Sunday, December 7, 2014

DinkyDau Billy's Ciabatta

Actually based on a French recipe from up around Quang Tri.

The street baker there in Cam Lá»™ didn't have a bread machine; what he did have was a kneading mixer taken from a nearby abandoned French air base. The motor had long given up the ghost, but the baker, being one to adapt, improvise, and overcome, rigged a treadmill powered by three or four of those yellowish-brown street curs. That turned the mechanism in the kneader. Not being a wastrel, as the street curs became less effective, the baker would cause them to end up in the soup pot, and a replacement would be drafted off the street.

Place ingredients into the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select the Dough cycle, and Start. Dough will be quite sticky and wet once cycle is completed; resist the temptation to add more flour.

Place dough on a generously floured layer of parchment paper on a baking sheet, cover with a large bowl and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Spritz loaves with water. Place loaves in the oven, positioned on the middle rack. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

1 1/2 cups water
 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
 3 tblspoons honey
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 3 1/4 cups bread flour
 1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

If you want it dark, like this one, brush it with egg white. The original recipe uses duck egg white. If not, just spritz it with water.

Either way, you can sprinkle it with coarse salt. You can also, about ten minutes before finishing, sprinkle some minced garlic on top, as well as some grated Parmesan.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mesa Verde National Park

We visited Mesa Verde the weekend of July 11. We took US 160, and passed over Wolf Creek Pass on the way west.

On the way, we stopped in at Great Sand Dunes, for a quick visit. It had been a couple of years since we had been there, and we wanted to just take in the view.

Leece at the visitors' center, with Mt Herard in the far background.

Leece takes some snappies at the Zapata Falls turnoff. Mount Blanca is on the right, standing at 14, 345 feet, slightly higher than Pikes Peak. 

We stayed at the Far View Lodge, about fifteen miles inside Mesa Verde's boundaries. The motel, though not luxurious, was clean and comfortable, and we did indeed have a 'far view'... all the way to Ship Rock and beyond, as a matter of fact.

We visited the Spruce Tree House and Cliff Palace, as well as the Far View community, and the museum at Chapin Mesa. Leece has some photos and a blogpost on the museum visit, and she has posted more photos and her own comments about Mesa Verde here.

This is a good park for a three day weekend. You can make a half day or one day visit, but to really appreciate the park's content, three days is a decent start.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cheyenne Mountain State Park 07.06.2014

We decided to take a day trip to Cheyenne Mountain State Park, and do a bit of hiking, and perhaps some wildflower shots. It's getting late in the year for the best wildflower photography, but there's always something ...

The visitor center for the park is off CO 115, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway. From I-25, take exit 135 west. This is also the southern Academy Boulevard exit.  From the exit ramp, turn left onto South Academy, and drive west past Pikes Peak Community College, past Magrath Avenue (which will take you into Fort Carson), past the Chiles Street exit, pass over CO 115 and then turn left onto the ramp for 115. Proceed north past O'Connell Boulevard, till you reach the lights for what most people see as the main entrance to Fort Carson, Nelson Boulevard, on the left. You want to take a right at that stoplight, onto JL Ranch Heights Road. The turn off is well-marked with the brown signage commonly used for the state parks. The visitor center is on the right, a hop and a skip up from the turnoff.

There's a $7.00 day use fee for CMSP. We paid that at the visitor center, then geared up for the hike. We decided to take the Soaring Kestrel trail, which was new to us. We started on Coyote Run. This one starts right behind the visitor's center. Further up the trail, we picked up Soaring Kestrel, then Bobcat Way, which runs back into Soaring Kestrel, then we made our way back down to the visitor's center. This gave us about 4.5 miles for this hike.

Most of this is through Gambel oak. The southern trails, such as Blackmer Loop, run through the conifer forested area. It was hot enough to suck the breath away; the rangers later told us it was 98, and it reached 102 for a short time. This is fairly unusual for this area. We went through four 24 ounce bottles of water each, refilling at the campground at the top of Bobcat Way, then guzzled those on the way back down. We also soaked our hats and t-shirts, which helped considerably. This hike, in God's own sauna, helped clear the cooped-up-in-the-air-conditioned-house fuzzywuzzies.

And we got some pretty good photos, which can be seen here:

This has long been one of our favorite parks, great for a fast getaway. Here are galleries from past visits:

Cheyenne Mountain State Park 07.04.2009

Cheyenne Mountain State Park 08.10.2013

Cheyenne Mountain State Park 09.01.2013

Leece took this shot of a Mariposa Lily

Butterfly Milkweed

Canadian thistle

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cornmeal honey bread

1 1/8 cups warm water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, or margarine
4 tablespoons honey

2 2/3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup dry buttermilk powder
1 heaping tablespoon gluten
1 teaspoon salt

1 3/ teaspoons SAF yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons breadmachine yeast

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

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Semolina Country Bread

1 1/3 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups semolina flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup 9-grain cereal (or Ezekiel 4:9 cereal, if you prefer a coarser grain)
3 tablespoons flax seed
1 tablespoon gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons SAF yeast, or 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

1 1/2 pound loaf; French bread cycle; medium crust

This one is good slathered with a garlic butter or dipped in a garlicked olive oil. It would probably be really good as a French toast.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bohemian Black

Here is one of our favorites - Bohemian Black Bread:

1 1/8 cups water
4 tablespoons butter/margarine, melted
3 tablespoons molasses
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 cup rye flour, the darker the better
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder (for this loaf, we're using a nice, dark-roasted Guatamalan, ground to powder)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (if you use salted butter, reduce this to 1 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons SAF yeast from your local snob bakery goods supplier, or 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast from America's Favorite Place to shop (just make sure it isn't Chinese).

And last, but certainly not least, a half cup of 9-grain cereal. This will, of course, cause an adjustment to be required for the water; as always, add a tablespoon at a time till the doughball is 'correct.'

Whole wheat cycle, medium crust.

Friday, January 3, 2014

"The Loaf of the Happy Proctologist"

or ... "Many Grains Bread."

1 1/8 cups milk
2 tablespoons sunflower oil, or a nice light olive oil
3 tablespoons of either honey or molasses
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rye flour (dark is best but any rye will do)
2 heaper tablespoons polenta or yellow cornmeal
1 heaper tablespoon gluten
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons SAF yeast, or 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Now ... here's what makes the Procto so Happy:

Add 1/3 cup 9-grain cereal (from Natural Grocers over in Pebbler); add a couple of heaper tablespoons of flax seed and the same of sunflower seeds (just the kernels, mind you, and they can be roasted or raw); add a couple of heapers of wheat germ.

Because of the extra dry ingredients you will almost certainly have to add more milk during the kneading. Do so a tablespoon at a time till the doughball is ... well ... you know ... right. A clue here is the sound of the bread machine. If it's laboring and thrashing like the Titanic on its final plunge, you should start adding a bit of milk.

The final rise, just before the bake cycle

The finished loaf

A nice even crust, not too deep, and a moist crumb