169 tagged with #daily

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The secret to good bread is patience. It's patience, and an unrelenting firmness of hand and character. A dough will never rise to its fullest potential if it is taken out too early, but a dough neglected falls apart in the hands, while forming a dried upper surface that is impossible to integrate into the rest.

Yves is more of a pet than an ingredient. Yves is a living organism, one that needs careful feeding and whispers of encouragement. A long time ago, a piece of dough was nicked from a San Francisco sourdough bakery and raised in New England, divided into countless splinter colonies and distributed over the years. We've been raising Yves for seven months, after dozens of batches of nonviable dough that came before we reached an understanding.

The dough will never flatten into the correct shape for proper bread without a patient approach and a firm hand. It springs back quickly if unattended, but rolls onto itself and wrinkles if rushed. There's a rhythm to the stretching and shaping actions that I've learned for this flour, this water this altitude, this yeast colony. I know when the little jar needs to be pulled from the fridge to awaken Yves so that the last piece of old bread is consumed as the first batch of fresh dough enters the oven.

But for a starting point, it is as follows:

  • 1.5 pounds plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • just under 2 cups warm water that includes yeast mixture

Knead until firm; cover and rise for twelve hours. Knead gently after rising, split into twelve pieces. Roll as flat as possible, without breaking through. Oven-bake on broil for a few minutes; remove when the upper crust starts to brown. Let cool; store wrapped in a light fabric and in a quiet place, or devour on the spot.

23 February 2014 18:59

Saturday Fever

Years ago, we named the stink bugs John, thinking they were june bugs. John the June Bug rolled off the tongue; we have a naming scheme that requires alliteration, on top of a name that feels appropriate to the creature. Later, we found out that what we thought were june bugs were actually stink bugs, but it's not as if names can be so easily changed once they stick.

Despite the weather forecast calling for lows in the single digits in the near future, a few intrepid Johns have groggily crawled out from wherever they slept through the winter. One of them crossed the bedroom ceiling, after hours of slow six-footed tiptoes.

When I don't leave the house, I don't feel productive, regardless of what I've managed to do. Food for a week, seasonal bike tuning, laundry, ropework, cleaning, popping off podcast episodes all didn't mean anything until I set out for a test ride that also let me run some errands.

Eight o'clock at night seems far too late to be drinking coffee right now; I remember a time when it was never a bad time for more caffeine. Maybe that's what it means to get old.

22 February 2014 21:21

Taking Stock

The kale didn't make it, the chives are probably still napping, the green onions are already shooting past their bindings, the broccoli is still missing, and the brussels sprouts do not appear to be dead.

This is only a quick thaw, and I hope the plants have more intuition about the season than I do. I'm still wringing my hands over the ice that is sure to be coating the trails.

21 February 2014 10:33

Safety First

"Looking pretty good up there," I say to the builder, who is sitting on the roof of the garage when I pull in.

"Almost," he mumbles, shaking his head. "Almost."

I feel bad that he has to work on the house through the winter, but not that bad; his inability to manage a project timeline was what led him to sitting on an icy half-built deck with power cables snaking around icicles.

20 February 2014 18:08


The world is anxious in anticipation of spring. I can feel the skies trying to break through. There comes a cautious string of noise from the same bird that has been trying to wake up the leaves all month long.

Deer footprints cross my front lawn, one set of delicate holes punctured through the heavy, wet snow, little parallel lines drawn diagonally across the slope. They shoot towards the alleyway. I wondered where she thought she was going.

I have to remember that 45 is not the same as 65, but I'm guilty of the same anticipation. I put on a t-shirt instead of a wool base layer for the first time in months, and nearly wipe out on the ice that slicks down my driveway, the layer of water on top disguised by shadow. I laughed when I stepped outside, accustomed to feeling as if the weather is actively antagonizing my commute, and instead encountering the gentle whisper of almost-spring.

19 February 2014 10:19

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