Mushroom risotto and Lights!

Last week Mr ATMT came home and said he had heard chef Shannon Bennett being interviewed on the ABC and he was talking about his mushroom risotto. I’m not a risotto fan unless I make it or unless I know that the person in the kitchen takes its making seriously. Gnocchi is another menu selection I have this issue with. I’m not into eating golf balls and don’t believe it when wait staff say it’s “homemade” that it actually is. I’ve seen those little cryo vac bags some restaurants purchase from suppliers labelled “homemade” that bounce if you happen to drop them. I downloaded this mushroom risotto recipe from the ABC website intending to make it last weekend. Didn’t happen then, but I did manage to make the mushroom stock for the recipe. I was a bit emotional  as I cooked this dish tonight as  our niece is engaged to a chef who previously worked with Shannon and we are anxiously awaiting news about her dad who today suffered a stroke.  Her dad, mine and Mr ATMT’s brother in law and the reason we met. Every stir was done with love and positive thoughts for them. I just hate seeing people I love going through pain knowing you can’t really do anything to ease it.  Happy birthday AH!

One good thing about having a cruddy kitchen is that is good being able to just stick recipes onto the wall and not worry about messing up paint work etc. Mushroom risotto here!

IMG_1429

Some adaptations were made to the recipe due to inability to source neither champagne vinegar nor carnaroli rice  locally (I did check with Coles and they suggested I try Uncle Ben’s Express rice – I didn’t).

I’m not going to go through step by step my making of this dish, that is clearly spelt out in the recipe. But I can say it was delicious! If you like risotto and have a surplus of mushrooms, give it a go!

mushroom risotto

 

Lights! Yay!

Today we had light fittings fitted into the rooms that are pretty much under control as far as renovating are concerned. Once again I called on the ever reliable Amador from Safety First Electrical to carry out this job. There is nothing more frustrating than trades people who don’t deliver when they say they will. No problem with Amador, if there is an unexpected delay you can count on great communication and alternative suitable arrangements are made.  Amador is also an expert in providing energy solutions for homes and businesses, something so important to all of us! We purchased light fittings from Geoff Mills at the Morwell Lighthouse and would highly recommend  anyone who needs to buy light fittings, get advice or to convert existing fittings to be more energy efficient that you check out this business. Service standards and knowledge are exceptional, why would you pay as much, if not more to buy from a store that deals in everything from compost to concrete when you can have experts like the staff at Morwell Lighthouse who point you in the right direction?

Here are our lights, I’m thrilled!

Passageway:

Lighting passageway

Photo below is taken in similar position 18 months ago. I think we are getting there!

Passage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the snug light fitting.

IMG_1424

 

The ballroom/lounge room. I love this fitting but because of the pattern on the heritage Wunderlich  pressed steel ceiling we will have to get a larger finishing cap.

IMG_1420

Finally, my folly. I am so not  a chandelier type person, but I saw this ages ago, fell in love with it and finally we succumbed and bought it. I absolutely love it! If not only to look at, but it is a great discussion point having a bit of Louis 15th french bling in the bedroom!  Or as Mr ATMT says, the FOTT (see how you go working that out!)

Louis 15th 5 light

 

It is nice to go back and see the old photos as we so often feel we are not getting anywhere. I just looked back on my timeline on Facebook and found my post after we had, on a whim bought this place, my words were, “Holy shit, we just bought a house! Should have gone to cello”.
http://www.realestate.com.au/property-house-vic-trafalgar-1…

There is a certain amount of pride knowing we are giving this lovely old home a rebirthing. Many more ticks to check off the list yet!

Posted in Recipes, Recipes, Renovation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A really bad smell is – In My Kitchen!

Yes, not a stunning way to start this month’s IMK post! Most of Celia’s lovely IMK participants over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  share pictures of their delightful, gourmet treats, stunning new cookware and trinkets collected from afar, but no, not me this month! Due to my own stupidity and carelessness, the kitchen is full of foul smelling, black smoke which is due to this,

11221691_10153517035874455_2733770624476823855_o

I stupidly put a Tupperware lid on top of the toaster and this particular toaster starts when the button is ever so lightly touched. I’ve hated this toaster since the day we got it and I now have a justifiable reason to get rid of it. It’s full of melted plastic that dripped down into its guts. Bye bye toaster! Next one will definitely be a good old push the lever down style.

On a lighter note, some other happenings this month In My Kitchen are:

IMG_1370The first firing up  of the wood fire stove this season. As much as I love the idea of this oven, the total inefficiency of it is why I don’t use it often. It takes a couple of hours to get to about ‘moderate’ temperature and I just hate seeing wood wastefully ‘go up in smoke’  without some return.  It is lovely though, on a miserable winter’s afternoon to listen to the crackle and feel the radiating warmth. I am planning on putting in a wood fire which also has  a baking chamber in it when we do the new kitchen/family room. Haven’t yet decided if this will stay or go and if it goes, what will fill the space.

IMG_1386

And there is a great big mess! Glenda over at Passionfruit Garden has been doing some posts about using pumpkins in cakes and loaves and it made me think about a nut loaf my mum used to make. Mum wasn’t a great cook which might be why my dad bought her this book, 2 and a half months after they were married in 1943. Mum did cook, but like most post war Australian wives it was basic yet filling food and ‘tea’, not dinner, quite often sat on top of a saucepan full of water with the saucepan lid covering the plate while it ‘stayed warm’ for hours until dad was ready to eat it. IMG_1371

I love this book, it has all the requirements a modern-day 1943 housewife should have and hints and tips on how to be a great homemaker. Nothing quite as OTT as The Good Wife, but it is interesting reading and the recipes are reliable and sometimes quite humorous. Luckily it was tagged to come to me when things were divided up. You can see by the way mum noted it as for me, she wasn’t a subtle person!

Good wife

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, back to why there is a mess in my kitchen. Inspired by Glenda, I decided to see if I could recreate a nut loaf that tasted like mums. I checked with my niece and she didn’t have the recipe amongst the ones she inherited and the one Glenda shared didn’t seem to be quite like the one I remember, so I searched Google and came up with this recipe that seemed more like the one I was looking for. Sure was close! I used brown sugar and upped the butter a bit and also added a teaspoon of mixed spice.

Nut Loaf

Cooked in an old nut loaf tin and the excess in a small loaf pan covered with a foil tent, It was a good start to searching and finding the lost memory. Not quite there but certainly on the way.

IMG_1404

Quite a few IMK posts ago I mentioned we were looking for a tea that was as enjoyable as the tea we brought back from our trip to India. This ‘Good Morning Tea’ from Lupicia is proving to be a really enjoyable tea with plenty of flavour. Like my new tea cosies? I knitted these over a few nights while sitting in front of the fire. Knitting, winter and fire go so well together. I’m not really (in fact not at all) an artsy, crafty sort of person apart from a little knitting now and again.

That’s me for In My Kitchen this month. Thanks Celia for hosting these bloggers and joining us together. Go over to Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and check out what others have going on in their kitchens. I bet they smell better than mine!

Posted in Baking, Bread, In My Kitchen, India, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Meat & 3 veg-A rarity here!

We made a trip to the Dandenong Market on Saturday so I could stock up on a few essentials that are hard to get locally. I find if we can get them locally, the prices are ridiculous and the quality nothing like what the market has to offer. Things such as spices, especially Indian ones, bulk sized bags of bread flour, affordable meat of out of the norm cuts, dried fruits, nuts and just to enjoy the ‘vibe’. I now keep a running list of what I need on my phone so if we happen to be in the area I know exactly what is to be sought.

My daughter had asked me to grab some chicken feet for making stock if I happened to see any. So 2 kgs of feet and 1 kilo of necks later, that was ticked. I also bought 2 pork shoulders, 6 loin lamb chops and 4 lamb shanks, $40.83 for the lot. Happy with that but wasn’t sure what the chops would be like. All packed up and into the freezer for this lot! (Sorry, phone photo is a bit dodge!)

Meat for freezer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We probably have lamb chops once or twice a year and I buy them from our excellent local butcher, they are usually well into the high $25.00+ range so it is a real treat when we do get them. These chops looked good, were nice and thick and at $11.00  a kg I was happy to take a punt. Tonight was the night! Lamb chops, mashed potato, broccoli raab that was boiled first then sautéed in garlic and olive oil along with mushroom, chilli and a chopped tomato. Some of my favourite tomato pickle relish on the side and I can only say that I will be getting some more of these chops, beautiful! I did over cook the raab a tad and next time will avoid using the mature parts as they were a little stringy. Flavour was good though and we love anything with mushrooms and garlic in it.

Chops and mash

The chops were cooked on my new cooking range! Luxury.

Portable induction cooker.

Since all the hoo ha and recall of the butane gas camping stoves I needed another option for cooking the everyday things. This little portable, induction  cooker is quite good, it’s lucky my preferred cookware is cast iron! Sorry, another dodgy phone photo next!

Bread-001

Today I played around with baking in my new gas pizza oven to try and get a handle on the temperature management. Loaf on the right could have been a bit hotter, and the one on the left was pretty good (don’t let the issue of me dropping the dutch oven on it come into the equation!). I don’t think it will take too many goes to get it close to right. Interestingly, the fitted oven thermometer says one thing and the one I put inside to compare, registered about 30 degrees more. I’ve had a bit of experience with ovens with no thermostat so it is just part of the learning curve.

Just a quick trip back to the chicken feet. I did a bit of searching about making stock with them and found a great post on a site called Nourished Kitchen. The post was really informative about how to deal with the feet whether they come from the store already prepared or straight from the chook yard or paddock. There was also a nice little recipe for an asian style stock base which is almost identical to the one I use as a base for Pho. Some of the comments people left about the post were quite entertaining too! I’m sure I can remember pulling chicken feet tendons and making the claws turn up when I was a kid!

 

I am currently on school term break (well, I am in there for a short time tomorrow, Thursday & Friday) so I had better get cracking on with some real jobs getting done rather than pfaffing around with bread dough!

 

Posted in Bread, Mushrooms, Potatoes (Spuds), Recipes, sourdough, tomato pickles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Weekend Wrap

Leave it!

It’s about this time of year we get fed up with the leaf litter and do a major clean up. Even though there are more to fall, it gets a bit out of hand. Everywhere you look, leaves, leaves and more leaves!

IMG_1242 IMG_1241 IMG_1240 IMG_1239

 

 

 

 

They get piled into one spot and this week I will be mowing them to chop them up a bit and making a couple more leaf mould bins. The chopped leaves will be layered with lime, manure, some greens and mature compost. Wrapped up for 12 months then the resulting leaf mold will be spread onto the garden beds. This acts more as a soil conditioner than a fertiliser and I love watching the process take place.

IMG_1243

We hadn’t seen this area for months!  The before shot is on the right above. There has been the fire wood that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago dumped here, the trailer stored and then the leaves started falling. I’ll bet by tomorrow it will be covered again!

IMG_1196

Some more work was done on thinning out the  ‘spooky’ area out the front,

IMG_1231

Compost and coffee grounds are collected from work, I even have the cleaner bring me in spent coffee grounds from her husbands bakery. I’m sure she think I’m nuts, she’s probably right! Great for the worm farm and compost bins though.

IMG_1245

We have ordered another garden shed and started marking out where it will go. We will need every bit of space possible when the back of the house comes off when the extension starts. Had to move a couple of plants, hope they cope with this! I really like the way this bed is coming together, hard to imagine just 2 years ago it had a revolting old bungalow here.

IMG_1253

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I finally cracked it about my tiny little oven! As good as it has been, I had to take something to work for morning tea last week and it took me over 2  hours to cook a standard size batch of mini muffins as I could only fit a small tray in to bake so it was done in succession. I’ve been trying to think of ways around this for a while but the problem has been that it doesn’t matter what we bought, it would have to be moved/disconnected when the kitchen reno begins. That seems a little extravagant and wasteful so I have bitten the bullet and bought an LPG gas pizza oven that I hope will pretty much function as a normal oven. I have set it up on the side verandah along with a temporary light and table. This area should (in theory) work well and when the building works start I can move the oven anywhere. As I write this, my first loaf of bread is in cooking. Bit nervous about taking the lid off the dutch oven! I can’t believe the delight it brings being able to put a pot in without having to take the knob off first so it can fit in!

I’ve just been out to remove the lid, temp up to about 230c and loaf looks pretty good so far. Might be a challenge learning to manage the temp control but I can cope with that. I could actually take the lid off the dutch oven without having to remove the whole pot. Yay, progress!

The loaf I am testing this week Is Josey Baker’s ‘Your First Sourdough Loaf’, I wasn’t that pleased with the way the dough was behaving so I might need to make some adjustments because of the whole-wheat flour I am using. I have a bag of Callington Mill organic whole wheat and it seems to take up less water  than other whole wheats I’ve used.

Drumming my fingers in anticipation for the timer to go off……………. Drum roll please!

IMG_1258-001

I’m pretty happy with that! Think the temp might have been a bit too high for starters but it smells great, I am looking forward to tweaking and learning how to use this oven more effectively now.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bread, Home, In The Garden, Renovation, sourdough, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sourdough Pizzaccia, or is it Focizza?

Inspired when reading a lovely post about winter by Francesca over at Almost Italian, I was feeling a bit peckish, it was late for dinner so decided to literally throw together a pizza style meal. Francesca’s looked so good sitting on the hearth of her fire it really struck a chord. At 7.20 I said to Mr ATMT I was going to have a crack at making something out of nothing, so set into the kitchen to see what evolved. Ta-dah!pizza

I put the china mixing bowl into the sink and filled with hot water to warm it for a few minutes then dried it off. Into this went 1 cup bread flour, about a 1/3 cup sourdough starter,  a very small pinch of instant yeast, 1tblspnish of olive oil and enough water (about 1/3 cup) to mix altogether into a soft dough. I mixed the ‘dough’ together for about 1minute and put it back in the warm bowl with a lid on it. It sat for 1/2 an hour while I watched Shane Delia in Turkey on SBS. Back out to the kitchen between Shane and Luke Nuygen to prepare topping and bake.

I put the dough onto some baking paper and pushed it out with oiled fingers into a pizza shape. Topping consisting of : approx 1/4 of a potato, 1/2 a small onion, about 8 small mushrooms, all sliced thinly, I drizzled Olive oil  over the dough then I just spread all the topping ‘stuff’ over the dough. On top of this I sprinkled sea salt, ground black pepper,  some grated paneer cheese, finely chopped rosemary and another drizzle of olive oil. Into the ‘toy oven’ for about 15 minutes and it was ready. Although the dough could have been proving longer and the oven could have been another 20 degrees hotter this tasted really nice. Even better was the pleasure of taking it into the snug and enjoying it in front of the fire with a nice glass of red.

Potato pizza

Yes, a lot to be enjoyed in winter!

 

 

Posted in Baking, Bread, Potatoes (Spuds), Recipes, sourdough, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Paneer Jalfrezi-With Raab! Yum.

Dinner last night was a take on Rick Stein’s paneer jalfrezi a recipe from his “getting better with every recipe I try“, ‘India’ cook book. This recipe is basically an indian curry stir fry of peppers and tomatoes but as there was a shortfall of peppers in our kitchen I added extra green capsicum and some broccoli raab. Funny, I hadn’t heard of ‘raab’ until I read Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial‘s post today and she mentioned broccoli raab in her post. It looked  suspiciously like what I was growing and had picked to use in this dish. I had planted and grown seed labelled as Broccoli ‘Sessantina grossa’, guess what? Yep, broccoli raab. I’m much more excited about it now, just thought it was a scrungy variety of broccoli until I researched it more closely.

As well as adding the ‘raab’ I also had some pre soaked yellow split peas that were prepared for another dish, I ran out of puff for that, so they went into the pan too. I cut back the chilli powder in the recipe by half and the curry flavour was beautiful, just right. Served with steamed rice, but I would love to have tried it with some fresh naan or flatbread.  That can wait until next time when I make it with more peppers and tomatoes when they are at the peak of their season. I love any dish with indian  paneer cheese (similar to a heavy cottage cheese) in it and the split peas added a nice textural change. Worked out well and tasted delicious.

Paneer jalfrezi

Posted in Capsicum, India, Recipes, Recipes, tomato recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Logs into firewood, flour into bread. A weekend of conversions.

A couple of months ago I mentioned the gum tree from our front nature strip was removed by VicRoads and I managed to have the wood and mulch from it left with us. The mulch was a drop in the ocean to what we need but the quantity of logs was much more than I had anticipated. We have been looking at this pile of logs since we moved them to the backyard and this weekend was the weekend to split them. I hired a log splitter and Mr ATMT spent Saturday turning this,

Flowering gum wood

into this.

IMG_1143

The wood then had to be stacked away to let it dry, which in itself was a huge job. Well done Mr ATMT!   Don’t worry, I did contribute, not just observe. My job was to move all of the wood we had stacked against the back fence after we had trees removed when we took over the property. All the wood is now in one place, stacked, split and ready to be used however we choose. While splitting the wood we noticed a couple of the logs had fresh ‘blood sap’ in the core. This looks amazingly like blood and I could have been fooled if Mr ATMT had wanted to stir the pot and tell me he had injured himself. Quite bizarre seeing this, it is quite common in gum trees, apparently those that are not well.

Gum Tree blood sapI took advantage of the magnificent balmy winter day and planted a couple of hundred bulbs I had ordered from Garden Express. There was a variety of freesia, daffodils, ranunculus, anemone, iris and ixia. A couple I can’t remember too!

Garden Express

Now that the screen fence (the one made from old greenhouse shelves) is in place I was able to plant a range of plants that had come either from my sister or rom our Fish Creek property  before we sold. These included, geranium, native orchid (Dendrobium), violets, ferns  and Clivia. Of course the girls were on hand to help and supervise!

IMG_1154The bread I made this weekend was Ken Forkish’s ‘Pain de Compagne’ (Country bread). I’m really enjoying making a new bread every weekend and it is very interesting to see how the different bakers methods compare. This photo is of the dough going through what is called ‘bulk fermentation’. That is after is has been mixed and stretched and folded (form of kneading without kneading). I love watching the dough go through its changes until it is ready to shape and do a final proving before it is baked.  The black line on the bucket is where the dough started out when I put it in there.

IMG_1133

This loaf is a winner! Forkish doesn’t normally slash (score) his loaves, he places them in to cook with the seam up and they do a natural eruption at that point as it is a weak spot.   I however like to play with  razorblades!

Pain de Compagne ForkishSweet potato happiness.

Today was the day! I’ve been eager to see what sort of result, if any, I was going to get from the sweet potato I planted in the greenhouse. This was grown from a sprouting I did last year and I would not have been surprised if I had no success. But Look!

Sweet Potatoes Melbourne

2 Whole kilos of beautiful, mostly good sized tubers. I did a little happy dance at this result! The one at the front is going back in to the wicking bed along with some tip cuttings, it looks healthy and has some good roots so we’ll see. I can see a personal  challenge happening with these. What have you has success with growing that you didn’t expect to achieve?

 

 

Posted in Bread, Flowers, In The Garden, Potatoes (Spuds), Recipes, sourdough, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Wicking Beds | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments