Monday, March 19, 2012

The Beauty of Words

All week I've been trying to remember the term for the literary device that uses an extended metaphor that combines two different ideas into a single idea. The term, of course, is metaphysical conceit, the device used so expertly by the poet John Donne. No matter how many times I hear it, the words just don't seem to stick in my head. It drives me crazy.

The same thing seems to be true of Aeschylean vocabulary. No matter how many times I look at it, it just falls through the ever-widening cracks in my brain. Finals commence...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Things I Didn't Know About St. Patrick's Day

So I went to a really lovely St. Patrick's Day party yesterday hosted by my friend from Dublin. It was a fantastic way to blow off steam and take a break from studying for finals. While at the party, I realized that, despite being part Irish, I had a lot of misconceptions. Here are but a few of them:
  1. Irish (the language) can in fact function, despite lacking both a participle and an infinitive. They basically have really crazy syntax with what is essentially a gerund. Super cool.
  2. Black and Tans are not only not an Irish tradition, but they are actually offensive. I don't know whether the drink or the paramilitary group came first, but apparently a paramilitary group sent to put down the Irish Independence movement was named the Black and Tans for their khaki uniforms. I just assumed because Deco mentions drinking black and tans in The Commitments that they were an Irish drink, but he was supposed to be a generally offensive character. Nike made a similar mistake when they released a St. Patrick's day shoe called the Black and Tan. Oops.
  3. Spotted Dog is not Irish. In fact, it is much sweeter than traditional Irish soda bread, although it is made in a similar manner.
  4. One I already knew, but though I would add anyway is that the Irish don't drink Irish Car Bombs, a drink made with whiskey, Guinness, and Irish Cream. For obvious reasons, the name is offensive. So Cerinthus renamed it a Warp Spasm, which is a famous translation of an Old Irish word for battle frenzy (I think).
Anyway, I have to get back to work, but I thought I would share some of this. Have a lovely Sunday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

eBooks and Price Fixing

I haven't had much time to write because I am trying to get through all of my work at the end of the quarter. Over break I will try to do a bunch of updates.

Sitting in Latin class today, I notice a bunch of people following along with the secondary sources on their kindles and ipads. For any class with secondary sources in PDF form, it's more cost-effective for students to buy an e-reader than to print out the articles.

On that note, I thought I would re-post something I saw today on Kindle World Blog, which is an article about the justice department reprimanding Apple and some of the large publishers for price fixing. This should be interesting...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Holy Grail: Quick and Crispy Sourdough Waffles

Crispy Waffles
 These are delicious! I mentioned I've been looking for some sourdough waffle recipes that aren't too sour and not too unhealthy. I found it. This one uses no butter and is fantastic and it only takes a few minutes to make. For the recipe, see the Pancake Recipe on Wild Yeast. I exchanged the maple syrup for honey, I used a combination of white and whole wheat starter (about 50/50) and I added a tiny bit of skim milk in order to make the batter a little easier to spoon into the waffle maker. The waffles were extra crispy (although I changed the timing on them to make them that way--approximately doubling the time they were in the waffle maker) and I cut the waffle recipe in half. It made about 3 servings with the half recipe. Enjoy!

Note: 03/07/12: I made these as pancakes the other day as well. They were terrific. I hope everyone with a sourdough starter tries this recipe either as waffles or pancakes.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Poilâne "Miche"

Not really as burnt as it looks in this lighting, I swear.
I think I have finally become a real baker! I took two stunning (although not with my lighting and my camera) loaves out of the oven this morning of the famous Poilâne miche. I did, however, make a few modifications because the dough and I weren't getting along. I substituted a little durum flour and a little whole wheat flour for the high extraction flour and I added about 1oz extra water.

Part of the reason that I made it was because one of my favorite professors went to Paris. I told her to pick up a Poilâne miche, but sadly, her only day off from the conference was Sunday so the shops were not open. I decided to make one for her to show what she missed.

The crusts bloomed nicely and they sang. However, I messed up with the oven temperature on the batard because I forgot to turn it down the final time to 425 degrees F.
The baby miche
Sister loaves
The formula as I meant to make it was as follows (from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, essentially):
Day One: Make the Starter
  • Starter
    • 198g (1 cup/7oz) Starter (I will use 100%) 
    • 255g (2 cups/9 0z) first-clear flour 
    • 113g (1/2cup/4 oz) water, at room temperature 
  • Mix until it comes together. Then knead for 3 minutes. Let sit for 4-6 hours (or until double in size) and then refrigerate overnight  

Day Two: Make the Dough
  • Take out of the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough. Dissolve the starter in the water. 
  • Final Dough
    • All of the starter
    • 907g (7 cups/32 oz) first-clear flour 
    • 23g (3.25teaspoons salt/0.81 oz) salt 
    • 510-624g (2-2 3/4cups/18-22oz) water, lukewarm (90-100 F) 
  • Mix the dough 
  •  Knead for 12-15 minutes or until window-pane test
  • Ferment for 4 hours or until the dough nearly doubles in size 
  • Shape 
  • Retard for 2-3 hours OR let proof overnight  

Day Three: Bake the Bread
  • Take the bread out 4 hours before you plan to bake
  • Half an hour before baking and preheat the oven to 500 degrees
  • Turn down to 450 degrees and steam for 25-35 minutes
  • Turn down to 425 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes
I messed up on the fermentation. It was too cold and I did not adjust the time sufficiently, so the crumb wasn't perfect.

I gave some to my professor. The bread tasted great so I am not upset with my decision, although I do wish that it had been my best work. Oh well.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

An Oberservation on Sourdough Waffles

I have made a couple of attempts at sourdough waffles over the past month. In the first one, I had a problem with my homemade buttermilk. But now, after trying this second batch, I think that the homemade buttermilk is only half of the problem. To try and avoid the issue of buttermilk, I tried this recipe (I set it up last night and made the waffles this morning). Like the last batch, these waffles had a strongly sour almost vinegary taste. I realized that the main problem is my starter because I did not have the same problem with my original batch of sourdough pancakes.

So, I realized that instead of using unfed "discard" starter (i.e. the starter I should discard before feeding in order to keep the wild yeast young and fresh), I should use young starter made in the manner of the Tartine Bread (i.e. a tablespoon of mature starter in a mix of flour and water let to mature until it smells like fruit and floats in water) or similar. I will try again!