Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sugar And Spice

The baby receiving the benefits of my knitting talent these days (and is providing a nice little distraction from the Norwegian Sweater) will be the daughter of an old college friend. My friend was a forestry major and in the Army Reserves and resented anything that reminded her she was a girl.

She didn't want to be a man, mind you, she just hated being associated with female adjectives like delicate, curvy, and hormonal.

I lost touch with her for a couple years and then, in a mass email announcement, I learned she had eloped. Very shortly after that (I'm not trying to imply anything here, it was very shortly afterward) she got pregnant--a delicate condition that creates curves and oozes hormones.

With twins.


And I knew the universe was unfolding as it should.

Now she is preggers again, but with a girl this time. Knowing her life is full of boyhood, and knowing she is the antithesis of girlygirl, I thought it might be nice to make this little jacket:

Smock Jacket from Celtic Knits by Debbie Bliss a nice gentle and not very girly color. Like forest green:

Knit Picks Gloss in Parsley

But the green yarn I have on hand wasn't hitting gauge. So off the the yarn shop I went. And I saw this:

Patons Classic Wool in Currant

...and I knew my universe was unfolding as it should.

Or maybe I just need to take a break from green and blue.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

The first herald of my favorite season? It comes before the leaves change, before the mornings get nippy and before my cat starts sleeping under the covers with me...

...Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte. Tall, nonfat, one pump for me please. Mmm. It appeared a few weeks ago.

At this point, the leaves are changing, the mornings are nippy, and I have lost all the bedspace I enjoyed during the summer. And yet another herald of autumn, which I had forgotten about, appeared in my grocery cart yesterday.


The Pumpkin Spice Kiss. It's like my favorite drink made spillproof (albeit with less caffeine). I'm blissfully ignoring the ingredient list because I'm pretty sure it would depress me.

My favorite use for these babies?

I drop a couple in my morning coffee and stir until melted. Then I splash in my usual milk. It's not a Starbucks' Latte but it will tide me over. I also like to drop a couple into some warm milk and let the kids have Pumpkin Steamers.

Oh, by the way:

Looks like I have to go back to my Norwegian sweater. Until my order for this hat arrives.

Baby Sweater on Two Needles from Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Dale of Norway Baby Ull, Superwash Merino Wool

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quality vs Quantity Quandry

You may have noticed a lapse in my daily 'What I Made' feature.

In my heart, creativity keeps me happy.
In my head, going to the craft store three times a week was bad for my budget.
In my soul, I am a closet environmental extremist who got a little tired of all the waste.

So I've eased up a bit. I'll still create, and I'll still blog, but it will be fewer projects and more in-depth.

The quality of my photography will remain the same.

Maybe I shouldn't advertise that.

Friday, September 25, 2009

White Knuckles

This hat is an emergency.

If I don't make this hat right now, my world is going to implode.

Even the Businessman agrees that this hat would complete me. Which made me fall in love with him all over again.

That's all.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Baby Sweater Is In The Mail

Sometimes it pays to know people.

Back in the day when I was child free and had a waistline I would take walks with my friend. Ever the entrepreneur, she would chatter about how much fun it would be to become a mom and we could write a book together that would be so successful we would wallow in luxury and never have to work again.

That's how I spun it anyway. She, ever the entrepreneur, will always have a business plan in her head and will never be able to not work. I'm finding many people are like that. I veer more toward dreams of perpetual housewifehood. Pie in the sky.

Back to my friend. About 28 seconds after having her baby she, ever the entrepreneur, had an idea (I also had deep thoughts after childbirth but they were too closely linked to lack of sleep, coffee, and privacy and, even if I could remember them, they were nowhere near as good as her idea).

She launched a business, Lots To Say Baby. Sadly, I was past pacifier age with my kiddos so I never had the opportunity to use her products. I encourage you to check out her site. Her pacifiers are in stores all over the country. My favorite is "Pull to Sound Alarm."

I lovingly suggested she make ones that said "This Sucks" and "What Stinks?" but she seems to have misplaced the contract regarding my royalties.

Anyway, when you spend more time knitting a sweater for a boy you haven't seen in fifteen a few years than you do helping your husband refinish the deck, and you discover the boy was in the Marines, you contact your friend and ask her to hook you up:

Because she's your friend (and an entrepreneur) and not because there must be some weird internal psychosis that causes you to spend all this energy on the boy who gave you your first kiss...

...but didn't bother to write in your yearbook.

Enjoy fatherhood Mr. Boy. Enjoying the sweater is optional. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bread Making Q and A

My oven is unreliable at best. Will tiles help?

Maybe, but the oven thermometer may help even more. I don't remember where I learned this, but self-cleaning ovens (the kind that burn all your spills to a small pile of ash that you wipe away) tend to be inaccurate. The first week I lived in CO I tried to cook a pan of brownies and 2 1/2 hours later they were still raw in the middle. I blamed the altitude. Several months later, I dusted off my thermometer and stuck it in the oven so I had more room in my gadget drawer. I noticed right away that my oven was off by 50-125 degrees.

The tiles are great for distributing, and maintaining heat. They take forever to preheat and forever to cool. If your recipe has lots of temp adjustments (cheesecake, roast beef, pie crust), you should pull the tiles out before you preheat.

Or, just blame the altitude.

I can never get bread to rise properly.

Define properly.

Is it too slow? Try turning your oven on for about 30 seconds and then turn it off. Let your dough rise in there. Does your dough have alcohol (usually beer) in it? That can slow things down (yeast don't like it much either). Is your yeast older? Did you proof it?

Even if your dough is slow, you might want to let it go at it's own pace. Some people keep their dough on the cooler side just so it takes longer to rise and develop good flavor.

Unexplainable: While I have had numerous instances of bread failing to rise, on two seperate occasions I have made bread that failed to rise AND later heard from other people that their dough failed to rise on THAT SAME DAY. Once was when I was at 8000 foot elevation and the other was at sea level. Wierd huh? I find the dough still makes decent pizza crust.

Can I use my bread machine?

I use a dishwasher, a treadmill, and premade piecrust and you're asking me if you can use a bread machine? Can I use your bread machine?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Cubscout, The Popcorn Salesman

I was both a Brownie and a Girl Scout in elementary school.

Fourth from the left. Looking awkward.

What's the first thing you think of when you espy Girl Scouts in their uniforms?

Cookies of course! Girl Scouts has the best door-to-door sales campaign going. Regardless of the fact that cookies no longer run $1.75 per box, people still anticipate the day the Green Berets show up in February so they can order their Thin Mint fix. Then, once the goods are delivered, they show up at the entryways of grocery stores everywhere and you can't resist one more box of Tagalongs, Samoas, or Do-Si-Dos.

Did you know there are two different bakeries? And they have titled their cookies differently? When I lived in Minneapolis I had access to both batches and I assure you, the ones with the cute names are superior. No Peanut Butter Patties for me. Give me Tagalongs or go away.

Anyway, there's a point. My son has joined Cub Scouts. Also, after suffering almost a month of disorganized meetings, the Businessman decided to take matters into his own hands and became the Den Leader (the Businessman can't stand it when people show up to meetings unprepared). Which means I must get onboard and support the pack's popcorn sales drive.

Popcorn? Girl Scouts have the epitome of mass marketing, supply vs. demand, and Green Beret tactics and Boy Scouts sell popcorn?

Yes, I guess they do. *sigh*

How can you resist such a smile?

Here is the place to go for online orders:
His scout number (which you will need so he gets credit): 2913416

If you are local to Ft Collins, feel free to email me (in my profile) and avoid the shipping charges.

Might I recommend the Military Donation? It's what I've done in the past, before I had a house full of sugary, chocolatey popcorn.

And you never know what I might do to thank my readers for supporting this special little scout.

But I'm sure it involves yarn.

Something In The Water (But Not My Water)

My Norwegian Sweater is a chore. How do I know this? It's 49 degrees and rainy outside--perfect knitting weather--and I can't stand the thought of it.

I do have the desire to knit another baby sweater. For a girl this time. I even know the mother a little beyond Facebook, though we never kissed. I'm thinking Elizabeth Zimmermann's February Baby Sweater will do nicely (I've made it in coral here).

I'm begging you, my loyal readers, please don't think of it as betrayal. I'll go back to Norway soon. With a yarn color called "Fjord" it can't repulse me too much longer.

Fair warning--I'm also wondering if I should knit her this one too:

From Celtic Knits by Debbie Bliss

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bread Making Part 5: The Need to Knead--Results

No it didn't really take me a week to bake a loaf of bread.


Truth be told, I was a bit disappointed in the visual results of my two breads. With the exception that the kneaded loaf seemed to spread more (which is likely to be due to a small variation in the liquid content) the two loaves looked unremarkably similar. Even when I cut into them.

What was different was the texture. The unkneaded dough had a denser feel. It was the kind of thing you could choke down, but you'd want ample water to swill. The kneaded loaf was spongier. It felt like it had air in it.

What really struck me as strangely bizarre?

As the afternoon wore on into the evening, we were all taking slices and snacking. I sliced both loaves and no one in my family knew there was a difference between them. I assure you, no one in my household has any qualms about eating from a new loaf when there is a half-eaten loaf sitting next to it. This is supported by the eleven open boxes of cereal in my pantry.

By the end of the evening, the kneaded bread was gone, but the unkneaded bread, though picked at, was ignored.

Very interesting.

Anyway, we can safely assume kneading is important, because all the bread books tell us so. The next time you make bread, observe your dough. How does it feel when the dough comes together? How is it different after five minutes of kneading? Ten minutes? When it windowpanes?

My favorite bread, Ciabatta, makes a sticky dough that clings around the hook and leaves a three inch 'puddle' of dough in the bottom of the bowl. After a few minutes, the dough makes a vertical blob that travels around the side of the bowl and the puddle is a bit smaller. In another five minutes the dough forms a ball around the hook and makes 'arms' that slap the bowl a few times before incorporating themselves back into the ball.

Guess how many times I made Ciabatta before noticing?

Practice makes perfect.

You've had some questions regarding breadmaking. I'm not professional, and I'm not even that experienced, but I'll try to answer them soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bread Making Part 5: The Need to Knead

Today's experiment involves the importance of kneading or, in my case, hiring your favorite thug kitchen appliance to abuse your dough.

My bread today is a simple wheat bread with both store-bought yeast and sourdough starter. Why? Because (for the experiment) I need the assurance of the quick rise, but I want the flavor of the sourdough.

Especially since, as I write this, I realize I forgot the salt. I always forget the salt. I think there is some synapse in my brain that makes it physically, mentally, and biochemically impossible for me to remember the salt.

It might explain my blood pressure of 106/60.

First I proofed the yeast. This is entirely optional but if you have had rising problems I recommend it. Plus it makes for a good experiment.

In 2 cups of (room temp to lukewarm) water I added 2 T of sugar and 1 T of active dry yeast. I swirled it to dissolve the sugar and I swirled again about 30 seconds later to dissolve the softened yeast.

After 5 minutes, there is a foam of bubbles on the top. If I let it sit a little longer there would be a froth of bubbles. Bubbles are the best way to know your yeast is alive. I've looked into teeny tiny heartrate monitors but apparently yeast doesn't have a heart.

Don't tell it that though.

Two balls of dough:

Each consists of:

1 cup bread flour
2 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sourdough starter
1 cup of your yeast mixture
1 t salt (if your synapses are fully firing)

The first batch I kneaded in my mixer just until the ingredients combined (about 3 minutes on level 3 speed)

The second ball I kneaded for 12 minutes on level 3. That's how long it took for the dough to windowpane.


When I try to stretch batch #1 it pulls apart like playdough.

But when I stretch out batch #2:

It makes a windowpane. If I had used only bread flour (or white flour) I could stretch the pane so thin I could see through it. This bread has whole wheat in it. The bran tends to cut into the windowpane so it tears easily but it's still there.

What makes the windowpane? Anyone?

Correct! Gluten. Gluten, after being bullied around for 12 minutes, decides to unite with its friends and fights back. It makes dough springy and elastic and all those little windowpanes inflate like balloons when the yeast continues its little bubble making party.

Later, we'll compare the two different loaves.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's Time To Knit Some Norway

I had asked you what my course of action should be regarding the Norwegian sweater (and the fact that it's using needles I need for something else) and I never really told you the results.

I had always suspected my project ADD was normal. I mean, don't we all have unfinished business lying around the house, consuming our thoughts, eating at our souls, and gnawing on our fingernails?

Yes, I'm still talking about crafting. Why do you ask?

But, according to the results of my poll, you want me to go against my nature and finish something. Again.

I have drawn two conclusions:

1. I am abnormal . . . I mean . . . I'm weird . . . um . . . wait . . . You (there we go, I'll throw the blame on you) are all people who finish everything you start and don't start anything new until the first project is finished. People like you don't have storage issues, stashes, or brutally chewed fingernails and you want me to share the zen-like tranquility you exude.


2. The idea of finishing a project is so amazing to you, that you cannot even fathom such a thing happening in your own homes. Therefore, you want this potential warp in the time continuum to happen in my house, on my watch and you'll simply enjoy the show.

Brutal I say. You people are brutal.

I started the sleeves. Either way, it's my only course of action.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge: Indian Dosas

The Daring Cooks was hosted by Debyi of The Healthy Vegan Kitchen. She embraced alternative cooks everywhere by giving us a vegan, gluten-free, 99% oil free challenge: Indian Dosas. Click the link to get the recipe.

I learned a dosa is a pancake:

Which I stuffed with a garbonzo bean filling:

And topped with a curry sauce:

Like so:

They were good. I felt the filling was too salty, which may have been my bad because I used garbonzo beans from a batch I cooked up a couple weeks ago and froze. I don't remember if I added salt to them and didn't taste them before I used them. Oops.

I make Indian food about once a week--it's condusive to a vegetarian diet--and I loved having pancakes instead of rice for a change.

That said, my family prefers the dal I make from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bitman. You know, one of those recipes that takes about five minutes to whip up and then you let it simmer for a bit and it's done.


They appreciate a good adventure, they just don't appreciate the dish clean-up. Which makes no sense at all since I washed all the dishes.

Thanks Debyi for the recipe. The pancakes are a keeper!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

An Un-Profit Business Model

The Businessman is onboard with my "Big Idea." He didn't see the need to take me seriously until he saw I was using my Excel skilz (one of the few things I can contribute to a business). Unfortunately he told me to write up a profitable business model and I'm failing. Spectacularly.

I have such a great plan...until I crunch numbers. From what I hear investors like numbers. Especially when they have lots of zeros behind them and no negative sign in front of them. They're so picky.

I should have learned web development. Biochemistry is pretty useless right now.
I should have made more geek friends when I lived in Seattle, where they grow on trees.
I should do some more market research.

I am not giving up. I still have a Businessman.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I made mozzerella last weekend. Twice. And I just made it again.

I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and in it is a recipe for 30 Minute Mozzerella.

It's really easy. In fact, the hardest part was finding the ingredients.

Citric acid: I found at Vitamin Cottage
Rennet (vegetarian): I found in Whole Foods, in the string cheese section.
Milk: Anywhere really. If you have access to raw, I hear that's best.

Then you follow the instructions.

After adding the citric acid, the milk starts to curdle:

After the rennet, it looks like cottage cheese:

After draining off the whey:


And stretching (note how rough it looks here):

And the really hot stretching (it gets a lot smoother and shinier):

After this, I cut it into pieces and used it in calzones, and shared it with Yummy, who declared it tasted just like string cheese, and ate some myself. Then I realized I had none left, so I went to the store and got some more milk. The second batch I cut into pieces and marinated in olive oil and crushed chilis.

I probably should be a bit concernaed about consuming 3 gallons of milk's worth of cheese, but surprisingly I'm not.

Where are those tomatoes? And my basil?

Eight Years Ago

Someday, my kids may come home with a homework assignment in which they ask me where I was on September 11th, 2001. My story will be boring.

The Businessman and I carpooled to work and we always listened to NPR. When we turned on the radio that day there were several brief interviews and they kept mentioning the World Trade Center and bombs.

I thought it was the anniversary the the WTC bombings and they were re-airing some of the coverage.

Then the Businessman said "This is real."

A plane had just crashed at the pentagon, then the second WTC plane crashed. The first tower collapsed as I got to work.

Productivity was low that day. I had no friends or family in New York or DC so I did what comes naturally to me in times of crisis: I calm down and try to stay out of the way. It was easy to do in Seattle. A few co-workers were distraught. Some had loved ones on the East Coast and couldn't contact them. Others were simply wishing we could all go home early so we could watch the news.

Once I got off work I met a friend at a favorite hangout. Gradually our husbands joined us and we spent the evening discussing the events of the day, while the TV continued its broadcast.

I didn't feel scared. I didn't feel hate. I felt sad. Sad that people were so quick to judge, alienate, and retaliate. Sad that so many innocent Americans had reason to be scared, simply because of their religion or where they were born.

Sad that it takes such a tragic event to unite people.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


I'm taking a hiatus from bread today. My kiddo is sick, it's hot outside and, most importantly, I just finished cleaning my kitchen.

I finished this part of my Norwegian sweater last night:

One of you asked what this is, because it looks a little blobby. It's blobby because I have steeks in it.

What are steeks?

Steeks are place markers to show you where to later cut your knitting.

Go ahead and hyperventilate a little. I'll wait.

Steeks are most valuable in colorwork. It's much, much easier to knit colorwork from the right side (as opposed to the wrong side, not the left side) so most colorwork patterns are written to be knit in the round, which makes a giant tube.

But, last time I checked, most humans aren't worm shaped. We have arms, shoulders and heads smaller than those shoulders. And that's where steeking comes in.

Instead of shaping for a neck and armholes, and thereby knitting back and forth, I just do a little shaping and add a steek.

Once the knitting is finished, I stabilize the steek a little (via machine sewing, or crochet) and then cut it up the middle:

After cutting, it's nice to lie down in a dark room with a glass of wine.

When you decide to inspect your work, you will find the knitting did not unravel into a pile of ramen noodles, but has exposed your nicely shaped neckline:

Or sleeves, or placket, or pocket opening. I have five steeks in this blob: two sleeves, front neck, back neck, and placket. When they are all cut, the piece will resemble a sweater.

Steeks aren't hard, but they go into the cache of advanced knitting techniques because of the confidence you have to have. But I promise you, even a beginner can slice apart their knitting.

Or a three year old.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Bread Making Part 4: Where's The Gluten?


I'm waiting on a delivery (not the mother's) and then I'll wrap this puppy up, ship it out and call it done!

Today's bread lesson is about a protein in wheat called gluten. Gluten is an important feature of your bread dough. If you don't knead your dough enough, you won't activate the gluten and your dough won't rise well. I'm sure it's possible to knead dough too long, but I've never witnessed it. And I tend to leave my mixer running a while.

I realize not everyone is the closet chemist I am, therefore I'm going to do an experiment today, so you don't have to. I'm going to extract gluten from flour.

In my mixer, I added 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour (I used bread flour, but regular white flour will work too). I let it ride for about ten minutes. Then I gradually added more water.

And it started looking like paper mache paste. Yum.

I kept mixing and adding more water (about three cups) until it was very runny. Then I plunged my hands into the glop and fished around for lumps:

And there it is. Stretchy, sticky, ugly gluten. Before motherhood, I would have been a little grossed out by this. Now I have children.


And, actually, I buy gluten flour (called Vital Wheat Gluten) and use it to make vegan meat substitutes.

But don't you think it's kind of cool to see that flour is more than just flour?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Bread Making Part 3: Loving Your Starter

So now you have a lovely little starter percolating (or you will in a couple days). I don't know about you, but after all that work, I want this guy to stick around for a while.

Remember, this isn't scary. Your starter is simply a way to store and have a steady supply of yeast. Sure it's futzier than those packets of yeast, but it's just yeast.

Yeast that either needs to be fed constantly, or forced to take a nap.

Ideal situation: You use part of your starter to make bread, then you continue to feed the remaining starter until you make more bread (in a day or two).


You make up a batch of dough using all your starter and break off a lump of dough (before you shape your loaves but after the first rising) which you pet and love and call George and knead into tomorrow's bread. When I try to do this, I usually forget to pinch off my George and he ends up in the oven. One sure way to kill George is to bake him.


You make your bread using some of your starter. Feed the remaining starter and stick in a jar (I use a pint jar) in the fridge where it will gradually cover itself in grayish liquid and go dormant. You can keep it dormant for months this way, but when you need it again, it will take a couple days of room-temp feeding to wake up.

And for the adventurous among you: If you fiddle with your flour to water ratios, say two parts flour to one part water, your starter will become less sour. If you leave it as a dough, it will be even less sour.

The kitchen is all about chemistry experiments.

Tomorrow, or once I remember to take pictures, we will make our first loaf of sourdough bread.

Well...I already ate my first slice with dinner. Then I toasted some the next day. But you can make your first loaf.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Bread Making Part 2: A Sourdough Starter

I've finished the sleeves of the baby sweater and now I'm knitting the collar. It should be done in a week (or less...or more).

A starter is a good step for aspiring breadmakers to learn. Basically, it's a source of live yeast. The yeast you get in packets or in a jar is dormant--it needs a little moisture and food to activate. But a starter contains active, hungry yeast that need to be fed. You can keep a starter for months, years, decades. And I'm sure someone has one that dates back to 4897 BC.

Or you could be like me and, once again, kill off your starter (by freezing it over a year). Which simply means you have to start the start of a new starter.

Sourdough starter has yeast and other lively critters that give it it's pleasant tang. The acidity helps prevent less desirable critters from taking over. Every microclimate produces a slightly different flavor and ordering a starter from one locale is pointless, as your local microbes will make it what it should be for your location.

There are several ways to make starter, this one is my favorite because it's simple and sour.

My Sourdough Starter:

3/4 cup flour, preferably organic but not necessary (white, wheat, rye, anything that has starch)
3/4 cup water

Mix together in a medium bowl (you'll be adding to it as the days go on). Cover loosely. Note the general time of day (i.e. morning, evening, cocktail hour).

The next day, at about the same time, add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Mix thoroughly. Cover loosely.

After feeding. It's not pretty but it's alive.

Repeat the above feeding for 3-7 days until one of two things happens:

1. Your starter smells nasty, has a pinkish tinge, or just sits there. Throw it out and start over.
2. Your starter smells sour or beer-y (sniff all the sourdough bread at the grocery store next time you're there). It's bubbly and asks for it's daily meal.

On second thought, if your starter talks to you, you may want to step away from the breadmaking altogether and move on to homebrewing. Or hydroponic gardening.


It happens faster if it's warmer.
It's okay if a little clear, grayish or brownish water separates out. If the water is pink (and smells rotten), toss it.
If you don't trust the process, add the tiniest pinch of yeast at the beginning (like 1-2 grains).

Next post, we'll discuss care and feeding of your new bundle of joy.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Bread Making Part 1: Equipment

Don't forget to vote (for my colorwork sweater) if you haven't yet.

I'm making sourdough bread as I type this. There is a heavenly, beery-yeasty-sour sort of smell eminating from my kitchen.

And it occured to me that I haven't really shared any of my bread making expertise with you.

A year and a half ago, I challenged myself to bake all our bread from scratch, including tortillas. I managed to go six weeks before tortillas broke me--they were awesome if they were eaten directly off the griddle, but became hardtack after about 23 seconds. I continued baking bread for another month or so, but the Businessman rebelled with a loaf of Wonder.

Besides (re)discovering that the Businessman is a simple, simple man who just wants squishy white bread that tastes like glue. I learned a lot.

My essential equipment:

Celeste, my KitchenAid Mixer-A huge thank you goes out to KH who convinced the Businessman, seven years ago, not to get me a microwave for Christmas. But hand-kneading is great if that's what you want.

Cheap clay tiles-from the hardware store. If they cost a buck each, they're pricey. I never remove them (unless I need the second rack). They do wonders for your oven temperature and simulate good old-fashioned clay ovens.

Oven thermometer-At the best of times my oven is horribly inaccurate (as most self-cleaning ovens are). The tiles effect the temp too so an oven thermometer is crucial.

Beyond that, all you need are flour and water. Oh yeah, and salt. I always forget the salt. Bread made without salt is sort of pointless. Unless you have a dungeon and are preparing prisoner's rations.

Tomorrow, we'll start by starting a starter.
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