COVID-19 Wk 26: Smoke & Fire

It’s been six months since Oregon declared a state of emergency for COVID-19. Half a freaking year! Many of us were thinking that things would last a few weeks maybe a couple months. Seems awfully naive in hindsight.

One would think that it would take a major event to remove COVID-19 from the headlines. Well……this week Oregon, heck the whole west coast, got just that. With the dry conditions and strong winds last weekend it was bound to happen…..Wildfires are ravaging up and down the west coast. Here in Forest Grove we had two wildfires within several miles of us. Air quality has been horrendous the past few days. Portland, OR was the #1 worst city in the world for air quality on Saturday September 12th. Major cities up and down the west coast displaced the usual suspects of Beijing, China and Delhi, India. Not a ranking anyone wishes to be #1 on.

The Riverside Fire out near the Clackamas River appears to be human caused. That could mean many things. However based on what Dean and I saw while camping out there the other week I think some dumbass probably had a fire going at their campsite. Couple that with the crazy winds we had last weekend and disaster was the only expected outcome.

Mia and I have both been working out inside on the “dreadmill” and Wahoo Kickr. The only outside activity has been short walks with Codi.

DSC_0017
Not fog! Wildfire smoke

There is rain in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday. It is my hope that the air quality improves soon. I’m tired of the slight headache and burning eyes and throat. 2020 sure has been one strange year!

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I’m not sure the pictures can do the conditions justice

Stuck inside – Let’s bake

With very little desire to spend too much time outside I opted to tackle a baking option that would take a little bit of time and planning. I had been eyeing this english muffin recipe on King Arthur’s website for a few weeks now.

Yeast/bread recipes are one place where I feel I can always improve. I’ve not done a lot of bread baking other than a bread machine I had for a few years in the mid 2000’s. In the past few years it has been very hit or miss. Mia made a homemade pizza dough a few weeks ago and we now have a decent supply of active dry yeast in the fridge. Instead of letting it go bad in several months I want to actively make sure we use it up.

English muffins
pre-english muffin stage
English muffins
pale and sticky dough
English muffins
two hours of proofing

I think it’s the patience part of bread making that gets to me. I had quite a bit of time to kill after mixing the dough. I also tend to question how much kneading is too little or too much. This recipe was simple with a “gentle deflate” after proofing.

English muffins
a little overkill with the semolina
English muffins
sixteen muffins from this recipe
English muffins
My “making things round” skill is a bit lacking

I’ll admit that the directions for cooking on this recipe were a little lacking. It just says cook for 7-15 minutes on each side over low heat. What the heck does that actually mean?

English muffins
English muffins
15 minutes later at low 200 degrees F

I bumped the heat up to closer to 300 degrees F for the second side and kept the time at 15 minutes. It could be our griddle is old or I had too thick of a carpet of semolina flour. 300 F seemed to improve the cooking though.

English muffins
getting there

I ended up finishing the first batch in the oven at 350F like the directions suggest. I was only reading around 180-185F internal temp after 15 minutes of cooking each side.

English muffins
Now that looks better

The second batch cooked up better on just the gridle and didn’t require any oven time. I pulled them off with an internal temperature of 198F after baking the second side. I was pleased with that outcome.

English muffins
nooks and crannies enough?

I think that they came out pretty well for a first attempt. The “nooks and crannies” are there and it tastes like an english muffin. I just put butter and honey on a slightly warm muffin that Mia and I split. I’ll see how they are toasted for breakfast tomorrow.

English muffins
Tasty!

Mia and I have a lot more yeast to use and some bread flour too. Time to see what else I can come up with.

Thanks for reading,
-Pete

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