In which we speak of food
In my spare time, I have been applying myself to the art of baking bread. That's not exactly accurate...I've been assembling ingredients and letting the bread machine do all the work. I am taking the credit, though, so that must count for something...
I started with a really great cardamom-sultana bread, which made excellent breakfast toast but was not as good for sandwiches. I moved through a nice hearty rye, then a buttermilk wheat that was perfect (great crumb, great crust, nice density). Then, I experienced my first failure. I am comforted by the fact that is was a failure of ambition, however: I am trying to make my first sourdough from my own, first sourdough starter. I followed the directions exactly, but when I opened the space age hatch on my space age baking box, I beheld a fallen loaf.
I may have erred in my alteration of the recipe--I was aiming for a more tart loaf. I may have added slightly too much yeast. Or, the least encouraging possibility: I might have a not good starter. It looked good to me and it smelled exemplary, but what do I really know about it. A new friend of mine here who bakes sourdough says that my starter looks a little thin. Very well; I shall add more flour and have another go. I may fail again before I really succeed, but the last failure was edible. That's the finest kind of failure.
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Dinner on Friday: miso glazed eggplant with garlic kale and vegetable-mushroom fried rice. I rule.
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I am very, very jealous of Don and Kash, who left Chicago for southern California, which means that they have farmers' markets all year long. Boston has its share of markets; I could hit one almost every day of the week, if I could navigate my way to each one. They stop in mid-October, however, and that's coming up a little faster than I like to consider. Last Friday at the Copley Square market, we got Brussels (Brussel? brussel?) sprouts (yes, I love them), a melon that turned out to be mediocre, some small squash, basil for pesto, golden cauliflower, a pound of honey, the aforementioned eggplant, and a pint of raspberries that didn't last us more than 10 minutes. Num. The previous week it was kale, turnip, beets, carrots, and grape tomatoes that, again, didn't last me more than 10 minutes. Love those. But in a few weeks, no more markets.
In Chicago, we belonged to a produce co-op that, through a series of arrangements with like-minded farms, was able to deliver all winter. The co-ops I've investigated here don't do that, and we're far too late to join one for this winter anyway. We co-oped in Chi for three years; I don't really remember how to buy (non-organic, non-local, non-seasonal, less high quality) produce at a grocery store, nor do we live near a good market with a good produce section. Whenever I'm at the store I can't stop thinking about how expensive it all is, and for an inferior product. The way I eat changed so much with the discovery of the co-op and the neighbourhood produce market; now I have to change back. No small feat.
What it underscores for me is that the way I'd come to consume food--the way I collected and prepared the nutrients I need daily--is really different from both the way I'd consumed most of my life, prior, and also the way that I'm going to be consuming for the near future, until I get myself together and make the effort (for it does take more effort to eat like I eat) to consume that way again.
So here's to making the effort to eat more true-ly. It's going to be more difficult for a while, and then it'll get easier again.