Everything I try turns out great meatballs

Two eggs are not shown.

A bunch of flavor things are not shown, Worcestershire sauce, for example.

Chile powders and thinly slice garlic for two others. 

Salt, pepper, oregano, cumin for four more.

And cilantro, more than this mint. But not parsley.

A pile of cheese is grated too but that photo is gone.

A tin of tomatoes is not shown. 

And a half cup of pecans is not shown.

Maybe your Italian nona won't like this, but I don't care. I don't have to put up with her perfectionism.

Masterpiece Theater, Bread: bad, good and ugly

The contents of this jar is water and 100% whole wheat that I milled here. It is sourdough starter, levain, in the part of the bread world that is French. And doesn't that sound a lot like "leaven?"

This is a story of real life struggle, of failure and of redemption. The pictures tell first of curiosity and then resolve and finally resolution describing the phases of suffering of the soul and the triumph of human spirit over adversity.

*looks behind over shoulder*

Well, it does.

I say that about everything.

I do get a good shape but it doesn't hold. A skin does not form properly, it does not stretch properly, its unmanageability is a great disadvantage as is its incredibly long proofing. It takes too long to rise. It flattens to a blob that cannot be managed. 

I let my disgust known. It went away. That was yesterday. I picked it out of the trash just now to show you. This is not what I want.

What went wrong? 

The NYT slow proof overnight with high water content does not work well. The transfer deflates and the dough does not recover. It takes too long. And too much additional flour.

A different approach. 

The fresh dough is started again, another overnight proofing but this time with regular yeast backup the usual way with two tablespoon of liquid sourdough starter as if it were acting alone, and 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast slowly building in the background if the natural leaven doesn't kill it. Stiff dough this time. Allowed to proof overnight. Stretched. Folded. Proofed again. Baked. 

[This is the spot where evidentiary photographs are missing. During this critical period the camera was being used to record ancillary events. With the phone enlisted as timer. So backup phone-camera, a good one too, is unavailable. Not even for calls.  

Bread 1 is unfit for presentation. It could serve in a pinch but why bother?  It is a an affront to its type and everyone knows it. And suddenly another loaf already proofed appears. Surely Bread 2 murdered Bread 1 because there Bread 2 is taking Bread 1's place and unlovely Bread 1 is gone missing.  

And all we have for evidence is the coming and goings of art lovers and Bronco fans. 

It was deeply puzzling at first to observers why the Art Museum is so popular today. They researched online what is happening there but saw nothing noteworthy that would draw family bundled in coats and baby carriages piled with blankets. What is happening there that could draw people from far and wide all at once? And with bread missing. How odd.

Then hours later even greater crowd appearing simultaneously, and all apparently construction workers dressed in their orange reflective clothing. The whole place crawling with construction workers all moving in the same direction. And with bread missing. Very odd.

Turns out they're all Bronco fans. Both coming and going. Fat people. Bread eaters. Beer drinking types. Bread and beer, those are the chief dietary components of this lot. Carbs all the way.

Blame for Bread 1 murder shifted first to presumed Art Museum goers until it was discovered nothing special was happening there so blame shifted back to Bread 2. 

Then when it was discovered the unexpected and unaccounted for crowd of outsiders are actually construction workers known to consume large quantities of bread so blame shifted to them and Bread 2 was temporarily cleared. 

Until it was discovered the construction workers are really bread eating beer drinking Bronco fans wearing orange and celebrating their Superbowl win with rituals involving bread, then blame was shifted properly to Bronco fans and Bread 2 was cleared.

Until it was discovered that Bronco fans like their bread mostly with bratwurst or other hearty meats like hamburgers or meatballs or venison then blame shifted back to Bread 2.

Until I confessed. Yes it was I who threw Bread 1 into the bin.  It was me all along  and Bread 2 is cleared permanently. We celebrated by returning Bread 1 to the bin and eating Bread 2. 

Thank you Rob in comments for pointing out this missing portion. ]

The seam that I made is a weakness. This is the way the dough was stretched and folded.  If I were professional, then I'd fold in such a way as to make only one seam and then put that seam on the bottom. This seam will split open before the dough expands and pushes through the slits that I cut for it. Oh well. That's the difference between me and a pro.

The back split did not open up.  ↑

The front split and middle split did open up widely. ↓

Sourdough win.

Aerogarden mint

This is Pastafarian's idea of using the Aerogarden to grow greenhouse mint. His letter described here

I am reusing old pods that held previous sponges for seeds. Now the pods are empty. No sponge. What should I use to anchor the plants? Hydroponic gardens use specific materials that I do not have. Dirt will not do. Aquarium pebbles are too small. Cotton balls cake. I could tear apart an adult diaper such as I used for the coconut hanging baskets outdoors. They contain absorbent material that swells. I decide on this screen used by artists to produce armature for plaster infused bandages. It's been around for a decade, might as well be put to use. It worked very well. I think. Maybe it rusts and won't work. I don't know. 

Mine are the earlier version Aerogardens, the new ones are less expensive and a lot better. Their LED lights last much longer. These lights are proprietary and must be replaced each time. I don't do that and the plants suffer because of it. The new owners have come a long way in improving the company. They offer a lot more kits. Their kit prices are down. Their plant food is improved. The lights and the units are all improved. They are altogether better than when I first encountered the company. 

Pastafarian has a problem with mint. He is more particular than I. He searches the world over until he finds true mint love but I am pleased with all that I find.

lox on whole wheat sourdough

Note to self: Do no buy this type lox anymore. The pieces are stuck together. Look, you get four slices, it's over a dollar a small slice and and they're stuck. Boo.

Note to self: Give up on tomatoes this time of year. These are grape tomatoes and they're dead awful. 

Conclusion: Unappealing. Everything is gross. Don't make this anymore.

corn fritters, red kidney beans with jalapeño, rice

These fritters are so light and delicate they can hardly be moved without breaking apart. Every ingredient and every result is déclassé as can be and yet incredibly satisfying individually and together. The flavor riot is loud, the textures varying and pleasing, there is a real meal here, it includes butter and egg and bacon grease. 

And the bulk of it is from tins.

The first time Mum made corn fritters I was six and I could not get enough of them. I ate them as fast as she could make them. Pile after pile. They are an amazing invention and they left a lasting impression. 

I always wanted her to make her magic corn fritters.

She made them with tinned creamed corn.

I processed half the tin of regular corn and left the rest whole and treated the liquid separately adding it in increments as I went along creating a pancake-like mixture.

I diced half an onion and beat an egg into it with sugar. Then salt. Whole corn and processed corn from the same tin, liquid from the tin. It has chile powder and black pepper. And masa harina instead of corn meal. A teaspoon of bacon grease. That's it. I think.

Next time I'll use a little flour also, say a tablespoon, and enough compensating liquid, to behave as paste to help hold together better. That is the single improvement I imagine.
[Baking powder activates in the bowl while holding its turn to be fried. You don't want that. You don't want the chemical leaven to activate before you are ready to pour the batter into the pan. Baking power is added separately for each frying batch. Batter for each batch is transferred to a separate bowl and baking power for that portion alone added. That way it cannot activate before you are ready to use it.]
Children will love these. 

The beans are a world to themselves. The jalapeño added unwanted vinegar so that is countered with sugar as well. The bleu cheese warps that odd sweet/sour profile to something alien and unexpected. It does not belong.

The rice is also sweet and sour, also with bacon grease, also with strong flavors of ginger, garlic, and mustard, but all that muted by starch and diminished comfortably by the outrageous aggressively flavored beans. While the corn fritters cast back to childhood. Yes, a very good meal. For me.

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