Tuesday, October 31

Happy Haunting

This is Chuck - your financial advisor - scary no?
The lack of a forensics team tearing up our yard tells us that that bone we found was in fact an animal bone. I think I'm glad. I think I'm really glad.

Sunday, October 29

Pecan-Stuffed Mushrooms

So Tasty!
I made this as an appetizer for a small dinner party Friday night. They were a huge hit so thanks to Martha for the recipe I adapted. This recipe serves 8.

Pecan-Stuffed Mushrooms

24 cremini of baby bella mushrooms with stems (1 1/2 - 2 inch wide)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter + some for dish
1 minced garlic clove
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped oregano
4 oz (1 cup) pecans, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp back pepper
1/3 cup cream
2 Tbsp Parmesan

Preheat to 400. Trim ends of mushrooms stems and separate stems from caps, reserving them. Arrange caps in a buttered shallow baking dish.

Finely chop stems, then cook with garlic and oregano over moderate heat, stirring until lightly browned, 5min. Stir in pecans, S&P and cook stirring for 1 min. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Add Parmesan.

Filling? Filling.
Sprinkle inside of caps with salt then divide filling between caps. Bake until browned and caps are tender, 30min. Serve drizzled with pan juices.

(These can be assembled the day before and refrigerated. Bring to room temp before baking)

Thursday, October 26

Everyone has Skeletons in their...Flower Bed?

OK so I just finished giving a statement to the police. Seriously. Two patrolmen and two detectives just left my house. I wish I had thought to take pictures. But I'm getting ahead of myself, let me go back to the beginning of this story.

As I've mentioned, I've been cleaning up the yard in anticipation of the big Halloween party on Tuesday. In the process of pulling all the weeds out of a particular flower bed on Polly's patio, I found some pots and bits of ceramics. There was also a jawbone of what I figured was a coyote or some animal. In one of the pots that was covered in weeds there was also a what turns out to be the bottom spinal bone. It's the piece that fits into the coccyx. I, of course, didn't know that then. I looked at it and thought - another creepy animal bone, I'll leave it for Polly in case she wants to add it to her decoration for the party - and then I immediately forgot all about it.

So this evening Charlie, Polly and her mom are all sitting on the patio and they call me down and ask me where I found this bone, which I tell them, and then Polly says that she's pretty sure it's human. We debate this for a minute and then Polly calls the police to let them know that we think we found a human bone.

A half hour later two patrolmen show up, look at it and say that they don't know but it could be human so they call it in.

Another half hour later two detectives show up. I tell them where I found it and they ask some questions about the house. The older one thought it was an animal but the younger wasn't sure so they booked it and bagged it as evidence.

I want to point out that the younger, female, detective was in fact wearing a low cut top under a stylish jacket with really cute slacks and boots with heals. Her hair was also done up in a loose curly style. I mention this only because she looked like she's walked off a CSI set and I had always found the outfits on that show to be unrealistic. Apparently I was wrong.

In the process of this, the older detective started chatting with us and we were talking about downtown and he mentioned that we should be extra careful for the next couple of nights because they'd just done a raid of skid row and when they do that people often wander to the outskirts of our neighborhood. I am thankful for Mel.

Then we started talking about OJ, and he said that he'd been partners with Mark Foreman. (!!!) Then he said that a lot of good came out of the trial because it was so embarrassing for the LAPD that they became the first police group to have their own forensics lab, even before the FBI. Also they started training their officers outside of the LAPD instead of doing everything internally. He said that now there's a whole new generation of officers and it's a very different and much better organization.

I think all of this (minus the info about Skid Row) is extremely comforting. And I'm glad I have Mel who always looks out the front doors looking tough.

We'll see if it turns out I dug up a human bone. What a weird Thursday night.

Wednesday, October 25

October Gardening - Part 2

I've spent the past couple of afternoons in the garden trying to get it presentable for the Halloween party on Tuesday. I spent most of that time in the patio below us pruning back plants that had threatened to overtake the yard. Specifically I took about 60% out of the marigold bush, and all the lower branches of the Pomagranate Tree that had been threatening to grab anyone who walked near it. Under the Marigolds I discovered about a dozen really cool pots that had been completely hidden. I'm thinking of planting more flowers now on my deck.

Finally, my repaired path - once again, not as hard a job as I'd expected - not unlike the irrigation repair
Then this afternoon I turned my attention to that path we destroyed last spring. I pulled out all the bricks, leveled the dirt as best I knew how and added about 90lbs of sand to the top. When I replaced the bricks I came up about 10 short. I'm not quite sure how I managed that. I filled the gaps between bricks with potting soil and the plan is that I'm going to sew Sweet Alyssum seeds to fill in the spaces with sturdy little leaves and flowers.

Isn't it great when you know a party is about to happen in your yard/house so you finally get motivated to clean up the stuff you've been wanting to forever? After nearly breaking my ankle on the path yesterday and then being told that this was the path the band would use to get to the stage, I was extra motivated. There's nothing like the potential to hurt someone else to make you level your path.

Meanwhile the bulbs that I so carefully avoided in my weeding last week have started to bloom.

Fall's First Blooms
I now remember that they're freesias. And apparently yellow at that.

Also, I noticed today some new bulbs making their way to the light.

Isn't Nature Cool?
I'm pretty sure these are going to be daffodils, but I could be lying.

And finally, the lavender I bought last week is waiting patiently to be planted. I'm thinking next week, after the party, so they don't get trampled by the band.

Lovely Lavender - the last belle at the ball

Tuesday, October 24

Asparagus Lasagna

Yesterday I made my famous (in our house) asparagus lasagna. It's famous because Bryan swore he hated asparagus until he tried this. Now it's one of his favorite meals. It's also a really easy recipe.

Asparagus Lasagna

The Finished Meal

Lasagna Noodles (handmade or store bought)
3 1/2 cups non fat milk
1/3 cup flour
5 Tbsp Pesto (2 Tbsp pine nuts, 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 Cups basil leaves - processed - add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese)
3 cups part skim Mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 lbs asparagus - stems cut into 1/4 pieces, tops reserved
10 roma tomatoes - quartered and roasted for 20 min at 450

First, roast the tomatoes.

Roasted Tomatoes
The original recipe didn't call for tomatoes but I think they are good to add so that the dish has a little kick to it.

Whisking the White Sauce
Next make a white sauce by mixing the flour with 1/2 cup of milk over med heat until it dissolves. Slowly add the remaining milk and some salt. Whisk while bringing it to a boil to thicken. Remove from heat.

The Traditional Pesto
Take the pesto and add it to the white sauce to create a lovely light green sauce.

Whisking The Green Sauce
This will form the basic glue for the lasagna. Now saute the asparagus stems in some olive oil until tender, about 3 minutes. And add some garlic and salt to this.

Asparagus for us!
Now assemble! Oil your lasagna pan and add a layer of noodles. Follow this with 1/2 the asparagus, cover with green sauce and cheese. Repeat. To top it off place a layer of noodles, a layer of green sauce, asparagus tips, tomatoes and the final cup of cheese. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Let stand 10 - 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 21

October Gardening - Part 1

This morning I ventured out to the nursery because I've discovered I'm much more motivated to clear weeds if I have fun new plants to put in their place. I decided to stretch a bit from my usual Sunset Nursery in Los Feliz so I drove to Pasadena and went to Burkard's.

Buckard's = disappointing
Burkard's is the kind of place that every gardening magazine mentions as the best nursery in Los Angeles. It's not. Well, that's not fair. It has an extensive selection, so much so that I ran into Amoeba's complex - too much selection. I'm sure if I were a professional landscaper I would love it. But I'm not, and I didn't. Also a lot of the plants seemed really stressed, like they hadn't been taken care of correctly. So I left and found a much smaller nursery in Pasadena called Bellefontaine. The guy working there was great and spent a lot of time telling me about the plants I was buying and making sure I had space for them. I do.

So today I cleared 3 beds and planted two of them, along with cleaning up some of the lower beds. The first one was filled with nasturciums, grass, two old zucchini plants and the beginning of some bulbs. Doing my best not to flatten the bulbs, which is tricky because man those suckers are delicate, I pulled out all the grass and left the nasturciums mostly intact.

Pretty in Orange
I covered the exposed bed with bark chips and filled in some snapdragons for color.

I swear this looked right when I took it
For some reason this picture looks sideways, but when I turn it, it looks just as weird. Sorry, but you get the idea.

I have not yet repaired the path. That's for another day.

How many times do I have to almost break my ankle before I fix this? A lot!
But if anyone knows a good way to get caked mud off the bricks, I'm all ears.

Bed #2 got a similar treatment in that the grass was removed and the bed covered in bark chips. In this case I left the lavender, sage and rosemary I planted in the early summer.

My herb and cutting garden
I was thinking I would make it all herbs, but then I didn't see many herbs that I thought were interesting so I filled in with poppies and more snapdragons (you'll see it's a theme). I'm thinking about adding some kind of low ground cover that flowers but would allow a rotating series of flowers to poke out of it.

Purple Solarum to hide tha gaps
To the left of the giant climbing rose that I have no great love for but my landlord does so I can't remove it, I planted a Solanum xanti 'Salmon Creek'. It will grow to about 2' and spread out about the same. The fellow at the nursery said it stays smaller than most Solanums so I'm hoping it'll just cover the ugly part of the wall that's now exposed. It's draught resistant, which is perfect because that little spot doesn't get hit very much by the sprinklers. Also the Flowers are way more purple than they look like they are here.

I then realized I was feeling light headed and figured it was from the physical work, until I realized that it was 3 o'clock and I hadn't eaten since an early breakfast. So I fixed that and got back to the garden. I replaced the petunias that were looking really leggy and sickly with three of the deep red snapdragons.
Snap, snap, snapdragon
Clearly I need to fill in the front of the container with something else. I'd like to have something that wants to spill down the front, or I'll turn it and have those be the low front and something else taller in the back. Any ideas?

Ready for veggies - or a party
Finally I decided that the way the sun works in the yard, it's really best if I only use the middle bed for vegetables. This is a little sad because it limits my veggie capacity but it also may help me to focus, so I'm not complaining. I pulled out the dead tomatoes, lettuce and peppers and cleared out all the weeds, even under the new growth of artichokes. I was so surprised when these came back, I was certain I'd killed them over the summer. It turns out they were just dormant. They're supposed to look dead, according to my friend at the nursery. He said most people drown them in the summer thinking they've not gotten enough water. Lucky for me my irrigation didn't work over the summer so most of the garden wasn't watered enough. No drowning here.

I'm waiting until after the Halloween party and Polly's decision of whether or not she's going to have a platform built on this bed for the band to play before I plant it with veggies.

Tomorrow my plan is to attack the bed under the fig tree and maybe plant one or two of the fern-leaf lavender plants I bought today there. I think they'll have enough sun if I plant them in the front of the bed, of course then the rest of the bed is blocked, so I'm still debating. They may go over in the bed by the peach tree.

Friday, October 20

Happy Birthday Bryan

Today is Bryan's 27th birthday. Happy Birthday.

Bryan is not a big fan of having his picture taken at the computer - I have a ton of pictures exactly like this one
We ate sushi and saw LITTLE CHILDREN, which turns out to be a really excellent movie. It's not really about pedophilia the way it has been described, it's really about suburban desperation. It manages this perfect tonal balancing act between really funny and really tense. The narration is fantastic. I highly recommend you go see this movie in the theaters because my money is on it for best adapted screenplay at least. Plus, I don't know how anyone could market this movie correctly, so there's been little press and little attention. Go see it anyway. Seriously. It's really good.

Wednesday, October 18

October Garden - Before

I noticed that Mel had found a nice spot in the sun this morning and went out to take a picture for the blog.

Mel has made a nice bed of weeds in the sun
While I was out standing in the garden I decided to check out the pathetic state of neglected affairs. Much to my surprise I found the artichoke plants had come back. During the summer they had died down to brown dead leaves with no sign of life.

The Great Artichoke Comeback!
(note the remaining dead one from last season)

I'm assuming it's the regular watering and cooling temperatures that have brought them back. The thing about fixing the irrigation is that now all the weeds are green. And that's mostly a good thing. At least it means the irrigation is working.

Now all my weeds are green
Polly is throwing a big Halloween party at her house (the front house) and is having a band play. She and I decided the only logical place for them to play would be on a platform over the garden. That means people are going to be in the garden. That means it's time for my fall cleanup/planting. So that picture above of all the green weeds, that's the before picture. Hopefully after this weekend there will be some after photos as well.

The nasturciums have taken over my squash patch, but that's okay because the squash didn't get enough water or sun and so didn't do very well anyway. I need a bigger yard, but that will come soon enough.

They always come back.
The limes are ripening much to my pleasure. I've been soaking the tree to bring it back from it's stressed out place of non-production.

Lime Heaven
That's it for now. More adventures in beginner gardening will follow. I'm thinking lettuce. And lavender. Maybe some succulents by the back where the irrigation doesn't quite reach. Also more herbs for cooking.

Tuesday, October 17

Scouting for Angeles

Bryan 's most recent script, the one that it's looking like we'll go into preproduction on in January, is called Presence. It's about a guy running away from his (literal) demons as he follows a path along the LA River that relates to the river he followed as a young boy with his brother when they were running away and something happened to create the demons that now plague him.

Bryan Hearts Power Lines & Telephone Poles
After seeing the movie LA PLAYS ITSELF, which is a documentary about how Los Angeles is portrayed in movies and television, Bryan decided that he wants to make the film as geographically accurate as possible. So yesterday we went on a mini scout to find the beginning of the LA River. Actually we knew where it started but didn't want to follow the main canal into the valley so instead we headed up to the Angeles National Forest, where the Tujunga Wash begins. The Tujunga Wash eventually connects to the LA River at a golf course, which we thought might be cool.

Mel appreciates the view of the Tujunga Dam
At any rate, we drove into the mountains and found the Tujunga Dam, which is a big one and we were sad to see that the road that leads to the dam is blocked off and for official trucks only.

Bryan tries to convince us the power lines are cool, Mel's not buying it
Still, the drive was lovely and we stopped many times to check out drainage pipes and power lines. Bryan loves power lines. Mel loves sticking her head out the window.

Manzanita - my favorite Cal forest plant
I've haven't spent much time in the Angeles National Forest so it was fun to just drive around and check out campsites and get a sense of the mountains. Sometimes all you need is to get above the smog line and breath some fresh air and see some native plants to make you feel better about the world.

Mel sticks her tongue out at the camera - that's my girl!
Mel loved the drive, especially after we rolled down the windows for her to stick her head out so her ears could flap in the wind. When we'd stop she'd hop out and start sniffing, but she'd stay very close to us, like she wanted to make sure we weren't tricking her and trying to release her back into the wild. I think she was a little relieved when we got home. She certainly snored like she was content.

Roots reaching out for us as we drive by
It was cold up there; low 50s, but it was that perfect crisp and sunny weather that 's my favorite. After a few hours of driving up and down dirt roads we stopped at the Hidden Vally Cafe on the side of the road for a late lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and root beer. Never had it tasted better.

The Hidden Valley Cafe
We checked out a few more roads on our way home and then got caught behind some road construction. They were laying down new asphalt so one lane was completely blocked. By the time the cars coming the other direction had passed by us there were at least 30 cars behind us. We were excited to be the first car behind the official pilot car. It's the little things in life...

We'll follow you anywhere!
We may end up shooting some of the kids scenes in the forest instead of going to another state or to the desert. The thing about the Angeles National Forest is that it literally takes 15 minutes to get there from our house. We're also talking about possibly going camping at one of the sites next weekend. It was beautiful and empty and peaceful, and the PCT passed right by it. We'll see though, thus far our record of successful camping trips has been slightly pathetic. Maybe this park will turn it around.

When I got home I was reading the LA Weekly Best of LA edition and there was our trip, laid out in a map as one of the best mini road trips you can take within LA. I felt cool, because we figured it out without their help.

Monday, October 16

A Kramer Birthday

Bryan and his dad David share the same birthday. David says that Susan was frosting his birthday cake when Bryan decided to come along.

Bryan and David ready to blow out their candles
In celebration my parents and brother came up for dinner with the Kramers.

The Ladies Ready Their Cameras
Technically their birthday is on the 20th but they'll be out of town so we did Sushi on the 15th instead.

Bryan mid-blow

Dad and Greg particularly appreaciated a break from the deck, though they have now finished the framing.

Greg dodges a popper

Happy Birthday Bryan and David!

Saturday, October 14

Perhaps I've Given the Wrong Impression of Myself

So the last time I posted, I wrote about fairly boring things like home made cayenne pepper and tamales from the farmer's market. WELL, I got a comment from someone who had read my profile and sympathized with my draw to the country. Then this person said this
Do you really love LA, or do you just like being near 'a scene?'

Perhaps one day you'll see that the farm is what mattered all along, and that the clubs were just an excuse to feel 'cool'.

Search yourself and you may find the answer.
So...Anyone who actually knows me, knows what an absurd thing this is to say to me. Therefore I fear that my profile must be misleading, but when I read it again, I noticed a distinct lack of mention of loving LA for it's "scene" or it's "clubs". And yet this is the response I get.

So then I went back to the comment and in the beginning the poster mentioned he/she was from New York (before moving to the beach). So now it makes sense. Clearly if I'm a young female living in Los Angeles, I must be:

A) an actress
B) so shallow that I would need to be near a club scene to feel cool
C) so stupid as to not know why I like a particular city
D) All of the above.

Am I insulted? No. I get that this goes with the territory of living in Los Angeles. I get that people actually believe that the movie CRASH is an accurate portrayal of how people in this city behave. And, not to reverse the stereotype or anything, but those from New York look down on us. I see that. I get it. We're NY LITE. But here's the thing: I AM NOTHING LIKE THE LA STEREOTYPE (with the exception of my car - that fits in solidly).

So to head off any future confusion about who I am, I'd like to break it down for the casual reader who doesn't know me at all:

26 Things about a 26-year-old Angelino

1) I am not an actress, nor could you pay me enough to get in front of the camera.

2) I am a writer/producer and have several scripts that I'd be happy to have an agent pitch all over town. (so I guess that stereotype fits too)

3) I DO NOT GO TO CLUBS. Ever. Period. End of Sentence.

4) I do occasionally go to bars where my friends' bands are playing. Often it's a little place like the Silverlake Lounge.

5) I don't drink chick drinks - I drink whisky. WITHOUT coke.

6) I have a dog but she doesn't fit into a purse. My dog could beat up your dog (unless you're Auna, in which case Bean wins, no contest)

7) I am not a scientologist nor do I condone their cult-like tactics.

8) I do go to a lot of theater. Some of it's good, some of it's terrible but I always try to see my friends' shows. (The last few have been good)

9) I do love going to Asskat at the UCB theater but I don' t think that makes me stupid - it's some of the best comedy around - thanks Eva!

10) I grew up on the beach in San Diego (it doesn't get more SoCal than that) but am a terrible surfer and a good swimmer. I used to live on Venice beach but the fact that it was usually too polluted to swim in just got depressing.

11) I often have big ideas that I don't always follow through on (i.e. running a farm in the country - what the hell do I know about running a farm? I can barely keep my tomatoes alive and most of my gardening thus far has been repairing things I've broken)

12) I like gourmet food and I cook better than most restaurants (that sounds like I'm boasting, but it's true - and I can cook a gourmet dish without it costing $40 a plate) which leads me to like living in a city where I can get an assortment of exotic ingredients within a 10 minute drive.

13) I hold grudges for an unreasonably long amount of time.

14) I rarely wear makeup and don't own any hot pants or short skirts.

15) I hike everyday (mostly).

16) I would rather wander around an art museum than eat at The Ivy.

17) I take Harper's (the mag full of essays, not Bazaar), the Atlantic Monthly, The New York Review of Books, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Garden Design, and Sunset Magazine. Note the lack of fashion magazines (and they still let me live in LA)

18) I don't have TV. I have a TV but all it's hooked up to is a DVD player, a non-region DVD player and a VHS player.

19) I would rather watch an old foreign film than a new action film.

20) I have never been to New York, but I have driven to the most norther town in the Yukon because I was told I could pan for gold and buy a sandwich with the flakes.

21) I rarely "feel cool" and going to clubs would be the last thing that would increase my cool factor.

22) I don't like Stadium Seating. I don't like having a headrest that hundreds and thousands of people have used before me. I think it's gross. I'd rather go to the New Beverly or the Vista or the American Cinemateque any day of the week than sit in stadium seating to see the latest blockbuster.

23) I am a pescetarian (until recently I was full vegetarian) and I buy local, because I refuse to support factory farming as it exists in this country.

24) I am not afraid of growing old. I am not afraid of much.

25) I hate the way my beautiful city and the creative people in it, are portrayed on TV and in most movies.

26) I have a husband who shares my love of good film, good music, good reading, good politics (if there is such a thing), good art, good food, the good life and a general desire to avoid the Sunset Strip at all cost. I am constantly amazed by him and how much my love for him grows (that may be the last gooey thing I'll write on this blog).

That's all the searching of myself I can do in one afternoon - as far as I can tell there's very little of me trying to be near a scene to feel cool. Or maybe the lady doth protest too much. Hard to say - I'll have to search myself for the answers (that was italicized to emphasize it was dripping with sarcasm).

It always amazes me how other people perceive those of us who live in LA. I often had a similar experience when we were in Canada. People think they know us because they read the tabloids and watch TV. That's not the real Los Angeles. The real LA is a lot better.

Cayenne and Tamales

Last night I finally ground up the cayenne peppers that have been floating around the house drying for the past few weeks.

Cayenne Pepper Bounty
The thing about those peppers is that even when you've washed your hands a few times the oil still manages to find places to hide so that when you rub your eyes later it burns. So that's my lesson learned today: wear gloves when making red pepper flakes.

Bryan was hungry when he got home from work late last night, but lucky for him I picked up a couple of tamales from the farmer's market.

Steaming Tamales
I couldn't resist trying a pineapple one and while I thought it was a little weird, he really liked it. But then again the man loves pineapple on his pizza too (as well as anchovies on anything but that's another story). The other was a regular corn tamale and it was very very tasty.

Friday, October 13

Echo Park Farmer's Market

Or as I like to call it...a sign the neighborhood has officially gentrified.
A Potato Stand at the Brand New EP Farmer's Market!
The truth is I could not be happier about this recent development in the 'hood. Really the only thing that's been missing to complete my experience of living in Echo Park is a farmer's market. Today, Friday 13th, was the official grand opening of the market. It'll be every Friday from 3 - 7, which is a great time to go get some freshly prepared tamales for dinner and some fruit and veggies for the weekend.

People Picking Produce
It's not a huge market, not even close to Santa Monica or Hollywood, but they've done a really nice job of getting a variety of vendors. There's several fruit stands, the farmers stands cover a broad spectrum that includes end of season peaches, new oranges, dried fruit and nuts, salads, sprouts, veggies and tomatoes.

Perfect Persimmons and Pomegranates
I got there at exactly three and because it was the first ever farmer's market in this location, a bunch of the stands were still setting up. The arts and crafts booths were some of the first to be open so the first purchase I made was for a set of hand made salad utensils. I was thrilled to finally find something to serve with as I've been making pathetic use out of a rice paddle and spoon.

My New Serving Pieces (and no more alliteration)
There was also some jewelry at the adjacent stand but none of it caught my eye. What did was this one table where a VERY pregnant woman was selling handmade baby t-shirts. They all had patches that were 33 record covers and were really fun. I bought one for Harper Lee Terrell who's about to turn one and lives in the front house.
Crybaby Clothing Stand
The only slightly disappointing thing was the lack of flowers. There was only one stand and their selection was limited and mostly dyed. I decided to make the best of it and picked up some of these purple thistles for some color in the kitchen.

At about 3:30 everyone had their act together and the smells of tamales, chicken and Bar-B-Q started wafting. I spent some time checking out the herb plants for sale and decided that next weekend I'm turning the garden bed that's closest to my front door into a serious herb garden.

Nothing in the world is better than hanging out around stands where the french baker sells his bread, pastries and pasta, and the dairyman sells his homemade and home-milked cheese, and the hippie couple sell sugar juice (isn't that just sugar water?) with a big sign that says it increases energy - duh - and they chop the sugar cane in front of you to make your drink.

The best thing about the market were all the people from the neighborhood wandering around oohing and ahing at how great it was that we finally had our own market. I, myself, couldn't wipe the stupid grin off my face. It seemed fitting that the market take place in the parking lot adjacent to the corner where folks often sell churros and fruit. It was even more appropriate that this lady watched over us.

A Mural on the side of the building next to the market
It rained a little, and the vendors grew concerned, but when I left an hour later the place was rocking. People were eating dinner and buying all sorts of things. It would appear that not even rain or the fact that it's Friday the 13th could keep people away.

Mel couldn't come with me. No dogs allowed. This is the sad face that she made when I told her she'd have to stay home alone.

The saddest dog in the world
I'm sure we'll make it up to her. If only they sold bones at the market...

Thursday, October 12

What Not to Do when Baking Bread (A Lesson Learned the Hard Way)

Tuesday I decided to bake another batch of bread. This time though I thought I'd make a sun dried tomato and herb bread. I followed the same instructions as the last loaf and fermented the poolish overnight in the refrigerator. Yesterday I brought it to room temperature, added the other ingredients and kneaded it for 20 min. It rose. It rested. It proofed.

Then came the disaster. The book, which anyone who wants to learn how to bake good bread should buy, said that when you put the bread into the oven to bake you should spray the sides of the oven with water to create steam. This makes for a crunchy crust.

The trouble began when I didn't have a spray bottle. Instead I tossed a shot of water into the oven and it did create steam. Unfortunately 20 minutes later when I went to turn down the oven and rotate my loaves I discovered the oven had gone from 450 to 350. Concerned, I turned up the heat and left it for another 20 minutes. When I returned to pull the loaves out the oven was at 200 and the loaves not even close to being ready.

That's when I discovered I'd doused my pilot light. For some reason, though the oven was on, the house didn't fill with gas. I haven't figured out why yet because surely my move of accidentally dousing the pilot light with a cup of water should have resulted in an ultimate gas explosion. But maybe that only happens in the movies.

At any rate, it took a very groggy Bryan (he'd been napping) and I a good half hour to get the pilot relit and the oven reset. Now that my half baked loaves had completely cooled off, I returned them and baked them again at the right temperature. I tried them this morning, they're not terrible, but definitely not up to their potential.

So let this be a lesson to all you potential bread bakers. Buy a squirt bottle. Don't throw cups of water into your oven. I know it should be obvious, but in a pinch, sometimes the brain convinces you that doing really stupid things is a really great idea.

Fortunately nothing blew up in the learning of this lesson.