Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bohemian Black Bread

This one is really quite good.

2 pound loaf:

1 1/2 cups warm water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons molasses

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/3 cups medium or dark rye flour
1/3 cup wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon gluten
2 teaspoons espresso powder (alternatively, finely ground dark roast coffee)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons SAF (regular) yeast, or 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

You can add 1/4 cup flax seeds, and 1/4 cup 9 grain cereal, in addition to the ingredients listed. This makes a very robust whole grain bread. It's very very good for toasting, and goes well with butter, or butter and a good jam. Like an orange marmelade or a Polaners or Shmuckers.

The 9 grain cereal is from Natural Grocers in Pueblo. They have a pretty good selection of seeds, whole grains, and specialty flours.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Stonehenge Bread (modified)

OK, here's another one. This is a good one. It rivals our Toasting Bread:

Part 1

3 tblspoons brown flax seed
1/4 cup oat bran
3 tblspoons polenta or cornmeal
1/4 cup Red Mill Meusli
3 tblspoons honey
3 tblspoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup boiling water

Part 2

2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rye flour (dark is best)
2 tblspoons roasted wheat germ
1 1/2 tblspoons gluten
1 1/2 tspoons salt (TEAspoon; not TABLEspoon)

Part 3

1 tblspoon yeast, or 1 tblspoon plus 1/2 tspoon bread machine yeast

Put all the ingredients in Part 1 together in a bowl and let the grains soften by soaking for 15 minutes.

While that is taking place, add all the ingredients in Part 2 to the bread machine.

Add the mess from the bowl and let it cool a bit before adding the yeast. Make sure it is not too hot or the yeast will suffer.

Set the crust on medium; set on the Whole Wheat cycle; make sure it's set for 1 to 1 1/2 pound loaf, and hit Start.

Remove immediately at the end of the baking cycle and place on a rack. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

NOTE: 1 1/4 cups water is almost certainly going to result in a dough ball that is too dry. Add water a tablespoon at a time during the first knead cycle till you get a nice, sticky dough ball typical of a good whole wheat recipe.

This stuff, with butter and a good jelly or jam (specifically, a high grade orange marmelade) will cause your eyeballs to roll back in your head in gustatory ecstasy. It will also earn you the approval of your proctologist.

See also:

Hungarian Fennel Bread

Patriot Bread

Sour Cream Rye Bread

Farmstyle Cottage Cheese Bread

Honey Cornmeal Buttermilk Bread

and ... last but not least ...

Fusion Burgers and Camel Dung

for that one, you have to come up with a nan bread.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Seen in City Park ...

This is an American Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides dorsalis). It's a fairly unusual sight this far out on the plains. From All About Birds we see that it prefers "...boreal forests and montane coniferous forests across North America. Because of its choice of habitat, it is infrequently seen by most people."

It resembles, and is therefore sometimes confused with, the Black-backed Woodpecker. The two species often co-exist in the same habitat.

Both species are quite fond of wood-boring beetles, which would tend to explain the attraction of The Smile Hi's elm trees these days.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Swink Homecoming

Gallery is up on Facebook:

Swink Lions Football

We also have galleries up for Tigers Volleyball:

Tigers Volleyball

and Tigers Football:

Tigers Football

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Tired of watching our beloved political leaders and saber-rattlers posture, pander, and generally behave like 3rd graders in a playground snit over the Syrian 'thing?' You can do something worthwhile, even as they are all sipping fine wines and stuffing themselves with wagyu steaks in Geneva and DC:

Nazarene Compassionate Ministries: Syrian Relief

Colorado floods

Want to help?

Salvation Army Provides More Than 10,000 Meals, Drinks, Nutritional Items

Denver, CO (September 15, 2013 7:00AM) –  Salvation Army emergency disaster services personnel have provided first responders and evacuees of the Colorado floods with more than 10,000 meals, drinks and nutritional items in just 72 hours.

Go here to donate:

Salvation Army InterMountain

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cheyenne Mountain State Park 09.01.2013

We hiked the Blackmer Loop and Boulder run up at Cheyenne Mountain State Park on 09.01.2013. Here is a gallery of some of the shots we took:

Cheyenne Mountain State Park 09.01.2013

And a few snappies from the gallery:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An excellent toasting bread

OK, this one starts out as a basic three-grain bread, and it just gets better from there.

1 1/8 cups milk. 2% is OK, whole milk is even better.
2 tablespoons safflower oil. Or, sunflower seed oil. Or, a good light olive oil. If you use olive oil, try getting small bottles from different sources. A Greek oil will give a different flavor than an Italian or French oil, for example, and there are variations within national sources too.
2 tablespoons molasses
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 cup rye flour
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal, or better yet, polenta
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon gluten
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons SAF yeast, or 2 1/2 teaspons bread machine yeast

That's the basic recipe. Now here's what we do to gussy it up.

We use honey instead of molasses, and double it, to 4 tablespoons.

We double the cornmeal.

We add a quarter cup of wheat germ, and a quarter cup of dark flax seeds.

We add a quarter cup of rolled oats.

Yup. Of course you have to keep an eye on it during the first knead cycle, as with the addition of the wheat germ and oats especially, it is going to need a bit more milk. Usually another 1/8th cup, for a total of 1 1/4 cup, will do the trick. If you overdo the milk and get a squishy dough ball, you can add a bit - not much - of rye flour or bread flour. Or ... in our case, a tablespoon or two of that IKEA Brötmix Flerkorn rounds it out very nicely.

This is for a 1 1/2 pound loaf; set the machine for the Whole Wheat cycle, medium crust.

This is a great toaster, with peanut butter and orange marmalade.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Colorado Springs getaway 08.09.2013

 This weekend we went up to the Springs.

We visited the Asian Market on Platte on Friday afternoon.

Leece has been wanting to visit the Flea Market, also on Platte near the Asian Market, so we did that Saturday morning before our hike at Cheyenne Mountain State Park.

Friday evening we stayed here, the Crescent Lily B&B. Holden House has been our favorite B&B in the Springs area, over near Old Colorado City, but Holden now requires at least a two night stay.

We had some doubts about this one initially, as the aerial shots on GoogleMaps seem to show it as being in a rather stark commercial area, but that wasn't the case. It's actually just behind Boulder Crescent Park, in a quiet, well-kept neighborhood.

We were cheerfully greeted by Lin, the hostess, given a good briefing on How Things Worked, and how to reach her upstairs if we needed anything. We were then left to our own devices. That's not a negative observation; we were attended to quite well; we just didn't have anyone bugging us.

The house was quiet. We didn't even know two other groups - a couple and a family - were in the place till next morning at breakfast.

Crescent Lily is quite tastefully appointed with the usual antiques you'd expect in a Victorian, but also lacked a lot of the clutter Victorians often present. According to the owner, the woodwork/trim had never been painted. We really liked the ceiling in the front parlor.

We didn't use TV's - I'm not even sure there was one in our room - and since it was a 'getaway' we did not use WiFi.

The place was extremely well-maintained, and quite clean. The owner has some of her weaving wares displayed and for sale. These are nicely crafted items and well worth checking out.

Breakfast was a simple presentation of scrambled eggs, potatoes au gratin, a nice fruit and nut bread, and ... Rocky Ford cantaloupe and kiwi fruit (not from Rocky Ford), all nicely plated. The dining room has individual tables rather than the typical large common table. It was a good start for the day.

There had been a spectacular thunderstorm as we were on our way to the B&B Friday evening, so much so that we had to pull over only a few blocks away to wait for the rains to abate. It wasn't till the next morning that we heard of the flooding, destruction and deaths over in Manitou Springs.

Yep, we'll stay here again, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice place to stay.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Big Dog Brag Colorado Springs 08.03.2013

We went up to Colorado Springs on Saturday for the Big Dog Brag.

Here's the gallery:

Big Dog Brag Colorado Springs 08.03.2013

Michael, Tana Jo, Tayler, Katie, SteveO, and Ethan all participated.

Here are a few shots:

It's Knapps time!

Knapps Farm Market, at the intersection of US 50 and CO 71 just west of Rocky Ford, is our favorite farm market.

On today's visit, Leece found a very nice Rocky Ford watermelon, plus some delicious squash, pepppers, green beans, tomatoes, and some red onions.

She forgot the peaches.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Honey cornmeal buttermilk bread

1 1/8 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces
6 tablespoons honey
2 2/3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon gluten
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Basic cycle, 1 1/2 pound loaf, dark crust

We added 1/4 cup wheat germ, so you will almost certainly need to add another tablespoon, perhaps a bit more, of buttermilk. Watch the doughball which should be smooth and sticky near the end of the first knead cycle.

Remove immediately when done, and let cool to room temp before slicing. This one is very light, and slices very easily, but it's also very squashable.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ribs of Moses

We have just set another exceptionally high standard of culinary excellence ... a rack of pork ribs, rubbed with an eclectic mix of South African smoked herbs and a Grecian blend; drizzled generously with honey, and sealed tightly whilst slow cooking on the grill for several hours.

The recipe for this has been handed down for a few millennium, having first been acquired - according to certain biblical scholars - by Moses, by way of Olduvai Gorge, from a Source that we will leave to your fevered imaginations.

The recipe was recovered along with the Dead Sea Scrolls, but has been heretofore known only to a Chosen Few.

The ribs are nicely accented with a loaf of real homemade (as opposed to machine-baked) buttermilk whole wheat French bread, another exceptionally outstanding bit of bakery by Mama Cita, if she does say so herself.

Now, the small-minded among us may see this as blatant braggery, but the fact of the matter is, it is merely Truth, and the Truth, though it may be no defense, is always Just. That's our story and we're a-stickin' to it.

You will no doubt notice that one end of the rack of ribs has been nibbled upon. SteveO could not be restrained ...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Retreat ceremony at Fort Carson 07.19.2013

While we were at Fort Carson today, Ethan and I took a few moments to go over to the retreat ceremony. The ceremony is held each evening at 5 PM, at Founders' Field, in front of Headquarters 4th Infantry Division.

Here is an article on the history of the retreat ceremony, taken from the Fort Hood Sentinel.

When we arrived, a color detail was waiting in the covered stands near the flagpole. Founders' Field also serves as a parade ground; these are the reviewing stands.

The detail formed up and marched to the flagpole, and stood waiting. At precisely 5 PM, the Retreat bugle call sounded, followed by a shot from a cannon on the edge of the field. To the Colors then sounded, and the detail lowered the flag.

These photos show the detail folding the flag.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Snuffy the baby seal

... is released back into the ocean amidst much fanfare and hoopla:

Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center

Here is a gallery from our visit to eastern North Carolina last month, from one of our stops at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum:

Core Sound Waterfowl Museum

Behind the museum, you'll find Willow Pond. We have a gallery up here:

Willow Pond and Soundside Trail

Soundside Trail loops around behind the museum and the Cape Lookout visitors' center on the eastern end of Harkers Island. It's a short trail offering great views of a typical maritime forest and Core Sound at its confluence with Eastmouth Bay behind Harkers Island. We hiked the trail between rain showers as Tropical Storm Andrea passed over Raleigh, to the west.

Here are some galleries from previous visits:

Core Sound Waterfowl Museum 06.15.2012  This one has some good flower and foliage shots, and Leece took some photos of the quilts hanging in the museum.

Willow Pond June 2011  which has some good shots of Willow Pond, and a little blue heron as well as the ubiquitous white ibis.

Willow Pond June 2010

Shackleford Banks

Back on June 5, we visited Shackleford Banks. Here's a gallery of photos from that visit:

Shackleford Banks 06.05.2013

Shackleford is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. It is most famous for its herd of wild horses, which you can read about here:

Wild Horses of Shackleford Banks

and here, at the National Parks Service site:

Horses of Shackleford Banks

We got some good shots of a couple of tankers, one going out from the Port of Morehead City; the other coming in, and the pilot boat that was taking the harbor pilot to the incoming ship.

Leece found a whole sand dollar in the suds, which is unusual. Sand dollars are fragile, and break easily, and are  usually broken up even by relatively gentle surf action.

We trekked inland toward the maritime forest, hoping to get some shots of the horses. Sometimes they can be elusive; sometimes they are wandering all over the place. This day, as soon as we crested the outer dunes on the ocean side, we saw several grazing. You can see our photos of them in the gallery linked above.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Patriot Bread

American patriot Thomas Paine, who authored "Common Sense," reportedly was enamored of this bread. There was a barmaid who worked in a pub down the street from where Paine lived, who, being from Switzerland originally, was adept at making this bread. It is 'Zopf,' a traditional Swiss egg bread:

1/2 cup milk (whole milk is best, as the colonials knew nothing of 2%; 1%, or non-fat products)
1/3 cup water

put both of these in a cup and warm in the microwave. It needs to be warm but not hot. The warming helps the yeast. (the colonials didn't have microwaves either, but let's not get crazy over authenticity. Leece says we ain't puttin' a wood burning cook stove in the kitchen)

1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into smaller chunks
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon gluten
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons SAF yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Set the bread machine to the Basic cycle, medium crust, 1 1/2 pound loaf.

Now ... what most people don't know, is that Paine was often constipated, which put him in a contentious state of mind. That was when he did his best writing. You can see from this why Paine was considered such a tight-ass by his contemparies - he really was, in a manner of speaking. So the barmaid, who, it is said, had a real crush on Paine, tried to help him out with his issue ('issue' in this matter being, also in a manner of speaking, quite literal).

So she added a quarter cup of wheat germ, a quarter cup of sunflower seeds, and a quarter cup of rolled oats. I'm sure you can see where this is going, or rather, where Paine often ended up.

A caution, however. If you add the augmenting ingredients, you will have to watch the doughball during the kneading process. The extra ingredients will absorb the milk/water and you will get a chunky dough. You will have to add some more milk, or water (we use milk) to the doughball to keep it from being too dry.  Add extra liquid a tablespoon at a time, waiting a minute or so between additions during the kneading process. Usually a couple or three extra tablespoons will bring the dough to a nice elastic consistency.

And that's your American Patriot story for this Fourth of July!

Footnote: the regularity that Paine experienced as a result of consuming this bread tended to mellow him out a bit. If his compatriots had not realized this, and had not therefore kidnapped the barmaid to keep her from feeding the bread to Paine until "Common Sense" was complete ... think of the damage that could have been done to our budding young nation. "Common Sense" was a crucial document in firing up the population, and without it ... I hate to think of the consequences.

Further footnote: If this isn't true, it oughta be.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Crags, Teller County, 06.29.2013

So we went up to Green Mountain Falls Friday afternoon, and stayed at the Rocky Top Campground and Motel again. While Leece was napping I took the lads, Ethan and SteveO, to that 'Dinosaur Resource Center' in Woodland Park, where a good time was had by all.

 Then we went back to the motel, where we broiled some hot dogs, and gobbled 'em with macaroni salad, beans, and chips. Leece made some S'Mores.

Saturday we got up fairly early, packed up, and made our way to the trailhead for The Crags, a few miles south of Divide. This hike is about 4.5 miles, out and back. Altitude ranges between 10,100 feet MSL and 10,900 feet MSL. The first quarter mile is a fairly stiff climb up with a couple of switchbacks, followed by a nice stroll through a meadow with a babbling brook on the right. The last quarter mile can be a challenge for flatlanders but the view from the top is well worth the gasping and the effort.

We have a gallery up here:

The Crags

which includes some good scenery and floral shots.