061 The stupid machine

061 The stupid machine

With the snow returned, I focus on projects indoors. Fast walks through the forest are all I can bear while it is this cold. But I’ve been complaining enough. It’s time to pull myself out of my winter funk, no matter the weather.

I often start my day with tea. Today, there are no tea bags prepared, so I’ll fill two for each of us. Tea is like a tiny dabble in home remedies for me. Mullein tea against respiratory issues, mint for my stomach.

This is mint I collected from my garden neighbor in the fall. I like the mix of leaves and mint flowers. Maybe next year, I can grow my own tea. When mullein was in bloom, I spread quite a few seeds in the food forest. And when spring comes around, there are mint plants waiting for room to spread–hopefully controlled.

Now that I have the food processor, I had to relearn how to make bread.

Sure, the base ingredients are the same, and a lot of the steps follow the same outline, but it still somehow changed everything enough that I didn’t know what I was doing. But, I think, maybe, I’ve got it now.

I use as much sourdough starter as I need to use up–at least a cup, though. I always leave a bit to feed and keep the starter going.

A while back, I got some discard from the farm where we get a lot of our groceries. Since then, I’ve had a happy starter. I guess, an old established starter culture does indeed make a difference. It is a rye-based starter, so I feed it whole-grain rye flour from the very same farm. I’ve learned that a healthy starter is a lot less finicky, too. I just eyeball the water and flour ratio.

And before some of you panic (again): I live in Germany. Our tap water is safe to drink and use. No chlorine or similar.

If I don’t need to use the food processor bowl for other things, I make the preferment in the bowl.

Roughly the same amount of flour as there was starter, but I can even it out later. A preferment is essentially a giant starter. You feed a lot of starter a lot of flour.

I add warm (not hot!) water if I want to bake sooner, cold water if I want the dough to ferment more slowly.

Depending on how much starter there was, the preferment is more or less liquid. This one was definitely too liquid. And then I again eyeball things. I add flour until the texture is more dough than soup.

A few hours later, I continue. How long? Well, depends on how my day is going. Usually, two to three hours.

I add salt. I might add milk. And then, the stupid machine gets to do its thing. I add a few cups of flour to start, but more kneading is better than more flour, so I take it slow.

I don’t like this machine. I wish I didn’t need it. But it helps even out my disabilities a lot. The constant reminder that I can’t do everything I’d like to is part of why I call it stupid.

But mostly, the name of the model bothers me: calling a food processor “MUM” makes me not want to use it. I’m not a mom. I’ll never be one. And is there a better name to ingrain sexism right in your product line?

I think I need to give this thing a name. I can’t keep calling it the stupid machine. Maybe covering up the logo and calling this stupid machine something else will make me dislike it less.

I still touch every dough. I don’t want to loose the feeling of what a good dough should be like.

We let dough rest on the fridge or on the enclosure of the 3D-printer. We weren’t printing that day, so fridge it was.

As I couldn’t finish the bread the day before, I’d transferred the dough to the fridge. The next morning, I continued.

It still feels counter-intuitive to push all the hard-risen air back out of the dough. But it works, so I don’t question it–much.

I forgot I have a dough scraper, and used one of my still-dull knives to portion the dough.

I have read and watched a lot of bread recipes, and each recipe left some mark on the process.

Slowly, I am learning what every step needs to feel like. I don’t want to follow a recipe.

I feed my starter every morning–okay, almost every morning. Some days, I forget. Luckily, these things are hardy. I still keep two starters, because I’m paranoid I’ll destroy one. Probably not necessary 😉

When the bread rolls had come to room temperature, I baked them in the air fryer.

Our weekly box of produce had included some oranges, so I decided to finally try making a cleaner. I don’t know (yet) why there are citrus fruit in what is supposed to be a local box, but I’ll use them up, of course.

I never learned how to clean properly. And all tutorials seem to be ads for some cleaner or another. I don’t want to use weird chemicals to clean. That can’t be the solution. So, I’m experimenting.

Covered in vinegar, they’ll sit for two weeks. And now I had an entire container filled with snackable orange pieces. Not the worst side effect.

Luckily, I didn’t have to wait two weeks for the bread.

As I had to leave for an appointment, the bread went back into the fridge. I baked it later that day. See, I would not even be able to follow a recipe 😉

The bread rolls turned out almost perfect. The happy dance should tell you how many breads were just okay.

Still working with very limited ingredients, we had egg sandwiches again. Next week, we return to normal.

So long, and thanks for being here.