2 Weeks in- My slide show

I apologise in advance. Similar to the old days when you were forced to endure slide nights after loved ones special events and holidays, you  remember, the ones where the parties argued over the details, the slide projector got stuck, the slides were in the projector upside down and you were served cabana, cocktail onions (red & green) and cubes of tasty cheese stuck into an orange on toothpicks. Well, this reno is likely to be my slide night!

I did begin this blog initially as a diary record of what we did here and this exteno is about as relevant as it gets to that mindset.

Ok, second week in and we are ready have the slab poured. All concrete has been removed, new area marked out, pipework in place and sand and reo in place. The boxing is nearly finalised and spacers set. Pour is booked for Thursday, I am very excited about getting a much more defined ‘feel’ of the final spaces. So here is this weeks slide night! Grab a pickled onion and enjoy!.

Western view

View down sideway showing where bedroom will come out a little further.


Site for new outbuildings resembling original character. Outside dunny, combined bathroom with laundry, inside loo, bedroom and storeroom


Kitchen. Yes, you heard it kitchen, with family room and storeroom.





















Mr ATMT dreaming of the food that will come out of this kitchen!

And lastly a pic of the beautiful flowers at Bec & Andy’s wedding.



















Hold on a mo, that slide was upside down!

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Very Moorish with a Moroccanish twist.

We have just had the most beautiful weekend witnessing and partying hard (for some a tad too hard!) to celebrate the wedding of our niece and her partner at their marriage which was held at Chateau Yering in the Yarra Valley. What a great event this was. The bride’s father recently suffered a MAJOR stroke and his determination to be part of the wedding and to walk his beautiful daughter down the aisle was realised.  The effort and determination Jack has demonstrated in rehabilitating himself to be part of this day is nothing short of miraculous. Not a dry eye in the house as he accomplished his (and the family’s) goal. This link goes to an article that was in the Herald Sun last week.Jack & Bec HS

Was amazing indeed!

After the event, we had house guests stay who were very brave and happy to share our dust, rubble, lack of amenity and general mayhem while the reno is underway. I wanted to offer them a lovely meal before they returned home, so for dinner tonight I created a feast of Moroccan/Middle eastern dishes to share. This worked well with my compromised facilities and tasted sensational.

Planned ahead in the morning, so I was free & easy to enjoy their company throughout the day. The menu was:

  • Slow cooker Moroccan lamb
  • Roast Vegetables with sesame seed (cooked in the pizza oven)
  • Freekah, roast cherry tomatoes, roast capsicum salad
  • Green bean, pomegranate and walnut salad

I deboned a leg of lamb and worked from this recipe tweaking using stock, substituting it for a stubby of passata. I didn’t brown the meat first, just chucked it in the slow cooker on high for app 6 hours. Before serving the juices were removed and reduced to make a thicker sauce. Sensational!

Moroccan lamb slow cooker


















Very similar to pulled pork concept, but, I think tastier. At the last minute I whipped up some fresh tortillas to go with it.

The accompanying dishes were some I got inspiration for when I attended a class at Relish Mama’s vegetarian middle eastern session. the freekah salad is my new best favourite. I’m not posting the recipes, book a class, it’s worth it!

The accompanying dishes were:

Freekah, roast cherry tomato and roast capsicum salad. I love this, it is fresh, tasty and keeps really well too. Along the same lines as a tabouleh but much more substantial and the flavours much more intense.

Freaky with roast tomato and hazelnut salad

Then there was green bean, walnut and pomegranate salad. This also, was so delicious.

Bean pomegranate and walnut salad

I had started the day thinking I would do a good old lamb roast, precarious control of the pizza oven was not what I wanted to spend my time on or get stressed over so this changed to just roasting the veg in the pizza oven. Good decision, roast veg topped with sesame seed for serving brought the two together well.

Roast vegetables with sesame

Frequently I find I am too critical of my dishes, but I think this meal was a winner. Lots of fresh veg, beautiful flavours and some great people to share my efforts. What more can you want?

The groom is a top chef and instead of placing ‘tacky’ (my term) gifts on the tables for guests, there was to me, the most wonderful gift of sharing. Tiny little terracotta pots planted with oysterleaf plants so that guests could take them, nurture them and whenever they use them, think back and remember the most wonderful of wedding celebrations. Thanks Bec & Andy, what a fantastic time it was!

Oyster leaf plant.

I fell really wholesome after sharing this weekend with family who care, love, nurture and respect each other. Glad I stuck around to enjoy it all.



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First week in to the exteno.

It’s been one week since the work on our reno began in earnest. Before we visit there, this photo of some lovely fresh parsley and spring onions is just to prove that not everything is completely covered in dust and the whole place isn’t looking like a bomb site.

I must admit when I came out to view the status of works happening early in the week, I was so grateful that this disruption was our choice and not due to the horrific injustices our European Earth Sharers have been subjected to. Too many opinions, too many comments, too many differences. I am not adding to the mix. We are lucky indeed.

This is a summary of what’s happened this week.

The demolition of all the back sections has been completed,


The concrete had been removed. Big job!



The plumbing pipework has been roughed in.IMG_2945IMG_2950

The first official part of getting a kitchen! This pipe is  where the sinks will drain into. Yes, a sink with running water! How modern and posh is that? How excited am I? VERY!

IMG_2964The wood fire stove has been removed by a really spunky young plumber. (It’s Ok, that’s my son, no harassment here).

thumb_IMG_0281_1024This leaves a chimney opening we need to deal with. Will be decorative something or another.



















Just another thing for the list.

So happy we have come this far. What will next week present?



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Down she comes and some past is revealed.

Well, I never thought I’d see the day. Three long years we have waited to begin our ‘exteno’ (that’s what I’m going to label the renovation come extension). Delays in selling a property necessary to fund the project meant we just had to be patient and wait. Well, the waiting is over. Here is the official start of our project.

The boys arrived on Tuesday and got straight into demolishing the old sections of the property. These old outbuildings that within were the washhouse and woodshed with the dunny tucked around the corner, just too far gone to be salvaged.

The white room is a sixties addition of a bedroom,


but that’s gone too now.

The back door has been temporarily swung round into the hall so we can maintain security. How lovely it is to get some natural light in and to be able to see right down the passageway to outside.

Passage with lightThe house was originally weatherboard and has at some stage  been rendered with lime plaster. The builder was amazed at how strong the render is and had ‘fun’ removing it.


Here’s a peek at where the old weatherboards were covered over with render.


Well look here! This is what the original back of the house would have looked like apart from the kitchen window originally being small. Because the render was so tough to remove (it was set in chicken wire) the builder removed it as a separate process first. We cannot believe these original cedar weatherboards are still intact under the render.


I think it looks better already!


It does of course mean that not only do I have a kitchen set up in a bedroom, I also have a laundry set up in the shed! It works, I’m OK with that. Stay tuned for regular updates.



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IMK and Boonderoo’s kitchen

What a month it’s been! Open garden day which was a huge success. Our reno has officially begun (yes that means a kitchen is on the horizon), a wonderful day spent with friends on a walk and picnic at Morwell National Park. A new car because Mr ATMT had to hand in the company vehicle when he accepted an early retirement package. A trip to Greece and Turkey booked and a sensational weekend at Boonderoo farm doing a sourdough workshop. Bare with me, it could be long-winded! Thanks to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for helping everyone share their kitchens.

First In My Kitchen are some beautiful ginger nut biscuits I made from Glenda over at Passionfruit Garden’s recipe. They are wonderful, definitely eat with caution if your choppers are dodgy!Ginger NutsThese are presented on my new little Spode Italian serving plate. Great size for when there are just a couple of you. Big plate =  big eating!

For the picnic we went on, I made a platter of Moroccan eggs (basically scotch eggs with some middle eastern spices), potato, kale, feta and chilli rolls, pork rillette, baguette and some nibbles. This went down very well.

Scotch eggs

The highlight for me this month was the opportunity to spend a weekend with some lovely, like-minded people at Boonderoo Farm on a sourdough bread making workshop. We worked hard for two full days, learned lots, got a bit antsy about understanding bakers percentages (well I did), ate the most amazing food and generally had a ball. Thomas & Gabi Moritz live on a 600 acre farm in the King Valley. They are self-sufficient, organic farmers, use permaculture practices, are completely off grid and make sourdough which is sold at several local markets. Thomas is a guru regarding wood fired ovens and has built many masonry ovens along with Alan Scott who is considered to be the doyen of brick masonry ovens. The hospitality they shared and the knowledge they imparted is impressive indeed. Thanks Thomas & Gabi, I appreciate you sharing your time and expertise immensely. Here is a sequence of a few things we covered.


A view to the rocky mountain from a mud brick hut.


Our first batch of 100% whole-wheat, freshly ground wheat dough.

Window pane test

Testing for the window pane in the dough. This tells whether or not kneading is sufficient to develop the gluten in the flour.



















All hands on deck mixing dough here.

Sourdough loaves.


















The first of our loaves out of the oven. Topped with poppy-seed and pumpkin seeds.



















Sharing lunch outside.

IMG_2791Back to work, that’s a lot of baskets to fill!

Wood fired oven pizza

Dinner Saturday night were some sensational pizzas.

Sourdough herb sticks

Sourdough herb sticks with freshly picked herbs.


Thomas explaining how we should load the oven. Almost worked!



















Some cheeky bugger stole my camera and took this shot! Peter?

sourdough pitta.

Fresh pitta sourdough to go with the most amazing lunch prepared by Gabi, her daughter and some of their woofing friends. Stunning!



















And of course, the obligatory group shot. Not sure what’s going on with me but that’s three times lately I’ve agreed to being in a photo!


This is a sample of some of the breads we brought home. The strudel with nashi pear, sultana soaked in rum and spices was a knockout!


Finally, in my kitchen is almost, an Italian. The lovely Francesca from Almost Italian was nice enough to call in on her way to the coast. What a delight it was meeting a fellow IMK blogger. We have lots of similarities including photos going onto our blogs. But here we are, both in my kitchen. I really think she was secretly a little bit jealous of my toy oven!

The Blues Sisters

The Blues Sisters


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Retarding Bread Dough. Yes it works!

Retarding bread dough  is when you slow down the fermentation process by lowering the temperature of the dough, in this case by putting it in the refrigerator. The lowering of temperature slows down the microbial activity and is said by many artisan bread ‘experts’ to improve and deepen the complexity of flavours in the loaf.

I have done this many times before but only for an overnight stint so I could bake the first thing in the morning. Knowing that I most likely would not get to baking over the weekend, I mixed this dough Friday night, did a 45 minute autolyse then stretch and folded every 30 minutes for 2.5 hours. I then bundled the dough into the fridge and there it stayed until this morning (Monday). I took the container out, divided the dough (2 X 748g pieces) and did a preshape then a 20 minute bench rest before final shaping. Proofed until ready and then into the ‘toy oven’ 17 minutes lid on 230c, 15 mins lid off 210c. I really have to watch this last cooking stage as the loaf is so close to the top element it can easily burn. Loaves have turned out really well so I’m not so nervous about retarding them to suit my schedule for future bakes.Sourdough

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Open Garden Weekend. Just a little tired-but what fun!

It’s done & dusted! The girls are very happy to be allowed out again after being in solitary confinement for 3 weeks. They went straight to their favourite dust bath location even though they have dust bath access in their chook mahal.


What a beautiful weekend! We had an extremely successful open food garden weekend and met the most amazing, lovely and wonderful people to boot! I know gardeners are a generous lot, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the simple pleasure of just talking to nice people. Sensational!

I knew in my mind I was happy with the way the garden is developing but the feedback we got from our visitors was very humbling and validated all the work we have done. We do what we do because Mr ATMT loves designing spaces and I love growing food. The two work well together and being able to share ideas and also exchanging ideas from our visitors was extremely rewarding.

We had approximately 120 people through the gates, most unknown to us beforehand, some old friends and now, some new friends. Excitedly I got to meet 3 of my blog followers  which was very sensational (more about that in a later post).


Not a lot of photos taken but I believe there are some coming from the official Gardivalia photographer. I hope they tell a good story!

I haven’t felt this satisfied in years. We have met some beautiful people, networked for a whole range of different things and worked on some valuable bartering concepts. Love it!

Thank you to everyone who visited this weekend, to the Gardivalia committee and especially to the Baw Baw Sustainability Network (Yay Wendy!) for their support and encouragement and mostly for the wonderful helpers they (BBSN) provided to man the gate. Great helpers and some good laughs, I hope they enjoyed their time with us as well.

Would we do it again next year. Dead right we would!




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