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calendar   Thursday - August 06, 2020

Bowling Shut Down

Well, so much for bowling tonight. We ate dinner early for once, almost finishing off the fantastic brined chicken I’d grilled up yesterday, so we were able to leave at the right time for once.

Got up there with hardly any traffic, arrived 10 minutes before practice was scheduled to start. Got the balls out of the trunk and walked across the parking lot, took one step up the front steps, and the place went dark. Total power failure.

Large parts of NJ are still without power from the big terrible storm Tuesday. Out here in the stick we’ve mostly avoided it, but “mostly” is a relative term. Thousands are without power, but not us. Our power was out for 6 minutes during the peak of the storm. But the utility guys are out doing their repairs, testing and rerouting as necessary. So I guess some areas get shut off for a while. Because.

So we sat on the front steps as more people arrived, and we all hung out, chatting and seeing what would happen. Almost nobody was wearing a mask, so I guess we’ll all be dead tomorrow. The alley folks kept coming outside to give us updates, while some of us made calls and checked the news. Most of Warren County was out, from the Pennsylvania border all the way east to Morris County. Some spots were still on. Chuck called his wife, found out that his house had power, and asked her if she could bring over all his extension cords to power the place. He lives 5 miles away ... nobody has that many extension cords. Wise guy! Actually, it was pretty good socialization, everybody has something to say about the storm, and the masks and the rules and our wonderful much loved governor. Plus we all blamed Mary for the outage, as she made meatloaf tonight. The last time she made meatloaf hurricane Sandy hit and their house was without power for a week and a half.

After 45 minutes, 8 o’clock, the boss man came out and said he had no idea if or when the juice would flow again. So we’re all going to post bowl at some point the coming week. If we can. Assuming there’s power then. As we drove home, we saw that parts of Washington had power, about a mile south of the bowling alley. Meh, what can you do? Everybody else probably waited longer and the power came back on. Sorry, we can’t stay there to 11pm when some of us have to be at work before 8.



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So we came home, ate a little more of that awesome chicken, had a drink and watched a little TV. I’ve got a biga going in the kitchen, as we’re going to auntie’s final pool party Saturday (they’re moving) and she asked us (me) to make a few dozen rolls for the sausage and peppers she’ll be making. I’m the only non-Italian in the bunch, so I’m making some real old school Italian bread dough to make the rolls from. And that means a biga.

A biga is kind of like young sourdough, only made with commercial yeast. Flour, water, and a pinch or yeast, mix it up and let is sit around for 12-16 hours, or fridge it for a day or so. Even commercial yeast will excrete alcohol, acetic acid, and lactic acid, which are the flavors that put the sour in sourdough. It just goes a lot faster, and you get a great breediing up of the good strong commercial yeast. Add the whole thing to a bunch of other flour and water, and it makes flavorful bread pretty quick.

Actually, an Italian biga is almost exactly the same as a Polish poolish, exact the poolish uses a wetter, 100% hydration pre-dough. So a poolish is even faster, but you have to watch it closely and use when it’s just ripe. A biga is only 50-60% hydration, so the thick dough matures slowly. Yeast likes the wet. A biga probably gives you a bit more flavor too, but both are pretty easy ways to make tasty bread with commercial yeast.

Italian bread is the same as French bread, except you add a little olive oil and a touch of sugar. The sugar also kicks the yeast into high gear. Sourdough, poolish, and biga are called preferments, because they are dough that is pre fermented. Which means that the rise time for the whole dough, once you add in the biga, is a good bit faster than the typical 2 1/2 hours. Way faster than sourdough’s 6 - 12 hours.

I’m going to make up a tiny batch of plain dough tomorrow at the same hydration rate, to see how much I need to make a 6” long roll. That’s enough for 2 sausages and some onions and peppers. When I have that dough weight, I can figure out how much dough I’ll need to make 2-3 dozen rolls. I’m making enough biga for a double recipe, but I can spread it out to a triple recipe if necessary. I want a rather soft bread, not a crusty loaf. A smaller crumb would be Ok too. Taste and strength are what I’m looking for. ( Ever try using Wonder bread for a sausage & pepper sammich? It lasts about 3 seconds. )

She’s promised to help, so that should be fun. I think I can make about a dozen rolls per bake. And we’ll make the rolls the night before, so we won’t have to get up before dawn to bake for an afternoon pool party we have to drive 2 hours to get to. Saturday morning is for sleeping late.


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chicken brine: your typical brine of kosher salt and water, half a cup of salt to 3 quarts water. Slice up a few lemons, smash 5 gloves of garlic, rough chop half an onion, and then add a bunch of dried herbs, a tbl each rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme, allspice, and a big handful of peppercorns. Bring to a boil it in a big pot, let it cool, stick a chicken in it, cover, then 18 hours in the fridge. Rinse, pat dry, and then put the uncovered chicken back in the fridge for 2 hours. Get it out, cook it on the grill using offset heat, 400F for a bit over an hour, flipping it a couple times. Super brown, crispy skin, juicy as all get out, and doesn’t need any seasoning at all. Mmm, mmm, good. Next time I’ll use a bit less salt and toss in a bullion cube instead. Moar chiken flava!!


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Have a drink! While I am partial to Manhattans, made the old way with rye whiskey and cold red vermouth (not in an ice shaker, maybe add 1 or 2 ice cubes to the glass), sometimes something lighter and sweeter hits the spot. I don’t have a name for it, but a measure of golden rum and a measure of Kahlua over rocks tastes pretty good and it still packs a punch. A touch sweeter than a Black Russian, but made with booze that actually has flavor. 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/06/2020 at 08:58 PM   
Filed Under: • Bowling BloggingBreadClimate-WeatherFamilyFood •  
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