BBA Challenge: Challa

Eggy, eggy bread.  Yum.

I started the challa on Thursday.  I followed the directions perfectly and everything was going really well.  As I was kneading, I checked the temperature.  80F?  Right on.  Windowpane test?  Perfect.  The dough felt good, smelled good, tasted good.  Oh yeah.  Here comes an awesome loaf of challa.  My first ever.  You jut wait, it's gonna be good.

So I braided up the dough - I made the two-layer braided loaf.  Oh that braided dough was so pretty.  I had left my camera at work, so couldn't take a picture of it, unfortunately.  By that time, it was about 11pm, so added the eggwash and oil, put a moist cotton towel over the loaf, put a layer of (recycled!) foil on that to retain the moisture, and put it in the fridge to bake the next day, really excited about how the dough was doing thus far.


Apparently, this dough was still quite active and continued to work while in the fridge.  When I took it out on Friday to get ready to bake, the loaf had already fully expanded and was starting to collapse!  From the moment I took it out, it was working again... bubbling and collapsing... getting worse by the minute.  I was starting to get really concerned about it so I just threw it in the oven before it even came close to room temperature because I was sure it couldn't take another couple hours of warming up... it would just be a gooey mess by that point.

Fortunately, it baked up alright.  It's not the most attractive challa you've ever seen because when the dough started to collapse the braids were not so pretty anymore... and it didn't knock my socks off, but it was good and when it was fresh on Friday night had a really nice, eggy flavor and light texture.


Spring flowers

I had a stressful moment at work yesterday.  It got me all riled up so I decided to take a break and run an errand to chill out a bit.  As I was walking to my destination, I saw a bee in a little patch of flowers that had established themselves in an un-mowed lawn.  Since I hardly ever go anywhere without my camera, I pulled it out and crouched down to get these shots.  I have to say, taking a walk and a few quality moments with my camera really did the job and I felt much better.

Late March and April are a beautiful time here in Central Florida; the azaleas, camellias, and other flowers start to bloom, and soon there will be flowers everywhere.  For now, these little purple wild flowers will do the job :)




Jamie Oliver's TED Talk

I am a fan of TED Talks.  I admit it.  They give people with something important to say the chance to say it, to proverbially shout their message from the rooftops.  Jamie Oliver (you know, The Naked Chef... crazy British cook with his own little show on Food Network?) gave a TED Talk just recently about the role that school food and food prepared outside the home plays in child obesity.  

Interestingly enough, I also received this email this week:

Slow Food USA
Dear "Food Inc." Fan,
Thank you for going to see Food Inc. and for signing the Hungry for Change petition. As official partners of the film, Slow Food USA is thrilled to see the food movement gaining so much momentum.
More than 31 million children participate in the National School Lunch Program.  Helping schools serve more fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods may be the most promising way to end child obesity and teach good health -- but it simply can't happen unless Congress passes a strong Child Nutrition Act later this month..
Since you signed the Food Inc. petition and chose to receive information from the film's partners, we'll keep you updated on ways to get involved with our Time for Lunch campaign and Slow Food USA.  You can also opt out of future emails by clicking the unsubscribe link below.
We appreciate your support.
Thank you,
Slow Food USA and the 
Time for Lunch campaign team

I have to say that I'm pretty excited that all this is taking place... that there are a few people shouting from the rooftops.  I know I'm not the only one listening and doing a little happy dance because someone is actually up there and carrying on about this issue.  The thought that someday I might have kids that will be sent off to school and be faced with seriously unhealthy cafeteria food is a little frightening to me.  My hope is that movements like this will really begin to take hold and make a difference, not just for my own theoretical children that might exists someday, but for the rest of the folks out there too.  

Anyway, enough words... here's the talk.  Enjoy.




I am terribly excited to report that I am now the proud owner of a Kelsey 5x8 Excelsior tabletop platen letterpress!

These presses were manufactured in the early 1900s and are making quite the comeback.  I became smitten upon first seeing a picture of Shawna Noel's new letterpress stationery for her own photography business.  See it here.

I posted a 'want to buy' ad at briarpress.com - not expecting too much - when lo and behold a couple in Tampa contacted me because they had just bought two presses and wanted to sell one.  Perfect!  They had cleaned up and removed the rust from both presses, and so last weekend we drove down to pick it up.  Dare I say it?  The thing is smaller than I expected and actually kind of cute.

It will be a little while before I can actually use it, as it needs new rollers and trucks, and I've yet to purchase all the supplies that are needed to operate it.  I'll be getting most of the associated paraphernalia from Alan at excelsiorpress.com, ink from "Gary, the ink in tubes guy", and a base and gauge from boxcarpress.com in good ol' Syracuse, NY.

The ink plate... the back is notched so that it rotates every time you make an impression to ensure even distribution of ink

When we took it out of the car to bring into the house, this E fell out.  I don't know where it came from, but it's a lovely E, isn't it?

The press is on an old metal worktable that I just found on Craig's List.  For the record, I love the little metal logo on the front of it.


Canon Coffee Mug

I don't think I'd actually want one of these, but I still think it's great!




Just a couple shots of Lindsay's mother, Tammy.  What a beautiful family!  Lindsay's sister Presley will also be featured here soon...

Just FYI:  I have not fallen off the baking train!  I've had two weeks in a row during which I was travelling and I let a friend borrow the BBA, so there's been a small hiatus.  Do not fear!  I shall return to it soon with some challa.  I can't wait :)


Horse Pens 2010!

Horse Pens 40.  It's a boulder field on a plateau in northeast Alabama (between Birmingham and Gadsden) currently owned by the Schultz family.  It is on of the best places to boulder in the Southeast and is only one day's drive from Florida (note the sarcasm).  The place got its name because it was originally part of a 160 acre area claimed as a whole unit divided into sections of 40 acres.  The boulder field is located on the 40 acres used for horses, hence Horse Pens 40.

The Schultz family does still keep some horses on the property as you can see in my previous post.  Many of the areas of the park are off limits to protect the Native American heritage and natural beauty of the area.  Mr. Schultz is very serious about this and will take you on a long walk with his ever-present gun and giant knife if you decide to break the rules, so I wouldn't recommend it. ;)

Every year, the SCC (Southeast Climbing Coalition) hosts the Triple Crown Series bouldering competition.  Sloperfest, as it is affectionately termed, at HP40 is one of the three comps in the series.   Much of the rock is sandstone, which results in many "slopey" holds rather than something you can actually grab onto; you basically slap at the rock, hope your hand sticks, and "whale it up", humping up the rock on your belly in order to top out.  It's great fun... and only a little frightening knowing that if you fall mid-hump that you're going to lose all your skin on the way down.

Sloperfest usually takes place in early March and is smooshed together with something reminiscent of a music festival.  This year it was in the 20s at night but the days were just lovely.  I have discovered the joy of fleece sleeping bag liners.  Wonderful things.  Changed my life.

This year Bo and I decided to actually give the comp a try rather than just tooling around on a couple problems.  I reached my goal of sending enough problems to get to the second half of the  score sheet (woot!).  Bo, however, placed third in his age group and won a little prize (including new shoes!), which I think is just awesome.  I'm much more excited about it than he is, but that's fine with me. :)

I didn't take too many pictures because I spent a good amount of time climbing and spotting.  Most of the pictures I did take are of Bo.  Go figure.

And the requisite sun star shot:


Horse Pens 40!

Just a quick update today:

Last weekend was Sloperfest at Horse Pens 40 in Alabama and my fingertips are still recovering.  I spent more time climbing than shooting so I didn't take a ton of shots, but that's what I drove all the way up there for in the first place, right?  Just for the record, my Bo-man kicked ass up there.  :)

I'll get the HP40 shots up tonight (more people shots this year) and then will have more of the girls from the previous weekend up following that.

And because every post needs a picture, here are a couple of my favorites from last year.  These are straight outta camera (SOC) as I recall and admittedly could use some love:

See the full gallery here.



I had a shoot with a number of girls over the weekend, it was great fun.  Here are some shots of the lovely Lindsay.  I just loved that hood, it gave the images a great feel.  And check out those eyes!