Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another ride to Meridian

I have a feeling many of my rides will be to Meridian since it's the next closest town and with winter coming, I won't be venturing very far. As it was, I nearly froze my toes off today. I stopped and put my plastic bags on my feet but it was too late, the cold had already set in. It was so foggy today but it lessened right before the ride and started returning as the sun went down. I went out later than I should have and had to race the sun back home. I wasn't happy about that since I didn't have my flashing light on me. In my rush to get back, my stomach started cramping up even though I don't think I had eaten for 3 hours at that point.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Learning from those who have gone before

I have finally been able to go on a couple of bike rides this past week.

On the first ride, I was so sure that the bike shop in Utah had readjusted my seat height for some reason. My knees were hurting and my ears, nose, fingers and toes were freezing so I went home. It turned out to be only a 6.5 mile ride.

A few days later, I went on another one. I made it to somewhere in Meridian. On this ride, I deided that the knee pain wasn't because my seat height had been changed, it was just from not biking for so long and my knees had to get used to it some. The knee pain didn't really start until sometime in the second half of this ride. It's amazing how short of a distance it takes to feel like I'm in the country again. It's great. I climbed just one signifigant hill and it was slow going but I made it up without walking. On the way down the hill (1st picture but it doesn't do it justice) I panicked for a second, thinking that my brakes weren't going to stop me. It was my first hill since the accident and I imagine I will be nervous about hills for a little while now. When I was hit by a car, I had anxiety attacks when biking past that spot for a few months. I had a really great time and wanted to keep going but didn't want to push it too much. I biked 16 miles.

Since my extremities were freezing on my first ride, I didn't want it to happen again so I took some knowledge from Nancy Vogel and her family. She's the woman who is biking with her family from Alaska to Argentina. They've biked through plenty of cold weather so far. One of their sons gets cold easy and in order to help block some of the wind, they wrap his feet and hands in plastic bags. I cut up a plastic bag and wrapped it over my socks before slipping my feet into my shoes. I put on a pair of latex like gloves before I put my gloves on and it was amazing how such a thin, simple thing helped to keep me from freezing. My hands got warm so I took the plastic gloves and the feet wraps. I should have left the feet wraps on but I had to go to the bathroom so bad that I refused to stop until I got home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sourdough Bread

I finally did it, I made sourdough bread. I just kept waiting for the sourdough starter to really bubble up but it just bubbled a little everday. I decided to give it a go anyway. I mixed up a sponge the night before I was going to make the bread and, to my amazement, the sponge was to the top of the moxing bowl I had it in! What a nice surprise!

The great thing about sourdough bread is that there's not as much kneading to do as their is for commercial yeast least not for the recipe I used. I think I only spent 5 minutes total kneading between the two different times I had to knead.

I made a french bread so it would go with our dinner (which had green tomatoes in it, our third green tomato dish so far). The flavor is quite sour. I need to find if there is something I can add to the dough to lessen the strength of the flavor. It's good but I think it would be better mellowed down some. Adam said it was the best bread I've ever made. I'll write up the recipe for it at the beginning of next month in my challenge report since I'm still working on the yeast thing for the challenge.

The next mornnig, I made sourdough pancakes which I liked more than the bread. Adam didn't eat any since he doesn't eat breakfast but he broke off a piece of one just to taste. He said "That's unusual." So I don't know what that means exactly.

Monthly Challenge for October

This is my report for October's challenge.

This month, with moving and everything that goes along with that, I didn’t get started with my experiments until there was less than 2 weeks left in the month. So needless to say, I didn’t get as much done as I hoped. I had hoped to try to capture wild yeast in 3 different ways, and learn to stretch commercial yeast in at least 3 ways.

I started with a technique called Japanese Yeast Water. You put a handful or two of raisins in a jar filled 80% with water. Store it on the counter or in a cupboard. You loosely cap it and in a couple of days, the raisins will begin to float to the top. In 3-6 days, you should be seeing bubbles on the top of the water. The bubbles are the yeast. It was at this stage, both times I tried it, that mold grew on the raisins floating on the top. I don’t think this kind of yeast is as useful as some others so since I lost the yeast water twice, I gave up on it. If you are interested in learning more about it and how to use it, visit

Next, I started what I call a wild grape yeast sponge. Aside from floating in the air, yeast is also present on the skin of fruits, especially grapes and berries. So if you mix together equal parts of flour and water then add some grapes to the mixture, you should get yeast. I did that and set it in a warm place, loosely capped. I think on the second day, there were small bubbles in the mixture and it smelled slightly yeasty. The third day, there were more bubbles but the smell turned to something off. The next day, the bubbles were gone and the smell was almost enough to make me throw up. So I got rid of the grapes and kept it for one more day. No progress so I threw it out. I tried this one again as well. On the second day, there were bubbles and the yeast smell was there so I got rid of the grapes before they had a chance to go bad and ruin another batch. I fed it an equal part of flour and water and let it sit. The next day there were still bubbles so I fed it again. The next morning, the bubbles had disappeared and that nasty smell was back. Failure again so I gave up on that method as well.

The third way to capture yeast I wanted to try was making a sourdough starter. There are lots of recipes online to start a starter with commercial yeast but that wasn’t the point of my experiment so I found a recipe for a starter that I think has gotten me my first success!

Procedure for Making Sourdough Starter
Day 1: mix...2 T. whole grain flour (rye and/or wheat)2 T. unsweetened pineapple juice or orange juiceCover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
Day 2: add...2 T. whole grain flour2 T. juiceStir well, cover and let sit at room temperature 24 hours. At day 2 you may (or may not) start to see some small bubbles.
Day 3: add...2 T. whole grain flour2 T. juiceStir well, cover and let sit at room temperature 24 hours.
Day 4:Stir down, measure out 1/4 cup and discard the rest.To the 1/4 cup add...1/4 cup flour*1/4 cup filtered or spring water
*You can feed the starter whatever type of flour you want at this point (unbleached white, whole wheat, rye). If you are new to sourdough, a white starter is probably the best choice. All-purpose flour is fine--a high protein flour is not necessary.

Repeat Day 4:Once daily until the mixture starts to expand and smell yeasty. It is not unusual for the mixture to get very bubbly around Day 3 or 4 and then go completely flat and appear dead. If the mixture does not start to grow again by Day 6, add 1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar with the daily feeding. This will lower the pH level a bit more and it should wake up the yeast.

The yeast we are trying to cultivate will only become active when the environment is right. When you mix flour and water together, you end up with a mixture that is close to neutral in pH, and our yeasties need it a bit more on the acid side. This is why we are using the acidic fruit juice. There are other microbes in the flour that prefer a more neutral pH, and so they are the first to wake up and grow. Some will produce acids as by-products. That helps to lower the pH to the point that they can no longer grow, until the environment is just right for wild yeast to activate. The length of time it takes for this to happen varies.

When using just flour and water, many will grow a gas-producing bacteria that slows down the process. It can raise the starter to three times its volume in a relatively short time. Don't worry--it is harmless. It is a bacteria sometimes used in other food fermentations like cheeses, and it is in the environment, including wheat fields and flours. It does not grow at a low pH, and the fruit juices keep the pH low enough to by-pass it. Things will still progress, but this is the point at which people get frustrated and quit, because the gassy bacteria stop growing. It will appear that the "yeast" died on you, when in fact, you haven't begun to grow yeast yet. When the pH drops below 3.5--4 or so, the yeast will activate, begin to grow, and the starter will expand again. You just need to keep it fed and cared for until then.

Once your wild yeast is growing, the character and flavor will improve if you continue to give it daily feedings and keep it at room temperature for a couple of weeks longer.After that time, it should be kept in the refrigerator between uses/feedings.

I followed the direction as closely as possible. I did forget about it one night and fed it the next day but everything is still alive and going well. Around the time she stated, the starter appeared dead so I used the vinegar like she said and the next day, is was bubbling again.
I will continue on with keeping the sourdough starter alive and actually making something with it. I will also work on doing some of the yeast stretching things I’ve read about and report back another month on those things.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I love nature, animals, water, rocks, mountains, trees, clouds, snow...pretty much anything but of all of nature, sunrises and sunsets inspire me the most. When I see a beautiful sunset, this feeling of awe washes over me and I think of how much Heavenly Father has given to me. It's weird, I know but a good sunset just inspires me.
Two nights ago, we had a beautiful sunset that lasted for about 30 minutes! I've never seen one go on and on like that. It moved across the sky and even when it got dark out, the colors just wouldn't stop. It was gorgeous and I wish you all could have seen it!

Here's a few pics. I was driving home when I first noticed it. I was thinking it would be over before I could get inside and grab a camera. But it was still going strong when I got home. I took the camera on the dogs' walk with me and got a few more pictures while out.

Pictures never do it justice but still, I love looking at even mediocre sunset pictures.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blue gets her fenders

I bought some fenders for Blue before the accident but I never put them on. The instructions wern't very good so Adam helped me. Now the bike is ready for wet weather. I will have to add mud flaps though since they're not very long. I know they don't match my bike at all...and they look pretty dorky but I wanted something that was more visible for safety. (You can see my fairly new double kickstand as well in the pic. It's nice to not have to lean my bike up against things or lay it on the ground. It even helped me out when my derailluer cable slipped while out riding. Very handy!)

For the primary program, I ended up interpreting one song and 4 parts. They were short, easy parts so it wasn't too bad. The ladies said I did well. I started stressing about it the day before. I kept picturing my hands shaking as I signed previously. They didn't really shake but they weren't really nimble either. Class is really just an hour where we get together and sign while we talk. When someone doesn't know a sign, they either learn it from someone else who knows it, or looks it up. Signing is coming back more quickly than reading the signs others make, especially Stephanie, the deaf woman. I don't know why. I have a long way to go!

Adam's co-worker is in town and he invited him to play poker tonight at the Holiday Inn. He was happy to have someone to take with him.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bear & Adam

Adam swithced jobs this week. The desk job he's had here has been driving him crazy so he talked to his old boss, Dave, and asked if he would take him back if a position opened up here in Boise. Dave said he would. As it turned out, Dave got someone on his team to switch positions with Adam. Adam had a great time working yesterday.

Adam and I have both been having a hard time sleeping lately. Adam came to bed a couple of nights ago right before I tried to change the number on my side to get more comfortable. It finished but I didn't feel a difference and Adam, who had gotten into bed by that point, noticed that it was changing his side. So we switched remotes and were able to sleep on our own numbers instead of each other's. I don't think I'm not the right number yet, but it's more comfortable than when he had control of mine.

(I don't want to be a bad mom so I have to let you know how Bear is doing too.) Yesterday, we didn't go for a walk because it was drizzling all day. At around 8 last night, he decided he'd better start speaking up and camped out beside the leashes and started whining. I always feel bad when he does that because I know that it's the funnest part of his life but it was already dark and cold and rainy so I tried distracting him. I wasn't too successful. I promised him we would go tomorrow (today) no matter what the weather was like. Today is cold and even wetter. I promised him and so I loaded them into the Yukon and we went to the mall. They have a huge parking lot that I can walk all three of them at the same time so we all went together. Once I got moving, I was warm enough. Somewhere on the walk, Bear got a big glob of grease on his head which spread to his ear and his side as the walk went on. When we got back home, I put him in the tub and gave him a bath. The gresase is still there but he needed a bath anyway.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A fox in our yard & green tomatoes

The last few nights (always in the dark), the dogs have been going crazy barking at something in the lot behind the house. It is fenced off from the part of the yard they run in but it still belongs to the owner of this house. I climbed the hill to see if I could see anyone or anything. I saw a quick movement than nothing else. I figured it was a cat or a rabbit.

I was outside playing with the dogs when they all took off to the corner of the yard and started barking. I went over to see what they were barking at. It was a fox! I've never seen one alive...just road kill. And that one was just a baby. This one is about the size of Jack with a BUSHY tail with a ring of white at the end. He stopped running around and looked at me, then ran off and disappeared.

A couple of days ago, I decided that with the temperatures dropping again that I needed to bring in all the tomatoes that aren't already dead from the cold. So I picked about 15 pounds of mostly green tomatoes. I probably had to throw out about 100 pounds of tomatoes that went bad in the cold. Too bad. :o( You can lt them sit out and turn red but you run the risk of them rotting in the proccess since they already have a little frost damage. So since I have a lot of green tomatoes to use up and I've never used one in my life, I will be using this opportunity to find good recipes for green tomatoes as this month's challenge subject.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pretty Girl

Jasmine is turning into a perfect touring companion. I was thinking that Bear would be the dog I would take on the weekend bike tours (since he LOVES running) but I hit some snags with him. The largest of which is that he runs irratically and it would be hard to control a loaded bike with a trailer when he runs in front of the bike and he hates being locked in the trailer.

I took Jasmine for a short ride in the trailer and while I don't think it's her favorite place to be, she was calm and relaxed. When running beside me while I ride, she's very aware of where the wheels are, she looks at me for direction at cross roads, she ignores other dogs while leashed and she paces herself so she's not tired in 1/2 a mile. We went about 2 miles the other day. I think she could have used a few laps of water but I didn't think to bring any with me. She still had energy when we got home.

I think the largest problem we'll encounter on a tour is that she would not want to sleep without her kennel. She likes her space and I have a 2 person tent which would put us in close proximity while sleeping. She would be getting more exercise and mental stimulation than she does at home though so maybe it would help tire her out so she wouldn't care about the sleeping situation too much.
Now, I'm on the lookout for a good harness (I don't like the one she has now) and a good pair of not too expensive boots for her.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Proud Mama

Jack has been making some really big improvements since we moved here. He is our most fearful dog. When we got him, he was afraid of men, children, other dogs, loud noises, car rides, leashes, collars, shoes...if I thought hard enough, I could probably think of other things as well but that's good enough. Some of those problems have disappeared, others, he's still working on. The thing he's really improved on recently is with other dogs.

Not too long before moving here (before the accident) I was on our daily walk. I walked all three dogs together out there because we almost never ran into anyone on the road we used and since I only had to do one walk, they were able to get a longer walk. A woman walked by walking a dog. The dogs went crazy and Jack, who was wearing a head collar too big for him managed to get out of the collar. He ran straight for the woman's dog and latched onto one of his legs. The woman was screaming and trying to pick up her dog. I'm surprised she didn't really kick Jack good. Jack let go and ran back to me. I almost grabbed his regular collar but he ran back toward the dog. This time, he just circled it barking like crazy. I'm sure the woman thought I was a jerk letting Jack torment her and her dog like that but if I got close enough to get Jack, then Bear would be close enough to get in on the action so I had to wait until Jack came to me. It was a pretty helpless feeling for me and I wasn't even the one being attacked! Once I got ahold of Jack, I asked her if she and her dog were ok. She said they were fine and the dog wasn't limping when they walked away.

But now you'll still see Jack, and the other two, barking at any dog that goes by the yard but once Jack gets out of the yard and starts walking, he almost couldn't care less about the dogs he sees. He will look at them as we walk by but there's no pulling, charging or barking...there is some freezing though sometimes. I give him a minute to freeze in place then I'll grab his attention and he usually doesn't have a problem moving on at that point. We walked past a house where there was a dog in the driveway with no person around. Jack saw him and stopped. The dog stood up and started walking toward us. It only walked a couple of steps before stopping. Jack just kept his eyes on him but sat down. He never barked or growled. The other dog lost interest and walked away to the back yard. Jack watched him walk away then got up and continued walking with me. The walks are so much more calm now and I'm so proud of the progress he's making.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Does anyone still trick or treat?

Adam and I got to talking on the 30th about Halloween. I informed Adam that we have never passed out candy on halloween. Our first year, we were driving back from Utah. Then all years since then, we've catered to our dogs who hate doorbells and people at doors and just turned out all the lights and watched a movie. Well, when Adam heard that, we were quickly on our way to the store for candy, a roll of caution tape, and some sort of cop like costume.

The costumes all were really cheap (not price, just cheaply made) so he got a t shirt and hat that says NYPD. Then we got 3 cheapish bags of candy and a roll of caution tape....oh and sidewalk chalk, almost forgot that.
Back at home, we took turns laying on the drveway and we outlined each other. Adam put up the caution tape across part of the driveway. He backed his Yukon partway into the grass facing the crime scene. He wrote on the Yukon's windows "Trick or treat here". He was really excited about the whole thing.

Then on Halloween, I set up two "bodies" under a sheet and made pools of really fake looking blood on the body outlines. When it got dark, Adam was going to turn on some of his Yukon's flashing lights.

I was thinking it would be great to tether the dogs up inside then maybe they would get desensitized to people at the door.

Well, I started dinner at around 6. No one had come yet. Adam went out to check the streets. Not a single light on but the street lights and no children to be seen. Not a single person came to our house. Adam was disappointed and I'm confused. Don't people still trick or treat?
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