Saturday, February 9, 2013


I've got some. Some days, I read the news and I just want to crawl under a rock and let the world go crazy without me. School shootings, mall shootings, runaway government pushing its nose into every tent. They who still have the power to help themselves scream at the slightest inconvenience, until they get money dumped on them, while others who need help suffer their days in silence, forgotten and ignored. Some days I just want to walk away and let the lights go out. I just want to raise my son, protect my family, and let the chips fall where they may. The truth is, I can't. WE can't. Because when the lights go out, we know who will creep in the darkness. We know, deep down, who will suffer the most; it surely isn't those who most deserve it

No, when the lights go out, the power mad will reign. Our enclaves will surely be accosted from all sides, and no Galt's Gulch or mountain hideaway will be protection. When the lights go out, the cruel will sieze the world in clammy fists, and they will squeeze what they want from it. The tyrants will hold sway, and the weak will suffer. And we, who prepare, who warn of the danger, who set ourselves against oppression, will be like candles in the darkness- few, bright and fragile.

What will we do, when the darkness rises? Will we stand fast, and bear as much of the world as we can? Will we turn our backs on the cries of children? Will we stumble, and find in ourselves a mirror of those very ideals we resist? Who are we, in the dark?

I do know this- I cannot turn my back. I cannot turn away from the suffering of others, if I have some means to ease their woe. And so, I will remain, though I feel the tide of darkness rising about our feet. Gather yourselves, and steel your resolve. A shadow grows in the world, and there is much to be done if we are to survive it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sourdough, thy name is...

Lenin. At least, thats the name so far. I couldn't help it. Its a twofold joke, the first being that I started it with Red Star brand yeast; the second, thats about as far as I can see a communist culture getting. If left too long without an influx of resources (built by the hardworking farmers and millers), it will generally lose vigor and die. If you get it mixed into the dough, it will eventually cause an uprising, and it generates a lot of hot air and alcohol. So I asked My Lovely Wife who her favorite Commie is, and here we are. Hopefully, this will prove more useful in the long run.

I've now had this starter running for a week or so, and it seems to ne doing pretty well. I've used it to make two loaves of bread and a batch of tasty pancakes, and I've split it twice. The first split I put in the fridge, to see how it wakes up. I think that test will come tomorrow. The second split I gave to a cousin of mine, so we'll see how it fares at their house (they don't bake quite as often as I).

Some observations so far:

It seems to be developing the sourdough flavor more than I expected. Even from the first loaf (about three days in) it had developed to a degree. Since then I baked one more loaf, that I didn't taste, because I gave it away with the starter. I don't know how much flavor it has, but it certainly has the scent of sourdough. In an artisanal sense, this is a good thing. In an EOT situation, this is a bit limiting, as I don't know if I would like sourdough cinnamon rolls, for example. I may experiment later on with ways to reduce the sourdough flavor, but keep the yeast.

Baking and rise are giving good results. I generally eschew formal recipes, basing my bread from the 6-3-3-13 ratio I got from 'Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day'. In this case, I adjusted my volumes down to one loaf, and replaced one cup of water and one cup of flour with a cup of starter. I don't add any additional yeast, not because I am a purist, but becase this is an experiment for EOT breadmaking.

Care- My goal here is to see how easily I can maintain the starter. Feeding a copious amount of sugar, or using fancy supplies are not conducive to my goal. So my care regimin is pretty minimalist. I keep my starter in a quart mason jar, covered with a paper towel secured by a jar ring. Once a day, I feed it at least a half cup of flour and a half cup of water. On baking day, I feed a whole cup (to replace the cup I removed) and place the starter on the back of the stove, to make sure it stays good and warm while it eats. The one quart container lets me keep at least a cup of original starter, the added cup of feeder, and still have room to bubble and grow. If I were intending to bake more than a single loaf, I would transfer the usual cup of starter to a large bowl and double it for a day or so, to build up the supply.

So that's where I'm at with the sourdough project. Overall, proceeding rather well thus far. I'll keep posting as I keep experimenting.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A new Pet

I'm trying a new experiment. One of the things that I work towards on a regular basis is bringing all my various skills close to home. A big part of my prep plan is SHIP (SHelter In Place) rather than SHOW (SHelter Out in Wild) now that we have a young'un. And a big part of that plan is having food sources within walking distance.

I can grow a garden- I learned that last summer, and I'll be growing it a bit this year, and see what I can eke out of it. As it stands, we are still eating last summer's zuchinni, which I froze as it came ready. Meat is a little trickier- that'll be a barter situation at best, right now. And bread...

Oh, bread! I don't know if this is clear, but I love baking bread. Normally I'm a lousy baker, because I'm not real good at following recipes, but bread is a different story. Its a little bit alive, a little bit flexible, and a whole lot of satisfying. My new pet is a yeast culture.

In a technical sense, this is not a true sourdough starter. True sourdough has a level of lacto bacteria (related, I think, to the makers of sauerkraut), which is what makes it 'sour' tasting. My starter, on the other hand, is domestic. My goal is to see if I can maintain a yeast culture from a regular batch of bread.

To get it started, all I did was add a little water and scrape down the mixing bowl I made my last loaf of bread in. Next, I gave it a little flour and put it in a jar. Three days later, I have grown it from a tablespoon or so into about a quart of starter.

This stuff grows FAST! Because of the amounts involved, and the way the yeast processes things, starter increases in a geometric progression. Start with a quarter cup, which doubles by itself, then match it on the next feeding. Now you have a whole cup, which doubles to two cups. Feed it two cups, and those 4 cups double to eight cups. This is why its recommended to use or discard half of your starter with every feeding, else you would soon be adding flour by the bag and have starter measured in barrels, not cups. So, since the initial few feedings have gone well, I'm going to try my hand at baking with it. I'll let you know how it turns out!