The Post Office wants to

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:07 pm

The Post Office wants to raise rates another penny, making first class stamps cost 34 cents each. I just figured out last week that stamps are now 33 cents. A few weeks ago, I bought two flats of stamps at the post office. All of them were 32 cent stamps. A good clerk concerned with customer service would have warned me, but she let me spend 10 dollars on old stamps without saying a word. I proceeded to use them all, still not knowing that they were wrong. One day, I received a letter with a 33 cent stamp on it, and that caught my attention. All of my letters had been delivered; not one was returned for insufficient postage. I looked through all the letters I had recently received, and some had 32 cent stamps, some had 33. It seemed the post offce didn’t care, so long as there was a stamp on there of one sort or another. Anyone else notice this? Has automation gotten sloppy over there at the USPS? Or do they just not care about that extra cent? A bonus: I used the last eleven stamps to mail an express mail envelope to Beth in New Mexico and they were delivered uncancelled, ready to reuse.

Inspired by my recent visit

Filed under:General — eric @ 4:38 am

Inspired by my recent visit with Randy, I’ve revived my sourdough starter. I used to cook with it a lot, back when Randy and I shared an apartment in Socorro (his name was on the lease with me for at least a year, but I don’t think he stayed one night in the place), but I haven’t in years. When I returned from Wisconsin, I immediately began a new culture. It was ready to use this weekend, and use it I did. I started Saturday with sourdough pancakes, just to be sure the culture was good. When those turned out quite tasty, I spent most of Sunday making several dozen sourdough english muffins. These are so fun to make because they’re unlike most other bread products. The dough is much softer than regular bread, and they’re baked on the stovetop, in a griddle or frying pan. Here’s the recipe so you can try them yourself. If you don’t have a sourdough starter, they’re easy to make. The link above is a good resource.

Sourdough English Muffins
1 cup soughdough starter 2 tbs sugar
2 cups milk 1 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups flour — I use an unbleached light whole-grain flour, but you can use all-purpose flour
In a large mixing bowl, combine starter, milk, and 4 cups of flour. Mix well, cover loosely, and let stand overnight. Mix together remaining flour, sugar, salt, and soda. Sprinkle over dough and mix in. Knead dough on a floured board until no longer sticky (this takes an extra cup or so of flour). Roll out dough to 3/4 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch rounds. I use a tuna can with both ends cut out. Place one inch apart on cookie sheet or board sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle more cornmeal on top. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake on griddle or skillet at 275 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes on a side, turning once. If you are not using a non-stick cooking surface, you may need to lightly grease it. When done, I let cool to room temp, fork split (go all around edges with a fork, being careful not to fully split the muffins), and freeze together in a plastic bag. When you want to use them, they thaw quickly (10 minutes or less), split easily, and can be toasted to get that just-baked flavor. Makes 24 - 30 muffins.

I’ve been following a relaxed

Filed under:General — eric @ 2:10 am

I’ve been following a relaxed version of John Walker’s The Hacker’s Diet for almost a month now. Relaxed because he makes a very strong case for menu planning and calorie counting that I have chosen to ignore, instead relying upon my intuition and experience to improvise all my meals. Of course, he says that’s the worst mistake one can make, but in the three+ weeks I’ve been doing this I’m down 15 pounds and feeling great. I’d like to drop another 50 pounds this year. People who know me may gasp and say that there’s no way I have anywhere near 50 pounds to lose, but they wouldn’t guess by looking that I’m at 255 pounds right now, either. It’s in there, somewhere near the middle, packed in like lead bricks. And it’s coming out.