OBPP: You Can’t Take It With You

January 13th, 2014

It’s a new year, and I continue to make slow, unsteady progress on another of my crazy projects: watching all Oscar Best Picture winners (except Titanic) in chronological order. Last night, it was You Can’t Take It With You, the 1938 Frank Capra romantic comedy starring Jimmy Stuart, Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, and a very young Ann Miller. It’s a fun little story. Stewart plays Tony, the son of a ruthless business man, more interested in Alice, the eldest granddaughter of the eccentric Grandpa Vanderhof, than he is in the family’s business. They fall in love, but are the families just too different? Oh, and the business man needs to acquire the Vanderhof family’s house as par of a larger real estate deal that will somehow enable some kind of munitions manufacturing monopoly. I couldn’t quite follow that part.

But as in most romantic comedies, the plot doesn’t much matter, despite the fact that the film is based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play (one of only two such films). The characters are the strong point. There’s the Vanderhof/Sycamore family plus various hangers on that live and work in the Vanderhof house. There’s an illegal fireworks factory in the basement and a candy making business in the kitchen. There’s a Russian dance instructor. And a trained crow (or maybe it’s a raven). Then there’s Tony’s parents, stiff and straight as they come. Tony and Alice are the only two normal people caught up in this mess. But it all works out in the end and everyone lives happily ever after.

I was actually surprised to discover that there has not been a modern day remake of You Can’t Take it With You. The themes of class and money vs. happiness seem to resonate as much today as they did in the 30s. I guess it’s harder to do screwball humor now, and it’s unlikely to get nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in the 21st Century. But I think it could work. I gather (from wikipedia) that the play is still often produced and there have been some TV adaptations (including a syndicated TV series in the 80’s). So what say you, Hollywood? You like remakes. Let’s remake You Can’t Take it With You!

2014: My Year of Electronics

January 1st, 2014

In 2013, I focused a lot of my free time on bread. That was good. I feel like I really developed my knowledge and skill level. And I ate a lot of tasty bread. The discipline of weekly baking/blogging kept me on track. So for 2014 I have decided to embark on a new crazy project focused on DIY electronics.

Notice that I’m not calling this year’s project “Electronics of the Week”. I think the pace will be far too slow to have a new project to show off every week. But I am still publicly (in as much as anyone reads this blog) committing myself to spend some number of hours each week working on electronics projects. And I am aiming for weekly posts to document what I learn and the process as I design/build processes. You might note that I haven’t posted anything DIY electronics in a couple of years. I hope that this commitment will help me make some progress on a new set of skills. A year of focused studying and designing and building electronics won’t make me an expert by any means, but it should allow me to advance beyond my current rank beginner stages.

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BotW: Thoughts on a Year of Bread

January 1st, 2014

BotW Combined

A year of bread. 52 weeks! Many successes, some moderate failures. Almost 75 pounds of all purpose flour, plus a couple pounds each of whole wheat and rye flour. And more than a pound and a half of butter (but who’s counting). The end result: more than 130 pounds of bread!!

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BotW #52: More Holiday Baking

December 29th, 2013

BotW 52

Yes. Bread of the Week #52! 52 weeks of bread!! I made it!!!

2013 is almost gone, but the holiday baking craziness continues. This weekend I attended a post-Christmas/pre-New Years dinner party and, upon request, I brought bread. Never one to skimp on the quantity of food, I went for three different breads. In the front left, you can see a loaf of The Original, only this time it was made using the new brotform that Santa brought me. Behind that you can make out a roasted garlic/rosemary “Diamante” loaf that was specifically requested. And to the right is another attempt at my wild-yeast adaptation of my grandmother’s crescent roll recipe.

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BotW #51: Christmas Baking Gone Wild

December 26th, 2013

BotW 51

I went a bit crazy with the Christmas baking this week making three separate recipes leavened with my sourdough starter: a loaf of The Original for the garlic bread to go with the Christmas Eve dinner, a batch of Christmas Bread for breakfast on Christmas morning, and a wild-yeast adaptation of my Grandmother’s crescent rolls which are always a part of holiday meals. And that’s only the bread!! Not pictured are three kinds of candy, two kinds of cookies, two kinds of crackers, and a gluten-free boule so the gluten-intolerant members of my family could have Christmas Eve garlic bread too.

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BotW #50: Another Boule

December 26th, 2013

BotW 50

For Week 50, I baked one more Original boule. This one for a pre-Christmas dinner with friends. Nothing much to say about the bread. I’ve made this recipe a lot now. I used my new schedule with an 8 1/2 hour overnight primary fermentation followed by a 4 hour proof in the morning before baking.

BotW #49: Attempted Ciabatta in the First Degree

December 26th, 2013

BotW 49

Yet again, I’m playing catch-up on the blogging, but the bread baking continues apace. For Week 49 of this crazy project I returned to the Ciabatta recipe from week 29. If you’ve been following this project, you might be thinking “What Ciabatta recipe? There’s no Ciabatta post from Week 29. In fact, there’s not BotW #29 post at all!”

And you would be correct. It appears that I forgot to post on Week 29. The BotW posts go straight from BotW #28 (one of many versions of The Original) to BotW #30 (a 50% whole wheat take on The Original). But I can assure you: there was ciabatta! See: photographic proof!!

Anyway… I wish I had posted back then in the heat of July. I might have avoided some of the same mistakes.

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BotW #48: Christmas Bread

December 1st, 2013

BotW 48

Yes, Christmas bread, even though it was only Thanksgiving. Christmas bread is my family’s traditional breakfast for Thanksgiving day, Christmas day, and New Years day. This is roughly based on the traditional German Stolen, though it’s not a traditional recipe, or a traditional shape. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been adapting the recipe to be leavened with only wild yeast and I think I’ve landed on a pretty good one.

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BotW #47: Rushed 50% Whole Wheat

December 1st, 2013

BotW 47

Like week 46, week 47 lacked time and inspiration. So I went for a similar “fast” schedule, but mixed it up by making a 50% whole wheat boule.

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BotW #46: Rushed Original

November 23rd, 2013

BotW 46

I was out of town for part of last weekend (BotW Week #46), and so I fell back to my familiar recipe, confident that I could make the timing fit with my schedule. The only creativity, a variation on the slashing technique which gave me a rounder loaf.

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