Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall Activities

Harvest time.  Time for renewal, even though that renewal looks like preparation to go dormant.  With the harvest comes surplus, and to preserve the surplus, we can always turn to the special bacteria and yeast that got us here.  In this case the surplus is extra red cabbage slaw from ma femme; you take what you're given.  It's got peppers and parsley and carrot and onion in with is, so it should make for an interesting mix.

Also, in residual #fermfest news, having taken a class on baking sourdough and slow rise breads from Shawn at Water House Foods, I'm going to try and get better at making bread.  He really demystified the whole process to getting a sourdough starter; like almost everything here, the secret is "just do it."  If it dies (it's going to die) just do it again.  The loaves above are not sourdough, but a long double-rise french dough with that Reinheitsgebot of bread: flour, water, salt, and yeast.  The flavor is wonderful, and I guess I developed enough gluten, as it has good texture, but it was too dry of a dough and didn't rise much as loaves or in the oven, and is quite dense.  Still, there's nothing better than cool butter on bread still warm from the oven.  

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ich trinke Tee

I showed up late for a tea class with the wryly funny (and fellow Blogspotonian) Cwyn of Death By Tea, but still learned a ton about the magic of Sheng Puerh Tea.

This tea is so good, you guys.

Other than soft tannic flavor, there's nothing even coming close to the bitter swill you get from leaving a Lipton teabag in hot water for more than 30 seconds.  You can steep it *many* times, and it changes and gets more complex and wonderful.  I'm drinking 2005 Naka Villiage raw Sheng tea tonight, which was brewed at the tasting, and that she gave to me and I kept in a sealed bag in the fridge.  This tea has made like ten pots of tea since Sunday.  It makes me so mad at all the other tea I've been drinking all my life.  I thought we were friends, tea?

I'm going to go throw away some tea that no longer brings me joy.  Right now.  I'm going to do it.


Aw mang.  That felt so good you guys.  Right in the compost.  F#(% you, $#!ty tea.


Another Fermentation Fest has come and gone.  It's still happening and there's a whole 'nother weekend of festivities, but it's come and gone for me.  I was filled with that mix of melancholy and bittersweet happiness that you get after something you're really looking forward to is over.

It was a great trip for me this year.  Maybe the best ever.  I got to befriend and spend a spontaneous, intimate, wonderful evening with the artists-in-residence of the Wormfarm Institute, sharing a meal in their little barn kitchen.  We had vegetable soup, chunks of bread and a huge log of butter leftover from a D'Tour giveaway, and at the end someone decided to make butterscotch pudding.  I paid for my ticket with the last of the homebrew I always take with me, and they were impressed, the way everyone is who is not aware of how easy it is to make fantastic fermented beverages.  The best part was a big, bursting heirloom tomato, a round of really fresh, salty mozzarella, and basil leaves plucked from a sprig in a vase on their counter.  I relived a whole summer of planting, growing, weeding, picking, and watching in one mouthful.

I made new friends and met up with old ones, learned and taught, took and gave.  And this morning I was kind of sad that isn't my whole life all the time.  There were bluer moments throughout the weekend, and I don't want to sound too negative or too teen-angsty, but I think it boils down to whether I think I'm making a difference or having enough of an impact on the world.  I found myself questioning (sometimes out loud, sometimes to myself) whether eating (and paying for) things like supremely delicious, single farm, fair-trade, chocolate is enough to end poverty.

I bounce madly from one hobby/pastime/interest/skill to the next, trying to find something that sticks.  Trying to fill a gap of meaning and authenticity.  I talk a good game, and I know a lot of stuff, and everyone likes me.  But I'm searching for something that I haven't found.  Maybe the lesson from this weekend is that I have found it, I just have to get better at slowing down and enjoying it.  Maybe I need to stop flailing around looking for the next best new thing, stop doing the stuff that's crushing me, and allow more space for the good stuff that's already going on.

I was so happy to be coming back to ma femme, leaving the chocolate shop after the butcher in Madison, and touching down in Milwaukee.  She's getting ready to tidy up.