On baking bread and taking care of plants

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.

Baking, cooking and knitting updates

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 πŸ™‚

Take care and stay healthy!

Bread #119 and stripey socks

Well, the title tells it all πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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!

Weekly update in pictures

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

Crafting updates

This week was pretty busy, here is a mix of pictures of the progress in my hobbies:

These are in order: the baby blanket (finished before the baby’s birth!), two pages of sketches alongside John Muir Law’s video on how to draw water with a ballpoint pen, and my bread #115 which came out with a tiny heart on the crust πŸ™‚

I was in BΓΌrgerpark 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.

Yearly bread update and goodbye 2019

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since my last post… so here is a long-due update about my baking! I got to bake bread #107 last week!

I have a few favourite recipes, but also like to try new ones or add some extra ingredients. Baking has been one of the hobbies I enjoyed most this year, and by far the most relaxing.

I wish you all a great start in the new year, a bunch of fresh energy for your plans and projects, and memorable moments with your dear ones. Take good care of yourselves!

Bread update: breads from #61 to #70

Here’s a visual update of the last results:

Some are missing because they were eaten before I could take a picture πŸ™‚

I keep baking with the same procedures and setup since a long time. The only changement is the addition of a sandstone that heats up in the oven, stores heat and therefore keeps the temperature more stable. I got it from a friend who was throwing away a grill/raclette set, so I’m sure it’s OK for food use. I am not yet so sure how it changes the baking process, as I don’t see much difference in the results, except maybe that the crust doesn’t get that golden (that could be because I don’t let the stone get hot enough before putting the bread in the oven, so that it keeps eating up heat for a while).

I am baking more than once a week, so next update will come really soon!

Fall is coming

My favourite season has finally arrived! With uncommonly warm days, and golden leaves all around.

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I went for a walk with a group of friends on the hill between Wannsee and Sacrow lakes, it was such a wonderful, warm day, we even considered swimming! But we only dipped our feet in water.

I also resumed baking after a break of almost four months. I chose the Weizenvollkornbrot recipe (wholegrain wheat bread) from my dear Brotbackbuch:

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In a few days it was gone! I’m already preparing bread #70, stay tuned for more details πŸ™‚

That’s all for now, more updates to come in future posts!

Bread update: breads from #51 to #60

Yesterday I baked bread #60 in my list, and here are pictures of the last ten breads I baked:

Actually, I have no picture of bread #52, and as you see I have grown a preference for whole grain loaves. I try to keep them interesting by varying the recipes a bit, but I rarely change the shape πŸ™‚ Making buns require more space to leaven and bake, so it has to be a special occasion!

Happy baking and cooking everyone πŸ™‚