No Food Soup

I felt like I had no food yesterday, this is the first time in a long time that I don’t have a garden to dictate my menu, I hadn’t been to the market to buy vegetables, I felt I had nothing. I decided to make soup. Defrosted some kidney beans from the freezer. Cooked an old and lonely onion, some garlic and some barley for a bit. Added some somewhat tough parsley stems chopped finely (the plant is going to seed) and cooked for a while. Added stock.

When in Melbourne a few days ago I returned to my old back yard (with permission 😉 ) and harvested a heap of broad beans. I peeled those. Pulled the leaves off the dried stinging nettle that has been calling to me from the cupboard, unused, for months. Picked some thyme and parsley leaves. Added kidney beans, broad beans, nettle, thyme, parley leaves to the pot and cooked for a bit.

When it was ready (the barley cooked) I added a bit of lemon juice. It tasted fine for no food soup. I had it for dinner with some toasted homemade sourdough. Thought to myself well dinner is sorted for the next few nights. Chucked soup pot in fridge. Tonight ready to eat same soup, heated a portion up. Tasted it, damn something happened in the fridge, it tastes good!!

I love when food just works itself out. Delicious!

Not pretty, but delicious!

IMG_5740.JPG

Advertisements

Oh the weeds

There are so many weeds here. There are weeds and dead dry exposed patches of soil, that is all.

IMG_5696.JPG
The bees love love love the cape weed. I left them heaps when I mowed.

After hearing all about snake season on the radio I decided I better mow the weeds. I borrowed my sisters lawn mower and mowed a couple of acres around the house area. Holy guacamole did a lot of spiders run out of the grass, my chickens were nowhere to be found to help me out. I will never walk barefoot out there again. Ever.

Some of the weeds have lovely little flowers. There are all sorts, yellow, orange, pink, purple, white, all weeds but all pretty in their own way.  Except one of them, I have a suspicion which one it is but I am not sure. These weed seeds are the scariest looking seed I have ever seen. If a killer weed seed was going to take over the planet it would surely be these.

IMG_5731.JPG

Can you see the hairs on it?

IMG_5732.JPG

The sharp end can puncture skin, ask me how I know… They are everywhere out there. Yesterday I was picking them up and putting them in my pocket and they made holes in my pocket working the sharp end through the fabric. I was picking them up (a ridiculous idea as there are thousands and thousands of them) because when I picked old Maggie up to put her in the coop the other night there were 3 embedded in her feathers. I think it is because she is so little and close to the ground and falls over a lot. The other chickens don’t seem affected. When I pulled one of them off her a feather came out too, they are beastly!!!

These ones have already worked their way through general farm detritus.

IMG_5733

They seem to sprout as a group at the end of the weed and then separate and do their best to be as far flung and terrible as possible.

IMG_5734

I also found this little terror attached to my sock, they are as sharp as needles!

IMG_5737.JPG

A little size perspective

IMG_5739.JPG

The lady that used to live here had horses, I imagine these would have been a nightmare. I carefully packaged one up to bring to Melbourne to show my family ( I bought it back with me, no need to help spread this little terror), it was not a necessary step, there were multiple attached to each shoe lace from mowing the lawns. I can’t imagine what it would be like with a horse coat.

Hopefully once I get the soil a bit better these weeds won’t be able to thrive so easily. The soil here is atrocious, it will be a monstrous task to improve it. Lucky I love gardening!!

Sourdough

I have one failed attempt at creating a sourdough culture under my belt, it was many years ago and I had not tried since. A couple of weeks ago I decided to try again. Last time I measured everything, did it all by the book.  I think I just didn’t give it enough time. This time, I just did whatever I felt like. I read a few peoples methods so I knew the vague gist, then went for it.

It has been a success so far. I have made a couple of loaves that have tasted great. I think it will get stronger and healthier as a culture given time (if I remember to keep feeding it). The bread would have a much greater chance of success if I followed a sourdough bread recipe, not just adding flour and water till it looks/feels right. Also if I looked up how long it is supposed to rest for at each part of its journey. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…

I fed the culture in a bowl and left it covered over night.

IMG_5675

 

IMG_5679
Over night it puffed up and created good bubbles

In the morning I set some of the mixture aside to keep as my culture for future baking. I added more flour as the mix seemed too wet, I then forgot to add salt, gave it a bit of a knead and placed it on a baking tray. I left it there for a few hours, then I baked it.

IMG_5699

As long as there are air bubbles in the loaf and it tastes good I count it as a win. I don’t care so much about shape etc.

IMG_5705
Probably the bubbles will get bigger and better over time. Til then, this is perfectly fine by me!

IMG_5706

Above pic is the starter culture ready for the next loaf.

I am pretty chuffed!

 

How much is too much?

As I sit here eating my sourdough bread with kimchi on it whilst drinking my kombucha I ponder life and the big questions. Such as- how much culture is too much culture? Are all these amazing bugs going to be fighting in my gut? If yes, who would win? Is there any name for sourdough and its starter that begin with the letter K to amuse my alliteration loving mind? The cogs are always turning in my brain… High brow stuff.

IMG_5325

Crying over spilt milk

Ok not actually spilt milk, I dropped a dozen eggs. There also weren’t any actual tears, I was more angry at myself. The sentiment was about right though. I treat the ladies eggs as gifts. Each one is an amazing gift. I dropped an entire carton. 5 were fine, not cracked. 2 were beyond hope spread across the kitchen floor but the other 5 were only cracked. I decided they were still usable as long as it was the same day.

When my grandmother passed away I inherited her mothers (my great grandmothers) old cooking books. They are recipes cut out of newspapers from the 1920’s through to the 1950’s. They are fascinating. The advice, the advertising, the ingredients! What is a gill? Oh of course that is 118mls (thanks google). And man did they use a lot of dripping in their recipes. I am choosing to use butter. There were a lot from during the war so they have ration cake, ration meals, eggless/butterless/sugarless cakes. Last week I made some Rock cakes from one of the recipes, under the title it stated “Housewives are recommended to try the following”. They were quite nice 🙂

I think though that there was a general accepted level of knowledge in the kitchen. Knowledge that I do not possess. They are really light on the details. I assume that the housewives of the time knew a lot more about baking or the people were paying per word in the recipe section. The rock cake recipe just said add milk. Not add milk til mixture comes together or until forms smooth batter or until anything at all! Then place on trays and bake in a fairly hot oven. No size, no temperature, no time length. No worries they turned out lovely!

I decided to make this caramel chocolate cake that used 3 of my broken eggs. The cake was cooling on the counter when I decided to tackle the icing. Boil the milk and sugar together. Add the butter and vanilla. Seems fine. I started boiling the milk and sugar and wondered if I was supposed to be letting it brown as in caramalise.

IMG_5612.JPG

I did not have time to google if caramel is one of those things you stir or don’t stir. I realised about 10 minutes in that I had just been conned into making caramel. I thought the caramel in the title was the brown sugar in the cake. A little more thought about the recipe itself could probably have enlightened me, but anyway (I actually just reread the recipe and those last 3 words should have told me!) I persevered. I decided to stir. I stirred and stirred, I had the most glorious looking caramel colour and consistency so I went to the next step, I added the butter. Within a second the whole mixture puffed up to double its size and then turned to sand.

IMG_5611.JPG

I have no idea what happened. Maybe it was because it was salted butter, maybe because the instructions indicated it was to be made on a fire and I made it on a boring stove top (joke!), maybe the temperature was wrong, maybe you aren’t supposed to mix it. What ever the reason, I didn’t let it get me down. Turned it into a very artful cake that tasted lovely.

IMG_5613.JPG
Only thought to take a photo after my sister and I had already eaten a piece…

The extra texture of the crumbly caramel was an added delight. I will continue to blindly bake my way through these recipes and see what I get to eat.

More DIY

As I am quite proud of my hole fixing ability, a flawless record thus far. I have decided to up the stakes quite significantly.

IMG_5593
His afternoon napping location, unrelated to the heater, just makes me smile to see.

My sister and I removed the old gas heater (turns out I didn’t take a photo of it, so just use your imagination). As there is no gas mains to the property and the gas cylinders had been collected, I felt that this was a safe enough thing to do. If the heater had been connected to the mains a plumber would have been required to cap off the gas supply. The heater had not been used for over 5 years, it was unsafe to be turned on, big, kinda ugly and I wanted it gone.

IMG_5603
Also unrelated. There have been some lovely sunsets lately.

I don’t think I quite appreciated the hole that would be left behind….1650mm x 415. It is approximately 20 times bigger than the only hole that I have ever fixed. Plus there is a hole from the vent on the other side of the wall that needs fixing too. This is only about 50% bigger than my first project. I will fix that one first, build up to the other one. Wish me luck 🙂

IMG_5606

IMG_5605
The vent at the back of the wall.