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Fast(ish) No-Knead Bread


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bread7

The other week at the library, I stumbled upon Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. I’ve occasionally thought of getting into bread baking, but it always seemed too finicky and time consuming. We also have a couple of bread failure stories in the family, so I wasn’t in a rush to add to the heritage.

But after flipping through the pages and pictures, I decided to give it a whirl. The first attempt, Pizza Napoletana, was pretty easy and turned out a delicious focaccia. It gave me hope that maybe bread baking wasn’t quite as intimidating as I imagined.

However, that bread took a loooooong time (as do most of the recipes in the book). Like a whole day of planning ahead. It was delicious and a great weekend project, but I wanted to find something faster. And still easy.

A quick internet search turned up this NY Times article from Mark Bittman on a fast no-knead bread, based on a now-famous method by NY baker Jim Lahey. I didn’t have all the exact ingredients (namely, a dutch oven and instant yeast), so I made a few tweaks with help from the internet. One day I’ll try the original recipe. But for the time being, I’m happy with this modified version! Seriously easy, and quite delicious.

Fast(ish) No-Knead Bread

(Adapted from Speedy No-Knead Bread)

Ingredients
2 3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 c. very warm water
Cooking spray / olive oil
Baking stone
Large oven safe bowl
Wheat bran / cornmeal / extra flour

Method

  1. Combine water, vinegar, and yeast.
  2. Mix remaining dry ingredients in a medium bowl (lightly oil it for easier removal later).
  3. Add water mixture to flour mixture. Gently stir to combine, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Dough will be shaggy.
  4. bread1

  5. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 3-4 hours in a warm place. (I put mine in the oven, preheated to 150°F and then turned off.)
  6. bread2

  7. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and fold once or twice. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.
  8. bread3

  9. Preheat oven to 450-500°F. Place the stone in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, transfer it to the stone. Make a couple cuts in the top with kitchen shears or a serrated knife.
  10. Decrease oven temperature to 425-450°F. Cover loaf with a large inverted oven-safe bowl and bake 30 minutes. Then remove the bowl and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned. Cool on a rack.

bread6

February 14, 2013   2 Comments

C.S. Lewis: What Happened on the Way to the Zoo


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According to George Sayer’s biography Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis’ conversion to Christianity happened 80 years ago today (September 22, 1931) during a motorcycle trip on the way to the zoo.

This video clip dramatizes sections of Lewis’ autobiography Surprised by Joy that describe the long process of his conversion, including the impact of J.R.R. Tolkien, G.K. Chesterton, and an atheist:

For more on C.S. Lewis’ life, see John Piper’s biographical talk, Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul, and the documentary, C.S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia.

Update: The above clip is from the PBS special “The Question of God: Sigmund Freud & C.S. Lewis.” (Thanks, Prof. Salzman!)

September 22, 2011   2 Comments

Free June Wallpaper


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For the past few months, Tim Challies has been encouraging people to submit wallpaper designs to offer at start of each month. I’ve been thinking of participating for the last couple of months; and the long weekend offered a few extra hours to play around with some ideas. I’ve never tried designing wallpaper before, so it was a fun challenge. The design is available either with or without a calendar, with sizes for phones and iPads as well.

Anyways, check out all the free June designs over at Challies today!

June 1, 2011   No Comments

Arts & Culture Podcast Playlist


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podcasting

I am an avid podcast listener. They’re free, portable, and make things I don’t like doing as much — i.e. exercising and gardening — more enjoyable. I’ve sampled a lot of shows over the past few years, and these are the arts/culture ones that have earned a regular place in my listening rotation.

Listed in alphabetical order:

5by5 – The Big Web Show & The Pipeline

These two podcasts satisfy my inner geek. I first started following Dan Benjamin and Jeffery Zeldman’s blogs back around 2000 or while studying web/multimedia at Bellevue College. They were (are) big names in web standards, which once upon a time was a big interest of mine.

Anyways, a couple of years ago Benjamin started the 5by5 broadcast network for “designers, developers, geeks, entrepreneurs, and technophiles.” A number of shows run throughout the week, but these two are my favorites.

The Big Web Show is co-hosted by Benjamin and Zeldman, and (usually) features interviews with internet industry leaders on topics like web publishing, art direction, content strategy, typography, and web technology.

The Pipeline, hosted by Benjamin, is for interviews with “innovators, designers, geeks, newsmakers, entrepreneurs, and people who create amazing things.” Past guests include Jason Fried, Jason Kottke, Anil Dash, and Philip Elmer-DeWitt. These interviews appeal to me because I’m always interested in learning about others’ thought/creative processes, and how ideas come to fruition.

The Big Web Show: Website | iTunes
The Pipeline: Website | iTunes

***

Albert Mohler – The Briefing & Thinking in Public

Hosted by Dr. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Briefing is a short daily overview of the day’s news, analyzed from a Christian perspective. I find it helpful in keeping up with what’s going on around the world.

Thinking in Public is a weekly interview show covering “frontline theological and cultural issues.” A couple of my favorite episodes have been conversations with evolutionary psychologist / linguist Steven Pinker and philosopher Roger Scruton.

The Briefing: Website | iTunes
Thinking in Public: Website | iTunes

***

Connected Kingdom

Co-hosted by Tim Challies and David Murray. New episodes are posted kind of irregularly, but the content is usually quite helpful. The show focuses around Christian living in a digital age.
Website | iTunes

***

IAM Conversations

Hosted by Christy Tennant. This is another interview show (are you sensing a trend here?), with conversations with Christian artists around the world. I appreciate hearing from creative minds across disciplines (authors, musicians, architects — you name it). Past episodes have featured Sara Groves, Pulse Ensemble Theatre, and Erwin McManus.
Website | iTunes

***

The Kindlings Muse

Hosted by Dick Staub. A Seattle-based round-table discussion modeled after the Inklings (the Oxford-based group that included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Dorothy Sayers). Their goal is to “rekindle the spiritual, intellectual and creative legacy of Christians in culture.” Episodes typically focus on analyzing cultural trends, from Madonna and Lady Gaga to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.
Website | iTunes

***

Performance Today: Piano Puzzler

OK, this is for classical music nerds. Basically a 10-minute weekly quiz podcast in which popular tunes are arranged in the style of a famous composer. Listeners call in to guess the great and the song.
Website | iTunes

***

This American Life

Hosted by Ira Glass. The most popular podcast in America doesn’t need much of an introduction. Great storytelling, interesting topics, food for thought.
Website | iTunes

***

Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

Hosted by Peter Sagal. The oddly informative news quiz show also doesn’t need much introduction. Any show that involves completing news-related limericks has something going for it . . . right?
Website | iTunes

***

Who Writes This Stuff?

Hosted by singer/songwriter Nick Flora. This is a new weekly show, with only two episodes at the time of this post, but so far so good. Also interview-based, it looks like it’ll focus mainly on the creative mindsets/processes of musicians and songwriters. First two guests were Andrew Osenga and Emily DeLoach.
Website | iTunes

***

Honorable Mention: The Steelehouse Podcast

Co-hosted by Mark Steele and Jeff Huston. Sadly, this weekly podcast ended at the beginning of the year but merits inclusion as one of my all-time favorites. Thoughtful, intelligent, and often entertaining discussion around God and pop culture. Steele (film-maker and writer) and Huston (film-maker and critic) had a shared worldview but very different tastes, which gave the show great energy and variety. Archived shows are available for download; the “Top Ten” episodes (the first few of each year, highlighting the hosts’ annual picks in music/movies/TV) are a good place to start.
Website | iTunes

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May 11, 2011   No Comments

Picturing Holy Week


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Mount of Olives

This week I’ve been chronologically reading through the Holy Week events, with help from a few online tools:

About a year and half ago, I had the amazing opportunity of walking the streets of Jerusalem myself. The experience definitely reshaped my mental image of biblical landmarks. Here are a few shots from places that correspond to Thursday’s Holy Week events (the last supper and the prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane):

What the upper room would have looked like from the ground.

Garden of Gethsemane

In the Garden of Gethsemane, which is mostly a small collection of olive trees. It's also at the base of the Mount of Olives.

The whole side of the Mount of Olives is covered with tombs. Over 150,000 people are buried there.


A lookout on the way up the Mount of Olives.

The Mount of Olives is a bit of a climb, but it really could be called a hill. It took about 45 minutes to make it up.

At the top!

The view of Jerusalem from the top of the Mount of Olives.

I also recommend the site Rise O Buried Lord for music that corresponds to Holy Week events.

(Top image: a view of the Mount of Olives from below.)

April 21, 2011   3 Comments

Looking for Beauty in the Streets


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Great short documentary on The Sartorialist (aka Scott Schuman), whose blog was named one of the top 100 design influences by TIME. I love watching him search out and capture those small, exquisite moments and details:

January 8, 2011   1 Comment

Gustavo Dudamel on the Tonight Show


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LA Phil conductor Gustavo Dudamel appears on the Tonight Show to talk about conducting, his hair, Justin Bieber’s hair, and inspiration.

Part 1:

Part 2:

(Photo)

January 5, 2011   No Comments

5 Tips for Beginning Freelancers


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If you plan to make music part of your career, freelancing is almost certainly in your future. Most musicians, even those who hold full-time positions in the business, freelance to some degree — through teaching, performing, recording, contracting, arranging, etc.

I’ve been freelancing since my mid-teens and have gone from a few summer gigs to making it about 60% of my career. Though I’ve made my share of mistakes in this business, I’m thankful that I received a lot of good advice at the beginning. For those of you who are starting out or thinking of establishing a freelance career, here is some of the best advice I’ve received:

Get your materials in order

If you’re serious about freelancing on a regular basis, invest some time and money towards developing basic marketing materials. (If you end up making money, you can write your costs off as business expenses anyways.) At minimum, you should have the following:

Business cards
Keep a stack with you all the time; you’ll run into possible contacts in unexpected places. Shell out a few dollars for something that looks professional. Digital printing is fairly inexpensive at online vendors such as Overnight Prints or Print Place; and you can usually google a coupon code to lower your cost even more.

Bio
Short (100-150 words) and long (300-400 words) versions. Update it once or twice a year. If writing and grammar aren’t your strengths, run it by others for editing.

Photos
High-resolution (300dpi) jpegs. Self-portraits taken with your smartphone or your face cropped out of a family picture are not eligible.

Website
It doesn’t need to be fancy — just informative, simple to navigate, and easy to read (i.e. no red text on black background).

Contract
This is especially important if you plan to do weddings and other work with individual parties. Here is mine as an example; feel free to adapt for yourself.

Know the going rates

Pricing your services is probably the most intimidating issue for the beginning freelancer. I highly recommend talking to more experienced colleagues in your area to determine the going rates. Once you’ve determined fair fees, stick to them. Even practice saying them aloud so you can quote them to clients without sounding apologetic or tentative. Determine your service area (i.e. how far you will go to play) and how much you will charge for extra travel as well. (Note: you will be asked to play for less or for free more times than you can imagine. I’ll save my philosophy on how to handle that for a later post.)

Communicate in a timely manner

If you want to freelance, you need to be reachable. You don’t have to be a slave to your phone; when I’m out, I often let people leave voicemails so I can check my calendar and avoid the whole phone tag game. But returning correspondence within 24 hours goes a long way in making you come across as professional. If you discuss a job over the phone, ask the person to email the details so you have something in writing, and keep a list of other players you can recommend close by so you can pass names along when unavailable.

Allow plenty of travel time

Take the Google/MapQuest travel time and double it for your average local gig. Granted, I’m more insistent on this point than many musicians because moving a harp necessitates extra time for everything. But few situations will ruin your professional reputation faster than showing up late to a gig.

Be quiet and do your job

Flexibility is key to surviving as a freelancer — if you’re in this business long enough you’ll encounter your share of less-than-ideal performance situations and colorful personalities. In general, try your best to be accommodating. Practice hard, play well, and don’t be a diva. Making yourself pleasant to be around is a huge part of getting called again and/or recommended.

January 4, 2011   4 Comments

Grateful for . . . Christmas Freebies


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Whether you’re a Christmas music junkie or just looking for something besides the latest radio rendition of We Three Kings on a Silent Night in O Little Town of Bethlehem, here are some free, mostly lesser-known tunes for you to enjoy!

December 22, 2010   No Comments

Grateful for . . . Fridays


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There’s a bit of work to do before I can call it a week; but Friday’s arrival is always a welcome signal that some rest is in sight. It’s also the day to round up arts news and interesting internet tidbits. Here’s what’s catching my eye:

December 10, 2010   No Comments