Ciabatta (Take Two)

Weeellll... I seem to have a hard time following directions.  At least following really specific directions.  The bread was very tasty, but not neccessarily ciabatta-y. :)

To start out, you have to make the poolish one day ahead.  Check.  Poolish made - yeast, flour, water.  So far, so good!  Then you let it ferment for a couple hours and then put the poolish in the fridge overnight... oh dear.  Problem number one:  I was overcome by bedtime before I managed to put it in the fridge.  Doh!  Oh well, we'll just go with it and see what happens.  The poolish looked fine in the morning (was still bubbling and hadn't collapsed onto itself), so it went into the fridge for the day.

Upon returning from a long day of work, I took the poolish out to adjust to room temperature and got everything ready for the rest of the dough-making.  After a good amount of time, I combined the poolish and remaining ingredients and began the rising and shaping process that seems to be pretty specific to ciabatta.  I thought that I had read and followed the directions well enough to not screw it up, but I guess not.  Besides, by the time the last rise had rolled around, it was already coming up on 11pm (someday I really will give this bread thing a try on the weekend!).  At that point, all bets are off as far as direction-following is concerned.  I think part of the problem is that usually I scan a couple recipes, get the basics, and then wing it... I know enough about creaming butter and sauteing garlic that I don't usually read the recipe instructions, so it's really hard for me to focus on every single detail in the directions.  Apparently the details matter in the world of bread!  :)

Anyway, the resulting bread was really quite flavorful (actually tasted similar to knedliky to me) and had a beautifully soft, springy texture inside and a nice, crusty outside, but it didn't have the signature airy crumb of ciabatta.  Well, at least I can say that I tried.  Twice.

Bo and I had this bread with some fresh chevre from Sweet Grass dairy in southern Georgia and some local garlic cheddar made from raw milk.  Hooray for the farmers' market!



I am terribly excited to report that all of my remaining letterpress supplies arrived today.  Various and assorted packages, some with smaller individually wrapped packages, and I'm slowly opening each one to discover what exactly is inside... it's just like Christmas!  I am doing my best to not leave work this very instant to run home and start playing with all of these wonderful new toys.  Well, most of the toys are old as letterpress is kind of an 'antique' trade, but you know what I mean :)

Anyway, on top of that exciting news, I am happy to report that my latest bread adventure was not completely awful ( = success in my book)!  Look for a post on Ciabatta (take two) soon.

Printing printing printing.  I just can't wait :)


Graduation nears...

It's the end of the semester at UF and students everywhere are busy with finals and making summer plans.  Last week, I helped do some shots for the Warrington College of Business Administration awards dinner for a friend who is part of the faculty there.  Before we get to those, I would like to propose a special package for college grads before they head out into the world!  Check out more details at kozelskyphoto.com.

And now to the awards dinner...  It was a pleasure to help out and lend my services.  Here are just a few of the many rockstars from the evening:


Pinhole Experiment Part Two

I made a new pinhole that was a little bit cleaner and took the setup down to the Farmers' Market last week.

Here are a couple results from that:

In other news, I have sent off my first set of files to boxcar press to get some plates made for the Kelsey.  I'm excited about finally getting everything set up and giving this thing a try!  Wish me luck!


Pinhole Experiments

Last night I decided to finally give the digital pinhole thing a try.  For those of you that aren't familiar with pinhole photography, it is the simplest type of photography out there.  You can make a film pinhole camera with a roll of film, and empty film canister, a matchbox and some black tape.  Pinhole images (at least the uber-rudimentary kind) are generally at least a little bit blurry, may have some vignetting (dark areas around the edges), are made with a long exposure (usually at least a few seconds), and have a pretty specific feel to them.  I want to say 'vintage', but I'm not sure that's the word I'm looking for.  Anyway, I think right now there is a trend to create images using old-school technology in conjunction with new dSLRs, and the digital pinhole thing is just one example.  There is a pinhole group on flickr if you'd like to see more.  Maybe I should start one at SmugMug. :)  Of course, all kinds of 'distressed' and old-school imitations can be created in Photoshop or whatever, but that's just cheating :)

So, onto the process: I took the body cap to the camera (it's a 40D in case anyone cares) and drilled a small hole in that then sanded down the edges to make it nice and clean.  Then I cut a square from an aluminum drink can and colored it black on both sides with a sharpie.  I used a pin to make the tiniest hole I could through the metal (next time I'll cut the can, make the hole, then sand it down and lastly color it black to make sure the hole is really even and clean).  At first, I affixed the pinhole to the outside of the body cap, but I decided to put it on the inside of the body cap instead and that seems to have helped the final result in terms of sharpness and light interference (having inside the cap is like having a lens hood and I think helps bring out the vignetting a little bit).  The exposure for the image below was somewhere in the 10-20 second range, I believe.

I know I still have a lot more to learn, but here is the best of yesterday's first attempt.  I did adjust levels/curves and saturation, and yes, that's most likely pollen on my sensor O_o (it's pollen season here, absolutely everything is covered in yellow).  All of the shots came out very limited in tonal range; probably about 1/3 to 1/4 of a normal histogram.  I was shooting in low, even light. I would like to try it with some brighter light and hopefully get a little more tonal variation in there so I won't have to adjust levels/curves.

If you have experience with digital pinhole photography, please feel free to comment!


What's Organic about 'Organic'?

We just had a Local Food Roadshow here in Gainesville and there was a little film series at the Hippodrome associated with it.  I went this past Wednesday to see two films that were being re-screened because they sold out on the days they were first screened.  Go Gainesville!  How many places will sell out at screenings of local, sustainable, organic food documentaries?  We have a great community here :)

One of the films was "What's Organic about 'Organic'?"  and it outlines a good deal of information about what the USDA organic symbol really represents.  The filmmaker and one of the farmers featured in the film who is from Florida were at the screening and held a Q&A session after the film.  I have to say that I learned more new information from the Q&A than from the film itself, but I still think that the film is definitely educational and worth watching.

For example, I didn't realize that the Organic stamp not only prohibits chemical fertilizers and the like, but also represents non-GMO items and mandates sustainable practices.  The regulations are slowly becoming more detailed, and the newest change is that livestock must spend a minimum of four months of the year on pasture.

The farmers at the screening (there was one interviewed in the film and one who wrote the initial organic regulations for the State of Florida before it was taken to the federal level) really communicated how stringent the regulations are and are proud of what the USDA Organic board has accomplished so far.  Of course, there is always room for improvement, but to hear from farmers who have been farming in a sustainable, natural way for decades and decades that they are proud of the USDA seal really drove home how much that little circle symbolizes.

I highly recommend this film and encourage you to do your research about what the seal really represents.

Eat happy!