Monday, September 22, 2008

1 Tomato, 2 Tomato, 3 Tomato, 4...

Striped Cavern, top;
Bull's Heart, bottom

The sun is shining again as I wake up, it must be a high barometric pressure day, oh joy, oh bliss as I am not as stiff as usual. Richard has already been for coffee, returning as I take the dogs out to the garden yard. I wander around briefly, then roll up the beach mats and shower curtain. The Fall birds are back: Robins, Stellar Jays, Towhees, Chickadees, Flickers, assorted Sparrows. The air is filled with their chatter. Late in the summer, round about the end of July, they all disappear inland, for a holiday I surmise. But come September, they return and we look forward to hearing their voices again.

The Garden Boat looks good as usual, tomatoes ripening slowly. Richard picks a few Tumbling Toms and we discuss our day. He has to work at 3pm, I need to go out and get some Caraway Seed from the Health Food Store. I forgot to purchase some when I was there on Saturday. As Gina would say, "Some-Timers". He suggests we go to the Victoria Quay to watch the birds and see if their are any Black Bears fishing across the Canal. I like the sounds of that so we are off.

Richard notices a small flock of Canada Geese on a sandbar across the water from us, and I spot a rather large flock floating towards them, about 500 yards upstream. He laughs when I point them out and comments "maybe they are rival "gangs" out looking for a rumble." "Kind of a 'Geese in the Hood', you mean" I say. He chuckles and says "yeah, like that." We go back and forth for a bit about the Goose Gangs and watch the flocks with interest.

Suddenly something large moves behind the smaller flock of geese and I point out a Black Bear to Richard. "Must be muscle for the small flock," he says. I grin, and quickly shoot some photo's of the bear and the birds. I notice they move away from the lumbering beast, respecting his size and appetite.

On the way home I get the Caraway seed I need, inhaling its scent as I pour it into the bag, envisioning loaves of warm Pumpernickel and Rye Bread, fresh from the oven with cream cheese and maybe some green olives too. Yes, I DO have an active imagination. Why do you ask?

One more stop at the Dollar Giant for a couple of their small tarps for the garden boat then we start home, but Bente finds us as we are just leaving the parking lot. "I found your yeast" she says. "I opened the kitchen window and set it on the tv for you." Oh wow, I am really excited now. Of course I tell her to come over for a cappuccino.

Back home I am just putting the dogs in the garden yard when she arrives. She was unsuccessful at Safeway's but the baker there told her to go to Mountain View Bakery, on this side of town, and she was able to purchase a pound for me there. For $2.50! Oh I can't wait to try it out.

We talk about this and that and when Richard comes in, I reach in the tomato bowl and pull out a ripe Bull's Heart, a ripe Striped Cavern and a ripe Black Prince. We slice them onto a paper plate and have a taste testing. Richard pulls out the bread I made yesterday and he and Bente enjoy tomatoes on bread. I am surprised at the consensus for the best tasting. We love them all, but I think the one that comes out on top is the Striped Cavern. The Bull's Heart might be one day too ripe. It would be a fabulous cooking tomato, great for sauces and chunky Salsas. The Black Prince is sweet and spicy, great for salads and sandwiches, while the Striped Cavern has an almost Lemon-like tang to it. Like the Sweet Peppers it resembles, the Striped Cavern is half hollow with the seeds and flesh up at the stem end and the skin is firmer, a perfect stuffing tomato.

After our taste test, Bente and I walk out in the garden yard and I pick her some ripening Yellow Mortgage Lifters, a small Black Prince and a Striped Cavern to take home to finish ripening on her window sill. I had given her a small loaf of Spelt bread I made yesterday with the promise of more to come, baked with the fresh yeast she got for me.

Time to research recipes that use the fresh yeast. And I find a Country Rye Bread that has possibilities. This one is for a stand mixer, which I have, but would rather make a smaller version of the recipe. Right below it on the page is one for Bread Machines. I choose it for my test batch, and will let the machine do the work of mixing and kneading for me, then bake it in my oven.

First portion out the yeast. I have a digital kitchen scale, so should be able to weigh the yeast as I cut it off the block. I have found an internet page that tells me the equivalent amount of fresh to dry yeast ratio. It says 2 oz fresh compressed/cake yeast = a strip of 3 envelopes or packets of yeast. Ok, that should be easy. It also says that 1 envelope of dry yeast = .06oz of cake yeast. Hmmmm. I start to measure. One chunk, um, ok, needs a bit, too much now, remove a pinch...a pinch more, ok got it. Put that on a piece of parchement paper. Measure out more - I want to have enough measured and wrapped to make 3 more lots of bread once this is tried...

...have I mentioned that I don't do math? I mean, besides add, subtract, multiply and divide simple numbers? I try, no really, I try but I am just not a math person. The concept just excapes me, no matter what. Suffice it to say that I "think" I managed to get 3 blocks of yeast wrapped up and in the fridge that are .06oz in weight. I think. Time will tell. Soon the bread machine is mixing merrily away. I can't resist checking it periodically. The dough ball is "tacky" but not "sticky", a good sign.

It's evening and the dogs and I put the boat to bed, rolling down the beach mats again and tying them off so the wind can't blow them around. Canada Geese honk their way across the sky above me, and I smile thinking of the 'Geese in the Hood' conversation earlier in the day. That could be truer than you think, Geese in the Hood, for they can be nasty creatures if you get in their way. Time to go in and bake the bread. It looks not too bad, for a test loaf.

Now it's baking and oh my goodness it smells wonderful! Can't wait to try it. Richard will be home from work just after 8pm, just when it is cooling. I'll be hard pressed to make him wait to try it.

Come to think of it, I'll be hard pressed to keep me from trying it. Just think, homemade Caraway Rye bread, fresh from the oven, slathered in butter, dripping with yummy goodness....oh I can't stand to wait!

Yeah, I know...BITZ!

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