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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Again

The President speaks before a room of mourners
and before a bank of cameras and microphones
That carry him before a nation
Watching with tight throats and sadness.
Or with numbness, or anger, or disbelief, or... everything.

Twenty young children lost in their classrooms
Or running down their school hallways
In a confused hail of semi-automatic bullet fire;
Six adults lost trying to stop death in its trigger-down tracks
before it claimed the young souls in their care that morning.

Christmas gifts bought, wrapped, and now un-received
Bear witness to the holes powerfully ripped, shot
Through the lives of a community and through
The lives of the surviving family and friends,
Again. We have to add, "Again."

Until we no longer have to say, "Again" we must
Work to change the rules by which we live
And die—all too frequently by which so many die.
Anything less is far too little and leaves us all
Afraid and incapable. Unable or unwilling?

Are we unable or unwilling to do what six brave women did
When death came walking and shooting
Along the hallways of their school, when they said,
"No more!" with their lives and last actions
In an attempt to save lives or end the killing.

We can change this, if we really want to.
We can save a future classroom, theatre, shopping mall
Full of lives not planning to suddenly die
on that particular future day. Or we can wait until
We have to once more say, "Again," inevitably.


- Posted via Hermes.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Kevin's Basic Wholegrain Bread Recipe

Quite some while back I posted my basic bread recipe. I don't often post recipes here, but the few times I have done have proven to be among the most-viewed posts here at Finite Musing. Go figure!

That recipe has continued to evolve, and it seems only fair to post the updated version. What's different? This version uses only whole wheat flour, incorporates chia seeds (great source of Omega-3 fatty acids), and has been scaled down just a bit to better fit two traditional bread pans.

I still recommend using Yerba Mate for some or all of the liquid in this recipe. Even if you are not a fan of mate, the flavor it adds to whole grain bread is uniquely wonderful. However, this recipe works just fine with water or any other liquid you want to use.


Kevin's Basic Wholegrain Bread Recipe

Prep Time: 2 hrs 15 mins | Cook Time: 40 mins | Makes: 2 loaves | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

Pour into bottom of mixer bowl w/ dough hook attached:

- 4 tbsp Olive Oil
- 3/4 tbsp Salt
- Pinch of cinnamon

Dissolve together, then add to Kitchenaid bowl w/motor running on low:

- 2 cups Water, warm (not hot)
- 4 tbsp Raw Sugar
- 1.5 tbsp Active Dry Yeast

Add dry ingredients in this order:

- 1/3 cup Cream of Wheat
- 1/3 cup Zoom (see notes)
- 1/3 cup 10-grain hot cereal mix (or similar)
- 2 tbsp Chia seeds
- 3 Rounded tbsp Vital Gluten flour
- 5 cups (+/-) Whole Wheat Flour

--- Preparation & Baking---

1. Add additional flour or water (very little at a time) to achieve a barely-tacky dough that forms a cohesive ball around the dough hook.

2. Continue to knead with dough hook on low speed (check mixer instructions for bread kneading setting) for 10-12 minutes (I start a 12-minute timer as I begin to feed the dry ingredients into the mixer).

3. Cover with towel, still in mixer bowl, and let rise for 60 minutes. Dough should have doubled in size (at least).

4. Turn dough out on work surface and punch dough down by hand.

5. Split dough in half, shape into loaves, and transfer to two greased loaf pans. (I also like to score the top of each loaf—down the length of the loaf—with a knife).

6. Let rise for 60 minutes in a 100ยบ oven.

7. Turn oven up to 350° and set a timer for 40 minutes baking time (interior loaf temperature should be 200° if checked by thermometer).

8. Transfer to racks to cool.

Notes:

This recipe is designed for a Kitchenaid Professional 600 Series or Cuisinart SM-55/SM-70 (or similar capacity) mixer. The larger motor in these models will handle a two-loaf whole grain dough. For smaller models of mixers, including the Artisan or Classic series Kitchenaids, I strongly recommend halving this recipe and doing one loaf at a time to avoid burning out the motor.

This recipe makes two standard-size bread loaves. I use Lodge Cast Iron bread pans (10-1/4-Inch by 6-1/8-Inch by 2-7/8-Inch).

While the pinch of cinnamon is not enough to make the bread taste like cinnamon bread, it does give the loaf a faint flavor note that really works well with the whole grains. Some sources say cinnamon also helps retard the growth of molds in bread.

Gluten Flour (sometimes called vital gluten) is essential for a good whole grain loaf of bread. It's not cheap (as flour goes) but without it you get a dense low-rising loaf. You can buy it at stores like Manna Mills or PCC, often in bulk bins, or bagged at any grocery store that has the Bob's Red Mill line of flours and grains.

The Cream of Wheat (or Malt-o-Meal, or any farina hot cereal) helps create a smooth grain to the bread, making this recipe ideal for sandwiches.

Zoom is a Krusteaz brand of wheat flake hot cereal I use to give added grain texture to my bread. Anything similar can be substituted. A couple of biscuits of Shredded Wheat makes a great alternative.

This is really a proportions recipe; most of the ingredients can be swapped out for similar quantities of other ingredients. For example:
- Add a tablespoon of cinnamon and a cup of dried raisons, cranberries, or cherries for nice breakfast bread
- Swap oatmeal for Zoom, or use a multigrain hot cereal mix for different grain tastes and textures
- I always swap out half the water for brewed yerba mate tea for added flavor
- You can just as easily swap out some or all of the water for buttermilk, milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc..

Despite what some sources say, making bread isn't rocket science. I scoop my cups of flour (I don't weigh) and I don't worry about precision. It's easy to add a little more flour or little more liquid if I think the dough looks a little dry or wet. The bottom line is that you should end up with a dough that is firm enough to work with (shaping into a loaf) but moist enough to be just barely tacky to the touch. Anything even close to that is likely going to work just fine.

*For a bread machine: cut this recipe in half and add the ingredients to the pan in the order specified by your bread machine guide (usually wet, then dry). No further adjustments to the recipe should be needed.

*To do entirely by hand: Add ingredients in the same order and mix by hand, then knead by hand on a floured board for the full seven to ten minutes. Just substitute elbow grease everywhere you see the word mixer. ;-)


- Posted via Hermes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Still, in the rain

Wednesday, dark, wet, but not especially cold for December (31° F/3°C). This is the season of the Pacific Northwest where that first sentence can safely be recycled most days of the week, just changing the name of the day as necessary. Some seasons you want check the weather forecast to see what's coming, always with a reasonable hope of seeing sun globes and warm numbers. Now, here, weather apps are as informative as wall paper, and about as consistent:



Still, there is the tiniest hint of something yellow along that top-most hourly view. Looks like maybe some clearing this afternoon, before returning us to rain, rain, rain. No, the weather is not where we find the small satisfactions of life, not in this season.

Not unless I can sit still, with nothing pending, nothing naggingly undone and waiting. Not even a book to read. Just still, someplace where I can see the rain streaking down to grey the view around me, hear the rain spattering rhythmically against a roof, leaves, water, and smell the rain with its steel-deep sharp scent of cleanness. Then rain is soul-balm in a busy world.

Today, however, is not that day. Today is another busy day, and there are things waiting naggingly undone and more things coming that will also need doing. Tasks, like rain, spatter rhythmically against my calendar, to-do list, Evernote, and brain.

And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
- Robert Frost, Birches

"Indeed," he sighs, "...indeed."

Today's full commute playlist:
- Cake: Where Would I Be
- Charles Lloyd: Lady Day
- Belle and Sebastian: Consuelo Leaving
- Wilco: Leave Me (Like You Found Me)


- Posted via Hermes.