Last week, we splurged and bought some rye flour – just a little more than enough to make 2 loaves of rye bread with caraway seeds, using the recipe for sourdough rye in Joy of Cooking (1975 ed) (please read more about the cost of rye flour).
This morning, using ½ c of rye flour, ¼ c water and 1 tsp active dry yeast, I stirred together the first stage for the bread. The instructions in the Joy of Cooking (1975 edition) say to cover this mixture and leave it in a warm place for about 24 hours. With the kitchen hovering between 10C and 15C, the most likely spot is in the oven with only the light turned on. The heat generated from the lightbulb and the yeast brings the temperature up to around 20C (I think).
However, the light has to be turned on for this to work. And I did turn it on. Exactly as I did last Thursday when I attempted this the first time.
Circumstances beyond my control turned the light off about 14 hours later last Thursday night at around 10:00pm that night. Not just the light was turned off. All our power too. Yup, if you live in the Toronto area, you guessed it; we were among the lucky ones to have a power failure.
By 7:00 the next morning, when 50% of those affected had their power returned, it was 4C in the kitchen and around 8C on the second floor (outdoors: sunny, windy and -12C). We had already turned on the kitchen and bathroom cold water taps to trickles (no desire to have a replay of a burst water pipe!! – don’t ask!!) the night before.
By afternoon, the kitchen was down to 3C and the second floor was 6C. and 75% of those affected had their power restored.
We put several candles onto a tray to bring into the bedroom, closed the door, and wearing ALL our clothes, sweaters, socks, scarves and hats, climbed back into bed to sit huddled under ALL our blankets and ALL our shawls. And resigned ourselves to the fact that the power might not be restored until sometime the next day, even though the radio (thank goodness for our battery powered radio!) had an official announcement from the Mayor saying they were “cautiously optimistic” that the power would be restored sometime that night.
It was incredibly frustrating that the radio WASN’T giving us information that was useful (IE: where EXACTLY the power wasn’t on, so we’d know which way to walk to get hot food). The most irritating phrase from the radio reports was “Log onto our website for more details” Ha. The second most irritating omission was the lack of official statements from Ontario Hydro(electric). There was only one taped statement made sometime early in the morning saying that they just didn’t know when they could turn the power back on. The taped message on the Hydro Phone machine said “Hopefully by midnight”.
It wasn’t until the sun set that it approached freezing in the kitchen. But it was QUITE unnerving to be able to see our breath as we talked in the bedroom! We made sure the water was still running, lit the candles and closed the bedroom door to try to hold any heat they might generate inside the room (bearing in mind that we’d BLOW THEM OUT before going to sleep).
At around 9:30PM when the kitchen was 0C and the bedroom was 5C, I was just trying to adjust our read-aloud book to see it better by candlelight when mercifully, the power was restored. How happy were we to hear our furnace turn on?!?
Obviously, when the power returned, we didn’t want to overtax our furnace by having it run ALL night so set the thermostat relatively low. By the next morning it was 13C upstairs and 8C in the kitchen. Amazingly, we haven’t lost any plants. But I did throw out the rye sludge that had gone too sour sitting forgotten in the oven with the light turned on from Friday evening to sometime late morning on Saturday with no chance for me to make bread until this week.
I know that I probably could have used the pre-ferment. But I’m just not willing to go through the agony of stormy looks in the mirror if it produced yet another loaf of overly sour bread.
When I mix the bread dough tomorrow morning, I’ll have just enough rye flour. Well, maybe not quite. I may have to add some extra whole wheat flour. Or maybe we’ll splurge a little more and buy a little bit more rye flour.
Hmmm, should I send the bill to Hydro or the City of Toronto?