Simple Artisan Bread

Posted on 10 January 2011 | No responses

Adapted from the “Boule” master recipe at Mother Earth News

I’m not a huge baker but I love making bread and am always on the lookout for new recipes to try. I’ve tried various no-knead recipes but, so far, this one has turned out the best. Due to the relative ease of preparation — and the fact that I can keep the dough in the fridge and make multiple loaves out of it — this recipe has become our standard “house” recipe. I’ve made this recipe a couple times now and re-use a small bit of each previous batch in the subsequent ones hoping to (eventually) wind-up with a bit of sourdough flavor. Since discovering this recipe, we’ve started having fresh, homemade bread with most of our meals.

Artisan Bread
3 cups lukewarm water
1 ½ tbsp granulated yeast*
½ tbsp coarse kosher or sea salt
6 ½ cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour
  1. Add yeast and salt to water in a large bowl or resealable, lidded container (do not use an airtight container!). Do not worry about getting yeast to totally dissolve.

    *NOTE: I mix the saved dough from previous batches of bread in with the water, yeast, and salt, cutting back to 1 tbsp yeast.

  2. Add flour to water/yeast mixture and stir together. If mixing becomes too difficult, mix with hands but do not knead! Will yield a wet dough which conforms to container.

  3. Cover container loosely and let bread rise for (at least) 2 hours at room temperature. After bread has risen, refrigerate dough for (at least) 3 hours.

  4. After dough has been refrigerated, sprinkle pizza peel or cutting board liberally with cornmeal (to prevent loaf from sticking).

  5. Remove dough from refrigerator and sprinkle flour liberally over surface. Cut off about a 1-pound (or grapefruit-sized) piece of dough.

  6. Gently stretch and knead dough, adding flour as-needed to keep it from sticking to your hands. Form dough into rough ball.

  7. Pre-heat oven to 450°, placing baking stone on middle rack and a small, shallow pan (for water) on another rack. Leave enough room between racks for bread to rise.

  8. Place ball of dough on pizza peel/cutting board and let rest (uncovered) for 40 minutes.

  9. Dust top of loaf with flour and slash ¼ inch deep cross or scallop pattern into top of loaf.

  10. Slide loaf off pizza peel/cutting board onto baking stone and then quickly pour about ¾ cup hot water into shallow pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

  11. Remove bread from oven and let rest on wire rack for at least 20 minutes.

  12. Remaining dough can remain refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, cutting off loaves and baking as-needed. Dough can also be frozen in 1 pound portions and defrosted overnight prior to baking day.

UPDATE: I’m on the sixth or seventh generation of this bread. As I approach the end of each batch of dough, I pull off about a golf-ball sized piece and put it into a ramekin containing my “mother”. This is actually a yeast, dough, and water slurry that I retain in the refrigerator until 48 hours before I want to start the next loaf. I’ve been culturing the yeast and, besides the granulated yeast I’d begun with (in this case Fleischmann’s), I’ve added the slurry from the end of a couple bottles of geuze (Boon Oude Geuze and Oude Gueuze Vieille) to help quicken the souring process.

Now, I no longer use plain granulated yeast when making my batches of dough; I just add a couple tablespoons of the “mother” yeast slurry and follow the same steps as before. The younger the dough, the more minimal the sourdough flavor but, as the dough ages in the refrigerator, it takes on a wonderful flavor!

(Chocolate) Java Porter

Posted on 17 December 2010 | No responses

Three days after Colleen and I were married, I decided to brew a beer. Mostly using ingredients that I already had around the house, I decided to brew a Porter but that quickly morphed into a Java Porter when I decided to toss some coffee in the mash. The final product turned out to be a wonderfully dark, full-bodied porter that I’ll be making again with no changes to the recipe.

(Chocolate) Java Porter
BJCP Category: 12B (Robust Porter)
2 lb 2-row Carapils malt
1 lb Chocolate malt
8 oz Caramel 10L
8 oz Munich 10L
8 oz Black Patent
2 oz ground Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters “Seneca Blend” coffee
3 lb amber DME (60)
1 lb blackstrap molasses (10)
Boil Additions
1 oz UK Challenger (6.3%, 60)
0.5 oz Willamette (5.8%, 10)
0.5 oz Willamette (5.8%, flame-out)
1 Activator package Wyeast 1187 (Ringwood Ale)
Mash/Sparge Cycle
155°F for 90 minutes
3 gallon sparge at 175°F
Original Gravity: 1.047
Final Gravity: 1.012
Bitterness: 29.7 IBUs
Alcohol: 4.61% (ABW), 3.62% (ABV)
Calories: 156.03 kcal

After mashing and sparging, I topped off my boil kettle to about 6.5 gallons and then did a 2 hour boil.

The final beer turned out to be a bit darker than I’d originally expected but that didn’t detract from the final taste at all. The coffee and Black Patent add a nice smokey complexity that goes well with the sweetness of the molasses.

Copper’s New Baby

Posted on 6 December 2010 | No responses

Copper's New Baby “Copper’s New Baby” is the title of the (easy-reader level) book that I wrote to give my daughter in order to tell her about the upcoming birth of our new baby. The Copper character is based on our dog and Jes Karakashian did an amazing job with the illustrations!

Copper has had the run of the house and must now get used to having a new baby around. Using simple text and colorful illustrations, children can learn through Copper’s example about the reality of living with a newborn.

Pick up your copy of Copper’s New Baby (only $25.00!) at

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Posted on 16 November 2010 | No responses

I normally don’t follow recipes for cooking and, when I do, it doesn’t wind-up being much more than a rough guideline. Still, I’d been wanting to make Sheperd’s Pie for awhile and, knowing the basic concept of the recipe, decided to throw together one of my own. The results turned out great and I’ll definitely be making this one again (especially now that the weather has turned cooler).

Shepherd’s Pie
2 lbs white potatoes, peeled
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 large clove garlic
1/2 bag frozen peas
1 can beef broth or consommeé
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp white flour
1/2 cup water
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch salt
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
4 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  1. Pre-heat over to 400°
  2. Peel and quarter potatoes and then boil until tender.
  3. While potatoes are boiling, in a large frying pan, sauté ground beef, onions, and garlic over medium heat. When meat and onions are about finished cooking, add frozen peas and heat through.
  4. Wisk together beef broth/consommé, corn starch, white flour, and water. Pour mixture into frying pan and stir continuously. While strirring, add Worchestershire sauce, black pepper, nutmeg, and salt. Cook uncovered on low heat for about 5-10 minutes.
  5. After potatoes finish cooking, mash with butter and milk.
  6. Place beef and onion mixture in large, deep-sided casserole dish then distribute mashed-potatoes evenly over the top.
  7. Sprinkle grated cheese over top of potatoes and bake in 400° oven for 30 minutes. Broil for last few minutes to brown (if necessary)


Fall Tour of the Finger Lakes (October 9, 2010)

Posted on 19 October 2010 | No responses

Since moving back to Upstate NY, Colleen and I try to make regular trips through the Finger Lakes to look at the beautiful scenery. We try to hit new sites each time we take these trips and this Fall’s excursion was no different. This trip took us down the eastern side of Canandaigua Lake, across to Keuka Lake, and finally up the eastern side of Seneca Lake to return home. The weather was gorgeous and we had a beautiful, sunny autumn day for the drive.

Traveling down East Lake Road out of Canandaigua, we only caught fleeting glimpses of Canandaigua Lake. At some point, we need to take a longer tour of Canandaigua Lake but, Canandaigua Lake is not one of my favorite Finger Lakes. Most major points of interest lie either to the north or south of Canandaigua Lake although there are a few sites along the western side, as well. Personally, I prefer Keuka or Cayuga Lake and — up until this trip — I did enjoy Seneca Lake, as well (more on that in a bit).

Our first stop on the trip was at Keuka Brewing Company near Hammondsport NY. I’d had the pleasure to meet the owner, Rich Musso, the previous weekend at Custom Brewcrafter’s Autumn Festival of Ales and wanted to stop by their brewery and tasting room. Nestled on a hill overlooking the lake, Keuka Brewing Company “offers your palate a pleasant break from the standard tasting’s on the Keuka Lake Wine Trail.” A couple of their beers are contract brewed by Custom Brewcrafters but they also brew beer in-house. Their Harvest Ale had a nice, lightly malty, hoppy flavor and is brewed with locally-grown Nugget hops. But, what I really wanted to try was their Habañero Ale that I’d been told about at the Festival of Ales. Now, I’ve tried other beers brewed with hot peppers before but this brew packs a wallop!! Before tasting the beer there is a sweet, slightly vegetal nose while the underlying flavor of the beer has an initial, malty sweetness…unfortunately, all of that is completely over-powered by the intense heat that creeps up and kicks you in the groin. I really enjoy spicy foods but have to offer a word of caution to anyone trying this beer. Be careful!

Keuka LakeAfter leaving Keuka Brewing, we drove down to the Hammondsport, NY and had lunch at the Village Tavern Restaurant & Inn. Even though we arrived around 11:30am, the restaurant was already packed and we decided to sit outside on their side porch. The food was wonderful (especially their German potato salad) and the beer and wine selection is almost overwhelming. If you’re looking for a nice, leisurely drive and a good restaurant, I’d definitely recommend a visit. Hammondsport is a quaint little village nestled at the foot of Keuka Lake so, after lunch, we also took the opportunity to walk around the town square before setting off again.

Leaving Hammondsport, we traveled between Waneta and Lamoka Lake to Watkins Glen. Normally, when we visit Watkins Glen we’re either going to the state park or for lunch at the Crooked Rooster and Wildflower Café but, since we’d just eaten, we passed through Watkins Glen on our way to a decision: head north along the eastern side of Seneca Lake or cut over to Cayuga Lake and Ithaca. In hindsight, Colleen was right and we should have gone to Ithaca but, at the time, I was excited to get to Two Goats Brewing and try out their beers.

Two Goats BrewingWhen we’d taken our last trip along Seneca Lake earlier in the year (which included a tour of the old Willard Asylum for the Insane), we’d stopped at Two Goats Brewing on our way to the Crooked Rooster and Wildflower Café for lunch. Two Goats had not received their state liquor license when we stopped in the spring but, since then, they’ve gotten their license and are serving their beers. The brewery/pub is an old, gorgeously renovated barn over-looking Seneca Lake from the eastern shore. Unfortunately, traveling anywhere around Seneca Lake has gotten to be a chore not for the faint-of-heart; those with families or who value their lives and sanity; or any car, limo, or bus without a pack of raging drunkards. There were a few patrons out on the balcony when we arrived and the atmosphere was relatively laid-back but that quickly changed and, the cloyingly sweet flavor of the beer just made my mood worse.

Seneca Lake Wine Trail YahoosDriving along Seneca Lake used to be a nice, family trip growing up but that has changed in recent years. The popularity of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail has grown to the point where it’s nearly impossible to enjoy traveling along either Rt 96 or Rt 96A, especially on weekends. There’s a winery every five yards with cars and buses and limos pulling in and out from each side of the road and, when you do stop, the atmosphere at the wineries is no longer laid-back and relaxing. The staff at the wineries may be pleasant enough but the patrons are rude and inconsiderate, even starting fights when they get cut-off.

If you’d like to try an example of some good Seneca Lakes wines, might I suggest trying a Wagner Vineyards Riesling (for those of you who like the sweeter wines) or Zugibe Vineyard‘s 4 Freds Red (for those who prefer drier, red wines) but skip the rest of the tour. Most of the wineries (and the breweries) are over-hyped and I’d recommend heading directly to Watkins Glen (well, except on NASCAR race weekend). Finger Lakes Distilling is a nice stop but I’d suggest trying to visit during the off-season, when Seneca Lake roads aren’t so crowded.

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