Cliffhanger resolution: after a slow and ominous beginning my sourdough starter bubbled back to life over the course of the week, and this weekend I made my first loaves for a long time. They came out pretty well.
I’d forgotten most of the details of breadmaking so I found myself referring back to old weeknotes to jog my memory. That advice helped — thanks, past me — but was a bit outdated because I’ve since bought a different pan and tweaked the routine.
It doesn’t seem worth writing this accumulated knowledge down when you’re using it every week like clockwork, but then you stop and it all evaporates. I suppose the lesson here is to make a habit of taking notes as you go, rather than hoping you’ll spot the latest possible moment to record the details right before you forget them.
Fortunately I remembered that I’d stopped making the leaven the night before because it would always have lost its oomph by morning. So I made it in the morning instead (“a leaven at eleven”), mixed the dough in the afternoon, did the briefest bulk fermentation I could get away with in this weather (maybe 2.5 hours?), shaped & fridged it before bed, and baked it first thing the next day.
It’s strange how quickly the muscle memory of physically making dough returned to me. As I muddled through the Tartine recipe I found myself spontaneously doing something unexpected with my hands, and after a moment of confusion I realised: oh, right, this is the step where I’d started doing a few minutes of Rubaud mixing before continuing. Thanks lizard brain.
Anyway! I realise we all got sick of hearing about bread years ago so I’ll shut up about it now.
Back to two streams this week. I was nervous about returning to the project in a post-festive fug and wasn’t sure I’d be able to regain any momentum. But once I got started I fell easily back into the swing of things and managed to get seven more test files passing in the first session, which gave me the motivation I needed to continue.
I used the second session to clear the decks and do some refactoring to prepare for the year ahead. This made for perhaps even duller and more janitorial content than usual but I still got some nice encouragement from a (the?) viewer. In any case, everything’s much neater now and I feel more relaxed about not having many different ideas smashed together into a couple of giant files.
I managed to catch Jess for lunch while she was in town. What a treat.
I was expecting Glass Onion to be quite bad but it was quite good! It’s obviously silly but it did what it was trying to do and made for a pretty entertaining (if forgettable) couple of hours. I’ll probably keep watching these Benoit Blanc outings as long as they keep making them.
I didn’t know what to expect from Alex Garland’s Men, particularly since I’d avoided the trailers and reviews, and now I‘ve seen it I’m still not sure. It’s sort of… Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture meets The Wicker Man meets, I dunno, The League of Gentlemen? Anyway, I found it incredibly engaging — admittedly as wacky in parts as Everything Everywhere All at Once, but this time it made sense and was about something. I really don’t know whether I’d recommend it, especially since it’s very graphic in places, but images and feelings from it keep popping into my head days later so it definitely worked for me.
My big life admin task this week was to get my tax return sorted out. I’d put it off until now because I was worried about being hit by a hefty bill at a time when I can least afford it. All my income was taxed at source so I had no rationale for expecting to owe anything, but the fundamental unknowability of tax bureaucracy made it easy to assume that the worst possible thing would happen for no reason.
In the end I got a paltry refund, causing a huge wave of relief followed immediately by mild entitled indignation that chance hadn’t delivered a larger amount of free money even though the situation could’ve been massively worse. There’s no pleasing some people.