Monday, March 24, 2008

Bread Adventures

My sister sent me a challenge -- or maybe it was more of a request. This is the same fabulous sister who helped me reorganize my whole studio, shop, and part of my home -- the organizational genius! How could I possibly refuse her anything??

A friend had sent her the base recipe from a book called
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois and, since I'm the bread baker in the family, she wanted me to try it first and work out any kinks there might be in the recipe. Then, when we get together the next time, I can show her how to do it. She is particularly interested in trying to get a result like one of her favorite, very expensive, specialty bakery loaves.

Here is my first attempt at Pan d’Epi, as it sits restin
g, along with a standard boule. I think my dough may be too wet, or perhaps it had not aged long enough (only about 26 hours), so the shapes didn't hold quite as well as I had hoped they would. It was still a lot of fun. Here's the final feast photo -- at least part of the feast. There's a blueberry pie I just had to include in the photo, along with some lovely French wine and a large salad of mixed greens. Yum!

The bread was a huge success! As I said, the dough didn't hold the pretty shapes as well as I had hoped, but it was delicious and I do mean "was". It's all gone. So, I know this isn't the usual kind of blog material, but I just had to post some pictures so that my sister and her friend could see how everything came out.

I'll actually have some Stampeaz news to post very shortly. I have cool new stuff. :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Chicken Story, Part 3

I talked to my brother the other night. He said there was a celebration in progress and you will soon see why. :) First, here's a nice picture of my sister-in-law hugging the very lucky chicken! Isn't she pretty -- I mean the chicken -- my sister-in-law is pretty, too, but you can't see much of her in this photo! The chicken is very social. She doesn't mind being held and she talks quite a bit as she gently pecks at shoe laces, grommets and anything shiny that might be tasty. I'm looking forward to meeting this character the next time I head north!

Then, of course the great cause for celebration? Well, here it is:

A perfect, brown egg. :) I'm not sure who views this accomplishment with the greatest pride. The chicken's new mom looked up information about chicken frostbite on the Internet and learned that, until the comb was completely healed, the chicken would not lay an egg. Sure enough, the day before she produced this beauty, the last little bit of black icky stuff fell off the chicken's comb.

My sister visited and took lots of pictures, so I should have more shots to share before long. I can see carving inspiration coming my way! Yipee!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Chicken Story, Part 2

Okay, it does run in the family -- we all spoil the critters! :)

The chicken is doing well. She has become a regular part of the family. Here she is, stretched out on her side and basking by the fire again with her feet extended toward the stove. This time she is joined by Kizzie the family cocker spaniel. They had a tense moment when Kizzie was trying to be the dominant dog, but the chicken pecked her on the nose and there hasn't been any trouble since! Kizzie learned a new respect for that strange new member of the pack!!

This chicken is seriously into basking -- here she is in a lovely patch of sunlight. Do you think she has bad memories of being cold? I do! I also think that she's a perfect addition to the decor - she matches everything in the room so beautifully, and she looks like she knows it, too!

Kizzie and the chicken are both very fond of Cheerios. My sister-in-law is extremely popular, since she controls the container. However, the chicken has learned which cupboard has the Cheerios box in it and she will stand in front of the door and peck at it to make it clear that it's time for a handout!

Here's another shot of the very attentive pair, this time begging for "o"s from my brother. The chicken is a little hard to see, because she blends in so well with the chair leg. I just think this is so funny! A chicken and a dog waiting for treats, side by side!

The chicken is also very talkative -- the last time I talked with my sister-in-law on the telephone, the chicken was crooning, clucking and carrying on in the background. She seemed to have a very nice little voice, but I understand that she can get quite demanding when she hears my brother get up first thing in the morning. She has very acute hearing (unlike Kizzie, who is a bit on the deaf side), so she wakes immediately and insists on being let out of her kennel to snack and snooze by the fire.

Have you noticed that the chicken doesn't have an official name yet? They're afraid that if they name her it will be all over -- they'll never be able to give her away to another flock! Of course, why would they want to do that anyway??