so much happened today, i need another day just to write it all down.
after a bit of oatmeal for breakfast, i suddenly remembered the bread dough i left fermenting on the kitchen counter overnight. by then it was noontime, 15 hours worth of rising. the dough had expanded but there were still a few dry spots. i pulled out the dough onto a cutting board covered with whole wheat flour. the dough was just dry enough that i could fold up the sides and end up with a taut upside down ball that i gently placed on a floured towel. i left the dough to rise for 2 more hours.
looking at the clock, i realized i baked myself into a corner. the dough would need to be in the oven by 2:00, but that was also the time i was meeting my craig's list seller in cambridgeport to buy an expandable crate & barrel shoe rack. the dough would have to rise a bit longer then, until i get back.
in the meantime, with about 2 hours before i left, i went to run some errands: get some groceries from the supermarket and visit the bank to get some cash (for my craig's list purchase). first stop was the dollar store, where i bought a roll of replacement cabinet liner ($2.75, white, 18" x 5ft).
while unlocking my bike, a young woman with an umbrella stopped to ask me a few questions about bicycles. just her luck, because i could talk bicycles all day, it's one of my favorite subjects. katya was here name, and i noticed the slight russian accent. she wanted to know the difference between thicker tires (like mine) and the thinner tires. i told her thick tires are for mountain bikes, while thin tires are for road bikes. she was just coming back from the bike store and saw a few used road bikes but they were pricey ($200+). i told her to try craig's list, where you can buy a bike for as little as $20. she used to have a folding bike but locked it outside one day and somebody stole it. somehow we got to talking about work and she revealed she's a designer while i told her i was a freelance programmer. we exchanged info; she was amused that i still use a notepad instead of a fancy smartphone.
there was a very slight drizzle as i made it to rite aid, my next stop. i realized this morning i lost my rite aid rewards card. it's a tiny little thing, designed for a keychain, but i keep it coiled up with my other cards with a rubberband (it's a miracle i didn't lose it sooner). i asked my favorite cashier (who just happened to be working today) if i could apply for a new card. she did me one better: using my phone number to access the customer database, she managed to transfer all my accrued points from my old card onto this new one. bonus! i bought a tube of listerine toothpaste before i left.
market basket was next. i bought a can of instant oatmeal, a hunk of beef roast (for making jerky), and some bananas. i sort of lost track of time and realized i needed to go to the bank. since i was heading to central square, i decided to go to the citizens bank there instead of the one in union square, saving me some travel time. i made my way home. 2 mechanics were smoking pot behind the auto repair shop.
bruce called me when i was on my bike, asking if he could use my recycle bin. he actually doesn't have one of those wheeled bins because it won't fit through his gate. when i got back home, he was already in my backyard, wheeling out the bin to his place because he had a lot of recyclables to throw out.
with less than 30 minutes left, i preheated the oven to 450° (figuring i'd get back just in time to bake the bread) before making my way to central square. by then the drizzle had started up again. i went to the bank first, depositing a check from client N and withdrawing some cash. i then went to the nearby convenience store and bought a drink just so i could get some change.
i arrived at the address a few minutes ahead of the appointed time. i'd never visited 129 franklin street before, a former bakery now converted to an apartment building.1 this was where the famous fig newtons were first made. the building had a concierge, who buzzed apartment 318 to let them know i was coming up. i asked the concierge if this was university housing. he wasn't sure but he know the building was co-owned by MIT. "i've never been here before," i told him. "cool, huh?" he replied. waiting for the elevator, i noticed the abandoned baking oven left behind as a showpiece. inside the hallways between apartments were wide enough for two lanes of car traffic. i met wei song my seller. he greeted me at the door wearing a black spandex outfit, like maybe he was exercising. he wasn't very friendly, basically pointed to the shoe rack and said, "there." i paid him the $15 and left with the loot. before i left, i asked him if this was campus housing. "no, it's private," he said, before closing the door.
get the shoe rack home was a little tricky. fortunately it comes apart in two pieces and i had my amazing bungie netting, which can secure just about anything to the rear rack of the bicycle. for some reason i took a longer way home (putnam ave); i only realized it when it was already too late and i'd gone too far in the wrong direction. for the second time today, i smelled pot as i passed by a man leisurely walking and smoking. i didn't get back until 2:30.
the dough had been rising for about 2-1/2 hours by that point. when i lifted up the towel i was surprised by how big the dough had gotten during the 2nd rise. it was actually so big that cracks were beginning to form on the surface and bubbles were emerging. transferred the dough into the cast iron pot, covered it up, and put it back into the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
while waiting for the bread to finish baking, i reorganized the shoes in the closet using the newly purchased shoe rack. this new rack can be expanded to fit 20 pairs of shoes, but my closet can only accomodate so much width so i only managed to squeeze 16 pairs of shoes, 4 more pairs than when i was using the white shoe rack i found a few days ago. a lot of them i probably won't even wear. how many pairs of shoes does a guy need anyway? i think 6 pairs should do it.
after 30 minutes i took out the bread from the oven. lifting up the lid produced a wisp of smoke and revealed the lovely bread sitting in the pan. it was bigger than any no-knead bread i've ever made, with a lovely fissure down the middle. i lifted up the cast iron pot by the handles to see if i could shuffled the bread. i must've gotten a bad grip on the towel because suddenly i touched the pot with the palm of my hand and burned myself. i quickly put my hand under cold running water in between putting the bread back into the oven with the cover off for additional browning.
the burn wasn't so bad, about a quarter of an inch on my right hand, but it hurt real bad initially. it formed a welt but no blister, so maybe between a 1st and 2nd degree burn.
as soon as the bread was finally done, i wrapped it up in a plastic bag and headed out the door to share my latest bread with my parents at the cafe. i decided i'd take the ross road bike on its first official run and wheeled it outside. i ran into my old painter cleber, who was checking out the house across the street. apparently he agreed to paint it and thanked me profusely for the referral. then i bumped into jeff walking his dog lola. we chatted briefly before i took off.
the ross road bike rode without any problems. the brakes might be a little soft but not too bad considering the condition of the rims (some slight rust). with the drop handlebars, my arms are positioned straight down the middle of my body, so instead of using them to push to the left or right on normal handlebars, they don't really do too much. instead, if i want to bear left or right i push with my entire body. i was surprised by how quickly i got used to it. that sort of body position also made me feel like i was going faster (but that may just be the lighter frame and bigger wheels).
when i got to the cafe i finally cut the bread open. this was no-knead (NK) bread perfection! all my NK breads in the past had a very hard crust, but this one had a lighter crust. was it because i used less water? or was it the unbleached flour? i'll have to test with regular flour with less water next time to see if it's in fact the flour or the water. my mother and i were just gnawing at the raw bread but my father whipped up a batch of olive oil with salt and garlic for dipping purposes.
my father went out and gave the ross road bike a test ride. he'd never been on a bike with drop handlebars either. he noticed that with the drops, your hands tend to pull up instead of pushing down, giving you more leveraging power for pedaling. i came back home with a hot container of chicken curry strapped to the back of the bike.
i ate another piece of bread with olive oil and salt and garlic; by then i'd overloaded so much on carbohydrates that i didn't have dinner until much later because i wasn't hungry.
in the late afternoon i watched a commotion happening in front of a neighbor's house. their college-aged son has been loudly frolicking with friends all summer long, throwing balls in the street, smoking on the stoop, girls squealing as boys gave chase into the wee hours of the morning. the good times must've caught up to him because he was surrounded by half a dozen men who looked like police detectives - big bodies, short haircuts, serious looks. later a police paddy wagon came and took somebody away, i didn't see.
in the early evening i went across the street to star market to buy a whole watermelon (on sale this week, $3.99). i cleaned out my two window fans by removing the front grills. i made some edits to my great uncle's book, adding HTML links to all his endnotes using a grep pattern i pieced together last night.
since my beef jerky was such a big hit this weekend, i decided to make some more. the new ingredient this time around is 2 teaspoons of cumin powder. i personally don't think the cumin will make it any better but my mother and sister insisted i give it a try. i cut bigger slices this time after consulting with my notes and realizing i didn't need to make the pieces so thin. thicker slices also save time. the recipe calls for only 3-6 hours of marinating time, but i'm going to let them soak for at least 12 hours.
for dinner i cooked up half a cup of rice in the rice cooker and heated the chicken curry on the stove. afterwards i cut the watermelon into 4 quarters. 3 of the quarters i put in the fridge, but the 4th quarter i cut into a dozen slices. a few slices of watermelon is okay, but eating a dozen slices is an endurance challenge.
1 expensive apartments at that: a 747 square feet studio loft goes for $1951/month. a 3 bedroom as high as $4186/month. apparently only rich people can live there!