Monday, January 30, 2012

Second Audition and a Rare Sighting

This is the second loaf that I've made with Paul's South African descended starter. I am part of the sub-group that believes that the flour fed to a starter plays a large part in the character of the starter. The conditions its kept in, whether at room temperature or in a refrigerator, pretty much takes care of the rest by affecting the reproduction rates of the flavoring bacteria. In about three weeks or so, the yeast spores present on my Heartland Mill flours will be taking over but in the meantime, this is a great starter. I built my starter in three steps in order to get a more lively batch and it responded well. The average room temperature, around 70F, wasn't optimal but if I dry some from the next build, I'll try ressurecting the sample in early summer when room temperatures will be in the 76-80F range which is the best for achieving a vibrant starter.

For the most part, this was close to the formula used in the first audition. I did, as stated, use the three stage build with 150g at or about 82% hydration. The dough turned out to be easy to handle, though probably not due to my cutting back a little bit on the water for the dough because I had to add about 18g during the mixing as an adjustment. The same flours were used and there hasn't been that much difference in the weather over the past week. I think I can live quite happily with this formula and will have it written up formally, complete with a name, in a week or so.

The rare sighting was either a Cooper's Hawk or a Sharp Shinned Hawk that perched outside my window on Friday morning. I have a low budget and low tech support for the bird feeder that's made out of PVC pipe and about 8.5 feet tall that
the hawk landed on. That put the hawk less than 15 feet feet away from me. Usually these hawks will perch much higher in trees or on power lines but not on Friday morning. I stared at it for about fifteen seconds, called to Mrs PG to come and look, and we both continued to marvel at the sight and our good fortune in getting a chance to observe a hawk at such close distance. I can't recall ever seeing a hawk outside my window before and it will probably be a long time, if ever, before I see one out there again.



The rest of the usual suspects from the world of birds have been dining heavily at the feeders. There are usually at least eight goldfinches around the thistle feeder in the morning, jostling one another for a perch. Juncos can be seen on the ground underneath the goldfinches, eating the seeds they spill. Last year, some juncos figured out how to bypass the middle bird and go directly to the feeder but I've only seen that happen once so far this season. Perhaps if we get some snow and the competition for food gets tougher, the juncos will become aggressive.

According to the statistics kept by the hosting blog site, this is my one hundredth post. Other than the fact that I've managed to gather the discipline to write on a reasonably regular basis, I don't put to much significance in the number. I do want to ask any readers that stumble across my postings to leave their home town information in the comments box because I'm curious. The stats page showed pageviews from places such as Sri Lanka, the Phillipines, Singapore, and Cambodia in the past ten days so I thought that if I didn't ask, no one will take the time.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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