(Almost) No Knead Bread Recipe Options

bread recipe, food

breadThese are my variations and details on the (Almost) no Knead Bread recipe from Cook’s illustrated based on the NY Times article preceding that. The goal is a loaf that is predictably tasty, tastes like sourdough to some extent, and doesn’t require (much) kneading.

For one medium sized loaf (on the smallish side)

If you want to double the recipe, you will need 2 pots, and you will make 2 separate batches, in 2 separate bowls, but preheat the 2 cast iron pots and bake at the same time, next to each other on the next-to-lowest rack). It makes sense to me to make 2 at once; just let the finished products cool for 4 hours + and cut them in halves, freezing what you won’t use in the next 2 days in plastic bags.

The loaf will be taller/wider depending on the size and shape of your pot.

DO NOT refrigerate bread. Keep your daily bread out on the counter in a cloth or paper bag kept inside a loosely wrapped plastic bag, and it will be ok for 2 days at least.

You will need:

  • 1 or 2 (if you’re doubling the recipe) 4.5 – 6 quart enamelled cast iron circular pot with a lid, and handles that will withstand 500 degree pre-heating for 45 mins.
    • I got one for $30 once that had a lid handle that didn’t do so well, so I unscrewed it and am using it without that. Otherwise, when you preheat you can reverse the lid so its handle is on the inside, which is what I do with my KitchenAid one) No need to pay the extra money for le Creuset for this… get them on sale. The pot my have indications for how hot the handles my get, so look before you buy. Get a used one, as scratches, etc, make no difference as the dough will not directly touch the pot.
  • 3 cups unbleached white flour plus 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or the same white flour) for adding in and dusting, etc. 
    • When you measure the flour, take a measure and scoop in your LOOSE flour dropping it into your measure using a spoon, nice and fluffy-like, then using the back of a knife to run even it out (no tamping down)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast (this is a very small amount; I keep my yeast in the freezer to make it last longer; no proofing required for this, but every month or so, I check a bit to make sure it proofs ok)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons room temperature water (tap water is ok, especially if you leave it out overnight to air it out or use bottled water.
  • 1/4 + 2 tablespoons beer (flat is ok, but fresh my do better– dark or light)
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
  • Parchment paper
  • A sharp, clean straight razor, lame or new razor blade
  • Large cutting board
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil per loaf



The day before you want to eat the bread (if you start it in the morning, it will be ready to eat by the late afternoon the next day)… so if you start it at 9am on a Friday, you’ll be baking it at say 11am the next day, letting it bake 1 hour, cool 3 hours and eat it at 3pm.

I have tried to incorporate more whole wheat flour but it just turns out less than stellar; that said, other liquids such as kefir, and 8 grain cereal (cooked or raw added in the earlier stages) may be used, but in small amounts (like 3 tablespoons, maximum). Adding wet ingredients means you will reduce the water used in the first mix; adding dry ones (like dried peppers or tomatoes chopped up) will mean you increase the water by a bit to compensate and rehydrate the dried stuff,


1- In a large bowl about the size of your iron pot, add the flour and on separate ends of the bowl, your yeast and the salt.

2- Mix all your liquids together

(I start by adding the 3/4 cup water to my 2 cup measuring cup, then add the other 2 tablespoons water, then the 1/4 beer that I measured in another measuring cup, plus the 2 Tablespoons more beer, plus the 1 tablespoon vinegar)

3 – With your hand (the other hand holding the bowl — put a wet dishcloth under the bowl so it stays in place), start adding the water in the middle as a stream, and swirl around until the flour is mixed up and the liquids are incorporated, no more (you do NOT knead at all). IF you want to, this is when you’d add seeds and herbs if they are dry (if using dried rosemary, chop it up and don’t put in more than a teaspoon or so of the resulting mash). You may also wait and more oily seeds later during the second rise (like sesame seeds or flax).

4 – Make sure the shaggy ball resulting is not touching the sides of the bowl, if you want to, pour some olive oil on the back of your hand and run it across the top of the dough just slightly so it doesn’t form a crust. Put a plate the size of the bowl on top of the bowl, and put the whole thing in a large plastic bag with twist tie and place in a warmish place. A cooler (20 degree-22 degree C) Room temp is ok) for at least 8 hours but better for 12-20 hours. The cooler the place, the longer you can keep it (even the fridge for 2 days is ok; the longer it is allowed to rise at a cooler temp, the better, within reason– eventually the yeast will give up if not fed, so if you do plan to refrigerate I suggest adding a quarter teaspoon sugar).

5 – After the chosen rising period, spread some of the reserved flour on a large smooth cutting board, and dump the dough onto it (just flip the bowl onto the floured surface and wait until it flops down– it should look like a melting sponge (yum!). Flour your hands and get every bit out of the bowl that didn’t fall onto the board.

6- Knead the mix for 15 seconds (or about 15 strokes) with your hands, folding it over itself and rotating/repeating. This is the “almost” kneading part of the recipe. You can add seeds, etc. at this point as well. DO NOT over-knead. You can get pretty rough with it, but don’t keep at it for more than 15 strokes/fold-overs. The texture will be like your earlobe by the end of this.

7 – Place parchment paper sheet into the bowl you were using (drying it out first) and form a ‘bowl’ out of it, creasing it to produce a large ‘cup’ shape.

8- Form the dough into a nice ball and plop it in there, cover it as you did before, put the same plate on top and back into the plastic bag with twist tie for 2 hours OR you can just oil the top a bit and leave it with just a tight fitting plate on top. This is the famous “Second rising” that yeasted breads need.

9- Place the bowl in a warm place (warmer than the place where it rose for 12 hours; I like to place it near the stove — but NOT ON IT as it could dry out/partially bake it or kill the yeast)

10 – After one hour of the 2 hours, get your cast iron pot ready and  put it (including lid ) into the over to preheat. The pot/s need to heat at 500 degrees for about 45 mins not less, more is ok. If you have a pot with a questionable lid handle in terms of melting or burning in 500 degree heat, see opening remarks…

11- Once the 2 hours of the second rising (step 8 above) is over, open up the bowl, generously dust the top of the risen loaf GENTLY with flour (from a hight of at least 1 foot) and give it 3 fast but deep cuts along the top with a floured lame or (clean) straight razor or (clean) razor blade. Careful with this step as you don’t want to mangle the loaf, you want to touch it as little as possible.

12- CAREFULLY (it’s so HOT) take the very hot pot out of the oven and place on a heat-proof surface (like the stove top), take the lid off, and set aside

13- Lower the oven heat to 425 degrees;  Gently lift the parchment paper in the bowl holding the dough, and place them both (paper + dough) into the hot pot, VERY GENTLY. you may hear a sizzle.

14- Put the pot lid on top, lower the heat to 425 degree oven, second rack from the bottom, in the centre.

15- set a timer for 30 mins; after 30 mins, carefully remove the lid (careful because steam will rise! use silicon oven mitts), and let bake for 35 more minutes.

16 – Once the bread is baked, remove from oven, carry the bread out using the parchment paper again and separate the bread from the parchment paper (you may be able to reuse the paper if it hasn’t ripped)

17- Place bread on a wire rack (no paper) and let cool for 3-4 + hours.

18. Depending on how much bread you consume in 2-3 days, I usually cut it in half after the cooling, and place half in a cloth and then loose plastic bag for eating everyday and the other half of the cooled loaf in a plastic bag and in the freezer– take 3 hours or so to fully defrost. NEVER keep bread in the refrigerator.




1000 Magnets coming your way (tiny ones)



You’re invited to try on my NEW radio program “1000 Tiny Magnets” on CJMP 90.1 fm (and accompanying blog at 1000tinymagnets.wordpress.com )

Starting Fri. Feb 6 at 1pm-3pm (PST) at the helm of the LIVE Friday line-up that goes on til after 10pm. CJMP is streaming 24/7

Featuring Dance, POP, Bubblegum, Funk, Electronic/EDM, Disco, etc. from today and its multicoloured roots.

This program is sponsored by Magpie’s Diner. Want to sponsor it as well (or another program, or the station itself, as an individual, non-profit or business? Options abound at http://cjmp.ca/sponsor-the-station/ )


Objects appear clearer in the rear view.

employment, library, LNG, mining, rabideye, spezzacatena


Seem it’s about time to document the past year, at least for myself, before it all blends into a fuzzy pink cloud.

A year of provincial and federal governments’ rubber stamping of very probably damaging projects like LNG and dirty coal transport over water, the Site C dam drowning some of the best agricultural land in Northern BC, and continuing to throw all our money, hopes and energy into the bottomless pit of oil sands, and its transportation across land and water that we consider ‘ours’ (and of course exporting this to our southern neighbour). The propaganda we pay for as taxpayers is thick on all these. Meanwhile no mind is paid to alternatives, least of all a reduction in the excesses we feel are part of being human in the richest countries at their apex.

It’s all very logical, after all. Why promote ideas that don’t pay off multinationals and give people with all levels of education and skills the feeling that, yes, they too can earn $200,000+ a year just like those in the lower echelons of the financial sectors, by working in remote camps 14-in, 7-out; fly in-fly out, extract the living daylights while the going is good. And this is the hope; never mind what it is doing to our air, land and water. But as 2014 ended, the price of oil having declined sufficiently to bring into question the ‘full speed ahead’ ethos, those always-already temporary jobs are being threatened, or at least postponed as the high cost of extraction presses down on the whole project.

Oh, and there is a federal election coming up on October; my guess is that this too will reflect how we shouldn’t wait for elections to do something, and expect nothing but contempt.

Locally, the big story this year was (drum roll) the library (of all things). I suppose that it’s a good thing that it appears that we’re all aflutter over books and learning, but it was really about was money and location, with a really positive undertow of ‘what is the function of a library in 2014?’. We are very lucky to have had a lot of really smart, talented, generous and dynamic volunteers who compiled the information on library usage while maintaining  a positive outlook during a time when it could have turned nasty, with many counsellors essentially over-ruling years of research, disregarded the thousands of taxpayer dollars spent in investigating and developing plans for one, then three, then more locations (most notably the most preferred Willingdon South location). Of course, we owe a lot to those who actually make our library work: our librarians, the Library board and the Friends of the Library.

Ultimately, a big old compromise to keep an excellently located empty lot, empty, accompanied by an amorphous 11th hour deal with local mall owners to transform an ex-furniture store behind a gas station into a public library. I know many of us (me included) went into this with clenched teeth and pinched nose, because the community needs a functional library more than a beautiful space that would have reinvigorated the actual heart of the city, providing an anchor for locally-owned small businesses in favour of enhancing a private strip mall. It is that urgent. 75% of the population voted YES to a referendum question on permitting the City to borrow up to $3.5 million, and the gods were apparently appeased. I guess that’s the nature of compromise and democracy: an urgent need made clear to the public, and a choice that makes it very difficult for any one party to vehemently oppose its advancement. I am hoping that the lack of real clarity on how the old Brick location will be updated to create a functional and beautiful, well-lit space, will not bite us in the ass.

Oh, and congratulations especially to our new and progressive non-slatey-at-all City Council members who, with Russell Brewer, may encourage the re-elected to start to think about what a post-mill town could look like (the Catalyst Paper mill workforce just shrank by 45 jobs). May the talk lead directly to the walk. I think it will.

works available

2014, abstract, abstract art, acrylic, canada, canvas, chance operations, collage, contemporary, contemporary art, fine art, found objects, gallery, giovanni, MFA, mixed media, paint, powell river, psychedelia, rabideye, sales, spezzacatena, wabi-sabi

whaleycoverMy paintings range in size from very small (3″ x 4″) to 30″ x 40″.
Click or right-click and save as pdf here or on the image above
for a slideshow of work currently for sale
 (10MB pdf slideshow)

Prices range from $125 – $900 in this series. All work is original. Up to 15% Powell River Dollars accepted.
Please inquire for more details, listing the slide # as a reference (top right of pdf)
Shipping is possible and extra fees apply. Prices in Canadian dollars.PayPal or Debit accepted.

Opening 7-9PM April 3, 2014

abstract art, assemblage, chance operations, collage, Community, contemporary art, fine art, gallery, giovanni, it can't be helped, rabideye, sales, shoganai, show, spezzacatena, VIU, wabi-sabi

opening April 3, 2014 at 7PM

Long story short: I have been working hard and want to share my stuff with you. It’s unusual, colourful and mostly abstract on wood panel. There will be over 50 works, I gather.

See some samples of my work here .

Long story long(ish): “It can’t be helped: Shoganai” is a collection of recent abstract works I have produced. I work in acrylic, beeswax, clay, ink, silk, copper, wood, buttons and other found objects in colourful, non-representational work that has key elements akin to the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic, of which Shoganai (the show’s subtitle) is but one aspect.

My work plays with colour, texture, basic curvilinear forms and chance operations, that keep one hand in representation, while not being ruled by it.

The cradled wood panels I primarily use, allow me to work in depth as well as manipulating the surface, using scraped, painted, scratched, polished and applied elements, while being able to build up layers of colour through the use of sgraffito and wax resist methods more familiar to the world of pottery and sculpture. Throughout, the work keeps a light touch and a film/collage aesthetic that navigates between old comic strips, mock reliquaries, abstract artdadaarte poveraoutsider art, and a bit of science fiction/fantasy.

Giovanni’s bio.

Some thoughts on resistance and manifesting alternatives

Community, democracy, employment, inequality, LNG, mining, new economy, oil, powell river, transportation

Resistance is fertile.

Mordor, Made in Canada.

Mordor, Made in Canada.

You know, the letters to editors, press releases, opinion pieces and ads (overt and covert) FOR resource extraction, liquid natural gas (LNG), mining, coal transport, pipelines, Mordor Inc. (tar sands) etc. outnumber anything offering alternatives to these by a huge margin.

This is a very dangerous moment, especially when the unabashed and unapologetic surge to choke the planet is being spun as a really “positive thing” for First Nations and generally for youth employment. It’s analogous to the argument that since the Third World has not had access to the pollution-causing cars we’ve had in the over-developed world, that they should not be worrying about their carbon footprints (just yet). Like there even exists a ‘they’ and ‘us’; amazing myopia when we are all coming to recognize that we’re all in this together, really, and we always were. Philippines or Fukushima, anyone? The spin these days is that youth and First Nations folks have not had the opportunity to make a decent living  off of good-paying jobs yet, and saying “no” to these ultra-polluting industries that contribute to even huger amounts of pollution via their end product use, is essentially stunting their collective ability to grow and marginalizing youth and especially First Nations youth, further. Equating conservation with racism is a line they are slyly pushing out there.

Young and not-so-young (even retired!) people are rushing into northern areas in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan in their generation’s gold rush. And it is not just for the money, but also for peripheral aspects related to employment: we all need to feel useful and productive toward a certain end. And we all have those bills to pay as part of our bid to remain within a society, even if it is warped. We’re social creatures. Then there’s habit and a feeling of ‘what else am I going to do’. We’ll be seeing much more of this when the youth now trained in ultra-specific technical skills may find it hard to even imagine doing something else.

[ Groaning ] Oh! I ain’t fer it.
I’m agin it! [ All Chanting ]

Being against something – often with no time/energy/ideas for arguments that are PRO-something, especially in regard to providing people with an occupation – is pretty obviously a non-starter in a culture that overwhelmingly equates money and the employment which produces it (albeit less so) with self-worth and dignity.

It’s just so easy for so-called capitalists: “just make as much money as quickly as possible, at any cost to anyone or anything”. This system is always-already rewarded and honored, to the extent that is itself ‘environmental’; everything that happens, happens within its rules. No amount of death, misery and destruction seems to tarnish this Teflon system. No big news here, postmodernist thought has long held to this and it’s devolved into truism, and  joyfully accepted as a necessary critical evil, and one that can be monetized, too!

Where does this leave the alternatives? Exactly where we have been and find ourselves today. What we’re doing is SO not working. We need to move beyond resistance (which shows that yes, there is something wrong)to creating a new system that puts the old invisible one to shame. People do want to protect and conserve together, but almost everything in our culture says “pillage what you can now, and hoard it away”. Ironically, even the  Doomers and Libertarians get caught in this cycle that allows for infiltration of the divide-and-conquer ethos onto the Left-leaning.

It’s a crazy web we’ve woven through both our actions and inaction, but also through a value system we’ve swallowed and allowed the Corporate Others to construct for us, using unfair and historically unparalleled advantages of access to media, funds and governments via lobbyists and campaign funding. Signals that a paradigm shift is happening right now (Occupy, Idle No More and the resistance to fracking, pipelines, coal transportation, mining, deforestation, tar sands, LNG transportation, damaging hydro-electric projects, etc.) may provide ideas that could form the stepping stones to a new world , but without a very clearly envisioned, articulated, and most importantly manifested examples of how a society can work within its environment (and not against it), we are emulating King Kong, swiping at the symbols of our own environmental and social destruction, with nowhere to eventually go, but down. I see worker owned and operated cooperatives of all kinds as one living example of how things can work out differently.

In the next few cross-posts with Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative, I will be looking at some co-op models to give me (and maybe you) a better understanding.


The 2013 Edible Garden Tour

edible garden tour

Many thanks to the organizers of the 5th Annual Powell River Edible Garden Tour for making this FREE (donations we happily accepted) AM/PM tour such a success yet again.

Some gardens had upwards of 220 people visiting to see what can be done with a variety of variables including experience, space, soil and light conditions and time to garden. There was really something for everyone and that doesn’t ‘just happen’. There are some very thoughtful people and loads of work behind such an event. That it was a spectacularly beautiful day did not hurt one little bit. Many thanks to the WONDERFUL gardeners/farmers who opened up their homes and gardens to the public on this special day!

This starts this year’s 50-day, 50-Mile Eat Local Challenge and by the looks of it, there is a LOT of food growing out there. Enjoy!

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On “tax freedom”

democracy, inequality, tax freedom day

Hack Freedom Day!

Today is supposedly “Tax Freedom Day“. In theory, it’s the first day of 2013 when the money you make goes to YOU alone.

It makes for a snappy headline, and that’s about all this misleading and scab-picking idea does. But it’s enough to make it a ubiquitous yearly pseudo-event. ‘Mark your calendars!’ I love that each country is given a ‘tax freedom’ date, with no regard to social equality, the state of its democracy, disease and child mortality rates, and general well-being there.

The fact that each year, the date in question comes a bit later (this year, it was 2 days further into the year than last year’s Tax Freedom Day), drives us mad at all the taxes we pay, leading to calls for (C)onservative-style restraint, which in practice is increasing  tax credits to the 1%: the wealthiest, and to huge corporations, especially the ones that ruin our environment for us all.

Some of the problems with this concept include the fact that if we didn’t pay tax, we also would not get the benefits of doing so in terms of services, infrastructure, etc. Our society, communities, and individual lives would be very different if tax freedom day came on January 22, like it supposedly did in the year 1900.

The trend has been to look at how the taxes (some of us) pay is spent, but why not look at the fact that so many huge earners pay so little tax, while simultaneously having great power over our elected officials via lobbying and gift-giving in exchange for little favours. But “tax freedom day” is a nice, easy distraction that leads to powerlessness in those who are paying a larger part of our wages toward taxes and it feeds into a justifiable ‘something’s wrong here’ feeling, except what’s wrong is actually the inequality inherent to our tax system with its loopholes for the few.

This explains the justifiable general malaise that led to the Occupy Movement. So, maybe let’s call it ”Tax Inequality Day’, or ‘The Day We Pay Out Cash to Help The 1% Make Record Profits”, but then every day is that.

Living It Local

Community, new economy, powell river
T-B: Madrona berries, nettles, and local apricot/blackberry leather

T-B: Madrona berries, nettles, and local apricot/blackberry leather

Living It Local (CBC project) submission by … me. The Project is called HyperLocal.

It just recently got to the point where “how did you find Powell River” is sounding less like “who let you in here?” than “Yay, you found it too”. This small hard-to-get-to coastal BC town (4.5-hour car/bus/2-ferry trip to Vancouver) has taken quite a few steps toward relocalization over the past 6 years my partner and I have lived here.

With the town’s industrial raison d’être – a huge paper mill – dramatically downsizing in the 1980’s and beyond, it could have gone badly for Powell River. One reason we big-city dwellers moved here was to shift to a simpler lifestyle in a tighter community where we could join other like-minded people to effect change for the better. The idea in our mind was that ‘you have to make the place where you live the place where people like you want to live’. Powell River seemed like an odd choice to some; yes, its rugged beauty is undeniable, but that mill nearby does scare away certain types. The regional population of around 20,000, includes several islands, neighbourhoods, and communities like the regional First Nations community of Tla’Amin, end-of-the-roaders in Lund (Hwy 101 starts/ends there), and varying degrees of rural from Wildwood, to the more urban Townsite, Cranberry, Westview and semi-rural South of Town to the BC Ferry terminal at Saltery Bay.

But I’d say that ‘local’ means a lot to a relatively small, active core of maybe 200-300 individuals from all over (including long-time residents and American ex-patriots), who continue to grow to shift the economy away from resource extraction and onto a more intentionally sustainable course. We are a Transition Town with a new local brewery, local food initiatives that include a GMO-free designation, local farmers and farmers’ markets/local shops selling local vegetables, seafood, meat and processed products, a ‘food provisioners’ cooperative’ called Skookum, a yearly 50-mile Eat Local Challenge, two yearly garden tours (one edible and one not), a brand new SunCoast Grown initiative to market local food products, a revitalized community radio station (CJMP) , an active artist community with lots to say/show and few venues to do it in, an historic movie theatre that was just saved via a community fundraising effort, a local film festival, a budding car-share co-op and just this last year a local currency (Powell River Dollars).

Local means swimming upstream, and working for the right kind of progress; one that values people and natural resources over profit and corporations that couldn’t care less about anything but profits. That this means ‘a battle’ to some people, is no surprise, as old attitudes still hold lots of sway in determining which local projects get government funding. Local also means quietly living with less (even working less– well for money anyhow), volunteering time and talents for no immediate gain, dealing with people you never thought you’d ever encounter (people with a wide spectrum of different backgrounds, education, work ethics, talents and attitudes), and generally sticking around, growing it yourself, and making it work.