Sunday, September 4, 2011

Goodbye, old friend

October 12, 1996 - September 2, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On Sourdough Bread and Keeping Starters

On a family visit to Alabama a couple years ago, I came across a bubbling container of goo on my Uncle's kitchen counter. I asked him what it was and he said it was his Sourdough Starter. That sounded neat to me, so we ended up talking about it for a while. He gave me instructions for making my own once returning to Raleigh. "You see, Dothan Alabama starter will taste different from Raleigh NC starter because of the different wild yeasts in the air", etc. This appealed to my civic pride. And having not baked bread in quite a while, what better way to get back into it than with a biochem project!

Fast forward a few months. I didn't buy his simple explanation for making my own starter, so I looked online and came across the Holy Grail of information on all subjects Sourdough: Sourdough Home!! This site is great and has all the necessary information to create your own starter (or locations where you can buy it mail order...some of the strains are over a hundred years old!), recipes, general baking advice and more. I created my starter with whole grain wheat from the Northwest (freshly milled into flour by a coworker), so even though it was technically "made" in Raleigh, the natural wild yeasts originated from either Colorado or Canada (the supplier was unable to be more specific). So much for "Raleigh Yeast". Oh, I tried and failed to make a starter using expensive store-bought flour. Don't waste your time.

The process of making a starter is tedious and time consuming. In other words, right up my alley! I loved watching it progress from a flour/water mix that just sat there to an active, bubbling creation that I now refer to as my 2nd child (Krusty the Dog being the 1st). On his website, Mike says the best way to get a starter you KNOW will get the job done is to order one. But if you're like me and you want a sense of accomplishment and ownership to go along with your starter, give it a shot: make your own!

Today I made another batch of bread and it's great. Again. The stuff will rise like a champ and all it asks in return is to be fed once a month and kept refrigerated. Not bad! (You can keep them at room temp, but will need to feed them twice a day). Sometimes I take it out of the fridge, crack it open and just smell it. YUM. That cake-batter consistency just drives me crazy.

Before I get to rambling too much, the following serves as a condensed, localized area of information for anyone I've ever given starter to, or who I may give it to in the future:

  1. Keep it in the fridge in a glass or plastic container with a loose fitting lid. I use a mason jar. As the yeasts eat the flour, CO2 is created and you don't want an explosion on your hands.
  2. Feed it every 30 days: weigh the amount of starter you have and divide by 2. Mix that much bread flour and that much water together and into your starter. If you thought, "Won't that make it double in size every with every feeding?", you are correct. Proceed accordingly. Wait about a week after feeding before using.
  3. The gross looking layer of liquid on top of the starter is called "hooch" and is perfectly normal. Stir it back in or dump it. It smells sort of like alcohol!
  4. I prefer the "San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread" recipe. Some tweaks I have developed are:
  • Start at night for fresh bread at dinner the next day.
  • Once dough is kneaded and separated, place in PAM'd bread pans and wrap with Saran (keeps them moist). Place in oven overnight with the light off.
  • In the morning, punch bread down. Place back in oven with light on, unwrapped. The light gives it just enough warmth to kick it into high gear for the final rise.
  • By 2pm, it should be ready to bake.
In closing: if you like bread and don't hate America, let me know and I'll give you some starter to try out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Oh, Raleigh...

Raleigh is Smart!!

Raleigh is "Celebratory" and "Unexpected"!

"Unexpected" + "Celebratory" = "Unexpected Celebration" which can only mean one thing: "Surprise Party!!"

i appreciate the sentiment, but you will need to try harder in the future to keep such things more "Unexpected". here are some tips:
  1. don't advertise my surprise party on a building 20 feet from where i work
  2. change your signage from "Smart" and "Unexpected" to "Inconsiderate" and "Predictable". that will lower my expectations and prevent smarmy posts like this one.
  3. i like 1/2 Chocolate and 1/2 White sheet cake with cream cheese icing. the darker the accent colors the better, b/c who doesn't like it when their teeth and tongue turn blue??
  4. check with my wife for availability.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


one of the best things about life is turning 40. i should know: it happened to me just 3 months and some change ago. it's been everything i could have imagined and more...with one exception: i still don't need glasses!

i've been cursed with "good enough to not need glasses" vision my whole life. everyone says "you'll need them one day", but my patience is wearing thin. and if i'm honest about it, i'm a little bummed. all you bespectacled folks out there, yucking it up with your glasses. it's not fair.

i refuse to wait for the blessed day in which i have Andrea drive me to the Lens Crafter's (i won't be able to drive myself, duh. i'll need glasses!). preparation is important to me, so i've been "test driving" my friends' glasses to see which frames best suit me. except for the migraines, it's been a lot of fun. and it's resulted in an awesome short list.

i have my favorite, Andrea has her favorite, but i thought i'd put it to you, my loyal readership, to let me know what YOU think. plus, this way i'll know exactly who is (and ISN'T) reading my annual blog post.

without delay, here are the new me's:





remember, all of these glasses are owned by someone you probably know who is also married, so no "#2 looks stupid" or "#4 is HAWT!", etc. thank you.

leave your choice in the comments and i'll tally them up and take the results to the Optometrist sometime in the (hopefully near) future.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What's up with that sore on your kid's face?

below is an email i sent to family members updating them on my son's recent battle with a "skin infection" next to his eye. i may add pics later, but they are not for the faint of heart:

hey y'all. figured it would be easier to shotgun this info out all at once: Oscar is fine. a quick timeline of events:

  • Monday, February 14th, he banged his head right next to his left eye. it was nothing remarkable and barely even broke the skin. this is at least a tri-weekly occurrence.
  • by Saturday the 19th, it had gotten worse, instead of better, although it still wasn't "bad". just a little red dot that wasn't there before.
  • by Monday the 21st, it looked terrible and i suggested Andrea take him to the Pediatrician Tuesday, which she did.
  • the idiot doctor who saw him Tuesday (22nd) decided to give him a powerful antibiotic shot that is relatively useless at fighting skin infections (so my sources tell me).
  • Wednesday (23rd), it was still bad so Andrea took him back and they put him on an oral antibiotic.
  • we had planned on taking a long weekend at the beach, but with his eye the way it was, i sent Andrea without us (she was attending a blog conference). this was Thursday the 24th.
  • his eye looked horrible and other little sores popped up around the main one. i made an appointment for Friday morning to see a 3rd doctor.
  • Friday the 25th, his primary doctor saw his eye and made arrangements to have him go to the hospital to start taking IV antibiotics, since as he put it, "we don't have the upper hand here". the close proximity to his eye and the fact that it wasn't responding to the other medicine concerned him and the IV stuff was going to knock it out. we were all afraid it was a MRSA infection, which would suck. he took a culture off the sore and sent it off to the lab. i called Andrea and she left right away to make the 3 hour trip home. Monica left work and came to the hospital to be with us, which was a life saver. when Andrea showed up to relieve her, she then swung by the house and picked up Krusty to keep him overnight. they started Oscar's IV and gave him 30 minutes worth of medicine every 8 hours for 24 hours. yay.
  • Saturday morning, the 26th, his eye wasn't noticeably better, but they sent us home anyway. still no word on the culture. our Pediatrician called to check on us and assumed since we had been discharged that the infection was all but gone. he asked how it looked and Andrea mentioned it wasn't all that different, aside from less puffiness. he was alarmed at this and told us to come in Sunday to see him again.
  • Sunday, the 27th...almost 2 weeks to the day after this whole thing began...he and Andrea wondered if it wasn't bacterial at all, but viral. Andrea and her family are susceptible to cold sores, which as you know is just a form of the herpes virus. Dr. Bo took a viral culture and sent it off, and to be on the safe side, started Oscar on an antiviral medicine. **Edit - He also made an appt. for Oscar to see a Pediatric Ophthalmologist on Monday**
  • Monday, nothing to report. **Edit - Ped. Ophthalmologist agreed it looked like it may be viral, and that if so, it would be almost unprecedented**
  • Tuesday, March 1st, Dr. Bo called and told Andrea the viral culture came back positive.
at long last, we now know the following:
  • Oscar had an outbreak of herpes on his face. essentially, a cold sore right next to his eye. this is almost unheard of and threw everybody so much that not only did it delay proper treatment by almost 2 weeks, it had people prescribing super-strong antibiotics that were really hard on his little body for nothing. we spent a night in the hospital for nothing. i could go on and on, but i guess i don't blame them. Mom and Sam couldn't believe it was a virus, either, and i trust them more than these jerkoff's up i will extend a little grace. to the jerkoff's.
  • once this heals up (and it is healing), it may never happen again. or if it does, it will hopefully happen in the normal place in the form of a regular old cold sore on his lips.
Through all this, Oscar never acted sick or like he was in any discomfort. but if you see the pictures (and you will when Andrea blogs about it this week), you'll see how disgusting his sore was and how scary it was for us. we/i thought it was a MRSA infection and if you do a google image search for MRSA, you'll see why i was so worried. when the antibiotics didn't help, we thought maybe it was a super strong strain of bacteria that was resistant even to the antibiotics they use for resistant strains of bacteria! we were like, "now what??". we thought maybe his body wasn't responsive to antibiotics. we thought lots of scary things. i got angry that he was going through this and that he would possibly have a big scar on his face for the rest of his life, or that he could go blind in one's just what parents do, i suppose. but we are very thankful that even though we apparently have weak faith in the face of turmoil, God took care of our little boy and is continuing to do so every day. thank you, God!

thanks to everyone for your concerns. look forward to our next get together.


The Raleigh Updykes

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Current Events

Rather than address real issues facing the poor and the crappy inner city schools in their communities, let's send the poor kids to the rich kid schools while simultaneously sending the richies to the poor kid schools! If that doesn't fix everything, it should at least skew "the numbers" enough to make it look like it's fixing everything, right? OR, maybe it will make it so the poor kids get a 'better education' than the richies, giving them an advantage so they can go on to make more money as adults, thereby displacing the richies.

Sounds like a cycle to me.



Lots of people in Wake County, NC

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Unseasonable warmth

We've been having some pretty nasty winter weather here in Raleigh. Then, there was this nice patch of warmth that came in for most of this week. Our house doesn't have a lot of natural light, so the plants take a big hit during winter. I count on these opportunities every winter to get them out and soak up some sun (and in the case of the last 2 days: rain) to make it until Spring. What i do NOT count on is looking out the window early in the morning and seeing them getting snowed on:

The last pic is taken from the one above it and enlarged. If I have to do digital magic to make the snow visible it must not have been that bad, right? Yeah, I guess. The important thing is it didn't frost last night while they were out. Had that happened, and had harm befallen even one of the 6 plants pictured, it would've been "Go time" between me and....frost.