Container Garden Update July 31, 2022

Up until three days ago it’s been a very mild summer. The last three days have been in the mid-to-high 80’s. So far we’ve harvested basil, beans, and zucchini, which is normal for this time of year. We should have cucumbers in the next few days. The tomatoes and peppers are further away.

A view from the front right:

Peppers on the right, tomatoes in the center. More tomatoes in the middle-left. Cucumbers middle right.

From up the slope on the left:

The three tomato plants in the front from left to right are Roma, Oregon Spring, and another Roma. The left side of the garden is North, and that side of the garden has been more shaded over the last few years by the ever-expanding oak tree to the northwest. The Roma plant to the South is doing tons better and it’s not close.

From the house:

The big thing in the center is Fortex beans. They always do well, and we always save bean seeds for replanting in the early summer. The basil is poking out from behind the left of the cucumbers.

We also set up the Tromboncino Zucchini and Tomatillos to share a trellis with the idea that the pollinators would hit both and we’d see a better yield from the Tromboncino. There aren’t very many bees this year, so we’ll see how much it helps. What’s odd is all of the Tromboncino flowers were male a couple of days ago:

But so far so good anyway. The Tromboncino on the left weighs right around three pounds.

Container Garden Update July 3, 2022

We’ve had exactly one day this year that could be considered “hot”. It feels like the garden has yet to “take off”. It’s overcast and drizzly this weekend with the next sunny stretch forecast for… not in the next seven days. Highs are forecast as the mid-to-low-70’s. We’ll need some hot weather for the basil and peppers to really grow and fight off whatever is chewing on them.

Front (L-R): Rattlesnake Beans, Roma Tomatoes, Oregon Spring Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes, Carmen Peppers, King of the North Peppers. Middle left are the Black Krims, Cherokee Chocolate Tomato, and “Purple Bumblebee” Striped Cherry Tomato. In the middle are “Slicing Cucumbers” and (hiding) Sweet Basil. Middle right are Fortex beans. In the far back left there are Tromboncino Zucchinis and Tomatillos:

So far the Tomatillo and Tromboncino are sharing the trellis nicely — The Tomatillo are in the center and the Tromboncino have been trained up the sides. I’m hopeful that by removing browning Tromboncino leaves towards the middle and bottom as they arrive it’ll leave enough light and space for all four plants.

One more view from the “front” of the garden:

The photo also highlights how we label the plants. The indeterminate tomatoes are doing well, and the beans grow regardless of the weather.

Hopefully we have some sun coming in the next couple of weeks.

Four New (Old) Heirloom Wheat Berries. And a Boule.

In April I purchased four varieties of heirloom wheat berries from Breadtopia: Turkey Red, Rouge de Bordeaux, Sonora White, and Red Fife. UPS caused a bit of a hang-up when they delivered to the wrong address, but the customer service at Breadtopia was top-notch in sorting it out. I’m a happy customer.

I’ve read through both of the books I purchased (Leonti’s Bread Lab and Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads), and I’ve baked a little bit out of both. I’m at the point now that I want to try things that aren’t huge departures from how I’ve been baking to see how the finished products compare. With that in mind, a boule with 50% fresh milled Rouge de Bordeaux and 50% King Arthur Bread Flour:

Another added variable is the new Le Crueset Bread Oven. I’ll likely do a review after a few more bakes but so far I think it’s going to get a lot of use in the future. It was a very thoughtful gift.

Continue reading “Four New (Old) Heirloom Wheat Berries. And a Boule.”

Easy Sandwich Bread With Fresh Milled Whole Wheat Attempt #3. And Leonti’s Flour Lab Yeasted Loaf

First up, the weeknight sandwich bread with whole wheat:

The recipe: 600 grams total flour — 200 grams whole wheat (the picture above utilizes freshly milled hard red winter wheat), 400 grams bread flour (King Arthur), 420 grams room temperature water (70% hydration),12 grams kosher salt (2% of total flour weight), 1.5 teaspoons instant yeast.

  1. Place the whole wheat flour in the mixing bowl. Combine with all of the water and let rest and hydrate for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
  2. Add the other ingredients to the bowl and mix on low speed for 8 minutes.
  3. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  4. Fold the dough so that it will fit into a 9″ x 5″ bread pan. I used a fair amount of surface tension, which may have helped the dough rise evenly.
  5. Cover and let rise for two hours. At the 90-minute mark set the oven to 425F
  6. Slash the dough down the center.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes covered with another upside-down bread pan. Remove the cover and bake for another 35 minutes.

So it’s totally doable after work, assuming you get home at a reasonable time. All-up it’s about 4.5 – 5 hours and most of that is hands-off.

Continue reading “Easy Sandwich Bread With Fresh Milled Whole Wheat Attempt #3. And Leonti’s Flour Lab Yeasted Loaf”

Easy Sandwich Bread With Whole Wheat — 2nd Attempt

At least from an appearance standpoint, this one is closer to the truth:

The recipe was similar to the first attempt, but this time I gave it more total flour, yeast, and time.

The recipe:

375 grams bread flour, 125 grams (fresh milled) hard red winter wheat (500 grams flour total, which gives the following baker’s percentages), 325 grams cool water (65%), 15 grams honey (3%), 20 grams oil (4%), 10 grams kosher salt (2%), 1 tsp instant yeast.

Continue reading “Easy Sandwich Bread With Whole Wheat — 2nd Attempt”

The Mockmill 200 And Starting Up Baking With Whole Grains

I recently purchased a Mockmill 200 as well as four varieties of wheat berries. I also got a couple of books so that I wouldn’t be completely reinventing the wheel while trying to learn new skills for baking breads.

For me, the purchase decision on the grain mill came down to the Mockmill 200 or a Komo. When researching the choices they seemed to be fairly even in terms of performance and quality — there are a whole bunch of sites that review and compare the two. I settled on the Mockmill partly due to appearance, and partly due to an aggregate of thoughts from reading about the “pros” and “cons” of each, though frankly there was a good amount of conflicting / contrasting information on both. My feeling is that they’re both quality products and I’m not sure there’s really a “wrong” decision.

A picture from the Breadtopia site.
Continue reading “The Mockmill 200 And Starting Up Baking With Whole Grains”

Weeknight Flatbread With Rye Flour And Greek Yogurt

A weeknight flatbread recipe that looks and tastes like more effort than it really is-

As an example, an easy flatbread recipe might be something like:

Combine 300 grams AP flour, 185 grams room temperature water (65% hydration), 6 grams kosher salt (2% of the flour by weight), and 1 tsp instant yeast in a stand mixer. Knead on low speed for 8 minutes. Cover and let rest 1 hour. Divide the dough into 3 balls, cover, and let rest another 30 minutes. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Stretch the doughs out into loose rounds 6-8″ across. Brush each side of the discs lightly with olive oil, and cook 2-4 minutes per side until done and browned to taste. Wrap the finished breads in a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.

Continue reading “Weeknight Flatbread With Rye Flour And Greek Yogurt”

The Poker Chip Diet After Year One

One year into the Poker Chip Diet and I think it’s going pretty well. I lost 25.4 pounds this year, which represents a little less than 10% of my January 1, 2021 bodyweight. My goal was 25 pounds, with 35 pounds as a stretch goal:

A picture from January. 35 total poker chips representing one pound each. Weight to lose on the left. Weight successfully lost on the right.

It’s really nice having lost some extra weight. My joints and back feel better. I don’t snore as much, or grunt when I bend over anymore. I’m sure there are other internal parts of my body that are happier with less fat around too.

I’ve moved enough of the chips to the right that I think I’m feeling too much sense of accomplishment and too little motivation, so I’m going to reset the chips:

The new goal is 10 more pounds, with 15 pounds as the stretch goal. Even 10 pounds would put me at a reasonable and healthy sustainable weight that ideally I could maintain into old age.

The other new goal for 2022 is to try to go for a walk at least 4 days per week. Walking works well for me because I can’t get halfway through the exercise and then quit for the day. At that point I still have to walk home. I began 2021 by going for walks daily, then things happened and for a while walking was no longer a priority, and I never restarted the walks. I think getting in at least some walking will improve my muscle tone and hopefully make me less likely to get injured doing routine things around the house. It should make my joints feel better too.

For me the weight loss has been about food discipline — portion control and monitoring my total daily calorie intake. I’ve been weighing in at least weekly — if I’ve been slack the scale doesn’t lie about it. If I feel like I’ve leveled out then getting on the scale daily helps, too many cheat days become very obvious very fast.

So there’s that. At least one more update to come in the future.

Happy Holidays