Weekend Roundup-Spicy soup and reno update.

We have so much on the go at the moment we don’t know our arses from our elbows! With having finally sold our Fish Creek Property,we’ve been working to empty and clean there ready for impending settlement this week (everything crossed!). Both of us are really under the pump at work and finding it heavy to handle, might have to review that very soon I think!

We have also felt a bit like the reno has hit a bit of an impasse, so we made a concerted effort to do a few jobs. Mr ATMT started painting the snug and I have been hanging the wallpaper to the bottom of the walls. Coming together nicely, the bottom colour will be a matching tone of the top colour but lighter. Think dark blues and mustard seed tones for drapery and accessories. It actually looks more a coffee colour than it is in the photo!

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We have been searching on Ebay for ages waiting for a suitable sized gas log fire to go into the lounge room fireplace. As much as it breaks my heart (kidding) to remove the lovely white bricks that are circa 1960, we will get over it. This is the fireplace with the modern brickwork. I know,  gorgeous, why would we want to remove it?

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We finally managed to secure a gas log fireplace in an as new condition for a couple of hundred dollars. Much better than a couple of thousand! We opted for gas log (this unit has faux coal) in this fireplace as we already have 3 other wood fires. It’s a welcome option on the nights when it’s not really cold but you need some warmth and a sense of fire. Now to source a mantel fitting to the era of the house. The unit included a cast iron insert that the burner will  sit into. This photo just shows the burner with the faux coals. As these fireplaces were built more for coal than wood it should fit the style of the house really well. Bit excited really!

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With the cooler weather setting in, especially at night, it is soup season. We could live on soup I think. We are very partial to potato and leek soup but on checking the supplies in the cupboard and the harvest from the morning I opted to make a potato, onion and red lentil spicy soup. This was delicious and so easy.

Spicy Potato, Onion & Red lentil soup for 2 plus.

4 potatoes, 4 medium to large onions, 300 ml stock (I used home made veggie), 1/2 tspn cumin, 1/2 tspn garam masala, 1/4 tspn chilli powder (or more if you like a bit more kick), 4 garlic cloves, 1/3-1/2 cup red lentils, S&P and extra water. I also added a couple of shiitake mushrooms I’d picked in the morning.

Peel and roughly chop potatoes, peel and slice onion, peel and roughly chop garlic. Heat a little olive oil in a pot and add onion and garlic, cook till clear then add spices, cook a few more minutes then add potatoes. Mix around then add the stock, lentils and enough water to cover the lot. Bring to boil then stir and turn heat down to a gentle simmer. Cover and let simmer until the potatoes are cooked and start breaking up. I served this with parmesan, chopped thyme and some sourdough croutons. Mr ATMT managed to make the croutons! Simply cut the bread into the size of crouton you want then place on a tray in the oven at about 160 until they are dry and crisp. This is a great way to use stale bread of any description. Hearty and warming for 2 tired souls on a cool night! What’s your favourite soup?

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Posted in Baking, Bread, Garlic, Mushrooms, Potatoes (Spuds), Recipes, Renovation, Shiitake, sourdough | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Shout out for kitchen tips and hints!

#design #kitchens #appliances #baking #reno

Ok, planning of our kitchen has begun! Not sure when it’s going to actually happen, but it will, so I want to be ready.  I’m looking for tips re good & bad ovens, freestanding vs under bench or wall mounted. Combo vs separate microwave. Steam oven, is it a wank? At this stage I’m looking at 2 normal size under bench ovens beside each other , I really can’t wrap my head around $7-$8000.00 for an oven with reviews no better than a $1000.00 one. Fridges, cooktops and range hoods, energy efficiency, noise levels when operating, knobs and handles etc. With dodgy hands ease of knobs and dials is essential. Any other tips such as cupboards vs drawers, or the second small bar sink I’m considering adding would be greatly appreciated. Sink in island bench vs sink in countertop. Love the sleek look sinks but I reckon you need a pretty decent draining board, especially when a lot of heavy pots get used. 2 drawer dishwasher vs normal dishwasher, it just goes on and on but I think a lot of you have probably wished you’d done things differently and I’d like to know about it.

From what I’ve been researching it certainly doesn’t equate that the more $$$ you spend equals more quality when it comes to white goods. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

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Goat Curry, Pulled Pork, ganache and….

I haven’t ever cooked goat before, so when we were at the Dandenong Market last week I could not pass up buying some ‘goat curry’ cuts when I saw it. I knew I wanted to try it either as an Indian curry or as a middle eastern tasting dish so onto the internet. The first recipe I found when I googled was Rick Stein’s Goat Curry so that was that settled. I love Rick Stein, haven’t made many of his dishes but he just seems like a delightful man.

We weren’t disappointed at all. I thought the flavour might be a little light on because there is minimal spicing in the recipe but no, it was delightful. Served with rice, greek yoghurt and some of the leftover flour tortillas from Fridays Lunch.

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Friday’s Lunch

Let’s just say one of my better lunches! Pulled shoulder of pork made with a rub of salt, cumin and Garam masala, . Before I went to bed Thursday I chucked it into the slow cooker on low with a cup of stock, some onions, garlic and star anise. Removed from slow cooker about an hour before serving. I served this with a simple tomato salsa made of tomatoes, capsicum, black pepper and spring onions and an asian flavoured slaw salad that was really nice. Some Annabel Langbein flour Tortillas that were used as wraps, some plum sauce and tomato pickles on the side as well. Was really lovely, tasty and light.

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Dessert was not so light! Brandy snap ‘shells’ with chocolate ganache, quince that had been slow roasted for about 7 hours with sugar, cinnamon and star anise. A plop of double cream on top, yummo.

Quince brandy snaps

I resisted having another serve of this for breakfast so I compromised,

Banana, ganache sourdough

Sourdough toast spread with ganache and mashed banana. That is better for me isn’t it?

Posted in Bread, Capsicum, Fruit, India, Quince, Recipes, Recipes, sourdough, tomato pickles, Tomatoes, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

In My Kitchen- Oh dear another month gone by!

Not too much happening here at the moment – just seem to have lost my mojo! Thanks to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting this forum. Never cases to amaze me how some people churn out the most wonderful dishes and have stocked in their cupboards some lovely little gems!

This month the Autumn season was in full swing and consequently there are changes in what is available to use in the kitchen. I was lucky enough to have some beautiful quince dropped off to me by George & Jenny who own and operate Tarra Valley Foods in Rosedale Victoria. They make and sell a huge range of preserves, all of which I have tasted are wonderful. If you are ever heading down the Princes Hwy towards the NSW border, make a point to seek them out! They also have a great range of preserving history displayed. These little beauties are headed to become quince jelly and I’ll also do some oven slow poached quince. Lightly spiced with some lemon, star anise and cinnamon it makes a lovely desert.

Quince

We spent the Easter break camping at Castlemaine, an historical town in the area where gold fever was prominent in the formative years of Australia. This region is full of lovely old architecture and there are also some great markets to be visited.  I really like the Wesley Hill Market as it has a great range of fruit & veg, preserves and also a great eclectic assortment of crafts, preloved goods and it generally has a nice buzz to it. I picked up these,

Wesley Hill Farmers Market

The Splitters Creek olive oil I bought last time we were there was beautiful, didn’t even taste test this time, hope it’s still up to the mark! Tried to find a link but sadly they don’t seem to have any web presence.

The two other bottles are a Persian style pickle and some garlic which has been pickled using date vinegar. No idea what will I will do with them but it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Before we left I had made dumplings from scratch. Had never made the wrappers before and they were a great success. Won’t stress over that again, just takes a bit of time to roll the dough out.

Dumpling wrappers

The left over dumpling filling of pork, ginger, zucchini, spring onion and sesame oil made nice little meatballs to go with our always favoured camping breakfasts. This breaky was sourdough toast (Celia’s starter of course!), poached egg, dumpling stuffing meatballs and grilled tomato served with tomato pickles and a really strong brew of tea.

Camping breakfast

Now to make a cuppa and take a peek at what’s in everyone else’s kitchen this month!

 

Posted in Bread, Garlic, In My Kitchen, Preserving, Quince, Recipes, tomato pickles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Hangin’ in the hammock. Spelt, flowering gums & books.

What an absolute cracker of a weekend  it’s been weather wise! Autumn is my favourite season, but  I especially love it when the weather has been as lovely as the last couple of weeks. We’ve had cool, almost balmy nights, sunny days ranging from 18-30 degrees with just a slight breeze, promises of cooler nights advancing by the dew that’s on the grass and cars in the morning and the golden tinge of colour change in the leaves of the trees. Perfect camping weather, hope it holds for a few weeks.

I was not going to miss the opportunity to enjoy this weather while I could, so in between all the weekend chores and jobs I took time to retreat to my beloved hammock and have some ‘smell the roses’ time.

If I was asked to make a short list of my favourite things to do, reading, camping and hanging in my hammock would be top of the list. If I can do all at the same time I’m in heaven!

I recently borrowed a book from the local Mobile Library and although a very different genre to my beloved crime mystery I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book was ‘The Briny Cafe’ by Susan Duncan and it is a nice story based around some Aussies who live off shore from the mainland and have a strong community  that they cherish and we get to share their lifestyle. I loved the tone of Susan’s writing and have since read the sequel, Gone Fishing which I found just as delightful. So, on to reading her ‘memoirs’, Salvation Creek which I have also enjoyed immensely. Close to my heart, we all are or have friends in the same places she has been and I felt it a very honest and light-hearted approach to disclosing her unbelievingly difficult experiences. Close to the end of the book, I was in between stretch and folds of my bread dough, stirring of the tomato and plum sauces so I treated myself to a stretch in the hammock with a ‘coldie’ (aka chilled beer), my book and a relaxed attitude. Heaven!

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Coming back in between tasks, I picked a few things to go in our dinner that I hadn’t planned. Lemons, lemongrass, capsicum, zucchini and some potatoes. Found some chicken in the freezer  so we had a chicken, lemon, lemongrass, capsicum, zucchini, thyme and potato bake. Threw in some small tomatoes to add sweetness and served on rice cooked with lemongrass and some star anise. Wasn’t a dribble maker, but it was fresh, tasty and hearty.

IMG_0407 IMG_0411My sourdough bread bake this weekend was a 50% spelt flour mix, in a 68% hydration dough. We bought this flour at Callington Mill in Tasmania last September, its best by date has passed but it looked ok, smelled ok and performed well in the loaves.

IMG_0449While lying in my hammock I was positioned so I could keep peeking at this beautiful flowering gum. We had to remove a large flowering gum tree when we moved in and I hated doing it. This one is a smaller grafted variety and the shape of the leaves, buds, flowers and I presume  the resulting gum nuts are so beautiful. Not usually a pink kind of girl! First time its flowered, beautiful.

IMG_0427As I’m putting this post together there is a leg of lamb in the slow cooker laced with 2 heads of garlic, lots of rosemary, a cup or so of balsamic vinegar and a bit of brown sugar and stock. Smells beautiful! Will let you know how it goes.

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Ahhh, love Autumn.

 

Posted in Bread, Capsicum, Chickens, Garlic, Home, In The Garden, Nature in the garden, Potatoes (Spuds), Preserving, sourdough, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dumpling week.

Seems my inner self has been in need of dumplings recently. Is it because the seasons are changing and dumplings are a halfway dish between summer and winter food? Is it because I haven’t travelled for a while and dumplings represent in one form or another every nationality and culture possible. I may be hankering to experience some new ways to have dumplings. Can’t think of any country that doesn’t have a dumpling dish of some sort. Even us Aussies have the great ‘GSD’, Golden Syrup Dumplings, if cooked well are a lovely dessert treat.

My humble attempts this week were pretty PP really. Didn’t make my own wrappers just grabbed a pack from the Supermarket. Having said that, it is a massive step forward that they were actually stocked at the Moe major. Won’t hold my breath for the local supermarket stocking such basics, they seem to be reducing their range of products rather than offering more.

Anyway, Sunday night was pork, ginger and zucchini wonton style dumplings served with a traditional asian dipping sauce. This style of dish is one of my favourites. Easy, reasonably healthy and can be tweaked so you can use whatever is at hand in the filling.

Pork Dumplings

For the filling I used 500g minced pork, 1 grated zucchini (juice squeezed out), 2 crushed cloves garlic, 3 spring onions chopped finely, generous teaspoon of sesame oil, pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of finely grated ginger. All into a bowl and really mix it well. Squeeze it through your fingers and make sure it is really well mixed.

Place a spoonful onto each wrapper, (packet had about 30) then moisten edged and bring sides together to seal. I usually use round wrappers but it was nice for a change to see a different shape.

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Popped them into the steamer on the what I now believe to be the perilous gas cooker.

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While dumplings were steaming I mixed up the dipping sauce using:

  •  1 small finely chopped red chilli with seeds removed,
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 5 tablespoons (100ml) light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (shaohsing)*
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 crushed garlic clove

When dumplings seem cooked, (about 10 minutes) place onto platter, scatter with chopped spring onions and drizzle some of the sauce over. I found these wrappers not as nice as usual, bit glassy but they tasted ok. Tended to stick more than I’m used to. Filling and dipping sauce was lovely!

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Potato Gnocchi

My next dumpling fix was potato gnocchi. Hadn’t made gnocchi for a long time and it is one of those dishes that should never be purchased in packets and only ordered out if you know it is light and fluffy as it should be and not like marbles that are chewy and tough. I microwaved a couple of potatoes (600 ish grams), mashed them lightly and then let to cool. Mix the egg through the mash first to make it smoother and easier to add flour.

Potato gnocchi

I added about 100g flour, a pinch of pepper and salt and gently mixed it all together. Don’t overwork it, just enough to hold together. Turn out onto a floured board and rolled into play dough type snakes. Have a large pot of boiling salted water ready. Cut bite sized pieces off the snakes, if it is for a more formal occasion you can shape them with little marks but for our casual meal I didn’t bother. Toss the cut gnocchi pieces into the boiling water and when they float they are ready.

Potato gnocchi

I must admit I let the side down with the sauce for this dish. Just some tomato passata, onion, zucchini and eggplant which should have shone but I didn’t do too well with developing the flavour. Nice but lacking oomph! Didn’t take a photo, didn’t think it worthy!

Phoenicia-Fantastic and Flying!

The sourdough starter I got from the lovely Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial has developed beautifully. Phoeny is extremely resilient and has a bit more tang to the taste than my Vessie. I made 2 loaves of basic white at the weekend and they were both tremendous. Thanks Celia!

Sourdough bread

20150315_194522A batch of tomato sauce and that will probably see the major crop of tomatoes done. Can’t believe it’s still only March and they seem to have stopped. Hopefully a few stragglers will continue, enough to keep us in tomatoes on sourdough breakfasts for a while.

Posted in Baking, Bread, In My Kitchen, In The Garden, Preserving, Recipes, Recipes, sourdough, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Their Smiles Say It All @ Thorpdale Potato Festival

This weekend we visited the Thorpdale Potato Festival (Spud Fest) for the first time in 12 years. The Potato Festival had been a huge local event for many years until ridiculous costs and conditions were imposed by insurance companies making it nigh on impossible to comply. This led to the demise of a wonderful annual event that funded community groups and was responsible for some great sporting facilities being developed in the town of Thorpdale. Many community organisations right across the country had to curtail their community events due to the high cost of public liability insurance and the increased red tape that was a huge burden for volunteer committees to manage. But it’s back! Boy, is it back! Great day indeed.

Thorpdale Potato Festival

When we first moved to Trafalgar about 25 years ago our local Apex club worked as parking attendants at the Spud Fest and this raised great sums of money that went straight back into the community. Every year Mr ATMT would have to do his allotted time slot on parking duty so we would all head up to the Festival to watch competitions in picking and bagging spuds, see some cooking tips and most importantly hope that the kids didn’t get flattened when mob mentality kicked in as an aeroplane dropped packets of potato chips over the crowd. That was scary, but the kids loved it! Very fond memories of those festivals.

 

Our older son lives in Melbourne and had mentioned to friends about the fest making a come back so they made a weekend of it by coming down, staying at our place and doing the Spud Fest. It was  a delight spending time with them all. We had forewarned them that an hour might be the maximum time the fest may take up before they were bored stiff, but we got there just before midday and left just before it closed at about 4.00. Following are some photos of the day. Congratulations to the organisers in bringing this event back and huge accolades in the way it was organised. I think they were caught short with having enough food vendors to meet the need but that just goes to show that people came out in loads to support this event.

HERE WE GO!

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Champing at the bit to get in!

First up some refreshment from a local brewery.

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Grand Ridge Brewery from  Mirb

 

Then off to watch the stunt motor bike.

IMG_0235On to watch the ladies packing race. Had to fill the box with spuds then load the box onto a pallet. Gee these girls can move. Found the perfect place to watch the event, a pile of spud sacks of course!

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IMG_0261Then a walk around looking at historical machinery, some market stalls and a very quick glimpse at the line dancers. Some words of wisdom on display.

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The mashed potato eating competition. Everyone who entered this was laughing and smiling. Great to see all ages getting on board.

IMG_0268 IMG_0278Fashions on the Field, all made from hessian which is the fabric used make potato sacks. Some were creative and artistic,

IMG_0300Some were serious and quite stunning.

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And some were just plain silly! A very important component indeed.

IMG_0317Back to the event area to watch the mens potato packing competition.

IMG_0255The ‘kids’ were very excited to have their photo taken with ‘Chippy’  the mascot for the festival.    ‘Chippy’ even speaks english you know!

IMG_0241Oh, the excitement of being photographed with ‘Chippy’!

IMG_0245We missed a few events like the dog trials, the sack race, shearing and more but the ‘kids’ vow they are coming back next year to catch everything. We will be more than happy to have them too! Great weekend. Thanks to the organisers, well done indeed. What community events and festivals do you enjoy?

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