Photogenic Home Town

I have the good fortune to live in a lovely and photogenic town: Barrington, Rhode Island. The most photogenic part of town? It may be around where the lovely East Bay Bike Path crosses Washington Road.

A few yards away from the intersection itself is this lovely arrangement of snow plough in front of boat in front of brick wall.

I’ll continue to explore and photograph Barrington, and Rhode Island, and elsewhere. In the meantime, here is an album of photos I took in Barrington and in neighboring Riverside a couple of days ago.

Baguette Recipe

I love fresh baguette. This recipe works well for me. It takes about three hours start to finish. For most of that time the dough is doing its own thing while I do mine.

Anyway, here are the ingredients.

  • 500g white bread flour: I recommend King Arthur flour.
  • 10g salt.
  • 10g instant yeast. I recommend buying it in packs of 500g or so. It keeps well in the fridge in an airtight container. You can buy yeast in little packets, but it’s a lot more expensive that way.
  • 370ml cool water. You may need slightly more or slightly less.
  • Olive oil.

And the steps:

  1. Lightly oil: a 2-3 liter container, square or rectangular; and your kneading surface.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, yeast, and most of the water. Keep adding water until you have a dough that you can knead. Err on the side of wetness.
  3. Knead the dough on the oiled surface.
  4. Tip the dough into the oiled container. Cover with a damp tea towel.
  5. Leave for about an hour.
  6. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  7. Tip the dough onto the (re-)oiled surface. Divide it into four oblong pieces. Gently roll each piece into a bauguette-ish shape with your hands.
  8. Place two baguettes on each lined tray. Put the trays on top of the oven and cover with the tea towel.
  9. Leave for about an hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 F and heat a roasting tray in the bottom.
  10. Lightly dust the baguettes with flour. Using a sharp knife, make three slashes in the top of each baguette.
  11. Fill the roasting tray with hot water to create steam in the oven. Put the baking trays in the oven.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes. I’d actually check them a little earlier. When ready, they should be golden brown on top and sides; on the bottom, they will be darker, and should make a sound when knocked. I take them out at slightly different times, due to unevenness in my dough-dividing and oven.
  13. Cool the baguettes on a wire rack. If anyone tries to steal them, use one of the baguettes to beat them off.

The above is my version of the recipe from Paul Hollywood’s book How to Bake. I intend to donate the book the The Book Nerd, Barrington’s excellent used bookstore. I probably will use this recipe for the rest of my life, but haven’t made much use of the rest of the book, and find Paul Hollywood immensely annoying. For example, his recipe specifies the use of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Unless severe medical problems prevent you, you should knead by hand; people have been doing it for centuries, and it’s very therapeutic.

Enjoy the baking, the aroma, and the bread! Feel free to comment on how it goes for you, on any other aspect of breadmaking, or…

Dune at the Movies

More than month late, I saw Dune, aka Dune Part 1 or Dune (2021). I wanted to see it on a big screen, more than I’ve wanted to see any movie in a theater for many years. I’m glad I saw it on IMAX and with Max, my teen son.

I’ve read the book a few times, but not for many years. Max hasn’t read the book yet, but I hope that he’s about to start it. I suspect that I was in the sweet spot to see Villeneuve’s movie: if I’d read the book recently, I’d have been frustrated at some of the things left out of the film; on the other hand, I remembered some of the exposition that’s in the books but not the movie.

My overall impression and comment is that it would be hard to do a much better job of filming this notoriously unfilmable novel. I still find Frank Herbert’s world fascinating, about 60 years after he wrote the novel. Villeneuve brings it to the screen wonderfully, mixing huge shots of ships, buildings, and the desert with intimate close-ups of the characters.

My only reservation bigger than a quibble concerns the sound. When I asked Max how he liked the movie, his first comment was that his ears hurt. Mine hadn’t been comfortable either. I mainly blame the theater and its wish to show off its sound system: my ears were assaulted from the start of the preview for Top Gun: Maverick.

That said, I’m not sure that Hans Zimmer’s score is entirely innocent. It’s about as subtle as a Top Gun preview.

I’m about to go over to my Letterboxd account and give Dune the full five stars. My reservations are tiny compared with Villeneuve’s achievement in bringing Herbert’s huge fiction to the big screen.

What a Long Strange Week It’s Been

The most important day of this week was Monday, the day of my mother’s funeral. Due to Covid and isolation rules, I was unable to return to England to be present at the ceremony. My sister, bless her, arranged a livestream.

So, at 9:45 on Monday (2:45pm in England), we watched the ceremony. It was strange not to be there. It was strangely comforting when Mochi started licking my face as I was watching. It was also comforting to walk her to the beach a little later.

Other strange aspects of the past week included the first Halloween we haven’t celebrated in many years. Some people in our neighborhood “did Halloween”, but we were wary of the Covid-risk to others and to ourselves. Our kids are old enough to understand (16 and 14 now). It was a lovely crisp Saturday afternoon, though.

Then there was the election. Or rather, there still is the election. The strangeness of that would take a post by itself…

How was your week been?

2018: It wasn’t all bad…

But it was one of the toughest years of my life. My father passed away just before Christmas. My own health wasn’t too good either.

There’s good news to report, though. Our family now includes a puppy. We named her Mochi. She’ll get her own post soon. In the meantime, here’s a photo of her telling us that her bowl is empty.

Other highlights of the year include some precious time back to England with parents and other family. The kids made good starts at their respective new schools (high and middle).

All in all, I’m not sorry to see the end of 2018. I’m hoping for a better 2019.

More Cycling, and First Del’s

What goes well with cycling? Many things, with food and drink being high on the list.

Del’s Frozen Lemonade is everywhere here and now: here being Rhode Island, now being summer. Tomorrow, being Labor Day, will mark the end of summer for many people and businesses. I expect to see fewer Del’s trucks and carts on my travels, starting September 5. But there is the Del’s storefront in Warren.

I stopped there to get a lemonade on my ride yesterday. I rode from Barrington down to the the south end of the East Bay Bike Path, which is in Bristol. On the way down I passed the Del’s store and a Del’s cart next to the path as it goes through Colt State Park. On the way back I rode right past the cart again, but didn’t ride right past the store!

Continue reading “More Cycling, and First Del’s”

Three Cycling Things

The East Bay Bike Path is rather wonderful. It’s never very far from the water; perhaps its name gives that away, and it is in Rhode Island.

It was a lovely morning to cycle up the path from Barrington to its northern terminus in Providence. A breakfast wrap and coffee at Amy’s Place fortified me for the ride back. It’s about 10 miles in each direction.

The second cycling thing of the day is not so positive. This afternoon, I tried out the Komoot app on my Android phone. Komoot allows you to plan your ride, provides navigation along the way, and… Well, I asked it to help me go to a particular bike shop right on the East Bay Bike Path.

Komoot seemed unaware of the bike path. It wanted me to turn onto a main (by Barrington standards) road. I ignored it, crossed that road, and got onto the path, heading toward the shop. Komoot advised me to U-turn, presumably because it thought I should be heading back to the road.

So I deleted Komoot from my phone as soon as I got home. Perhaps that’s harsh after one ride, but for me, bike ride planning and navigation needs to include bike paths, and especially the East Bay.

The third cycling thing of the day, and the bike shop in question, are one and the same: Your Bike Shop. It’s in Warren, the next town south along the bike path from Barrington. (There is another location in Riverside, which is on the way to Providence.)

I bought a mirror (this one by Mirrcycle, to be specific). They fitted it for me right away, then we discussed bikes and related matters for a few minutes. I’m happy to have Your Bike Shop as my local bike shop.

So it was a good cycling day. Two out of three ain’t bad, as the song goes.

Hello (from) Rhode Island!

Greetings from  the Ocean State! To be more specific, hello from Barrington, a town of about 16,000 people, south of Providence.

I used Google My Maps to show some of our early favorite places. Here’s a link to the interactive map, and here’s a link to a PDF of My Barrington.

The kids might disagree with my including their schools among the favorites. I hope that they like the schools, since the school system is one of the things that brought us to Barrington in particular when we decided to move to Rhode Island. Anyway, school starts on Monday (August 28).

We’ve been here about a week and a half. So far, so very good. More about Rhode Island, and about much else, soon. Thanks for reading!