Sunday, December 11, 2005

More bread

Marky Mark's original recipe calls for 500g flour, one sachet of yeast, one coke-can of water or milk or mixture of the two and I add some oil as well. What I do is 400g of mixed maizeflour / wheatflour, 100g quaker oats and all the rest as per Marky's advice.

On the left we have the dough rising after the first knead, then cooking and on the right the final loaves. I love home made bread. I love the yeasty smell and the whole house filling with bread smell as the cooking draws to a close. I love the taming of the fungus. It lives and dies so as to make more of the dough.

We got the two loaves I made today here. Left picture is immediately after kneading, middle picture is after the dough has risen as far as it will go and the right hand side is the final cooked product. The top has the TE sign from Linear A/B inscribed - my initial but also a good shape for getting the crust to separate. The bottom loaf was not very well put together and opened up in the final rising stage - not a problem for the final product though. I have tried it and it's great!

Andritsa Cave, Fateful Refuge

Went to the exhibition at the weekend. The write-up is on the caving blog - follow the link in the title...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Green fingers

In between Bitola and Ochrid one finds the village of Bucovo. Bucovo is famous for its pepper mills. Back in October 2003, on my way back to Thessaloniki and somewhere outside Kavadarci we stopped by the side of the road and purchased some of the local produce - a huge bag of milled bucovo pepper and two meters of dried peppers on a string.

The Bucovo milled pepper is still being used slowly and little by little. Some of those two meters of peppers on a string were used but at some point all that remained had become so grimy from sitting around in the kitchen and the time had come to throw them.

Rather than let them go without a fight, I took some seeds from the dried peppers and put them in cotton wool in a yoghurt pot. I did this at the beginning of September, knowing this is the wrong season but fully prepared to move any plants indoors during the winter for their protection. Within a few weeks there was a forest of sprouts in the yoghurt pot and I moved the whole cotton plus shoots assemblage into a proper flower pot with soil. This happened a few days before the accident which incapacitated me.

Every other day or so, Korinna would bring in the plants for me to have a look at them. They were growing, all stuck together in a clump the poor things and I was bedridden and couldn't transplant them. Out of the large number of seeds which I soaked in the cotton, it feels as if they all germinated - or that the non-germinators were w very small percentage of the total.

Time passed and one thing led to another - I still had not transplanted the shoots which were now at the stage of development where they want to get a second pair of leaves out. Some of them still had the seed sticking together the original pair of leaves - which was interesting.

Last week (weekend 3-4 December) I brought some flower pots and soil home from the place near work. First step was to remove the shoots from their flower pot and separate them without tearing the root systems of individual shoots to the extent that this was possible. Next I planted about four or five of the strongest shoots into each of the four flower pots I had bought and patted them in. Next, seeing as there were about that many shoots left again, I put about ten each into the flower pot currently housing the avocado and the olive tree. Obviously the ones in the avocado and olive tree pots will not be brought in if the winter gets too cold for them.

They have been out of their original pot for a whole week now and seem to be thriving. Fingers crossed for some nice and spicy food come the spring!

Here they are, one week on… the top photo is the same shot as the double pot in the earlier shot. The other two are the guy in the avocado pot and the olive pot respectively.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Chasing shadows

On the 29th of March 2006, there will be a total solar eclipse visible from Africa and Asia. It belongs to Saros cycle 139, which is really a useless piece of information to all but the most determined trivia collectors.

I had an opportunity to go up to Rimnicu Vilcea in August 1999 for the eclipse, but didn't take it up, being satisfied instead with a piece of welder's glass and a partial eclipse of about 70% in central Athens.

The last total solar eclipse visible from Greek soil was in 1936. At that time, the parts of Greece from which the 2006 total solar eclipse will be visible were not yet part of Greece but under the control of Fascist Italy. The islands in question were handed over with the rest of the Dodecanese in 1948 as part of the reparations after the second world war.

The plan is to go to Megisti / Kastelorizo to sit under the moon's shadow for the first time in my life.

In the map below, the higher red line is the northern limit of the eclipse, the lower one is the central line. Megisti should get about 3 full minutes of totality.

The problem, of course is the "unproductive line" element of the whole thing. There is, not surprisingly, no direct connection to Athens from Megisti for the island's 275 inhabitants. There are no regular boats, and the plane goes via Rhodes. All this coupled with the fact that the eclipse is on a Wednesday means that we have to go out for more than just a few days.

More news and updates as the situation changes and becomes clearer.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Or how the tidying process reinforces our humanity...

One of the benefits of tidying is that various things come to the surface - memories usually, but often also tangible things connected to them. We opened a box while preparing for the party which revealed, amongst others, a video tape of a recording I had made off the TV about twenty years ago.

It was a film I had not seen for close to ten years, maybe more. The recording had been made in the mid eighties, off ITV, complete with advertisements for cars that look ancient and everything else that was being sold in the 80s.

I hadn't realised that there had been a whole discussion of the "is Decker a replicant?" issue. At some point, I caught wind of it, but I don't think I had seen the film since hearing about it, which made last night's viewing all the more interesting. The film stands up very well today. It was odd seeing it again now, knowing too that along with everyone else who is most definitely dying soon for whatever reason, I am too. That is for another day's discussion, though.

Tidying brings to the front the tangible reminders of our past existence. The role of the black and white photographs on Decker's piano is played for me by more than 30 cubic feet of packing boxes still waiting to be removed from their party-time hiding places and sorted. Do I need them? I don't know.