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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Field Lab's Olive Beer Bread

I have never purchased a can/bottle of beer in my life -- until today.  Do you have any idea how expensive it is?!  The price of wine is looking better, and that I should know about.  Mind you -- I have had a few sips of beer here and there -- not much because I don't really care for it.  So what brought about this turn of events . . .

I picked up on John Wells' adventure in sustainable living (aka "The Field Lab") in the Big Bend that first appeared in the New York Times, and was repeated the next day in some Texas newspapers, including our local paper.  Seems that John, a New Yorker, decided at mid-life that he was going to chuck it all to live off the grid in the middle of the far western desert of Texas.  The Big Bend is about equi-distant from Los Angeles and Dallas, so you can see that it is a long ways from anything, let alone New Yawk City.  Curious, I found his website, and was instantly entranced by his 3 year old experiment.  One of the things that quickly got my attention was his solar oven baking of beer bread.  I like to make bread occasionally, too, so I asked for his recipe, and he quickly obliged.

That meant that I must buy a 16 oz. can of Budweiser Chelada beer.  Did you know that you cannot buy just one beer?  I guess this means that I will make this bread 4 times:)  Or learn to like beer.  With clamato juice.   

I mixed the dry ingredients with the Kitchenaid Mixmaster, then added the chopped olives, and mixed it all together.  Finally, I began to pour in the beer, but should have stopped at about 3/4 of the can.  As a result, I had to throw in about a handful more of flour.  Much too wet for dough.  Finally, I put on the dough hook, and gave it a few spins.  Still too wet.  Poured it all out onto the pastry board and added another handful of flour.  I was finally able to handle it a bit although it was still very wet and sticky, but it was definitely too much for one bread pan, but not enough dough for a  2nd  bread pan, so I put the remainder into a bread pot.  For those who are unfamiliar with bread pots, these are for small loaves of bread, but a standard clay garden pot can be used.  Mine is a cute little bread pot that I found many years ago in my wanderings. 

John's recipe makes 1 standard loaf.  (I think I ended up with too much because I dumped all the beer into the batch without gauging the wetness of the dough.)  John cautioned me that his solar oven worked at 275 degrees and took 3 hours to bake.  I experimented at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  The results are very slightly underdone, so next I will try cooking it longer.  The house smells great, and the bread tastes delicious.  Thank you, John!

I have included a pix of the bread pot next to the beer can in order to give you a sense of the pot's diminutive size.  

By the way, John, are we supposed to drink the rest of the beer with the bread? 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Camp Hoodie knit-along

Although I am doing the Camp Hoodie knit-along sponsored by Spud & Chloe yarns, I suspect that I am going to be the last one finished.  Everyone else began before we left for Jamaica on January 28th.  I held off until we returned home.  I had to make the long drive to Dallas to get the Spud & Chloe yarn (Chipmunk colorway) from the Shabby Sheep.  I finally was able to start, but it has been slow going.  I kept getting tendonitis and would have to rest my hands, wrists for a couple of days and start again.  I am getting close to the end, now.  I have adjusted the pattern to use the zip-front version, and have added wallaby pockets.  The hood has about 3 inches to go, then I will add the rib trim to the armholes and along the front opening and hood.   Here is the progress to date: 

Jon & Sarah's wedding

We left for Jamaica for Jon and Sarah's wedding day of January 29, 2011.  We arrived on the evening before barely in time for the rehearsal dinner.  I have no idea why I am holding two drinks!

We spent the day of the wedding enjoying the beach, the breezes, and the ample food.  Sandals is like a cruise ship on land.  Everything is at your finger tips as though the staff has read your mind.  I swam in the ocean and the pool.  I swam a lot that day.  I am surprised that I had the energy to go to the 4 pm wedding on the beach.  I was in the pool early enough to avoid a crowd -- as you can see. 

After the wedding, the reception dinner was also on the beach.  A sudden shower blew in and we all (about 40 people) crammed under the roof of the beach bar.  The bartender adjusted the music to play "When it Rains" by the Eli Young Band.  How appropriate! 

We all ate, drank, and danced hard and had a good time.  You can catch the excitement at the wedding website.

Our chambermaid created this swan out of towels to set on our bed.  Amazing ...

We arrived back at DFW the evening before a big ice storm descended upon us.  The timing was fortunate.

Nevertheless, the next morning we took off over icy streets to pick up Jon and Sarah's two dogs at the kennels, took them back to their house where we dogsat for 3 more days while the newlyweds languished upon the beach at Negril, Jamaica.  The dogsitting is fun because the dogs are so affectionate and well behaved.  The dogs loved the snow.  (Note:  There is a 1/2 thick solid coat of ice under the snow.  We aren't in Jamaica anymore, mon.)   The dogs slept with us, and kept our laps and hearts warm. 

It was a great trip and we welcome Sarah to our family.  It was a day that all of us hoped would come to pass.

Summer Breeze in January

I have been negligent in my writing, but the knitting has gone on.  In January, I finished Summer Breeze by Amy Polcyn, published in the book, Knit on Down.  This sweater is basically a ribbed tube and is the perfect project for a beginner.

Knit on Down

It can also be worn with the top turned down just enough to form a portrait or cowl collar.  Wear it over a long-sleeved "T", or a cami, or tank top, too.

If you are interested in adding to the project, long sleeves can be added without much effort.  This is a versatile pattern concept.

The yarn is Berroco Comfort, knitted with #8, 24" cable needles.  Easy, easy to make.