now we can upload!

Ok,I have been tweaking the file upload settings on the WPMU network here.  I grabbed this Pokemon to upload just so I could  show myself that the settings have been changed!

Yah, wow – and now with this WordPress editor being so darn modern, you can even use the WYSIWYG editor tools to align the post text with the image!

In this case, the “Align left” option was selected to put the image to the left of the text I had inserted into this post.  Wow.  I am so impressed!  Back in the day, you had to remember all the markup and styles to align the text properly.  Anybody  here remember blogging with Greymatter or Nucleus ?

WHOO!

that pile of tech-support at home

Here we are having a nice day-off from the IT office, and spending business hours tackling that massive backlog of home-based tech-support requests….

I’ve got a few reminders set on some issues, so the first one is :

  • videos taken with Android phone no longer transfer to Macbook via iPhoto

Ok, spent a while on this one, and thought that I’d chuck this blog together with a record of my thoughts, so I don’t have to figure this out again.

Things to note:

  • iPhoto 9 can recognize the Android device when USB option is set to “camera” mode
  • many photos in JPG format do transfer over, but many do not
  • we get that famous “unrecognizable file format” error on many of the JPG files
  • none of the most-recent MP4 video files transfer over

So, on review, I see that we may need to commit to the new and glorious “Photos” app on the Macbook, that came in during that major upgrade a while back.  It has already consumed all the contents of the iPhoto library, so why not – I would just need to transfer in all the photos and videos that don’t exist in that Photos library yet.  Will check that out next.

For now, what to do about the content on the Android that is “stuck” ?  Steps to resolve:

  • switch the USB setting to MTP mode, to see if Android File Transfer wakes up to see the mount point
  • AFT choked on the mount, and asked me to reboot the phone, so I did
  • the phone came up, and when not locked, could link to AFT on the Macbook
  • now all the JPG and MP4 content was visible in the camera folder.  Dragged it over onto the Macbook, and went into iPhoto to import the new files to the Library.
  • all files appeared to make it over, and “Reveal in Finder” showed that they have a new home deep in the Users home folder

Next items:

  • can we get calibre connected to the Samsung for EPUB transfer
  • can we get the Email app on the Android connecting to the server mailbox as IMAP instead of POP ?  The delete message function seems a pain on POP, and a switch to IMAP may help

 

taking sourdough to social media

Got into some conversation today about sourdough bread with some loaf enthusiasts, and was relating recent activity in the home-kitchen.

Thought I would offer up a link into a recent Instagram post about the sourdough sandwich loaves that I am currently cranking out.

There sure is a lot going on out there in Instagram-land about the sourdough.  I’ve picked up some good connections on there from all over the place.  Must be all the relentless #hashtagging!  Home-bakers, and professionals all crafting their sourdough bread outcomes.  Is great to be a participant in this online community!

Here are some of the sourdough bakers I am following out there on Instagram:

about sourdough starter

I have this sourdough starter, and no, I have not named it.  I should say “them”, perhaps, as there are 2 of them.  They live in the fridge together, and come out to feed on a regular basis.  They need to feed, and develop themselves, just like any other living creature, I suppose….

I thought I’d pull together some thoughts here, as sourdough seems to be trending in these parts, and I’ve issued instructions via email on more than 1 occasion.  Is nice to hear that these starters bred in James Bay have made their way to such exotic wild-yeast destinations such as Esquimalt, Mt. Douglas, near Colquitz Creek, and Central Saanich!

The first starter I bred from a seed-culture, based on the formula offered by master baker Peter Reinhart in his classic text The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  That was in 2009, and it is still with me today.  Even after I lost it once, but that is another tale, that has a heroic outcome.

The 2nd starter was a gift, from a colleague that wished to pass on a package of the famous Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter.  By now, I am sure these 2 starters have merged in a glorious union of sourdough barm activity, but who knows.  I’d recommend that you read Suzie’s Sourdough Circus to get the complete picture as to what it is really like to carry on life as a member of a wild-yeast colony.

Here is the sourdough cycle that I’ve been on for a few years now:

  1. take starter out of fridge, feed starter
  2. use some starter for bread dough
  3. put starter back in fridge
  4. Go to 1

I have found a way to moderate volume of starter kept, vs. amount needed to make bread and consumption by family.  I’m currently keeping 2 starters, about 10 oz., and bulking them tto make bread, about four 25 oz. loaves per week.  Sometimes 6, depends on how much bread people are eating.  Family of 6 in the house.

Feeding Instructions

I store the starter in the fridge, in a ceramic bowl, with a saran-wrap cover that is held in place by elastics.  You may hear of starters that are kept under more tightly-lidded conditions, and may blow their lids off – has never happened to me.

After taking the starter out of the fridge, I see if any hooch has developed since last feeding.  If so, I generally dump it down the drain.  Really not something to enjoy in a cocktail, but you might as well take a sip, just so you know what your starter is developing.

I’ll also reduce volume of starter kept to about 8 oz. before feeding.  Seems to work out well as far as volume goes.

I always double the volume when I feed the starter.  So, for 8 oz. of starter, I’ll seek to double the volume to 16 oz. of starter in a single feeding.  I’ll add 4 oz. of flour, and 4 oz. of water to make it so, because 8 + 4 + 4 = 16

Stir in the new flour and water, and leave out on the counter for an afternoon, or a day, or overnight – as long as you want to observe the sourdough action, and watch the wild-yeasts bubbling away. You may want to co-locate the bowl of starter with a wild-yeast source in your home, if you find a preferred one. Wild yeast tends to congregate in all sorts of places, so have fun with this aspect of maintaining your culture. I keep mine by a bowl of ripening fruit, and a container of fresh compost clippings destined for the backyard, but that is just me.

Ingredients

You may want to experiment with types of flours, and the liquid ratio to achieve a more-firm or less-firm starter.  I don’t mess around too much here, and have settled on these products :

  • Flour : Anita’s Organic Unbleached White Flour (13% protein)
  • Water: Aquafina bottled water

Tap water may do the trick, depending on what they’re putting in the water in your area.  Your mileage may vary.

So – once you have doubled the volume of the starter by mixing in flour and water, just let it sit out and expand.  You’ll want to find a container that can accommodate sourdough expansion.

Have fun, and may your wild yeast prosper!

fence project complete

fence-lineWell, every 20 years or so it’s probably time to replace a faulty wooden fence – you know the kind, the sort of fences that have been propped up by angled-support stilts, and really wobble in a heavy storm.

Summer 2014 is the year for our fence-replacement project, and is a backyard project that has recently been completed.

This project has been a long time in coming, and the turning point to carry this one into the execution phase was really the drafting of the plan. Lance spent some time coming up with a nice plan for the fence, and laid it down on paper for us to go over. The plan featured a way to recycle a bunch of the existing materials into the new fence, so that was a big win. Not only a smart design-move, but cost-effective as well. Speaking of cost, we worked a deal with the neighbour on this project:

  • we do the labour
  • he buys the lumber

The project unfolded over several weekends in August and September this summer, and we had many sunny days out in the yard to work on this one. The post-holes are all about 2′ deep, and filled with Post-Haste quick-set concrete, and some large hunks of concrete aggregate that have been laying around the yard for a while.

So, basically what we have is a 60′ fence with:

  • 9 new cedar fence posts
  • many new cedar 2x4s
  • recycled cedar planks from old fence (rot removed!)
  • new 2×2 cedar lattice panels, cut to size

Fence-part
What you can see in the 2nd picture here is the design approach – 8-foot sections with 2×4 cedar beams used to hold the recycled cedar planks from the old fence. The old fence had the planks touching the ground, so we chopped the rot off those bad-boys and nailed them in. 2.5″ framing nails did the job there. Oh, and the metal 2×4 braces make it super-easy to support the 2×4 beams on the fence posts.

The post-hole digging was fairly easy, going down into soil and a bit of clay. Only 1 of the 9 holes presented a real back-breaker of a problem, where I crashed right into some major tree roots. What to do ? Do you move the hole, and get flexible with the sizing of the rest of the sections, or do you wiggle around in the ground a little bit to squeeze the post in where you wanted it ? In this case, I had to make a tough-decsion, and I didn’t do the tree a favour – I hacked through part of the root so I could get the post in the “right place”. argh.

fence-treeHad to get a little creative in the last mile here, as the fence-line basically collides with a tree on the property line. So, I stayed true to the fence-line, in the interests of keeping it straight, and ducked the lattice panel underneath one of the tree limbs. I also had a cedar plank with a chunk muscled out of it that would fit nicely around one of the lower limbs that stretches out into the neighbour’s yard. I was topping the lattice panel sections with a 2×4 cedar beam, but couldn’t quite squeeze a 2×4 into this section, so used a 2×2 cedar length instead.

Many trips to Castle Lumber over on Cook St. for the supplies on this project.