Sourdough dreams


IMG_20140910_142706I have tried, once before to make my own sourdough.  After carefully measuring and feeding my way through about 5 days I had a lovely if rather whiffy mason jar sitting on my bench, nearly ready to go but when it only had a day or so to go a cold snap came along and killed it.

So now the kitchen is so close to being finished I’m feeling like I have some breathing space, and some bench space, and it’s coming up to summer, so it might be time to try again.  It’s pretty much just a case of 200g flour with 200ml warm water feeding and fermenting. But of course, as with all things which appear outwardly simple there is a far more complex process going on behind the scenes.  And with my propensity toward absent-mindedness there’s that whole issue of remembering to feed it.  After all it won’t tell me when it’s hungry – unlike another little tummy which is half the reason I’m thinking of doing sourdough again! Continue reading

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Holy Macaroni


Oops it’s been a long time between posts.  I only just realised, there has been an excessive amount of illness in my house – anyone know of good home remedies let me know.  Basically for anything cos we’re pulling out all stops.  Well me and Max are anyway, Graeme is, as always, a perfect example of good health.  Not Fair.

This post is going to follow a show and tell format. Let me know if you wish for instructions for any of the following, there’s just such a lot here!!

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Why, hello there stranger


Strange things are happening, in my wardrobe of all places.  After my birthday I decided to invest in some new clothes, as the fact that in the last 3 months I’ve lost more weight than my 2 year old weighs (thanks Shannan Ponton and your 8 week challenge) meant that I was having a hard time keeping on any of last years winter clothes.

I’ve been a size 18 for a while now, and if I were entirely honest I could tell you that I wasn’t trying on clothes, and was simply accepting that that was where it was.  And in the same vein I probably should say that some of the 18’s I was buying probably were verging on the too small side, I was just refusing to accept it.

So shopping for size 16’s was pretty cool.  You can find them in shops fairly easily, unlike larger sizes and there are cuts that are quite stylish and flattering, rather than boxy and fattering*. But, here’s my true reason for celebration this eve. I tried on a pair of pants purchased on the shopping trip mentioned some time ago, I hope you’re still there reader, as this is getting a touch rambly. I’m even practicing neologism here people. anyway, as I was saying.  Bought a cool pair of teal jeans from Katies – these ones in teal.  They are amazing, and comfy and I truly recommend that everyone get a pair. Stick with me, we’ll work through the tangents. The thing is, I got a pair of 18’s  and they just about fell off, so a pair of 16’s was bought in, and they were comfy, and I loved the colour, and so home with me they came.  But when I put them on this morning thinking it was the right kind of day to rock some colour block, with jeans and an Espirit dress that deserves it’s own post, I found that apparently a 16 is not right for me either…

Hello there stranger, size 14 pants it is!!!!!  I further confirmed this with a purchase of tights today, whereby when I tried on the 16s they proved my point, so I am sitting here a ridiculously pleased with myself size 14.  With a pair of those damn fine Katie’s Jeans that won’t stay up on my hands.

I have however celebrated this win with a feast of cheese, crackers and olives for dinner tonight, washed down with a bottle of wine so I may find that that is not a problem for long…  if you are in the region, drop in to Maleny

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Cheese, where you will find an awesome selection of mouthwateringly good treats.  My platter tonight consisted of their Wasabi Cheddar, Buffalo Feta, St Clair, and a low fat Brie accompanied by crackers, olives, a Black Swan Broad bean and hummus dip, and 97% fat free semi dried tomatoes.  Yummo.  If anyone from the Challenge has come over for a read, I did also do a walk pushing the pram that was about 2 hrs long, incorporated a 89m climb, so when I was at the supermarket deciding what dinner would be since Gra is working late tonight, I figured that I maybe could go a little wild…

Ah, ok, so the point of my post?  Oh, yeah, Size 14, hello stranger.  It’s been a ling time since you were in my life, my being a size 12 goal seems attainable for the first time in a long, long while, rather than simply something that I can see shimmering in the distance as something which is nice, but it ain’t going to be a reality any time soon.  Yay for the little things in life that make you realise how truly good life can be.  I love the little bonuses you throw my way that make me feel all happy like this over a silly little thing which makes me feel ever so powerful.  Mwah ha universe I have a say.  I control all that is me, and you can’t actually stop me if I can put in the motivation, and the better I do, the more motivation I feel.+++

* I know fattering is not a word.   There’s this thing I’ve noticed whereby they seem to not increase the amount of fabric used for sizes 14 +, so while a size 12 top is flattering, and a nice length, by the time you get to a size 16 top there’s not quite enough cover around the midriff area, you find that lifting your arms becomes somewhat of an embarrassment, as suddenly more stomach is exposed than you’re happy to accept, especially once you’ve got a few baby badges (i.e. stretch marks) to show off.

+++  Tomorrow I shall attempt to post a rather more coherent and rather less wine fuelled piece documenting a couple of cool domestic tricks I have discovered in the past couple of days 🙂

Flash in the Pan


Last night I had planned to make my poached salmon with baked chips (check the recipe page, pretty sure it’s there, if not I will add it one day basically because it’s awesome and super easy, along with being low cal and quite healthy, and it has potato chips!)I But…  my oven is broken, and the part didn’t come in yesterday, so I’m having another oven-less day.

I decided instead to do pan-fried salmon with mash. But the salmon pieces were tiny, and that was a bit boring, so I decided to flash up the pan.  My accompanying dish was a masterpiece if I do say so myself.

Chorizo Peas with Tamarillo Caramelised Onion

  • 1 Chorizo, sliced v thinly
  • 2 Red Onions
  • Peas
  • 3 Tamarillo
  • 1/4c red wine
  • splash of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • oil

Heat a large frypan with a small amount of oil, fry off the chorizo until crisped.  Remove from pan and allow to drain on a paper towel. Then add onions and cook until they start to go transparent.  Then add wine, vinegar, tamarillo and sugar cook until caramelised. Add the peas and cook quickly.  Mmm mm mmmm

Texturalised


I’ve walked the same route for a while now (to and from daycare) but the other day I was looking for photo ops, man did I find them! Not my usual snaps, but some great textures and colour patterns.  So, of course, I thought I’d share.

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Ohh, ahh, look out – it’s a slide show.

I have to go for another wander, as I’ve also noticed that there’s an old petrol bowser, and a sign that advertises Fallows Shafting Services, which just seems like a sign that needs to be recorded for posterity.  I know, I’m completely low brow – however we all have our moments I guess.

I have continued my card making frenzy, my fave so far is inspired by “The Sound of Music”  and has an origami cat on it made from brown paper and string, and captioned “a few of my favourite things.  Subtle I’m not.

I got five cookbooks the freecycling group (find more info here).  I have great fun trawling the group, and sometimes come up with wins.  So I took one of the books for a spin today and made Naan bread – super easy, and turned out great.

Naan Bread
3 1/2 cups White Flour
1/2 cup yoghurt
2 tbsp Sugar
1 Egg
1/4 c Oil, ghee or melted butter
3/4 c warm water
2 tsp yeast
  • Mix yeast and warm water with a 1 Tbsp sugar, set aside
  • Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and make a well in the middle.
  • Mix the sugar, yoghurt, eggs and oil in a bowl.
  • Pour the yeast into the center of the flour, mix gently, add remaining wet ingredients and knead to form soft dough.
  • Cover with damp cloth and allow the dough to stand until doubled in size. Punch down, cover and leave while you are preheating the oven (as hot as it gets).
  • Divide the dough into 8 balls and allow rest for 3-4 minutes.
  • Shape each ball of dough with the palms to make an oval shape.
  • Bake the indian bread naan until puffed up and golden brown (about 10 mins). Serve hot.
I have wanted to make Naan for ages, and always thought it would be a challenge, but surprisingly easy.  I have also made an absolutely bastardised version of a french bread recipe they have, will try to make it again cos it was awesome, however sill keep track of the alterations next time so I can post!
Enjoy 🙂

Whole lotta wanting


I want to be one of those bloggers who has consistently awesome posts.  You know the ones I mean.  Where the kitchen looks cutely messy in the pics and the food is healthy and delicious, with clear instructions and measurements, ah and generally they plan their posts and therefore have photos and other exciting things.  Unfortunately that is not how I cook.

An approximation of a recipe for the chicken burgers I cooked tonight

Burgers

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup whole grain flour
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 Tbsp parmesan
  • an undefined further measure of whole grain flour

Prep your sourdough starter by taking it out of the fridge and leaving overnight in a warm spot.

Add 1 cup warm water and 1 cup whole grain flour, mix gently – at this stage don’t worry about lumps, the yeast seems to sort it all out.  Leave in a warm spot 12-18 hours.

Mix in flour until you have a gooey dough.  You want it just holding it’s form, but still really wet – took about 1.5 cups of flour for mine.  Leave in a warm spot to double in size (it’s quite cold here today, so I popped mine in the oven at its lowest setting for an hour).

Punch down, add more flour until it resembles a dough. Leave to rise again.

Punch down, shape to desired form, I made 6 buns.  Leave to rise yet again. Sprinkle with cheese and herbs.

Cook in an oven at 200 degrees for about 40 mins.

(You could buy buns, however these were awesome)

Patties

  • 150g chicken mince
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp red curry paste
  • 50/50 mix of breadcrumbs and whole grain flour

Mix together the first 3 ingredients, then add the crumb/flour mix in small amounts until you reach the right consistency.

I’d like to say shape into 2 patties, however I would describe the mix at this stage as chicken glue, so spoon half the mixture into a hot oiled frypan, in a patty-esque shape, and then repeat with remaining mix. Cook in fry pan.

The Finished Product

2 Buns, halved through equator

2 patties

1 tomato, sliced

Rocket

Snow pea shoots

2 slices aged cheese

2 Tbsp onion jam (see recipe here)

Mayonnaise

Beetroot

Combine all ingredients into the classic burger style eating format – may I suggest the order of starting from bottom: bottom of bun, cheese, patty, onion jam, salady things, Mayo, top of bun.

Enjoy with gusto.

I’m the Easter Bunny


Can't talk,I'm doing quality control on the chocolates that were hiding in the garden. Think I have contained them all

I had a teacher at school and we used to often while away Maths classes singing silly songs, one of which was about the easter bunny.  Now I have the only line I can remember, which is “coz I’m the easter bunny”, stuck on repeat in my head.

If anyone has any annoying songs about the easter bunny they’d like to share let me know!

Here goes my promised update on the goings on of Easter.

White Rose

Pink Rose

Snapdragon?

Yellow rose

variegated leaf plant - just love the trio of colours

A collection of floral tributes, I went out into the garden the other day and was taken by the range of colours, shapes, textures

Bananarama

and interplay of light that I found there. I seem though to have taken lots of roses, so another time I shall have to delve into the more tropical aspects and the bright shininess that they throw out.

I also promised you a look at my ultra artisan hot cross buns.  I made them to this recipe  but used a combination of spelt and whole grain flour, a mix of dried mango, cranberry and blueberry, and molasses instead of sugar. I have now discovered that you need quite a light-hand when working with spelt flour as the gluten is not as durable as when using standard flours.

Hot Cross Lumps

They came out looking rather lumpish, and were pretty heavy.  However the flavours were amazing, and I’m pretty impressed with them for my first sourdough cooking experience. Just don’t judge me too harshly!

We had a great time over the long weekend, my sister Amy came up to visit and we had heaps of fun.  Went to visit Australia Zoo, where Steve Irwin’s dreams live on.  The midday show they do is awesome, with input from the birds, crocs and elephants.  Also spent a lot of time looking at kangaroos, Cassowary, Tigers and a screed of other creatures.  The zoo is awesome, however the new Africa section lets the side down a wee bit, but I think they still have a bit of work to do on it. We also had a couple of swims at the beach – Cotton Tree and Noosa, and a great lunch at the Surf Club at Noosa. Gra and I got a night off when Amy stayed in to babysit max and we went to the RSL here, it was really nice, though a rather interesting decor!

Yo homey, I have easter eggs in my bag, check it.

A boy's gotta accessorize

Feeding the crocs

Black cockatoo

Max and Amy watching the show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chillaxing with the roos

Isn't he cute?

Little monkey in the garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just for a comparative note, this is Brutus, a massive croc we saw on the Adelaide River near Darwin.

A distressing Sunday night


So I spent my night distressing a table, using some interesting methods:

  1. Used insect repellant to remove the majority of the stain on the table. This is highly effective, and way easier, cleaner and it also just manages to be less stinky than paint stripper
  2. Steel wool to remove the last of the stain.
  3. Coated the table with a baking soda paste, then painted vinegar on top.  I love the fizzy bit, and it makes the table all clean, absolves the need for scraping, and gives a weathered look.
  4. Scratched up the table a bit with a bottle top, this unfortunately meant I had to open and drink 3 beers.  As I needed to make 3 scratches in the table (ok, I just wanted to drink beer, somehow it just goes with the territory.
  5. Burnt some incense, then used the embers to scorch the table somewhat, and rubbed some ash into my scorch marks.
  6. Boiled up some pots of water to make some heat marks on the table.

Now I just have to wait for it to dry to see the finished product, kinda excited.

before

during

distressing close up

finished, but wet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the kitchen, I have experimented with my dragonfruit, and also made some Aloe Gel, which I then used in:

1 2 3 Lemon Drink

1/3c lemon juice

1/3c orang juice

1-3 Tbsp Aloe Gel (or something resembling it – Aloe gel v hard to measure cos it’s so gloopy)

1/3c honey

1/3tsp cayenne pepper

1/3Tbsp sea salt (or one teaspoon, just 1/3 something seems to fit….)

Mix it all up, dilute with water to your liking

Dragonfruit

Peeling Aloe Leaf

Dragonfruit

 

 

 

Dragons and Armadillos.


Can't take credit for this image -thanks flashscreen

If you’ve been following, you know that one of the things I first thought was cool about my new garden is that we have waterdragons here, and frequently see them flitting about.  Well, the rain has finally gone away here in the Sunshine Coast, and when I ventured outside today I discovered that I also have the fruit of dragons (henceforth known as Dragonfruit) growing in my garden.

They are awesome looking, night flowering cacti that grow these super cool looking fruit. I think that I have left mine on for a wee bit long, so they don’t have a lot of flavour left, but I just found a chutney recipe, so might have a go at that cos if nothing else it will look way very interesting.  Though I’m getting close to needing more jars, more on that later.

I’m going to be able to make some very interesting fruit salads this year: passionfruit, dragon fruit, banana and tamarillo anyone?  Does anyone else find that when they think of tamarillos there is a mental association with Armadillos?  Maybe that’s just my strange brain.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all my tamarillos either, they seem to just be mental imagery for me right now, my other one is the story we always get told of when my Mum was little and Grandmax had to fence off the tamarillo trees as otherwise Mum would wait for them to fall down and would end up with a rash on her face since they’re so high in acid.

I’m also wondering about my Aloe Vera.  I’ve found how to make my own Aloe vera gel, which is on the to do list, but I have also recently tried the silky sweet and spectacular Aloe Vera juice, and want to have a go at that, but not doing so well on finding recipes, so all help appreciated there.

40 Chillis? Check

Heading back indoors, had a busy day yesterday in the kitchen. Chilli plant was overflowing with spicy goodness, so I made a big batch of Harrisa, though I’m going to try a few other things, even with harvesting 40 (yup, 4-0) chilli for the recipe the bush is still laden.

Also, another batch of Watermelon Rind Chutney, after Kim’s suggestion to blend it down a bit, turns out I really like watermelon rind chutney, all those poor rinds I have thrown out over the years!

I also made a batch of Onion Jam, which like the harrisa was a first effort – and turned out super yummy, had some this morning for breakfast on muffin splits with ricotta and smokey ham. Recipe’s

Dub me all Chutney

easy too:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 600g brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Add sugar. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add vinegar and 1/2 cup cold water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until thick.
And then put them in these cute baby mason jars, and made little tags, yay for fun gift idea.
My last kitchen fun for the day was a sourdough starter.  I’ve never done one before, as the hassle of feeding them never seemed worth the payoff, I know that I would baby it for a little while, maybe make one batch, then forget about it.  But this recipe I found on Pinterest: http://www.armommy.com/holidays/sourdough-starter-d-i-y/ you only have to feed every month or two. Yeoop.  It’s asking to be forgotten about, for short periods of time.

In the beginning there was flour, and water, and yeast

and upon the shelf it sat, and stewed, and grew

And it bubbled and it brewed, basically looking like goo

A Spear of Grass


Asparagus – yum! I should have taken photos, however I wasn’t aware of just how good this would taste until I was halfway through eating it.  I have however tonight been inspired by KatySheCooks‘s roast asparagus recipe to share this tidbit with you.

I do these poach/roasted potatoes which are divine, and the other day had a bunch of other vegies lying around that I decided to see how they would react to the same treatment.  The conclusion? You get these great rich caramel flavours, a mix of crunchy and soft textures, and it just makes goodness in your mouth.  Plus as with many of my favourites, looks quite fancy, doesn’t take much work.  What I did:

Poachy Roast Salad

  • 2 Kipfler Potatoes with skin on in 1cm slices
  • 1 Zucchini, ribboned (use a potato peeler)
  • Pumpkin 1 cm slices, roughly the same amount and size as your potato
  • Garlic cloves, whole peeled
  • Cherry tomatoes (1/2 punnet)
  • Button mushrooms, halved
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • Olives a good handful pitted Kalamata
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • Fried sage leaves
  • Toasted nuts (I used Hazelnuts and Pine Nuts)
  • white wine herby vinegar dressing
  • 250mls chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

Put the potatoes, garlic and pumpkin into a baking dish, pour the stock over.  Cook 25 mins, add mushrooms and asparagus cook another 10 mins (most of the stock have been absorbed).

Turn the oven up to 250, add tomatoes, and zucchini, cook 15 mins.

Remove, add the rest of the ingredients, and chow down.