Much going on over spring/summer that needs attention here. Many choices for posting--ideas sparked by other bloggers, stuff in my everyday life. Deciding can get in the way of doing, don't you think? Over at Folkways Notebook, the images Barbara posts often lead me to stuff in my own space as this one of a Carolina wren nest. Time to consider the nest lingering, carefully saved in a container that once held roasted, unsalted cashews from the Harlem Fairway.
Imagining-- did it land on a Manhattan street or did I find it in my Baltimore backyard in 1995 before we made the final move to New York. A birder was visiting, so I opened it for the first time so we could examine it closely. From the front and the back, a bit of dental floss? Birder took out her book and delivered a lesson: "It's probably a Blue gray gnatcatcher " (link is to actual bird sound).
BREAD Have neglected writing about it lately. Was I so bowled over by my encounters in northern California that I felt inadequate to homemade efforts? The loaves at Acme Bread in the Ferry Building at the San Francisco wharf were good but the five-grain loaf and pastries at Pearl Bakery here in Portland are more flavorful.
Tartine on Guerro Street in the Castro District? This is complicated. I was especially looking forward to this. Much hullabaloo on food sites about the book the baker there had written. Delightful ride on crowded trolley in the late afternoon, then startled by naked gay men preening in the sunlight at the last stop, finally a very long walk through friendly neighborhood to arrive for the moment bread was removed from ovens--at 5 p.m. Different.
Staying in a motel, eating out, we were not up for even a half loaf. Here's the only photo we managed of quickly-purchased intact loaves--on the way back from the restroom. We ate an early dinner in the tiny Tartine cafe alongside the waiting bread-buyers. Had delicious quiche, followed by an abundant and tasty bread pudding.
From what we could discern, bread was good but with so many other ingredients surrounding, it was hard to compare with our favorite so far on this trip, Wild Flour in Sebastapol--out in the country in Sonoma.
Finally, on our trip on our return to Santa Rosa, our friends said we had to have THE experience. And we did. We went to the Sonoma Farmers Market where the bejkr (may be Esperanto for "baker") holds court, along with a clay, wood-fired oven for pretzels attached to his vehicle.
Cult Sonoma dscribes him as an "artisanal god." Hyperbole but the quirky Mike Zakowski is both an unusual character who grows his own wheat (little red hen could relate) but also makes fabulous bread and pretzels.
On returning to Portland, my first effort, oft baked sourdough graham recipe from from some mix of flours , looked remarkably like a torpedo. Used French bread pan,carried from our place to our baby-sitting gig at our daughter's. Best part was six year old Zoe joined grandma in working with the dough.
Stopped for a while. Last week used my sourdough starter to make another starter for a Sourdough Semolina bread recipe I found online. Gave the entire process far more time for autolyze and fermenting. Excellent result--even though I turned the oven too high at beginning. But no illusions I'll reach the level of the bejkr in this lifetime.