In the spirit of picking up old interests I’ve been making a lot of bread over the last few weeks. Starting with the tried and true recipes in Ken Forkish’s excellent book – Flour, Water, Salt Yeast. The picture from last week was his Overnight Loaf. When I was making this bread regularly it would stick to the cloths in the proofing baskets and generally would be a nightmare for me to deal with. However picking things up again the recipe was easy to follow – no ambiguity – and I had no problem with getting the bread out of the baskets.
With that success under my belt I decided to try the signature loaf in the Poilane book I recently came across. Poilane is of course a marquee name in the bread world. The recipe was a little more involved than others I’d made – requiring a natural yeast starter and also makes a substantially larger single loaf. Going through the planning I realized that I didn’t have a proofing basked large enough nor did I have a Dutch Oven large enough. In all honesty who would? The loaf is ~ 3 times larger than the ‘normal’ home loaf size. I had things that were close enough though so off we went. It was frustrating to not have a good sense of what I was aiming at and I ended up disappointing the in house food critics. Scaling the recipe back gave better results but was still not the wow expected by the local critics.
With a natural starter bubbling in the corner I thought I would try out a final recipe, this time from ‘The Baker’s Year’ by Tara Jensen. When I mixed up the dough it was very wet, a bit tricky to handle and the timings proposed in the margin completely misleading. I should have realized that I would be in for a bumpy ride when the instructions for mixing up the leaven – a foundational recipe for any bread book – were corrected in the form of errata stuck in the front of the book. Oops! Nevertheless I persevered, leveraging the understanding from working through the Forkish recipes many times and also the Tartine bread recipe which is similar. If a dough was going to stick to the cloth in the proofing basket it would be a wet dough like this one – nope, not at all. Came out of the proofing basket nicely, into the cast iron Dutch oven and baked beautifully as you can see at the top of the page.
What if anything you may well ask does this have to do with photography. Well not much if I’m being honest but it did make me think about how I had retained the bread making skills from 3 or 4 years ago. Not only that but some of the things that had been a struggle now seem relatively straight forward. As I re-engage with photography I’m hoping that I will at least have retained a foundational set of skills. It will be interesting to see how the passage of time has changed my thinking and perspective as I get behind the camera more frequently.
What a strange year 2020 turned out to be. Turning the page it looks like 2021 will also be fraught with challenges – the hope for an orderly transition of leadership in the US was thrown into chaos with the events of yesterday. We can only hope that this is a low point from which the country will move forward from.
More virulent strains of the SARS-CoV2 virus appear to spreading throughout the world after first making an appearance in the UK. I have had a ring side seat to how we are responding to this threat and have been fortunate enough to work on therapeutic interventions one of which is now in clinical trials. From my vantage point it looks like we are a long way from being out of the woods, with more lockdowns to navigate.
All that leads me to think that I’m going to be working at home for the foreseeable future. I put my fancy cameras down a couple of years ago now and have used my iPhone exclusively since. The camera in the current iPhone is a sophisticated tool much more so than the camera that was in the phone when the ‘The Best Camera is the one that’s with you’ movement got going. At the time I was always impressed with what people were able to achieve with just their phones, now that’s much less of a novelty. With an expectation that the iPhone is as good a camera as many DSLRs. Perhaps I’m stretching that a bit but I’m sure if you’ve seen the evolution of the iPhone camera you know what I mean.
Perhaps because of the lockdowns and social distancing expectations or maybe it was just the right time, my desire to re-engage with photography in a deeper way has been growing over the last couple of months. I will probably post more here although it looks very much like the world has moved away from Blogs to Vlogs with everyone and the dog now running a YouTube channel. Not for me. Not yet at least.
For me just as the beginning of summer is when we get the boat in the water, the end of summer is when we pull the boat out of the water. This weekend marked the beginning of that process as we made the trek from our mooring to the marina in Norwalk where will be hauled.
This year we were accompanied by Jay our buddy from TowBoatUS who gave us a tow to the dock. If you have a boat a BoatUS membership with on water towing is an amazing insurance policy. I highly recommend it!
I spent an afternoon over the weekend wandering around the local woods. Not hard to do in this part of Connecticut – everything seems to be in the Woods! It’s nice but I find it a little claustrophobic. Fortunately there are lots of ponds and lakes too which breaks up the walk nicely.
The ponds are now starting to catch the falling leaves. It will be snowing soon enough.