A week ago I was strolling around in T-shirt and sandals and feeling deliciously warm, loving California in February.
These last days, it's been getting steadily colder, and entirely by coincidence the cats have rediscovered a penchant for sleeping with us, which mostly means clamped to my side(s) in such a way as to cause me to sleep badly and wake often and in increasing pain, which I will then carry around for the rest of the day, thanks guys.
This morning it spat on me gently as I cycled to the coffeeshop, rained steadily for the next hourishness, let up long enough for me to cycle home and then hurled it down all morning. No doubt the garden will be grateful, but honestly...
Anyway: the afternoon broke up into sunshine and showers, and all was well in my world until I needed to go to the store to buy ham hocks. (Tonight is a SETI lecture on the moons of Pluto, so I am making bread and soup for after.) Going there was fine, such that I turned down the offer of a lift from our neighbour; it's only five minutes around the corner, why drive?
Why indeed. Why, because coming home it started raining, and was cold, and I was giggling gently to myself in my T-shirt and sandals, and then I wasn't giggling about it any more as it grew more earnest, and then I thought "Actually, you know, this is really starting to hurt" - and no wonder. Who knew that it hails in California? And why didn't anyone tell me...?
Anyway. Hail. Which may possibly explain the bread but mostly doesn't. I don't know what is happening with my sourdough. Twice in the last month I have produced loaves not fit to eat; today's is still uncertain. What I'm used to is that the dough rises cheerfully through the day, deflates when I turn it onto the peel to slide it onto the baking stone, then the heat of the oven causes it to spring up again (we call this "oven spring", we bakery types). Recently, though? It hasn't noticeably been rising at all in the basket, and oven spring is all I have. Which I want to blame on the chilly weather, but actually this last couple of weeks I've been setting the dough all day in the oven with the light on, which is an entirely yeast-friendly warm environment, and even so. Mostly the oven spring produces an acceptable bread, tho' it's never really good; a couple of times, as I say, it's been awful. Today's I think will be okay, but. I am not happy.