Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

From me...

and from Mortimer!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pucker Up

Bridal Veil Falls

On the way home from camping,
we drove down Provo Canyon,
just in time to catch the Bridal Veil Falls area aglow with evening light.
The falls are pretty nearly always in shadow,
but the last remnant of color tinting the scene made it look quite golden and lovely.

Autumn Lake Views

There's a lot of subtle beauty in water and sky.
I lowered the camera close (though not too close! it's not waterproof!) to the water surface for this view:

In places the pond weed was growing very close to the surface.

The sun path on the water was stunning:

And I liked the sparkly bits of sunshine near the reed stems:

Six Lakes Campout

Friday night, I drove up with the OAC to Six Lakes.
I'd never been there before.
It's near Altamont, Utah, close to (but not in) the Uintahs.
The lakes were actually quite small:

But it was fun being out in a canoe.
I haven't canoed since my teenage years.
I had forgotten how tippy and wobbly they are when you get in.

But I paddled around gently and scooted close to the cattails and took quite a few photographs.
It was warm and nice by then.
It had been cold overnight,
and when I finally emerged from my sleeping bag,
the first thing I wanted was a hot breakfast.
I have a great little camp stove,
and I made a big pan of hash browns:

I also made peppermint tea in the Nalgene bottle,
so it was a good wake-up.


I have always been fascinated by cattails.
In late fall, when they begin to fade, is when I like them best.
Here are some cattail closeups from Six Lakes up by Altamont:

I love the soft, fluffy down interior.
When I was a kid I wanted to gather it and make a pillow stuffed with it:

This is my favorite, cattails that are just beginning to burst into fluff:

Even when fall color begins to fade, I still love autumn!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wintry Weekend at Bear Lake

Columbus Day weekend, and it snowed!
I have to say, though, I find it very interesting, the way the roof snow sticks in a layer and curves and drips into icicles and bends before it finally breaks and falls off the roof.

Gorgeous stormy light,
over the plowed-up garden:

The flowers were trying to hang on, but that snow pretty well finished them.

These will look even better once I get my photoshop working again.

Baby Sweater

My friend Heather just had a baby boy.
I made this sweater for her.
It's basic in design, but it fits some key elements:
1) always have a cardigan (for babies- it's awful trying to get a pullover over their heads)
2) always use machine washable yarn
3) use cute buttons, when you can.

I love the caterpillar buttons!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More Yearbook Humor

I think the above one is my favorite.
I always wanted long, long hair
(maybe I should get extensions sometime).
Then there's 1980:

Oh how my mom and I shrieked with merriment, over that one and 1984:

Then there's 1996.
I swear the hairdo is taken from my little sister's high school photo.
In fact I look quite a bit LIKE my little sister in this picture!

Boarding the Yearbook Humor Bandwagon

Okay, my sisters have been howling with laughter over the photoshop abilities of
and I decided I had to try it too...
Above is 1950,
below is 1958:

Moving from June Cleaver over to the cat's eye glasses of 1960:
(they were tough to center and get right on my photo,
but you get the general effect):

Ooh, flower child, 1966!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rye Victory Finished

Bread out of the oven!
Bottom crust looks great,
and tapping it produces a hollow sound:

Top crust doesn't look quite so great
(next time I will preheat the lid along with the rest of the pot
and also sprinkle some oats on top,
and forget the slashing idea):

We cut into it before the 1 hour post-oven rest time was up,
because we wanted it for lunch,
so the crumb was a bit gluey.
However, it was fairly tasty.
A bit salty, though.

The whole point of all this experimenting is to come up with a bread that is a reasonably close tasting approximation of medieval peasant bread.
Hence rye not wheat, and if wheat, whole wheat not white.
Also hence the sourdough,
as commercial 'sweet' yeast was not really a possibility.
(If I were really gung-ho I would try to acquire some brewer's yeast
but sourdough should be a reasonable acceptable alternative).

This is a good-tasting workable recipe, but it is much nicer bread than what medieval peasants got.
For one thing, the flour is way too fine.
I am going to try the recipe again with half cracked-rye
(using my Mom's hand mill that she uses to make cracked wheat)
substituted for half of the flour.
Then once I get some feel for how rye breads work,
I will branch out back into sourdough attempts.

I have to say that I would probably get on better if I weighed my ingredients
instead of measuring them by cups and so on.
However, I don't feel comfortable with that kind of baking.
And I haven't found a good kitchen scale yet.

Rye Victory Continued

Here's my work surface.
I sprayed it with Pam,
and kept a bowl of water handy.
The water was for dipping my hands.
Rye dough is very sticky,
and it doesn't develop gluten like yeast does.
So it doesn't need much kneading.
But I did a little, as per the recipe instructions:

Here is the kneaded dough, plonked in its oiled bowl,
ready for its second and final rise.
You can see that it is dense, heavy,
and a bit wet on the surface
(wet hands keep the dough from sticking to them):

Here is the dough after rising for about an hour:

Then after preheating a small 8" dutch oven,
here is the dough,
brushed with cornstarch & water
(and I tried to slash it decoratively, not very well):

Ready to go in the oven!

A Furst(enberg) Rye Victory

Having no luck with my sourdough rye attempts,
I decided to look around on the web and find a recipe for 100% rye that looked more manageable.
This one is nearly 100% rye:

I followed the recipe pretty closely.
Here is the overnight yeast sponge,
with onion.
(I still don't know why the onion is necessary.
Or increasing acidity?)

The next morning, as per instructions,
I added rye flour, a little wheat flour, and water.
(Okay, so I used whole wheat instead of white bread flour,
that was a change.)
Oh yes, I took out the onion, too.

After mixing it up in the Kitchen Aid,
and then adding salt (too much salt, I'd halve what the recipe calls for)
and yeast
and NO caraway (I do not like caraway),
it looked like this:

This gluey concrete-like mixture was transferred to an oiled bowl
(though frankly I think it could have stayed in the Kitchen Aid bowl)
to rise for an hour.
Here's how it looks after this first rise:

On to my next steps.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Crocodiles and Gender Stereotypes

Sophie and Edward were playing with my crocodiles today.
At first they were playing nicely together:

They were so cute together!

And THEN they began to differ in their playing styles.
Edward wanted to wage a crocodile war.
He lined up several of the smaller crocodiles
against the larger stuffed crocodile:

After Edward had 'killed' the smaller crocodiles,
Sophie took them carefully away and tucked them into a basket,
their "crib".

Of course, having lots of brothers has probably made Edward very belligerent,
but it is pretty amusing to see kids this young fall straight into the 'girl type' and 'boy type' roles of stereotype playing.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sophie!

Friday was Sophie's golden birthday.
She turned 3 on October 3rd.
We had a big party for her at the clubhouse.
There was a big cake and candles,
and we all sang and wore party hats,
and Sophie was shy about blowing out the candles,
so Juliana helped her:

Sophie was more enthused about licking the frosting off the candles:

She had lots of presents to open.
Coloring books,

She liked her presents very much.

Sourdough Frustration

I do not know what the problem is,
but something is Definitely Wrong with my sourdough rye attempts.
The starter looks active,
but when I mix it up with flour, water, and salt as per the recipe,
this is what results:

If this were a just-in-the-pan view, okay.
It won't rise.
I let it stay in a warm but not too warm spot,
for 30 hours (JUST IN CASE)
but it didn't rise.
Instead, it developed funny little white spots:

That is not the greatest closeup but the point is clear.

I have done this twice, and the dough wouldn't rise.
Is the problem the starter?
The recipe?
The flour quality?

There's no point in baking this.
It would be a brick and I would break my teeth
(if I didn't die of ergotism poisoning,
or whatever that white stuff is).

I think I'm going to look online for some commercial sourdough starter.
Or maybe try my current starter on a wheat recipe.
There's got to be some way around this dead end!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Kids in Cougartown

Dave and Emily had a thing up the canyon this evening,
and their babysitter bailed last minute,
so they asked if I could take the kids for a few hours.
Given the time overlap,
Dave dropped the kids off on campus at the end of my last class.
So I took them on a tour.
We went to see the cougar.
I love the cougar.
The cougar was a big part of my childhood.
I remember being Sophie's age and going to see the cougar.
(And Dad's office.
And getting ice cream.)

So of course we had to go for ice cream, too.
Ethan told me I was the best aunt.
He always tells me this when I buy him treats.
Guess what?
(if you will forgive the Ethanism)
I buy him treats a lot.
I love to hear that I am the best aunt.
Yes, this kid has me all figured out.

We got cones, but the cones were sloppy,
so I asked the server to put them in dishes.
I got some pretty hilarious pictures of the kids eating ice cream,
but this is my favorite,
Sophie trying to feed Ethan a bite of her ice cream,
and Ethan taking control of the spoon himself:

And of course we had to show Sophie the "Y" on the mountain.
She thought it was pretty cool.