Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April Showers

Most of the snow is now gone. Unfortunately, we're now getting rain. And hail. But that means it's warm enough to rain, not snow, so I'm not going to complain.
I started riding my bike to work this morning. I really wasn't going to start it this soon--mostly because I'm lazy. The thought of riding up the hill to my office first thing in the morning makes me want to whine, but it's never as bad as I think it will be. Plus, I got to sleep in about 5-10 minutes today, which helps.
And I'm loving that I can walk or bike home from something after 10 at night and it's still light out. I took the dog for a short walk before bed last night and it was dusky but not dark. The street lights were on, but it was mostly a courtesy. They'll shut off entirely in a few weeks. Summer around here is amazing, with the constant daylight. Of course, it can be tricky because then you never know what time of day it is. You can wake up absolutely certain you've slept in and it turns out to be 3 a.m. (Same thing in winter with the constant darkness. I've noticed that I tend to wake up a lot more in the middle of the night during the light extremes because my internal clock has no outside signals to go on.)
I had asked Shane to make dinner yesterday, but came home and there was no dinner ready. I had somewhere to be in the evening and didn't have much time (and what I'd planned--baked chicken--would have taken far too long). So I made carrot soup, with only a couple of minor changes. For one, I don't keep cream on hand so I put in a splash of milk instead. I also added garlic (my second favorite go-to spice) and tossed in some spinach when I was blending it (mostly just to use it up before it went bad, since it didn't change the taste of the soup at all). I also think that this soup could be taken in another direction with ginger instead of coriander and that would be really good. I think I'll try that next time I make it. I love soups like this for one huge reason besides just taste: they are comically easy. The chopping is the work of a moment since it doesn't need to be really uniform, or at all pretty, since you're just going to blend it up anyway. And the rest of it is done by simply being cooked. A wonderful meal with basically no effort. Served with homemade bread, it's probably the best thing ever for a rainy breakup day.
I also culled some of my peppermint. Over the winter, I thought this plant was going to die. I kept waiting and waiting for that inevitable moment and it never came. As soon as it started getting lighter outside, this plant took off until it basically took over that corner of the dining room. (Every plant person has their own Triffid and this peppermint plant seems to be mine.) To keep it from choking out my other plants I cut it back and am now drying it. It'll make me happy next winter to get to come home to yummy peppermint tea. Or a tisane I make when I'm sick of hot water, peppermint, honey, and a dash of lemon juice.
My other project for this week was starting a sourdough starter. I think I'm going to need to throw that out, though, and get a different bottle for it. It's moldy. Not good. I have friends that I could get starter from, so maybe I'll just ask them instead? It's not that sourdough starter is difficult to make, I just need to get a proper jar for it. The one I have doesn't have a great lid, so I think that's how the mold got in. But if you want to know, sourdough is this:
1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour. Stir in container of choice (either glass or ceramic, and be sure it has a good lid) and leave on the counter in a warm-ish place. Every day (and I do mean every day) for two weeks, pour out 1 cup of the mix and add another 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water, stirring it in. When you're ready to use the starter (anytime after two weeks should be fine), for a couple of days beforehand skip the part where you dump some out and just add the water and flour until it's doubled. Then when you take some out for the bread, you still have starter for next time. This is how people have starters that are "over 100 years old". The ingredients in the starter aren't really that old, but it essentially is the same starter. When you don't want the yeasts growing, put it in the fridge and they'll go into a sort of hibernation. And the longer it's left out on the counter, the sourer it will be.
According to "The Urban Homestead", sourdough starter is best done with white flour, but after the first couple of weeks you can start mixing in wheat or rye flour until it's fully "gone over".
Last summer I spent waaaay too much money at the farmer's market for wheat sourdough bread. It'll be nice that I can make my own this year.

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