Back to baking! Here is my last bread, decorated with the college S:
I enjoy baking for a variety of reasons. Eating it is not the most important 🙂 I find baking, and especially leavening, a process that demands respect for its timings, in exchange for minimum requirements (flour, water and cozy ambient temperature). I mix the ingredients and I know that in a few hours the dough will be ready. There is no way to make it faster (apart from raising ambient temperature, but still) but from my side there is not even such intention. I bake only when there is enough time. I actually try to follow this principle for everything, which is sometimes clashing with expectations around me – either I get pushed to act faster, or worse, I am expected to push others. The result is that I get really uncomfortable (in both situations), and the task gets delayed or derails completely, which is not better than letting me complete the task at my pace.
Apart for the metaphorical considerations, bread #174 tastes delicious 🙂 Till next time!
Here is a small update of what I knitted, painted and baked recently.
My big blanket project is progressing nicely, the wool is a bit rough but very warm. The rows are getting longer and longer due to increases at the corners, and I will soon add a second circular needle! It was odd to start with the row in the middle of the blanket and then add rows around the sides of the rectangle, but it is working out very well and surprisingly fast.
A few days ago I painted a horse without mixing colours, as if I were adding one puzzle piece at a time. I’m not trusting myself with colour mixing, I suspect that I generally use too much water and paint too fast over areas that are still wet.
And last but not least, my last loaf. Before that I baked buns, but they were gone so fast that I don’t even have a picture of them 😀
Lately I had a short break from baking, as I struggled planning the two-day process, and would not fall back to a quicker timing. After two weeks of store-bought bread I resumed baking:
The first batch (three small baguettes) came out crispy and tasty, but I forgot to put salt 🙂 The second large bread was a wonderful mixed flour loaf, that stayed soft for a whole week. And my last batch came out nice too. I guess I will bake buns more often, as the leavening and baking times are significantly shorter than for a loaf.
I was wondering why I find baking bread and tending to my little green companions so rewarding, and I think it is because they need my support, but they do the work on their own. Bread needs me to assemble the ingredients and respect the temperatures and timings, but the leavening happens without any input from me. Plants grow when I water them and take care of light and nutrients, but I am not the one doing the legwork.
I think I see myself as the helper and enabler, and I marvel at how well the bread and plants develop, according to their own plans. OK, bread’s shape and form are very much under my control, but plants are not, they follow their internal models, make leaves, flowers, seeds, totally on their own. I feel the need of being the facilitator, and see what fascinating creation comes out. Unlike some other people, I don’t feel capable of taking responsibility for the whole plan and implementation, and therefore I feel more afraid of than empowered by so much control. I’m relieved when the bread and the plants know how to take care of themselves and don’t wait for me to grow (mostly the plants, but bread is pretty independent too). It means I am not the bottleneck or the blocker when I happen to be busy with something else.
Let me finish this short post with pictures of bread and of a new succulent I bought yesterday.
Here is the weekly highlight of small and happy updates from my kitchen and my windowsill. First of all, Scottish oatcakes! A friend of mine has relatives in Scotland and regularly brings back these crunchy savoury snacks, that I enjoy alone or with cheese. As the package runs out super fast, I finally tried baking some at home, and it ended up being surprisingly simple. I followed the instructions from Penny’s Recipes. For the next batches I would put the oven to a higher temperature so that the oatcakes get cooked faster and don’t dry out too much, but still I am proud of my first attempt 🙂
On the windowsill, the basil is growing happily and making beautifully curved deep-green leaves. I try to trim it so that all leaves get sunlight, I gave it a stick of mineral fertiliser and it seems to appreciate it. I bought this pot of basil as a discounted, sad-looking thing – with the slight but marked sense of guilt that no one would buy it – and I am relieved to see that its condition is improving a lot.
In the larger flower container I planted the seeds of various edible flower species, given to me as present from a dear friend. After a few days of regular watering and careful observation, many of them are sprouting and are enjoying today’s rain.
Last picture for today’s post is the side dish of mushrooms from yesterday’s lunch, following the Italian recipe called “funghi trifolati”. It’s a quick and tasty recipe that starts with stir-frying garlic, then add mushrooms in dices or stripes, and when the mushrooms are soft add salt, pepper and parsley. This time I added a bit of ginger. I forgot to stir at some point and some parts got a nice crust, so my note for next time is to forget to stir again 🙂
There are a few knitting updates that will get their own post. In the meanwhile, take care and enjoy the weekend!
Hi there! It’s two weeks since last post, so there are a few updates from the kitchen. First of all, breads #120 and #121:
Then a fluffy simple cake with coconut and cocoa. The recipe is super simple and has no egg, so it comes out a little chewier but it also keeps longer:
And last but not least, a surprisingly tasty lettuce soup! I got a huge head of lettuce from a friend and I looked for recipes where I could cook part of it. I went for Epicurious’ lettuce soup and I was very surprised by the round taste of the result. I was afraid it would taste bland or slightly bitter, but instead it came out as sort of spinachy and full of flavour! I enthusiastically recommend it and I will surely cook it again, especially using lettuce leaves that lost the original crunchiness.
And last, some knitting progress… I started knitting Panda Sky Cat Socks from Mary the Hobbit, and despite some challenging moments while deciphering the instructions, I’m very happy with how they look. Maybe the self-striping yarn is not the best for a non-symetrical sock (the heel is knitted separately and it messes up the stripey pattern), but it still looks good:
The linen sweater is sort of on hold, I am halfway of the first arm, but the 3 DPNs setup is not very comfortable. The stitches slide off the needles too easily. Maybe I will go for a mix of magic loop + 1 DPN and see if that feels easier to work with. I bought some more mixed pastel yarn and I plan to make this same pattern again, maybe with large stripes. More to come in next posts, likely when I will finish the Panda socks 🙂
I baked bread #119 with the fresh yeast that I mixed with flour and put in the freezer, and I was worried it didn’t survive. When I took it out of the freezer, I added some warm water and a spoon of sugar, and that helped a lot. The dough leavened very nicely and the bread came out fluffy and tasty.
The sesame-crust bread in the third picture is actually bread #118, a softer bread with yogurt, that disappeared in a few days 🙂
Last but not least, the socks are my first project with 2mm double-pointed needles. This set is 20cm long so the needles stick out a lot when knitting such a small item, and I noticed they were more manageable when I divided the stitches on 4 needles. I have similar-weight sock yarn, so I’ll be knitting more socks with 2mm needles, and maybe will get a shorter needle set. Suggestions welcome!
Not easy to find a short title for the post, so let me jump straight to the pictures:
This watercolor sketch is from the sunny morning at the park near my house. I found it difficult to choose what to paint, because many views were pleasing but also challenging, so I went for my usual shaded spot and turned around until I found a view with enough depth but not too much to paint. The combination of grass, trees and dark background was just right for my taste and so I started painting. I’m sort of happy on how it turned out, I was able to mix paint so that it came close to the actual scene and sort of controlled the dilution of colors, but I guess there is much to improve about the trees in the background and in general about the technique. Practice makes perfect 🙂
Knitting also progresses nicely. I finished the first of the blue-stripey socks and almost finished the body of the linen sweater:
And finally, bread #116 and #117. I had to bake the second one after less than a week from baking the first, because it sort of vanished (innocent looks…):
The weather is not going to be luring me outside next week, so I forecast more knitting updates… stay tuned, and stay safe 🙂
I was in Bürgerpark for Easter and there were a lot of people, the weather was very nice and sunny:
Unfortunately for the nest on my windowsill there are sad news… One morning I found the nest empty, and two crows flying close by, followed by the pigeon pair. I ran downstairs and on the ground just below the nest there were the rests of the eggs. I feel sad for the parents who were so dedicated, and as the breeding season is still at the beginning, I hope they find another safe spot for the nest.
I wish you all to stay safe and healthy, and to strive to feed on the positivity you can find inside and around you.