Links to writing on “Black Panther”

I’m not a big fan of superhero movies, and I generally find any efforts to appear “thought-provoking” are pretty tinny.

But  I would say that Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is actually thought-provoking. Coogler and his cast and crew have accomplished so many things in this movie that it’s hard to know where to start. But one thing they’ve done is to evoke some basic moral/philosophical dilemmas and conversations in a way that doesn’t seem completely, uh, comic-book. Continue reading “Links to writing on “Black Panther””

Guide to My Bread Posts

A number of people have expressed interest recently in my experience making bread. I’m happy to talk about it, but I also refer them to my posts here. There are enough of those posts now that I wind up rewriting the same little email about how to get started. Rather than writing the same email over and over, here is a slightly more polished version. [Added 30 July 2018: I have often said that baking bread is what has helped me survive the current political scene; here is a fleshed-out version of that thought, suggesting that it can also help you survive the on-line world that we are consumed by.] Continue reading “Guide to My Bread Posts”

Make awesome waffles (or pancakes) with that extra sourdough starter

We love this waffle recipe. A visitor from Germany said these waffles were the best she’d ever had, and I think of Europeans as knowing their waffles. Don’t tell people how healthy they are, just serve them and tell them later (or not). This is adapted (i.e. mostly copied) from this recipe, but it is doubled and it generally serves 4. When I make one-and-a-half of this recipe (triple the original), it makes exactly 10 waffles on my 8″ Belgian waffle maker. I haven’t tried making pancakes with it, but it’s supposed to work. Continue reading “Make awesome waffles (or pancakes) with that extra sourdough starter”

Ack! I’m not ready to use my sourdough starter!

OK, so someone (maybe me!) gave you some sourdough starter and it is sitting in your fridge. You might want to use it someday… like maybe soon… or maybe not… to make bread. In the meantime, you don’t want it to die. (If you do want it to die, that is OK. Just throw it out.) You also don’t want to wade through that long post about natural leavening. Well, you have come to the right place. Continue reading “Ack! I’m not ready to use my sourdough starter!”

Bread-Making Equipment (with occasional remarks on technique, and a couple of edits, 3 years later)

Compared to photography, or opera, or boating, bread-making is a pretty inexpensive hobby. Nevertheless, there is a somewhat dizzying array of implements available to help (and sometimes hinder) you, all available in a vast range of prices.  Many of the implements have fancy French names, and come to think of it, if you figure it on a per-fancy-French-name basis, bread-making must be about the cheapest hobby there is.

This post describes the equipment I have settled on at the moment as most helpful for me, with some comments. Continue reading “Bread-Making Equipment (with occasional remarks on technique, and a couple of edits, 3 years later)”

Making Bread with Natural Leavening (Sourdough Starter) Needn’t Be Complex or Time-Consuming

OK, let’s get a few things out of the way.  I don’t really like to call bread made with natural leavening “sourdough” because a lot of people immediately turn off, saying, “I don’t like sourdough bread.”  Naturally leavened bread doesn’t necessarily taste sour. The phrase “naturally leavened” is a little leaden and pedantic, so I instead favor the French word “levain,” which sounds pretentious and, uh, pedantic. Oh well, “You pays your money and you takes your choice,” as they say.  “Starter” works pretty well when it’s not ambiguous.

Here are the top six reasons why I bake bread using natural leavening, in rough order of importance:

1. It tastes better.

2. It tastes better.

3. It tastes better.

4. It stays fresh longer.

5. It is healthier (lower glycemic index).

It seems amazing and delightful to me that the only store-bought ingredients in my bread are flour and salt. The water comes from the tap and the yeast comes from the starter, and ever-renewable resource.

Continue reading “Making Bread with Natural Leavening (Sourdough Starter) Needn’t Be Complex or Time-Consuming”

Helpful Books on Bread Baking

tl;dr (that’s internet for “executive summary”): If you want to make really good bread with minimal effort, go for Jim Lahey. If you want the next step after that, so you can make great bread with a bit more effort, go for Ken Forkish.

This post discusses some of the bread books I’ve used, and the pluses and minuses I’ve found. I hope it’s of interest to you, and if you decide to buy any of them I hope you’ll use the links here, because Amazon says they will give me a small kickback.
Continue reading “Helpful Books on Bread Baking”