Synchronicity and ‘Rusticating’ Wholewheat pastry.

I’ve been finding it hard to get back into things since being away, so I decided to spend the day (even though it was glorious outside) just treating myself to a gentle time of doing things I like in the kitchen. I subscribe to Gillian Bellcake’s & Annabelle Hickson’s podcast Dispatch to a Friend  and find their light-hearted, loving exchanges about their loves, lives, hardships, friendships, experiences, travels, gardens and everything in between (even home-made coffins) comforting and entertaining. I find myself chuckling away, nodding my head in agreement, tut tutting when they talk about neighbours cutting down trees, feeling sympathetic and even reply out loud to their  exchanges.  The ideal company to have chatting in the background while I potter around.

To kick-start the day of being gentle on myself, I picked some beautiful spring flowers and set them on the dresser in the kitchen. I’m so glad there are still daffodils performing upon my return, I thought I might have missed them this season. I also picked some rhubarb and set a goal to make a rhubarb and  fruit galette using freshly milled flour in the pastry. I had picked rhubarb and I knew there was fruit in the fridge that had been sitting there for a couple of months just macerating away in orange juice. Syrupy, sweet, delicious. Ideal  to marry with some rhubarb. So, rhubarb and boozy fruit in a galette was what it was destined to be. I did know that I wanted to have a go at making pastry using freshly milled, organic whole-wheat flour. I recently purchased a Mockmill flour mill and I’m loving getting used to all the different things I can mill with it. The Mockmill is a compact, affordable, stoneground mill that does an astounding job of milling all different grains and spices. Here I’m doing malted wheat flakes to add to a bread dough.

 I had no idea of which may be a good whole-wheat pastry recipe, so out came the Google assistant. Experience has taught me that whole-wheat pastry is going to be less light and delicate than white flour pastry but that’s ok. The nutty flavour and the extra nutritional value whole-wheat offers is a bonus. I’m also looking for the rustic feel with this dish. I want to include more whole-grains and organic food into my diet whenever possible. This is where it gets a bit spooky! The first Google hit returned a site called ‘Local Is Lovely‘ and it took me straight to a post about Gillian Bellcake’s Rhubarb & Crab Apple Tart, it’s not a whole-wheat pastry and nothing like what I was looking for, but how could I not give it a go seeing as I was listening to Gillian chatting in the background. Sceptics would say this is the cyber tracking spies at work, but I think it’s magic!

I made the pastry as per the recipe but used 350g organic white flour and 150g freshly milled whole-wheat flour. I also added an extra egg yolk (I only had small eggs) and a splash of water to assist the dough coming together. The pastry has rosemary in it, so off to the bushes that are currently covered in fresh, soft growth and delicate little blue flowers that act as bee bait, to gather a handful of flavour. Blitzed the flour, butter, rosemary, egg yolks and a splash of water until it just came together then turned it out and worked it on my bench to form a dough. Wrapped in a bee’s wax wrap and popped into the fridge for half an hour.

I have been anti ‘cling wrap’ for a very long time. Cling wrap is one of those particularly insidious single use plastics and there has been a huge amount of evidence as to the nasties it can impart back into your food that I just don’t touch it. Can you imagine how many times the world could be wrapped in cling wrap just by what kids take to school on their lunches that don’t even get eaten, but just thrown out.  I usually put pastry in a container for its resting time but lately I’ve been using bees-wax wraps and I love them.  After resting dough for about half an hour I took the pastry out, rolled it and plonked the fruit and chopped rhubarb into the centre. I kept the surplus trimmings and popped them into a container in the freezer to use on  another day. A quick turning the dough edges to the centre, a bit of what I refer to as ‘rusticating’, a couple of patches and the galette was ready to bake.I baked this in my little Wood fired Nectre Bakers Oven that we installed as part of our kitchen exteno, what a great little unit this is. We don’t have any hydronic heating at the moment, so the Nectre has been put through its paces this week keeping the back part of the house warm.Seems to have turned out well, I tasted a couple of crumbles from the pastry and it is delicious. This is for dessert tomorrow night when the kids come, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Definitely will be adding some extra thick dollops of cream to it when serving, I may even whip up some of the condensed milk ice-cream I heard the girls talking about. That brought back memories from my childhood, condensed milk ice-cream, made (without an ice cream churn Annabelle) and set into aluminium ice-block moulds in the fridge. Better get out the Google assistant again to find a recipe for that. Who nows where I’ll end up! I may even make some rhubarb syrup to pour the fruit in the centre too.

Pop across to the Local Is Lovely site to get the real recipe which is for

GILLIAN’S RHUBARB AND CRAB APPLE TART WITH A ROSEMARY CRUST

and see the beautiful ‘unrusticated’ creation that was made by Gillian. Poles apart from what I’ve done with my creation, but that’s the joy of baking, make it work to suit you!

To subscribe to Dispatch to a Friend podcasts, go to this link or iTunes.

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?

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.

End of Summer season in the patch

I take my hat off to all our dedicated food growers, especially those who are committed to growing organically. It’s when we have seasons like this I can’t help but wonder how this nation ever got off the ground at all!

As the summer season comes to a close I’ve been trying to sort out the veggie garden to have it ready for some serious, more dedicated growing throughout the year.

I started by moving the 2 compost bins that were in the area where we have just moved a small outbuilding from. This area will become a courtyard and I don’t really want to look out the kitchen window to the bins. The bin made from wire and lined with weed mat contains last seasons leaf mulch and it’s not quite ready to use. I need to work out where this years leaf bin will go. This area does become a natural collection point for the english oak leaves so it can’t be too far away. I will have to move the little blood orange that you can see in the front. This was being espaliered on the wall of the building we moved, so it may end up against the fence.I have previously mentioned how when you clear the compost you discover insidious bits of plastic that you didn’t know you had. Here you can see the remains of a spinach box. I bought it in a box thinking it was plastic free, but as with so many packaged items the plastic is hidden. GRRRR!You can also see here that the paper vacuum cleaner bag still has a bit of decomposing to do. I will just put that into the relocated bin. I am cutting back needing to use bags in the vacuum as I now have a barrel unit that can be emptied directly into the compost (unless it has bits of glass etc in it). The big vac with bags will be used much less frequently.From these 2 compost bins I got enough compost to top dress the big 6 meter long wicking bed and the 3 smaller wicking beds as well as give the orange tree a really good top-dressing.As  always, our last chook Rene was on hand as oversee to the works!

Last men standing.

I removed all of the tomato plants that were passed it and their remains have been put on the bed that will be where corn will be grown next summer. I really should remake this box as it was put together as a temporary bed when we first moved in, but it still has another season in it I think.The remaining tomato plants in this big bed, have had exclusion bags put on the last fruit and I will be planting a green manure crop of mustard seed and assorted seeds that are well beyond their prime and that I am unlikely to plant here. I keep  saying I will rest this bed for a season, but space is just too precious. I guarantee I will still end up using half of the bed for something!I have had marginally more success with pumpkins this season, but they are still not what I would have a hurrah over. The plants that were not going to give any return have also been pulled and put on the pile with the spent tomato plants and I’ve let the ones still performing in, hoping that they will develop and mature some more.There are quite a few small ones still developing but I don’t think they will develop enough  before the cool weather hits. They are pretty though!Remember my experiment of trained versus free range tomatoes? This is a couple of pics of the issues I had with free ranging tomatoes. I don’t think I’ll try that again!

The big success this season is our grapevine, this is performing really well and these grapes are delicious! Although it is a slip grape, supposedly for winemaking, it tastes like passionfruit and we use them just for nibbling on. They do have a few pips but I don’t  mind that.

There are still a few jobs to do but I really enjoyed getting back out into the garden and claiming some thinking time as I worked.

Sourdough

This is a pic of my rye dough that decided it wanted to take over the world. I thought the overnight temperature was going to be quite a bit cooler than it turned out to be, so I gambled on leaving it out on the bench overnight. The lid was nearly at right angles before I removed it! Fortunately I saved it in time and managed to produce some lovely loaves of 50% rye and 50% organic Laucke T55 white flour. The tang in these is amazing!So now I have to decide on what my next ‘get back in control’ jobs will be in the garden. Well, everywhere I think!

Corporate responsibility to advertise sustainability.

I’ve just had a little dummy spit! Watching commercial TV (that’s not all that common at our place), I have just seen an ad by Harris Scarfe where the message is clearly promoted that when something is a bit too hard to clean, a bit grubby, needs a repair, maybe you don’t like it anymore or for some other reason, you just chuck it in the land fill bin (complete with a plastic bin liner!). The example in this ad that really got me steamed was the steel frying pan that needed a little bit of elbow grease as it has lost its sparkle, was just tossed into the bin. I think it is time all advertising should be required to be responsible in the presentation of their message to ensure they promote responsible, sustainable options for purchasing, using and disposal of both the packaging and any items that are past their prime.

Australia is in the top five of rubbish creators in the world, lets knock that on the head. Not a stat to be proud of.

It would not take much effort to adapt advertising to trigger thoughts like ‘take it to the op-shop’, encourage reduce, reuse and recycle positively and if they really want to take some responsibility, accept items back and re-distribute them into community organisations. Greenpeace have some wonderful tips on living more sustainably, check them out here.

Reduce Reuse Recycle

It is really important to trigger a change of thinking in people and marketing has  significant opportunity of power in doing this. Unfortunately, over the years the message sold has created some pretty severe environmental issues and high carbon footprints by promoting the disposable lifestyle many live by.

Plastic water bottles, disposable single use plastic, and packaging are making a huge impact on the environment and it cannot continue as it is not sustainable. Communities are now having to deal with how we deal with things like this.

landfill_compactor_fr_closeIt shouldn’t be too hard, people just need to be educated by seeing examples and advertising is a great way to do this. Things like showing a donation box that things go into rather than the landfill bin, use a compost bin or worm farm for food scraps to go in and minimising  packaging.

Which ads rile you with their lack of sustainable responsibility?