Energy audit, part 2

I was reminded of three things on the approach path this evening:

  1. Last weekday before DST, and the last daylight commute home for some months.  Time to pull out the retroreflective ankle straps (which I can’t believe local hipsters haven’t yet adopted as regular fashion… maybe next year).
  2. It’s time to execute winterization procedures around the house.
  3. I’ve never posted a picture of a cat on the the internets! [*]

Thankfully, our neighbor likes to snuggle up against heat leaks.  When I caulk this one, she’ll move to the windowsill.

[*] This site, however, has been up for fifteen years.  Fifteen.  Years.  (Back when arbitrary names for personal webpages were all the rage.)

Breads

Perhaps this is actually a food photography blog, and no one told me.

Here, a trilogy of summer bread-baking notes.  First, corn grits make for a beautiful, stew-dipping texture.

This boule was baked in the 7-qt Le Creuset (or, rather le 7-qt creuset?), because when you have a pot like that, you use it for everything.

Second, a few method tips, in part via Ruhlman’s blog and frivolous but lovely ipad app.  First (and this from multiple sources), I now just throw the yeast into the mixer with the first run of dry ingredients.  I’m not sure why I lamented over 105-deg water and a spoonful of sugar for so long; yeast right from the freezer into the flour does just fine.  Second, and on the topic of yeast, it was on my expensive ingredients list until I learned that it comes pretty-darn-cheap in bulk.  We ordered a brick from Amazon at five bucks a pound; it lives in suspended animation in the bottom of the freezer, with a cup or so in a glass jar for easier access.  (I like Red Star yeast.  It reminds me that cooking should be communal.)

Third, a pan loaf goes into the oven when it starts to heat.  That is, no preheating – just click the oven on bake, 372F (I have digital resolution to the degree; there’s no way I’m rounding if I don’t have to) and let it go.  When the oven comes to temperature, the loaf is firm enough to score and insert the thermometer probe.

Four, thermometers.  There’s nothing predictable about how quickly my bread cooks.  I never mix in quite the same water content, nor have quite the same sized loaf.  (I like to make dough by feel, in the Tassajaran sense that experimental chemists are a more fun dinner group than theoretical chemists.)  But, if I probe it and remove the bread from heat when its interior hits 195, I end up with a fine piece of toast the next morning.

Five (and in a second homage to DA in this evening’s posts), that’s a USA Bread Pan.  Corrugated steel with a bit of silicone.  Made in Pittsburgh.  Dough goes in, bread comes out, never with a soggy bottom.  Best loaf pan I’ve used.

Ready for our close-up

… a photoessay documenting neighbourhood happenings.

We live on a small street.  Fourteen addresses by my count, and packed pretty closely together at that.  So, a big-studio movie crew moving in for a few days was pretty exciting.  It began harmlessly enough: suspicious folk in hats or beards, delivering very-early hallowe’en decor and, apparently, shrubberies.

Before long, there were child actors delivering lines on motortrikes.  (I’m not sure if these were for two different scenes, or if the crew got tired of pulling and used a trailer instead.  Or, maybe I am, and I’m sworn to secrecy.)

Exciting for neighborhood children to watch, nonetheless.

As the sun set, it was replaced by giant and well-lit screens outside the windows, for continuing work on interior scenes.

And, a variety of lighting scenarios for outdoor (night-time) scenes.  I wonder where we can rent some of these diffuse globes for our next block party?

 

Finally, an unusual view of the street, upon returning from dog-walking.

SS2: First Harvest

(A blockbuster sequel to a recent scape post)

Here’s the year’s first harvest from our backyard garden.  A scape from each of our surviving garlics (actually, everything that sprouted grew well), a metric saladsworth of mixed lettuce, and a bowl of mostly spinach with the first few leaves of chard (with the red stems).

We fortunately remembered to *not* pick up lettuce at the market this morning, given this for tomorrow and anticipating another big bunch in Tuesday’s CSA.  Nice tomatoes there, though (our plants are perhaps 8″ tall), and enough strawberries to paint a house.  (And, again, holy moly for the flavor of a picked-today strawberry.)