IMK September! ……

Ah, the Winter freeze is thawing somewhat and Spring is technically here, but it’s still cool enough to enjoy comfort food from the slow cooker. With the state we are in with this house, I just don’t know what I’d do without this trusty appliance. I had a pork shoulder going begging and was a little tired of the asian or mexican style pulled pork, so I went random and threw in to the pot, the pork, some celery, carrot, onion, juniper berries, apple, ginger, cloves, a little apricot jam and a stubby of beer. Before serving I added some peas and reduced the sauce on the stove till it was rich and sleek. Served with some mash, topped with chopped spring onion and some toasted baguette. One if those ugly but really tasty meals!
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The sourdough baguettes served with it  were a short, chubby version due to my oven size limitations. Autolyse of about 10 hours (accidental) and overnight bulk ferment in the fridge. These were cooked in the gas pizza oven and even though I dropped the tray as they went in I was happy with the result. Beautiful crust and crumb and tasted really good.

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I recently attended a cooking class at Relish Mama in Cheltenham. The theme was Middle Eastern Vegetarian and although I didn’t learn a great deal about the food, I was really impressed with the format and structure of the day. There were several assorted dishes cooked which we all tasted, I certainly didn’t have to cook dinner that night! A beautiful set up and I got some wonderful kitchen design tips and had lots of laughs. One of the dishes made was a beautiful Freekah salad, not being able to source Freekah locally it was on my list for when I next visited Dandenong. That was Saturday (becoming more frequent), so along with the freekah,

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I picked up some glutinous rice flour to make stuffed Indonesian Pancake (Dadar Gulung). Green batter, coloured with pandan and filled with a sweet, coconut filling it makes a lovely tasty and visual dessert.  I am wanting to have a go at making some Turkish style ice cream but need 2 ingredients I can’t find locally. One is mastic and the other is Salep or Sahlab. I found the mastic in Dandy but not the Salep, doesn’t appear to be too much online either. Happy for someone to steer me in the right direction or even advise if it is necessary to have a success with ice cream or if it can be left out.

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For those who get my regular posts, you are most likely aware of my demolition Monday’s in removing the old kitchen. We have 12 foot ceilings and I’ve been up the ladder with my trusty wrecking bar, sledge-hammer and renovator tool removing the old cupboards. Finally the last of them are gone. Wish I could say I was sorry and how much I’d miss them!
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We can now start marking out some of the new kitchen’s concepts to get a feel as to if it will work or not. The brown wall on the right will be going and the room extended about another 5 metres creating a kitchen/eating/living space.

IMG_2295 I’ve also started sprouting some sweet potatoes. Simply just cut in half and sitting in water that gets changed regularly. I keep the container over one of the hydronic heating vents and should have sprouts appear in a few weeks. The soil in the greenhouse will be quite a bit warmer warm by then so I will be able to plant these out. WARNING, the photo is a bit loud!

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That’s my lot for this months IMK. Thanks Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for linking us all up. Oh, if anyone has some tips or recommendations for a trip we are planning to Turkey & Italy next year I’d love to hear them. So much to choose from, so ideas from like minded people are always invaluable. 🙂

#RelishMama

 

Logs into firewood, flour into bread. A weekend of conversions.

A couple of months ago I mentioned the gum tree from our front nature strip was removed by VicRoads and I managed to have the wood and mulch from it left with us. The mulch was a drop in the ocean to what we need but the quantity of logs was much more than I had anticipated. We have been looking at this pile of logs since we moved them to the backyard and this weekend was the weekend to split them. I hired a log splitter and Mr ATMT spent Saturday turning this,

Flowering gum wood

into this.

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The wood then had to be stacked away to let it dry, which in itself was a huge job. Well done Mr ATMT!   Don’t worry, I did contribute, not just observe. My job was to move all of the wood we had stacked against the back fence after we had trees removed when we took over the property. All the wood is now in one place, stacked, split and ready to be used however we choose. While splitting the wood we noticed a couple of the logs had fresh ‘blood sap’ in the core. This looks amazingly like blood and I could have been fooled if Mr ATMT had wanted to stir the pot and tell me he had injured himself. Quite bizarre seeing this, it is quite common in gum trees, apparently those that are not well.

Gum Tree blood sapI took advantage of the magnificent balmy winter day and planted a couple of hundred bulbs I had ordered from Garden Express. There was a variety of freesia, daffodils, ranunculus, anemone, iris and ixia. A couple I can’t remember too!

Garden Express

Now that the screen fence (the one made from old greenhouse shelves) is in place I was able to plant a range of plants that had come either from my sister or rom our Fish Creek property  before we sold. These included, geranium, native orchid (Dendrobium), violets, ferns  and Clivia. Of course the girls were on hand to help and supervise!

IMG_1154The bread I made this weekend was Ken Forkish’s ‘Pain de Compagne’ (Country bread). I’m really enjoying making a new bread every weekend and it is very interesting to see how the different bakers methods compare. This photo is of the dough going through what is called ‘bulk fermentation’. That is after is has been mixed and stretched and folded (form of kneading without kneading). I love watching the dough go through its changes until it is ready to shape and do a final proving before it is baked.  The black line on the bucket is where the dough started out when I put it in there.

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This loaf is a winner! Forkish doesn’t normally slash (score) his loaves, he places them in to cook with the seam up and they do a natural eruption at that point as it is a weak spot.   I however like to play with  razorblades!

Pain de Compagne ForkishSweet potato happiness.

Today was the day! I’ve been eager to see what sort of result, if any, I was going to get from the sweet potato I planted in the greenhouse. This was grown from a sprouting I did last year and I would not have been surprised if I had no success. But Look!

Sweet Potatoes Melbourne

2 Whole kilos of beautiful, mostly good sized tubers. I did a little happy dance at this result! The one at the front is going back in to the wicking bed along with some tip cuttings, it looks healthy and has some good roots so we’ll see. I can see a personal  challenge happening with these. What have you has success with growing that you didn’t expect to achieve?

 

 

Don’t be fooled-Winter in the garden is busy!

It’s been many moons since I last did a Garden Share Collective post. I just don’t know where the time has gone, I blink and another month has passed me by!

We can no longer kid ourselves that summer has gone (didn’t really have one), and Autumn too is racing out the back gate being replaced by what appears will be a cold winter. As the sun shines and sparkles on these icy cobwebs in the early morning I revel in the changing seasons.

IMG_0722A couple of things to share this month:

A new bed and repositioning of the spud bath. The bed beside the chook house that had corn in it over the summer has been fed and garlic is planted in it. The bath across the back previously took the spot where the stepping stones are and I have moved it to make this area a little more attractive and easier to access and use. I can now get to the worm farm and one of the closed compost bins much more easily. There are a couple of small  spaces that I will fill with bee attracting flowers. Love that camellia!

IMG_0780I must admit I love winter in the garden, the feeling that everything has stopped kicks in and you then turn something over or see the cool climate crops return a harvest and you realise just how much does continue on. The sweet potatoes in the greenhouse are starting to die off and I’m eagerly awaiting to see how many and what size sweet potatoes I get.

IMG_0838The broccoli heads are starting to form and the garlic in this raised wicking bed is well and truly on track.

IMG_0852There are a couple of plants I’ve had to put some frost protection in place for. This is a Davidson’s Plum, the other is a tamarillo that I thought I had lost last year but it came good over the warmer seasons.

IMG_0824The couple of beds that you walk through on the way into the veggie patch are slowly showing signs of the seasonal changes. The nectarine on the front right is resisting yet the yellowing plant rear left is a cherry that has just about dropped completely. There are bulbs and irises poking up through the mulch, exciting. No eggs from the free loading chooks ATM though!

IMG_0903The last of the grapes harvested and slipped into the mouth with a sigh of appreciation.

Grapes

Looking forward to having a bit of time over the next couple of weeks to plant more, tidy up and plan for the spring. I’m looking forward to reading the other GSC posts.

http://www.strayedtable.com/grow/garden-share/

 

Hokkaido Milk Toast (Japanese style), Lentil Curry and Lamb Momos

I was a little selfish this weekend, (yes, it’s all about me)!  Although I was conscious that there was plenty to be done  with our reno and in the garden, I opted to do a little cooking. I was in need of a change from the normal weekend sourdough bake so I made some Hokkaido Milk Toast (Japanese style) bread that looked interesting.

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This bread is reputed to be soft and fluffy, suitable for sandwiches and more typical of the supermarket fluff on shelves in the major ‘not so super’-markets. Very interesting method used to make this dough. You create  some tangzhong, which is exactly like making glue from a bit of flour (50g), 5 times quantity in water (250 ml) and cook over heat until 65 degrees or lines form when stirred. This is then cooled and added to an enriched yeasted dough, kneaded by machine and shaped, proved and baked. The result was not disappointing even though I misread the recipe and added the entire amount of tangzong. A bit of tweaking with some extra water and turned out OK. The bread had a distinct sweet aroma while baking and I thought this would prove to have a sickly sweet flavour but no, it was fine. Will definitely try this again, it was a nice change and my occessional hit for some vegemite on fluffy bread was satisfied!

Milk toast dough Vegemite bread

Lamb Momos with Tibetan Chilli Sauce.

I’ve borrowed Rick Stein’s India cook book from the library, so I’m test driving as many recipes as I can before it goes back. This way I can see if I like it enough to invest in buying it. I don’t buy a lot of cookbooks these days unless I know the food is going to be good and that I can go on a bit of a journey when I read it. This book certainly takes me on a journey. The photos put me right back in India and I can hear the crazy sounds and noise of the buses and traffic. The colours are stunning and I remember the smells and hustle & bustle that is everywhere in India. I made the Lamb Momos (Nepalese Dumplings) with Tibetan Chilli Sauce last night and tonight the Spicy Lentil Soup with Squash (pumpkin) tomato and green beans. Golly those Tibetans must have a strong constitution! This sauce was very fiery but also had a really good flavour. The momos dough was beautiful. I loved these but I think I’ll cut way back on the chilli next time!

Lamb momos

Momo Yum!
Momo Yum!

Tonight I made Rick’s Spicy Lentil Soup and once again it was beautiful. I had to make a few comprises as I couldn’t get either fenugreek or asafoetida anywhere locally. Will put those on my list for my next trip to Dandenong Market. I opted to leave off the tarka topping due to lack of fenugreek, but it didn’t detract from it’s delicate flavour. I served this with rice but I think it would be good, (although not traditional) with cous cous or even cooked with pasta in it.

Rick Stein's Spicy Lentil Soup

Zen with our brunch!

As I’ve mentioned before, we really enjoy our Sunday morning brunches, especially when we can eat outside. Today just made it into that category and I got to cook some pullet eggs I bought at the Warragul Farmers Market. What are pullet eggs you ask? These are the eggs laid by chickens who are just coming into laying age, the “P” plate chook you could say. Not as big as normal eggs but don’t be deceived by that! The flavour, colour and creamy texture of these eggs was beautiful. Free range farmed at local Willow Zen Farm,

Willow Zen Pullet eggs.
Willow Zen Pullet eggs.

I look forward to having them as a regular brunch item. I poached the eggs and served them on my sourdough toast along with mushrooms that were cooked in butter/olive oil with a  small chilli finely chopped and in the pan. Some chopped coriander, ground pepper and a dash of white wine vinegar stirred through before serving. Look at the colour of those eggs!

IMG_0882 Poached eggs

Out in the garden.

I discovered a few hidden bunches of grapes in the berry hut this week. This variety is a slip grape, put the grape near your mouth and slip it out of its skin! With a  lovely hint of honey flavour, it was indeed a pleasant discovery!

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The other exciting discovery was in the greenhouse. I didn’t think I would have any success with growing sweet potatoes. Yes, I’ve had plenty of green on top but getting tubers is difficult in this cool climate. Well lookie here…………………

Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes

I might just have some success this year!