Weekend Wrap-Garden, Sustainable Living, Sourdough

I always feel as though I’ve taken the easy way out when I use ‘Weekend Wrap’ as a post title, but it really does sum up everything quite accurately for this post. I’ve touched on a little bit of everything this weekend, in the garden, sustainable living, sourdough bread and cooking.

Garden Wrap

We have several compost bins strategically placed around the yard, so that when they are full the contents can be spread easily. This, in theory is good, but because the wicking beds in the veggie patch needed a good topdressing, I had to use compost from the bin in the veggie patch as well as raid some from the bin in our Easterly garden bed.Compost-Geddye binThis compost bin sits  hidden (almost) and I used most of its contents topping up the wicking beds in the veggie patch and then spread the rest over this bed. We have relocated the bin a little further up the bed for the process to start over and will do the same again next year.Compost readyNeed a little something to quickly fill this fence space! I love the way the compost just oozes new life into the soil.Compost spreadThis is a barrow full of compost from the bin within the veggie patch. Sorry, the light is a bit harsh! The 4 barrows from this bin went to the rhubarb, potatoes, asparagus bed and garlic bed which will house the tomatoes in a few weeks. img_9353The potato bath filled up.img_9371Rhubarb that looks like it could take over the world!Make a caption!And the very obvious evidence as to why we should avoid single use plastic rears its head. This shows just how plastic stays intact in the process of composting. I try to avoid single use plastic, but it still sneaks into my life, sometimes invisibly. Interestingly, a fair chunk of this comes from ‘eco’ coffee cups.img_9380After shovelling all that compost I needed a little ergonomic break, so the hammock had its first workout for the season. It was a stunning day yesterday and everything was glowing in the garden.img_9384 img_9391 My brother-in-law gave me some native orchids last year and I was thrilled to see how this Dendrobium is settling in. I love these orchids and do a little ‘happy dance’ every time I look at the beautiful flowers stemming from it.img_9393

A bit of sustainable living.

I try to avoid single use plastic as much as possible and as hard as I try, I find it quite difficult getting local retailers to fill a BYO container or bag. I was thrilled when visiting the Yarragon market yesterday that the lovely people at “The Nut Bloke” were more than happy to accommodate me and put my purchases into my bags that have now been going for about 6 years with no signs of failing yet.Plastic free shoppingWhen we first started planting the garden out four years ago I put in a blood orange tree. Well this tree has struggled and struggled and I’ve kept up the vigil with TLC and lots of chook poo as a bonus. Well, this year we had a harvest, yes, a harvest. Might only be 1 orange but it is juicy, well-shaped and it has some ‘specks’ of blood in it. img_9410 Unfortunately, I think the tree will have to be moved due to a change of plans with the garden bed its in, so I celebrate this harvest in a completely appropriate manner. img_9417I can highly recommend blood orange in a glass of bubbly!

Sourdough Bread and Baking

For a long time I have read about using sourdough discard from feeding starter to make sourdough crackers (dry biscuits to me). I finally gave it a crack using the recipe from the King Arthur Flour Website. I collected discard for a couple of weeks (Kept in fridge), and as simple as mixing 1 cup flour, 1 cup sourdough discard, 1/4 cup butter, pinch salt and 2 tablespoons herbs we had wonderful crackers/dry biscuits.

img_9400I added finely chopped rosemary and would HIGHLY recommend giving this a try. I can see so many variations popping up in my mind for flavour variations of these.sourdough crackersMy bread bakes today was a high hydration/low inoculation (%starter) white loaf. Had to rush a bit to get into the oven but it was great. Light crumb, great crust (forget I dropped it from the oven at the halfway mark!). The loaf on the left is a little under-proofed due to the rush, the loaf on the right is a little over-proofed (and dented) because I had to go out.img_9404Crumb shot of the slightly under-proofed loaf. Still good enough to go with the plate of ‘nibbles’ we put togetherRainy Day Loafcrumb The weather had turned from Spring Glory back to Winter, so for the first time during the day this year, we lit the fire, sipped the bubbly with the blood orange fruit added, and feasted on the sourdough crackers (dry biscuits), soft sourdough bread, some King Island Brie, some French Blue, cheese, home-made pickled onions, some delicious prosciutto from Stellas Pantry in Warragul (they also fill BYO containers), a leftover grilled chorizo sausage sliced up and some Mersey Valley Tasty cheese. CompostAnd I didn’t even nod off after this indulgence! How was your weekend?

Knockin’ up Some Gnocchi

I cannot believe how I coped for so long with our lack of decent cooking facilities. I’m starting to come out of the zombi zone and realise what I can start doing again. There was no way I would have contemplated making gnocchi in the old state of affairs. It worried me putting a big pot on the butane camping stove would end with an explosion. I could have done it on our heavy duty gas ring that I used for passata making etc, but really…..Well, worry no more! Tonight I made some potato gnocchi with a Napoli Style sauce. It was delicious. Gnocchi was light and fluffy and the sauce had a great depth to it as I’d let it simmer for a few hours. Shaping GnocchiFor the gnocchi I mixed together:

  • approx 1 kg Gippsland Gold potatoes that I’d baked in the oven. Peeled and put through the ricer (I turned the peels into baked chips by adding some oil and salt then returning to the oven to bake until crisp)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 200g OO flour
  • nutmeg- about 2 teaspoons
  • Salt & pepper
  • Mixed herbs

All gently incorporated until it came together in a nice ball, not too sticky, not too wet, just right! I sectioned the dough and rolled each section into long strips about as thick as a pointer finger and then cut it into small pieces about 1.5-2cm long. I don’t have gnocchi rollers/boards and I find making the traditional line marks with a fork both time consuming and awkward for my dodgy hands, so I leave it plain. Once cut, I rested the pieces on a semolina floured board until ready to go in the pot.

For the sauce I put 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot, 1 stick chopped celery, 2 bay leaves, 1 litre home made passata, parsley, S&P, a splosh of balsamic, a generous 1/2 cup of olive oil and about 700 mls water into a stock pot, bought to the boil with lid on then removed lid and let it simmer and reduce for a few hours. Lovely concentrated flavour and a silky feel as the oil had emulsified though the sauce. Served with some chopped parsley and parmesan shavings along with some fresh sourdough to mop up the excess juice.

Gnocchi with Napoli Suace

Ear Ear! Ere’s this weeks bread.

More practice with the new oven and I think I’m getting there. The oven is really hot and holds its temperature so well that I’ve needed to take that into account. This loaf is 20% rye at 70% hydration. Best colour I’ve had so far cooking in the new beast.

Rye sourdoughIt’s still raining here and it’s not likely to stop in the immediate future so I might get the chance to do some more training with the beast.

Catch up post. Kombucha among other things.

Well it was time to do the taste test! My first batch of kombucha had been bottled for a second fermentation which I had read creates better carbonation, 2 bottles with some ginger added and 1 plain.

KombuchaI had read that kombucha can be pretty explosive on opening, so I decided to do this outside. Good decision!img_9281This is the trail of exploded KB over the side path. Haven’t seen something like that since the kids were home and had partied hard! I probably should have taken heed of the people who recommend refrigerating the bottles before opening. I’ll take that on board for the next batch.kombuchaThis what remained in the bottle after the explosive opening.Ginger kombuchaI can say though, I loved the flavour. The slight ginger overtones were wonderful and it was bubbly and refreshing.

For a wander through the patch.

It feels like an eon since I’ve played in my veggie patch, probably because it is. We are opening again for the food gardens section of Gardivalia this year so I had better pull my finger out and get things in order.

AsparagusThere are signs of life coming from the asparagus bed,Crimson broad beansthe crimson broad beans my brother-in-law gave me look so pretty,Broad beansand the normal ones are in flower too.coriander growingWhen I was sorting out moving stuff from the temporary kitchen to the new kitchen I threw some old coriander seed into this bed and hopefully it will keep growing. I don’t have much luck with coriander so fingers crossed.De la mal maison roseThe souvenir de la mal maison climbing rose I planted last year near the green house is in bud. I can’t wait to see these bloom, one of my favourites.leaf mold compostI spread one of the  leaf mold towers we had breaking down for the last 12 months over this bed, I now need to choose a spot for the next one to be placed. So easy just removing the wire and spreading the lush conditioner over the bed.

BREAD

I’m finally getting a handle on how the new oven operates and made some oat porridge bread. Here is the oats cooking (on a real stove top!) waiting to cool to add to the dough.Oat porridge breadThis one of the 3 loaves I made. I used the recipe from the delightful Maurizio’s site and although once again, it’s not as pretty as his. I’m quite happy with the result. Oat Porridge sourdough breadCrumb shot! Not as fine as Maurizio’s but I didn’t mind.Crumb shot oat porridge sourdough.With spring in the air and me officially finishing work I hope to be able to get a bit more in control and do some finishing off of all our half started jobs.

Lunch at King Island

Last year for Mr ATMT’s ‘special’ birthday celebration we had organised  to spend the weekend in Melbourne with all the family  sharing an apartment, going out to dinner with a close-knit group of friends and then heading off on a hot air balloon ride over Melbourne at dawn. Well the apartment and dinner went well, but the balloon ride was cancelled due to being too windy. A voucher was issued that could be used within 15 months on any number of activities. Because we had done the AMAZING balloon ride in Turkey, we didn’t think one over Melbourne would have anywhere near the WOW factor so he chose flying to King Island in a DC3, having lunch and doing a mini explore of the area around Currie in the South West section of the island. King Island is a small island located in Bass Strait about halfway between Victoria and Tasmania’s main island. We headed to Essendon Airport which is about a 2 hour drive but being Sunday morning it didn’t quite take that long. Here is our transport for the day. DC3 “Gooney Bird”  a beautiful plane that first flew in 1935.

DC3 Gooney BirdThe interior complete with vinyl quilting and ashtrays in the seats.Inside the DC3King Island is renowned for its high quality dairy products, fresh seafood,  green pasture where cattle graze and fatten into quality beef and more recently a thriving kelp forestry/harvesting industry. Apologies for the following photos. It never works well taking shots through bus/plane/train/car windows, the weather was awful and I am struggling with a terrible ‘Man Flu”. Wonder I got out of bed to make the trip really! Sometimes though, you just get carried away with the moment and keep snapping away regardless and expect everyone else will have the same appreciation for your enthusiasm. Like here, where along with 3/4 of the wing you get a glimpse of Melbourne from about 1500 feet.DC3 over MelbourneOr here, where we are heading towards Port Philip Bay, the safe shipping harbour for freight entering Melbourne from overseas and where Melbournians spend many recreational hours at the safe beaches along the shoreline. IMG_9165 Or here where we have passed over “the Heads” and entered Bass Strait territory.Out the headsAt this point we hit quite a bit of cloud and didn’t have much to view until we landed at King Island.

One of the more recent industries to develop on KI is kelp harvesting. Apparently kelp is used in the food, textile and agricultural sectors. I don’t know a lot about this industry but the appeal to me is the sustainable and organic concept. I will be doing some reading to find out a bit more. This is a shot of some kelp that has been hauled from the beach drying in readiness to be put into a ‘chipper’ to make little kelp bits that are exported to wherever they need to go.Kelp harvest curing An example of some of the rugged beach near Currie.Currie Coast King Island with some pretty little coastal plants holding onto the banks.IMG_9235 King Island is renowned for its lobster, oyster and prawn quality. Some lobster pots near the harbour.Lobster pots This cute little boat house is known as ‘The Restaurant with no food’. Apparently it is available for parties, community use and anything else that is self-catered for. It sits beautifully overlooking the harbour.Restaurant without food After lunch, we headed off to the the King Island Cheesery and I was pleasantly surprised that they sold the cheeses at about half the cost of what we pay retail. So often you go to a direct outlet and it is so expensive it doesn’t warrant the hassle of carrying it, but that was not the case here. King Island Cheese selection You may wonder why there is no detail about the lunch that to us was to be an integral part of this day. Well in honesty it was awful. I suspect there may have been something going on in the background that led to things like canned chicken soup, tinned pudding, packet custard, store bought mayo and 1000 island dressing and gravox on the roast beef. I had only heard good things and seen good reviews about the restaurant so I’m going to be gracious and not do any naming and shaming here.  We did however have a lovely bottle of Pipers 9th Island Sauvignon Blanc and the oysters and prawns were fresh and lovely.

On our flight home, Mr ATMT paid a bit extra to sit in the ‘jump’ seat for our landing back at Essendon airport.

IMG_0742He got a birds eye view of the approach over the city and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.CockpitWe had a lovely day, the old DC3 is beautiful and I love the sound of the thump, thump, thump, throbbing of the engines. I found it extremely comfortable and would highly recommend it in a heart beat.

If however, you are hoping for a quality gastronomical experience, do some research first. Very disappointed. Once I have communicated with the organisers I will decide whether or not to comment on the establishment.