Monday, March 8, 2010

baguettes, tapenade, mosaics, plants and sir gandolfo higginscotch.

we had a long stretch of wonderful weather...that ended today. it’s rainy, windy and chilly so i stayed in crafting and cooking all day.

last night i made baguettes. it’s only my third time making proper bread from scratch; i used to make “bread” when i was a kid, but i never measured the ingredients or even bothered to rise it for very long, so the result was rarely edible. i still have an aversion to measuring things, but i realize now that precision is sometimes important for baking.

the recipe i used is from food network, and it’s pretty intense. it calls for seven hours worth of fussing but i cut that down to four hours by skipping two of the rise times. i added a teaspoon of sugar to help activate the yeast but otherwise didn’t mess with the ingredients. the recipe is completely out of whack as far as baking times: 12 minutes at 500 and 25-30 minutes at 400? are you kidding me? i did the 12@500, but after i turned it down to 400 it only took another five minutes or so to get brown and crispy.

the misting technique worked wonders--the recipe says to leave a pan of water under the bread and mist the oven walls and baguettes a few times while baking to create humidity. it made such a perfect crust. the bread is just fabulous.

this afternoon i sliced some of it, sprayed it with olive oil and toasted it. i’m afraid of the “propellants” and other mysteries in aerosol oil sprayers like pam, so rather than using boatloads of oil i’ve started using the misto; it’s a great tool, you fill it halfway with oil then use the cap/pump to pressurize, and it sprays a nice light mist.

to go with the crostini i made olive tapenade with green and kalamata olives.

i used about 4 large green olives (pimentos removed), a dozen small kalamata, a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of the red wine/herb marinade the kalamatas came in. i pulsed the food processor 3-4 times, scraped the sides of the bowl, pulsed again, scraped again and so on until the olive pieces were the right size.

a couple weeks ago i finally finished my first mosaic project: a pitcher. i’ve started and finished other mosaics since then but this was the first one i began.

it took months because it involved positioning the pitcher just right, sticking on one or two tesserae, taping them down, leaving it to dry, then repositioning and repeat, ad infinitum. i couldn’t stick everything on at once because it wouldn’t stay stuck unless it laid flat, and i couldn’t effectively lay out my pattern beforehand so it’s amazing it turned out anything less than hideous. the grouting was a challenge too.

i don’t recommend doing a dimensional object like this as a first mosaic project, unless you’re ambitious and determined (crazy and stubborn) like me.

i also made this decorative tray, using a wooden tray i dumpstered and a beautiful hand-painted dish that i feel a little bad about having smashed now that i’m getting interested in food photography.

jessica’s article on creative planting containers gave me the idea to plant a salad basket. i lined the basket with a fine screen, filled it with soil and planted rouge d’hiver lettuce seeds. they just started coming up the other day, and now there are 30-40 seedlings sprouting.

yesterday it was painfully gorgeous out so i went on a long, leisurely bike ride. there are so many buds that are just so close...

i saw my first wasp yesterday, and the waterstriders emerged from their winter hiding places to abuse the surface tension on the pond in my front yard.

meet sir gandolfo higginscotch. bethany turned me on to the toy society, which is basically an adorable idea where you create a handmade toy, take a picture of it then leave it somewhere for a stranger to find. so sir higginscotch is going to be left somewhere on campus or possibly in freak alley downtown, as soon as bethany drives to boise so we can do our toy drops together.

he’s a ladybug, if you couldn’t tell, i know he looks a bit like a turtle. my criteria was to make something that would look appealing two-dimensionally, since it’s going in a flat ziplock bag. i also wanted to put in a lot of small details. it doesn’t show up well in the pictures but he has one orange eye and one red...that’s the least of his color eccentricities, of course. i used variegated purple thread for the stitching, purple embroidery floss for the antennae, glass beads for the eyes, black pleather for the backs of the wings, and black yarn with knots in it for the legs and feet. i planted a tiny jingle bell in his belly so he makes a high-pitched tinkling sound.

i hope someone awesome finds him and loves him.


JJ Beazley said...

Where do you get your industriousness from? (That's a long and ungainly word, isn't it?) Baguettes? No. They sound wonderful, but I'm far too lazy. The toy idea sounds great. Couldn't you leave it where some child from a poor family might find it? What a heartwarming thought. I saw my first wasp today, too. We get on. I'm comfortable with them, and they seem comfortable with me.

Emily said...

i think i'm going to make some more toys and leave each one in a different location...i'll keep your idea in mind for sure.

JJ Beazley said...

OK, big question:

Would I risk incurring the wrath of all the goddesses in the pantheon if I presumed to tell a feminist that she's very sweet?

Emily said...

haha, not at all, no wrath. thank you.