Saturday, January 31, 2009


I discovered another mistletoe plant growing on my Shui Mei plant outside my house again. The first time I discovered it, I was intrigued by this parasitic plant. I had no clue as to what it was but saw that the leaves were huge, thick and fleshy. I had thought that my Shui Mei had mutated. Later on, a horde of hairy caterpillars appeared and devoured all the leaves. They hatched into a dozen Painted Jezebel butterflies mentioned in an earlier post.

It was only after watching David Attenborough's Private Lives of Plants did I learn that it was a mistletoe plant growing right in front of my house. 

The mistletoe is propagated by birds, in this case probably by the sunbird that feeds on the Shui Mei flowers. The seed of the mistletoe is very sticky and pass through the gut of the bird just as sticky. The bird has to do a little dance routine to wipe the seed off its butt on a branch.

The mistletoe then takes root through an enlarged outgrowth called a haustorium. It is anologous to a placenta. The mistletoe then sprouts leaves which are a favorite of the Painted Jezebel caterpillars. Once hatched, the caterpillars strip the mistletoe bare leaving the leaves of the Shui Mei untouched. They migrate to the lower boughs of the Shui Mei and pupate.

When I think of the 3 players of this little drama, I couldn't help see the Generator, Operator and Destroyer (GOD) principle at work. This principle orchestrated by the One Supreme Intelligence manifests everywhere in nature. The agent of the Creator is the little sunbird, the Operator is the Shui Mei and the hairy horde of caterpillars destroys the mistletoe when its life works has been fulfilled. It is interesting to note that the caterpillars came only after the mistletoe had blossomed and fruited. I look forward to seeing the re-run of this little drama again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Muesli Bread

I've been playing with baguettes for some time now and thought that it was time to give it a rest. There is still one more thing to do and that's to bake it on the hearth. This week, I decided to do a muesli bread as I am getting a little jaded eating baguettes.

For this bake, I used a wholewheat preferment. The amount of WW used was 25% of the total flour used. The muesli mix consisted of rolled oats, corn flakes, black sesame, pumpkin and golden flax seeds, almond flakes and sultanas. The hydration was  75%. This was mixed in the morning and after I came back from my weekly yoga kriya session, I started the bake at around 3pm. When I returned, the dough was nicely risen. 

When they came out of the oven, the aroma was heavenly. The crumb was not too bad. It was delicious with butter.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


I had another practice on slashing again today. Now that I have steam management in place, I need to work on the slashing. However, I was sloppy in my shaping and my wife commented that the previous batch looked better. 

The consolation is that the ears were definitely more pronounced this time round and that convinced me that the slashing method I tried out today was right. I will have to work on the shaping for future bakes.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Playing with more steam

Today is my second attempt with my new homemade steam vent cover and I was rather pleased with its performance. I was getting nearer the kind of grigne that is seen in Hamelman's book. The huge amount of steam resulted in a reddish glossy finish on the crust. The flaps on the grigne was more pronounced than usual. However, I feel that there's still room for improvement and I can't wait to bake another batch as I have another idea to try out.