Retarding Bread Dough. Yes it works!

Retarding bread dough  is when you slow down the fermentation process by lowering the temperature of the dough, in this case by putting it in the refrigerator. The lowering of temperature slows down the microbial activity and is said by many artisan bread ‘experts’ to improve and deepen the complexity of flavours in the loaf.

I have done this many times before but only for an overnight stint so I could bake the first thing in the morning. Knowing that I most likely would not get to baking over the weekend, I mixed this dough Friday night, did a 45 minute autolyse then stretch and folded every 30 minutes for 2.5 hours. I then bundled the dough into the fridge and there it stayed until this morning (Monday). I took the container out, divided the dough (2 X 748g pieces) and did a preshape then a 20 minute bench rest before final shaping. Proofed until ready and then into the ‘toy oven’ 17 minutes lid on 230c, 15 mins lid off 210c. I really have to watch this last cooking stage as the loaf is so close to the top element it can easily burn. Loaves have turned out really well so I’m not so nervous about retarding them to suit my schedule for future bakes.Sourdough

Open Garden Weekend. Just a little tired-but what fun!

It’s done & dusted! The girls are very happy to be allowed out again after being in solitary confinement for 3 weeks. They went straight to their favourite dust bath location even though they have dust bath access in their chook mahal.
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What a beautiful weekend! We had an extremely successful open food garden weekend and met the most amazing, lovely and wonderful people to boot! I know gardeners are a generous lot, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the simple pleasure of just talking to nice people. Sensational!

I knew in my mind I was happy with the way the garden is developing but the feedback we got from our visitors was very humbling and validated all the work we have done. We do what we do because Mr ATMT loves designing spaces and I love growing food. The two work well together and being able to share ideas and also exchanging ideas from our visitors was extremely rewarding.

We had approximately 120 people through the gates, most unknown to us beforehand, some old friends and now, some new friends. Excitedly I got to meet 3 of my blog followers  which was very sensational (more about that in a later post).

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Not a lot of photos taken but I believe there are some coming from the official Gardivalia photographer. I hope they tell a good story!

I haven’t felt this satisfied in years. We have met some beautiful people, networked for a whole range of different things and worked on some valuable bartering concepts. Love it!

Thank you to everyone who visited this weekend, to the Gardivalia committee and especially to the Baw Baw Sustainability Network (Yay Wendy!) for their support and encouragement and mostly for the wonderful helpers they (BBSN) provided to man the gate. Great helpers and some good laughs, I hope they enjoyed their time with us as well.

Would we do it again next year. Dead right we would!

 

 

 

The Garden Journey So Far

We have put together a slideshow to display during the Gardivalia open Food Garden weekend (This weekend!). I must say I was a little bit overcome when I saw just how much we have achieved in such a short time. Part of me misses the overgrown, out of control mayhem but I know controls had to be done so we can recreate an overgrown, out of control appearance that is actually planned and controlled! Someone once said it takes a lot of work to make it look easy. I hope that’s what we are working towards. Take a few minutes to check out our garden story, I feel very proud! For the final vision of where it is now, come along this weekend!

 

Celia’s Pork Meatballs

Now that we are in the final countdown for the open garden weekend, I thought it would be good to have a couple of things at the ready to offer our helpers. I had taken a shoulder of pork out of the freezer on Wednesday with a plan to make some sausages for a BBQ but just ran out of time. As chance would have it I was reading through my blogging friend Celia’s blog and found she had a recipe posted that was taken from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book ‘River Cottage Everyday. The recipe was titled ‘Tupperware Chorizo and I thought if I made some meatballs, cooked them up and packed them into the freezer in meal sized serves they could be a handy standby meal. Sausages can wait for another day.  This was a delicious dish! I’m not sure if I followed the seasoning correctly as my hay fever was so bad I could barely read Celia’s recipe. They were quite spicy but not too much so. I sautéed  an onion in a little olive oil, added the meatballs and a stubby of my tomato passata, served topped with a little greek yogurt, some coriander and served with rice. Very nice. I just hope if I got the seasoning wrong I can redo it wrong again next time!

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The small shoulder of pork was a little over double the  recipe and it gave me the chance to test drive my new Ankarsrum mixer’s meat mincer. Oh my, compared to my old one this is heavenly. Whipped through the meat so quickly I was amazed. Didn’t have to cut the meat up into tiny little bits and I went straight to the small mincing disc first up. On my old one you had to start with big sized hole and progressively reduce the size of the disc.

Ankarsrum meat mincer or grinder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flipped the machine back up and all the mince along with the rest of the recipe (plus I added an egg) went into the mixing bowl to mix it all together. Next time I’ll get smart and mince the meat straight into the bowl. Loving this machine!

Ankarsrum mixer meatballs

I made some Annabel Langbein brownies for a friends birthday, so I made a double batch and have them stored away too. The recipe called for all dates and I only had a handful so substituted prunes and added the zest of an orange. Gave them a nice jaffa flavour. Didn’t get a photo but they were beautiful! It will be lovely when I can cook in MY NEW OVEN. Yes, decision made, deposit paid and I will stop stressing. Now I just need a kitchen to put it in! I won’t have to do this anymore. Yep, do what you have to to make it fit!

Baking tray bent to fit I’ll even be able to put in 2, 3, 4 or even more. Wee bit excited! Thank you to Dave at Warragul’s sensational foodie shop String & Salt. We went to a Falcon Oven demo there and were blown away.

I think my well worn toy oven (Sunbeam pizza Bake N Grill) is experiencing some oven dementia. Maybe it senses it is about to be replaced. Is there such a thing as oven karma? Does it know we’ve paid a deposit on a new one.

I made another nut loaf in the search to find a recipe that matches what I remember as a kid. Glenda at Passionfruit Garden gave me a few leads but I’m still searching. I used this recipe Date & Nut loaf and after 40 minutes it was still raw, went another 30 minutes, still wet so went another 30 minutes and it was close to cooked. I am amazed it looks as good as it does and I had to taste test it of course, quite good. Into the freezer for this too!

Nut loaf

I can honestly say when I invested the $90 or so on the toy oven 2 1/2 years ago I had no idea it would be so good or that it would cope with me churning out a couple of hefty loaves of sourdough every week.

Sunbeam pizza bake and grill oven

 

On a completely random note, while the pork shoulder was defrosting in the fridge, it somehow was dislodged from its thawing container and as I cleaned out the fridge, I couldn’t help but remember the horrible scene from the Movie Carrie. Does anyone else remember that? Still gives me the heebie jeebies!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRWHDmCJ5mo

Horse Chestnut tree-never heard of it!

We are preparing for planting out the front yard come Autumn.

Front path

We are lucky enough to have a great local business who can help design and source plants for your garden. We are pretty ok with the design concepts and ideas, but knowing what plants are available that are suitable for the hot, dry, low maintenance area out the front that will give the look and feel we want, is where Katrina from Katrina’s Garden has been a great partner to link up with. Katrina has some some great ideas and we are making a list of what to purchase ready for planting at the start of Autumn when the weather is not likely to fry things, yet the soil is still warm, enabling new root growth to establish the plants. By Autumn, we will have had time to prepare the soil and there are a couple of large camellias we are needing to move from the side garden to the front that will require machinery to dig holes. Don’t want to run over new young plants when we do this!

There is a tree in the front yard we only ever notice when it is in flower. It reaches up to within the branches of the big pin oak and Katrina has advised it is a “Horse Chestnut” tree. She did comment that we are lucky it is protected by the pin oak as well as a massive blackwood and a  beautiful, very old, fragrant camellia or it would be a monster! This photo is looking back to the ‘horse chestnut’ tree from the side gate. The blackwood is on the right and the camellia under neath.

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The pink flowers are obviously attractive to birds and I spied a wattle bird dipping into the flowers, taking it’s fill. Wattlebirds are prolific this season.

Wattle bird

We are continually amazed at how many birds we are getting into the garden compared to the first season. With all the planting planned for out the front this will only increase the bird life. Nature is indeed a wonderful thing.

Last weekend before our Gardivalia open garden, quite a few last minute jobs to do!

 

 

Gardivalia Open Day is just around the corner! Join us.

As I have previously posted, we have entered our back yard garden in the Gardivalia food gardens section this year and the opening weekend  is October 24th and 25th. That’s the weekend after next. I’m pleased to say I’m not doing my usual control freak panic (yet), quite happy to just let things evolve, ensuring a few crops are growing and that it presents well. It’s more about showing how you can relatively easily create a sustainable garden, manage it organically and use good design to ensure things flow smoothly and minimise unnecessary work. It’s about showing how far we have come in a couple of years and I must admit it’s giving the many locals who have been concerned that the house was going to be loved, an opportunity to have a look and rest assured it’s in good hands. Here is a preview of how it’s shaping up.

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The asparagus has been producing some great spears, this bed needs mulching. The thyme growing around the water feature has proven to be a great addition. Bees love it, it’s great to have for picking and it bounces back after a ‘hack’ with the hedge shears.

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The apple tree on the junk fence is in flower. Some baby figs developing too. That’s very exciting!

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The broad beans are in flower and I’ve seen bees in there. Hopefully we will see young broadies showing soon.

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This shot below is from the gate into the veggie patch.

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IMG_9284This photo was taken from a similar position August 2012, my post about it is here. It shows the asparagus bed when started and mentions my plan about having the wisteria acting as a frame around the greenhouse. It is getting there!

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I hope the mushrooms will perform for the opening but nature will dictate that. I’ll work with nature every time.

As you look around……………… click on this for a little more information of how and why we have created this  food garden. Come along on the 24th or 25th October and introduce yourself. Should be a great day!

With the balmy weather shining on us this weekend, it was a good opportunity to sit under the mulberry tree and enjoy a casual lunch. I know, the dip in the plastic container is not good. Just didn’t have chick peas on hand to whip up some hummus. Better stock up!

Casual Lunch

 

 

In My Kitchen-October 2015

I have been playing with my new Ankarsrum mixer and can happily say, I love it! This machine is very different from ‘normal’ mixers but it is amazing. Every timer I turn it on I learn something new and enjoy it more.

Thanks to Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for linking fellow IMK’ers together. I always love seeing and getting ideas from other food lovers from all around the world.

So this month, In My kitchen I’ve,

Ankarsrum juicer

been juicing oranges. We are getting to the last on the tree, they are so juicy and tasty and I am so happy that we seem to have converted the performance of the tree since we have moved in. The juice press on this machine is great, saves my dodgy hands from a lot of pain!

duram semolina pasta

There is also lots of fresh pasta. With an abundance of eggs from the girls, pasta noodles are a great way to use them. It has been a bit of a learning curve getting the dough consistency right, but I’m happy with the latest results. These noodles are made using 85% plain flour and 15% durum semolina wheat flour and eggs. Nice! I used these noodles to make a creamy mushroom, roast fennel and asparagus pasta dish.

Mushroom, asparagus pasta

I also made some ‘real’ chicken schnitzels. The crumb is made from sourdough bread crumbs with fresh herbs, lemon zest and pepper. How can anyone think the things sold in delis that resemble love hearts understand what a good schnitzel is really like? I did read somewhere to use one hand when doing the flour, egg, crumb process. Good idea!

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I have also been making sourdough baguettes, trying to conquer managing the temperature control for baking in the gas pizza oven.

Sourdough baguettes

I have also played with using sourdough discard for making pizza dough. This is a container with discard of both white and rye starter that I mixed with flour, olive oil, a little salt, flour and water to get the right consistency. Not the greatest pizza dough but still tasty and better than going into the compost!

Sourdough discard

The pizza was had a basic topping of tomato passata, onion, mushroom, capsicum, olives and a little cheese. One has salami as well.

Sourdough pizza

We are hoping to commence our reno within the next 6 weeks, I’m a little nervous about that, who am I kidding? I’m really nervous about that. I can’t wait to share the results in future In My Kitchen posts. Thanks Celia and other In My Kitchen Story contributors.