Mar 30, 2011

8-step program

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
that's not butter.


judy motzkin's cloche slays it again. after various experiments with long-retardation, i began to fool around with rough-milled rye and increasing the amount of starter in the dough (this is a formula from peter reinhardt, by way of wildyeast). this accelerates the first fermentation ("bulk fermentation") of the dough so that you could, if you wanted, have fresh bread in about 6 hours.

rye makes dough sticky beyond belief and appears to become workable by hand only after lots and lots of retardation in a nice cold refrigerator. i followed instructions for time and temperature (which did not include a long cold period), so did not benefit. if you choose to knead a rye-heavy dough by hand, here are some discoveries i have made.

  1. dough on fingers dissolves most readily in warm water. hot water, apart from being uncomfortable, also cooks the dough onto you. 
  2. answering the phone while kneading is not recommended.
  3. wood toothpicks are best for getting dough out of the spaces between cellphone keys.
  4. folding the dough is easier and more effective than kneading it. 
as a test, i split the dough into two batches of equal mass, one baked with the cloche and the other on a pizza stone with a steel mixing bowl over the top. the loaf you see below is from the cloche: mildly sour, lots of rye flavour, incredible oven spring, great crisp, caramelised crust, tender crumb with great aeration. 

this competent but much less delightful loaf is from the stone. still decent oven spring, nice-ish crust caramelisation, but the final rise in the oven was not as uniform, and the crumb is not as well aerated (alas, no crumb shot):

Mar 26, 2011

leche asada


laphroaig, vanilla ice cream, and a baked custard. eleni roasted a leg of lamb last night, and julieta made this to follow. it suffered a little from the bike ride up from central square.

next acquisition target


in case you are unaware, this is a photo of a real live copy of modernist cuisine. from a 25 minute rapid flipthrough, the book is as promised, maybe more. the typography is oddly 90s in feel: i don't think i've seen optima used as body text since 1998 when it was de rigueur for certificates and other official documents, and the title type is reminiscent of eurostile (but is actually not). the photographic reproduction is killer, though (stochastic screening is part of the reason).

let us not forget that the set weighs 40 pounds and requires special protective packaging inside a dedicated box the size of a cube fridge.

[with thx to corby, for letting me see modernist cuisine in the flesh. so to speak.]

perhaps better in concept than actual deployment

Mar 23, 2011

Mar 19, 2011

at the taco bell drive-thru

little honda

the geometry of pasta


from a review of the geometry of pasta:

[Included in this book are recipes detailing] the ingredients needed for over 200 sauce preparations that run the gamut from obscure (Lumace alla Lumache, or Snails with Snails) to the near pedestrian, like Frankfurters and Fontina, a recommended pairing with the wheel shaped Rotelline, "a complex, arguably uninspired shape that was only possible with the advancement of the pasta industries mechanization," an advancement that was apparently "much lauded by the Fascists."
via feasting never stops

Mar 18, 2011

a tolerable existence

on which, also see this.

Mar 17, 2011

individuals and the species

Men are to be viewed as the organs of their century, which operate mainly unconsciously.

Mar 16, 2011

what i did this weekend

the people at the environmental studies program at lake forest are real nice. the fragment up there is a piece of the forma urbis romae, a giant marble map of ancient rome. the presentation is here.

Mar 11, 2011

the flavour of tea

ritual, sweet tooth "la orquidea." apparently, a single shot gibraltar at hirise is now known as a vaughn.

Mar 9, 2011

when desks are too high

we take a hacksaw to their legs. an hour later, the desk is finally at the correct height for me (25.75"). it feels great.

Mar 6, 2011


To show how a fact is useful is not to explain how it was created or why it is as it is. The uses it serves presuppose the specific properties characterising it, but do not create them. The need we have of things cannot give them their specific nature, or cause them to come into being. It is to causes of another sort that they owe their existence. The idea we have of their utility may indeed motivate us to put these forces to work and to elicit from them their characteristic effects, but it will not enable us to produce these effects out of nothing. This proposition is evident so long as it is a question only of material, or even psychological, phenomena. It would be equally undisputed in sociology if social facts, because of their extreme intangibility, did not—mistakenly—appear to us without all intrinsic reality.


this, apparently, is my twitter network. [thx tali]

Mar 4, 2011

Mar 1, 2011

the sense of dissonance

(if you are interested)
leads to discovery
william carlos williams, paterson iv
[found in the sense of dissonance, courtesy of the pragmatism reading group]