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!

14 Replies to “Catching up.”

  1. Oh bugger re the sink! Glad to get a little peek at your reno, mine has just started. The pork looks delicious. I used to have all the same thoughts about pork, but I’ve changed my mind too. Pork belly is one of the most delicious things if well done, and yours looks superb. I try to be self disciplined about recording recipes as I cook, my biggest probwlem is being self disciplined enough to take pics, especially if there are friends around

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m definitely a convert to pork belly now! If the sink is the biggest hassle we’ve had I’m happy with that. Also, nice that I could have had my head smashed in and didn’t! Thank goodness for online shopping, within 5 minutes another sink bought and the busted unit will become a garden pond. Cheers, Maree 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I do marvel at how you can cook so much, so often, with all the reno’s going on. And make bread for presents! Amazing. Shit news re sink. Something always goes wrong, so you are lucky it is just a sink.


  3. I’ve cooked pork many ways but never in milk but having read this, will definitely give it a go. Recording recipes is fine in theory, but in practice, amidst the weighing and wiping down and checking this and that, scribbled notes seems to be as far as I get.


    1. Agree, I am always suspicious of really clean, neat and tidy recipe records.I must admit it does help though if you want to recreate something! Apparently it is quite common here to cook pork in milk, maybe I could call it Cleopatra pork!


  4. You do amazing things time, space and food-wise… we’ve been living on your baked potato medley from a previous post, now I’m going to be inspired by the fruit & nut bread… I’ve already put the ingredients on my shopping list.
    Take heart that if I make notes on recipes they are scribbled on post-its, despite having several lovley notebooks… sigh.
    Yep, bugger about the sink but better it than you. I dropped & broke a much loved baking dish when we moved. I know I can order another but it’s not the point. But in the big scheme they are just smzll things… and stories for later.
    So glad you are on the pork-wagon. It can be done beautifully with good quality meat. If you like corned beef you will also like pickled pork… good to feed a crowd, leftovers for sandwiches and no oven required.


    1. Ooooh, I love good corned beef so I think some pickled pork might be on the to do list now. What’s the bet I get to make it after I have an oven? Cheers, Maree 🙂


    1. Hi Liz, not sure if there will EVER be completion pics………Definitely having a party for everyone who has been involved in the journey or who is interested in our project. Come on down, we will have a real spare room and bathroom. So grown up! 🙂


  5. Very nice garden pond!!! Ah, just too busy Maree. Loved your ‘spread’, and will check out that caramel sauce recipe too. Love the way you cook- hairdryers, BBQs for bread and roasts. well done.


    1. I knew someone would understand the hairdryer! Hasn’t been out of the cupboard for ages. That sauce is stunning, definitely strong asian influence where a little goes a long way. Very bloody expensive garden pond too. Hope the bees and taddies appreciate it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh wow, it all looks so delicious. I wish I was more of a cook. I was the same with pork and the smell. Can eat a bit more these days but not a lot. Sounds like it’s time for R&R 😕.


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