Spring, Moss, and Half-Rye Sourdough Bread

Considering my recent silence, you have undoubtedly wondered if I have been eaten by crocodiles by now.  Or maybe polar bears.  It’s Sweden, and the polar bears must be hungry.  Or some other grisly fate.  The truth is, however, very prosaic – I have simply been busy.

It happens to all of us, and I am entirely unapologetic for having a life outside the blog, much as I love it.

And besides, to quote a recently-seen on the internet and absolutely brilliant photo:

“IT’S SPRING.  WE ARE SO EXCITED, WE WET OUR PLANTS!”

As you can see, the plants are happily blooming – at least some of them, and others look like they are preparing to, and if you are like me and like houseplants, then it’s exciting.  What can I say, I am easily excited.  I think that’s a good thing.  Surely beats sitting there looking bored and feeling blasé about the world.

So um, yes.  I have been busy, it’s spring, which means my plants needed more attention, my studies are kicking back in, and I have not had so much time to cook anything impressive, nor, mostly, to photograph it.

I did bake a half-rye bread on the basis of my two-fifths rye no-knead recipe, and it turned out gorgeous.  I have, again, let it proof entirely too long due to the same reason (I went for a walk and returned later than planned), but it was delicious and lovely nonetheless.  One of those days I will actually bake it in time and see if it can be made taller, but between the high rye content and the high hydration of no-knead method, I am not sure.  On the up side, the narrow slices make fantastically elegant open-faced sandwiches with slices of cheese, salami, dried ham or cured fish.  Anyway, no recipe here – merely a note that the two-fifths rye recipe works exceptionally well with a half and half split between the types of flour.  And, I will try a closer to 65 or 70% split in favor of rye next.

And then there is my newly-found fascination with moss.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of conflicting and downright bad information about how to grow it on the internet.  And doubly unfortunately, I managed to spray the two original moss-homes I made with the wrong water spray bottle.  What’s so wrong about the wrong spray bottle?  Well, it used to contain agricultural soap-and-oil mix for treating bugs on one of my orchids last summer.  As a result, I think one or two applications of that instead of water are killing the moss slowly, which made me very sad.  It is still alive and struggling to stay so (and I am helping), but I am not sure it will win the battle, and it is entirely my fault.

So, I did a lot more reading, and gathered more moss.

And then I followed several other new instructions which changed or negated the things I originally found.  For example, I did not use any potting soil on this round.  Instead, I made a base out of aquarium-filter activated carbon, and piled sterilized gravel bits, re-sterilized bark chips (from my orchid potting bark bag), and pieces of terracotta (broken flowerpot that did not survive the winter freeze) on top of that.  Added aged tap water with some activated carbon swirled in it via my new, clean spray bottle, and arranged the moss on top, above the water level.

Note: to sterilize rocks and bark chips, soak in boiling water, let stand, pour water off and repeat.  This won’t sterilize them for purposes of neural surgery, but it should kill most mold spores and random microfauna present on and in them.  If you want to be more sure about it, boil a pot of water and toss them in there for a while.  Do not salt.  ;)

The second thing I found important is having a lid for your moss-growing dish.  A more reputable moss-growing website owner mentioned in his blog that he covers his moss dishes overnight and leaves them to air out during the day – so, upside-down flat candle plates were found to cover the little terraria, to maintain good humidity with periods of drying-out and fresh air.  Since, unless your moss is swamp moss (mine isn’t, it came off rocks and tree stumps), it doesn’t want to sit in a swamp.  (Deep wisdom right there, for various houseplants other than moss as well!)

And a third thing was washing the moss when I had initially brought it home, removing all debris and clinging dirt under running water, and then quarantining it in sandwich boxes with partially-shut lids for several days before using it in the arrangement – to make sure no pests or molds surface in the meantime.

The new terraria are now a few days old, and are so far doing well.  I’ll just avoid spraying them with insecticidal solution by accident and see what happens.

So, there it is.  Coming soon(tm) – posts about vanilla, and about the two entirely new to me white whole wheat flours (That is not a typo – they are whole wheat flours made from white, not red wheat!) that I have just received in the mail and all excited about – but obviously, first I need to bake something from them and see how that works out!

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6 thoughts on “Spring, Moss, and Half-Rye Sourdough Bread

    1. Oh, if you love rye, you definitely should – the no-knead method really, REALLY simplifies handling the dough with high rye content – since there is little handling of it, there is little gluing yourself to the dough, the dough to the board, the board to the… you get the idea. ;)

      And sourdough rye is one of the finest bread variations in my, frankly biased, view.

      And yes, my mosses are spoiled. The first two would have been too, had I known not to use soil, and well, ehm, avoided accidentally spraying them with water full of insecticidal solution residue!

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