52 Weeks of Sourdough: Week 13

I know you guys totally thought I was flagging on this project. You did, didn’t you? Basically, November became an overwhelming month, one I spent mostly not at home, on trains, on buses, traversing the country for work. Whenever I was home, I was asleep. There was no bread baking. Things got so desperate we ran out of our emergency bread stash in the freezer. Dire people. (Fortunately the kids at Small Food Bakery sorted us out. Thank goodness for local sourdough bakeries).

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But this weekend I finally had enough energy to bake some bread. And obviously I made far more than we actually needed, see above about emergency bread. When A- came home from work he exclaimed, ‘you are making bread for an army!’ I have a total inability to cook in small portions so I suppose it was inevitable that this would spread to my bread making too. I assured him it would be fine. I made one plain loaf, for regular toast and then I flavoured the second half with rosemary, thyme, walnuts, and a really sharp stinky cheese A- brought back from his last trip to Spain. It is glorious bread. The interior is sort of purple in colour. We’ve been slathering it in butter and dipping it into soup for dinner.

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The plain loaf developed this extravagant whole through it’s crumb. The flavoured bread was much more even, bubbles-wise. I’ve now sliced the loaves and placed some in the freezer. Bread in the freezer is so reassuring. Like a guarantee of dinner even when there is nothing else in the house.

Verdict for week 13? I’m back baby. Going to experiment with Christmas themed bakes in the next few weeks.

Reading List (5/12)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Edible gift recipes. Gift ideas from Anna Jones.

A tiny donkey! (Thought you would appreciate Holly, Micky and Lee!)

Baked Alaska. I am not the biggest fan of this dessert but even I can get into this version with pistachio cake and lemon semifreddo. Plus words from Gabrielle Hamilton.

Jeremy Lee has a whole series of puddings for Christmas in the Guardian.

What to eat while watching your favourite festive films.

The majority of PhDs will never obtain the tenured post for which many initially believed they were being trained‘. Lots of PhDs, not a lot of academic jobs.

Community gardening.

I love everything on this menu. And will definitely be making the honey roast sausages during the festive period.

Panettone is a challenge to make properly. I really want to try making one in the few days before Christmas.

‘You have to be someone to understand the value of your senses, to know what they’re telling you. Mine, after cooking in her style, told me that I should definitely aim to be more like a German aristocrat in Spain in my daily life. I should be regularly crusting more whole fish in salt, making my own bread, and mixing nut creams and bitters into my pints of vanilla Häagen-Dazs’. Recreating food from books.

If you want to, you can now buy perfume that smells like Sunday lunch.

More holiday baking: saffron cardamon star bread.

New podcast find: My Open Kitchen.

I love Oliver Jeffers.

Women in professional kitchens.

An important comment on the bubble that is food writing.

A pretty comprehensive cookbook list. The London Review Bookshop cookbook list.

Cake and grief.

Food history blogs.

I finally finished listening to A God in Ruins this weekend. It was loooonnnnggg. I am still not sure how I feel about it. But I do love Teddy. I am now listening to Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (she of The Girl on the Train). It is a fab mystery story that I turn on whenever I am making coffee/tea/cooking/running which is always a good sign. I also finished the Red Queen. After not reading anything for weeks I have now entered December reading vibes I think and I am enjoying the quiet reading moments I can find. Red Queen would be classified as a YA dystopian novel I think. (I found my copy in the library’s YA section). It is set in a world of people with abilities (Silvers) and those without (Reds) and is a classic good v evil, everyone is not who they seem, revolution-is-coming type book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. If your vibe is The Hunger Games, or The Bone Season or The Midnight Queen series, you will like this.

Have a good week! There will be no reading list next week as I am away. Service will resume possibly on Boxing Day! xxx

Reading List (28/11)

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Guys, I missed my calling as a Dessert Anthropologist. Do you think it is too late to switch careers?

A write-up of an awesome community project in Sneinton.

Ideas for alcohol in desserts.

I’m still too liable to think that being thin is the same as being healthy‘. A professor on the complexities of health and being well. Some interesting ideas on the benefits of home-cooking too. Has anyone breached the whole “what should you do when your cooking skills start to make you fat because you make an excellent slow cooked pork belly” debate yet?

The ritual and significance (or not) of burial sites.

On farming. Young farmers in the US.

A book to add to your Christmas wish list.

Food as therapy.

A top cookbooks of 2017 list.

This past weekend I finished an incredibly disturbing Val McDermid. I think I have had enough crime fiction for a while after that, (apart from Poirot’s Christmas which I found in a second-hand bookshop and am saving for December reading) so if any one has any recommendations they would be gratefully received! I am thinking Christmas themed books…

Chocolate caramel cake. This looks like a good one for the festive season.

I hope you are all organised and have your Christmas gifts already. If not, gift guide here.

Massimo Bottura transforms leftovers.

American heirloom project. Sooooo cool!

I went to the Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican last week. If you can, go and see it. Just a fantastic collection of work and musings. I really loved the journals they exhibited, filled with random thoughts. It has inspired me to try and take up a pen more regularly again.

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Have a good week everyone! x

 

 

 

Reading List (21/11)

medlars

Apparently designer advent calendars are a thing. Clearly I have been living in the dark ages when they just filled them with trashy chocolate.

Things to do in Paris.

Women chefs talk about the industry in the wake of #metoo.

All the holiday cookies! It is stir-up Sunday this weekend, maybe you could make some of these as well as your Christmas pud? Personally, I have my eye on the pretzel linzers with salted caramel.

I have both poached quince and poached pears in the pantry at the moment so I am going to make this crumble soon.

This article irritated me sooooo much. I think mostly because it seemed to be written from a point of smugness, from a perspective of privilege, with little acknowledgement of this bias…

Resource of women writers.

Things that male academics have said to me‘. Depressing.

Inequality in English schools is as bad as ever.

Baking with young people.

Have a good week! x

52 Weeks of Sourdough: Week 12

I realised last weekend that I was failing my bread making project. Not failing in the making bread sense, I was still managing to do that, but failing in the being present, and paying attention sense. Bread making had evolved into this beast, this large black shape bearing down on me as the weekend approached. I was still trying to accomplish the task  but I wasn’t allocating it anytime, or working out how to fit it into my day. Which is obviously how I found myself wrestling with a far too hydrated and possibly over proofed dough on a Sunday afternoon. Needless to say it did not end so well.

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So I watched this video to get inspired again. I was really interested when Kim talked about the choice of bread making as a form of meditation. One of the reasons I chose bread making as part of a wider project I have going on (all about recovery and finding purpose outside of work), was because I thought working and creating with my hands would be a good thing. I haven’t reflected on that a lot in these posts yet but I think it is true. ‘Making stuff is really really important. Using your hands is really really important’, Kim says in the video.

She also tells her audience to ‘slow the fuck down’, which I enjoyed. I live quite a lot of my life rushing from one task to another, or trying to clean the house and listen to a book and bake bread and make dinner all at once. It is sometimes exhausting. So this weekend I slowed it all down again. There were many things I probably should’ve done this weekend but I let most of them go. I went to yoga, because I’ve found yoga on the weekend is a game changer (and it is also the one consistent class I can make, as I travel so much during the week). I finished some knitting projects I had going on. I finished the work I had to do for Monday. And then I focused on making bread.

Everything about it was so much better. I was making one of the loaves as a gift for A-‘s family in Spain (yes, we are people who travel with bread) and I wanted it to be good. So I took my time about it. I wasn’t rushing. I didn’t organise anything on Saturday afternoon so I could be at home to do the bulk prove. I sorted the levain out before I went to yoga in the morning and came back in time to mix up the dough. Everything about the experience was so much more pleasurable than it has been the past few weeks.   And the breads turned out lovely. I had some to dip into bolognese I heated up for my solo dinner on Sunday. A- took a loaf to Spain and I brought half a loaf for my sister, and froze the other half for emergency bread rations.

There is a new report out on the benefits of bread baking for mental health too.

Verdict for week 12? I need to learn to take time, if I want to pursue creativity properly. It is weird it took several weeks of failed bread making for me to learn this.

 

Reading List (14/11)

Well, it is now mid November and Christmas (yes, I said it) is a few weeks away. But you know, still enough weeks away that I find the adverts on television mildly nauseating and the shop windows irritating rather than exciting. Come stir-up Sunday, I will be all for it but until then, can’t I just have a few non-themed weeks this year? Anyway, here is this week’s reading list!

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Some advice on cold-water swimming.

Understanding stress hormones and genes. I am totally fascinated by this work. And relatedly, when evolution happens quickly.

Photographs of rescue animals. Tears.

New podcasts that at some point in the near future I will listen to.

The Brontes, and history.

‘Life is a mess of cornmeal dumplings.’

The Bake-off in other countries. (Thanks Jen for sending me this!)

‘“We were really hoping for something Asian” — or Asian-ish: Anything with soy, apparently, will do.’ The complexities of cooking in the USA as an Asian-American.

“Radical creativity

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Reading List (7/11)

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I loved this story about female friendship.

Cauliflower, fried. Cauliflower cheese. (I made this on Sunday evening and holy moly is it good. Also, all the cheese.)

Plants, as unintentional immigrants. This is such a cool project!

Thoughts about creating a working-life wholeness, rather than aiming for work-life balance.

Reflections on an allotment site lost to redevelopment.

For Louisa: Casa Vicens is open again to the public. (Let’s plan another trip to Barcelona to visit please!)

Saving seeds.

Some words on how to understand and adopt the myriad of food advice we are given.

A list of Paris’s best chocolates. Like you needed any more persuasion on a trip to Paris. Personally, I think if you are going to Jacques Genin you should really try his caramels, which might change your life.

This weekend I have been listening to (and absolutely loving) The Muse. I’m not quite done so no spoilers please. I love the time periods, I love the characters, I love the mystery. Read this if you need to be transported to another time. I can practically feel the Andalucian sun on my skin when the book heads to 1935/6 Sierra Nevada countryside.

Salted chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate chip cookies you bang in your oven halfway through, resulting in a ringed, flatter appearance.

Pumpkin cake. Marbled pumpkin cake.

Molly Wisenberg on the butterscotch blondies from The Violet Bakery Book.

Food&Wine podcast talking to Ina Garten.

Have a good week! x