Catching up.

Well, what a cracker of a weekend weather wise. How could anyone want for any better than we have experienced this weekend in West Gippsland? I’ll start my little catch up post covering how we spent today in the back yard enjoying the most wonderful sunshine and balmy weather. I did say this year was going to be busy and yep, it is!

Menu for lunch today was: (With limited photos, too nice a day!)

Pork Belly which was a marriage of Bill Granger’s Crispy Pork Belly with Caramel Vinegar and Annabel Langbein’s Crispy pork belly. I had never eaten nor cooked pork belly before today, in fact I never used to eat pork at all. I think I suffered from that condition where you are fed crappy quality food as a child and the memory of how awful it was sticks forever. I would always say pork smelled like a pig sty and all but gagged when it was cooking, but I never get that anymore. Anyway, I was quite nervous at the prospect of cooking this so I went for using Bill’s Caramel Vinegar Sauce to serve and Annabel’s method for cooking. With my not so reliable cooking equipment, I liked the idea of cooking the pork in the milk bath. What a great result. I cooked it in the gas pizza oven, after I had carefully scored the skin and blow dried it with my hairdryer. Annabel said it is important for the skin to be very dry so I dug around in a cupboard to find the hairdryer for this job.

Scored pork bellyIt was baked in the gas pizza oven at 240ish for about 40 minutes, I then added enough milk to the roasting pan to cover most of the meat section, being careful not to cover skin. This went back in the oven turned down to low (I had to occasionally open and close the door to maintain a low temperature) for about 2 hours . I then removed from the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes. I wish someone had offered the tip that it is easier to cut if you actually remove the bone plate first! I eventually got a system going and we were off and running. Crackle was wonderful and the meat was sticky, juicy and beautiful.

Pork bellyI roasted some potatoes and pumpkin in the barbecue, spuds were the beautiful Dutch Creams form Wendy and Tony at Thorpdale Organics. Yes, they are as good as Wendy always tells us. I par boiled them first and let them completely dry before roasting after applying a light dressing of olive oil. You can also get these potatoes and much more great organic produce at The Trafalgar Spud Shed. Remember to take a bag and save on plastic waste.BBQ Roast vegetablesI baked a herb and chilli loaf in the barbecue as well. No chance that stayed around long enough for a photo. My youngest son just devours this when he sees it.Herb sourdough loaf I also served my now favourite, freekah with roast tomato, hazelnut  and capsicum salad along with some green beans. The caramel vinegar sauce of Bill Granger’s was an absolute knock out. Asian overtones, syrupy, sticky and decadent. Definitely a do again recipe.

IMG_6888 Dessert was very light, slow cooked quince which I’d cooked with sugar, star anise and cinnamon and topped with greek yogurt, crumbled ginger nut biscuit and grated lemon zest. Some fruit and chocolate nut bread thinly sliced to mop up the quince juice and it was surprisingly good. It looks a bit strange in the photo as the crumbled ginger nut and lemon zest is a bit clumped.IMG_6896The feeding frenzy in the sun, beautiful day, family and friends. Perfection!IMG_6880

A couple of bread bits.

I made an experimental loaf of bread using dates, figs, a couple of prunes, macadamia nuts, skim milk powder and using Chad Robertson’s standard Country Loaf recipe (well almost). IMG_6875I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome, it looks a little dry in this pic but it wasn’t. I sliced it thinly and served it with our slow roasted quince dessert but I think it would be beautiful if toasted and served with a mashed banana on top.

IMG_0403Along with the chocolate fruit and nut bread, the herb bread and our weekly bake, I made a couple of loaves for our guests to take home. These were just basic white sourdough loaves which always go down well and I like offering them as a gift.

IMG_0404When you bake or create something it is always recommended that you record how and what you did so that if you need to recreate you can, or if you have problems you can possibly work out what may have contributed to the problem. When I was making a lot of cheese at home I was pedantic at recording every single step I did. I find I don’t have the same discipline with bread making. I do make an effort and sometimes I manage to record everything including ambient and dough temperatures but more often than not I end up with a little scribble that looks like this. Hope I never need to know what the 500g in the prune and cocoa mix is for (it is flour but I didn’t get that far). I also haven’t recorded that I added dates, figs, prunes, macadamia nuts, I think some cranberries……see I should be more committed.

IMG_0405I must admit I have Maurizio envy, look at his entries recording his bread making. I can only aspire to as good as he with both baking and recording. Sigh………

theperfectloaf-mybestsourdoughrecipe-3The exteno

We are both rather ‘over’ the reno at the moment, what’s that thing athletes go through when they are close to the end of an event and find it hard to continue? I think we are at that point, along with just being plain tired (which leads to doing silly things like busting sinks) and in need of some R&R. All is going well apart from the hiccup of busting the new sink.

IMG_6868IMG_0392Working when tired makes you do stupid things like topple tall cupboards over before they are secured. I like to think this sink actually saved me from injury as I was working below the cupboard that fell and the sink broke its fall. See the new wormy chestnut floorboards peeking though? Not showing any more yet!

Exteno update and pumpkin seed bread.

Well it is well and truly all systems go here. I may as well just talk you through some shots of what’s been happening.

We have floor boards!

IMG_6797These were laid last week and it is thrilling to now be able to actually see the room as a unit.  You can just see on the left  a couple of doors on the passageway. These doors were originally at the front of the passage and divided the home from the doctors ‘business end’ of things. They really suit this spot and I love the fact we have put them back into the home. Wiring is all roughed in and light fittings will be fitted later next week.IMG_0349 This is a pic of what will be the laundry which is part of a second bathroom, the laundry bits will be hidden in a cupboard. This was taken yesterday and we have since done 2 coats of paint. The tiler is supposed to come tomorrow so we have tried to cover as much as possible before he starts to avoid dropping paint over the new tiles. We are notoriously messy painters!IMG_6822This pic is of the ceiling in the new spare bedroom. I really love whacky angles and think this will be a really cosy room.IMG_6824 This is taken from the door of this bedroom looking back out to the family/kitchen room. There is a storeroom off to the left and when you turn right (where the paint drop sheets are), you come intoIMG_6825 this passage that the bathroom/laundry, are off. There is also another toilet and a store cupboard in this area. IMG_6821In the shed is a divorce waiting to happen! After much research and investigating we have opted for a DIY kitchen. My son and D.I.L did theirs and their kitchen looks sensational, better than most of the displays we looked at and a hell of a lot cheaper. We have been spending way too much and because I want to have the benchtops made from the timber we took from the old parts of the house, we really needed to tighten the belt a bit. I’m really excited to see it come together.  We survived putting up a greenhouse so I think we can survive some cupboards! IMG_6826So that’s where we are currently at. After waiting sooooooo long I can’t believe how well and how quickly its coming together.

Pumpkin seed sourdough.

I thought I’d try a few loaves over the next few weeks that have extra seeds and grains added . This weekends bake was a simple country loaf dough made of 90% bread flour, 10% Callington Mill Whole Wheat flour, 72% water, 25% white starter (100% hydration), 2% salt, and 150g pumpkin seed (.075%).

IMG_0295 Love seeing such an active starter doing its thing!IMG_0298-001I went back to using my Falcon Enamel roaster to bake these loaves as I’m struggling with sore hands and the cast iron pots are having a little break for a couple of weeks.IMG_6840Crumb shot of the loaf below.IMG_6848Happy with that!IMG_6842Can’t wait to see what next week delivers with the exteno!


In My Kitchen-April Already

Thanks to Maureen at Orgasmic Chef for hooking up fellow In My Kitchen bloggers who participate in sharing their own and peeking into each others kitchens each month. Why don’t you head over and check a few out? Thanks Maureen, I always learn new things each month.

I refuse to bang on again about the reno this month. I am over it and as we are closing in on completion, I want to keep things under my hat a bit. I must admit it has been interesting trying to come up with ideas to share this month, but as always, once you start you can usually dig out a few!

In My Kitchen were Sourdough English Muffins

I was wanting to try making something different with my sourdough starter, so I decided to try making some sourdough English Muffins.

Sourdough English MuffinsI made these and was very pleasantly surprised with the way they turned out. Being basically lazy, for the first couple I made them square rather than round as I have no idea where my crumpet sized rings are. I actually think I’ll stick to the square shape in the future, easy to handle and fit better into the pan. These were the slightly rounder ones cooking.

Sourdough English MuffinsI really liked the texture and gobbled one down for breakfast with butter and Vegemite. I highly recommend this recipe, although I did cut back on the sugar as I find with most recipes, they are too sweet for my liking. These would make a great breakfast addition for when you have guests stay and you enjoy a leisurely brunch. It can all be prepared a day or two ahead and you could cook them on the barbecue in bulk quantities.

Sourdough English MuffinsIn My Kitchen, an oldie but a goodie-Fried Rice.

Fried RiceI hadn’t made fried rice for ages and it just seemed to fit the bill for an easy Easter Meal. I think the secret to good fried rice is cooking the rice well in advance and letting it really dry out well before using it in the dish. I’ve tried to record how I make our fried rice, Mr ATMT said this was the best he’d had over the years. Click this link for MAREE’s Fried Rice recipe

This years planting of garlic

In My Kitchen is a little less garlic. Last week I planted out what will hopefully yield  enough harvest for the following 12 months. This is the first season in a long time where I have used garlic from my own harvest for planting. For years I have been supporting Simon at Garlicworld and buying from him but I wanted to see how mine went.




In My Kitchen is a jar of honey. A special jar of honey!

Last time I went to the Warragul Farmers Market I bought this jar of honey from a very special stall-holder. The Bunyip Beekeeper is spreading some wonderful knowledge about bees and bee keeping. They offer a huge range of services including leasing of hives, training and education about beekeeping and they do some amazing swarm and hive removal/relocations. I find bees to be fascinating and they are under some heavy duty environmental threats worldwide so need all the help they can get. I love seeing someone with such passion and knowledge sharing it with others. Apparently this is one of the stronger flavours of honey they supply. Might have to make some more muffins!

Bunyip beekeeper honeySo that’s about it for this month in my kitchen, thanks again Maureen for hosting.

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