So the seams of the world are starting to come apart. Things are weird, everyone agrees. We’re all living in a dystopian science fiction novel, and very probably, nothing will ever be the same. I am hoping there will be a silver lining for the United States when the worst is over: universal healthcare, better welfare, less emphasis on capitalism, more emphasis on helping everyone. We are all human and we are all in this together; this life on this planet.
But. That is not the topic for right now. Right now, I want to blather on about all the things I am doooooing! (Or trying to do.)
When it looked like the proverbial sh*t was going to hit the fan and the BossMan declared we should all work from home for the foreseeable future, I drove over to my friendly baker and asked for a cup of sourdough starter. The bakery is LOVELY and they want to encourage people to bake bread, because they’re makers and makers want to encourage other people to make. I also got 12 pounds of bread flour. I figured while I was working from home, I could also wait for bread dough to rise, and learn the ways of baking sourdough bread. (The crew at the bakery agreed this was a most noble cause.)
I’ve been eating a LOT of bread.
Behold the leaven made from the starter!
This sat on the counter all night – 100g of it will be used to make the bread dough. IT’S ALIVE!!
My first loaf looked so promising right up until it came out of the oven…
So weirdly crooked. I have no idea why it does that – I’m still learning how to do this and what it all means.
Loaf #1 compared with loaf #2. The second loaf was baked at a slightly cooler temperature. I cut the first loaf right open as soon as it was cool. Lots of holes!
But, as oddly as I thought this bread looked, it tasted WONDERFUL. So, success! Of course, I kept going:
Loaf #3. So. Tasty. And slightly denser, which holds in the Nutella more easily.
Which I had high hopes for! But, the oven was slightly too high, and it’s a lot darker than I wanted, and very tall. (No picture yet…) I’m positive it will taste wonderful. Positive.
I’m going to need more flour soon. This is very compatible with working from home. The schedule isn’t strict – I can get up and have a five minute break to go stretch and fold or shape a loaf.
So, a friend gave me the basic recipe, but she got it from the book Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, which was recommended to me by the baker at Henion Bakery in Amherst, MA. (Where you should totally go for all your bread and pastry needs!) I failed to get the book, and up until now, didn’t have the time/circumstance to learn about baking bread. My friend did – she was frustrated, so amassed knowledge and then practiced for a year. I will totally buy that book when I have the opportunity!
A few weeks ago, I was working on another project. It was cold, still below freezing at night and above freezing in the day. I have a bucket and spile, and there is a line of totally tappable maple trees in the front yard. Of course I tapped one. Of course, I totally forgot to take pictures of the bucket on the tree – it’s a big bucket.
It was bit complicated. For a week, I got a lot of sap – about 5 gallons – which I did not expect, and at the weekend, I started boiling. Twelve hours of boiling later, it was almost there, and I sat down to supper. Unfortunately, I should have stayed by the pot because I missed it by about 3 minutes. Smoke rose from the pot, it had cooked to just about the hard crack stage. People, if you’re boiling sap and you get down the the end, for goodness’ sake, stay by the pot and watch it. I had to throw it all out. But! I left the spile and bucket on the tree for another week, and amazingly got another two and a half gallons of sap. At the weekend, I boiled again.
I did stop short of actual syrup. It’s more like maple juice, and still in the fridge. I think this weekend, I’ll pour it back in a (smaller) pot and cook it down some more. Watching it very closely.
I also had supper with my dear neighbours from when I lived in Hatfield!! I miss them so, they are such kind people. And they have the most beautiful fish!! I got to see them in their huge tanks – they’re so beautiful, I’m awfully tempted to plan my own tank one day.
They’re discus fish, about 4″ across. Sooo beautiful.
Aaand, on with projects.
It’s spring, and my spinning guild has plans to visit at least two farms this year for fleeces. I still don’t have a single whole fleece spun up. So I’m determined to try to get as much of the two Shetland fleeces spun up as I can. The tendonitis is so much better and I can wield the combs again and spin.
Lovely hand-combed Shetland top! Sooo soft!
Combing is slow because this fleece has some dandruff, and I’m having to brush it out first. Some bits are faster than others, but it’s mostly slow. However, the results are so wonderful to spin.
This is as of this morning! I’m planning on plying this weekend. Other crafty friends of mine and I were planning another Crafternoon – people show up at one of our houses, sit around with crafty projects to work on, eat snacks, and chat. Or just work on projects, sitting quietly working and not talking like a room full of cats. Well, in light of the corona virus, we can’t do that. But we can get together virtually, so a bunch of us are going to try it out with video chatting and see how that goes. I’m really looking forward to it.
I have been in the house for two weeks – my brother came down with something that was suspiciously like the symptoms of the corona virus about a week ago, and I had hung out with him a week before that, so I stayed home. It turned out that his oldest daughter had been sick with a different virus at college a couple of weeks before, but hadn’t said anything until just recently. So. I’m safe. And today was the last day of the two week quarantine anyway. Tomorrow, I am going to venture out for a few groceries and maybe try to get some stamps at the post office. Maybe not. Things are weird out there.
And finally, I realized that my ‘home office’ right now is pretty great. Here’s the view:
Yep, it’s messy. But it’s full of sunlight and craftiness! The only thing that’s missing is the pot of tea. I had drunk that earlier.
I have heard many people say that they are bored in their self-isolation at home. This is not a thing I can relate to. If anything, I no longer have to commute anywhere, so I have nearly a whole extra two hours in the day that I can devote to practicing cello or gamba, or I can work on weaving, spinning, drawing, baking, sewing, etc etc. It’s wonderful!
Part of this month’s practicing for cello!
I hope you all are well and that you stay well.
Stay home! Knitting/spinning/weaving/baking/reading can help save lives.