Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bread and fences

Didn't sleep too well last night, no doubt the change in the weather. Drop in barometric pressure, low pressure passing through don't you know. I think the other term for it is depression. Anyway, not a lot of sleep.

Lying there awake and wishing I wasn't, thinking the kind of thoughts you end up thinking at times like that. What passed through my mind was an incident that happened a very long time ago, and some of the stuff that happened as a result of that incident. It occurred to me that my whole life was about that one incident. Not a pleasant thought.

I thought about how it affected other people, and how that affected me, the ripples kept moving out and out and it was getting very unpleasant. I think though that the thing that got to me the most was that it was a damn stupid thing to have your whole life be about. I hate when that happens. Can I have a do-over?

It started raining this morning. We had a week of hot humid weather and the rain seemed like a relief. The garden sure needed it. And the greyness of it all suited my mood. Last night the hardware store called to tell me my order was in so I was going to go pick it up, but I didn't want to do it in the rain. Checked the radar on the internet and it looked like the rain was going to end in the afternoon, I hoped it would end before the hardware store closed.

I made bread in the meantime. I waited all week for today to make bread, I sure didn't want to be running the oven in the heat.

Bread has become an obsession lately. I read My Bread by Jim Lahey and that got me started. Not that I haven't made bread before, I have. In fact I really started when I was pregnant with my first kid, so that would be over 40 years ago. [you know you're old when you're kid celebrates his fortieth!] But Jim Lahey's book turned me on to 'artisanal' bread.

Lahey's breadmaking method is virtually foolproof. I've made more mistakes with it and still ended up with great bread. From there I read a couple more books on breadmaking, including Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. As the result of a comment I made on her blog, A little red hen directed me to a TED talk that Reinhart did on breadmaking, in which he talked about a technique he uses to bring out the flavour of whole grain flours in bread and today I thought I'd try it. I already have a sourdough starter I made a couple of months ago based on his recipe, and his technique is essentially to start two doughs, one with the starter and one without. After letting them set for however long you mix them together, form a loaf and let it rise. Then I follow Jim Lahey's method for baking the loaf in a Dutch oven. I've been meaning to try Reinhart's baking method, but I like the Lahey method so much that so far I haven't tried any other.

Anyway, the bread turned out great, I had some for supper. Split pea soup (with free-range locally cured ham), homebaked bread and a salad of fresh local greens and locally made feta. Oh yes and the rain stopped before the hardware store closed so I whipped down to pick up my order.

In preparation for the impending arrival of up to three giant dogs I am building a fence. Most of it is wooden but part of it is going to be metal fence (at the hardware store they call it corn crib fence) because the area it has to go through is just too difficult to install the wooden fence in. The hardware order was the corn crib fence, a hundred feet of it. If all goes well, we will install it on Monday.

The twenty-something son of a friend is helping me with the work that requires big young muscles (pounding spikes and T-rail posts into the ground). He's also painting his mother's house, so he likes to spend the best part of the day doing that, which is fine by me because I am happy to spend only a few hours a day on this project. It is going much faster than I expected though, I thought all this spike and post pounding was going to take much longer than it has.

This fence will have one major drawback, not being able to walk off the property anywhere I want. I am putting three gates in it but that still doesn't seem like enough. The dogs better appreciate what I do for them.

The photo at the top of this post is of the flowering dogwood in front of my house.


Wisewebwoman said...

I am sorry to have sent the Black Dog your way, we are all having turns entertaining Him rent free in our heads.
Serve Him the eviction notice, pronto.
Impressed with all your doings, Annie dear, artisan bread no less. I make my Irish soda bread but with variations like fruit and nuts.
the fence is splendid, those dogs will keep you busy and chase the Other One off...


Anne said...

You have learned the right way to keep that black dog WWW talks about at bay. How can you stay depressed when you do all those things -- make bread, build fences, entertain large benign dogs?

I find that waking up at 3 in the morning is the time I start to remember all the most embarrassing moments of my life, and I relive them as though they just happened. Pretty stupid, but I can't seem to stop.

Annie said...

Hi WWW and Anne,

You know, depression used to be an issue for me, it'd last for months on end, but these days a day or two is pretty much the limit. Hardly qualifies eh? Anyway, knowing that, I don't get too wound up about Black Dog visits, he generally is out the door again pretty quick.

The wee morning hours are the most deadly for stupid thoughts! One's mental defenses are still asleep, as the rest of one's brain ought to be!

naomi dagen bloom said...

Focusing on one of your many intriguing thoughts, I am pleased there is another slight obsessive breadmaker out there. Have yet to try that two-starter method but it sounds like one to follow.

Your portrait of the loaf from a casserole is lovely. My own goal is to make smaller loaves so I can give away/freeze extras--and not have us eat it too much ourselves.