It is fair to say we entirely underestimated the difficulty of moving from Rochester to New Orleans. Entirely. Usually the result of such misjudgments is panic, chaos, and discord. I am proud of the way KP and I have managed to keep cool and to move through the many upsets with grace. I think it is because I watched Silver Linings Playbook right before we packed up. The Silver Lining in all of this, and in life really, is that toil attracts the goodwill of friends and strangers. We are so grateful for all who pitched in to help us get on the road, and once landed, to get settled. Thank you to Greg and Kim and Janelle who helped pack and load our entire truck, and to Romayne for the travel basket.
Thank you to Janelle and Janelle’s Mom for helping us to get the chickens on the road and disassemble their Rochester home that it might be refounded in our swamp backyard.
The chickens have a new routine that now involves eating Giant Swamp insects and rolling in the shady dirt by our shed in the back. They don’t appear to be dehydrating, and the eggs production is back in full swing.
In fact, Lucille laid two eggs in the Mazda on the way down (because she is just that good). Betty, on the other hand, got loose in the Mazda and sat right behind my head making this face.
Then she escaped 5 times in two days, which was distressing, albeit a nice opportunity to meet every single one of my neighbors who each met Betty as she stomped her way through their front yards, under their porches, and as she mowed down the contents of their catdishes. I revamped my coop run to contain my Escape Chicken, Chicken Houdini, or Henrietta as my neighbor Susan called her for the hours she spent eating worms behind the bars of her courtyard garden. Susan was a little disappointed to discover Henrietta was in fact Betty and had an owner desperately trying to find her. Here is the Where’s Waldo scene of how I found Betty after I followed her squawk sound for several blocks.
Oh, I have so many stories from these first days. KP finally arrived late Sunday night, and Izzy took to her new home quickly– she loves the cool floors.
And my new walk to work is magical and mysterious, lined with colorful houses and live oaks.
I HATE throwing food away. Which, those who helped me pack can attest to being true. The chickens take care of a lot of our scraps, composting gets the remainder. But here is a recipe that helps absorb some of that brown rice you’d rather not grow Bacillus cereus in the fridge—put it in a loaf of bread!
Brown Rice Bread
Adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
5 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup ground flaxseed
1 cup sourdough starter
1 TB kosher salt
3 ½ cups lukewarm water
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 TB chardonnay seed flour
Start with mixing the water to and the starter to form a very wet dough. Add the flours, do not add salt yet. Mix this all up and wait forty minutes before adding the salt in a little bit of water. This gives the dough some time for the gluten molecules to align (as they must)—and because salt can retard sourdough growth, giving 40 minutes for there to be a jump start is a good idea. At this point, you can let the dough rise for hours and hours. Then you can put the dough in the fridge and pull off pieces from it to use for baking fresh bread all week.
Cover loosely (leave lid open a crack) and allow to rise for two hours at room temperature (if you decreased the yeast, you’ll need more time). NEVER PUNCH DOWN or intentionally deflate. The dough will rise and then begin to collapse. Refrigerate and use over the next 14 days, tearing off one-pound loaves as you need them.
On baking day, cut off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough (about a pound), using a serrated knife or a kitchen shears:
Now, quickly shape the loaf. DON’T KNEAD or otherwise knock all the gas out of the loaf:
Cover the loaf loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest on a pizza peel covered with cornmeal or parchment for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough. This is longer than our 1st book because whole grains take a longer rest than white doughs. Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise; our loaves depend more on “oven spring.”
Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on a middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other rack that won’t interfere with rising bread.
Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top with water. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until richly browned and firm.
Haikus are forthcoming—need to find my journal amid all the boxes to stay in sequence…