Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Raindrops keep falling on my head...

so I'm staying inside, doing inside work.

I edited two files for NAF, and reviewed a transcript I spent 11 hours typing yesterday. Really, if you've never done transcription, word up--a one-hour voice file takes me anywhere from nine to twelve hours to transcribe. Seems slow, maybe, but I edit as I go. Most transcriptionists just type what they hear and ignore punctuation, etc. (That's why I edit transcipts, too. The punctuation usually sucks.) I was up until 2am doing that; I slept until almost 10am this morning, which was nice. The rain kept the sun from shining in the bedroom window--the sun always wakes me.

I was going to tackle the periwinkle bed that surrounds the pecan tree in the back yard, but I guess I'll postpone that until later in the week. I did transplant irises yesterday. I had a bunch around the carport; I dug those up. My mom gave me a bag full, so I dispersed them at various points in the front and back yards. Hopefully, I'll have a riot of color next spring--purple, blue, yellow, white.

Oh, and does anyone want a kitten? I have a feral cat who had five cute kittens--two solid gray, two gray and white, and one gray with a few white accents. I need to trap the mother and have her neutered (anyone have a cat trap?); the babies aren't too scared of me yet--I can pick them up--but the mom will eventually make them run away from me. I need to find homes for them now, so, if you want one, let me know, and you can come catch the one you want.

I restarted my sourdough starter and baked some sourdough biscuits this morning--yummy. And I made a loaf of artisan bread--one of the easiest bread recipes in the world. No kneading, really, but the bread needs a first rising of from 8 to 12 hours. I added wheat flour to this loaf; it's also yummy. I think I'll tackle sourdough bagels tomorrow. I have a simple recipe for those, and I used to make bagels all the time. The price of flour has increased, but it's still cheaper to buy the flour and make my own bread. A loaf of bread costs almost as much as a bag of flour; I can get six or seven loaves of bread from a bag of flour.

Here are two simple bread recipes:

Beer Bread

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour (if using unbleached, add salt, baking powder and soda--you'll have to figure out the measurements for those!)
1-12 oz. can/bottle of beer, cheap or expensive, your choice.

Pour 1/2 of the beer into the flour and stir (no sipping!). When absorbed, pour in the rest of the beer. You can add shredded cheese, garlic, veggies, whatever, to this bread. Scrape into a large bread pan and bake at 375 degrees until done, about 45 minutes.

Artisan Bread

I got this recipe from Mother Earth News.

You need a covered crock to bake this in. I use the insert from my crock pot. Works great. But don't bake this in a metal pan--you'll have to pry it out with a crowbar! And be careful with Pyrex--that may shatter at such high temps.

3 cups unbleached flour, bread flour, wheat flour, or a combination.
1 tsp. salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast (if you buy the packets, you don't need to use the whole thing--just 1/4 tsp.)
1 1/2 cups warm water.

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the flour and salt and stir. The dough will be wet and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and set to rise in a warm place for 8 to 12 hours.

Dump sticky dough onto floured surface; fold dough on itself 4 or 5 times, flouring as you go. Shape into a round loaf. Dust a towel with cornmeal; place the loaf on the cornmeal towel; dust the top of the loaf with flour. Cover with a towel and let rise for 2 hours.

About 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the pot in which you will bake the bread in the oven to preheat it. After 20 minutes, take the pot out of the oven, slide the bread, cornmeal side down, into the pot. Place cover on pot and return to oven. Let the bread bake with the cover on until the top turns just brown (about 30 minutes). Remove the cover from the pot, and bake for another 15 minutes or so, until a probe inserted into the bread comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven, remove the bread from the pan, and set to cool on a wire rack. Wait at least an hour before cutting. Really good for thick sandwiches or with a pot of homemade soup or stew.

So, make a loaf of bread! It's another way to destress and to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

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