Winter doldrums so let’s get cracking inside!

Wow, the weather has been woeful here in Gippsland! Your wouldn’t venture outside unless you absolutely have to. So we didn’t! Breakfast in the lounge, looking out at the rain, hail and wind. Not inviting to venture out at all.

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This weekend has been a good opportunity to start preparing for when the back half of the house comes off. Forget the fact we haven’t yet got a date locked in, forget the fact we haven’t had council approval. I just had to do something that made me feel as though we are moving forward cause it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it. I am over the stinky old kitchen cupboards so what the hell? Off to that very large green shed to buy a couple of shelving systems. These things are very handy and once the reno is done they will be able to go in the shed/garage or be sold. Makes life easier at the moment and I need that.

The spare bedroom that had a robe in it that we’ve used as a pantry cupboard, has had the robe moved out to store other crap elsewhere, the bookshelves that were useless have been removed and we have put two sets of shelving in. One as a pantry storage and the other to take most of what has been in the revolting kitchen.

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Old bookshelves about to come out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book shelves replaced by this unit. The cupboards on the left will be where my ‘toy oven’ and toaster, kettle etc will go while the reno happens.
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This shelving unit replaces an old robe that had been used for pantry supplies. This stores about double than the old unit and you can actually see things!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With these units set up it meant we could start removing some parts of the old kitchen. I suggested Mr ATMT hold back a bit as I’m not sure what gaping holes will be exposed if we just knock the lot down and with temperatures at minus 5 I’d sooner stay warm. We have a history of opening a bottle of something and becoming very creative with demolishing. As I age, I’m more cautious, so we’ve started with removing the doors and drawers first. Eeeew, it’s disgusting! The light is on in the ‘toy oven’ as I’m drying some of my sourdough starter as described by Celia. Seems to have worked pretty well. Why should I be surprised? Everything Celia does works well, she is one amazing lady!

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I still managed to do a couple of bread bakes. I made pumpernickel

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and a couple of loaves of Chad’s Robertson’s basic country loaf. These are 30% rye, 70% hydration and I’m happy with how they have worked.

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For dinner tonight I made lamb kofta using Rick Stein’s recipe from his ‘India’ cook book. Served with a yoghurt, mint and cinnamon sauce and some home-made chappatis, it was a treat to just sit in front of the fire and enjoy. I must admit I found it a bit daunting thinking about what we actually have yet to do at this place. I’m sure a bit of sun will make it all seem a bit better.

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I have to remind myself that this is meant to be a fun project, I’m not really feeling that  at the moment. I do however, know that things could be a whole lot worse, a reality I’ve experienced way too close to home over the last couple of weeks. Although I’m grumpy and frustrated I do appreciate our good fortune in relation to health and family. With a bit of luck the wind will drop, the sun will come out and I’ll be able to get outside tomorrow.

 

 

Piesties, Sourdough, Pain & Shit Shuffling

Please forgive me for the expletive in the post title, but there is no other way to describe things so accurately. With the back half of the house about to be removed (so I can have my long-awaited kitchen), we have a shed full of ‘stuff’ that will surely be used some day, and lots more ‘stuff’ that came back here from the property we sold at Fish Creek, I decided all we were doing was shuffling shit to different spots. OVER! Time to make decisions and get rid of ‘stuff’ that is most probably never going to get used by us. So now that we have the new little shed up,

Black Shed

and are shuffling stuff about, it is time to seriously cull anything we are never truly likely to use. Three different piles are being created –

  1. Get rid of by using either free-cycle, buy/swap/sell sites, op shops or tip
  2. Definitely should keep, in which case these items will go into the new shed
  3. Need to sort out and decide. This section includes tools and things we have acquired from others. I decided we didn’t really need 6 painting extension poles, so into the scrap metal for them! Most of this pile will probably go to the mens shed and tip I think.

It’s very exciting to know that we might actually be moving forward with this reno but I’ll hold my excitement in until it actually is underway.

Piesties, not a pie or a pastie.

I’ve given my Sat night dinner this title, it came about by starting to make shepherds pie from leftovers from our last lamb roast, I had cut the lamb up and stored it in a zip lock bag in the freezer.

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I’m not a big fan of Shepherds Pie as I like meat with a gravy to be encased in a pastry shell, or served on toast. Out of the freezer came a couple of frozen pastry sheets. I mixed the chopped lamb with onion, carrot, peas, rosemary, mixed herbs and a little (shut your eyes and skip this bit!) Gravox powder, purely as a thickener with colour, it is Sat night after all! I cut the pastry into squares that would fit into my tapas dishes and filled the pastry with the lamb mix.IMG_1525

The pastry was overlapped and at this point I decided to name them piesties as it looked more like a pastie than a pie.IMG_1527

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now here is the interesting bit! Yesterday, when I went to our great local fresh fruit and veg supplier  which we all affectionately call ‘The Spud Shed’, I got some purple potatoes (spuds).

Yes, purple. This not beetroot, it is a potato.Purple potatoes

I was keen to see how they cooked up and wondered if they kept their purple colour once cooked. I’ve grown purple beans and they turn green when cooked but had no information about how purple potatoes behave. I had an inner giggle when I pictured having purple mash on top of our Shepherd Piestie so thought I’d give it  a go. But guess what?

Purple Mashed PotatoPurple potato stays purple when cooked! I made this mash by boiling the spuds as usual and when cooked added some goat cheese, S&P and milk. I loved  it but Mr ATMT preferred the standard white mash in top of his Piestie. I sprinkled finely chopped rosemary on top and served with tomato relish. Beautiful flavour.

IMG_1532Pain-too much of it.

To all of the people I care about  who are dealing with awful situations (and there are just way too many) including death, long term physical impairment, diagnoses that are not positive and loss. I wish I could offer you a magical way of just washing all the pain away but sadly I can’t.  I can only offer support, love and a helping hand if you need it. Please ask,  it is sometimes a tonic to us both to be able to help.

Sourdough

I think I have just about worked out the idiosyncrasies of my new gas Pizza Oven. This weekend I tried 2 different styles of sourdough. One was Josey Baker‘s hearth sourdough but I used rye rather than whole wheat starter. This loaf was the first one I cooked in my new Sassafras La Cloche bread baker. Very happy with the result too.

I also made Chad Robertson’s basic country loaf. Im finding this is becoming a well loved staple. I make it using 80% bread flour & 20% rye flour mixed to about 68% hydration. Just always seems to work! I like that. The photo below shows from L to R Chad loaf, peek of the ‘La Cloche; behind the Josey Baker Hearth loaf and on front another loaf of Chad’s.

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I have a few issues with the bottom of the loaves getting a bit overcooked but I think I have a solution to that. Stay tuned!

This week, my first phase of cutting back on my work commitments begins. Mondays are now MINE! I have reduced my hours and will continue to do so as some very exciting times are ahead of us.

 

 

 

Pork buns, shed bases and birds.

Shed Bases.

With our extension/reno scheduled to begin later this year we are going to be in an interesting position with management of a few things such as having a laundry and cooking area, storage and generally keeping things manageable while works are under way. We decided to have an extra garden shed put in place which will be used as storage for the mower, camping stuff and lots of shelves will be incorporated to take boxes that may need to be stored until they can come back into the house. We’ve sited this shed at the back and will be able to screen it almost completely with planting. Added bonus is that it will screen neighbouring properties.

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We are lashing out and having this shed installed, something we have never done before but the cost is reasonable, it means it will be done and dusted and our list of jobs is so long it just seemed sensible.

Birds

We love having native birds as part of the garden. When we first came here there were no birds apart from sparrows and the dreaded Indian mynah, we have been gradually increasing bird attracting plants and every day we are thrilled by our feathered visitors who are increasing rapidly. This morning I was mesmerised listening to a magpie who was sitting and ‘chatting’ away just outside the bedroom. I found this magpie video of a warbling magpie that captures it beautifully, I could listen to them for hours. Along with bird attracting planting we are ensuring we have water available for birds, bees, lizards and every other ‘critter’ that is welcome. here. We are establishing an area in the back corner that I have labelled as the ‘bus stop’ and Mr ATMT is currentLy working on. We bought a cast iron bird bath that will be positioned centrally in this area. The bricks we claimed from the neighbours garage when it was demolished are slowly being integrated into the landscape.

CAST IRON BIRD BATH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buns

This morning I picked some lemon grass, spring onions, broccoli raab and I had some cabbage that needed a purpose. There was some pork mince in the fridge that also needed using so with these all being a good base for asian dishes I thought I’d have a go at making steamed pork buns. We have dumplings quite a lot so something a little different was appealing. I have never had steamed buns before and had no idea what to expect.

I made a filling of pork, cabbage, ginger, spring onion, char sui sauce, chilli and garlic and made Pork bun dough using this recipe.

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The dough worked really well, I was happy with this.

Pork bun dough

Divided into 16 pieces which I filled with the pork and ginger filling,

Pork Buns

Into the bamboo steamer on a small piece of baking paper and steamed for 15 minutes.

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No idea if this is how they are supposed to look but they were as light as a feather to pick up and to eat. Served with some soy and sweet chilli sauce, I wish I’d been bothered to make a proper dipping sauce, I think it would have made all the difference.

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From the photos I’ve found they look pretty much like they should. Any pork bun experts are welcome to give me their thoughts!

Back to work tomorrow, I need some motivation!

 

 

Mushroom risotto and Lights!

Last week Mr ATMT came home and said he had heard chef Shannon Bennett being interviewed on the ABC and he was talking about his mushroom risotto. I’m not a risotto fan unless I make it or unless I know that the person in the kitchen takes its making seriously. Gnocchi is another menu selection I have this issue with. I’m not into eating golf balls and don’t believe it when wait staff say it’s “homemade” that it actually is. I’ve seen those little cryo vac bags some restaurants purchase from suppliers labelled “homemade” that bounce if you happen to drop them. I downloaded this mushroom risotto recipe from the ABC website intending to make it last weekend. Didn’t happen then, but I did manage to make the mushroom stock for the recipe. I was a bit emotional  as I cooked this dish tonight as  our niece is engaged to a chef who previously worked with Shannon and we are anxiously awaiting news about her dad who today suffered a stroke.  Her dad, mine and Mr ATMT’s brother in law and the reason we met. Every stir was done with love and positive thoughts for them. I just hate seeing people I love going through pain knowing you can’t really do anything to ease it.  Happy birthday AH!

One good thing about having a cruddy kitchen is that is good being able to just stick recipes onto the wall and not worry about messing up paint work etc. Mushroom risotto here!

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Some adaptations were made to the recipe due to inability to source neither champagne vinegar nor carnaroli rice  locally (I did check with Coles and they suggested I try Uncle Ben’s Express rice – I didn’t).

I’m not going to go through step by step my making of this dish, that is clearly spelt out in the recipe. But I can say it was delicious! If you like risotto and have a surplus of mushrooms, give it a go!

mushroom risotto

 

Lights! Yay!

Today we had light fittings fitted into the rooms that are pretty much under control as far as renovating are concerned. Once again I called on the ever reliable Amador from Safety First Electrical to carry out this job. There is nothing more frustrating than trades people who don’t deliver when they say they will. No problem with Amador, if there is an unexpected delay you can count on great communication and alternative suitable arrangements are made.  Amador is also an expert in providing energy solutions for homes and businesses, something so important to all of us! We purchased light fittings from Geoff Mills at the Morwell Lighthouse and would highly recommend  anyone who needs to buy light fittings, get advice or to convert existing fittings to be more energy efficient that you check out this business. Service standards and knowledge are exceptional, why would you pay as much, if not more to buy from a store that deals in everything from compost to concrete when you can have experts like the staff at Morwell Lighthouse who point you in the right direction?

Here are our lights, I’m thrilled!

Passageway:

Lighting passageway

Photo below is taken in similar position 18 months ago. I think we are getting there!

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This is the snug light fitting.

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The ballroom/lounge room. I love this fitting but because of the pattern on the heritage Wunderlich  pressed steel ceiling we will have to get a larger finishing cap.

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Finally, my folly. I am so not  a chandelier type person, but I saw this ages ago, fell in love with it and finally we succumbed and bought it. I absolutely love it! If not only to look at, but it is a great discussion point having a bit of Louis 15th french bling in the bedroom!  Or as Mr ATMT says, the FOTT (see how you go working that out!)

Louis 15th 5 light

 

It is nice to go back and see the old photos as we so often feel we are not getting anywhere. I just looked back on my timeline on Facebook and found my post after we had, on a whim bought this place, my words were, “Holy shit, we just bought a house! Should have gone to cello”.
http://www.realestate.com.au/property-house-vic-trafalgar-1…

There is a certain amount of pride knowing we are giving this lovely old home a rebirthing. Many more ticks to check off the list yet!

A really bad smell is – In My Kitchen!

Yes, not a stunning way to start this month’s IMK post! Most of Celia’s lovely IMK participants over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  share pictures of their delightful, gourmet treats, stunning new cookware and trinkets collected from afar, but no, not me this month! Due to my own stupidity and carelessness, the kitchen is full of foul smelling, black smoke which is due to this,

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I stupidly put a Tupperware lid on top of the toaster and this particular toaster starts when the button is ever so lightly touched. I’ve hated this toaster since the day we got it and I now have a justifiable reason to get rid of it. It’s full of melted plastic that dripped down into its guts. Bye bye toaster! Next one will definitely be a good old push the lever down style.

On a lighter note, some other happenings this month In My Kitchen are:

IMG_1370The first firing up  of the wood fire stove this season. As much as I love the idea of this oven, the total inefficiency of it is why I don’t use it often. It takes a couple of hours to get to about ‘moderate’ temperature and I just hate seeing wood wastefully ‘go up in smoke’  without some return.  It is lovely though, on a miserable winter’s afternoon to listen to the crackle and feel the radiating warmth. I am planning on putting in a wood fire which also has  a baking chamber in it when we do the new kitchen/family room. Haven’t yet decided if this will stay or go and if it goes, what will fill the space.

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And there is a great big mess! Glenda over at Passionfruit Garden has been doing some posts about using pumpkins in cakes and loaves and it made me think about a nut loaf my mum used to make. Mum wasn’t a great cook which might be why my dad bought her this book, 2 and a half months after they were married in 1943. Mum did cook, but like most post war Australian wives it was basic yet filling food and ‘tea’, not dinner, quite often sat on top of a saucepan full of water with the saucepan lid covering the plate while it ‘stayed warm’ for hours until dad was ready to eat it. IMG_1371

I love this book, it has all the requirements a modern-day 1943 housewife should have and hints and tips on how to be a great homemaker. Nothing quite as OTT as The Good Wife, but it is interesting reading and the recipes are reliable and sometimes quite humorous. Luckily it was tagged to come to me when things were divided up. You can see by the way mum noted it as for me, she wasn’t a subtle person!

Good wife

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, back to why there is a mess in my kitchen. Inspired by Glenda, I decided to see if I could recreate a nut loaf that tasted like mums. I checked with my niece and she didn’t have the recipe amongst the ones she inherited and the one Glenda shared didn’t seem to be quite like the one I remember, so I searched Google and came up with this recipe that seemed more like the one I was looking for. Sure was close! I used brown sugar and upped the butter a bit and also added a teaspoon of mixed spice.

Nut Loaf

Cooked in an old nut loaf tin and the excess in a small loaf pan covered with a foil tent, It was a good start to searching and finding the lost memory. Not quite there but certainly on the way.

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Quite a few IMK posts ago I mentioned we were looking for a tea that was as enjoyable as the tea we brought back from our trip to India. This ‘Good Morning Tea’ from Lupicia is proving to be a really enjoyable tea with plenty of flavour. Like my new tea cosies? I knitted these over a few nights while sitting in front of the fire. Knitting, winter and fire go so well together. I’m not really (in fact not at all) an artsy, crafty sort of person apart from a little knitting now and again.

That’s me for In My Kitchen this month. Thanks Celia for hosting these bloggers and joining us together. Go over to Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and check out what others have going on in their kitchens. I bet they smell better than mine!