Straw Is For Chickens


For chickens, a bale of straw is all fun. They come running from a long way off to investigate. They pick and scratch. They jump on and off. Fresh straw! New bedding for our nests! Clean spots to lay our eggs! What’s there not to like?

BB isn’t impressed. He can’t see what all the excitement is about. You’d have to be a chicken to understand.


High in the Tree


High in the flowering cherry, the first buds have opened. One clump of blossoms opened two days ago. All the other flowers on the tree are waiting, waiting for the sun’s warm rays to pop open. What was it about that one clump that made them bloom earlier than all the other buds?


On the ground, the rhubarb is springing up. I’m salivating thinking about the sublime sauce those first new stalks will make. Good food is just around the corner.


In Onion There is Strength


When you’re a child, it’s a given that adults are crazy, have a feeble grasp of reality, and are prone to pronouncing illogical edicts at the drop of a hat. Even so, I wasn’t prepared to learn out how batshit crazy the founding fathers were when I was reading a chapter in American History back in grade school. It was the first time I saw the word “union” in print, and read it logically, the way it was spelled: un-i-on, or the same as “onion”, another word I hadn’t seen in print yet.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and I believe Paul Revere, were all going on and on about how “in onion there is strength.” The USA was founded by onion worshippers? I wasn’t impressed. In my mind, they were as crazy as the Israelites complaining after fleeing Egypt, that at least in Egypt they could eat onions and leeks, as if that was anything to complain about. Not having to eat onions and leeks, well, isn’t that something to be happy about?

Fast forward five decades, and here I am planting spades of onions. What could be possibly more delicious than onions and leeks, slow roasted until they are sugary sweet? What soup or dish doesn’t improve with onion? My husband has been known to suggest, not complain mind you, that just possibly, from time to time, I may use too many onions when I cook. It just goes to show that people change. In onion there is strength.

75% Is the Answer


I’ve been experimenting with the optimal flour to water ratio in the loaves of whole wheat bread I make, trying a little more, a little less, over the last few months. 80% water to whole wheat flour is a bit too much. 70% is not enough. 75% seems to be the optimal ratio.

The other important thing is to let it ferment sufficiently. After mixing the flour and water and a pinch of yeast, let the yeast and other bacteria feed on it for a day, gently folding the dough occasionally. After twenty fours, add some salt, knead it in gently, and let the microbes gorge on the dough for another day, gently folding it occasionally.

On the third day, with the dough fluffy from all the farting the microbes have done the last two days, bake it. The crust is crunchy, the inside fluffy with a nice chew, and the microbes have performed a miracle, converting the flour into heaven you can taste.