Zero waste wayside stops.

Today as I was sewing the handle back on this bag, I thought it might be nice to share how we are always ready and able to stop and have a cuppa anywhere we feel like it. Well, anywhere when we are on the road driving, can’t say this would be ideal on a tram or a bus! Zero waste,  always at the ready for road trips. We keep this little bag (that was a token gift to Mr ATMT at some function) packed with a little butane gas stove, a windshield for the stove, a billy, tea, sugar, a set of cutlery, plates, scissors, a first aid kit, sunscreen, a wine bottle full of water and a small bottle that we fill with milk and wrap in a chill pack before leaving. The mugs were being washed when I took this but we do pack those too. There is also a very old plastic bag we first got in Tassie about 5 years ago incase we need it for some reason. Sometimes we will add a nibble or two such as nuts, dried fruit, lollies or bickies as well.We usually find it easy to refill the water bottle along the way as well as rinsing out the cups ready for the next stop. The bag has a compartment at the bottom which has two little folding stools stowed inside it so we don’t even need a table and chairs available for our refreshment stops.The whole bag is quite compact and we leave it in the boot just making sure we have fresh water and milk packed before we leave home.It really doesn’t take much to think a little bit ahead to avoid visiting those horrible service centres that rob you of seeing the landscape and usually make you leave loaded up with waste.

PS. I should have taken the needle out from my mending job before trying to zip it up. Did a nice slice through my thumb which added a few decorations to the bag!

What do you do to minimise waste and to make your road trips enjoyable?

Posted in Sustainable Living, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Elderflowers and pomegranates.

Well this first pic has absolutely nothing to do with pomegranates or elderflowers but I always get excited when I play with compost. We are starting to sort out the area down the west side of the house where the clothesline is and up until now I’ve had one of my 6 compost bins there. This needed to be moved to make way for a couple of garden beds for espaliers and so we can put toppings on the ground. This is the area I mean. The espaliered pear on the left is the one I planted in 2012 before we moved in. This is the thumbnail pic of way back then. So anyway, compost out of the way, now Mr ATMT could get busy building beds and shovelling crushed rock. Just about tamed this area now and the soil certainly smells a whole lot better than it did when we started out. It doesn’t look anywhere near as ‘nursing home’ as this in reality! Trust me.

This is the area when we purchased. No sunlight had touched the house for years and everything was mouldy, damp, smelly and even though it had that ‘old world charm’ feel to it it was pretty gross. We also had fencing installed between us and our immediate neighbour.

So on to elderflowers and pomegranates!

One of the first things I planted was what I had bought as an elderflower plant. The goal was to screen and offer protection from summer afternoon sun to the chook house and to create wonderful cordials and beverages. Sadly this plant has only reached one of these objectives. It has worked extremely well protecting the chook house but sadly not one berry to be had and the cordial I made from the (very pretty) flowers tasted of freshly chopped grass. Time to rethink me thinks.

I’ve started the cut back here so the winter sun can reach the chook house. This plant shoots back amazingly well.

This pic shows the floret remains where berries should form, or so I think. These are the very pretty flowers that adorn the bush prolifically but according to some lovely visitors we had at our food gardens open day, they didn’t have the right fragrance. They were quite experienced in elderflowers apparently so I’ve started to wonder if we actually have a legitimate variety. Further investigation to take place now as I love the idea of elderflower champagne.  I planted a little pomegranate bush near the doors of the greenhouse last season and it is just going nuts. I absolutely love everything about pomegranates, and will be beside myself if we actually get to harvest a homegrown one. The bush has been continually in flower for a  while so Ive been giving the flowers a tickle with a little paint brush between male and female flowers in the hope pollination will be more successful. Well, lookie here! I do believe we may actually have a baby pom in the making. I’ve found another 2 now so these are going to be watched closely to see what evolves. I have such fond memories of fresh pomegranate juice at all the roadside stalls throughout Turkey.

And a couple of tag alongs!

The coriander I have been drying to save seed from is now ready to be thrashed to separate the seeds. I always feel a little bit clever when something so easy takes place. I get better results growing it for seed than I do as a herb as it just seems to bolt quickly. The grapes in the berry house are turning in colour. These grapes taste of passionfruit and are absolutely delicious. Just need to make sure there are absolutely no little points of access for the birds who think they are delicious too. Then there is this! I planted some pumpkin seeds I had saved from a perfectly normal looking butternut pumpkin and this is whats growing. I’m going to let it continue and see what evolves, it may be something stunning. We’ll wait and see. So that’s the little catch up, if you have any knowledge about elderflowers varieties, pomegranates or dodgy looking pumpkin plants I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Grapes, In The Garden, Renovation, Seed Raising & Propagation, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

In My Kitchen

Well another month has disappeared and I’ve yet again been a slack old thing and missed doing the couple of blog posts that did flutter around in my head. Oh well, thank goodness Sherry over at Sherry’s Pickings keeps us motivated by hosting In My Kitchen where we can both share and have a sticky beak at whats going on in all the kitchens out there.

It was time to process some more pickled onions so I purchased a large bag of pickling onions that appeared Ok on the outside, but much to my chagrin as I started peeling them it was obvious the majority were rotten in the centre. I was left with about a quarter of the bag and started the brining process using the lovely little weight I brought home from Turkey to keep the onions immersed. After a day of soaking, these onions went into the compost too. I was thrilled (not), it really hurts preparing onions, even more so with no result to be had. The clay weight worked a tree though! I can’t remember where I spotted this Disney cake to give credit, but I think it’s a ripper! My daughter didn’t accept the challenge to make it, wonder why? My last post was about how we were going to have our garden open as part of the Baw Baw Sustainability Network’s Creative Harvest event. We had a sensational weekend, talking all things food gardens with 117 people, had some lovely artists working in our space promoting the Arts side of the event and lots of laughing. This platter I served while they worked away under the mulberry tree. Every now and again they got ‘plopped on’ by falling mulberries! Here we are in between visitors coming  through. After the 40 degree day the day before, it was a bit of a struggle on so we welcomed these little gaps! I made some mulberry jam for the first time since we took over this place. Other years we have not been able to compete with the birds but the tree has been absolutely loaded so there has been enough to share.  I have also frozen many berries whole to be used as needed throughout the year. This is a great way to be able to throw some food to the little fella without filling him up on sugar. They can be thrown into pancakes, tarts and pies and slowly cooked until they make a lovely natural syrup. A couple of jars of jam is enough for us for the year. I made a couple of hundred dumplings for my son’s birthday and because pleating so many  would take ages as well as hurting my fingers,  I invested $1.50 in this dumpling press. I also used bought wrappers which fitted the press perfectly and I have to say I was very impressed with the result. Glad about that, didn’t want it to only be used as a play dough tool. I had a lovely Instagram friend come to collect a grapevine cutting I had started for her and she rewarded me with this lovely little lot.  In front are some Luisa Plums and I am smitten. They change from this colour to deep red as they ripen and the taste is unbelievable. I think one of these will be finding a spot here next season.The beans and cucumbers went into a salad along with some of my tomatoes, spring onions, with an Asian style dressing, fresh mango on the side and pork rolls in rice paper that I made after I ran out of dumpling wrappers and still had filling. Had to do quality control for the party food of course!So that’s it for In My Kitchen this month. Thanks Sherry for the opportunity of sharing.

I had decided not to pick any more mulberries this season but then I thought I should make the most of every opportunity, albeit small, as you never know if you’ll be around for the next season. An important reminder by a lovely man who sadly won’t be able to pick mulberries next season.  R.I.P. Shane.

Posted in In My Kitchen | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Creative Harvest-There’s an Artist in my Food Garden.

Tomorrow and Sunday we open our back garden as part of the Baw Baw Sustainability Network, Food Gardens Open Day. Thirteen gardens throughout West Gippsland are opening, each garden will also have an artist displaying and in some cases creating within the garden. Luckily we have managed to hold off damage to too much by using copious amounts of shade cloth to protect. Gardens are open from 10-4 Bothe days with entry being $5.00 per garden for 5 for $20.00, tickets available at each garden.

The focus  I’d like to share is getting the most from your available space by using climbing frames and showing how you can integrate food plants as part of your normal garden or courtyard space. 

A  shot of the veggie patch from up high.Full details of all the gardens and the artists appearing at each one are available from the Baw Baw Sustainability Network website.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

2018 Sourdough classes now available.

For details of my Introduction To Sourdough Classes so far for 2018, please go to my Simply Sourdough Trafalgar Facebook Page. I have created 2 sessions so far but if you would like to organise a private class for groups of 4 or more I can easily accommodate that. If you don’t have Facebook and would like more information about the classes please email  me at simplysourdough@aussiebroadband.com.au 

Posted in Bread | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Christmas Wrap-In My Kitchen & of course, the Gingerbread House.

Well I’d have to say this has been the loveliest and most ‘Christmassey’ Christmas in quite a long time. We held our now traditional backyard Christmas Eve gathering of friends and family, it was a little cool but not so bad that we couldn’t stay outside. Such a relaxing evening and I get a kick out of planning and preparing food for the night.

I try to make things that are simple but have just a little wow factor when served. This year we had potato and pea samosa from the lovely Sandra’s blog Please Pass The Recipe. They are made using spelt flour for the pastry and were an absolute hit. Didn’t remember to get a pic of the inside, but trust me, they were delicious!

We also had the “If I don’t make them the family will kill me” Annabel Langbein Pakora. For the recipe click here. These are also vegetarian and are made with besan (chick pea) flour and beer batter, for the filling I used cauliflower, peas, pumpkin and zucchini then served with a simple Indian style mint dipping sauce. Once a year I bring out my little el-cheapo deep fryer for these, it then goes back into to cupboard for another year.

Then there were the mussels with nam prik (Thai chilli dipping sauce) and topped with  cucumber salsa. Last year I made Turkish Stuffed Mussels and my poor dodgy hands took weeks to recover from the pain of opening the mussels. These were easy peasy, the recipe is from Annabel Langbein’s Simple Pleasures cook book.There was a couple of huge platters of assorted breads, dukkah, antipasto, dried fruits and cheeses. This is some of the breads including  potato and roasted garlic focaccia, pizza filled baguettes, plain baguettes and an olive parmesan batard.I made yet again Celia’s Tupperware Meatballs. These are from the River Cottage Cookbook and I love the seasoning and spices, served purely with greek yoghurt sprinkled over. Winner! By the time I got back from grabbing my camera, they were gone. These are great as they can be made ahead then frozen and just reheated in the oven. This pic is from a previous time I made them but they were cooked in a tomato sauce as a main meal then.I had planned to serve chicken tikka kebabs too, but the food intake had slowed down so I left these and we had them Boxing Day along with some left over pakora mix that I cooked on the  griddle. No where near as nice as the deep fried version but ok.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Day was lovely, beautiful weather, very relaxed and all but my daughter in law were there for lunch. She joined us soon after lunch so the whole family were together which is a first for a while. Lunch was hosted by my son and his partner and they did a great job. I did take a bit of a contribution to lunch………….he lives only 10 minutes away so no problem  transporting, put it down as meat resting time.

Roast turkey, roast pork, roast potatoes, plum pudding, tomato and onion layered bake, gingerbread house, gravy, brandy sauce.

The turkey was stuffed with crumbs made from my bread, capsicum, thyme, 2 eggs & salt and pepper. So easy, so delicious, we cooked the turkey and pork in the Weber at home. I’d made gravy from roasted bones and veg a few days before, stored it in a milk bottle and reheated it at Cameron & Graham’s place.We sat outside under the shade of the trees, ate, drank too much and of course there was the gingerbread house to demolish (see below). My mind had been tossing a couple of ideas around as to its demise and it went reasonably well. We probably could have gotten a bit more mileage and a few more cracks but it is what it is.I received a pack of these beautiful beeswax wraps from my D.I.L as my Kris Kringle gift. They work really well and as a bonus they are made by a local business. Little Bumbles have a range of plastic free shopping and storage items and they are beautifully presented. Love their catchphrase! Another local item I have In My Kitchen is a jar of Grandmas Delights Tomato Chutney. I cannot believe I actually ran out of both my sauce and tomato relish. I cannot remember how many years it would be since I bought sauce, but its been a long, long time. I refuse to buy that crappy, plastic bottle, mega factory made stuff, so was thrilled that our local IGA stock this. Was good, not as good as mine of course, but definitely good.

And now we close the year, the post and In My Kitchen for 2017 with the now famous annual demolition of the Gingerbread house. Very “straaylan’ to use the iconic Hills hoist as the  moving mechanism and the weapon my son used to ‘hack’ the house is his Japanese Samurai sword (demo only) which he bought back from Japan when he was an exchange student. Once again it proved a little upsetting for little Charlie, but I imagine in a few years he’ll be coming up with his own ideas on how to do the demo. There are views from 2 different angles here just to make sure you don’t miss a thing! Thanks to Sherry from over at Sherry’s Picking for her linking up of bloggers and thanks to everyone who shares their posts or takes the time to read ours. Happy New Year everyone.

 

Posted in Bread, In My Kitchen, sourdough, tomato pickles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Chinese Scallion Pancakes

Someone in my Facebook Group (Sourdough Baking Australia & New Zealand) reminded me the other day about Chinese scallion pancakes. I hadn’t made these for such a long time and she had tweaked her recipe to include sourdough discard, so I thought this worth trying. My usual go to source for Asian recipes, is to the fabulous Dumpling Sisters, I was introduced to them by Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial quite a few years ago and I haven’t bought a dumpling wrapper since! I had some spring onions (scallions) that needed to be picked, so this was a perfect opportunity for them to be put to use. I also had a fairly large amount of starter left over from yesterdays bake so all the more reason to try these pancakes using sourdough starter.

I adjusted the recipe , actually I pretty much threw it out, but this is what the Dumpling Sisters recipe turned into using sourdough starter (100% hydration). This would make enough for an army, so the recipe could be halved with out any problem, I also think rolling the dough out for its first roll using a pasta machine would work well.

  • 460g plain flour
  • 200g unfed sourdough starter (use up discard if you have any)
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 18g Sunflower oil (any neutral flavoured oil would work)
  • 150g warm water

Mix everything together until well combined then turn out onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth. This pic is before the kneading! Cover and let rest for at least 20 minutes.

Once rested, break off ‘golf ball’ sized pieces. I rolled the dough into a log first then just cut bits off.

Shape the pieces into balls and roll into a squarish thin piece.

I did a pre roll first which gave the pieces time to relax a bit before I did the big flattening roll out. Brush the surface of the dough with oil and sprinkle sparingly with salt and scatter scallions over. I was warned that they may need quite a good dose of salt but I obviously went a bit too far with it!Roll the dough into a log,

Then depending on which way to final shape you choose (see Dumpling Sisters link), roll the log into a snail. Tuck the tail underneath, let sit to relax the dough for about 10 minutes.

Squash the snail with your hand then roll into a flat disc, the Dumpling Sisters suggest for crispy, roll thinly, for thicker to use as wraps or for a more chewy texture, roll a bit thicker. I wanted thin so they were rolled out to about 3 ml.Cook the pancakes on a lightly oiled griddle or in a pan, keep heat low so they do cook right though.  Cut into pieces and dip into sauce of your choice, I just went for simple old sweet  chilli sauce.These were good but I was a bit too heavy-handed with the salt, I actually think they would be nice with sour cream as well as the sweet chilli sauce. We enjoyed ours with a platter of goodies and some bubbles while we put up our Christmas Tree.

 I can’t really remember how they compare to ones made the normal way, but it was a great way to use up some things that would have been wasted otherwise.

I am also really pleased to say that I have a new computer, I had been struggling with my poor old Mac for several months which is part of the reason I haven’t posted much. I couldn’t upload pictures! Well, now I’m back up and running, I might get to actually post one of the several draft posts I’ve got sitting in the dashboard but couldn’t use.

Posted in Bread, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments