20 September 2010

A half

Our baby daughter Johanna is six months today!

03 September 2010


You can now watch "Trapezius", a dance film I worked on, in full length:

TRAPEZIUS from John Coombes on Vimeo.

John planned this film using one of his paintings as a starting point. He filled lots and lots of pages with his exquisite drawings, scribbles and notes and created an amazing storyboard.

painting by John Coombes 

© John Coombes

While we were in amongst the preparations, building the set, holding auditions, doing various test shoots and trying lots of different lighting options, we went to the farewell party of our friends Wayne and Fran who were going to live in Australia for six months. I sneaked out the back door for a cigarette [I used to smoke occasionally] and met Ian Sanderson, which, it turned out, was a wonderful coincidence. He said he was a musician. I said we were looking for a musician for a dance film. He said he was very interested in writing music for a film.

He wrote the most beautiful tunes and came up with wonderful arrangements.

Ian tailored his music around Johns images and John cut the pictures to Ian's music. I learned a lot whilst watching the amazing process of editing the piece. Oh, and by then I have also learnt that Ian is part of the Urban Myth Club, and that his sound samples have been used by hundreds of artists including Massive Attack, Lemon Jelly, the Prodigy and Beastie Boys. It was a pleasure working with him.

02 September 2010

Laugenbrezel - Bavarian Pretzels

I made Laugenbrezel "Pretzels" this week and it was a big success. They tasted exactly like they should do when you have them at a beer festival in Bavaria.

I made up a recipe by throwing 3 different ones together to make it work the way I wanted. Here's what I did and how I did it:

Bavarian Pretzels:

500 g plain flower
1 ½ tsp fast action bread yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
50 g butter (+ some butter or margarine for the baking tray)
150 ml water
100 ml milk

You’ll also need
500 ml sodium hydroxyde solution (4%)
and coarse salt.

You can order sodium hydroxide via your local pharmacy. They might even make the solution for you. Let them know that you want to use it in food, it has to be clean. I got some natrium hydroxid pearls at the pharmacy and make up my own solution. It’s a bottle full of caustic soda in pearls. This is not the soda you use for normal baking, this stuff is normally used for clearing blocked drains and stripping furniture. So be very careful with it.

4 % means 4 g of natrium hydroxid in  96 g of water. Use cold water! It will get hot. (20 g natrium hydroxid in 480 g water)

So let's get started...

Butter your oven tray (thick!) and preheat the oven to 180 ° C. Don’t use Aluminium foil or baking paper, the sodium hydroxide solution will destroy that.

Mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the butter (in little flakes) and slowly add the mix of water and milk while kneading. Knead until you get smooth dry dough. Do not add additional water, just keep kneading, you’ll get there.
I let the bread maker do all the kneading for me. I set it for pizza dough, but take it out earlier as you do not want the dough to rise yet.

Divide in 6 equal lumps which you then roll into 50 cm long stings, which are a bit thicker in the middle and narrower at the ends. Then form a pretzel!

Let the pretzels rest for 15 Minutes.

Put on disposable gloves and goggles. (I’m not kidding. Do not touch the solution with bare hands!) Make up your solution or open the bottle of ready made sodium hydroxide solution and pour the acquired amount into a glass or china bowl (no metal!). Now dip the pretzels into the sodium hydroxide solution. Only for a moment, not longer than 5 seconds and place them on your baking tray.

You can use a sieve and pour the solution into a glass bottle for reuse, but make sure you do label the bottle and keep it out of children's reach.

Take off your goggles and gloves. Take a sharp knife and make a cut at the thick middle bit of each pretzel. Drizzle some coarse grind salt over the pretzels and put them in the oven for 15 – 20 Minutes at 180 ° C fan assisted top and bottom heat.

Have them still warm with some thinly sliced Emmenthaler cheese with salt and freshly ground black pepper sprinkled on top and some chilled German beer. 

UPDATE: cover your worktop with lots of paper

01 September 2010

Back from Bavaria

We've had a wonderful summer. We really enjoyed our first big trip with our little one and there are lots of new tales to tell. So stay tuned.