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!

 

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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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

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.

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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.

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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?

 

 

Playing with new friends-Julia Child, Ken Forkish and Richard Bertinet

Dare I say it? I had never heard of Julia Child until recently and once I had, her name kept cropping up everywhere. Famous (apart to me) for being responsible for bringing classic french cuisine to Americans with her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  My 2nd new friend is Ken Forkish an artisan baker from Portland Oregon USA. I’ve read many good reports about Ken’s breads from a range of different sources so I was interested to learn more. I had reserved both Julia’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Ken’s bread book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast at the local library and they were in, just in time to sample with this being a long weekend.

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I quite like the look of Julia’s book and it seems like it would be handy as a reference for the technical understanding of food and basic techniques and fundamental recipes.  I made 2 dishes from the book and I’m sorry to say either of them were anything special. I chose 2 that we often eat and that were a good comparison to what I usually serve. These were potato and leek soup and Carbonnade de Bouffe or beef in beer. I found both of these quite flavourless and we decided we preferred my way of making the dishes. Cudos to me!

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This was Julia Child’s potato and leek soup served with bread made using Ken Forkish recipe for Harvest Bread which is a wholemeal yeasted loaf made using a poolish (preferment of part of the dough).

I am thoroughly enjoying reading Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast and will play with quite a few of the recipes. The toast above was from this loaf, not quite proved enough but it was OK.

Forkish harvest

I was also keen to try some of Richard Bertinet methods, Bertinet is an acclaimed French baker and he has quite a different style to kneading from the ‘stretch and fold’ method that I’ve been using. More like a slap and tickle approach and it was fun  to try. The dough was beautiful and I will certainly research some more of his technique.

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This is a crumb shot of the loaf. I served this grilled with garlic and olive oil to accompany our ‘Clean out the Fridge Soup’.

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The beef in beer required about 6 cups of onions so I took the opportunity to make some slow cooker stock from the onion scraps, these plus what I had in the bag in the freezer collected over a couple of months and some of Mirboo Pastured Poultry’s chicken bones some celery, carrot and peppercorns  and it was into the large slow cooker for an overnight simmer.

Slow cooker stock
Slow cooker stock
Stock trimmings
Trimmings saved in freezer until enough to make a batch of stock.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank goodness for the slow cooker! I don’t know how I would get by without the 2 that I have.

The Julia Child recipe for beef in beer was OK,  but I prefer this Boeuf Carbonnade recipe. Julia’s just didn’t have much going for it, quite bland. I served it with mash, broad beans that had been cooked with olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper and some of the carrot from the stock pot. Photo not great but the mash and broad beans were good!

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These are the 4 loaves from yesterday L to R Ken Forkish harvest loaf, 2 of my normal Chad Robertson artisan loves and the Richard Bertinet loaf in front. Not burnt, just well caramelised!

4 Breads

Some other weekend highlights.

The freeloading chooks have begun to earn their keep again, very welcome indeed.

Eggs

Mr ATMT started repurposing some steel greenhouse shelves that I had tried to sell but had not luck doing so. We are creating a screen behind the mulberry tree so the shelves have been secured to make a curved screen and will be planted with a climber to create a green wall screening the utility area.

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We had a delightful breakfast of sourdough pancakes with mushroom, bacon, egg and maple syrup. Yum, yum!

Sourdough pancakes

There is an area near the front fence that is rather spooky due to the large and overgrown camellias, sweet pittosporum and oleander. One camellia in particular is beautiful (white one) and has been smothered by the other growth, so I am thinning out the area and hopefully the star will be able to shine as a feature tree. I envisage we will plant a rosemary hedge along this front fence.

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Quite a busy weekend and as I do this blog I am listening to howling winds whipping around everywhere. Hope all stays secure! How was your long weekend?

 

Countdown to Kitchen Lift off is imminent – IMK June.

Woo hoo! Very excited here at ATMT. After 3 long years of trying to sell our property at Fish Creek (Fishy), which is a quirky and delightful town close to our fabulous Wilsons Promontory (The Prom) on the southern tip of Victoria.  We have just had settlement, money is in the bank and we can now proceed in ernest with the reno at this ‘New Old House’. Very sad to be losing the association with the property that I ran as a self contained accommodation facility for about 12 years, but I want to put some energy into this project now. This photo is of the iconic ‘Fishy Pub’, famous for the fish on the roof!

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So, what is in my kitchen this month?

PLANS, PLANS, PLANS! Although we have been preparing for this time for a while, we didn’t want to get to bogged down with the detail until we knew how many $$$$ we had to play with. Massive price reduction to sell meant that what we could do here was affected.  Since we moved in (2 years) and while the Fishy property was on the market this place  has been listed as a Heritage Protected Property, so have had to go through planning approval for any changes. That’s all done, now we need to get final plans drawn up and the building permit issued. When that’s done, we are aiming to start in Spring, couldn’t handle no back half of the house in winter! If I was really optimistic, I would be saying things like I hope to have a kitchen by Christmas, but I doubt it. So consequently in my kitchen are plans and wish lists. I’ve been collecting pictures and ideas that will all be used for tips and ideas in the final mix. If you look closely, you can see a little  spot on the plans marked ‘Kitchen’!

PlansBecause I’m so excited, I got a bit carried away thinking about how I will be able to bake things like croissants, puff pastry, more than 6 sausage rolls and maybe even 2 loaves of bread at a time. My bench top Sunbeam Pizza Bake N Grill has done well, but gee, I’m over it! So, to assist in making all the lovely pastries I plan to make, I decided I needed a good heavy-duty rolling-pin. Probably should have checked the measurements first! The one I ordered online from Amazon is what I will label as my “2 & 1/2 wine bottle pin”. Love it even though it is a monster!

IMG_0966We are still on the quest to find some tea that was as delicious as the assam tea we bought while in India. Not having much luck but when in Melbourne last weekend we bought home a few to try. There are also a few  tomatoes that are trickling in from the greenhouse.

IMG_0969We went Melbourne to celebrate Mr ATMT’s 60th birthday last weekend (Post coming later) and I did the clean out the fridge “what can I use up to take as nibbles routine”. Quite amazing what you can throw together when you have to. These were the most beautiful marinated mushrooms I’ve ever had. Quartered the mushies, cooked in microwave for about a minute and a half. Meanwhile into a pan went some olive oil, about 6 garlic cloves and a chopped up chilli. Heated just enough to slightly cook off the garlic and bring out the chilli oil. This was then poured over the mushrooms, seasoning generously with salt and pepper, the lemon zest of  1 lemon and about 1/2 a tsp of the leftover Spicy Tibetan Sauce I made to go with the Rick Stein Curry I made earlier in the week. Into a container until we used them and they were beautiful. Shame the photo is fuzzy!

IMG_0940I also found some leftover lamb mince, so I threw this in with some chopped rosemary, onion, garlic S&P and an egg to make little meatballs. Served with my tomato relish they were lovely.

IMG_0944Some brownies packed to go with our cuppa, these were made using Annabel Langbein’s brownie recipe. Once again a never fail!

IMG_0951I’ve recently been reading a few different bread making books and currently have Ken Forkish’s Flour, Water and Salt  on loan from the library. Good read so far.  I’ve split ‘Phoenicia’ in half to make a rye starter as well as a basic white. She’s happy with the separation.

IMG_0973Well, I didn’t think I had much to report this month and yet now I feel like I’ve been waffling on for ages. Because we are heading into the wintry blues I thought I’d close with a shot of some of the vibrant colour we experienced in India.

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Thanks Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for your hospitality and generosity with the IMK community.

Don’t be fooled-Winter in the garden is busy!

It’s been many moons since I last did a Garden Share Collective post. I just don’t know where the time has gone, I blink and another month has passed me by!

We can no longer kid ourselves that summer has gone (didn’t really have one), and Autumn too is racing out the back gate being replaced by what appears will be a cold winter. As the sun shines and sparkles on these icy cobwebs in the early morning I revel in the changing seasons.

IMG_0722A couple of things to share this month:

A new bed and repositioning of the spud bath. The bed beside the chook house that had corn in it over the summer has been fed and garlic is planted in it. The bath across the back previously took the spot where the stepping stones are and I have moved it to make this area a little more attractive and easier to access and use. I can now get to the worm farm and one of the closed compost bins much more easily. There are a couple of small  spaces that I will fill with bee attracting flowers. Love that camellia!

IMG_0780I must admit I love winter in the garden, the feeling that everything has stopped kicks in and you then turn something over or see the cool climate crops return a harvest and you realise just how much does continue on. The sweet potatoes in the greenhouse are starting to die off and I’m eagerly awaiting to see how many and what size sweet potatoes I get.

IMG_0838The broccoli heads are starting to form and the garlic in this raised wicking bed is well and truly on track.

IMG_0852There are a couple of plants I’ve had to put some frost protection in place for. This is a Davidson’s Plum, the other is a tamarillo that I thought I had lost last year but it came good over the warmer seasons.

IMG_0824The couple of beds that you walk through on the way into the veggie patch are slowly showing signs of the seasonal changes. The nectarine on the front right is resisting yet the yellowing plant rear left is a cherry that has just about dropped completely. There are bulbs and irises poking up through the mulch, exciting. No eggs from the free loading chooks ATM though!

IMG_0903The last of the grapes harvested and slipped into the mouth with a sigh of appreciation.

Grapes

Looking forward to having a bit of time over the next couple of weeks to plant more, tidy up and plan for the spring. I’m looking forward to reading the other GSC posts.

http://www.strayedtable.com/grow/garden-share/