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2013.02.12: "History prefers legends to men. It prefers nobility to brutality [...]"

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What happened, what's happening, and what will happen this rainy Tuesday in February.

I. Breakfast and Shopping

I had to go to the store again today to pick up a few items. The bill was a bit higher than I'd planned for.

Some things were treats and 'required'. Ms. S. and I decided that the combination of Mardi Gras and Lincoln's birthday required a combination of our own: a celebration of and with good and bad movies accompanied by candy and alcoholic treats, in this case beer and champagne. Ms. S. acquired the latter. The addition of candy was a late game-change, and I agreed to do the shopping this morning after she got off shift. Chocolates it is! She also wanted some 'novelty ice cream', which was a term with which I was not familiar, but she clarified, and indeed that aisle of frozen foods has a sign saying 'novelty ice cream'. Who would have thought ...

When Ms. S. arrived home around 7am she informed me that she was also really feeling like -- craving -- pizza, and it was up to me what for that would or should take. A riff on pizza in the form of a 'Hot Pocket'? Acceptable to her, even if it would be high in sodium. A 'Lean Cuisine' four-cheese single-serving pizza? She had one recently and would approve. My thought was to make pizza, and before leaving for the store I started a dough -- 100g flour, 65g water, 1tsp salt, 1/2 tsp yeast, along with dried basil and oregano -- and stirred it a bit. I'll knead or mix with dough-hooks and let it rise. While at the store I got some mozzarella and tomatoes. There were no fresh basil leaves to be had, and this saddened me.

But as to why the tab was higher than originally planned: I needed razor blades. The 6-pack for $14 was better than the 5-pack for $12 by a few cents. I also needed more paper for the printer, and I bought a ream for $3. I replenished our supply of tofu; we don't need it this week, necessarily, but sometime soon we'll use it, and that was another $5.50 or so. I bought some black beans and tomatoes for use on Thursday, though those cans were only about $0.68 each. Then there were the small frozen game hens.

Yesterday I bought steak for me and Ms. S.'s father to have during the 'brunch' I'm cooking for us all on Friday. This morning while Ms. S. slept I unplugged the smoke detector, closed the bedroom door, and cooked up steak and eggs for breakfast. Somewhere along the line the oil got a tad smokey but not especially so. The heat was never above medium. The steak is quite thin and sears quickly, which is fine for breakfast, I think, though a thick, juicy cut would be nicer in a way. There might be a bit too much smoke and meat-smell for the two vegetarians, so I figured an alternative to beef was best. Thus the game hens, which I can roast in the oven Friday. Perhaps just one would be enough, split. I could also spatchcock it. In any case, that was another $6.

But when I got home, unpacked, and put things away, I realized where the rest of the expense came from: almonds. The cocoa and cinnamon roasted almonds were back in stock, so I bought a bag of each. They'll last quite a while, but at around $6 each, they add up.

And that's how a $10-15 trip quickly multiplied.

Steak and Eggs:
[a] Dinner Tonight: Steak and Eggs with Smoked Paprika www.seriouseats.com/reci

[b] Steak and Eggs Recipe www.foodnetwork.com/reci

[c] Fancy Steak & Eggs paleomg.com/fancy-steak-

[d] Steak and Eggs... Bobby Flay style tarathefoodie.blogspot.c

II. Sourdough

Yesterday around 7pm, 2 days in, I cut the starter in half and fed each half.

If I'd followed the King Arthur Flour guidelines -- www.kingarthurflour.com/
-- properly, I would have discarded half after the first day, but I mis-remembered the HowTo and ended up 'a day behind' in a sense, though that's okay. After the first day there was little noticeable activity, though some liquid had separated and pooled around the edges. But by yesterday evening the mixture had clearly doubled to a poofed up two cups.

I stirred it down, cut it in half, and put half in an empty cottage cheese container that I'd cleaned in hot water and bleach. Not necessarily in that order. Then each container got 4oz of new flour and 4oz of room-temperature, filtered water. It covered each and set them up on the back of the fridge, out of the reach of the cats.

This morning around 7:30 or 8 I went to the kitchen to make myself breakfast and to discard and feed the starter, since now it was time to put it on a twice-a-day feeding schedule, if I followed King Arthur again. Ah, but my starter! One half was in a plastic 2-cup measuring cup loosely covered with plastic wrap, the other in the cottage cheese container. The former had overflowed a bit. "Oh f***" I exclaimed gently so as not to wake Ms. S. I reached for it to take it down, but tipped it, and on its side it fell, starter oozing over the cardboard box holding my immersion blender. I caught it, though, and brought it down. Some starter dripped onto the floor between fridge and counter. Some dripped on the counter. Some fell on the Dutch oven under the immersion blender.

In short: a minor mess.

I got the other container down with less hassle.

I discarded all but 1/2 a cup (4oz by volume) of each and placed each remainder in a freshly washed cottage cheese container. Then I measured out 4oz of whole wheat flour for each container and then 4oz (by volume) of water for each. I stirred, placed lids on them, and set them aside on the counter. This evening they'll get pruned and fed again.

The two starters smelled slightly differently. That which had been in the measuring cup only had the slight aroma of a yeast dough with the barest hint of tang. The other was a bit cheesier, a smell that could be described as sweat (or sweaty ... sock, armpit, foot?), warm cheddar, or even nutritional yeast. According to some sources that's a result of lactobacilli activity. And you can get the buttery smell of diacetyl. But over time it should stabilize ... which is why even if your starter is active after a couple days and capable of causing dough to rise enough, it's still not 'mature' enough to be used consistently.

[a] Sourdough Starter Smell www.thefreshloaf.com/nod

[b] Cookistry: Growing a Sourdough Starter, Day by Day www.cookistry.com/2010/1
(alternative to the King Arthur Flour version)
[c] Sourdough Pancake Recipe www.culturesforhe
(yum ... this is what I'll make from some discarded starter in a few days!)

III. What's on tap today ...

A. Abraham Lincoln

I have yet to figure out why 2012 was the year of Abraham Lincoln; I'm not too worried about it, mind you, and I haven't done much research. My curiosity is, however, greater than my desire to look into it, which is why I am still wondering. There were (at least) three significant Lincoln-themed movies as well as a couple Lincoln-themed books of note. Some of this is surely a matter of coincidence.

4-6:30 - Lincoln: the question is, why or how did 2012 end up being the year for Spielberg's "Lincoln"?

6:45-8:15 - Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter: the "coincidence" part is that this and "Lincoln" were released the same year, though the production on this is surely a matter of the book on which it is based, and so it's part of a long chain of events that goes back, at least, to the publication of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies".

8:30-10:06 - Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies: this one exists merely as a 'mockbuster' knock-off of the "Vampire Hunter" above, so it is not surprising that it exists and came out the same year.

Before watching the movies we should probably take in "Gay Bar" ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=
) at least one more time.

Lincoln Links:
[a] Popular Abe Lincoln 2012 Books www.goodreads.com/shelf/

[b] Best Books (And Surprising Insights) On Lincoln www.npr.org/2012/04/10/1

[c] New Books about Abraham Lincoln www.abrahamlincolnonline

B. Pizza & Beer

Ms. S. has cans of beer, has looked at how many calories each can has, and has calculated how many cans she may have.

I have some homebrew in the closet and will pull out an amber, a pale ale, a stout, or a tripel as appropriate, but will probably have only one.

I have tomato sauce, plenty of dried herbs, mozzarella and other cheeses, and a dough that is rising. The dough is 100g of flour, which makes 4 single-serving pizzas, so two each. We also have, as special treats, ice cream sandwiches -- chocolate peanut butter -- in the freezer.

[a] Recipe: Single serving Pizza Dough domestocrat.net/2010/09/
("You absolutely must use a pizzas stone to cook the dough" -- no, you don't, but it's nice and helps. But do crank up your oven as hot as possible ... not exactly my recipe, but it's good in a pinch) ... it links to:
[b] really simple homemade pizza smittenkitchen.com/blog/

[c] Skinny Cow Chocolate Peanut Butter sandwich www.skinnycow.com/produc
(yum ...?)
[d] All-Grain - Smooth Oatmeal Stout www.homebrewtalk.com/f68

[e] Rogue Ale Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout Homebrew Beer Kit www.amazon.com/Rogue-Sha
(whoa ... Rogue does beer kits now?! Oh, wait ... Brewcraft does Rogue-labeled/approved kits *le sigh*)

C. Reading

I'm still not done with "The Library of Shadows", though I'm about 60% or so through. Pau's "sudden but inevitable betrayal" happened a chapter or two back and now Jon is in another country. I stopped reading at that point and went to sleep.

As in bad and formulaic -- yet usually enjoyable -- television procedurals, one can usually see the perp coming a mile (and at least 10-20 pages in the script ahead of our protagonists ... catch up, people!) away. And so it was that for about a third of the book I've been waiting for Pau's face heel turn ( tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwi
), though I suppose he's more of just a 'mole'.


I'll be happy when I'm done with this somewhat disappointing read.
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