Breakfast salad, chicken, turkey, cranberry dressing

New American Breakfast, fifth in a series, which you might notice bears a striking resemblance to lunch. It contains wheat grain in the form of two small 30% of whole wheat sourdough croutons. Because what is a salad without croutons, huh? Less crunchy, that's what. And what is bread if not sourdough, huh? Less interesting, that's what. And what is sourdough if not whole wheat? Well. I do not know what to say. I tire of all these insipid crouton-related questions!

This salad uses the frozen pieces of chicken and turkey roasted earlier, and I think it's the chicken that is the most interesting. The chicken which was raised to be a roaster is more tasty than the turkey which should have been raised to be older. It was a small turkey and that is bad as far as turkeys go, so I've learned, because it means they were too young for market. No flavor. But I tell you, this stuff is going fast, still frozen straight out of the freezer with no prep to mention so it is in no way actually bad. And when it happens that this combination is all gone, which will be soon, I'm going straight out there and get two more chickens just like this one and do this again without the turkey next time and see how great that is.

It also has that wonderful lettuce that I enjoy so much, all kinds of varieties of tender baby heads from which to choose, beefsteak tomatoes, and a nice perfectly ripe avocado along with a tart Granny Smith apple cut into chunks.

The dressing is similar to raspberry vinaigrette in that raspberry vinegar is used, but instead of including raspberry jam like you're supposed to do, that cranberry mixture prepared earlier was used instead, because it was there, and because I love it, and because of the turkey and the chicken, and because I also like a good dare, even if its only a dare to myself.

I would be proud to put this on the menu if I ran a restaurant, which I do not, and pleased to serve it to guests in which case I would include chunks of goat cheese to kick up the extravagance factor and to show off my salad-making chops, my casual cavalier éclat that is so impressive. And then sit there and act all dull and demure like, "Wut?" As if I could not hold back these creative impulses if I tried.

Denver sourdough

In case there's any confusion, this is the first of two separate batches of sourdough that proofed and fermented concurrently. One began after the other and their cycles overlapped. There are two identical mixer bowls. This one held sourdough sponge developed from a culture collected from the air in Denver, and the second one holds a sponge that will be baked on Wednesday. The Wednesday culture was developed directly from whole wheat grain and it is described in detail over a series of posts starting here.

Following a series of feedings, doubling the amount of water each time until the culture peaked at the top of the jar, the starter was moved to this mixer bowl. At that point it no longer benefitted from assistance of helping warmth that was intended to hasten revivification. One final feeding after the above photo which again doubled the amount of water contained in the sponge, kneading in this machine, then three days fermentation in the mixing bowl placed in the refrigerator to retard the yeast. The sponge was removed from the refrigerator and unceremoniously dumped onto a floured working surface . It was too wet and had to be corrected with additional flour. That's a bit of a shame because that fresh flour is bland, and unaffected by the fermentation, although the culture would appreciate being fed again, if cultures are capable of appreciation, at any rate, the organisms used the refreshment flour for food. I'd rather the sponge be too stiff and corrected by additional water. If this happens again, I'll reinsert the hook and knead again thoroughly. This additional flour is causing minor problems with the shaped loaves.

A few years back this sourdough culture was collected over a period of a few days in winter. I'm imagining the airborne organisms being carried on Northern jet streams, lifted high into the atmosphere, blown across mountains, being pushed down low, sailing across treetops, speeding above towns, then finally landing in my bowl of slurry made of water and flour. Plunk. On the other hand, maybe they fell off the balcony railing. Clumsy dummen köpfen. At any rate these would be the aggregate survivors of extreme conditions. I'm assuming there were others that perished. But now these survivors have landed where they can return to active life and thrive. I encourage them. I know what they like and I give it to them, welcome them, induce them to reproduce maniacally with the promise of a profoundly abundant tomorrow. Their automatic responses are easily manipulated.

But first they must beat up the other sleeping organisms that will also reawaken that were already present in the flour used for the slurry where they landed though in lesser numbers and also in survival stasis and rejuvenated together in the same slurry, aroused by the same salubrious conditions. This should be easy enough since they outnumber them by the millions. Defeat them and slay them, or seduce and conscript them, one way or another, at first it's war. Or at least a dispute, at the very least a competition for resources. At any rate, certain strains or groups of strains will predominate.

That's how I visualize that, anyway.

But now they have thrived, they have lived it up and they have died, died the little death that is a long sleep so complete that they quite nearly lost their identities entirely, they withdrew from active life and held forth in diminished but hardened form, they were reawakened again and thrived again, multiplied in the various ways available to them, budding through both meiosis and mitosis and union with their counterpart identities or all by themselves. Then they died the little death again, thrived again, died again, and so on cycling like this for generations and for what on the microbial scale seems to be an age. None of the original organisms even still exist. If they haven't been baked they've perished along the way having extended themselves beyond their original selves which have long since collapsed somewhere at some time during their adventures. They perished completely as have their clones and their offspring and the clones of their clones and the offspring of their offspring on through generations. They've leavened dough, they flavored bread, they've been consumed, processed with that fuel, and been evacuated, as it were, or assimilated, and still through all of that, their flawless genetic copies of themselves persist in strains among those ageless unceasing cycles of survival, thriving, deep slumber and death. It's encouraging. The survivalist mechanisms of these microorganisms is exemplary.

As survivors of the freezing cold air, this culture, this particular combination of strains, is cold-enured. What that means to the baker is that cold storage fermentation will have hardly any effect on them at all. It will barely slow down these little guys. Bakers call that cold storage "retardation," but to this culture it means little more than a cool fermentation. This culture behaves differently than cultures collected on tropical islands and desert stretches. Because of having survived extreme cold and having been culled by that freezing this culture is stronger, faster, more virile, more tolerant, and frankly, more fun, than cultures that thrive and survive only when the going is easy. These are my observations, my experience, beliefs, and imaginings. Maybe some person with a microscope and a doctoral thesis on saccharomyces cerevisiae can come along and debunk all of this.

Oh, oh, oh, I just now remembered something funny. I described some of this to my sister and she would not accept it. She kept questioning the veracity with the most amusing incredulity. I said, "You can prove this to yourself if you like by causing the action to become visible." I imagined without actually knowing for certain. "In fact, you can even measure it."

We did something similar in science lab once. Its quite basic. The gas produced in a tube by photosynthesis is carried by an air hose to another tube with water, as the gas collects in the second tube it displaces the water and that displacement is measured. To measure the gas produced by the activity of yeast in a sourdough culture you can put a ballon over a jar of activated yeast and watch the balloon expand. Trouble was, I didn't have a balloon handy, but I did have prophylactics and those are similar to balloons. Close enough. Check this out, I made this anim before I developed my mad camera skillz:

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Dr. F. Pacquette dropped by for a visit right when I had this going on the kitchen table. He asked me what I was doing then called me an idiot when I told him. We sat there talking facing each other with this jar between us on the table. The yeast was very active and filled the prophylactic rapidly. While we were talking our usual mix of seriousness and nonsense the balloon went from limp to slightly filled, to more full, more full, bending, more, straighter, straighter, more, more, boiiiing ! It looked for all the world like an erect penis and we cracked up giggling like school girls. I let the air out of the condom and it started again. Flaccid, inflated, more, more, more, more, boiiiing ! And we cracked up laughing all over again. This went on all afternoon. Every time that stupid-ass condom filled and went boing we cracked up all over again as if it was the first time, the final movement of broooong is what did it. Fred asked me to give him the experiment because he wanted to take it home with him. I knew he wasn't going to keep the yeast fed, he didn't have the patience for that. But how could I refuse?

Fruit salad breakfast

New American breakfast, fourth in a series, although there's hardly anything new about fruit for breakfast, nor anything uniquely American about it, and it fails to separate entirely from grain, still, you have to admit it's different from the usual thing you see on breakfast menus, in'nit?

Plus in defense of the grain here, this is hardly standard toast, no Sir, this is a small piece of that extraordinary sourdough baked of 50% home-milled grain using the Maui culture and that makes all the difference in the world. This type of bread does not instantly have its starches ripped apart nearly instantly into simpler sugars, to burn or to be stored as body fat, but rather it's digested more slowly and its components more beneficial, and because Ed Wood in World Sourdoughs from Antiquity said so, that's why. And he knoweth whereofeth he speaketh on account of being a scientist.

Plus there's olive oil and cheese to slow down that conversion and the assimilation of all the fructose here.

That's the theory, anyway.

The fruit was surplus cut for the Thanksgiving fruit salad I was assigned and saved vacuum sealed since then, three and a half days ago.

Volunteer sourdough starter

This sponge is now in the refrigerator fermenting until Wednesday. I expected this to rise more, I'm a little bit disappointed. I thought having originated from whole wheat by switching to refined, the culture would respond even more vigorously but that was not the case.

The final additions of flour were all refined white. It occurred to me that since all of the flour associated with the first half of the water was whole wheat then the second half would have to be refined white to achieve 50/50 for the total amount of the sponge. But I wanted slightly less whole wheat than refined white so that would be made up by the difference between the wetness of the earlier sponge and the fermenting sponge which is very close to actual dough. As it turned out, the final was even more refined white than that because I made it was too stiff so I corrected by adding more water until I got the looseness I wanted. So although I don't know the exact percentages of whole wheat to refined white flours, I do know the percentage of whole wheat is somewhere between 30% and 40% and that's where I want it so I'm cool with that. But honestly, after another seven hours, I expected it to be at the top of the bowl judging by how it behaved earlier with straight whole wheat. Also, the portion reserved for future starter didn't rise vigorously either that I could tell anyway by being in a measuring cup. It's just my impression. But they did rise, and that's the thing that's important. Also, its odor improved.

These photos show how well the sponge is kneaded. It stretches, and then it really stretches. You can see the sponge did rise that last seven hours, but not outrageously. It's appears to me to be poised to explode if just given the chance, and It will be given that chance when it's removed from cold storage in a few days and stretched.

The last photo shows the portion that was reserved before the refined white flour was added to the sponge. That portion of all whole wheat starter was also returned to the refrigerator for future use. Although by doing this it seems to me just as easy to start it directly from the flour as it does from a stored starter so I have to ask myself, "what's the point?" Unless there is some character imparted along the way by having been previously started and stored, that is absent from something brand new, but I rather doubt it.

previous post here and here

Seafood salad

Raw tomatoes. WooHoo! And avocado and lovely spiffy designer lettuce that is so innn-terrrrr-ressss-ting.

All the rest of that stuff is from before but I did put the saffron in the dressing this time along with honey to balance it out. And now it's all gone :-(

Not really. I still have all that beginning stuff and now I can do something else.

Did I mention frozen peas are brilliant?

Volunteer sourdough starter

At the second feeding made 8 hours after beginning, the jar of sponge contained 1 cup of water and 11 tablespoons of whole wheat flour and was removed from its position above the oven and the oven turned off. No more help using heat. Over a period of 7.5 hours, the sponge which was to the level of 1/3 the height of the jar, peaked to the very top of the jar and suddenly collapsed within the span of a few minutes. It's as if it simply could not hold up its own weight without being continuously hyperactive. That was my clue that feeding this culture is optimum at 7 hours, which is very fast for sourdough cultures, and that it can expand to three times it's starting volume. That's awesome. That is with whole wheat, and not any of that pansy-ass refined sissy white flour.

The culture has now been fed three times. The sponge presently contains two cups of water and and 2 cups + 14 heaping tablespoons of whole wheat flour, however much that turns out to be. It's been beaten using a powerful mixer's beaters rather than a dough hook and it's nice and stretchy like well-behaved glutenous sponge should be. It is 78℉ / 25℃, but that was after a thorough beating in the mixer which produces significant heat.

It is now just two hours past the 24 hour target intended for the first feeding that would have increased 1/4 cup water to 1/2 cup water, instead it's been fed three times already, has 2 full cups of water with as much flour as it took to create a wet sponge.

This creates something of a mathematic quandary which algebra should handle readily but for the life of me I cannot conceptualize a formula that provides the precise solution so I'm going to go by intuition here. This is the problem:

100% of 100% whole wheat loaves aren't all that great. I've yet to have one that didn't lack something in crumb, crust, manageability, taste, universality, say, they taste great and they're healthful but they do not make good sandwiches, canapes, breadcrumbs, or bread puddings, those sorts of things. They're usually too dense for children to enjoy, or heavy as bricks. Looking at how this culture lifted the sponge to the top of the jar, and seeing it's stretchy gluten quality I'm heartened but still it makes sense to include refined white flour as bakers do to lighten the loaves. But how much? I'm aiming for somewhere above the customary 25% whole wheat to refined white but under 50% whole wheat to refined white because the last time I did that the loaves had problems.

The next feeding will double the water again and double the amount of flour already used plus more because the last sponge to ferment and proof will have a higher percentage of flour to water than the wet sponges so far. Dough is more dense than sponge. Bakers use percentages but frankly I find their calculations bollox. One expert uses the weight of flour as a percentage of the weight of the water, another uses the percentages of flour and water to the total amount. See the difference? All I'm concerned about is the percentage of whole wheat flour to refined white flour. The amount of flour to water is never a problem for me. I want it to be like 35%ww to 65%rw or maybe even as high as 40%ww to 60%rw, where ww=whole wheat and rw=refined white.

Now. I have 2 cups water to 100 % whole wheat.

I will add 2 more cups water to Xww % + Yrw% .

I should probably premix the flours in a bowl and scoop it as I need it.

1/3ww + 2/3rw

or maybe 1/4ww + 3/4rw That's the normal amount for so-called whole wheat loaves and at 50% of it's total water's weight it's already 100% of whole wheat

Oh, it's so confusing! Ultimately I don't know how much flour I'll use, it all depends on how much it takes. Goddamnit. I think I'll go 1/3ww -- 2/3rw and risk running over 50% - 50% based on how I've seen this stuff act so far. This could be a disaster.

Speaking of disasters, wanna hear something stupid? Don't laugh because it's rude to laugh at stupid people. I was trying to decide how much grain to mill then thought, "screw it, just mill it all," and dumped all the grain into the hopper with its extension collar on then flicked on the machine. In my haste I forgot to insert the receiving bowl with its filters carefully designed to avoid making messes. My bad. Flour started shooting out of the machine and filling the air. In the confusion to shut it off and insert the bowl correctly I jerked the extension collar that allowed more grain to be milled which caused grain to spill all over the kitchen, and I mean ALL over the kitchen, into every single crack and behind every object and under every appliance. So then I had both flour dust AND wheat grains all over the place. I am such an idiot some times. So I spent an hour vacuuming up everything, or possibly 10 minutes, however long it took for all the grain to mill because we finished at the same time, the mill machine and the vacuum cleaner. Pissed myself off. The good thing is my kitchen got an unscheduled thorough cleaning.

previous post here.

Steamed seafood breakfast with vegetables

Since you have already proven you can fry bacon to perfect crispiness along with two eggs without breaking them over easy so that the whites are cooked perfectly, neither runny nor rubbery, while keeping the yolk penetrable by a toast corner, and do that while coordinating in other devices toast with butter and jam along with a pot of coffee and all that goes with coffee if it isn't plain black, like sugar and cream and vanilla or almond, cinnamon, what have you, and include with all that a huge pile of hash browned potatoes that dwarfs the plate or a bowl of grits or a side of polenta, mush, whatever, then you've already demonstrated technique superior to the technique needed here to steam up some seafood bits for a few minutes along with some vegetables and to use the steaming liquid to create a memorable sauce.

What? You don't do those things? Well, never mind then. Carry on.

It amounts to a slight difference in technique not mastery, an easing of technique, in fact, and an adjustment on attitude toward breakfast. And by breakfast, I mean that first meal whenever it occurs, in this case noon. Ha ha ha ha ha. Hey, it's Saturday.

Oh damnit. I forgot the saffron and the diced tomato I intended. Oh well, some other time.

I live in the center of the country with nary a seashore within 1,000 miles so all my seafood is frozen, or at least very cold. I used what I had which turns out to be my favorite things -- because what? -- would I buy things I don't like?

My steaming liquid included remnant white wine, onion, garlic, butter, and the shells and tails of the shrimp. There's a lot of flavor locked up in those carapace covers and it's a shame when it's wasted.

A mayonnaise was made just for this. That was the fun part. Three egg yolks into a jar along with the juice of one lime and a tablespoon of Dijon. Just for fun, I included a tablespoon of horseradish that I processed myself from a root a long time ago along with powdered ginger and powdered garlic, then used the immersion blender to incorporate 3/4 cup vegetable oil, slowly at first then more quickly as it went along. Salt and pepper.

For some strange reason unknown to modern science olive oil turns bitter when it's whipped. It can be worked in later, but it must be accompanied by a milder oil to prevent that from happening, or even butter could be used, clarified or not, but then you've set off into a whole 'nuther realm of other sauces beyond mayonnaise with their own official names. But it shows you pretty much anything goes.

Like a stir fry, except this is steamed, one small red diced potato first into the steaming pot, then carrot cut into discs, then finally the seafood. I had:

* salmon
* catfish chunks
* shrimp
* scallops
* oysters that were not frozen, the kind that come in a jar. A tub really, with a metal pull top. They're sort of gross, actually, without their shells.

All of that released more liquid than I was expecting which foamed up through the steamer and caused the items to boil as much as to steam. [Note to self: don't let that happen again.]

After all that stuff steamed, approximately 5 minutes:

Six tablespoons of the flavored mayonnaise was put into separate bowl. 3/4 cup of the steaming liquid was strained and whisked into the mayonnaise and then returned to the pot and whisked over moderate heat checking the temperature carefully not to exceed 180℉ / 82℃ and careful the whisk reached into the edges of the pot and careful to prevent the egg from setting. It thickened visibly while whisking. I kept lifting the pot off the heat to avoid scorching and boiling and checked the temperature throughout with an instant-read thermometer, a good one too, not one of those crap pocket thermometers. (at one time I had 5 pocket thermometers that all gave different readings.) All that took about 2.5 -- 3 minutes.

These pictures were taken in the moments between that up there going on.

Eggs and oysters

Oysters were drenched in milk dredged in seasoned flour and masa, starting with dusting in the dry mixture, then wet, then back to dry to keep the coating on the oysters, then deep fried in vegetable oil at 350℉ / 175℃

Volunteer sourdough starter

This is the start of something beautiful -- the pursuit of a dream. It's going to take a little discipline, patience and understanding, but I think I'm ready for that. The goal: a sourdough starter derived from the grains of wheat, cultivated and raised on nothing but that whole wheat grain and fed nothing else. I am anticipating some organisms will not do so well and in their failure to thrive become superseded eventually replaced by those organisms that do, and in this manner develop a stupendous culture that can do the heavy lifting required of whole wheat loaves.

Of course once it comes time to make dough for bread a percentage of refined flour will most likely be added for the actual loaves, that percentage, whatever I decide on, will be like sugar candy to these brutish gladiator microorganisms, they'll go nuts feasting on it and by so doing be even more fierce than any other comparable culture around.

But that sponge or dough will not be added back into the culture which will remain pure and unadulterated by any slacker organisms that might develop during the period of ease in metabolizing that easier, more accessible refined flour, candy, in its near sugarness compared with whole-grain wheat.

That's my theory.

The difficult part will be keeping the culture pure and separate from weakening influences. That's going to take some discipline. God, I hate that word (shine your shoes, iron your pants, line up your buttons with your fly, make sure your collar is straight, tuck in your shirt, clean your face, do you homework, get good grades, graduate, do your exercises, get to work on time, blah blah blah). I have a tendency to forget and to slide and I must not do that. I must keep it of primary importance that the culture be maintained active and separate from all other non-sturdy influences, except for that portion that goes on to be baked, which is more akin to granting one final break-loose anything goes get totally bombed party. This is more easily written down and committed to than it is to actually perform. Like I said, I tend to be neglectful. It also means I must always have whole grain around that I can mill right here, and that too I tend to neglect.

Oh well. If I fail somewhere along the line, I can always start over. It's not like these things are going anywhere.

I'm starting out with a mere two tablespoons of grain because I'll be feeding it in increments that double its volume with each feeding, I'll check at 12 hours but the target for the first feeding is 24 hours. I'll just have to see how this goes. I do not want the whole feeding it double thing to get out of hand within the first few days, so I'm starting out small. They are microorganisms, after all.

I milled that first two tablespoons in the coffee grinder just to show it can be done. I think even that isn't necessary because the organisms are on the surface of the grain. All that need be done really, I think, is to moisten the grain to activate them and to help provide access to the inside of the grain for them, but I believe milling the grain hastens and eases that access a little. I could have used flour that I already milled from this grain, but this way is more fun.

I intend to post again on this, fail or succeed, right through to baking bread from this culture and I'll refer back to this post in summary. For convenience I intend to compress these images as a reminder, hopefully they will not become wearisome to see.

The towel covers the burner with the chimney from the oven. The heated air is channeled by the towel over to the jar with the ground wheat grain and water slurry. I'll check it occasionally to make sure it's about the right temperature and for appearances, but I'll hold off worrying about it for 24 hours. It should take about that long to start noticeably multiplying.

Update: experiment continues here.

Fruit salad with whipped cream

Thanksgiving 2000. This was my bit. In pictures and no words, except for these words, of course, and these words don't count.

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