Sourdough Sunday

I baked sourdough today using my brand new loaf tin. It turned out okay!

Sourdough in a loaf tin

My wife and I also did a big walk with Scully, down to the Coal Loader Market, which runs 4 times a year. Normally this market is packed with dozens of stalls and a lot of people. They had cut it down to maybe only a quarter of the usual number of stalls, all spread out with a lot of space in between. And the crowd wasn’t nearly as big either.

Coal Loader Market

It’s on a lovely location on the shore of the harbour, this market!

New content today:

Sewing Saturday

Today I worked more on my Human Vision course notes. I pretty much have them done now – I just have one more diagram to draw, which I’ll do tomorrow.

I helped my wife to work out some sewing patterns for making dog bandanas – the project I alluded to last weekend. She’s planning to make them to sell on Etsy, and I’ll carry a few to my market stalls so people can buy them there too.

Not much more to say today, except that I tried the Mars bar cheesecake at my local Greek place tonight for the first time, and it was really good. 😋

New content today:

Super surprise escape birthday

Friday night was scheduled fortnightly games night, but the wife of one of our team hijacked it for a special birthday surprise for her husband. She organised an evening for the group beginning with an escape room followed by dinner at a nearby pub. The rest of us arrived at the escape room early, and then the birthday boy showed up, blindfolded, having being driven there by his wife and kids. He had no idea where he was, so it was a good surprise.

We had a team of 7, and we did the hardest room that the company had. The (slightly contrived) premise was that we’d committed a murder. The police had begun investigating, but had gone on lunch break for one hour, and so we had returned to the scene of the crime to retrieve a crucial piece of evidence, before the police find it. So we had an hour to enter the room and find the evidence before leaving.

What followed was a series of three connecting rooms, with an array of puzzles and tricks to navigate. We had to find the combinations of several locks, which opened to give us access to further clues. At one point we realised we needed a battery to power a certain item, and so we had to search the rooms for something that had a battery in it and remove it to use it. There was a computer which we had to break into by finding the password, and once in we had to print a file on the attached printer… but there were no sheets of paper! So we had had to search the rooms and unlock something else to find a sheet of paper. We culminated in figuring out the combination of a safe, which opened to reveal a bloody glove – which was the evidence we needed to retrieve. We completed the challenge in a little over 45 minutes, and it was very satisfying and a lot of fun.

I’d never done an escape room before (I think only two in our group had), but being keen puzzle creators and solvers we never really felt lost at any point, and our teamwork was really good. Everyone contributed, in ideas, in spotting clues that we needed, and in various physical manipulations that we had to do with equipment. It was a really great experience.

A few others joined us at the pub afterwards for dinner, and overall it was a great evening. Thanks to birthday boy’s wife for organising it!

Apart from that, really the inly thing I did earlier in the day was work on my slides for the Human Vision class I’m preparing for Monday. I’m nearly done, but still want to add a couple more.

New content today:

Human vision slides

It was another day of working on my diagrams and slides for the Human Vision course I’ll be teaching on Monday. Writing up the actual content of the course made me realise more diagrams I needed, so I had to draw some of those. And I needed photo examples for a few things too, so dug through my own photos for suitable scenes to illustrate some of the concepts.

That was pretty much my day. Last night I watched The End of Evangelion, the movie made as a wrap-up of the 26-episode series of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which I completed watching last week. If you know the show, then you probably have a good idea of my initial reactions. If not, I’m not going to spoil it for you. It was definitely interesting, and I’m glad I finally got around to seeing this series.

New content today:

New Ethics year

Today was my first Primary Ethics class of the new school year. I expected to have the Year 6 class again this year, but when I got to the school and picked up my class roll, I saw that it was the combined Year 5/6 class. There are about 26-27 students from each of Years 5 and 6 doing Ethics, which is too much for one class. Rather than split each Year into two small classes, there’s a Year 6 class, a Year 5 class, and a combined Year 5/6 class. The two years do the same material at the same time, so this works out fine.

I was a bit confused and waited around for the teacher who had the Year 6 class. She said that she’d been given that class because her own daughter was in it, and she’d requested to be able to take her daughter’s class. So I’m not in the same classroom as last year either, but instead in a smaller room inside the library. This room has just one chair (for me) so the kids are sitting on the floor. But my class is only 15 kids this year, compared to 21-22 in previous years, so it feels a lot more compact.

And we had a really good introductory lesson! I was pleased not to see any warning signs of behavioural issues, and we all had a really good discussion of the introductory question (about whether lying is always wrong). I have a good feeling that this is going to be a more enjoyable experience with these kids than the class I had last year.

And one of the girls turned out to be the sister of a boy I had last year. When I read her name on the roll and saw the surname, I said, “Do I know your brother Tom?” (name changed for anonymity)

She answered, “I don’t know. I do have a brother named Tom, but I don’t know if that’s who you mean.” Nice – a little bit cheeky, but in a friendly way.

I said, “I think it is your brother. I had him in my Ethics class last year.”

She asked, “Did he behave badly?”

I said, “… He wasn’t the worst behaved in that class.”

When I got home and told my wife about my new class, I said I had Tom’s younger sister. She knows Tom because his mother used to work with my wife. And it turns out my wife has actually met Tom’s sister, when her mother brought her into work a few times, and she (Tom’s sister) liked playing with Scully. So… I’ve met a new student who already knows my wife and my dog.

On the way home I drove by the kitchen supply place and ducked in to get a rolling pin, a bread tin for baking loaves, and some silicone baking mats as long lasting replacements for all the baking paper sheets I’ve been using, and also to use as a kneading surface instead of a cutting board, which is what I’ve been using up to now. While there I also spotted a small wok. My wife and I had been discussing getting rid of our large electric wok, which we hardly use because it’s packed in a cupboard behind a bunch of more regularly used items, so it’s annoying to get in and out. I figured replacing the electric one with a smaller stovetop wok would free up some kitchen space for us, and mean I can use a wok more often in cooking.

Then at home I worked on my slides for my Outschool class on Human Vision. I have most of them done now, but still need to finish it off, hopefully tomorrow.

New content today:

Running and sliding

It was time for another 5k run this morning. Nice cool weather, after the past few days of late summer heat. I clocked 28:15, over 40 seconds faster than the last two efforts. Strava also told me that I ran the first mile in my best ever time over that distance, a flat 8:00 minutes. I suppose I could probably do a mile faster than that, but I’ve never specifically run that distance and then stopped.

Back home I baked sourdough. I’ve tried increasing the semolina content again, this time to a full third of the total mass of flour. The dough was noticeably softer than usual, but seemed okay. The baked bread tastes fine, with a slight nutty flavour, and there’s a noticeable slight granularity from the semolina, but it’s not bad at all. I’d say it worked just fine.

I spent most of today working on slides and class notes for my Outschool class on Human Vision. I only got a few slides in when I realised I need more diagrams, so I switched to drawing diagrams for a bit. This is the way it goes… I hope to have the slides ready by Friday at the latest.

This evening I helped my wife go through the instructions for using her new sewing machine. She’s done sewing before, but not for a long time, and she needed to get familiar with the machine and remember how to do all the various things. She did some practice runs on scrap cloth, and it all seems to be going well.

New content today:

Chili miso Brussels sprouts

I didn’t do much today besides making some comic strips in the morning, and take Scully to the dog park in the afternoon. Still relaxing after yesterday’s work at the market.

I did cook dinner, however, and one of my favourite easy vegetable side dishes: chili miso Brussels sprouts. We had them with a chick pea burger patty.

It’s pretty easy to make. Wash and halve some sprouts, then par-cook either in the microwave or a steamer. Fry in a little olive oil with chopped garlic and chili, turning to ensure both sides brown. When done, pour over a half/half mix of miso paste and mirin, combined to form a runny paste, and stir to coat the sprouts, then serve. You don’t need much of the miso/mirin mix, as it’s a strong flavour.

Today I added some slivered almonds too for extra crunch.

Chili miso Brussels sprouts

New content today:

Sunday Market day

I had my market day today. Got up at 6, went to pick up the car I’d hired to take all my gear and stock to the market, drove over there, unpacked, set up the stall. The forecast was for rain today, but it turned out sunny and warm. Unfortunately, this probably encouraged people to go to the beach rather than to the market, as attendance was very low today. I chatted with other stallholders and they agreed business was very slow. But they reckon that things will pick up in the next few months as autumn brings cooler weather, and maybe people will continue to get more adventurous after COVID.

It’s interesting the observations you make of people while you’re tending a market stall. I’m selling photographic prints. The images are beautiful, if I do say so myself. But it’s amazing how many people wander past the stalls, taking some time to look closely at the stall next to mine, but then approach mine, take a single glance that must genuinely be less than a second long, and their eyes immediately move on to the next stall and they walk right past mine without a second look.

Obviously some people are not particularly interested in buying photographic prints, but I’m amazed at just how quickly they can apparently dismiss the idea of even taking a slightly longer look. I’m a very visual person and I love looking at artwork and photography. Even if I have zero intention of buying anything, I always pause and look closely at any market stall that has visual art. It’s interesting and intriguing to me that there are so many people who apparently have no interest whatsoever in stopping to look at some beautiful pictures.

This is mostly adults I’m talking about. Children usually seem a lot more interested. I watch families walk past, and the parents do the split-second glance and their eyes move on to continue around the array of stalls, but the children tend to gaze a lot longer at my photos. It makes me ponder if children are naturally drawn to visual art and imagery, but somewhere along the path to adulthood this natural fascination with images somehow gets beaten out of people.

My best customers are often lone parents escorting one or more children. The children get excited by the photos, and the parent agrees to buy some greeting cards, or in some cases a matted print. But when both parents are present with kids, I seldom make the sale.

The exceptions are the handful of adults who are genuinely interested in photography. They come over and look through every single image in the boxes of matted prints, and praise me on the photography, and ask questions about specific photos. These people are a delight to talk to, and I’m very gratified that there are indeed other people out there who love visual art as much as I do.

By the end of the day, I was fearing I’d make a loss after the stall and car hire. But one final customer came by about 15 minutes before closing time, and bought a matted print, which pushed me over the line into profit for the day. Not a lot of profit, but definitely better than being in the red. So thank you to that woman.

New content today:

Sewing supplies

Tomorrow is my next market stall – back to the smaller suburban market in Lindfield this week. Last week at Kirribilli, although I was in the road tunnel and sheltered from any rain (if there’d been any), I realised I was vulnerable to wind blowing through the tunnel. It got a bit breezy, and at one point it blew some of my greeting cards over, off the stand, and onto the ground.

I realised I need a way to make my display stands more robust to wind. So today I went with my wife (and Scully) on a trek to a large sewing and handicrafts store. She actually wanted to go to buy a sewing machine and some material, for a project she wants to work on. But I needed to go to get some elastic cord, which I plan to string across the front of the display stand to form a bit of a barrier to hold the cards in place. I’ve also been wanting to get some sturdy cloth ribbon to use to replace a drawstring on some old shorts that I just wear around the house, but whose drawstring has frayed and broken.

So it was a good confluence of needs that saw us spend an hour or so picking up various sewing supplies. That store is actually really amazing for arts and crafts stuff. Besides strictly sewing supplies, they also have large sections of materials for other crafts.

Apart from that expedition I didn’t do much today. I was up late last night playing games with friends online, and I want to rest a bit before the market tomorrow.

New content today:

Super busy day

  • Took Scully for a super early morning walk, because my wife was busy with an appointment this morning, so she couldn’t do their usual morning walk.
  • Took Scully in to my wife’s work to drop her off there for the day.
  • Mixed together ingredients to make sourdough challah and kneaded it into dough, which then had to rise for four hours.
  • Did the weekly grocery shopping.
  • Went out to drive my mother-in-law home from an errand she had to run.
  • Rolled out the challah dough and shaped the loaves by braiding, then left to rise another five hours.
  • Worked on some comics, once I had a few spare minutes.
  • Made minestrone for dinner
  • Baked the challah.
  • Played online board games with friends.

Here’s some photos of the challah being made.

1. Ingredients: water, flour+salt, egg+oil+honey, sourdough levain.

Making sourdough challah

2. Mixing the levain and water.

Making sourdough challah

3. Mixing wet ingredients.

Making sourdough challah

4. Ragged dough.

Making sourdough challah

5. Kneaded dough.

Making sourdough challah

6. Rolling the dough.

Making sourdough challah

7. Plaiting the dough.

Making sourdough challah

8. Plaited loaves ready to rise.

Making sourdough challah

9. Risen loaves ready to bake.

Making sourdough challah

10. Finished loaves! Yum!

Making sourdough challah

New content today: