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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

I am pretty chuffed!

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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The vent at the back of the wall.

More Hives = More Honey

Hopefully.

I split the hive last week. My original hive came out of Winter really strongly. I checked on them towards the end of Winter and they had obviously missed the memo that it was still Winter and that they should be quietly puttering along, not expanding just yet. They were almost out of space. I made the decision to give them more space instead of splitting them as I thought it would be easier to transport one hive to the farm than 2. I was wrong. One hive 3 boxes high is a jolly tricky thing to move and it does not fit in a car which was my planned mode of transport for the girls. Anyway, lesson learnt. I moved the large hive to the farm on the back of a hired ute, challenging, as a word, does not encompass that experience.

 

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I can’t see a single bee in this picture but this tree literally buzzes, the bees are loving it.

Last week I split that 3 box hive that was almost full again (busy busy girls!) into two 2 box hives. I am hopeful that it is early enough in the season that I will get honey from both hives. I took one full frame of honey off them when I split the hive. Made sure each hive had plenty of honey, pollen, eggs, brood (babies) and nurse bees. Said hello to the queen. Closed them up and called it a day. This is called a walk away split, although I located the queen I did not keep track of her so ultimately do not know which hive she ended up in (I have a strong suspicion but don’t know for sure) so I made sure both hives had eggs and the one that is now queenless will make their own new queen from one of the eggs. Amazing huh?

 

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I wish there was smell’o’gram, this wattle tree smells so sweet and fragrant.

 

I moved the new hive to a different location as my choice for the old hive wasn’t great. I will slowly move the old hive to a new spot too. My brother very kindly made me another bee stand so my bee friends are raised up off the ground and the chickens can tidy up under the hive. This is only theoretical at the moment as the chickens have not ventured down to where either of the hives are, they have only explored a tiny part of the farm, Christopher Columbus they are not.  They will go slightly further if I lead them to a new area but they leave as soon as I do. Chickens…

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My little helper, helping me to make more bee frames.
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My first frame of this season.

My poor avocado

Do you think it can come back from this?

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I don’t think anything was eaten, just ripped off and dumped. Not a single leaf remains. I am quietly hopeful it may sprout some new ones. 90% sure it won’t. This tree is in a different area to the other fruit trees as eventually I wish to fence off the orchard area, and let the chickens free range in the orchard field full time. I read somewhere that avocado leaves are poisonous to chickens so I planted this one in a different area. Apparently a high kangaroo destruction area 😦

Sending healing thoughts to this poor sad tree.

Garden time :)

There are kangaroos here, lots of kangaroos. At the moment there is greenery everywhere for them to eat and so they have respected the pot plants that I have near the house. I thought that while there was an abundance of greenery I had time to procrastinate with putting some fences around my newly transplanted fruit trees. I was wrong.

The poor avocado got quite a trimming. It doesn’t actually look as though they ate much, just ripped branches off and nibbled the trunk. It is not looking promising for the avocado. It is in a bad way. The other fruit trees were all dormant and evidently not appetising so have only had the odd branch snapped off. I have put some light fencing around them to deter the kangaroos from nibbling the trunks. I would like it if they would be respectful of the rest of the tree too but I think I may have to share.

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I call this one Sticks in a Field. Fingers crossed for these transplanted treasures!

Anyway… So I am doing a trial garden. There is a fairly scary looking area that is fenced off, I think there may have been a dog locked in there at some point as the ramshackle structure appears to be a kennel. I am unsure how high fencing needs to be to keep kangaroos out. In Summer when all the grass is dead my garden will look like an oasis, so I am guessing quite high. I also saw a mighty fat rabbit the other day. I have seen no holes in the ground to suggest it lives here but it will be mighty expensive fencing if it has to go down into the ground to keep rabbits out and up into the sky to keep kangaroos out. So a trial patch.

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With the ladies assistance I removed all the weeds. There were hundreds of weird tiny little caterpillar like things in the soil. The chickens gobbled every one that they could find.

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My sister kindly removed the spider den, I mean, dog kennel. There was an incident. Something massive, Beatle got in there and dealt with it. From the distance that I ran to I could not identify it. Quite out of character I dragged my sister to safety with me, usually in spider situations I like to leave behind a sacrificial lamb, so there were no creditable eye witness accounts of what it actually was. It took the chicken a good while to kill and eat it. I think it was an alien spider. It was HUGE!!! The ladies also removed any visible non alien spiders. Kind like that they are.

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Spider den

Then it looked like an everyday run of the mill dirt patch. I mattocked it up as I had stood everywhere and compacted the heavy clay soil. I let the ladies have one last look through for creepy crawlies then I locked them out, added a heap of worm rich compost, some pavers to distribute my weight across more soil and watered it all in.

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I have transplanted the first few little seedlings. A couple of corn, a couple sunflowers, some mustard mizuna, pak choy, rocket and corn salad. I wish them luck.

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