Saturday, February 25, 2012

More on Neutrinos

I mentioned in a previous blogposts that there was an experiment done in which neutrinos clocked in moving faster than the speed of light. The most recent development reported in the New York Times said that there were two possible errors in the calculation. I hope more developments are forthcoming.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Shrinking Problem

So, I am avoiding reading some Lysias for a few moments and I took the time to read a New York Times article about ancient horses. I was really interested in the the ancient horse relatives since I did a presentation on the Equus Occidentalis whichis one of the varieties of North American ice age horses in second grade. Anyway, this article caught my attention because it explained that the earliest ancestor of the horse, the Sifrhippus shrunk due to global warming, and, this of course has implication for modern mammals with the current rate of warming.

Food for thought. Back to work...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Squirrels Might Be Good for Something!

My friends were standing outside the classics building, the other day, discussing the stupidity of squirrels. It's true, I have encountered some fairly idiotic and foolhardy squirrels in my time, but a new article has generated some faith in the little fuzzy beasts. According to the New York Times, Russian scientists claim to have re-germinated and recreated a plant from fruit buried by a squirrel almost 32,000 years ago. I can't wait to see whether the arctic flower will hold up to outside inspection.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Bread Lesson Part II, A Review

Bread Making 081
Photocredit: Catullus II
I did a bread lesson for a bunch of people. It turned in to a 14 hour bread party complete with fresh sourdough pizza with the Durum flour I got from Cerinthus' parents. It was absolutely fantastic.

Over the course of the day, we made 11 loaves and 8 pizzas: 2 whole wheat Tartine loaves (replacing 100g of all-purpose flour with 100g durum), 4 mini Pain à l'Ancienne ciabatta loaves, 3 Norwich More-Sourdough loaves (with 50g added wheat germ), and 2 loaves of Tartine country bread (with 100g durum wheat).

The loaves tasted amazing, and some of them looked fantastic. I taught my friends to mix, knead, shape, score, and bake loaves.

The first two loaves were not as aesthetic as I was hoping, but they tasted fantastic.

Bread Making 033
Photocredit: Catullus II

A friend of mine bought some wonderful cheese which we had with the whole wheat loaves.
Bread Making 036
Photocredit: Catullus II
The next set of loaves were the Pain à L'Ancienne ciabatta. These loves went over like gang-busters. One of my friends is planning on making his own at home. I hope it works. The loaves were super bubbly and I taught one of my friends to gently shape the loaves.
Bread Making 009
Photocredit: Catullus II
Bread Making 008
Photocredit: Catullus II

The loaves were really beautiful when they came out of the oven, but I had to make mini loaves so that they would fit in the oven.
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Photocredit: Catullus II

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Photocredit: Catullus II
Next, I taught my friends to shape dough with the easy-to-shape fairly dry Norwich More-Sourdough. They did an amazing job.
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Photocredit: Catullus II

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Photocredit: Catullus II
Other friends scored the loaves and they came out pretty well for everyone's first times.
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Photocredit: Catullus II
Next, we had some pizza.
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Photocredit: Catullus II

The next morning, the last loaves that the eight of us made came out of the oven. These were just phenomenal. Sadly, only Catullus II, my parents, and I were still around to see them.
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Photocredit: Catullus II
Bread Making 078
Photocredit: Catullus II
Bread Making 086
Photocredit: Catullus II

This last set of loaves may have been some of the best bread I have ever tasted. Yum!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wine Snob: Wacky Wine Reviews

So one day, when I was putting off reading Vergil, I stumbled across a wine review podcast on iTunes called Marketview Liquor. It turns out that they've been producing these videos for a long time, but only recently put them up on iTunes. The two guys are wacky and fun, sort of similar to the way I write my wine reviews, but, unlike me, they actually know quite a bit.

In the podcast I posted above they describe two reds under $15. So, when I went to the birthday party of a friend I brought a bottle of Chateau Ste Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Sonoma County. I thought, as it had been recommended it would be fairly decent. However, it turned out to be hugely popular and quite tasty so I shared a bottle of it with Servia and Servius on Valentine's Day and they really liked it too. There's a little bit left from the other night, so I will have to try it again and write a fuller post.

My point in sharing the above anecdote is that although these guys are a little wacky, they know their stuff and seem to review the wines fairly and accurately (so far as I can tell). They are also quite amusing, so definitely check out the videos on the website or the podcast on iTunes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Buttermilk?

A week or so ago, I was really craving some waffles. So I set out a set of sourdough waffles from the King Arthur recipe to ferment overnight. One of the things required for sourdough waffles is buttermilk. I don't drink it or use it often enough to justify buying it. Although I would have gladly replaced it with milk, I know that there is something special about the acidity and the texture of buttermilk so I decided to try a tip I found and add lemon juice to it.

So, wanting to be health-conscious, I put some lemon juice in some skim milk. Unfortunately, it hardly curdled at all. So I decided to try the second tip and put in the vinegar. This worked great and the milk curdled as expected. Until the next morning.

When I woke up the next day and made myself some sourdough waffles they were really sour. I thought that it was strange, but I assumed for the first two bites that my sourdough culture had become oddly acidic. Then I realized that it wasn't sour, it was vinigar-y. With each bite, the waffle began to taste more like vinegar. Bleh.

So my warning is to beware of making your own buttermilk with vinegar. I've heard that one can buy buttermilk and freeze it in smaller bits so one does not have to use the whole thing before it expires. If anyone has some good tips, they would be much appreciated. For this particular recipe, I might even just try it with milk instead of buttermilk, or I might try this recipe instead.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Bread Lesson, A Second Course

I am doing a crash course in bread for some fellow classicists this weekend. I am really excited and I hope it all works out well. My last lesson was so much fun that I hope this one can live up to it. Instead of two I am teaching seven people so it should be quite the event. Catullus II might come over to help with the preparation so that I can make enough loaves at different stages that my friends can practice the different techniques. It is possible that Catullus II might take some photos of the bread and I'm hoping she'll let me post them. Wish me good luck!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bread Alternatives

This weekend was pretty crazy. Although I did a little better this week, I put off most of the reading for my graduate seminar until the weekend, which was totally stupid. And then I rushed a lot of it because I had to study for my Vergil exam which turned out to be on something entirely different. But that is another story. My point is that I did not have enough time to make bread.

So instead, I decided to try two recipes from Wild Yeast that took only a fraction ofthe time it might take to make a fresh loaf of bread. So I made a half-batch of Oat Bran Muffins and a whole batch of Sourdough Brownies.

Oat Bran Muffins:
Oat Bran Muffins
I made a half batch and I substituted non-fat milk for the powdered milk and water combination called for in the recipe and I used vegetable oil instead of olive oil. It also turned out that a half-batch of supposedly a 15 muffin batch made 11 muffins. Go figure. The thing is, I didn't really like these muffins. They were too sweet and just not quite right. Servius and a friend of his who was over for dinner on Saturday really like them. But I'm just not a fan. I think I could taste the apple sauce in them and I didn't like that flavor and I also would have preferred honey as the sweetener instead of sugar. Anyone have any ideas what I might replace the apple sauce with?

Sourdough Brownies:
Brownie -- Yum!
 The other thing I made was sourdough brownies. These were delicious. I didn't have any bittersweet chocolate and so I mixed unsweetened and semi-sweet with a little extra sugar. The result was a very dark chocolate fudgey brownie. Absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend these, but seriously, save yourself by freezing half the batch after baking. While the brownies were hot, I sprinkled a combination of milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips over the top and spread them into a thin layer so there is essentially a layer of frosting of the brownies. They are amazing heated slightly in the toaster oven.
Very Fudgey Interior
I would like to note that, against my expectations, neither of these taste sour at all. In fact, the taste just like I made them with regular flower. And the brownies are really delicious.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hiatus and Iguanas

I have been quite busy lately with school work and an increased demand for high school tutoring, so I have not updated my blog much recently. I finally am beginning, after the disaster of last weekend, to settle into a schedule for myself and my work, while immense, is actually manageable if I properly allot my time. I haven't been baking bread recently. Last weekend I put three loaves of bread in the freezer and we have been thawing and eating those. If the loaves are wrapped tightly enough they seem to fare pretty well in the freezer, actually, which is fabulous. Back to bread baking soon.

I attempt, for the most part, to remain fairly unpolitical on this blog because I tend to find people who proselytize on the internet to be annoying irrespective of whether I agree with them. However, I happened upon this article from Balkinization today and I thought it was quite well constructed. In the spirit of my usual blogging, I will let the article speak for itself.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.