A SLOW BAKE TUESDAY

It’s day 3 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m feeling challenged to get the words onto the page. It has been overcast most of the day. It is cooler, but the house is still fairly warm from yesterday’s heat. The low during the night was 22℃. Still any temperature under 30℃ is a good day to bake bread.

It’s good that I’m an early bird since retirement. I’ve learned to get moving in the mornings during these hot, hot summer days. Seems like we are living under a heat dome. And there hasn’t been a break. This could be our NEW NORMAL. I better adjust and adapt. I can still live my best life. No need to cry Woe is me! That isn’t going to change anything. What is here is here. Does anyone hear any alarm bells besides me? No matter. I will proceed as best as I can.

This is turning out to be a laborious task. I’m toiling over my keyboard, pecking a letter at a time. The words, sentences and thoughts are difficult to organize. And dang! when I got a whole paragraph, I hit a wrong key and the whole thing disappeared. Pardon me while I cry ‘Woe is me!’ Baking bread is much easier. I know all the steps and measurements. I only messed up once and killed the yeast because the water was too hot. I ended up with unleavened dough for 6 loaves of bread. It wasn’t really a disaster. It made delicious flat bread and pizza dough. Most of the time I am overflowing with success.

Today was no exception. 6 beautiful golden loaves came out of the oven. The work doesn’t end there. It starts there with the clean up of endless washing of this, that and many other things. But apparently it is all worth the effort. I continue to do it as I continue to do the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Oh boy! what a struggle.

MY BOWL RUNNETH OVER

It’s a chilly day 6 of February and the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I woke up to a -33 Celsius outside and a -24.7 Celsius in our solar passive greenhouse. The cold killed all our outdoor solar motion sensor lights. I hope they come back when it’s warmer. Yesterday, the cold drained the battery on my iPhone. It lasted till I finished my ski. I was able to time my 2 laps around the park. The sun is bright and sunning. It’s warmed a degree outside and it is considerably warmer in the greenhouse, a balmy -6.3 degrees Celsius. I will probably have to wait till March to plant in there.

I’ve nixed the idea of skiing today. I do want to go but it would be a stupid idea with a windchill of -41 degrees Celsius. I have this addictive nature but I can stop. I’m sipping my tea and tapping a few words. I have dough bubbling and rising in the kitchen. It is spilling over. I have to run and tend to it.

So much for organization. I’m back but it is bedtime. Too late to go into the details of the bread making. Perhaps that’s a post for another day. All my bread is tucked in their bags and in the fridge/freezer. I was perhaps over zealous with my baking. I did my usual 6 loaves of whole wheat and 2 loaves of sourdough. It’s a good way of warming the house on a bitterly cold day. I also want to make good use of the oven, baking the sourdough right after the whole wheat comes out. Right after that, I slide in a tray of egg shells to dry them and crushing them after for the garden.

The bread making was no problem. That part was enjoyable. It was the cleaning up and putting away that’s really draining. I hung in there till it was all done. I admit I was feeling a bit testy at the end. But all is well. A glass of wine with supper, a hot shower,a movie and popcorn smoothed my ruffled feathers. I even managed to do my Log Cabin square for the100dayproject. Now I’m finished for the day.

DAY 13 UBC – WHAT IF I JUST SIT

What if I Just Sit

The bread is in the oven. They will be done in 30 minutes. I have a bit of a breather. Even when you think you got it together, it’s still an all day affair. There’s just no way around it . I’ve been doing this same recipe for almost 9 years. I know it by heart and the knead of it. I’ve learned to give myself over to this bake bread day. I do savour the breaks in the process.

Usually I like to sit and sip my tea and scroll or read. This morning none of that was appealing. I thought why don’t I just sit. Why don’t I? It was easier said than done. I think my brain has been slowly eroded and reprogrammed by all our technology. It felt peculiar to just sit and stare into space. I felt my impatient self talking. Now what? I can’t just sit. I felt my brain doing a scan. I don’t want to read anything. I don’t want to scroll on my iPhone. What is it that I want to do?

My head is talking to itself. I have only 30 minutes before I have to tend to the dough. Think fast. What can I do? My Jesus cross stitch flashed through my mind. But how much can I do? Now I have less than 30 minutes. Then I hear my mother’s voice talking about a bucket filling with one drop at a time. So I translated that into a stitch at a time. I dug out my Jesus kit. Once upon a few years ago, I said I would have it done by Christmas. I can make it this Christmas. I have two and a half months. It’s never too late until it is.

I get about 8 cross stitches done and my timer went off. I was just getting back into the hang of it. But I had to tend to the dough. I didn’t quite hop up right away. It was a bright sunny morning and the sunroom was warm and such a delight. I didn’t tarry long but when I walked into the kitchen, I was greeted by an over eager and over festive dough. Eeeek!

I haven’t sat much after that till now. But it’s all water under the bridge. The loaves are baked and cooling their heels on my new racks. All the clean up is done. Why don’t I just sit for a little bit longer, eh? I feel a bit done.

BAKING BREAD, SNOW AND MY TOMATOES

It is almost 4 in the afternoon. Cloudy and rainy. Not inviting weather for a walk. I shall forego it if Sheba does not kick up a fuss. She is slowing down, her right hip giving her grief at times. She is always up when I mention ‘walk’. But today might be a good day to play hooky. She had her morning walk. We’ve both earned a day off.

Conversations are much easier to start in the morning but I had bread making on the start. Somehow it is always most the day affair. The day is almost gone but I have 6 golden loaves, minus the slices we ate, bagged and in the freezer. The pans are all washed, dried and put away. I haven’t always been this organized and orderly. I’ve learned it pays to be so. I’m trying to apply that principle to everything that I do.

The snow is coming down now after the rain. It melts as it hits the ground. It’s a cool 2 degrees Celsius. I wonder at my wisdom of planting some of my tomatoes. It’s going to be -2 Celsius tonight, -4 for the next 2 nights. The nights won’t get above 0 till Wednesday. I hope they will be okay under the covers. It will be an interesting experiment. And why not? Everything is so uncertain this year. Who knows what the summer will be like. I can dare a little, stretching our growing season a little. Maybe I’ll get a bunch of early tomatoes.

I won’t try  to stretch this post any longer. My mind is scattered. And I don’t have much more to say. Sheba is restless and pacing back and forth. I think she wants me to go watch TV with her.

GUT AND BRAIN

Thursday, January 23, 2020. It’s a sourdough bread making day 1 of 2 or 3. It’s a slow methodical process. So why am I doing it? Why don’t I bake the normal loaves? I do. It was during the July Ultimate Blog Challenge that I got on the ferment bug and gut health. First it was the kimchi. You can Google it and find tons of recipes. My favourite is this kale kimchi. Then I started making my own yogurt. After a couple of months of eating kimchi, I noticed that I was digesting the yogurt better. Somewhere in there I was introduced to sourdough by the Zero Waste Chef. This is the recipe I use from her site. The recipe is based on Michael Pollen’s recipe from his book Cooked.

Back to the why. It would be so much easier and less work to just buy it. But the thing is, I like learning and doing difficult things. It is good for my brain as long as I have the instructions in print. I learn everything best that way. I’m a dyslexic listener. Don’t bother giving me verbal directions or instructions on anything. I will stop listening after the first right turn. I will be lost from the get on. And I won’t be able to find my way home.

Almost the end of another day – day 23 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m still here, coming to my keyboard a little earlier. My sourdough loaves are formed and chilling overnight in the fridge. They are my 6th batch. My best ones so far. Morning will tell if I’m right. I’ve been investigating different recipes and websites and fiddling and changing the procedures a little. Bread making is flexible and forgiving. So far, no matter the outcome, the bread is always delicious. Life can be that way, too, if I let it.

 

 

 

WHY I LIKE WINTER

It’s dang cold out, perfect weather for dreaming of spring and all green things. I’m all ready to seed a few tomatoes, petunias, geraniums and microgreens. Then there’s the two marijuana my brother gave me. Now that they are legal, I’ve lost interest.  But since I got them, I might as well plant them. I just have to take the time to do all this.

I like winter. I don’t mind the cold. It was perfect weather for baking sourdough bread today. I fired up the oven to 500 degrees F to start the process. Everything gets toasty warm. Soon the house is infused with the aroma of bread and I’m mellow. Who could ask for anything more? On cold winter days, I think of the glow of the grow lights and bread baking. I feel toasty and comfy inside out.

I will complain about the cold, too. Everybody does and so I do too, to commiserate and not to feel like an odd ball. Cold days are good for curling up in the sunroom with a book. I don’t mind going out in the cold. Sheba and I trot out every day in our furs. We both like black. There’s so much more of fashion with winter – the scarfs, mitts, hats, toques. I love wearing sweaters and vests. Think what you would miss in a hot climate. You get to wear less of everything.

Oh, I should not crow too much about winter. The high tomorrow is -30 C. So better cover up your bosoms, girls. Not exactly tanning season but it is going to be sunny. I might change my tune after this week. It happens with too much of a good thing. Good night to day 13 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

 

ALL MY LOAVES IN ROWS

I have all my loaves in rows, ready to pop into the oven once it reaches temperature. A cool windy day is opportunity to bake bread. I haven’t baked for awhile since I’ve given up bread for July, the month of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It’s part of my commitments this month. I want to lose a few pounds to feel better and be healthier. Have I succeeded? I think so. I feel lighter bodily and mentally. I’ve gotta love that!

So will I go back to bread? I haven’t decided what I will  do yet. I do not eat alot of bread anyways. Ordinarily I would have one slice of toast with one fried egg at breakfast or 2 slices with no egg. To be without bread is not a big sacrifice but I did have a craving once or twice this month. It passed easily. I might not be able to resist today, though. Who can blame me with the aroma of fresh baked?

It’s not that I’ve given it up completely. On Saturdays, after my morning swim I have a full breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast or an omelette with toast and hash browns. That would be my breakfast and lunch. So I will skip the toast Saturday. I will have my bread and eat it, too, today. Then Sheba and I will go for our walk.

It’s after 2 slices of bread, a walk with Sheba and supper. It’s almost bedtime. I’ve been nodding off during the news on television. I’m sluggish and struggling towards the end of the month, towards the end of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m tired. I don’t think I can rub two sticks together. So don’t expect a fire or excitement from me. I’m just my usual old self, droning on and on about the same stuff. Maybe I should close up shop and come back tomorrow.

BENEATH THE SKIN

I feel anxiety and the blues nipping at my heels. What did I expect anyways? I listened to too many podcasts this morning. I should have just listened to the silence while making bread instead. I could have listened to the dough rising. Instead I listened to Oprah interviewing Tara Westover about her book, Educated. It’s an inspiring story but it’s difficult to listen to the stories of her dysfunctional family. It’s a book I will still read.

After that, it was the episode about the UN biodiversity report of how many species of living plants and animals are disappearing around the world. It’s damn depressing and scary stuff on top of climate change.

“Extinction looms over one million species of plants and animals worldwide, scientists said.”

It’s news I rather not know. But how can we not, even though some proclaim that there’s no such thing as climate change and dispute the facts presented by scientists? These days we are living with unease just barely beneath the skin. I feel it humming through my body and psyche. I could not listen to the next podcast that came up –As permafrost thaws in Canada’s Arctic. I had to shut it off. I am a chicken shit. Now I’m sitting here, trying to tap out my residues of fear and the blues. I no longer try to run away from them. Running makes them come after me. But perhaps I can do a walk away. It’s that time of day for Sheba’s walk. A little sunshine and fresh air are good for the soul but not so for the bogeymen.

 

BEST TIMES FOR EVERYTHING

Needless to say I haven’t found the cure to my after lunch blues. Maybe it is just a part of my daily physical biorhythm. I should not fight against myself. This is the perfect time for me to be here. I can sit, tap, muse and bitch about life in general. I’ve trained myself enough to clean up and do the dishes though it feels like torture. Now the bread is baking in the oven. I had thought about putting the whole bowl of dough in the oven without dividing into loaves. But my somewhat rational brain said: DON’T! I listened.

Perhaps I should chart my daily energy and mood for a month to see where the peaks and dips occur. I could coordinate activities accordingly. There’s a science to this. Everybody has their opinion. I think I want to do my own research since people’s chemistry vary. I sure don’t feel like going to the gym at 6 pm. Right now, I feel like a nap. It’s 2:17 pm. I’m tapping furiously to stay awake. The bread is still in the oven.

What I know for sure is I feel the best in the morning. After lunch it is all downhill. I have no ambition nor drive after supper. It leaves a very small window for a slow poke like me to get anything done. I want to nap so bad. I wish that bread would hurry up!

HOW I SPEND MY DAYS

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard

I wish I could write such insights as Annie Dillard. But then I’m not a Pulitizer winning authour. She has written many books. I wonder why I haven’t read any of them, especially since so many of them are in the library. I’ve just fixed that, reserving The Writing Life. I thought I should start with just one book. I’m still working on James Mitchener’s The Source. It’s an ambitious read of 1000 pages. I’m only on  page 207. I have a ways to go.

How do you spend your days? I’ve wondered what other people do with their time. I’m always busy it seems. I’m a doddler, poking away at life. Maybe if I speed up a little, I wouldn’t feel so busy. But it’s who and how I am. I need that slow pace to digest and process. So I can’t get up in the morning and hop to it. I have to ease my way with a cuppa tea and a few pages of fiction. Then it’s breakfast. If it is Monday, Wednesday,or Friday I’ll be heading out the door to aerobics. Saturday mornings I used to swim. Then somehow I got tired of always heading out of the door and I stopped. But I kept it up most of the winter.

I’m a homebody so I was glad to read that Annie Dillard is a recluse, albeit a gregarious one. I wish I’m like that but alas, I have no gregariousness in me. It should be no surprise that I don’t do a lot of frollicking with my days. I’m a rather quiet, somber person. I live within rather than without. That is, I contemplate alot. I like to read and muse. I wonder about the universe, why people do what they do. I wonder about the speed of the changes we are experiencing. How long life as we know will last? I wonder what gives meaning to the things we do. What does it matter anyways? I could have more time if I could just cut down all this musing.

You see, I am no fun. I do have fun though. I have numerous, maybe too many hobbies. I like to read and write. That gobbles up tons of minutes and hours in a day if I let it. Even painting my little index cards takes up at least half an hour. More if I’m ambitious. I’ve picked up sewing again. I went out and bought a fancy dancy new machine. It’s no small endeavour. It took time to learn all the ins and outs. Then there’s the organizing – fabric, patterns, projects. I’ve taken a fancy to free motion sewing, creating a picture with stitching. I haven’t thought about quilting yet. I have all the notions – collected through the years. At least I don’t have to go out and shop for material. I have a fabric shop right in my own basement.

I’m tapping here in my space. I’ve just turned the oven on for the roast. There’s a lot to do every day. Roasts to put in the oven, bread to make, lunches and dishes to do. The guy does supper and getting groceries. I start my own bedding plants for the garden. Been doing that for years now. Sometimes I enjoy. Sometimes it’s work. Well, isn’t everything? It’s worth it. It’s nourishing my body and soul. Even the cleaning and washing. It’s taking care of this business of living. What meaning or satisfaction would I get not doing any of this? Sure, I complain sometimes and wish that everything was taken care of for me. That sounds like being in a nursing home, doesn’t it?

It’s time to shut up and do something else now. There’s the dog to walk yet.