Thursday, August 24, 2017

New bread baking process this morning!


Well, I used my couche, bread flipper and burn prevention gloves for the first time this morning. Oh, WOW! I cannot believe how beautiful the bread is turning out.

I am a bit clumsy with flipping the loaves directly onto the baking stone, and I made the first five loaves a little too long. One of them has a bent tip where it was too long for the baking stone.

The texture is unbelievable! Take a look at these pics.

Loaves rising in the couche

Loaves baking directly on baking stone - no pans anymore!

First loaves out of the oven - 10 more to go

Look at the crumb, the texture - perfection! 

My gardens and my kitchen

The rose garden is all I hoped for. It's in need of a thorough weeding today, but that is pure pleasure. An hour spent, and it will be spotless again! I moved some ground cover from the foundation plantings in front of the house, will move some more down there today. It will make the job easier when there is not so much bare soil.

I bought lacewing eggs and ladybugs. The ladybugs didn't hang around long but I think they wiped out the aphids before they went. Roses are looking better. Haven't seen a lacewing yet.

Every few days I pick a bouquet of herbs, and hopefully there will be a new rose blooming. They look so beautiful on my counter, and I love having the fresh herbs at hand. I use them more when I don't have to stop and run outside with the scissors to cut them while I'm cooking.

The rose garden

They smell as good as they look.

Roses, herbs and mixed bouquet

Picked new herbs this morning

And speaking of cooking, my bread baking will be quite exciting this week. I finally, after years of using old beat up baguette pans, have purchased a couche, from France no less. So I will be forming my loaves using the couche, which is a heavy linen cloth. It is laid out, then bunched up every few inches to form troughs. The formed loaves are laid in the troughs to rise. I bought the flipping board too, so that I can flip the formed loaves onto the board and use it to take the loaves to the baking stone in my oven. They will be baked directly on the stone, and it should mean even better crusts. And while I was at it, I bought some really good oven gloves. Really tired of the burns on my hands and wrists!

The new equipment

So that's what has been happening in Susie's gardens and kitchen. Life is good.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Why I was late to the market AGAIN!

Jerry told me about these wonderful pickles his mother made called mustard pickles. They were made in a crock, fermented for ten days, and then could be kept in a cool dark place without refrigeration for up to a year. My kind of pickle!

My one and only invention is my Easy Peasy Fermenting Jar. I originally called it my Suze Goldberg Pickling Jar, since one of my nicknames is Suze, and I put it together from odds and ends in my kitchen. But given the history of Rube Goldberg inventions, it may have given the impression that it would be unnecessarily complex. My jar is simple and it works! So I renamed it to reflect how easy it makes what was kind of a messy job.

I had several crocks and used them to make my own pickles. But even with a weighted plate on the pickles, skimming of mold was required. It was messy. There was a fermenting jar for sale on the internet - $30 plus shipping and no mold to deal with. It had a unique jar that, if broken, cost $20 (and shipping) to replace. I could do better than that. I am a frugal person.

I rooted through my cupboards and found a half gallon wide mouth canning jar, big enough to hold large head of cabbage if fermenting sauerkraut. Two of them would hold a half peck of pickling cukes. Perfect!

The trick to stopping mold is to keep the oxygen out of the process. The on-line pickling jar had a looped straw in the lid to allow any gasses to escape, and the lid screwed on tight to keep out air. So how would I keep the air out of my jar? No matter how full I filled it with my salt water, there was sure to be a small amount of air trapped in the top when I screwed the lid on. And a tight lid plus a build up of gases could actually cause the jar to explode.

I did some more rooting and found the perfect insert - a very small soufflé cup that we had used in my restaurant. It fit firmly into the neck of the jar and had straight sides. I filled the jar with pickles, spices, oak leaves for tannin, and salt water, making sure that the insert fit completely into the neck. When I inserted it, with the jar in a shallow bowl, a little of the saltwater spilled out. This meant that there was no air in that jar! The insert was heavy enough to keep the pickles under the salt water, and light enough that if gases accumulated, it would allow them to escape. You can always add a bit more saltwater if there are too many burps, which could allow a little air into the jar.

Suze's Easy Peasy Fermenting Jar at work
In five days, you will have tremendous dill pickles. In a week, you will have mighty fine sauerkraut. In ten days you will have mustard pickles. However I can't attest to how good they will taste because the reason I was late today is because I was making my first ever batch of Mustard Pickles. We will see. (Update: August 11, 2017 - decanted the pickles. They are fantastic!)

Today's Mustard Pickles. Will be ready August 11, 2017.