Random thoughts

Just a few odds and ends here, while I work on a brief article on vitamin D for Yahoo’s Associated Content and polish up a draft of the next post in the Civil War 150th anniversary series.

Steve Jobs

It’s appropriate today to mention that it is called “People Who Passed.” Steve Jobs has died, may he rest in peace and his friends and family be comforted. That’s a milestone, even though I’ve never been an Apple person thus far.

Civil War series

The Civil War post is really about memorials, north and south, but while working it up I learned that two of the pieces of modern music that most move me and are associated with the war (Ashokan Farewell, used by Ken Burns in his Civil War TV series, and an excellent example of modern chamber music that I like very much about the battle of Fredericksburg in 1862) have connections to upstate New York. Here I sit in upstate New York, though Cohoes is close to neither New Paltz (where Ashokan Farewell was written) nor Poughkeepsie (birth place of David Carpenter, who wrote Fredericksburg), and I, too, am thinking a lot about the Civil War. Hmmm….

Photography

WordPress today is featuring a Flickr blog post about its Creative Commons collection, the largest in the world, that I want to link to, as I have almost 200 photos in there myself.

A Harmony Mills building on Mohawk Street in Cohoes, New York.

A Harmony Mills building on Mohawk Street in Cohoes, New York.

Here is one, not in the CC collection online, of one of the Harmony Mills buildings in Cohoes.

There is still a sizable complex of buildings remaining, and yet the mill complex is much diminished from what it used to. The Erie Canal also ran right in front of it.

There will be a future post or two about it in the Civil War series when it’s time to get into more detail.

Red applies on tree branches.

Non-Newtonian apples?

Here is one more of my photos, not in the CC collection, in memory of Mr. Jobs.

There’s only so much you can do with a Canon PowerShot, in comparison to some of those images in the Flickr CC collection, but it’s a great camera to learn on.

I’m not anywhere near skillful enough to consider getting a digital SLR, even if I could afford it just now, but there may be one in my future, if things work out.

Of note, unless otherwise specified, all the images that I post in this blog, taken by me, are under the Creative Commons – Attribution license, too. It’s a very good thing, especially when you’re starting out.

The staff of life

A bread note, too. The weather is cooler now, and I’m in the process of acclimating my sourdough starter to room temperature again. It’s pretty easy, even though the starter was frozen when I took it out of the fridge yesterday.

Here’s a basic bread recipe, using commercial yeast, that I use when I just need some plain daily bread. Takes about 6-8 hours usually. It’s not original, but I’ve used it for so long, I just don’t remember where it comes from.

Combine and let sit for about 15 minutes:

1 package of commercial yeast
2-1/2 cups of room-temperature water (filtered is best)

In the meantime, mix together:

6 cups of unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon of salt
1/4 sugar

Make sure you have a good amount of extra unbleached white flour at hand to add in while you’re kneading the dough.

Put vegetable oil (whatever you use ordinarily) into a 1/4 cup dry measure (this is not an orthodox recipe!), not quite filling the measure. Pour a little bit of it into the yeast/water mixture and stir, trying to reduce any large lumps of yeast that may be there.

Pour the yeast/oil/water mixture into the dry ingredients. Knead. Depending on the humidity it may take quite a bit of extra flour. When the dough’s gluten is pretty well developed (it’s resisting your kneading pressure firmly), add the rest of the oil. This is odd, but I’ve heard the oil coats the gluten fibers if you do it this way; anyway, the dough rises a bit higher and certainly is more moist when oil is added in two parts like this.

Just knead a few more times after that, cover and let rise – your nice, neat dough may look a little sloppy and be extra oily, but the dough will absorb all that while it rises.

I let it rise twice, make two loaves out of it and generally bake them at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes or so.

That’s all – will be back fairly soon with that next Civil War post.



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  1. Bread baking: Trying out RapidRise yeast « BJ Deming's Blog

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