Tangent No. 8: Paradise

Tangent #8 was to just let a page evolve & flow as it will.

I got some new paints & stencils last week, and decided to try them out. I think I’m going to like them quite a lot. Then I dug through the paper junk that I found while cleaning out some boxes yesterday & decided that since there was a bird stencil, the page would get a bird theme.

I love the combinations of red & gold, and red & brown.

Part of the Daisy Yellow Tangents & Tactics series – Tangent No. 8!

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Tangent No. 7: Grid

This one isn’t my favorite. Perhaps if I had colored in a few squares before doodling it would have helped? I don’t know. I suspect I’ll keep adding to it over time & may start to like it better. We shall see.

Anyway, this was for the Daisy Yellow Tangents & Tactics series. Go check out the whole series over at DaisyYellow.com

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Tangent No. 6: Quirky Girl

This is for the Daisy Yellow Tangents & Tactics series.

I have always liked drawing faces, so that part appealed to me. I have not painted very many, however, so that part is still a bit new. But I like the free-form line art aspect of a loosely painted face on a colorful background. It’s rather fun.

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Tangent No. 5 – Beach Umbrella

Another DaisyYellow.com tangent. This one is called Beach Umbrella. It was to create stripes on the page to journal inside of.

The idea was to work with Neocolors, however, I don’t own any of these, nor could I find any today when I was out looking. C’est la vie.

So, I improvised. πŸ™‚

I used crayons. But I grated & melted them instead of coloring & painting. It worked. Sort of.

i-may-be-crazy

In case you are wondering about the process, I have a few pictures. I unfortunately forgot to take any pictures while I was ironing the wax, but you can take a look at my other melted wax post for more info.

I taped off the book with painter’s masking tape that was torn lengthwise so that it would have a fun edge. Then I grated the crayons, trying to keep the individual colors contained between the lines.

grated crayons

Then I ironed the grated crayons under a sheet of wax paper. Unfortunately, this meant that the masking tape ALSO got ironed, which caused a couple of tears, but overall it worked well. Nothing a spot or two of glue couldn’t fix.

After I had the crayon like I wanted it, I peeled the tape off.

peeling-tapeI actually preferred it before the tape was peeled off. I may need to do another melted crayon page with stripes. πŸ™‚

meltedIt was a risk using wax crayons, as they don’t like to let other things adhere to the page, but I hoped that the tape would keep it from absorbing into the paper. Fortunately, it appears to have worked!

I decided that I wanted to put song lyrics inside, but what song? It’s a fairly colorful page (for me) so it needed to be a fun song. I was going through a pinboard I have that is all lyrics, and came across “I May Be Crazy” by Billy Joel. It just seemed to fit.

crazy-1 crazy-2
Now if I could just get the wax to stop flaking off…

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Pain au Levain

Fresh baked bread. There isn’t an aroma like it. Warm, comforting, inviting, and in a word, home.

I used to bake all of our bread. Twice a week I would bake 2 loaves of sourdough sandwich bread. Challah made an appearance on special occasions. Rolls, hamburger buns, cinnamon rolls…. I used to do a lot of baking.

But it’s been years since I baked a loaf of bread. I’m easing back into it. And this? This is nearly the perfect recipe.

Bread Alone
It’s from Bread Alone: Bold Fresh Loaves from Your Own Hands by Daniel Leader & Judith Blahnik.

This is a true French bread, developed by Basil Kamir in Paris a very long time ago. It’s meant to make free-form torpedo loaves, but I find that it also makes a lovely sandwich bread. In a loaf pan.

pain-au-recipe

It all starts with a good levain or sponge or starter. They have many names, but it all comes down to a mixture of yeast, water & flour that has fermented just a bit. Or a lot.

It takes at least 8-10 hours to ferment the levain if you are starting from scratch. Fortunately, we have Sally. She is our little sourdough sponge that has been bubbling away for a month or so, helping us make pancakes, waffles, biscuits & dinner rolls. I wanted to make sure she had a nice flavor before we started baking bread together.

Isn't Sally's home pretty?

Isn’t Sally’s home pretty?

A note on flour – the flour you choose WILL determine the flavor of your bread. That is the main ingredient in this, after all. Make sure that you use a good quality flour for good bread. My preference is Stone-Buhr. King Arthur Flour is pretty good too. There are other good ones out there, just make sure you find one that you like. And make sure it is a bread flour for better results.

crock-n-flour

Ingredients:
– 2 cups Levain (or starter)
– 2.25 cups spring water
– 1 Tablespoon fine sea salt
– 4.5-5.5 cups bread flour (depending on the moisture in the air, this may be more or less. It occasionally takes me 6.5 cups)

Start with a nicely-fed starter or levain.Β  Put it into a nice BIG mixing bowl – glass, ceramic or plastic. Don’t use metal for sourdough.

Pour the water into your bowl with the starter and mix it up well until it’s nice & liquidy. It will start to get slightly frothy, which is a good thing. Using your hands is totally fine. πŸ™‚

Add in 1 cup of your flour and stir it until the flour is well combined. Then add your salt and more flour, 1 cup at a time, until it starts to make a thick mass that is difficult to stir. (for me, this is usually around 4-5 cups of flour)

spongeI also added in a teensy bit of cracked black pepper & dried herbs from our garden this time around. I’m baking it to make dressing/stuffing out of for Thanksgiving, so I figure the extra herbs will only help, right? I ground the dried leaves up with my hands & sprinkled them over the bowl and kneading board to be mixed in.

At this point, I put the last cup or so of flour on the kneading board, spread it around some, and push the bulk of it to the side. It will get used, fear not.

Pour out the sticky dough onto the floured kneading board and begin to knead in the remaining flour. Take your time, and add in the flour a little bit at a time. You should be kneading for at least 8 minutes. The recipe calls for kneading for 15-17 minutes.

turn-out-onto-boardKnead in the remaining flour until the dough is firm & smooth. It is ready when a little dough pulled from the mass springs back quickly. After making a few loaves, you will get the feel of it. You just kind of know when it’s ready.

kneaded-doughWash & scrape out the bowl. Dry it off & drizzle some olive oil into it & spread it around. Don’t forget those sides! (If you are fortunate enough to have a dedicated rising bucket, yay! I miss mine.)

oil-in-bowlPut the dough into the oiled bowl & flip it over once to get the oil on all sides. Cover it with a damp towel.

oiled-doughPlace the dough into a cold oven with the light on & the door closed (they are usually around the 80*F that bread really likes for rising). Let it rise for about 2 hours. It needs to increase in volume about 1/4. It’s not going to get really huge & puffy like most bread dough.first-rise-towel**AT THIS POINT you need to decide how you will be baking these. Are you going to use loaf pans? Bake free-form loaves? This will make a difference. If you are using loaf pans from the store (usually around 8-inches long I think?) then you will need to divide the dough into THREE sections instead of two.**

After the first rise, take it out & punch it down. Lightly flour your kneading board again & dump the dough out onto it.

after-first-riseKnead it lightly & divide it into even portions.

dividing dividedShape each section into a tight ball and let them sit again for 30 minutes, covered with the damp towel, in a warm, draft-free space. rounds-1Flatten them each into about an 8-inch circle and roll them from one edge. They will be shaped like a log (or torpedo).

shapingSide note – if you want them to be coated with seeds, herbs, etc, this is the time to do that. Brush the dough lightly with water and roll it in the seeds.

This is where I differ from the recipe book.

I am fortunate to have a wonderful old loaf pan that has 2 pans welded together. A friend of a friend was a baker & had the ‘real stuff’. She cut her 4 pan kits in half & gave them away. These pans are the size of supermarket sandwich loaves, which are larger than the ones generally offered at department stores. Again if you are using regular loaf pans, you should have 3 equal sections. πŸ™‚

Coat the sides & bottom of your loaf pans with butter or coconut oil. Smear it all over them with your hands. No one said baking bread was clean! Bonus – if you use coconut oil, rub the excess all over your hands and wipe them down with a paper towel when you are done. It will moisturize them nicely. πŸ™‚

Gently move your dough logs from the kneading board to the loaf pans with the seam-side on the bottom of the loaf. Make sure they are fairly even across the length of the pan.dougn-in-pansCover them with the towel again, and place them back into the cold oven (with the light on) for another 2 hours.

If you have a double oven – great! Preheat the other oven to 450*F. If you don’t have a double oven, gently remove the dough from the oven to preheat it.

If you have a small cast iron pan, place it in your oven on the bottom rack. If you have a baking stone, make sure it is placed so that your bread will be as close to the center of the oven as possible. Too low & the bottoms will over-brown. To close to the top & the top crust will burn.

When the oven is warm, you will want to slash the tops of the dough fairly deeply with a serrated knife or razor blade. I usually use a diagonal pattern, but feel free to get fancy. I didn’t slash mine quite deep enough today, so it didn’t quite do it’s job correctly. I also didn’t get the seam on the bottom. Oops.slashedPlace your bread in the oven. If you have the cast iron pan in the oven, pour some ice cubes into it. Otherwise, quickly spray some water into the oven with a spray bottle – being careful to not spray those oven lights directly! We don’t want shattered glass in our bread dough, right?ice-in-pan

Close the door quickly to trap the steam.

Set the timer for 25 minutes.

After 3 minutes, open the door and spray the inside of the oven again, closing the door quickly to trap the steam.

Bake until the loaves are a rich, caramel-brown color. They should take 25-30 minutes.

Remove the loaves and test them for doneness by thumping them on the bottoms with your finger. If they sound hollow, they are done. If they don’t sound hollow, bake them for another 5 minutes.

baked-in-panCool them completely on a wire rack.

pain-au-levainNo really. Let them cool down. They will finish baking after you remove them from the oven.

I know. It’s SO hard to wait! They smell soooooooo good. Trust me here. It’s worth it.

There you go! Delightful sourdough bread from your oven. And it’s so easy! Some flour, water, salt, and time for rising. Hard to believe that’s all it takes, isn’t it.

Enjoy.

Sourdough sandwich bread

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Thoughts on Ferguson

I generally try to keep my opinions on “Media Events” to myself, but this? It’s just stupid.

Justice, as this country sees it, has been served. There was a riot. Police officers were called in to attempt to protect the innocent from violence. Shots were fired. Police officers were shot. A civilian was killed. There has been a trial. This should be over. The Justice System has had it’s say. Let it go.

But no…….
Obviously the fact that the civilian shot was a human with a darker skin tone by a police officer with a lighter skin tone means that everyone who has a darker skin tone (and those that feel that it is a skin tone issue) needs to go out and once again bring more violence.

He was shot DURING A RIOT. A riot that he was participating in.

Oooooh! I know! Let’s have MORE RIOTS to protest the fact that a human being – a member of the HUMAN RACE was killed. Let’s go burn down businesses. Let’s go steal stuff. Let’s set the town on fire.

Ooooh! And hey, I don’t live anywhere near Ferguson, but I want to have fun raping & pillaging like the Vikings of old, so I’m going to start a protest wherever I live. I’m going to get my party on to “join the protest” and shut down freeways and bust out windows and bring violence to the streets all over America. Because it just looks like so much fun. (Apparently.)

Violence is not the answer. The system that is making people angry is not what is being harmed by this violence. Innocent people are being harmed, scared to leave their homes, having their livelihoods destroyed. People are being injured. Is this really the answer?

If you want to protest this ruling, do it peacefully. Leave the guns & Molotov cocktails at home. Leave those rocks & bricks on the ground. Donate those cans of food to a homeless shelter or food bank.

Mob mentality means that someone WILL get hurt. Damage will be done. Lives will very likely be lost.

Is more death the answer? Really?

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