Marriage Equality Interlude

I can’t write a post about this topic because it breaks my heart. Thanks Francesca for helping me out! With tears in my eyes I repost this, why it even on the agendas I will never understand……

ALMOST ITALIAN

Last week I noticed a photo posted by my friend, Adam, on the day of his wedding anniversary. What a beautiful and romantic gift. Adam cross- stitched this tapestry to give to his husband of ten years: the pattern was digitally converted from a photo. The romantic photo was taken at The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria. I’ve never asked them if this was the moment of the marriage proposal.

Cross stitched by Adam as a wedding anniversary gift.

Later that day, Barnadi made a cake to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. They enjoyed a beautiful meal together at their home in Melbourne, along with their cat and dog.

They’ve celebrated their wedding anniversary twice. Last January, they commemorated their Wedding Reception anniversary which was held in Melbourne, Australia, while this month, they’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of their ‘civil partnership’ held in Bath, Britain. At the…

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In My Kitchen September

What better way to spend an afternoon (that is absolutely vile), than sitting in front of the fire and catching up on quite a few jobs that can be done while sitting on ya bum? Thought doing an In My Kitchen quick post might fit the bill for this. Thanks to Sherry over at SherrysPickings for hosting IMK, she hasn’t been well, so do a post to give her something to read while she recuperates! Thanks Sherry!

Well I tried a new calamari recipe, this time it was Annabel Langbeins 5 spice salt and pepper squid from her book the Free Range Cook. I didn’t have any 5 spice made up so I just added a little bit of cumin, chilli and coriander along with the salt and pepper. Served on a salad of lettuce, capers, our oranges, tomato and a dressing made from greek yogurt, a blur of mayo  and lemon juice and it was a nice light tea. I never tire of looking at the antique dresser I restored and the spring flowers look right at home on it. I made a peel out of cardboard for loading bread into my oven that is the same size as my steel baking stone. This piece of cardboard on the right has lasted nearly a year but is definitely showing signs of being quite ‘past it’ so I cut out a new one. I had visions of buying a beautifully hand crafted wooden peel but the cardboard works really well, even when you forget to slide the loaves off it and put the whole lot, board  and all in the oven! My daughter has been making some bath soak for the little fella to help relieve his slight eczema. She blitzed oats and Calendula but it was a bit coarse so I’m running it through the spice grinder. It is coming out very soft and fine. Speaking of my daughter, she is due to have her second baby in a week, so I’ve been working on a crocheted bamboo baby blanket. This has been a beautiful project to work on. My hands will take a while to recover, but it has been worth every ache and pain it has brought about.When we first got the kitchen operational, I built a work board out of marine ply. This was for making pastry on, making pasta and gnocchi on, putting pots etc on, pretty much for anything that might cause damage to the timber bench tops and it has been wonderful. It was getting a bit dog-eared so I have given it a sand back and a new coat of Danish oil. This has been an absolute godsend to have! I’m continually working on testing and perfecting making sourdough croissants and these have probably been the best tasting ones so far. Need more proving time but we were having them for father’s day breakfast so they got baked before at their prime state. I’d love to know how they would have been of left another couple of hours as this crumb is pretty good when still not proofed enough!Finally as we sit and listen to the rain absolutely pounding down outside I think of the pretty spring flowers that are probably getting their heads demolished by the rain. This is why we need to appreciate things at the time we see them and not put off the pleasure of just enjoying them. Happy Spring to South of the equator and happy Autumn to those in the north!

 

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As Time Goes by

It’s very interesting watching things when you view them from different angles and at different stages in your life. We have the good fortune of being able to share in our little grandson’s world and on the other hand we are lucky enough to still have Mr ATMT’s mum of 88 active and able, enjoying her new life in the ‘lifestyle village’ which is now her home. She is busier than ever and people have to book weeks in advance to be able to get an appointment with her! It is so rewarding seeing how these two people at extreme stages of their lives react to each other and just ‘click’. Jean is very easy to ‘click’ with though!We had a family lunch at the Rye pub at the weekend which is close to where Jean lives. This was a combined Christmas and birthday gift to her; and its taken ages to get it organised so everyone could get together (and she was available). Here we all are (minus one on duty son-in-law) freezing on the beach after our lunch at the pub. It was great doing all those daggy things like chase the seagulls, a family tradition from way-back. Ironic that Cameron happened to have his eagle suit to hand!

So very lucky are we.

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In My Kitchen-For the first time in a while!

I was having a look around my kitchen to see if there may be anything of interest to post and realised it is exactly one year since I moved from the temporary kitchen into our new lovely space. I posted about having a new oven installed at the end of July last year. Twelve months on and I can honestly say I am thrilled with my Falcon oven. Not too thrilled though that it threw a door seal the other night, will have to get that sorted pretty quickly. There has not been one moment when I haven’t been thrilled with this oven and its performance. So back to what’s to share In My Kitchen this month. We now have Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings doing the linking up of fellow IMKer’s, thanks Sherry!

Here I have some sourdough croissants that look suspiciously like crumbed chicken. I finely chopped hazelnuts and almonds to sprinkle over the top and it makes them look crumbed. Glazed with a rosewater glaze they were a great success with the kids arguing over who got how many and some whinging that they “always” miss out. The recipe for these completely sourdough croissants is from Shipton Mill, I have made it a few times and it always goes well. I made these smaller as a mini croissants which were cut to about 7cm wide X 15cm long. They should have proofed another couple of hours but it had already been 24hours and I got impatient! Here are definitely the last tomatoes for this season. I picked these from the greenhouse today and to be honest I was quite surprised to see them. Mr ATMT has been working his ‘not quite as young as he used to be’ body out laying brick paving in the area outside the kitchen. These bricks are reclaimed from a local demolition company and look really great. The orange tree we moved is coping really well so far and the overnight temperatures that have been down to -4 haven’t knocked it much at all.  Now to get some fence screen planting in. I think lots of citrus will do very nicely.I love fruit cake but we never have it as I am the only one who eats it. My sister gave me this boiled fruit cake and I am looking forward to working my way through it with my cup of tea each day. My girlfriend brought me back these napkins from her overseas trip. I hope they don’t say anything offensive, feel free to translate for me! I have a new bread knife In My Kitchen, crusty sourdough bread can be a challenge for cutting and I love this Opinel bread knife. I have 2 new books. I bought the Bien Cuit bread book because I love the pictures and it is a nice book to have on the coffee table (which we don’t have!) and the Culinary Adventures  of Marakesh was kindly given to me by a neighbour. I have only started delving into this and I think it will be quite an enjoyable read. Is anyone else familiar with this book? Lastly for this months’s IMK post is a picture of our classic winter Saturday or Sunday wake up snack. A cup of tea with some toasted sourdough, here it is fruit loaf with raspberry jam on one and quince jelly on the other. Bloody lovely! Now off to have a look at the other “In My Kitchen” posts.

 

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Remember me? Lots to report and plans afoot.

I keep wondering why I have had so much trouble getting to writing posts and I have come to the conclusion that when I was working I was looking for a form of escapism and regular blog posts were like therapy to me. Since having left work I am continually doing things that I enjoy, am busy all of the time and just don’t seem to have the time to sit and focus on writing a post.  We also spent a month in New Zealand that I haven’t worked out how to write about as I’m still not sure how I really felt about it. Whoever said they didn’t know how they had time to go to work was right on the money. So what’s been happening?

The new Courtyard Taking shape.

This area is out from the kitchen and up until recently has been mainly a utility area. The blood orange tree was planted against a wall but left freestanding after we rotated the ‘dentist’ room.  The area will be paved, have some kitchen garden plantings and be a great outdoor eating area. We took a gamble and using some great tips from a lovely Instagram friend, moved the orange tree (thanks @minipermaculture). It actually looks like it is doing better now than it was where it was moved from. We trimmed it back, planted it in a large hole that was full of compost, worm castings and other goodies, gave it a drink of very weak Seasol and sprayed the foliage with this solution as well. We are now making sure it is protected from the extremely harsh frosts we are experiencing and keeping everything crossed. The water feature is my leaving gift from work and once it integrates to lots of greenery it should ‘disappear’ yet be a focal point at the same time.

Seems to be doing well so far! Fingers crossed for us. This is the area with recycled bricks waiting to be laid by the very weary Mr ATMT who has been working his butt off. As well as the courtyard area, we are working towards getting the driveway edging and toppings done, but we had to run power and water to the courtyard first which meant making some mud. We hired a little digger and plumber son did a great job running the trenches for pipes and cables.

He got a bit of help with this little cutie. What is it about machinery that is so appealing?It’s coming together nicely and I am pleased to say we have just about lost all of the leaves  from the oak. I haven’t managed to accumulate much in the way of leaf old so far but they will still be waiting for me to collect and mulch up so there is no rush.

Some exciting plans.

I had always said I would convert the ‘dentist’s  room’ into a preserving or food related area and have made the decision to fit it out as a registered kitchen so I can have approval to sell  my bread. This is the white room on the right and I am currently working through all of the necessary red tape to satisfy council requirements. My plan is to only sell by pre-order of loaves I enjoy making and keeping it manageable and most importantly, enjoyable. We have so far stripped it out and are getting the electrical and plumbing sorted out so I can plaster, tile, fit out and get things on the road. I am really excited about this, its not planned to be a big commercial operation, just me making something I love doing, on my own terms. This is what it was like inside before I started gutting it. As well as working towards registering the kitchen I am planning on holding some workshops for people interested in learning how to make sourdough. I had a lovely group of ‘guinea pigs’ come at the weekend so I could get an idea of how the format I had in my head worked in real-time. We had a lot of fun and I have tweaked quite a few concepts of how to present and once we have the council tick I will offer some workshops. It is a really good way for me to think about how things are done and improve my skills as well.We hd a little set back with the new bathroom/laundry that was part of the exteno. I posted that I was thrilled that we finally had a finished room, and then KAPOW, poor Mr ATMT was wiping out the shower and came up under the tiled-in soap shelf.Luckily no damage to him, (I did ask!)and we have decided to replace that shelf tile with 2 single tiles as it is highly likely that this would happen again. Back to the suction cup rack but comfortable that it will be safer.Out in the garden I have some broccoli heading up, the bok choy and leeks are doing really and I still have a couple of capsicum hanging on in the greenhouse.

  

Here is an assortment of my Friday family & friend bake. Some multigrain, some flaxseed loaves that are using the excellent recipe that Francesca over at Almost Italian  posted and some light rye loaves. I love the way the kids are so keen to collect their bread on A Friday night or Saturday morning to get them through the week. Finally I just have to share this gorgeous video of our grandson experiencing milling flour for the first time. It is especially precious to me, as I would have had welts in a few places if I’d been caught sitting on the kitchen bench like this. I am going to let him sit and participate with me as much and as often as possible! I love it.

 

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Revisiting and seeing with new eyes after being away.

We have just returned from a month-long holiday in New Zealand and it is nice to come home and revisit things I haven’t looked at closely for a while and ponder on how much we have done in such a short space of time. We had been anticipating our return would be to chilly and rather wet weather, but we find we have entered into a lovely balmy Indian summer. Great so we can get stuck into a clean up and tag jobs that need doing in the garden before the winter really sets in.

The leaves have begun their descent down to the ground so the cycle of breaking down and being returned to the soil in the form of compost and leaf mold next season can start. These few were on the deck, just the start of a continual fall for some weeks.We mow over them first before placing them into collection bins strategically placed around the yard and let them break down over the year to then spread over the garden. A sprinkling of lime and blood and bone between layers is also added and sometimes lane clippings too.  Still plenty more up there! The pin oak in the front yard has a nice soft leaf that is much nicer to handle than the English Oak out the back. There are signs of winter bulbs peeking through. Some sooty mould and scale is on some of the citrus trees and although I sprayed with Eco Oil before we went away, another couple of coats will be needed I think to really knock the scale off the orange tree. This mandarin tree has gone berserk since the fence has been extended, must be a nice little micro climate for it. It’s now heading into its fourth season and it is loaded this year, last year we only has 3 fruit! This pear tree was planted July 2013 and is starting to look quite established and espalier shape is taking form nicely.Even though there has been a couple of branches snap, they have regrown well once I tied grafting tape around them. I still need to install a support to the fence though! Some of the first plants we put in were 20 Camellia sasanqua ‘Asakura’.  They were reasonably well established and the ones that were planted down the western fence line are doing a great job screening the fence. Quite amazing when you see how much they have grown in the next pic.The flowers are in full bloom at the moment and it is great looking out at them from the bathroom and bedrooms. This is the same spot now but the exteno where we have increased the bathroom size comes out into the area a bit. It’s often the little things that I missed most. We hadn’t had a proper clothesline since we moved in, a small one that could just take 2 loads of washing and this was moved when the exteno started. Clothes horses chased every drop of sun and also drove me nuts. I enjoy hanging out clothes, must be the methodical nature of it, so I really love having a proper line again that will take everything we happen to throw at it. Australian made too, extra bonus! Some of you may have seen on Instagram the gorgeous picture of the gingko biloba trees we saw around New Zealand. This is our little one, but as I say, plant trees for the future generations, not for today. The little flowering gum is again showing us how stunning natures can be. This flowers every other year and I could look at it every day. The garlic I planted before we left seems to be a bit patchy with appearing. I’m wondering if this is due to the fact I covered the bed with netting to prevent the birds scratching everything up. I’ve done some filling in the gaps and discovered quite a lot of bulbs are just about to pop the surface so if I end up doubled up I’ll transplant the extras. This works quite well when the plants are young. The leeks, turnips, beetroot and lots of self-sown tomatoes seem happy. I have removed the tomatoes and weeds since this pic.

There are capsicum aplenty in the greenhouse. Time though for a bit of extra fresh air and an anti fungal spray. I’ve used both a milk one and a baking soda one in the past but the milk one seemed to perform better. A few straggler tomatoes ticking over. This bok choy has really taken off, I sometimes find it bolts but not this lot. Planted a few days before we left and now ready to use. The celeriac in this bed is also doing well and you can see a little bit of ‘miners lettuce’ peeking out from under. Jon from Herbalicious nursery told me I would never have to replant it. Great as a salad add and also some greens for Rene. A moulting Rene is happy to be out again.   I love these little daisies. When you go away and come back you see things differently, I am a bit re-motivated to get back into the exteno finishing off and to plan the next 2 rooms being the bathroom and a spare bedroom. I am also ken to get the courtyard area landscaped. Just a few more things to keep chipping away at!

 

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In My Kitchen-April

As the seasons change so does what goes on in my kitchen. We have had a couple of days cool enough to run the heating and we’ve had a couple of days hot enough to sit outside under the trees for their cooling relief. Alas, I do think the warmer days are over, snow today on Mt Baw Baw.

In my Kitchen this month is my entire onion harvest for the season, save the drum roll, no need whatsoever. Also in my kitchen is something quite dear to me. About 23 years ago we were meant to go camping, but all three kids had the chicken pox and that was too testing even for me to endure in a tent. I managed to find a farmer who had an old farmhouse that he let people stay in (usually backpackers) and he said it was available. It was a wonderful old house on a beautiful farm in Leongatha and it had a wood fired stove, fireplaces in the main bedroom and lounge, a fig tree out the back and lots of chooks. He was thrilled that he had someone stay who actually knew how to use the stove and the next day he turned up saying his mum used to bake bread with yeast she had made herself so he had taken the time to dig out the recipe for the yeast or as we would now call it ‘starter’. It looks like it came from an old PWMU cook book but I’m not sure. I’m really pleased I still have this and I may even attempt to make the yeast from hops one day. I picked most of the fruit from the rocoto chilli bush and decided to see how it goes freezing it. I have read this works well, we will find out. I have put small quantities into ice block trays and frozen them then put into a container for easy access. A bit left of field with this one. I found this fur jacket at the op-shop in Warragul and just had to bring it home. It is like brand new, has no smell and has the most beautifully detailed buttons. It came from the Myer emporium furriers and it has made me question the whole concept of why shouldn’t we use fur. I’m not sure what is worse, polluting us and the environment with all the synthetics or if done in a responsible and humane way using animals. Whole big can of worms in that question, one I’m not ready to ponder too deeply on yet. Not sure how, but this is the last pickled onion in my kitchen. I usually make sure I have a good supply on hand but somehow I slipped up. Better make sure I do a batch next week! This is a sandwich of my freshly milled barley and whole wheat bread with ham, pickled onions and cheese. Haven’t indulged myself in something like that for a long time. We are  very excited that it is now cool enough to have fired up this little Nectre bakers oven/wood fire. This replaces the wood fired stove that was in the chimney, it was very inefficient, offered no ambience and took about 4 hours to preheat. I am thrilled with this unit, just right for sitting in front of on a miserable day while at the same time you can use the heat to cook. Tonight we are having Moroccan style meatballs with roast veggies. I put some eggplant and a head of garlic in to roast earlier which I will make a little side dish with. I see lots of enjoyment coming from this little fire.  And finally in my kitchen this month is this little cutie who has decided he LOVES grapes. I picked a bunch from the berry house and we sat on the back lawn doing the suck, spit swallow which he worked out very quickly. These are the grapes that taste like passionfruit and even though they have fairly thick skin and large pips it didn’t stop him working his way through almost an entire bunch. Got quite a good rhythm going after the first couple!Thanks to Liz over at BizzyLizzysGoodThings for being the conduit for linking those who share a peek into their kitchens each month.

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