Saturday, December 28, 2013


And now, the newly corned beef sits in the pressure cooker, being steamed @ 15PSI, not boiled.  We hope for a good result.

Much more into cooking.  Bread is working although not spectacular.  I am ready to believe that my first loaf was an hallucination.  I'm in consultation with my bread guru and hopeful.  Mushroom Barley works, Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage works, Borscht works.  Janet likes the Fish Stew but I hate fish.  I'd rather swim with them than eat them.  Some are more problematic: Jamaican Oxtail Stew was better the first time and I don't know why although the stew recipe needs to be adjusted for the pressure cooker.  Less liquid, add veggies later in the cooking.

And now, I'm baking sourdough.  Amazed at the changes life brings.Something I could not see before. I don the apron and wash my hands.  Carefully, I remove the foundation of my offering from its vault.  It  has waited, patiently, living slowly, maintaining a connection to the earth.  A thousand steps, a thousand questions.  Instructions are ritual.
Or am I mad, or both?.
Is it active?
Every step is vital.  Trying to follow them all, I, apparently, fail.  The offering has no oven spring, it fails to rise, and the resulting loaf is very dense.

A lesson learned, and now back to the search for truth, I perform the ritual again, hoping for a better result

We shall see. And ginger beer.  Another offering to the earth which is returned multiplied.Offer the juice of ginger and lemons, properly prepared; receive, a refreshing, intoxicating, carbonated nectar.

Cooking has continued.  I bake bread from wild yeast, offer it to the goddess through fire, and receive nourishment in return.
Cooking is our direct connection to the natural world.  We build our flesh from the living world.  We live at this world's sufferance.  Can we understand this while there is time.

Friday, December 13, 2013

TEDxCaltech - J. Craig Venter - Future Biology

Having experienced an amazing MOOC on biology, I watched Craig Venture talk about his view of the future.  A world where high school students hack life instead of phones or computer networks.

Having once been a high school student, I'm uneasy.  We've seen both accidental and intentional computer viruses cause enormous damage.  We've no shortage of those who hack code beyond the law, why not life?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Added Fire

Seething mass of dough
I'm taking this awesome MOOC on Science&Cooking Approaching cooking as chemistry with a limited set of chemicals.  I always thought of cooking as a set of rituals.  Follow the rituals => good food!

Science is a new view.

I've been at it for a while and so far, I've been happy to eat everything I've made, and what could be better than that? So I'm not a cook, but I cook and I'm working on it.  

Today, I baked my first bread.  The kiss of the boulangere.  A simple white bread, excellent.  Bread is special.  Now I know it is possible.  I must have it again.

And now, it is two days later and First bread was excellent, magical.  My idea, at least, of what a white bread should be. And pure luck.  And now,

I, Western Man, must master it, make it mine.

Today, on round 2, I discovered that I hadn't written down quite everything.  How much water?  Fortunately, even a rank amateur could recognize that the dough I got was a bit runny; and after getting my proportions straight, I ended up with the paste for 2+ loaves and no bowl to hold it.  Of course, I didn't know the bowls were too small until they overflowed in the oven.

After an emergency call with my bread guru, I divided the dough into halves.

Waiting for Fire

Dough in the Clouds
Now, it's been baked and, while nice looking and reasonable for a second try, it doesn't come close to the miraculous event of the First Baking.

So now it has happened.  I will seek the perfect loaf, I know it is there, I have tasted its goodness and my quest is clear.  I must rediscover the perfect loaf and learn to perform the rituals in the kitchen to share her deliciousness again.  I see the perfect loaf everywhere, in the sky, on the rack.  Just out of reach.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Am I old?

'Am I old?' is a question I ask more and more these days.  Today especially, because I did something new.  Or different.  Today, I cancelled an airline trip because I felt like shit, so to speak.  I couldn't inflict myself, in that state, on my wonderful hosts.

And then, resigned to staying in and beer-less, proceeded to Whole Foods, the neighborhood market.  (Soon, I hear, to be joined by Fairway Tribeca.)  As I left my home,
 I felt great to be out and thought: "what have I done".  Never having not made a pleasure journey on account of health, it made an impression.  That is something that, if we live to old age, we will do, and now I have done it.  It marks an experience, a stage, in life.  

And then, I felt pretty good.  And I thought what if I should have gone, and felt 'Oh mi god, am I old?'.  And I walked across the street, into 

Whole Foods and salad, bananas, and beer where - sadly - Old Rasputin is missing.  and I spoke with the staff who are excellent and knowledgeable, and reality enters, I begin to cough uncontrollably and know why I will be in NY this weekend.  

On the way home, I think of the other market.  Food Emporium: 
the standard, dour, old style supermarket: poor selection, awkward aisles, unhelpful staff, and high prices. A dinosaur. Why could Food Emporium not see beyond itself?

So, back home with my kitty, my wife, my Founder's Breakfast Stout, and thoughts of what might have been.  Kitty climbs on my lap which makes typing awkward.  I persevere.

Am I old?  What is it to be old?

I do one thing a day.  I am happy, not dissatisfied.  Lou Reed died Sunday. 'A young man.' as the oldest generation always says. None of my or my wife's ancestors are living.  We are the oldest generation. So yes and no.  We are old yet not old, not withdrawn.  Still part of the river.

Life continues and so do I.  I am posting again.

And time has passed and it is time to move on.