Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Time to organise – myself!

cast iron sourdough Taken out of the oven at 9am this morning before I went off to work. M was given strict instructions not to touch – again. But when I came home at 3pm, absolutely starving (missed lunch), this is what I found":-


So I cut myself some too! This one was baked in the small,  3 quart cast iron pot and M has decided that it’s just the right size for me to bake for us three times a week! That is going to take some organising until sourdough baking becomes second nature. Can you see my wonderful slicing?



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         It’s not as holey as the last one that I made freeform, but then every one that I have made seems to come out different. I’m kind of following a couple of recipes and the dough does seem incredibly sticky – I almost end up wearing “rye dough gloves” and I often wonder about how much I seem to waste as it’s stuck to my hands (and my watch – and my sleeves – even in my hair, don’t ask!).

So, the next task is organisational training. This could be a major obstacle as I have a first class honours degree in procrastination ……..


Saturday, April 23, 2011

This and that




So, here it is, Easter Saturday and I’m home alone. In this little town where I live, we have an annual sailing regatta – at Easter. Now even though M has not taken his little sailing dinghy down to the beach he is involved with the races. Today he is in the patrol boat. His job will be to rescue anyone who has the misfortune of falling into the sea; broken mast; upturned dinghy etc. etc. He may very well be busy today as the wind is pretty strong out there. And it is very, very cool today. There is no promised sunshine to be seen. However, the sailing crowd seems to relish these conditions, apparently it makes the racing more exciting (even if your fingers fall off with the cold) and there is a good turnout from southern Tasmania.

Some of the larger boats sailed down from just outside Hobart last night as part of the weekend’s racing program and some very brave souls have set up camp on the foreshore. The committee of the sailing club here ensure that there are meals and drinks (particularly hot ones!) available and there is entertainment at the club on both Saturday and Sunday nights. M is also working the bar tonight as he enjoys the singer who will be performing (and it means he’s in for free). I may wander down later but it could be difficult leaving a warm room to brave the walk down the street in the wind and possibly rain. Hmmm we will just have to wait and see.

But on a positive note I have had a wonderful success with my sourdough trials. A big thanks must go to Kate from Vegetable Vagabond fame on this count. I visited Kate at her pretty home and wonderful, wild garden last week to collect some multigrain that she had ordered for me through her Garden Shed business. Naturally I stopped for coffee and a chat and Kate broke out her fantastic South Australian Haigh’s chocolates. I was very strong and only had one (I think). They are very yummy. Anyway, I digress. Whilst I was there I asked Kate about sourdough starters and baking, did she have any helpful hints? Well, she very kindly handed over some wonderful rye sourdough starter from her fridge, told me about cast iron camp ovens (cheaper than Le Creuset cookware) and their beneficial use. I was very excited about all of this and thought that M might have an old camp oven in the shed. So with many, many thanks to Kate I took myself off to collect a friend who needed a ride home. 

But, I didn’t get very far down the road when I espied Pickle, Kate’s jack russell terrier, who had been for a wander into town, on his own and was in big trouble. He was playing with a couple of other small dogs and a young boy obviously on his way home from school. I stopped the car and wandered over to the pavement where I called Pickle by name. He came running up and I grabbed him quickly. I asked the young boy if he knew where Pickle lived and he pointed to Kate’s house so I was pretty sure that I had the right dog. I put him in the back and gave him a talking to while I turned the car around and drove back to Kate’s. She heard me arrive and came out and the first words that I said were “This IS Pickle isn’t it?” I was so worried that I had stolen some poor child’s pet. Luckily it was and with Kate holding Pickle (firmly) in her grasp I left.

I collected my friend and drove us home and when we arrived at my place I asked B if he wanted to stop as M had just arrived home from a job. The decision was affirmative and M said that he would drive B home after they had both had a beer. It was at that point that I asked M if he had a camp oven in the shed that I could use for my bread. Answer: No, but I’ve got one that’s a bit effeminate! But no, he didn’t even have a girly one so I had to pay a visit to the hardware shop in town. They didn’t have an oven that was the right size but they did have a saucepan and the wooden handle screwed off very nicely. I haven’t used it yet as the first batch of Kate’s starter produced a large loaf and I baked it on a baking sheet instead. I gave strict instructions to M that it was NOT to be cut whilst warm but even so, by the time I came in from the garden a lot of it had disappeared and he wormed his way out of trouble by saying that it was wonderful. And it was.

On another note, we had a long discussion with Miss D, the five year old grand-daughter this week about “Where does the Easter Bunny live?” So after dismissing the idea that he might be in the magic cave with Father Christmas, we thought that it must be a gigantic magic burrow where the Easter eggs can be stored. She is soooo excited about the Easter Bunny coming tonight I’m not sure that there’ll be much sleep.

By the way, the other news is that my younger daughter sent me a text last week to tell me that she is getting married! Congratulations, I sent back, but please give me some time to lose some weight. “No rush” she said, it’ll be on Daydream Island in 2013!” That should give me a good chance, don’t you think?  She’s already living with the man involved in the story. He was the one that nearly died earlier this year in a motorbike accident. I think the wedding is the silver lining of that event! A near death experience tends to put things into perspective and realise what love really is. Good luck to them both and hopefully the magic will still be there in 2013. (And I’ll be a size 14).


Friday, April 15, 2011

Kitchen (mis)Adventures

Well, what a week in the kitchen. Naturally it’s still tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes and I now have a cupboard full of dried tomatoes, chutney, relish, pickles and a freezer full of frozen tomatoes. And they’re still coming! We have eaten tomatoes with everything and nobody is allowed to leave the house without at least one bag brimming with them.

But I also decided to try an bake some sourdough bread this week. Here I am, nearly 59 years old and never tried before. So I did a bit of research and thought to myself that it seemed pretty straight forward and gathered the flour and water and nothing else to give it a go. Well, you have to “feed” the mixture and wait for the magic. Hmm, the first bowl of “magic” ended up in the bin as it looked and smelled mouldy – not sour. But I was not going to give up and started another little batch of “magic”. This time I was excited to see the bubbles and a little bit of froth so I thought that we were in business this time! I had a very plain recipe from the web and set about to create the masterpiece. Well, maybe it’s not that warm in my kitchen but it didn’t seem to rise very much, even after leaving it overnight! Now I’m not known for my patience, in fact I think that when it was being given out I must have got bored waiting and left before I received my share! So after hours and hours I just bunged it in the oven, a very hot oven. The recipe said to leave if for thirty-five minutes but after peering through the oven door for the millionth time I decided to pull it out after only thirty minutes. It looked done to me – see below


However, upon cutting it was plain to see that this very dense loaf was not completely cooked in the centre. Bugger! M said that he was sure that it would be fine if we toasted it. So we did. But one slice was enough it was so heavy. So then I thought that I had better make some bread with yeast so at least we would have some edible bread in the house and I made these


The focaccia (spelling is not a good point either!) turned out very well and so luckily we didn’t starve this week.

Yesterday I decided to give the old sourdough “magic” another go and dragged the starter out, separated what I needed and gave it a feed and left it all day to bubble up. Naturally I had forgotten that I was going out to my book group last night, so after making up the dough with the starter and putting it in the bread making machine for it’s first mix, M was given strict instructions to “NOT TOUCH IT” except for turning off the plug and I would deal with it when I came home. Well, it was a good evening last night so I was a bit later home than I had originally planned. And yes, at 11.30pm there I was in the kitchen kneading this bread dough, which quite frankly, didn’t look as good and elasticy (yes I know that’s not a real word) as the first lot. But being positive I left it to rise overnight again. It’s still there, not rising. So I’ve started an ordinary rye loaf in the mixer to keep us going. Just in case. I am going to leave the sourdough all day and then bung it in the oven to see what happens. This could become a mini series……

M had also decided to have a go in the kitchen last Friday. I was going around to a friend’s place and he decided that with the surplus plums he was going to try and make an alcohol of sorts. This involved cooking the plums. So he filled my largest pot to the brim (we had a lot of plums), added water, aaahhh, put the lid on the pot, double aahhh, turned the heat to full power, Noooooo and then went out to do a little job in the shed! Need I say more? Apparently, (it was all cleaned up before I got home) when he remembered the plums they had escaped and were covering the stove top, the benches either side, dripped down through my recipe books onto the floor and through both drawers under the cook top. In fact I was cleaning a small river of plum juice from those drawers for a couple of days! The pot of plums was taken outside and left there until I peeked inside and saw the mould and insisted that it be sent to the compost heap! I also refused to wash the pot so I think it might still be in the shed!

I’m so glad that kitchen failures are something that can happen to everyone!

Happy weekend, we might even have a dry one after endless days of rain………


Friday, April 8, 2011

Recycling at it’s best!






What a creative idea! Joanne Ussary bought a used Boeing 727.  She paid $2,000.00 for the plane.  It cost $4,000.00 to move and $24,000.00 to renovate.  (She has a LOT of wood and specialty windows for $24,000!  I want her carpenter!)  But not bad for a $30,000.00 investment...  The stairs open with a garage door remote and one of the bathrooms is still intact.  There is a personal Jacuzzi in the cockpit. The Boeing home is featured as part of a collection of creative conversions.  It  has a spectacular view!  (I wonder how much the land with this view cost!!!)  

And where it is based!