My Science Project: Sourdough Starter

We are entering the 4th week of the ECQ #lockdown. ECQ stands for Enhanced Community Quarantine. It’s the time of the COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019) pandemic.

#stayhome is the catchword of the time.

One needs to either learn new skills or revive old dormant ones. The excuse “I have no time” no longer means much. Because, now, you have all the time in the world.

Ergo… my science project.

It’s not the first time I made a sourdough starter. I’ve had a couple of successful attempts at making a sourdough starter in previous years (decades).

However, on both occasions, I “cheated”. I primed my starter mixture with 1/4 tsp of instant yeast. That gave my starter a jump.

This time, it’s pure.

By pure I mean, all I used in the initial mixture was flour and water: 1 cup bread flour mixed in 1/2 cup tap water, in a glass jar. If there is life inside this mixture, or if it attracts life from the surrounding air, it will become evident in the first 24 hours: the mixture will froth up and bubbles will appear.

This is for Day 1.

It takes 5 days of repeated discarding and refeeding to create the (young) sourdough starter.

So by the end of Day 1, my sourdough starter appeared like this:

20200406_212020

It looks promising. Bubbles are a clear sign of microorganism respiration. It is a good sign that the sourdough starter is alive.

The next steps, which will be repeated in the next 3 days, are:

1) Discard 1/2 cup of the starter mixture:

20200406_213438

2) Mix the ‘refeed’ using 1 cup All-Purpose Flour mixed in 1/2 cup tap water:

20200406_213753

3) Add the refeed and mix well with the remaining sourdough starter mix left in the glass jar.

20200406_214029

4) Leave the jar slightly covered, and allow the starter to refeed and grow over the next 24 hours.

(To be continued…)

UPDATE: Day 2 (04.07.2020)

I realized the mayo jar I began with was too small. The bubbles had almost reached the brim, after only 12 hours. (I forgot to take a picture.) So I transferred the starter to a larger container — a cylindrical Lock n Lock.

At days end, here’s how it looked like…

20200407_211415

Discarded 1/2 cup of the starter…

20200407_211740

Mixed 1/2 cup tap water to 1 cup (~110 grams) All Purpose Flour for the refeed…

20200407_211615

Added the refeed into the starter culture and mixed it well.

This is how the sourdough starter appears at the start of Day 3…

20200407_212547

It’s alive. The bubbles tell me that. And they’re multiplying. And maturing.

(To be continued, Day 5…) ⌛🤔

UPDATE: May 6, 2020.

I have almost completely forgotten about updating my science project. No Day 5 update, however. Instead, it’s been about a month, and my sourdough starter has been keeping in the ref (fridge) for more than two weeks.

I have fed it twice already, since it began residing in the cold compartment. Last week I made Sourdough Ciabatta with 1 cup of the starter.

received_166317988051990

I fed the starter the usual 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, after baking, and returned it inside the refrigerator.

This is how it appears now…

20200506_023959

It’s alive! 🤗👌

Eternity in Our Hearts

I was pondering the life to come as I sat behind the wheel of my parked car outside my youngest daughter’s apartment. I had just driven her home and was waiting for her to bid me leave.

I was pondering the life to come… what would it be like? After my last breath, what would the experience be like? What would it be like to meet my maker and saviour? How ecstatic would it be? The thought (anticipation) is clouded with a measure of uncertainty.

Just then my daughter came running out of the house in panic.

“There’s a bird in my room!” she said.

The bird, a brown eurasian tree sparrow, was flying around in short bursts, and landing all over the place — on the stairs, in a corner beside the dresser, and on the bed! I saw that it couldn’t fly high up to the ceiling, I thought it was just a baby bird learning how to fly.

After a couple of attempts, I finally caught the little creature.

I held the tiny sparrow in the hollow of my hand. I stroked its head softly to somehow try to assure it that I don’t mean it harm. I thought to take it home (couple blocks away) with me and care for it until it was strong enough to fly. I went back to the car, looking at the face of the tiny feathered creature in my hand.

received_2458042880954074

The thought then occured to me: I am this tiny little sparrow, and God is me holding the sparrow in the hollow of my hand. If I clenched my fist tight, it would snuff the life of the hapless bird, instantly. But I wouldn’t do that. I cared for the poor thing.

God could snuff me out, physically and spiritually, in an instant. But he doesn’t. Because God cares for me, infinitely greater than I do for the sparrow.

When I got home, I put the sparrow in a temporary cage — a slotted basket with a removable cover. As I was placing newspaper strips inside for the sparrow’s beddings, it flew out of the basket, and outside our front door. I realized it was really strong enough to fly.

It should feel like that, after your last breath. It should feel like being set free (your soul) to fly out of the house into the open air where you were meant.

Here, in the body, you are kept by the power and grace of God, in the hollow of his hand. There, in the life to come, you will finally be set free from all sin, to live in perfect righteousness and fullness of joys for evermore.

God “has set eternity in our hearts,” Ecc.3.11.

good good friday

this year’s good friday was good, ergo — good good friday. it was my middle daughter’s (jikki) 27th birthday. and she’d decided to visit her lola (my mom) at loyola memorial park, marikina for her birthday.

i love her for thinking outside herself to visit her lola on her special day. my family has had many plans to visit, that had often ended up nowhere. this time it was a sure thing.

received_652387581880911

my mom’s grave has been neglected. mea culpa. i plead guilty on that charge. and this day made me realize how important it is for one’s grave to be visited every so often, even when you’ve been long absent from the body.

received_1152968471563999_1

the lapida, after the surface was cleaned with a wet cloth

the lapida was dirty and soiled when we arrived, i had to rub off the smudge covering some of the lettering with the soles of my shoe.

a bit later, the caretaker of the grave beside my mom’s (my aunt’s and grandparents’ graves) came over and offered to clean and paint my mom’s lapida for P500. we agreed.

 

the caretaker’s name is danilo bandojo, a.k.a. danny bungal. there were two other caretakers named danny at loyola. one, danny bungal said, goes by ‘danny kalbo’.

danny bungal is 54 y.o. and has been taking care of my grandparents’ and aunt’s graves over the years now. he lives in antipolo and bikes two hours a day to and from work.

i asked him how much to plant grass, i particularly asked for carabao grass. “500 po,” he said. agreed.

“magkano mag-maintain?” i asked.

“150 a month po,” he said.

agreed. that is cheaper than a triple latte at starbucks! i negotiated an end of the month payment. he agreed.

i haggled for P450 for the cleaning and painting because the P500 he asked for included the purchase of spray paint. but he just borrowed paint, because stores were closed on good friday. he agreed.

for ka danny’s payment, i asked my daughters to pitch in any voluntary amount for the P450, to remind them of the thought of caring to spend a little, to show your love.

 

the lapida was a lovely sight after the cleaning and painting job. come first of may, we will send P500 to ka danny via cebuana lhuillier to plant carabao grass on my mom’s lot. thereafter, P150 every end of the month to maintain it by cleaning and watering the grass.

since we were already there at loyola memorial, jane also took the opportunity to offer flowers to his beloved uncle, ben f. rodriguez, and his wife. uncle ben took care of jane’s college schooling, and she lived with his family while she was in college.

received_316696292336943_1

another person so dear to my heart was also laid to rest at loyola — jojo abagon, my cousin. we found her lot, and also offered flowers.

received_657757725043440_1

the visit to loyola memorial park was a time to revisit cherished memories. the visit to loyola memorial park was a time to prepare myself for what was certainly to come in the future — my own eternal resting.

my family had lunch together and began our weekend stay-cation after lunch when we checked in for a 3D2N stay in a condo in the middle of metromanila.

jikki’s birthday was a good good friday!

 

 

no other way out but out

images (25)

the thought of taking one’s own life is a serious thought. a serious thought that indicates a serious problem or a problem taken way too seriously. whatever the case may be, the thought of taking one’s own life — no other way out but out — is desperation.

the thought of taking one’s own life is never — almost never — articulated, especially to the people who will be most affected by its achievement, namely, your loved ones or your immediate family… until it’s too late. but ironically the thought of taking one’s own life is really a matter too private and too delicate to articulate, especially to your loved ones.

telling your loved ones that you are planning to take your own life complicates matters in your head. it either increases their awareness of your presence and their involvement in your life and thoughts, that it becomes an extra burden that takes away your thought that there is no other way out but out. or you might get lectured in return thus galvanizing your resolve that there really is no other way out but out, because your ears can only take in too much.

thinking — and believing — that there is no other way out but out, is desperation. obviously, this is how you feel, that there’s no other way out of your problem in this life but out.

but taking one’s own life solves only one problem: the feeling that there’s no other way out of your problem but out. the problem is still there, you are not. however, your precipitate decision spawns multiple problems for those you will leave behind, including your dog.

taking one’s own life only works best with people who have no family and friends who care. or a pet. but that is exactly the mindset of people who entertain the thought that there is no other way out but out — that is, that no one cares. but people (loved ones, family and friends) really care. they care enough to get hurt even over the fact that you’d thought there’s no other way out but out.

they probably just weren’t there when you felt you needed them — when you felt you were crouched crippled in the shadows, and they can’t see you. or though they were there, you felt they did not see you.

it is a form of escape, taking one’s own life. escape from the responsibility of having to care about others. it is ironic that the feeling that no one cares for you brings you to care for no one but yourself. this is the first thought your friends and loved ones who you left bitterly would entertain — that you were too selfish. and you are — or were, because by now you’re already out.

too selfish to care about the grief you caused. too selfish to care about the trouble you brought. and too selfish to care about the expense that your burial would entail. unless you signed a demand note that you be left alone where you got out and be left to rot there.

but even this becomes an inconvenience for those who’d pass by your exit point. but even the government won’t allow this and would spend for your burial or cremation if no one else will. but if someone or some may care for you to give you a decent wake and burial, it’s still an inconvenience for them.

even if your own personal estate pays for all the expenses, time will stand still for those you left, family and friends. and they all, most of them, will grieve your demise for days. and you’d leave them ever wondering why you did it, why you concluded that there is no other way out of your problem but out, why you took your own life… until they forget.

so, don’t believe that there is no other way out but out. and don’t literally jump to a conclusion! hang in there… oops!

i’m out.

lessons from a bible student falling into sexual immorality

it is sad — devastating — when you hear of a bible school student falling in fornication (sex) with a young teenage girl committed to his trust.

he was the leader of the young people’s group in our local church where the teenage girl was a part of.  he was also active in leadership in the community outreach of the church, the community (the house) where the teenage girl lived.

i loved the young brother.  i saw myself (when i was much younger) in him — full of zeal for the work of the Lord.  volunteering to help when there was a need.  where i was judged (for being too forward in volunteering, in my former church), i did not judge him, because i understood where he was coming from — with the desire to help out and be of service, having gifts of teaching from the Holy Spirit.

he once offered to help me out.  i had preached in the morning service of the church.  after the worship service, i was going to teach the ‘tagalog’ worship group as a substitute.  then in the afternoon i was also assigned to lead the bible study.  he (then) offered himself to me, personally — to help me out in teaching the tagalog service.  i gave the assignment to him without hesitation and second thoughts.  that was how much i loved this young brother, and sought to encourage him along the way of his seeking the Lord’s will.

it is so sad — devastating — that he fell into sin.  it is so sad — devastating — that he fell into sexual immorality of the kind.

two things call to my attention: one, my problem with the practice in the church, that when a young man expresses his desire to serve the Lord in the ministry, the church leadership immediately sends him to bible school or the ministerial Academy, for doctrinal instruction.  this (to my mind) is a very fatal error!  i think i agree with DM lloyd jones (i can’t quote him… yet.  as i am hammering off the cuff).  i won’t send a young man desiring to serve the Lord in the ministry immediately to the ministerial Academy — i will send him to L I F E!  live a life.  find gainful employment, find a wife, start a family and, above all — live a life!  then, after all’s been said and done, after so many years, and (probably) grey or falling hair — that’s the only time to consider serving the Lord in the ministry… again.

two.  secondly, a thousand thoughts spawn one overt action.  be very wary about what goes on in your head — in your thoughts.  in your thoughts, there is a world of evil!  in your thoughts, you sin against God.  but, you ask forgiveness directly and immediately from God.  but when those thousand and one thoughts are translated into action, then, you sin against your fellow man — and sometimes the law of the land!  and for violating the law of the land, you will be held accountable, because justice demands it.

i cannot offer any remedy for the second issue except sanctifying your thought life, and exercising double restraint on your actions through self-control.  but the first, ie, sending a young, inexperienced man to the ministerial Academy — that, to me, is a big No-No!  send him to life — first.  this is what i firmly believe in.  i don’t think the church will suffer any bit for this young man not to be in the ministry ‘serving the Lord’.  on the contrary, i think he will do the church a great deal of service by being out of the ministry, and proving himself a faithful servant outside the ministry (and qualifying himself) — first — before he even cherishes the thought that he is “in” and (thus) being of service to the Lord his Saviour.  let him show — first — by a good testimony (outside the ministry) that he is indeed worthy of the calling.  let him endure and overcome temptations pertaining to his personal relationships, to his personal faith, to life etc. OUTSIDE the ministry, before even thinking about letting his foot in the door.

this is my 2¢ worth.

ketocayo: my first 24-hour fast

OMAD — the first time i encountered the term in the fb group, ketogenic ph (where i was recently added by a friend), i commented, “that’s what we called ‘stuff’ back in HS and college!” the OMAD ‘stuff’ i alluded to was… yes, DAMO.  grass.  MJ.

omad

but OMAD in ketogenic jargon stands for One Meal A Day — the practice of the 24-hour fast. in the 24-hour fast, you eat no solids, but may drink plain water, electrolyte water, coffee, tea, and broth.  today was my first time to try OMAD.

i’ve been regular in doing IF (Intermittent Fasting), another concept associated with keto WOE (Way Of Eating).  (jargon is social currency.  use it to blend in and not be seen or regarded as an outsider.)  i was already practicing a 16-8 IF, before i tried the 24-hour.

16-8 is a 16-hour fast, alternated by an 8-hour loading (eating) window.  during my 16-8 IF, i ate only two meals.  i coined my own term for it — TaMAD (Two Meals A Day).  there is no rule how many meals you can have during the 8-hour loading window — i can only handle two.  so i’ve been doing the 16-8 TaMAD (about 3 weeks) before i tried the 24-hour fast, OMAD.

the 24-hour fast.  the 24-hour ketogenic fast started 2 pm, saturday.  my family was in barrio fiesta celebrating the graduation of my youngest daughter.  order was crispy pata and kare-kare combo, with additional sinampalukang manok and inihaw na liempo.  gorged myself on my favourite knuckles, ligaments and tendons, with some pata meat.  had a couple of cuts of tuwalya (ox tripe) and laman from the kare-kare, of course, with bagoong alamang, with a bite of two of the scanty veggies that went with it.  had a bite or two of inihaw na liempo.  sipped sinampalukan soup and had the behind part of the chicken.

23516227_10210808667801343_1046656641_o

an hour and a half stroll at the mall and an hour travel back home. 

siesta.

then i went for my (un)usual run (at 7 pm), a 40-minute slow jog.  pulse rate was 136 bpm.  i used to run late afternoon around 5 pm.  but when i heard of the ‘fasted run’ i began changing my running program.  i started running in the morning around 6 am.  done it twice already.  the 7 pm run was an alternative to the next morning’s ‘fasted run’.

usual tidying up of the house for the rest of the evening.  late into the night until the wee hours of the morning was spent devouring stuff on hydration, electrolytes, keto flu, etc., from articles, a video, and discussions on various threads in ketogenic ph fb page.  (learning a lot of valuable — crucial — information from the fb group!)  over a cup of BPC.

and as a result of new information gleaned from the evening’s harvest, i took two dashes of himalayan salt orally, to spike my sodium levels — i was feeling kind-a lightheaded and dizzy, and based on my research, there was a good probability that i was experiencing ‘keto flu’ caused by a deficiency in sodium, potassium, or magnesium.

sunday.  i had my morning BPC, with knorr beef broth.  the knorr beef broth (while i haven’t made my own bone broth yet) is also the result of hours of brow-burning about electrolytes and keto flu the night before.  then off to church with my wife, jane, and middle daughter, jikki (who i will soon add to the fb group.)  then back home lunchtime.

broke the fast about 1:30 pm, less than 24 hours.

23483225_1669395016427404_967260059_o

by not completing the 24 hours — did i break the law?  nah!

enjoy KETO WOE.  😋😋

 

eliz and CV

saturday was antithesis: in the morning, we were invited to a birthday breakfast buffet; in the afternoon, we went to a wake.  the birthday, was the 60th birthday celebration of a dear christian friend, eliz ‘maling’ francisco: the wake, the wake of an uncle, dr. cesar vicente san pedro, 87, who died of liver cancer.

there are no ironies — if ever there were — in birthdays.  in deaths there often are.  one of the ironies in deaths is that a death in the family becomes the occasion of happy reunions between siblings, cousins, relatives, and friends who haven’t seen each other in ages.  a death in the family brings us together, and the tragedy of death becomes a comedy of reunions.  an irony.  an irony on a tragedy…

maling is special.  she is one of a few.  she hosted the birthday breakfast buffet largely for her churchmates and us fellow christians (long-time friends) from all over (100-120 persons) — a huge blow-out!  she wanted to celebrate her 60th birthday with people closest to her heart.  the lady loves the Lord, and drives a silver jaguar.

 

at the wake of my uncle, it was a noisy reunion of cousins and close uncles and aunts.  noisy, filled with laughter and animated story-telling.  an irony on a tragedy…

i met CV, a 2nd cousin (son of my mother’s 1st cousin, the departed), the youngest.  i realized that for the past 30 odd years i have never talked to him — not a word — and not even exchanged a handshake greeting in countless clan reunions we’ve seen each other at.  yesterday was our first warm handshake, when i expressed my condolences to him upon our arriving at the wake…

“CV…” i said, “does that stand for cesar vicente, after your dad, cesar, and grand-dad, vicente?”
“his dad’s name is also cesar vicente,” my eldest brother rolly said.
“no, my name is cesar vincent,” CV said.
“ahh, tweaked,” i said…

CV, i learned, was a chef.  a would-have-been doctor like his dad and elder brother, paul, but chose another path — culinary arts.  he’s now the head chef at parq vancouver.  i asked him how he cooks scrambled eggs — gordon ramsey or anthony bourdain — to break the ice.  i said i didn’t like gordon ramsey’s scrambled eggs because they were “masyadong malasado” (too runny).  from then on, it was talk about chinese cuisine — herbs and spices, star anise, cooking wine, chicken powder, soup stock made from chicken, pork, and veal, century eggs mashed in congeee; pho, wansoy; bibimbop, kimchi — asian cuisine — after the ice breaker…

when it was time to go, i bade my cousins, uncle, and aunts goodbye.  i shook CV’s hand.

“at long last,” i said.
“oo nga,” he said.

 

 

paranoia

paranoia, the baseless fear that there is an evil plot against you; that people you see pass by your house are spies who are part of the conspiracy.

ac58c204b34558676f98067f9348fe558b82b758

this was the kind of paranoia that afflicted me.  it was not a constant fear, but manifested itself from time to time, in episodes, like spells. it also manifested itself in a couple other ways:

when i am in a public place like a cafeteria or restaurant, and see a group of people in a huddle — i was certain they were talking about me.  they weren’t saying good things about me, but nasty, unkind things.  sometimes, alone in my bedroom, i could even hear them talking, i could hear their voices through the walls.

but my nastiest and most horrifying experience of paranoia was seeing (in my peripheral vision, when i look slightly down) the faces of people sitting across from me melt and disfigure into hideous demons frowning at me.

Clem_Ritz

all this was a result of drug abuse.  i had already quit.  i was already into rehab.  but the damage that drugs have caused in my brain’s perceptions of reality remained.  my problem wasn’t merely psychological, it was physiological — drugs have messed up my brain’s bio-chemical equilibrium.

i was regularly injected with an anti-psychotic drug to correct the chemical imbalance in my brain that caused the hallucinations — the paranoia.  i was also given depressants to slow down my thoughts and make me droopy and drowsy, unable (now) to further conceive conspiracy theories.

after six months or so of drug treatment, the chemical imbalance was corrected and my brain had altogether ceased from inventing malevolent plots plotted against me… and involuntarily conjuring up frowning demon faces.