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La Leña

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It’s odd, I think, how autumn has sneaked up on me. It seems like it was just hot and humid and sunny (like it was for the better part of this past summer), and now today I received my annual delivery of firewood (not to mention that it is cool and damp outside). Four cords, that’s how much I get every year. I know to some (who heat with wood) this doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is to me. It’s enough to carry me through the fall, winter, and spring months, and still have a little left over. I just have a small wood stove that is an auxiliary heat source, not my main heat source. But when to weather is cool or slightly cold–not frigged–it is enough to heat most of the house, as it is tonight. The wood stove is strategically placed next to my office space in the front of the house and is currently blazing away. It’s bitter-sweet in a way. While I love the change of seasons I lament the loss of summer (and another season gone by…the passing of time). The picture above shows the wood after it was just dumped off the truck…in the very spot where I grow my front yard garden. Normally I have my teen-aged son help me haul it down our narrow alleyway to the backyard and and stack it, but today he had school (I usually have it delivered on a weekend)…lucky him. When he was leaving for school I asked him if he was glad that he didn’t have to haul and stack this year; his answer…”um, yes.”

Urban Simplicity.

la nuit

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Urban Simplicity.

Five Photos of Flowers

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Just Four Ingredients (OK, Five)

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

That beautiful loaf of bread pictured above was made with the four basic bread ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt. The best part is that it was made with 100% whole wheat flour. That’s the reason I added a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to the recipe (the fifth ingredient). Whole wheat flour has less gluten…the bread dough’s muscle, if you will. Anyhow, this is easy to make, really delicious, and super healthy. I hope you try it, even if it’s hot out. For more detail directions, with many more photos of the bread being made, click here.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 2 loaves

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
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4 cups whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2 cups water
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3 teaspoons instant yeast
3 teaspoons kosher salt

In one bowl make a preferment by combining 2 cups of whole wheat flour with 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons of instant yeast. Begin the autolyse in another bowl by combining 4 cups of whole wheat flour, the wheat gluten, and 2 cups water. Stir each bowl just enough to combine the ingredients, taking care not to get yeast into the bowl with the autolyse. Cover both bowls and allow to rest and ferment for 30-90 minutes, during which time the preferment will begin it’s job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak the grain, swelling the gluten.

After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and remaining 3 teaspoons of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl). Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans (or shape them fre-form and place them on baking sheets). Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains.

Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing. 

Just a quick note…

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Just a quick note to say a couple things. The first is that I will be away from my computer for the next week or so, thus postings will be sporadic if any at all. But also, I just wanted to say thanks for visiting and subscribing to my meager little blog (s). Over the past year readership has doubled and for that I am very grateful…it makes me know that I am not typing away into an empty void. Anyhow…be back soon, please stay tuned.
Until then…peace.
Joe

Pictures of Water and a Few Other Things

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Today it was hot, humid, and overcast. To get a breath of fresh air this evening I rode the short distance to Erie Basin Marina and drank a couple beers while I listened to free live music and snapped a few pictures. The marina is a crossroads (or more specifically, a cross-waters) of the Buffalo River, the Erie Canal, and Lake Erie. Click any image for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Three Photos and a Few Words

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I took the above photo just a few minutes prior to typing these words. It is about 9:00pm and without question a truly idyllic spring evening here in Western New York. It is so beautiful I felt the need to share it the best I can via this electronic media. There is not a cloud or wind in the sky and the temperatures is around 64F/18C…just lovely. And the day was just as beautiful. I spent most of the day inside working but did get a chance to be out for a while. The picture immediately below is of the garden that is just outside the rear door of my place of employment. And the last photo below is really the most interesting, I think…albeit a bit gruesome. It’s something I witnessed yesterday in my backyard. At first I thought an injured spider was slowly trying to make its way across a railing. But upon closer inspection I could see that three ants were not only attempting to carry the spider’s carcass, but actually pull it through a hole (which is visible under the spider). After several unsuccessful attempts they began to dismantle the spider and take it down a piece at a time. I couldn’t watch after a while, and when I looked this morning it was gone. Anyhow, the image’s juxtaposition is what I thought was really interesting…the incredible natural beauty of nature and at the same time the sometimes gruesome task of survival.

Urban Simplicity.

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