Sunday, May 13, 2012

Was that a baby jalapeno chile I spied? Plus, an easy country loaf.

It is indeed a baby jalapeno that I saw in the garden. Most years, the conservative gardeners don't even put out tomato and pepper plants until Mothers Day. My nightshade family plants are usually in the ground as soon after 15 April, our areas average last frost date, as soon as I can gather the momentum to prepare the garden soil. This isn't fearlessness or disregard for the common gardening wisdom but merely a willingness to take the chance of loss because the varieties I prefer will still be in the nurseries for me to use to replace my frostbitten plants.In 23 years of gardening, I haven't lost anything to frost yet, gardener's errors yes, but not to frost. Some of my garlic are starting to send up their scapes (I think that's what they're called) and I should start trimming them so the plant's energy goes into the bulb itself. The herbs are starting to respond to the warmer soil but so far all I clipped from the herbs has been some oregano and cilantro.

The first hummingbird of the season has been spotted but I may have trouble if I put up the feeders. The plant hanging trellis, a two armed wrought iron fixture, on the north side of our house was recently accosted by what I suspect was a large raccoon. I woke up on Thursday morning and found that the trellis was completely out of the ground despite the fact that it had a twelve inch anchor section driven into the ground. The trellis was also bent about six inches off axis at the bottom. It's not too far fetched to believe that a raccoon went climbing up to the top of the trellis in order to grab the suet feeder cage and caused the bending. The suet cage is missing in action which could have been part of the raccoons efforts. An opossum probably wouldn't have been ambitious enough to climb such a thin trellis.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend Rob invited Mrs PG and I to their house for a Mother's Day meal this evening. In order to provide a decent loaf of bread, I opened up my copy of Hamelman's "Bread" and went straight to the first section of recipes, breads with preferments, to see if there were ideas worth "appropriating". There certainly were and I knew I could have the bread baked and ready to hit the road in less than twenty four hours. I also expected that it would be tasty enough to serve to Rob's family and get a few compliments as well. I forgot to take any pictures but I did write down the recipe which is based on the "Rustic Bread" formula.


200g bread flour
200g water at 85F
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/16-1/8 tsp active dry yeast

The yeast is probably much less than a gram and hard to measure but not to worry. The preferment, after being thoroughly mixed, is covered and can sit out on the counter at room temperature for 12-14 hours or until bubbles are on the top surface.

Main Dough:

160g bread flour
20g white whole wheat
20g rye flour
80g water at 85F
1/2 tsp kosher salt*
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
All of preferment

Total salt weight for the loaf should be 7g.

I bulk fermented for 1.5 hours with a stretch and fold at 45 minutes. The proofing took about 1.25 hours. The loaf baked at 450F for 15 minutes and then turned around for even baking for another 20 minutes. The internal temperature should be 205F. It has an excellent, mild flavor that even precocious 4 year old children can enjoy. I hope that anyone that duplicates this formula will leave me a comment about their experience.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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