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I know a few friends can work wonders with bread machines, but has anyone set about making authentic baguettes at home? If so, how difficult is it? What secrets (if any) are there in attaining that vanishingly light interior, and that fantastic crunch outside? (Yakitate Japan suggested sprinkling the dough with a little water prior to baking)

w00t! I have DSL again. ^_^ Fantastic as the cellular modem is, it's nice to have 100GB/mo inbound, and full control over port forwarding - so no more random AIM disconnections, or improperly cached message pages on FurAffinity, and full-speed torrents. Yays!

Tuesday's dinner: a simple affair. ^_^ Some fresh ramen, baby corn, mangetout, and Swedish meatballs, plus ketjap manis and Thai sweet chili sauce. =:9

I must recommend Kaiba as a highly creative anime, dropping us straight into an odd world. Try the first episode - if the first few minutes don't grab you, proceed with the rest of your life; but you might like to try this. (For anyone interested in anime generally, the creator was also behind Mind Game and Kemonozume)

Wednesday: I was feeling fairly pooped, so I went with something effortless - a can of three bean soup (plus some smoked paprika and basil), and three chopped up beef sausages of quite surprising quality.

The Sontaran Stratagem: quite promising, even if nothing radically innovative. Its conclusion, however, failed to build on its beginnings, I felt - Rattigan didn't ring true, Ross was sadly wasted, and the ultimate Big Bad Plan didn't seem to have much point, versus simply occupying any number of uninhabited worlds. I'm not seeking scientific accuracy, but still, the conclusion would've been much more convincing had there been some effect beyond a bit of a flambé aerial show (which also left clouds in its wake). Rather disappointing, overall, though still a pleasant enough way to spend a little time.

Yay! Four new episodes of Dogstar! It went on hiatus in December, and recently started airing again, though it appears it actually completed its BBC Two run in December 2007. Has anyone else been watching said show?

35 language courses for free, as podcasts from the iTunes Store.

Toil in the salt mine's going well - we managed to get a relatively exotic chip talking politely to us, and overcame a still-mysterious issue where the receiving code worked perfectly happily on the Frankensteinian creation, but not the actual device, despite both being essentially identical. (For some reason, we wound up having an extra byte kicking around from the previous SPI transfer, which was waiting for us on the main data transfer. So our expected contents wound up being shifted up by one byte, pushing our final byte off the end. Flushing the SPI with an extra register read did the trick) For my next trick, a simplified scheduler - really more of a sequencer, as the priorities are hard-coded - to ensure the radio transmission and reception requests don't step on each others' toes, and similarly with the devices that talk over SPI and I2C, sharing the same physical bus. That'll all be cycling through on something like a 100µs timer, which is an eternity in microprocessor time. =:)

Oooh.. yes, Friday's creation was a particular success. One cheap boneless chicken breast (the kind pumped full of water and other goodies), set along its way to sautée quietly with a bit of olive oil and a couple teaspoons of lemongrass paste, while a few balls of basil pappardelle (pasta ribbons about 3/4" thick) boiled away. The sauce, meanwhile, was most of the remaining portobello & madeira, with three slices of lean bacon torn up, and some sliced up marinated artichoke hearts. Just before the pasta was ready, I added the remaining four asparagus spears. So the final presentation: chicken with a portobello, bacon, artichoke, and madeira sauce, on a bed of pappardelle, with asparagus. =:9

Sheer brilliance. ^_^ The Get Out Clause, a Mancunian band, decided to make a video for one of their songs by playing for surveillance cameras and then demanding the footage under the Data Protection Act.

.. and Saturday, just a pepperoni & anchovy pizza, with some rocket, watercress, and Raf tomatoes as a side salad, accompanied by quite a delightful Bordeaux, Château La Commanderie Saint-Estèphe Cru Bourgeois 2004.

What a wondrous analogy made tangible as a fully realised sculpture/art project.. "It's a clock, turned off, not ticking, showing no progress, encased in glass. When you're ready to make the leap, to commit, to make something happen, you break the glass. The sculpture is ruined. All you have is shards of broken glass. And a working clock. It's alive and it's changing and moving forward."
Mm, I like audi-gryph's art.
A good provider of TF-related artwork to the masses, to be sure. ^_^ A latex effect may seem easy, but as one can see, not as straightforward to perform convincingly as one might think.

I wonder if there's any chance they'd be up for something lapine-themed.. =:)

You should post about food more, I think, to further the reputation of British food from its current perception. ^_^
I think it would take more than a post from me to change the perception about British food. And besides, I don't eat curry ;P
No curry? Dear me. We may have to deport you to Iowa.

I really should try finding out the secret recipe of the best pasties in Cornwall.. old family friends, who've never wanted to expand beyond their three branches. Which is perfectly fair enough - so many recipes have been debased beyond recognition when scaled up for widespread commercial production. The key's really in the pastry, I think - the filling's something I could probably tune well, but pastry isn't something I have much experience with, beyond a little dabbling with choux for profiteroles; my general culinary preferences tend much more toward the lighter side.

(Not to mention real cider, of course, let alone the whole host of dishes like scallops and bacon, stews and hotpots, mackerel, lamb shank with rosemary and Jersey Gold potatoes, or the wonders of Cheddar, Caerphilly, et al)

... make a video for one of their songs by playing for surveillance cameras and then demanding the footage under the Data Protection Act

Oh wow. That's even cooler than SVEN!
Oh, finestkind! Now that's just calling out for the Emergency Broadcast Network treatment. =:D

I've heard of some recipes that called for beer. The bear helps the yeast and makes the dough really fluffy. You can find them online easily. Aside from that, my breads are usually very dense out of the machine. Oven baking is the only way to go.
That could be worth trying, particularly with a bottle conditioned beer, so there's some live beer yeast in there too. =:9

Mm, I suppose bread machines are best for heavier loaves - wonder if they're suitable for Irish soda bread. Or even German black bread.. delicious stuff, though quite unsuited to light toppings, given how strongly flavored the bread itself is.

I wonder if I can find some proper French flour around.. whether the secret's in the flour, or simply the baking, I'm not sure, but good baguettes do seem quite tricky to come by, with so many winding up with the body too dense, and seemingly afraid of developing a real crust. Still, I suppose that's part of what makes travel so much fun - enjoying the specialties on offer, knowing that even if something similar might be found closer to home, it's rarely as good.

In town today, I noticed a few minimarts catering to Poles - I'll have to see what interesting cans and jars I can find sometime. But it's places like Ranch 99 I really find dangerous, as foofers or tgeller can verify. =:)

oh god! Ranch99 is insanely cool!

I think the secret to good bread is good yeast, a light touch and patience.
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Oh, certainly. ^_^ I suspect at least part of the secret must lie in the particular flour, but I'd hesitate to call myself even a novice in such matters, other than enjoying the results. If nothing else, maybe I'll have to make a point of bringing some varieties back when I next manage to make a run into France and Belgium (it's been much too long since I last enjoyed Westvleteren Abt.12, and there, it's as cheap as any other local beer - and as good as the reports claim).

Sad to hear the place didn't survive. *sigh* The UK has much to be proud of, but there does seem to be something of a lack of pride in good food, whether home-grown or elsewhere, leading to village bakers being all but extinct, with butchers not far behind. Still, there are some, and even some of the supermarkets understand the importance of good ingredients, as tonight's dinner proves, starring some fantastic (and reduced!) Aberdeen Angus braising steak - I'd been expecting to need to simmer that away for a few hours, but not much over an hour later, it barely needed a knife.

SPI's pretty neat - and I2C, for that matter. It takes a little getting used to that in order to receive some data, you need to be clocking something out, though it obviously makes logical sense. Quite where that stray byte's coming from on the actual devices, we're not entirely sure, but the fix is solid, which is good enough. ^_^ (Got to love the way a complete 2.4GHz radio fits onto a chip whose package is only a few mm square)

You need to take more pictures of this food-pr0n you keep describing. :)
*grin* I'm going to be quite tempted, when I can.. ^_^ Such a pity the A200 gave up the ghost when it did, but it took some decent shots in its time.

I'm quite likely to plump for the aforementioned Lumix TZ5 next month, I think - it's just within affordability without stretching things, and the 720p video capability would be perfect for little "video snapshots" of wild lapine life.

Though I think tonight's might be one to miss, visually. =:) Tasted very good, though - the centerpiece being my beans, rather than the quiche I picked up, I think, though that was good. Nothing sophisticated - just some broad beans simmered in some instant wild mushroom soup, greek basil and cilantro chopped in, and some left over Argentinian style corned beef (sort of ground up and made into blocks) crumbled in for the meat quotient. Those plus some chantarelle carrots and broccoli made for quite a filling dinner, but then, I was oddly hungry. Maybe getting out and about a bit helped - we were doing some range-finding on the keypads, checking the antenna efficiency on receive and transmit, yielding some fairly reassuring results, thankfully; to get away from all the interference around the offices, we took a little walk down the nearby trail, which seemingly caused the sheep looking on to get busy with lunch.

That is a truly, truly cringe-inducing subject line, you know. =:P