. It’s time for all the characters to move and get closer to each other. This means research to make sure the new city is represented properly. Other writers will probably relate.

I built a loaf of sourdough bread around noon. This stuff raises slowly, and it’s best not to rush it. The sour comes across better with a slow rise. I laced this one with rosemary and olive oil, and it ought to be pretty good. Tituba, my¬†sourdough starter awoke with a vengeance this year. Some years she’s slow, some years she’s fast. She nearly climbed out of her crock on Tuesday. I decided I’d better bake with her, before there was trouble.

Old What’s Her Face* and I went to Whole Foods for some upscale goodies, then went to dinner. We wound up in a pub environment called The Tilted Kilt. We’ve been there before, and both like it. Me for the beer and cute waitresses. My wife for the great food they offer. It’s also cheaper than many other places, and close to Whole Foods. It’s near the BSU campus, which is probably the source of the waitstaff. It was a slow night, and we almost had the place to ourselves. Good for us, not so good for business. They have a Scottish Ale, I particularly like, so I had two.

Now it’s time to finish up with Harry Dresden. I want to find out about Mouse, the dog’s, secret. After that I may return to The Twilight Zone.

I may wrangle some writing time tomorrow, but I also have to call my parents. I have research to get to as well. Then I need to start a beta reading project for a friend.

How was your Saturday?

*Not my wife’s actual name.

 

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