Feb 3, 2010

Happy groundhog day to me

I have always shared my birth day with Phil. (You know, the Yankee rodent from Punxsuatawny, Pennsylvania, who almost always sees his shadow.) Yesterday was so predictable - Phil saw his shadow, of course. I on the other hand, did not. At least not until much later in the day. So I am sorry that Pennsylvania is going to have six more weeks of winter, but I'm staking my claim on an early spring here in middle Tennessee.

To celebrate the day, my family took me to Maggiano's Little Italy on West End (or as Tom-Tom insists on spelling it as "W End Ave" and won't even help you find it if you don't. How do you pronounce that, anyway?) where they have, among other things, awesome bread. Maggiano's food is good, their bread is awesome. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dip it in, divine.

Giftwise, I scored big. The final Dutch oven choice was a 4-quart Lodge L-series in apple green. And two tickets to see Josh Turner at the Grand Ol' Opry. (We've lived her too long to keep saying "we really should go check out the Opry one of these days...")

I'm still feeding my sourdough starter, faithfully each day, using bottled water since ours is heavily chlorinated. Once the starter is ready (and my Dutch oven has landed), I will start a series of bread-baking tests, comparing 4 techniques:

1. classic sourdough
2. 5-minutes-a-day-Artisan Bread
3. NYT no-knead bread recipe
4. My mom's "Simple Crusty White Bread" recipe, which involves creating a starter early in the day or the night before.

If I get really ambitious, I'll take pictures of each, as well as notes on what I did, what we liked about each, and what adjustments I might make in future batches (except my mom's, because hers is already perfect ;o)