Thursday, 9 July 2020

Chapter 256: What is my special name?

Bruce : “Hello Grandpa.”

Me :  “Hello Grandson.”

Bruce : “My name is Bruce.”

Me :  “I’ve also got a name.”

Bruce : “Grandpa”

Me :  “What is my special name.”

Bruce : “Grandpa.”

 

He runs off. Hiding his lack of knowledge. He is one of only four people who can call me grandpa. I think I will go with that. He is special. He doesn’t have to call me by my name. He doesn’t even have to know it. Providing I am the only one (there is one other) he uses that name for. Providing he doesn’t use that name for every retired old fart he meets.

He can stick with calling me grandpa.

 

 

 

Bruce dances with swinging arms and legs. He then says “I can teach you”

I try and copy him.

He is jubilant at my efforts. He is jubilant that I dance like a drunk giraffe.

I am happy to let him watch my efforts. 

He smiles at my dancing. So easy to look after grandkids.

 


Bruce : I’ll let you in my gang. if you know the secret word.

Me : What is the secret word?

Bruce : I can’t tell you. It’s a secret? It’s so secret I don’t even know it.

 

 

 

I can hear a soft rumbling noise becoming louder. Bruce also hears it and he dashes out the front door. I follow him and we both stand and watch the wheelie bin truck slowly work its way towards us. Stopping and extending its arm, grabbing the bin, lifting the bin, tipping the bin into the larger truck, lowering the bin back on the footpath.

The footpath is beginning to look like a scene from Dr Who. Aliens hiding in all the bins. To walk down the footpath we now have to dodge all the bins and be careful and aware of the aliens hiding in them.


Sunday, 5 July 2020

Chapter 255: my arch nemesis

I say: Tell me something good you did at school today?

Gertrude: xxxx were naughty. They got told off.

I say: Please tell me something you learnt today. Did you do any reading? Any writing?

Gertrude: They were really naughty. They wouldn’t listen.

I say: Tell me something good that happened at school today?

Gertrude: My arch nemesis was away today. That was good.

She surprises me. Using a word such as nemesis. And using it correctly. I don’t know where or when she learnt the word but she knows it. She is heading towards a good grade for English. 

Now she has to learn not to use it. She has to learn how to see the good in everybody and get on with everybody. She has to realise they are all in the same class. She has to realise that everybody wins when  they work together and help each other.


Friday, 3 July 2020

Chapter 254: I need a hug

I walk with and slightly behind Kay and Bruce.

Kay suddenly stops turns around and raises her arms like a scarecrow. She says to me: I need a hug.

I can’t ignore her order. I bend down and lean towards her. I wrap my arms around here. She wraps her arms around my chest.  We become one. A few moments of squirming. She lets go and I let go.

She says: Thank you, turns around and resumes her walk. She looks satisfied. She’s done what she had to. Time to move on.

She made me happy. I made her happy.

A lady walks past with her daughter.  She says to her daughter: Don’t do that. Don’t hug men. You never know what terrible things they would do to someone like you.

The lady speaks loudly. Not hiding her thoughts. She’s just saying what everybody already knows. She’s just stating an obvious fact.

Kay says: That lady needs a hug.

I think and don’t say: You may be correct but I doubt I will be the one.

I say: Unfortunately, I’m all out of hugs.  I can only do a few every day. Look at that cloud up there. What does that cloud look like? What animal is it?

Bruce says: Batman. He does the Batman song and moves like Batman.

Kay says: A unicorn. She dances the way a unicorn dances.


Sunday, 28 June 2020

Chapter 253: Wrong spot

Strawberries grow in boxes in our driveway.

Other plants randomly appear in the boxes.

I say to Bruce and Kay: Its a beautiful day. Time for us to weed the strawberries. If you see a weed pull it out. Like this.

Kay: How do we know what is a weed?

I say: A weed is a plant in the wrong spot. A plant that we don’t want growing in these boxes. A weed takes all the space away from the strawberries. It eats all the food and drinks all the water meant for the strawberries.

Would you like someone to eat all your food, sleep in your bed? You would ask that person to go.

Bruce: My sister is a weed.

I say: Your sister is not a weed.   

Bruce: She lies in my bed. She eats my food.

I say: Your sister is not a weed.

Bruce: She’s different. She must be a weed. She looks different. Look at her hair.

I say:  We are not getting rid of your sister. Your sister may be different from you. She looks different. Her hair is longer but I love the differences. And I love those plants over there. See different colours. See how they blend and look better together. Its good to be different.

Kay is pushing aside leaves and says: Is that a weed?

I say: Well done. It is a weed. What do we do?

Kay: Pull it out.

We are winning. So are the strawberries. The losers are the plants in the wrong spot. They finish up in a pile in the driveway which is the right spot for them.


Thursday, 11 June 2020

Chapter 252: Cough cough cough

A few days ago one of my grandkids had a cough. A very annoying sound. Not a sweet, melodic sound.  A rasping sound full of sputum or phlegm. Hell must be full of people screaming and coughing.

Because of the cough my grandkid had a test. Involved pushing a soft swab up her nose. Hope she suffered. Hope she didn’t enjoy it. She deserves to pay for all her irritating coughing.

The test is for the presence of a virus called Covid 19.

She has to isolate until she knows the result of the test. This is when I get confused.

If the result is positive she will be told within 24 hours.  Because it is important to know as soon as possible.   Any other result (not as important) and she will be told 3 / 4 days later.

At the moment she has not been told she has a positive result.

Because she has not been given her result she has to continue to isolate and must not go to school.

Until she gets her result (which must be negative) she has to stay home. Not go to school. She has stopped coughing.


Monday, 8 June 2020

Chapter 251: Hug my grandchildren

I wake. Grab my phone and start clicking. Click, click, click. I see a number of posts that say: What people most want post corona is to hug their grandchildren.

I then shuffle towards the kitchen to tell a machine to make me coffee.

I put a scoop of coffee in here, place a cup here, press this button, listen to gurgling hissing sounds, and watch a stream of dark drips. I know have the smell of freshly brewed coffee. I carefully balance the cup and return to my bedroom.

In my bed has appeared a row of grandchildren siting supported by pillows.

I stand and look.

I then try and balance my cup and shuffle back into bed.

Immediately one grandkid says: Don’t do that. You are pushing me.

Another grandkid says: No room for you.

I then say: So there is no room in my bed for me.

They all think this is funny. They all sing in unison:  No room for you. No room for you.  

I then stand looking at my phone. I must be able to find a post somewhere that says that grandparents are allowed to sit in their own bed.


Thursday, 4 June 2020

Chapter 250 : How was work yesterday?

I often ask people how their day of work was.

Yesterday restrictions were eased slightly and a nurse told me: It was absolute chaos. We couldn’t run the place properly. All the visitors came back. The hospital was full of visitors. They don’t know what to do. They never listen. They didn’t behave. They are going to spread the virus. All us nurses did the right thing. We behaved.

I nod my head and say: So you could run the hospital much better without all the visitors stuffing everything up.

Nurse: Yes. They are so selfish. One was even meant to be in quarantine. And she is wandering around.

Time for me to say: If you could get rid of all the patients as well you could get the place running even better.

From memory it was around about then the nurse walked away with a look that said. I am wasting my time talking to some people. This is serious. This virus can kill people.

 


Friday, 29 May 2020

Chapter 249: heading towards beginning the start of life Post Corona

Corona has arrived, hung around a while and changed our community. Are these changes going to remain post Corona?

We are told we are beginning to start to enter post Corona land.

Restaurants have re-opened. Open for the first ten customers.  Before Corona when we were ready, we turned up and took a seat. Nowadays we rang and we were told we had to arrive at 7:00 pm. We arrived and most of the tables are marked as reserved.

The waitress said: Don’t sit at reserved tables. They are not reserved for you. Or anybody else. 

Nobody was expected. Social distancing meant the tables were to remain empty. There was no atmosphere or buzz that came from being crowded amongst others in a popular restaurant. We had to generate all the buzz at our table. By ourselves.

The food was identical to previous food. We sat as normal and the waitress said: Order as normal and your food will be brought to your table as normal. We sat and watched the kitchen. The chiefs were as busy as normal. Busy packing bags for uber eats. Not as normal.

Grandma told the grandkids: Don’t run around and touch anything. You will have to wash your hands. Don’t touch that railing. When we entered the restaurant, we were not given a simple easy way of washing our hands. There was no change from past practices.

Post Corona I imagine restaurants will provide hand sanitizer or bowls or paper towels to clean our hand when you enter.

During Corona we have eaten healthier. We have eaten more food prepared and cooked at home. It is possible that not everyone has gone the same way. Maybe some people have eaten more ready prepared dishes. Post corona will our community eat healthier?

During Corona we have also eaten more home-grown food. More herbs or vegetables from our garden. During Corona more people have planted and tended vegetable patches. Will this trend continue. Post Corona will people eat more healthy, organic, seasonal home-grown food?

Social tennis: We have two courts. The law said we had to limit the number to ten people. By magic ten people turn up to play tennis.  We played tennis as normal. No change except we didn’t shake hands at end of each set. Hand sanitizer was provided to clean hands. Post Corona I expect social tennis to be very similar to pre Corona.

Corona has resulted in law changes. The laws and rules have been made up as we go. The new laws haven’t fitted correctly. They have all resulted in anomalies, exceptions, unintended consequences and routs.  Every country has rushed through different laws and different ways of defeating Corona. Every country has also a plan to fight the economic slump.  We will only know which way is the best after the event. Post Corona academics will analyse all the data and decide the best way to defeat Corona. At the moment we are all part of a real time experiment involving different countries and different laws.

Facebook is a global conglomerate. During Corona Facebook has helped us become more local. Connect with our Neighbours. Connect with people in our apartment. We are suddenly sharing jokes and posts on Facebook with neighbours we are stopped from meeting.  Corona and Facebook has strengthened local communities. Brought people together. Will this continue post Corona?

Our newspaper is full of articles written by single issue groups saying how their issue now needs more money because of Corona. I can’t blame any group for looking at Corona from their point of view.  Anyway, that’s what they do. For example:

1: Post Corona people will want to continue social distancing. They will avoid public transport. The roads will be busier. We need more money to build better roads and bridges.

2: Post Corona more people will work from home. Working at home leads to less traffic and an increase in domestic violence. We need more money to combat domestic violence.

3: During Corona homeless people are suffering worse than anybody. They can’t socially isolate. Give me more money to build appropriate housing.

4: Tourism has evaporated during Corona. Air B@B properties are now siting empty. We have no alternative but long term leases for previously homeless at much cheaper rents. Post Corona we need money to stimulate tourism.


Saturday, 23 May 2020

Chapter 248: Radio Interview



Our local radio station is interested in the health and wellbeing of local community.  They proved this by an interview which we are providing for you to listen to.


ABC Radio Interview

Thank you Helen Shield for your interest.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/people/helen-shield/7951872

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Chapter 247: The Domain


I admit it. I can’t deny it.

I confess. I love the Domain. 

                                            https://www.thedomainhobart.com/

The Domain is an area of native bush in the middle of Hobart.
The native bush is not perfect native bush. It has degenerated. Many original native species have been replaced by foreign species. Many of these introduced species like their new environment. They have become naturalised. They have become part of the local environment.

If you have botanical knowledge you will know the Domain houses many unusual species.  Many native plants on the Domain are rare, endangered threatened or just surviving. The only threatened birds and animals still present on the Domain are probably some snails and a skink. It is possible that the threatened tussock skink hangs on and lives very close to an empty cage in Beaumaris Zoo. The cage once housed a much photographed thylacine. 

If you wander on the Domain you will see amongst the native bush evidence of humans. Hobartians past and present have left their mark on the Domain. The Cenotaph, The TCA and Government house are the grand structures. The Powder Magazine and Mawson’s radio masts are less grand. Every edifice houses a story.

Sports fields are scattered over the Domain.  Very few Hobartians have not played or watched a sporting event on the Domain. Every sports field can tell two stories. One about famous people who have played there. The other story is about all the locals playing and improving their health. Physical, mental and social.

I helped give birth to the Domain website and I hope it lives a long and successful life.  
I hope it learn from its mistakes and grows. Most mistakes I will become aware of when somebody takes the trouble of telling me. 

I anticipate that in the future when I receive correct facts I will adjust and update the website. Mistakes, errors and wrong posts followed by corrections will prove the website is alive. 

The Domain is more than a few scattered sports fields and neglected buildings.  It is an integral part of Hobart.

Since 1804 the Domain has confronted many issues:

Conflict between the people living there originally and newly arrived European settlers.

What environment is best. Should it involve preserving purely natural flora and fauna?

What community ceremonies are appropriate? The statues remain but with time the ceremonies have changed. Time for a new ceremony to remember people on the front line in the war against Corona.

Governance. Initially managed by local aborigines. Then controlled by the Queen. In 1858 she gave the land to Hobart City Council. 

Cars.  Is the car helping people access the Domain or helping destroy it? Many people begin their visit to the Domain by driving and parking there. Car parks are devouring and destroying valuable native bush on the Domain. At the same time Highways are isolating and separating the Domain from local pedestrians. A new pedestrian bridge has just been constructed for commuters who park their cars on the Domain. Is driving, parking then walking a good result for the Domain.

One issue the Domain faced uniquely was in 1975. Destruction of the Tasman Bridge altered traffic flow around the Domain in both the short and long term.  

Many people around the world will see similarities between their home city and Hobart. I welcome this. 
Us Hobartians have not done anything dramatically better or worse than anywhere else. We have faced similar issues as elsewhere. Maybe our solutions are worse or better than elsewhere. What matters is that we and you talk about the issues. 

I also want to thank many other people who made the Domain Website possible:

Convicts, with no descendants, who live on in the buildings they built. The Powder Magazine; the Powder Jetty; Government House and Arthurs Wall at the Botanical gardens,
Workers; at the aquatic centre; the Botanical gardens and mowing the grass.   
Volunteers at Tasmanian Masters Athletics; the parkrun; the soccer; the cricket and dog training.
Mountain bikers; dog walkers and joggers who greet me.
The annual parading Anzacs.
Freezing parents huddling and watching their child become a soccer champion.
Tennis players running and hitting tennis balls on some very good courts.
Cricket players calling, “Catch it.”
The three local designers of the railway roundabout.
The crowd who grabbed their opportunity and saw AC DC.
Men who built the diversion tunnel with sweat.
Douglas Mawson and the radio masts he erected to communicate with himself in Antarctica. 

And anybody who has ever been or may ever go to the Domain.

The Domain is a part of my life. If you read on you will see a lot of posts which don’t mention the Domain. This blog is not a single issue blog. A blog where every post comes back to the same issue. Like everybody else who visits the Domain I have a life outside the Domain. My life outside the Domain is made better and stronger because of the Domain.


                                                               https://www.thedomainhobart.com/




Friday, 17 April 2020

Chapter 246: Post Corona


Corona is changing our world. Post Corona our world, our country, our community will be different.
My grandkids will inherit this world post Corona. What will they inherit? What will a post Corona world look like?

To help me try and understand the future I need to try and understand one of my grandfathers. He survived a depression and two world wars. What would he be thinking about life post Corona? 
Post Corona I imagine more people will work from home. The need for multi-story central offices, morning coffee rituals and transport has shown to be unnecessary. My grandfather would have approved. For him his home and work where inseparable. He began the last day of his life by getting out of bed and turning on the linotype machines.

Post Corona the status of certain workers will change. The status of health care workers will go up. We have been reminded that what they do is important. My grandkids now know that the health of everybody in the community matters for everybody.

Post Corona the status of teachers will go up. Corona has shown that schools are an important part of our communities. Corona has told us that looking after children or a class of children is difficult. Let alone teaching them something. My grandfather always knew this. He always valued and respected both heath care workers and teachers.

Post Corona the attitude of us public to politicians will change. Corona has demonstrated that we like and respect politicians who lead. Politicians who consult with experts, make decisions, pass new laws and inspire people to embrace the new laws. My grandfather always liked politicians who led.

Post Corona my grandkids will inherit decisive politicians.  There will be less focus groups; less single-issue lobby groups; less political marketing; less expert media performers; less celebrity endorsements; less personal hobby horses; less publicity stunts. There will be less sport or arts people publicity endorsing a product they know nothing about.

Post Corona the status of science will increase. People will listen to real, true facts based on objective studies. There will be less vague, nebulous, spiritual feelings.

Post Corona the status of certain jobs will go up. This means the status of other jobs will be less. Jobs involved in marketing, managing and staffing of big sport, music or food events will have less status.  
During Corona Facebook has exploded full of small groups. Groups where people create and post for members of the group. A lot of funny posts. A deluge of local talent has been exposed and given air.
During Corona art has become more local. It has been reflecting what the community is actually thinking and doing.  Post Corona I hope art goes the same way.

Post Corona I imagine less big art events. Less vacuous celebrities famous for being seen.  More local people seeing what other local people can tell them about their community.  More people illuminating their local community to itself. My grandfather would have liked that trend. He was actively local. Local was his life.  After watching the posts my grandkids have uploaded, they like the trend.

Post Corona I imagine local community sport rebounding strongly. My grandfather was always involved with local sport.  After a hard, fair game of cricket, he loved washing the sweat away with a communal beer. 

My grandkids are exhibiting the same behaviour. They play different sports but they love physical activity; learning what their bodies can do; playing by rules and socialising afterwards.
Post Corona newspapers will not dominate the local media.

I speculate that my grandfather would not have seen Facebook as good or bad.  He didn’t see the postman is either good or bad even though the postman bought bad bills and good Christmas cards. He would have seen Facebook as the latest technology.  A way of communicating.

About 100 years ago my grandfather wrote newspaper editorials. He was passionate about a free media in a healthy democracy.

My grandkids never met my grandfather but they share his interest in language, expressing opinions, and a healthy community. The technology available to them is different but they have much in common.  

Post Corona it is the turn of the next link in the chain to continue the story.


Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Chapter 245 :My life in Hobart


I begin the day with a run down the bike track and across the Domain. Very few people. Most are willing to greet me, say hello, provided I keep my distance and keep on running. People are probably friendly than normal.

After breakfast we take our dog for a walk. The shops are sparsely populated. Unlike a ghost town. No eerie flimsy ghosts floating around. The buildings are big and solid like the background scenery for a film when all the characters have left the stage.  Now the only remaining characters are a few purposeful shoppers. No lingering or window shopping or loitering or chatting or enjoying themselves.

Today is the day we make a special trip to watch a film. I lie back in my seat and wait for the film to start. The toilet is easy to locate and it is easy to find my way back to my seat. Only my family is watching the film. We are in our home.

Watching the film is perfect. The sound, picture, popcorn and finding the toilet is all perfect.  Not quite perfect. Nobody else has seen the same film. When I eventually meet someone, we will not be able to talk about the latest film.

In the afternoon we have to look after some of our grandkids until their parents finish work. Time for another walk. Our dog leads us down the Cornellian Bay track. Kay loves our dog and every dog we approach. Her love of every dog we near frightens me.

The track is lined by dropping casuarinas and native hop bushes. And the track is littered with seed pods. I ask them to collect seed pods to take home. I challenge them to think of ways to use these seed pods. Think of a way to use them in a work of art or make something with them.

Below the track is the bank of the river. We detour down to one of the beaches. Our dog loves to paddle. Run and skip and waddle. We skip stones, count the number of bounces and laugh at our dog.  
We see some piles of native oyster shells.  We talk about the aboriginal people who lived here in the past. The aboriginal people who encountered illnesses and diseases foreign to them. They must have been terrified of these new diseases.

My grandchildren are not stressed about new diseases or anything else. A few more days of school and then school holidays.  Holidays with no camping or any visits anywhere. Holidays where they are stuck with us. They will have to try and think of ways of keeping us amused. Stopping us from getting bored.  

When we return from our walk the grandkids begin drawing. Bruce draws a monster. He tells me it’s obvious what it is. It’s a T-Rex. He is attracted to our coffee making machine. He doesn’t drink coffee and he wants to use our machine. I come to his aid and say: I’d love a cup of coffee. Do I have to make it myself?

I don’t seem to have anyone to talk to. If it happened, I would have to pretend I had never been on a cruise ship. Cruise ship passengers have become the incarnation of evil. Sailing around the world indulging in hedonistic eating and drinking while giving passage to nasty viruses.

It is true that my last cruise gave me intimate knowledge of the medical quarters. But I did not bring any viruses back to Hobart. My only souvenirs were fridge magnets and key rings.





Sunday, 29 March 2020

Chapter 244: Hobart during Covid 19


Today we take our dog for a walk. We head towards a busy highway. We manage to dodge the indolent car drivers on the Brooker Highway and get to the Domain. An oasis of remnant native bash in the center of Hobart.  The hazardous journey across the highway makes me appreciate the quiet paths winding through the native bush.

First sighting for our dog is some plovers. At this time of year, the plovers are not protecting their nest. They flutter away.  We keep our dog on his lead beside us and bird watch.  Amongst the grasses I see some eastern rosellas scratching around looking for food.  I glimpse a yellow wattlebird hiding in the trees.

All this walking may make us fitter and healthier. The future may mean more walking. The future may involve no social interaction.  Maybe we will have no friends but get fitter.    

Our walk continues with a detour to the local shops. The shopping center is quiet. Nobody lingering or chatting. No gazing in windows. People striding direct and with purpose.

Today is the day we normally go to the State Cinema. We enjoy watching films. But today we return home. I find a chair and wait for the film to start. While waiting I go to the toilet. The toilet is easy to find and it is easy to find my way back to my seat. We can’t be at the State Cinema.

I smell popcorn cooking. This confirms we are not at the State cinema.

Apart from our family nobody else is watching the film. Watching the film was perfect. The sound, picture, popcorn and access to the toilet was all perfect. Apart from my family there was no one else to enjoy it with. Nobody to discuss the film with. I could go online but do I want to talk to people who spend their lives up in the clouds.

After the film we visit one of our daughters.

She is up in the clouds obeying her I-phone while my grandson sees us and becomes very active. He knows something I don’t.  And he loves showing me his new skill. He knows how to use his gleaming coffee machine. 

We sit outside around a table and wait for our proudly presented coffee. My daughter puts down her I-phone and joins us for morning tea. Which is lattes and espressos.

We discuss growing vegetables. We discuss where, what and seeds or seedlings.

The future may involve more days like today. No cafes with luscious cakes and slices. More eating at home. We might eat less with non-family. Have less visitors. Socialise less. We might have less friends but eat better. Maybe we will become healthier.

In the evening we watch the news. It is more horrific and terrifying than the film we watched. The news has a plot that keeps changing with no guaranteed happy ending.

Normally I lie back and doze through the politicians jostling for coverage and spinning the usual politically safe phrases. Waiting for the sport and weather. Today I dozed through a film with goodies, badies and a happy ending waiting for the evening news. Now the news is different every day. What is our score at the moment? What is our total?  Where did these people catch it? Reality is more terrifying than escapist films.

Every day, as we watch the news, we blame somebody or something. Every day we say what should be done.  The experts don’t know what is going to happen.  This vacuum is filled by Facebook and us people with no training or experience. We are the new experts.   They should…

I love Hobart and normally describe it as the best city in the world.  I still feel like this but I can’t say it. Others who live elsewhere around the world are suffering. Others are getting a worse view of the virus than us. Others don’t have a health system as good as the Tasmanian Health Department. Others can’t amble in native bush and the fresh air.  Others don’t have back gardens with a veggie plot. 
 Others don’t have internet access.

I want a future where other people don’t need to suffer in order for me to feel incredibly lucky to live in Hobart.

A future where everybody everywhere beats this virus. And post-corona everybody chooses to get fitter and healthier. By eating better and walking more.  


Saturday, 21 March 2020

Chapter 243 : making bread (part two)


Whole grain flour

Mill grains of whole wheat and you get whole grain flour. Sieve the flour.  You now have plain white flour. You have removed the germ, bran and many nutrients. The plain white flour has a lighten colour and increased shelf life than whole grain flour.
Whole grain flour is high in complex carbohydrates, high in fibre, high in vitamins and minerals. Low in omega-3 saturated fat and low in refined carbohydrates.
For a small loaf I use 300ml of water and 3 cups of flour. For a big loaf I use 400 ml and 4 cups of flour.  The critical thing is the ratio of water to flour.  100ml of water to one cup (250ml) of flour.

Gluten flour

The gluten holds the dough together as the bubbles form. The dough rises.
Two proteins in the flour (glutenin and gliadin) use water to form an elastic mass of molecules that we call gluten.
Gluten holds the dough together. It holds the gases in. The bread rises. Gluten gives the dough elasticity. Stops the dough becoming crumbly.
Kneading of the dough causes more gluten to form. Causes more proteins and water find each other and link together.

Yeast

Yeast is a single cell micro-organism. A type of fungus. Reproduces asexually. Yeast cells grow bigger then divide. The yeast used in baking eats carbohydrates (simple sugars). Producing carbon dioxide, ethanol and water. The carbon dioxide gas forms pockets or bubbles.
Dried yeast does not require refrigeration and has a long shelf life.
Yeast when mixed with a weak solution of water and sugar will foam and bubble as it ferments the sugar into ethanol and carbon dioxide.
Yeast breaks down the starch molecules in flour to simple sugars which it then eats.
Yeast ferments dough. Fermentation breaks down large molecules into smaller, flavorful ones. Proteins into amino acids, starches into sugars, amylose and maltose into glucose, fats into free fatty acids. Smaller molecules have more flavour.  

Salt


Salt provides flavour. Without it bread tastes insipid and flat.
Gives strength to the gluten.
Retards the fermentation of the yeast. Yeast needs water. Salt absorbs water which slows yeast.
Salt gives the bread a better colour.

Sugar

Sugar provides “food” for yeast, which converts it to carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Sugar enhances bread flavor. Sugar gives the crust a golden colour.
Sugar improves the crumb texture.
Sugar helps retain moisture in bread
Sugar can be in the form of white sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, corn syrup or in a liquid (fruit juice, beer, wine or soft drink). The type of sugar alters the flavour and colour of the bread.
Artificial sweeteners cannot be used. They provide no food for the yeast.
Too little or too much sugar will slow down yeast activity.

Bread improver

It is claimed breads improvers help the bread rise, aids gluten and makes commercial bread making more predictable and reliable.
I can make bread without a bread improver. With a bread improver the resultant bread will slightly more predictable.
Every bread or baked product you buy has a bread improver or a flour enhancer in it. The ingredients appear safe. They are chemicals and have long names but everything I eat is a chemical with a long name.
Bread improvers normally contain:
Amylose comes from ground wheat. Normally found in flour. It helps reduce starch to maltose upon which yeast feeds.
Emulsifiers (monoglyceride, calcium stearoyl lactylate) ensure bubbles are retained in the flour.
Emulsifiers help condition and strengthen the dough, improve crumb whiteness, retain moisture, soften crumb texture and control fat crystallisation. The improved water retention improves the keeping qualities of a loaf.

Reducing agents that alter gluten
Oxidants that strengthen gluten

Olive oil

Mono-unsaturated fatty acids.  A healthy oil. Can’t make bread without some oil from somewhere.  

Variations

herbs; fresh or dried
olives, sun-dried tomato, grilled capsicum
nuts, dried fruit, soya grits, sunflower seeds, pumpkin kernels 
Coat with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, polenta
wheat hearts or semolina

Vegetables: If you add mashed vegetables to the dough you need to decrease the amount of water. The alternative way is to grate the vegetable; place in a tea towel, squeeze the liquid from the vegetable and then add the dried vegetable to the flour and the juice to the liquid. This method works really well for unwanted zucchini.  Add the squeezed grated zucchini to the flour and decrease the total amount of liquid slightly. The resultant bread will be moister than normal and last longer.

Exotic flours: you can easily replace some of the wheat flour with flour made from rice, rye, barley, oats, maize, sorghum, millet, buckwheat, legumes, and potato. I’m sure I’ve missed something but you get the point. Replace a cup of wholegrain wheat flour with any other flour and you will not have to alter the basic recipe. If you start taking out more wheaten flour you made need to add extra gluten. If the loaf is crumbly; like a muffin or a scone then it is lacking gluten. A crumbly loaf is not a complete disaster, you can still eat it but the loaf will not keep well and the trail of crumbs will not please everybody. Personally, I prefer gluten.

If you cannot acquire or make some of the more exotic flours another option is to add rolled grains to the flour. Substitute a cup of rolled oats (or barley, rye, triticale) for a cup of flour and proceed as normal.


Thursday, 19 March 2020

Chapter 242 : making bread

We live in interesting times. In these interesting times I sometimes find myself with routine and commonplace responsibilities.  Like looking after grandchildren.

My goals today are to try and educate my grandchildren and avoid other people. I want them to learn something useful. I will be a fake, copy of a real teacher.

I wait for a brief pause in their chattering and say: Today’s lesson will be making bread.

They are ecstatic. We measure out five cups of flour. Mainly whole grain flour with a smidgen of gluten flour. I place 500 ml of water in the microwave for about 40 seconds. I guide them as they add a tablespoon of dry yeast, a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt to the tepid water.  

They can now do something they love. Mixing ingredients. They continue whisking as I add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil.  They then pour the liquid into the flour and stir it with a knife. We have to get the right consistency.  We want a ball of dough that we can knead.  If it’s too wet then we will have to dip the ball of dough into flour. If the dough is too dry then we will have to add water.

We finally get the dough at what I think is the right consistency.  It is now time to knead. The kids love kneading. Well so do I. We help each other to knead the dough.  We roll and roll the dough until it starts to develop some elasticity.  So that it hangs together. I ask them to imagine bubble gum bread. After about ten minutes we place the dough in a bowl. On top we place some glad wrap and a tea towel.

I ask them were should we put the bowl. They suggest in the sunlight where I normally put it. Time for a quick science lesson. I talk about the yeast. An organism that lives and grows in the dough. Yeast lives in water. It grows bigger and bigger then divides. The temperature of the water affects the speed at which this occurs. Yeast eats sugar and gives off gas as a by-product. The gas forms bubbles causing the dough to become bigger. They think the idea of eating food followed by gas hilarious.  

A few hours later I say: Time to attack the dough.  

We punch it, assault it and knock all the gas out of it. They find the idea of removing gas by punching is very funny. I now divide and separate the dough.

Kay says: Her piece is bigger than mine.

I immediately give her a bit of flour from my lump.  We all knead our lumps of dough. None of their finished lumps look perfectly symmetrical and neat. They all look better. Homemade and unique.

The lesson continues with art.  I ask them to make their roll look beautiful. Decorate your roll. They all put their initials on their roll.  One adds sesame seeds. The other adds poppy seeds and an almond.

Kay says to me: Why don’t you put your initials on your loaf?

Gertrude says: He doesn’t know how to. He’s brain damaged.

I ask them to, without playing, find a tray and a tin. They put their rolls on the tray and I put my loaf in the tin. We now wait for the dough to rise for a second time. When it doubles in size, we can cook it. I open the hot oven and carefully watch as they place the tray in the oven. I ask them to look at the clock and tell me where the big hand will be in twenty minutes.

The lesson continues with a new topic: Why does a loaf of bread take longer to cook than a smaller roll? We discuss this and after twenty minutes I ask them to stand back as I take out the rolls.  

The lesson continues with plating up of food.

I ask them: What do you want on your bread?

Gertrude knows that she always has margarine on her roll. Kay knows that she always has honey and jam on her roll. They both know how to prepare their roll correctly. The lesson finishes when they eat their freshly cooked and buttered roll. They pass with honours.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Chapter 241 : let's go for a drive


We tell our grandkids we are going for a drive. One immediately opens the car door and sits by the window. I then explain one of the rules. If you want the window seat you must let others enter before you.


Two other grandkids need to have other rules explained to them. They have both decided it’s their turn to sit in the front.

I then say, “Okay I’ll decide who sits in the front and you will change around on the way back.”

One shows lack of understanding of the basic rules and says, “Then it will be your turn to go in the back.”

I check their seat belts. They enjoy being in the car but feel that being in a car they have to copy us adults. To behave like an adult in Hobart you have to complain about the traffic. They immediately start abusing other drivers.     

My thought bubble sees traffic problems as not unique to Hobart. A glance around the world tells me there are other cities with worse traffic problems. There are cities where more people spend more time in cars.  Cities with worse air pollution. Cities with more accidents and where driving is more dangerous.

In a world where there may be worse traffic than in Hobart the traffic in Hobart is getting worse.  The number of cars on the roads is increasing faster than the population is increasing.

Kay’s mind is focused elsewhere. She says, “Who did that?” and winds the window down. 

My thoughts are still on the traffic.

If we continue as at present the number of cars will continue to increase greater than the population.  The future will mean more people, more cars, more traffic and more people spending more time in cars.

I want a future where my grandkids enjoy travelling around Hobart. I want a future where they enjoy travelling to work or play. I don’t want them to spend hours every day cursing other drivers.

My thought bubble contains an idea. Increase the density of the CBD and inner suburbs. More people living in the inner areas. More people living above shops in the CBD, more multistory buildings, more people per house, more flats and more units sharing a single block.

My thought bubble contains less people living in the fast growing, scenic, outer areas.  Less people travelling from these outer areas by car. More people car sharing. More use of public transport (bus, light rail or ferry).

I want my grandkids to grow up in a society with less cars. A society where status and wealth are not associated with cars. A society where cars are not fashionable or desired. A society where high status is associated with small electric cars and low status with massive, spotlessly clean four-wheel drives.
My grandkids will inevitably grow up in a future with more electric cars. The electric cars will pay no petrol tax.  Tolls will be needed to pay for roads. In the future I imagine a toll to enter the CBD. A toll using g.p.s. and on-line payment.

I dream of my grandkids growing up in a society with a different political system. At present we have three levels of government and multiple councils having an input into Hobart traffic.  

Bruce has different dreams. He says, “Change the radio station.”

We have inherited a three-tier system where every election means politicians promising new bridges or new highways. Nobody ever promises less cars. All politicians seem to think that cars vote.  
Our present system has Hobart governed by multiple councils. Councils make rules for area. Their rules affect neighboring areas.  A state government flounders around looking for someone to dance with.

I imagine my grandkids growing up in a society with two tiers of government. Both tiers seeing transport as a vital part of the economy and environment and health of community. One tier responsible for all transport and paying for all transport infrastructure.

Back in the real world my grandkids know what they want. The radio station changed.  I smile. I dream of the future. They live in the present. Their only concern is turning the station to their favorite channel.  They can argue about what the best station is. I will dream.