Goings and Doings

Things I’ve Learned Today:
1. That the singer Norah Jones is Ravi Shankar’s daughter, and she was raised in Texas.  Some serious musical genes going on there.  (I saw him live once in the 1970s.  I bought ticket #1 for the concert.  Still have the ticket.  The man is an incredible musician.)
2.  My daylilies in the back yard are blooming.  And struggling for lebensraum against those ubiquitous and [expletives deleted] “tree of heaven” seedlings.

3.  My bluebonnets have set seed.  The seed pods look like pea pods except they are fuzzy.

4.  I’m probably going to have milkweed all over my yard.







In other news, yesterday, JP, the son of my mom’s oldest sister dropped by to take us all out to eat at Red Lobster.    He was wearing his typical outfit of jeans, cowboy boots, black cowboy hat, and a long sleeved shirt, even though it was 94F/34C out, on a bright beautifully sunny day.  (This is typical attire for ranchers, who are outside a lot;  they wear long sleeves all year round.)  Typically, the conversation at lunch was about friends and relations, and who was doing what where.  (He has a son in California, a son in Arizona and a daughter in Oregon).  JP told us about a recent visit from one of his friends, a school mate at Rice University, who is a big genealogy buff.  He had found out some things about JP’s father’s family (When I knew him, JP’s father, HP, reminded me very much of Humphrey Bogart).   My mother’s mother’s side of the family comes out of the big enclave of German immigrants who settled in southeast Texas in the 1840s to 1860’s.  JP’s father’s family is also out of that group.  My mother talked about how when she was about 11 years old, she went with JP’s parents (her sister and brother-in-law) to the train station in Houston in the early 1930s to meet his great grandmother P who was returning from one of several “vacation” trips back to Germany that followed her immigration to Texas.  (She would have taken the train to the east coast and booked her passage from there.)

One of my mother’s (many) nieces had recently sent her some photographs of some pieces of furniture that her mother (my grandmother) had gotten from the old manse in Roundtop, Tx, which had been built by my mother’s great grandfather, the Reverend Adam Neuthart, in conjunction with the church he founded there.  (I have a photograph of his wife hanging in my bedroom)  During lunch she told about how, when she was 7, her family and other family members went to the old manse to get two of those pieces of furniture as the house was going to be torn down.  It was fascinating to listen to them talk.  It was also sobering to think how much of this living history has already been lost as family members have passed on.

My cousin, JP, lives out on some acreage near Ruidoso, NM, which is only about a 4 hour drive away.  He left a little after sunup, got here a little after noon, we went to lunch, then came back to my folks’ house and talked for another hour or so, and then he drove back.  They live pretty far out in the country and he is understandably reluctant to leave his wife and mother-in-law alone at night.  They have been hit pretty hard by the drought over in that part (southeast) of New Mexico and the danger of forest fires is high.  Also, they don’t live all that far from the Mexican border.

The doorbell plonged a few minutes ago.  It was the mailman delivering my scale.  I’ve been having trouble getting the bread machine bread to rise much.  I’ve been substituting honey for granulated sugar measure per measure, and I think I need to put in more honey.  I think when I use up this batch of yeast, I’m going to try some Fleischman’s RapidRise yeast.  I don’t mind it on the chewy side, but it would be nice to get it to rise more.

BTW, for those who think I am exaggerating when I say that “tree of heaven” seedlings are taking over my yard, I’m not.

2 thoughts on “Goings and Doings

  1. I too used to make bread in the good old days (i.e. the days when I could be bothered) but I made it properly, by hand. In my opinion, a machine is always going to give you a poor substitute for the real thing.

    I never had any trouble getting my dough to rise because I used proper yeast and put the proto-loaves in a warm place.

    I made all sorts of bread, from wholemeal loaves through French sticks to bread rolls.

    One thing I learnt about shaping loaves and rolls, etc. is to “model” the dough as though making a clay figure, not to roll it. If you want to make a French stick, there is a temptation to roll a lump of dough on the counter top like a kid making “sausages” with Plasticine. If you do this, though, you get “cords” in the bread, long dense sections surrounded by empty space.

    I was once making bread late at night because we had run out but I’d been busy during the day. We were listening to French radio and at a moment I burst out laughing. When I asked why, I explained that the announcer had just said “Voici notre émission pour les ouvriers de nuit et les boulangers” (“Here is our programme for night workers and bakers”).

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