Month: June 2019

Bread…

I have spent the weekend baking bread. Yesterday I baked a country malt loaf and binned it as it had the density of a black hole. Today I decided to do another malted loaf, the result is the ball-shaped one above, and I also made a sourdough loaf, on the right.

If I am truthful, neither rose the way they should have. I thought that maybe the yeast was dead, but after activating the yeast on its own rather than adding it directly to the flour I thought it would rise better, but no, it is a football size loaf weighing about 3 tonnes. The sourdough, however, is a bit of an odd one as it rose one side but not the other. But the good news is that my sourdough starter smell fantastic, and exactly the way it should do, sharp, sour and it’s bubbly, that’s one in the bag that I am counting. I have not tasted them as yet, but am hoping beyond all hope that they are good. Something inside says not though.

The thing which is odd, I used to bake bread all the time and never ever had a problem, everything worked, everything looked good, and tasted fantastic. This last attempt is making me wonder what I am doing wrong. Hell, I can make some of the finest French pastries, and I have made every type of bread successfully. I am at a loss. But, not to be defeated, I will keep going but will get some fresh yeast rather than dried.

Okay, since starting this post and now, I have just tasted the sourdough bread, and it was okay in taste, not the full sourdough taste, but not bad, the crust was crisp, there were air holes in the bread itself, but not enough, and unfortunately it was too dense, which means back to the drawing board.

Starter success…

So far, so good. This is 12 hours after the first feeding, near trebled in size, lots of bubbles. This morning, day three I gave it its second feeding and left it in the warmth of the kitchen, it is rising which is great. Hopefully, by the weekend, I will be able to bake some bread.

However, as it is barbeque weather I may bake a loaf on it today, we will see how I feel after sitting in the sun for an hour LOL

Oh, did I mention, day three without rain, and temperatures 24c, not exactly the heatwave promised, but I am definitely not complaining as it is just right.

Sourdough Adventure…

Last year I decided to try my hand at making sourdough bread. Although the bread looked okay it was, in layman’s terms, it was crap. Although there was a rise in my bread basket, I had used normal flour to line it, so it stuck, and alas it lost its aeration and rise when I had to drag it out of the banneton. The other problem was the high heat I had to get the oven, as my sourdough book gave a temperature beyond the reaches of it.

The other day I was reading the tweets from Dan who makes bread all the time, but he was baking it on his BBQ, yep, turns out the best place for it. After a chat with him over it, I thought I would try his method of baking. My bbq has a temp gauge that goes to 1000 f, so I can get to whatever temperature I need. He is a fountain of knowledge and uses his bbq for all kinds of baking, which I will be trying out.

I have used rye flour as the base of the starter as this usually yields a good start for natural yeast, mixed with warm water. Tomorrow when I feed it I will be using organic stone milled flour rather than blade cut/ground flour.

Fingers crossed this time it will be a success.

The Starter has started!

More Education…

I have been thinking the last few weeks about taking another degree. The one I have my eyes on at the moment is Astronomy and Planetary Science. But I am still looking to see if anything else grips my attention. I was looking at the arts too, but nothing really jumps out as yet. I love history, but again I am not too sure if that’s what I want to do. It is a 6-year commitment, therefore, I have to think hard. The next enrolment is September for October start or January for February start. Again, plenty of time to decide if this is the route I want to follow.

I was also looking at the options for doing a masters after. I would love to get a doctorate, but I think as I am close to 50 I will be quite old when I did this, so this may not be an option.

As yet I am not too sure if I will do it. This afternoon I spoke to one of the university advisors who gave me a few things to think about but all in all, saw no reason for me not to do it. The next step is to go through the perspective and full course details and then sort out the financial side.

Again, not too sure, so taking the Tim Gunn approach and “leaving it in my basket” and coming back to it at a later date.

It’s always sunny 3 days to the future…

I have moaned before about the rain, but it seems relentless and has followed us to Northern Ireland. Every day it’s raining, then the sun comes out for about 30 minutes along with every dog walker, then rain, rain, and more bloody rain. Yesterday, I decided to go to the town park and walk around the 56-acre lake with the girls. The rain had stopped for about 20 minutes, and I thought all looked good. Dropping M off at the home first. I drove down Windsor Ave, pulled into a parking space by the gates, and the rain started, only a few drops. I thought it would light spits, but as I was about to get out, the heavens opened, but not just rain, hailstones and giant raindrops, and it battered down for about 10 minutes solid. Eventually stopping I got the dogs out and we did our 3.5km walk, getting back to the car for it to hammer down again.

I got back to M’s dad’s house and it was dry there, no rain at all, this is only 1.75 miles away, WTF! Then later that evening as mentioned in a previous post it pissed down again whilst the car roof was open. Thankfully the heat of the day has finally dried the seat out.

This morning, I took the dogs to Craigavon North Lake for a walk and, wouldn’t you know, it started raining as we drove there, thankfully stopping for us to walk in it. Again it has been on and off all day. Currently, there are huge black and dark grey storm clouds in every direction, so I am not holding much hope to it ever ending.

The thing that really gets me is that looking at the cameras back home, the sun is shining, there is not a cloud in the sky, it looks like a lovely day, and has done for the past few days. On checking the thermometers (yes we are that advance) the temperature is 22.3 degrees in the garden, so very pleasant. However, on checking the weather forecast, Saturday when we head for home, the weather improves here, and back home the rain starts, basically, the crap weather is following us, like the cloud above Charlie Brown.

Wet arse!

I went with M to the home to see his mum. The dogs were with us as his dad had gone out, so I was not going to leave them alone in the house. Whilst at the home I left the girls in the car, the double sunroof left open to its full extent, and of course the windows down half way too. After ten minutes M’s mum wanted to see the dogs again so I brought them in, leaving everything open.

5 minutes pass inside the home and I happen to look out the windows, and the heavens have opened and all of a sudden it was monsoon season again. I ran through the home to the car park, jumped in, started the engine and closed all the windows and roof, but the inside was drenched, and so was I. Whilst sitting there waiting for the roof to close I had sat in the rain-drenched seat, leaving me with a wet arse. The passenger seat got the worst of it due to the direction of the rain, but all the same, everything was soaked. I mopped up what I could with the cloth I had in the car, then when back at the house used three towels to try and dry it all, but I think we are set to have wet bums for a few days.

Deep joy!

Northern Irish Graffiti

I took the dogs for a walk around Craigavon Lakes this morning and came across some graffiti. Very colourful, colourful language too. The last photo I thought showed the greatest of the local talent.

Bird Song…

M’s dad breeds all kinds of birds, so I thought I would share with you them singing. It’s the breeding season, and this is one of the males singing his heart out to keep his ladies happy, who, by the way, are all sitting on eggs, so he must be doing something right. There are quite a few males, but this one sings non stop all day.

A walk in the park…

We decided to take the dogs to Lurgan Park for a wander around the 56-acre lake this morning. Originally owned Baron Lurgan aka The Brownlow Family is situated next to Brownlow House aka Lurgan Castle. Whilst it was a very pleasant walk, the ground was still saturated from the last three weeks of constant rain. I took a few photos whilst walking. 3km walk.

Yes, that’s my finger bottom right. Doh!
Mazikeen having a rest after the 3km walk, which she ran in circles, so did about 10km
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