Wednesday, September 13, 2006

ignition ........ and ........ blast off!

photo: scanned image

finally! well the original starter went out to sea.... in the meanwhile, a new one was made and it took a significantly less amount of time to develop. the seed culture is cultivated in 4 stages:

    phase I: wholewheat flour & pineapple juice;
    phase II: wholewheat flour [increased amount] & pineapple juice [hydration same];
    phase III: wholewheat flour [increased amount] & spring water;
    phase IV: wholewheat flour [increased amount] & spring water [hydration same].

it seems i waited too long to refresh at stage II. the seed culture had activated much more quickly than expected and i waited too long. i was left with a thick wallpaper-type paste, inactive and over-fermented. last night, i decided not to make the same mistake and refreshed my stage II starter at the at only 6 hours! it was indicated between 24 & 48 hours in the instructions. a significantly less amount of time. in any case, within the first 4 hours the mixture has risen significantly and then dropped which concerned me as i did not want a repeat situation. i decided to leave it overnight (it was very late already) and go on to phase IV in the morning. you can see below that it is a more of a cohesive mass after mixing in the flour and water.

i now need to wait for it to rise and then fall which will happen rapidly as the amount of cultivated wild yeast spores is high. at this point it can take anywhere from 4 hours to 24 hours. i am gambling on 4 to 6 hours as my phase III was insanely fast. once this takes place, i can move on to starting the "mother" culture. i will post pictures later of the development of the phase IV developments.

yesterday was busy as i made a fresh cheese called tvorog started from the previous day [detailed instructions with pictures taken from Yulinka Cooks (thanks yulinka!)]. this is also loosely translated as farmer's cheese and is more of the consistency of a yogourt/cottage cheese. the following pictures are of my results which yield approximately 3 cups of tvorog:

this cheese is made in 3 stages: the first part — 8 cups of homogenized milk & 2 cups buttermilk are put in a dutch oven and left on a stovetop with the oven pilot light on for 24 hours undisturbed [it must sit over the burner where the heat escapes]. it will become like a yogourt. the second part — the mixture is then cooked on minimum heat for approximately one hour where the curd will separate from the whey; it is then taken off the heat and left to thoroughly cool. the third part — the whole mixture is then carefully transfered to a colander lined with cheesecloth. take note, it releases a lot of whey and takes a long time to drain. and what to do with this, you ask? cooking with yiddishe mama's foodblog gives a recipe for a nice cheesecake and you can find information about tvorog itself with some more recipes for using it here.

after all this excitement, i was hungry and decided to make the easiest and quickest pizza ever, margherita style [i added thinly sliced red onions]. all that is needed for the crust is thin-style fresh store-bought pita. the oven is set to the grill setting and the pita is topped with tomato sauce [i used HUNTS®] — don't forget to season it with whatever spices you prefer, and slices of good mozzarella. it goes in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.....oh so good!

since when is melted mozzarella ever bad? ;-)
try it, you won't be disappointed!

* * * * * * *

on a local level: HORRIFYING news. news report just in that there have been shootings at a huge local CEGEP [Dawson College: studentbody of 10,000; average age of students: 16-20 yrs olds] here in Montreal, the very one which i attended. It is supposedly some individual dressed in a black trench coat with long black mohawk [new report] hair ["Goth"] and there are reports that others are involved. as of this moment, there are several critical injuries and other minors. no deaths are reported. they brought in the canine and SWAT team and the whole surrounding area has been closed. as u can imagine, there is HUGE pandemonium. this individual entered the atrium [cafeteria] and opened fire. many students have been evacuated but others are barricaded in their classrooms with their teachers.

what has this world come to? first, Marc Lepine at l'Universite de Montreal, then Valery Fabrikant at Concordia University, now this.

......more later.

as of 2:45 pm EST — downtown westend core has been closed; unconfirmed reports 4 dead (2 gunmen: one killed by police, other committed suicide) and 16 injured. see link "HORRIFYING news" above. must be a big news story outside of here (understandably), it has made it onto yahoo news.

as of 3:40 pm EST — news reports are all differing. one local radio station is saying no deaths are confirmed. yet the television is saying otherwise. while this started sometime just around 1 pm, students are still being evacuated slowly. some reports say the gunmen were in military fatigues and the incident started in the shopping mall which links to the cegep. witness were saying they were running into stores to take cover. also horrifying is the fact that there is a daycare for the cegep located next to the main entrance.

as of 4:15 pm EST — Montreal police confirm death of one person (the gunman); reports are now that there are no deaths except him but others are injured. apparently, he was the lone gunman, others were not involved. confirmation later, i guess.