a bit of housecleaning this morning: finally got around to vacuuming the hairs from the bathroom floor (vacuuming the kitchen as well while i was at it) then uninstalling the window air conditioner from the living room. instead of putting the AC away in storage in the basement, i set it outside in the backyard and rinsed out the muddy inside with the garden hose (watering the plants as well). originally i wanted to disassemble the AC unit itself so i could get better access to its guts, but the shell was just too hard to remove so i decided to go with a simple rinse instead. i then let it sit outside overnight to dry, slanted a bit for drainage.
there is a lot of bread in my kitchen. from the half-eaten baguette, to the poppy-sesame-onion bagels cristina gifted to me (because she doesn't eat onions), to some leftover english muffins, and in a short time, a loaf of homemade sourdough bread. but as the weather turns cold as it's currently doing now, i instinctively have a craving for carbohydrates.
around 1pm i began the second stage of my sourdough bread. the dough itself was left to rise since yesterday, more than 24 hours ago. it's been a while since i made bread, so i forgot that you can usually tell after a rise whether or not the dough will be successful. in hindsight, this particular dough was on the flat side, so the sign wasn't good. plopping it onto a floured board, i was caught by how sticky the dough was. i had a hard time shaping it into a tight bun - the dough fell apart as i was trying to grasp it - and i ended up with a sloppy mess. i moved what shape i had into a medium cheesecloth covered pyrex dish. the dough was so sticky i still had clumps of it on my hands that i had to rub off on top of the dough. as for the starter that progenated this particular sourdough, i put it in the fridge after i fed it yesterday. it already has bubbles in it which means a high population of wild yeast and that the flour has already been consumed, but i like to see it as a headstart if i want to create a new loaf using this starter.
around 2pm i took the motorcycle to the memorial drive microcenter. they were selling raspberry pi zeroes for just 99¢ a piece (limited one per person, they typically sell for $5 so not too expensive either way). i haven't been to microcenter in a while, preferring to buy all my computer hardware these days via the web. the last time i was here was back in 2012, when i purchased a USB tv tuner which i later returned (to buy it online for cheaper). my second reason for coming here was to visit the trader joe's next door, to score some cheap wine. i bought 2 reds for my parents (merlot, cabernet sauvignon) and a white for myself (sauvignon blanc, cooking purposes).
back at the house i started preparing the 2nd sourdough bread with the other starter. i'll let it rise overnight, then bake it tomorrow. concerned by how sticking this first dough was, i decided to modify the recipe a little bit: 3 cups of flour, 1 tsp of kosher salt, 1 cup of water (boiled and cooled), and about a cup of sourdough starter. i reduced the amount of flour and water. the starter itself is already quite soupy, i felt the problem was i had too much water the first time. i mixed all the ingredients and let the dough sit overnight. as for the 2nd jar of leftover starter, i added a cup of flour and half a cup of water to feed it and put the jar in the refrigerator.
by 3pm the sourdough dough was ready to bake, but i still had to heat up the cast iron pot and the oven, which took another 30 minutes (at 450°). finally by 3:30pm the dough went into the pot. large clumps were still stuck to the cheesecloth, so i had to pull them off manually and drop them onto the dough. it was a mess, ensuring that the bread would not have a good shape. after baking for 30 minutes, i took the lid off and baked for another 20 minutes.
the final result was a flat, dense, hard loaf of bread. i managed to cut off a piece and tried the bread. the crust was hard as expected, although inside the bread was soft (just flattened). it was definitely sour, no mistaking that aspect. so i had the sour part down, but the bread part? not so much. what went wrong? if i had to guess, maybe the dough was too wet, which in turn made it too sticky. that's why when i mixed the ingredients for the second sourdough, i made sure to not add too much water.
at 6pm i went to a lecture at the harvard natural history museum titled "why so many leaf forms? insights from viburnum evolution" by michael donoghue, sterling professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at yale. i took the fuji bike because i intended to visit the cafe afterwards and didn't want to waste time walking back home first. it was surprisingly crowded, a lot of seniors, but also folks that looked like college or grad students, and some perhaps even of high school age. of course a chinese beijing couple had to sit right next to me. i think they did it because the very talkative bossy chinese woman wanted a better view from the seats they were previously sitting in, but unfortunately seats in front of them was soon blocked by tall americans.
the talk was super interesting, and basically theorized that leaves come in different shapes on the account of whether they keep their leaves (in which case the leaves will be smooth-edged) or lose them in a season (in which case the leaves with be teethed and/or lobed). their shapes have something to do with how they're packed in the leaf buds (think origami accordion), whether it's a bud that has to stay dormant during the winter months, or a bud that can form a leaf immediately.
the lecture got out around 7:15pm. as i turned on the lights on the wheels of the bike, i heard a man tell me, "i really love those lights!" i turned back to shout that they look better in action before i sped away down oxford towards the cafe. sunset is around 7pm these days. it was still twilight so there was still some visible light, but i had all my lights on as it'd get progressively darker. it was also a cool evening, and i put on another layer before i left.
there was some sort of neighborhood "support your local business" event happening around the cafe. i saw one street had been blocked off, tents at been pitched, and people were playing music. my parents were surprised to see me, as i told them i wasn't going to come, but all the painting and renovation work we've been doing (for me just a few weeks; for my parents, even longer) was for this event. as i hadn't eaten anything yet, my mother fixed me a plate of curry beef rice. it was nothing special but i ate it all because i was hungry.
as they were getting close to closing up the shop at 8pm, i decided it was time to leave. as i was unlocking my bicycle outside, i saw the full moon up in the sky (today was chinese mid-autumn festival after all, the moon holiday). i had my panasonic camera and was able to get a 30x zoom of the full moon.
cristina wasn't at home when i got back, as she was still attending a symposium dinner on top of the prudential tower.
i had time to examine my new raspberry pi zero. everything about it is small, including the ports: two microUSB and one microHDMI. actually, one USB port is for power, so there's only really one usable USB port. that presents a problem, because how can i attach a keyboard and a mouse to this board? there are also no onboard bluetooth or wifi, unlike my raspberry pi 3 ($57 versus 99¢; although the pi 3 came with a lot of accessories) (full disclosure: ever since i got the raspberry pi back in july, i haven't played with it since then).
cristina finally came home later in the evening. she didn't take the bike this morning because she was all dressed up for the event and didn't want her pant skirts to get caught in the bike chain. she told me the symposium was sponsored by japanese yakult (the yogurt drink) and dannon (also of yogurt fame), for doctors in the US as well as mexico and brazil.