New Introduction to Sourdough Baking Class Scheduled.

Due to demand, I have added an extra class to the Introduction to Sourdough Baking schedule. Sunday 16th September, 10.00-3.30ish. Go to Simply Sourdough tab or to my Facebook Simply Sourdough Events Page for event details. Tickets can be purchased online from Sticky Tickets, price of $154.50 includes booking fee.

Gift vouchers available, contact me direct for details.

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In My Kitchen

I’ve added couple of new tools to the kit this month. I would say I’m generally not a gadget fan, but I found my citrus zester was hurting my hands when I held it, so shouted myself to a new one, same brand but with a different shaped grip and grating head. I bought this online from Peters of Kensington and arranged a ‘Pick Up In Store’ as we went to Sydney the following week.  This little item is a bit more fanciful! A cup for making lacy rice paper wraps. When we were in Vietnam many dishes were served in beautiful looking lacy wraps and I haven’t been able to find any here. I tried making them using an old squeeze sauce bottle but it didn’t work.I used this to make wrappers for the Dadar Gulung (Indonesian Pancakes) that are made   by making a rice flour batter and adding green pandan colouring. They are filled with a delicious filling made from coconut, brown sugar and sweet milk. Very delicious even though the colour is something you should only use for St Patrick’s Day cooking. These aren’t mine, I forgot to take a photo but this is pretty close to what they did look like. The batter cup obviously takes a bit of time to master.

In my kitchen was the BEST pork crackle I’ve ever made. I did pulled pork in the slow cooker so removed the skin, scored it and let it sit uncovered in the fridge overnight before rubbing with salt and olive oil than baked in the oven. I then crunched it into smaller pieces and scattered over the pulled pork.

I made soup using my frozen chicken feet stock, red lentils, carrot, onion and served with greek yoghurt. Love the autumn colours! I was fortunate to be gifted some kefir grains by a member of my Facebook Sourdough group.  I’ve started exploring further afield with fermented foods and still have a lot to learn, but we are loving using kefir in many dishes. This is Bothe the water kefir and the milk kefir grains doing their thing.

I have also been making a lot of Labneh which is yoghurt cheese. So easy to make and these are just little balls of Labneh that I have marinating in oil, chilli, garlic and peppercorns. They are great as a spread on bread or crackers or just served  on a platter of other nibbles. My apprentice has been helping too, here are the results of him helping with pancakes made using kefir water. Hard to smile when your mouth is stuffed full! We have been a bit slack with our weekend special breakfasts but this made up for it. Mushrooms cooked with chilli and garlic, poached egg on sourdough and a little chick pea dip on the side. Fresh OJ from oranges picked from our tree,  eaten in front of the fire. One of the loaves I offered in my weekly bread orders was a caramelised onion loaf. I had 7kg worth of onion tops and skins, so turned them into onion stock. Very easy, chuck the lot into a pot, cover with water and cook away until you get this beautiful rich liquid. The scraps then went into the compost, no waste at all!

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Probably the nicest thing In My Kitchen this month is this apple danish. I attended the most wonderful day learning about making croissant and danish at The Artisan Crust in Cockatoo and I can’t recommend them highly enough. Every part of the day was sensational! Scott is a highly trained professional that clearly loves what he does and is happy to share his skills openly.
So that’s what’s been In My Kitchen the last month. Thanks to Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings blog who gives us the chance to share all the kitchen loveliness. Head over there to see what others have been up to. Wish Sherry a very happy birthday too while you are there.

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The Winter Wander

It’s feels like ages since I entered the veggie patch and did some serious input out there. Planting has  been very light as I filled 3 beds with green manure crops so I could dig them in and add nutrients back into the soil. Here the tops have been chopped back,

Then they were dug into the soil. I’ll repeat digging them in in about a week or two.The only things I really have planted are snow peas, leeks and I discovered some fairly decent broccoli in among the green manure so that’s now clear. I can categorically report that CD’s do not deter birds from devouring lettuce plants.  All the literature states that you should time planting your peas so that you avoid frosts that will damage the flowers, therefore setting. This little tacker must have just made the safe zone, we’ve had a couple of ripper frosts.This little section is where all the spent veggie crops like tomatoes, corn stalks and any other ‘past it’ plants are tossed. I topped them today with all of the leaves that had been raked up between all the veggie beds and in the berry house. This will just sit now until spring and be used as the spillover planting bed. The rhubarb and Warrigal Greens are really shining and after a bit of a tidy up things feel much more in control, damp and dreary, but in control.This pic of when the back yard was just getting set up, 5 years ago. The following 2 pics are where it’s at now.

There are a couple of really pretty things performing in the garden at the moment. This little flowering gum is called Purple Patch, it is a smallish tree with a weeping habit. The tiny purple flowers appear in winter but I prefer the buds.

The Eucalyptus caesia or Silver Princess, would have to be one of my favourite plants. Every single part of this tree is special. The form, the bark, the buds, the flowers, the colour, the nuts, the fact the birds love it and the  way it gently waves in the breeze. 

Silver princess bark

Silver princess flower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The planting in the courtyard is taking shape well, I can’t believe how quickly the olives are growing. The mandarin tree is ready to be separated from its bounty one by one as the little fella just loves them.

It doesn’t appear that the second grandchild is going to be any different with his love of food, any food. The significant difference is that this one is not a neat and clean eater like his brother. He stuffs anything and everything in with gusto and gurgles with delight as its being eaten. He thoroughly enjoys spreading it far and wide and making it last, going back picking up his scattered bits. Pleasure to see!

It is a matter of getting the pressure washer out regularly, placing drop sheets where he is eating and having the brush and dustpan close by, but that’s OK.

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Brain surfing in the night, without a bed jacket.

I woke yet again in the wee hours of the morning unable to sleep and thought I’d read my book for a while.  No, too cold to pop out from under the covers and I’d get cold. Brain clicks mmmm, what ever happened to the Bed Jacket?

Designed to be ‘nice’ to wear while in the hospital or while having taken to your bed when ill, these little gems would have to have been some of the ugliest items ever introduced. I decided that they would take forever to get on, do up and probably wouldn’t do much to add warmth either. Thank goodness these are no longer around!

I would love to have added some pics here but just couldn’t find anything.

Off on its next wave, back to my first part-time job at Allen’s drapery store in High St Preston. I hated the idea of going there, but mum had stitched up a holiday job and I had no choice. I swear back then I thought the ladies on staff were probably about a 100, but now I would bet that was certainly not the case. Allens was one of those beautiful old stores with ladies wear down one side, menswear down the other, haberdashery and all the embroidery cottons in the back corner, mixed items down the middle and I clearly remember shower curtains on rings down the back near the lay by office where money was loaded into bullets that flew around the roof to each department. Anyway, back to bed jackets, I clearly remember on my first day working, an elderly gentleman went to a lot of trouble selecting just the right bed jacket for his wife who was in hospital. He was back for a refund the next day as she had passed away that night……..have never quite worked out why he was back the next day but people are funny little creatures.

I remember all the block and tackle type underwear, slips and nighties both practical and fashionable that was sold at Allens, all in cardboard boxes wrapped inside with tissue wrap  and stacked carefully on the shelves behind the counter and the Mrs Slocombe twin could almost blindfolded, put her fingers on the box that was the correct size for ‘Madam’.

I’ve searched and searched for some pictures that resemble a shop similar to Allens, but couldn’t really find much. I do know that the creators of ‘Are you being served‘ nailed it completely though as far as stuffiness.

I found this link which has some wonderful pics of the undergarments, lingerie and nightwear of decades gone by. I still like my flannelette jarmies though!

So the brain goes from bed jackets to Mr Jones’s fruit truck. This is probably where my passion for fresh fruit & veg started. Mr Jones had a big old red removal truck that resembled this. The overhang was loaded with full bags of spuds, there was a weigh and wrap station on the side wall and everywhere else was stacked with boxes goodies. I can still smell the dirt and hessian bags of those potatoes.

It was loaded with all of the freshest things he had secured at the Vic market and he then did a selling run going up and down the streets of Preston, stopping at the top, middle and bottom of each street and people would come and buy whatever they needed. They could leave a basket out with a note and he would fill the basket. He stopped at our place for tea on Thursday night and it was my job to ‘mind the truck’ while he ate his dinner. I still know that there are about 3 bananas in a pound, how to cut newspapers (that were used for wrapping) with a knife like a machete, and how to stuff my face with as many strawberries and passionfruit as possible in a short amount of time. I think we need some more of Mr Jones trucks now!

My brain then went onto a few more connections but slowly I went back to the land of nod. Probably thinking I should order something like this little number. What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekly wrap-Getting my pretty on and No Weddings here!

This week I thought I’d venture out of my comfort zone and try going pretty. Ann Gabur over at The Bread Journey  does the most amazing, detailed, well proportioned and meticulous scoring on her loaves that I thought I’d have a go. I’ll probably have another couple of attempts but it just isn’t my style. I much prefer the rustic, bold look of big oven springs, bursting out through minimal scoring. I do however appreciate her talent and can see a place for it in certain loaves and that it would suit many people. This pic was was my first attempt. For someone who gets bored going up and down in straight lines when mowing lawns and tries to write my name with the mower in the grass, I was pretty impressed I managed this much continuity.

 The loaf I tried this on was a very quickly thrown together loaf using the 1,2,3 method. This is – 1 part starter, 2 parts water and 3 parts flour, add a pinch of salt and in this case some chopped rosemary, mix, let sit for a couple of hours, toss into the fridge overnight, shape, throw into a banneton and bake. I wanted to test out how using a good old Aussie Bedourie Oven worked. These are basically a camp oven but made of spun steel and they not as heavy as the cast ones. The lid can also be used as a pan and the quality is beautiful. This is a 12″ one so you could fit either a round or an oval loaf in it. The big bonus is that the Dr Livingstone ones are Australian Made by Southern Metal Spinners and can be bought online either direct, or at really good prices from many camping/RV stores. I believe we need to support the little bit of local manufacturing we have left while we can. May not be as pretty as some ‘you beaut’ DO’s, but it certainly did the job well.

This lovely little loaf didn’t take long to be devoured by a couple of seagulls!I’ve been referring to Emilie Raffa’s wonderful Book ‘Artisan Sourdough Made Simple’ for inspiration with flavours and haven’t been disappointed. This dough is based on her olive, parmesan, thyme and lemon zest loaf, but I changed the flour, the hydration, salt and fermenting times to suit me. Handy tip on how to grate a 2kg bloke of parmesan into small bits when your hands don’t work- use your meat grinder. Works a treat! I would however next time leave the parmesan much chunkier, it does melt into the loaf.

I would also recommend leaving the loaf until the next day to eat. It was delicious freshly baked, but superb when left to mature over a day or 2. I had another wonderful Simply Sourdough Introduction to Sourdough Workshop today. Gee they are tiring, but I really enjoy getting together with like-minded people, having a few giggles and exchanging knowledge. Everyone keeps asking about the chick pea dip I make so I’ve recorded it. Into a food processor throw a can of rinsed chick peas, juice of 1 lemon (may need a bit more), couple of garlic cloves, bit of chilli if you like it, a huge hunk of parsley, a pinch of salt and in this case I had an end bit of parmesan from the olive bread so that went in too. Blitz the lot and drizzle olive oil in as its going until you get a nice smooth texture. Serve in a bowl with olive oil drizzled over. Nice on bread, toast, crackers etc. That’s it at rear right of the platter we had in class today. Other sourdough bits from L to R are baguette, roast capsicum focaccia, pizza with tomato & pepper paste (sulca biber), labneh marinated in oil, garlic, chill, pizza cheese and green capsicum. Then there is some of the olive/parmesan bread and my wonderful parmesan and rosemary sourdough crackers.

Nice to just be able to pick through the session. The kitchen space is working really well for classes, didn’t look like this at the end of the day though! Everyone is smiling except for the mad woman holding a mini baguette looking like she’s going to turn maniacal with it! She is smiling on the inside, trust me. Great group, great day! One place in this class was donated to One Planet Classrooms to use as a prize at their major fundraising event. I was thrilled to be able to offer this tiny bit of support to the cause.Finally, I have deliberately not watched, seen nor heard much about ‘The Wedding’,  but a friend of mine loves stirring so sent me a load of pics. The only thing I took notice of was that in this one I thought the poor boys shoelaces were undone. On closer inspection I realised it is probably a shadow from the end pin of his cello.  What do you think? I much prefer thinking it was his shoelaces undone theory. Am I evil?

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The Mixing Bowl, pizza and seed saving all wrapped up.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a demo for making French afternoon tea scrumptiousnesses (I know that’s not a word) with the lovely Anne at The Mixing Bowl Hallam. I deliberately went to the class as it was the last session Anne was running before the imminent closure of this business, which I have been dealing with for nigh on 27 years. The first class I went to with Anne, was when they first changed their business to ‘The Mixing Bowl’ and she ran a class making Hot Cross Buns at the old Buln Buln Shire Offices. Been lots of Hot Cross Buns under the bridge since then and all of them delicious!

A business doesn’t stick around for this long by chance, Anne and Geoff have always offered premium goods at extremely reasonable prices, have a great range of flours, every baking gadget, tin, and accessory you could imagine and have given out more information than you’d find in an Encyclopaedia Britannica when it comes to baking. On top of that, they have always been on top of the ladder with customer service, although my kids will never forgiven them for not stocking the same mint leaves we used to always stop and buy on the way to Melbourne, they still whinge about losing those! I will be extremely sad to see this wonderful business go and where on earth can I recommend to my students to go to for bread making supplies?

I wish Anne & Geoff a very happy retirement, they deserve to put their feet up and enjoy their family, have holidays and be free of flour dust. All the best Anne & Geoff, its been a delight.

Anyway, this tart is the result of the demo Anne did, an apple, Frangipane tart which was absolutely delicious.

I made it as a little treat to myself for mother’s day, and of course you must have double cream on the side. It was lovely having all the gang (apart from one son-in law who was saving us all from the bad guys in the world), to lunch. We set up a pizza making station outside my little bakehouse and then baked them in my Rofco microbakery oven. The pizza dough was not sourdough as I find yeasted better for pizza, but I am working on perfecting a good sourdough one!

When we planned the microbakery we had envisioned the space would double as a kitchen for using when entertaining outside too. This was put to the test today and it worked really well. Pic on the left is looking out onto the courtyard and the one on right is peeking in to the Rofco as the pizzas bake.

 The pizzas baked up beautifully, they went in on trays for first few minutes than were placed directly onto the oven sole for finishing off. Delicious. Where were the olives Em?

I can see that painting and cleaning up the outside of the microbakery is now on my short list of jobs!

   My daughter in law gave me some bees wax wraps as my Kris Kringle gift for Christmas and I love them. I have been using them for all sorts of things since Christmas and they have proved to be extremely versatile. Little Bumble Wraps is a local business and also run workshops on making wraps so support local and check them out. They also offer on-line shopping. I used them yesterday for wrapping croissant dough in between folds and also for the tart pastry while chilling.

The little tacker and I spent a few quiet moments saving bean seed from this years crop to have for planting next year. I treasure these moments dearly.

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Exteno Update-In My Kitchen

It has been an amazing journey, sharing the transformation from having no kitchen, progressing through to a lovely kitchen, through to having 2 kitchens (my bakehouse), works in progress on the exteno (never-ending)  since my first In My Kitchen post  a few years ago, (read it and weep or laugh)! I don’t get a lot  of time to do regular posts now, you know, I’m retired “too busy watching day time TV and napping”!  This month for IMK I thought I’d bring you up to speed, don’t expect display home glitz, that’s not our style.  Thanks to Sherry over at Sherry’s pickings for linking all us IMK’rs up.

So IMK news.

Well the kitchen is not finished! Surprise surprise! This is my version of the ideal  display home, flour tubs out, wine bottle open, 5kg of corn for milling in bag on bench, oh and Celia, the 2018 jar of peanut butter I bought today. We can have a race!

Not a lot to do, tiling behind the beautiful Falcon oven, fixing the range hood to the wall, a couple of timber display benches and not much else. Lighting bright as its nighttime, not so harsh with subtlety added.

The ‘family room’ end of the kitchen, or the dining area,  is finally getting the lick of paint on the doors and windows, and floor and take and probably light fittings!

The first thing I set for myself as a goal to do when I retired (my term is “re-directed”), would be to paint the windows and doors that were part of the exteno (its off the kitchen). How long has it been? 18 months, that’s not too bad is it? I finally painted the windows in the back ‘vestibule’ (I don’t like saying back passage!). The door at the front of pic is one from the original house that is still on the to-do list. I’m having trouble rating with the gold……

There s a tub of end of season tomatoes in my storeroom. Did you know if you pick them green and put them in a dark place they will slowly ripen over several weeks?

Because I am a wannabe croissant perfection tragic, I just had to buy this locally, hand turned Blackwood French rolling-pin to ensure I mastered the lamination technique. Didn’t help, but it will next time! I have to say that I have been having a lot of fun playing with different grains, rye, corn, barley and wheat. I can really see a new grain mill being added soon. These are a couple of rye loaves made entirely from rye, water and a smidge of salt. Took about 10-11 days to make. The leaven starter was made from fermenting rye grain, then using the fermented water to make the the starter, which was built up by regular feedings and then the dough was made. Amazingly tasty, overtones of all things chocolate, but I got beer…..

 I have started a test bake which has fermented polenta, freshly milled corn flour and whole wheat in it. I have been so inspired by a lovely baker in the USA, she just blows my mind with her combos, her down to earth approach and willingness to share. Nicole used to run the Blackbird  Bakehouse until recently but is now visible through Instagram as @nmuvu She is so very creative, generous and quirky . I am constantly inspired by her creations that take me out of my comfort zone. This is my freshly milled cornflour that hopefully I will be able to present as a stunning looking, golden loaf in 24 or so hours. There is also polenta fermenting  away which will be added to the dough as well.

 And for the money shot! This is our little almost 8 month old grandson. Loves his tucker just like his big brother. We never take for granted how fortunate we are to have these little tackers in our lives, more precious than gold!

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