Monday, February 25, 2008

sordid stuff my ass!

I wasn't quite sure how to start this post, so I'm giving you a picture I took of some good old fashioned oakland zoo camel sex. You see, Biggles tagged me and now I'm all dirty. I've got to give up 5 sordid facts about myself.

The rules are: (or were it seems, because the master of meat couldn't pull it together and didn't bother to obey the first rule and tell me to post the rules, so thank you Cookiecrumb!)
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names, linking to them.
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

Hmmmmm...........after many days of contemplation, here goes:

5 Sordid Facts?

One-a-roo: As a toddler, I was known for scooching over and gnawing on the high lead content paint windowsill, then looking around to pluck dead flies off and, you guessed it, eating them.

D-d-d-dos: With a four year old and a nine month old in the house, and me being the stay at home parent, when I do the math, I've changed somewhere well over two thousand diapers. And that's being conservative.

Tha-ree: Sticking with the kids theme, once, about eight months ago, I was peed on four times in the same day. Before noon.

Ka-wa-tro: Enough of the kids, back to my gnarly, filthy old self. It's rare I don't eat something after I've dropped it on the floor. Butter side down toast certainly gives reason to pause, but mainly, naw. Now, let me make clear, I won't serve anything I've dropped on the floor to a family member or guest without carefully inspecting, washing, and then generally cooking it. Me though, I'm way more lax. Then again, I think that we are suffering from too clean an environment in our homes sometimes and that the added bonus of some healthy competition for the intestinal fauna from floor food just might be a good thing, however gross it is.

Fuh-hive: I've eaten dumpster chocolate. Not just any old dumpster chocolate, but Scharffen Berger. I know some folk who do dumpster diving on a regular basis. Not because of being destitute, but as a choice; to address the fact that we throw away somewhere near a quarter of all the food we prepare in this country. Not only is the methane this produces in landfills way not good, but considering how many million tons of waste this is, it makes great sense to me to glean the good stuff from the trash. Now, I don't go dumpster diving myself (it looks a bit strange to have to tether your kids to the trash bin while your in it searching around I've thought) but when my friend handed over a two pound plus, irregularly shaped chocolate hunk and said it was from Scharffen Berger, it piqued my interest a bit. Then having learned it had been shaved off and eaten from for weeks at this point, and that no one had been sick, I carved off a wedge and started eating. The beer might have helped.

So, was that disgusting, filthy, dirty and morally degraded enough to be five sordid facts?

Well, I'm gonna go ahead and tag five others who I'm sure have a disgusting little bit or two to share. I think, well, uh, hope......

You already saw the rules, then here's the links to more jewels:

Marc over at Mental Massala would be a lovely start. He is just so thoughtful, ethical and smart, I'd just love to hear something naughty from him.........please Marc?

Mimi, I know you must be craving to play along. Delectable Tidbits you say? How about give us the sordid, maybe a bit more blow chunky bits.

Lindsey. Writer and pastry chef. Awesome at both. With writing skills and much time spent in kitchens, she's gotta have some super sordid stuff in her nug. She's hella busy, so I'd like way understand if she bowed out of this one, but let us put our hands together and prey she might like to share. If you have never been over her way for some adventures in dessert, well, let me tell you, you need to.

Aileen? Are you out there? Cozy and warm I hope? Well, I figure with all the darkness this time of year up in the land of Quixote's Tart, there just has to be some sordid stuff. I hear the mind can get dark this time of year. It might help to share...........

Last only on this list, but only because I wondered for a long time wether she would have a scrap of time for this one and then said hell with it (big gasp for breath) is Leena. Leena eats this blog already contains plenty of sordid stuff. It practically leaks off the page sometimes. Now that, is gnarly. (I can say this because she is half a world away and can't come kick my ass!) But we want more.

That's all I gots! Please don't hate me now.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

gooey hearts day

Happy Gooey Hearts Day Honey!

I love my wife. She is the best-est pardner a monkey wrangler could ask for. She brings home the bacon and possesses the sensitivity and talent to bust out a few frosted pink buttercream with sugar sprinkles chocolate cupcakes for our family on this special day of pinkness and candy sweet things of joy.

You see, we have fallen head over heals in love with our kids. It is crazy labor of love food items like this that say so. (See, it's not just me in this household who goes overboard with the cooking love.) Apparently it's something designed into our primitive brains so we cook for our children and therefore we don't eat them.

Well, that said, what is better in the eyes of a four year old who is waaaaaay the epitome of girlie and the apple of our eyes, than having pink frosted cup cakes? As the princess of our little world, she deserves the best. Sometimes though, the princess can sound like anything but.

We were sitting on the livingroom floor. I had the wee one sitting between my legs with a few toys. The Innocent little princess was running about the room with a nylon strap that we have for the purpose of aiding in stretching during yoga and the sort. She came running over and plopped herself down in front of me and little dude. She smiled at us with a devious little twinkle and proceeded to tell us something very excitedly, leaving no doubt in my mind that what she was speaking was intended for her little brother and not a lovey or imaginary item:

"Daddy, I'm gonna catch him and drag him into my room!" she says, her eyes all big.
"Then, I'm gonna screwdriver him. In his eyeballs and his nose, his ears......and his teeth!"
I'm looking at her rather shocked I must say, but can hear my wife reminding me when I need it the most that it is better to hear these kinds of things rather than bear witness to the act. Like I said, I love my wife. We make a great pair.
The princess went on, her eyes looking up and away to the side imagining another horrid act to commit........"and in his toe jams" she squeels thinking she's hit the ultimate in brotherly torture.
She chuckles a bit and adds, "then I'm gonna poison him."

I told her to hold that thought and I immediately wrote down the exchange, to share with her and her brother when they are older. I thought about how I much I love my big sister and that we must have started off somewhere near this long ago. Seeing this quote by the computer for the past few days, I just had to share it on this here day of smoochiness and sugar. There are definitely two sides to love. At the very least, it is one long continuum, that you may find yourself anywhere along. With the case of siblings, and the perspective of the parent, you pray it moves toward the supportive, accepting, and not producing bodily harm end.

Our little princess has broken us into this whole parenting thing. Our younger one will just have to suffer the consequences.

Happy Gooey Hearts Day Everyone!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

windborne grains

Know of any California farms that use draft horses these days?

Or one that grows teff, amaranth, millet, or flax?

How about any who use a biodynamic approach to their land?

Well, if you are drawing a big blank, then consider yourself now informed. One such place that answers yes to these questions is Windborne Farms, located in Fort Jones, California.

This past Sunday we received our first delivery of grains from Windborne. It included a sack of millet, rye flour, hard red wheat flour (in the metal can, the bag was torn before the picture), pancake mix and a hot cereal mix. I am ecstatic! (Sorry for not opening the others and showing you, I didn't mean to tease.) Everything smelled so nice, but particularly the wheat flour. It smelled so sweet, almost like it had honey in it or something. Floral. I couldn't wait to try it out, so as soon as the grains came in the door I took the starter out of the fridge and fed it in anticipation of a fluffy loaf the next day.

I began with well over a cup of starter (probably closer to two) and then added a cup of warm water. After mixing these together well, the older monkey measured out two cups of whole wheat and then two of bread flour. Adding a little over a teaspoon of salt to finish it off, we got down to pounding and squishing. I let this rise in the oven with the pilot light heat for a few hours, then beat it down. I repeated this rise and beat procedure, then shaped my loaf for the final rise.

I didn't know the gluten content of the wheat, but having a name such as hard red wheat gave me a clue. I suspected it would be higher than the wheat from Full Belly I've been getting, and if not, it was at the very least a finer grind that gave me the confidence to start off with making a loaf with at least one third whole grain. I didn't have the patience to let the dough ferment for a full day, and I really wanted to taste the flour without too much sour taste. Okay, so maybe too sour is not really possible in my book. What I mean here is that I wanted to downplay the sour component of the bread's flavor and let the whole wheat component shine through.

I gave the loaf a spiral cut and doused it with plenty of water before putting into my oven, cranked to the max. Meaning: 550 degrees and on a preheated baking tile. After two minutes I sprayed water all over it again. After 7 minutes I rotated it 180 degrees. 15 minutes in and I turned the oven down to about 400, repositioned my lower rack to be on top of the baking tile and put the loaf on it. At 20 minutes I turned off the oven and let it sit in there for 3 more minutes. Finally done I transferred it to a cooling rack and put it near a drafty window, hearing it crackle while it cooled.

This was one hella-tastalicious loaf. We waited long enough to get to that still a touch warm where it tears a bit while cutting stage. We slathered in butter. We made lip smacking and moans of content sounds. We went through half the loaf before dinner. Then I ate another quarter of it while mopping up the rest of my favorite soup in the world, minestrone. This morning we finished the loaf as toast with fried eggs. I made sure to take a picture of it sliced open in order to properly "show you the love" as Biggles would say right about now. It's a good thing I make a lot of bread around here because it disappears quickly.

I was nice and surprised at how well the dough came together and held its shape during the rise and baking. Apparently this whole wheat has plenty of gluten and is ground fine enough to give you access to it. Next time I'll go ahead and attempt a loaf that is at least 1/2 whole wheat, I was that happy with the results. And thinking that this is only the first time I have used anything from this CSA "box," I look forward to receiving each new delivery of varied grains and trying my hand with some new recipes in the coming year, in what looks to be my own personal year of grain exploration. Mmmmmm, grains. Windborne grains.

If you act fast, you can still sign up for a CSA bag from Windborne Farms that will be filled with tasty grains that vary during the year. Write Jennifer Greene an email at: windborne3csa (at) yahoo (dot) com for more info. It is $325 for 10 deliveries during the year starting in March. Please sign up by February 20th if you are at all interested.