Jun 24, 2011

On My Mind..Procrastination

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY. When you write you write your blog and post a photo,  put a link on it back to l DOWN TO EARTH - ON MY MIND   It is a great way to meet new bloggers!
About 18 months ago, my husband rummaged around in his box of 'can't throw this away' and hauled out a suede covered book. Now the reason he did this was because I had complained every time I baked or cooked, "I wish I had a nice book to put this pile of papers in - I can write them all down and have a nice collection of recipes, in a book that i can one day pass on... "
Well, I do have a nice book to put the pile of papers in.. they are still sitting in it.
Sorry about the lousy photo, I am without a camera.
This is a little challenge to myself for those days, I am not physically upto doing much - I can sit and write all these lovely recipes I have collected from the web, books, and from you all into this big old book!
Now all I have to do is work out the best way to divide it up and index it - I am open to any ideas.

Jun 22, 2011

Yeastie Beasties

Firstly, I had to share the fruit sour dough.. I'm afraid it never made it to the deep freeze on the night it was made, come 10pm that evening, my husband and I went and looked at it, it screamed cut me and we ate two large slices, and oh my goodness it was sooooo good!
I had huge plans for the weekend, but the best made plans of mice and men, well woman in this case..I couldn't find a decent cabbage that was worth the $4 plus they wanted for it, so the sauerkraut making went out the window.. As for the sourdough pancakes.. maybe this weekend...I do want to make Christine's fruit sourdough again and the recipe calls for a healthy amount of starter and I want to keep up a good supply, so one of my yeasty beasties upgraded to the penthouse suite.
Dough Baby got a new jar, it holds a LOT which suits me and he fine.. Kamut Baby is developing that wonderful smell that only comes with wild yeasts.
My newest baby arrived today, t'was a difficult delivery - the "stork courier" delivered my precious goodies to the wrong house.. after a call to the "priority" courier company, I was told "it was delivered" my reply, "Yes it was delivered but not to my house" he then went on to say "Did you look in the garden" .. "I shouldn't need to look in the blimmin' garden" "Fair call" he said.. He would call the driver and ring me back.. the call never came but the parcel did via some sailor's child that I had never seen before. Out of courtesy I called the company back to say 'yeastie beastie #3" was here... they informed me that the driver said he didn't know what number house he had delivered to..good on you Toll Priority and thanks for calling back... but look.. this is my newest venture, this unusual looking weird thing, beneficial budding Kefir culture, doesn't have a name yet, but isn't it an amazing bit of nature.

Looks like a cauliflower sprig, but spongy.
Apparently this cute little milky manifestation self propagates
And this unassuming jar of milk is its new home.. can't wait to see whats going on with it tomorrow..
And it really should have been the first not the last.. Blessed Solstice to you all... 

Jun 20, 2011

Postie Presents

I love getting mail. I love getting parcels in the mail, and while I get lots of deliveries of soap making products, I love those just for me parcels.. and I got one today.
Now, I have this wee passion for all things quiltie.. I lust after those gorgeous bed quilts that squeal "please let me be a family heirloom" those beautiful quilted items everyone else seems to be able to make but me, however I can't sew my way out of a wet paper bag -
But wait there is more, my quilt passion runs a close second to my love of all things chicken.. I have chickens strategically placed about the kitchen and dining area.. I even have a couple of Royal Dalton chickens, now before you all see $$$$$$ rolling in your eyes, don't fret they were seriously marked down from three figures to a mere $30 and $19 but wait.. there is more... what if I could get my two favorite things in one envelope? Yes I know smuggling livestock in envelopes is illegal but this isn't...
A bed quilt was way out of my price range, but when I was looking at quilt shops on Etsy, I found this wonderful quilted table runner. I saw it, I needed it..wanted it. I love to by Australian made but have never seen anything like this here, so it came all the way the US.

And it looks lovely on the table I think.

Perhaps one day, I will put my mind to try making one, but for the moment I am content to enjoy the beauty of another woman's cleverness and creativity.

Jun 16, 2011

Inspirations and Baby Gremlins

Yesterday, I said I had another batter on the go, this time the majority of the flour was Kamut. I have decided the batter with Kamut as well as the Kamut flour starter resembles, that old baby food "baby rice" or Baby Farex" without the gritty bits - It was interesting to work with, it was quick to take liquid, but it didn't seem to need as much as I would normally use. It was  very easy to knead... I wish I could have taken more photos than I have, but I am using my phone to take photos (camera is broken) After the first rise, I was sure it was to wet, it seemed to be a bit sticky, so I bypassed yesterdays casserole dish and went for an open pan.. It rose the second time quiet well.
 I am such an advocate for very high heat for the first 10 to 15 minutes of cooking,  It really gives the yeasts a huge boost, releasing lots of gas causing an increase in size and a great crust, so the oven was up on 250c. Another thing I have gotten in the habit to do, is placing an empty pan in the bottom of the oven, and when I put the bread in, I pour water into the pan and get the door shut as quick as I can..this makes steam, again aiding in a nice crust.
This is my finished loaf.  It has semolina on top.
The bottom looking flat, unlike yesterday
I haven't cut this loaf.. we are trying to live a frugal lifestyle so it is in the deep freeze. And yesterdays experiment is still being eaten. I did learn a valuable lesson today... *insert suitable red face*  see below-
Do not put glass pie dish in bottom of 250c oven, then add water even if it is boiling... big badda boom.. broke my favorite pie dish.. where was my usual container.. look up - the breads in it - duh me.
I appreciate this post is a little long.. thanks for hanging in there.. :-)

I am always excited to read about others bread making endevours, and today I was delighted to see what was going on when I popped on over to Slow Living Essentials to visit Christine, who also enjoys making bread with wild yeasts - she was making sour dough with a glorious twist.. for me there is nothing better than a slice of thick crusted, chewy yet flavorsome sour dough, how can this be improved? by adding fruit and far more cinnamon than the recipe ever said. So, I borrowed Christine's recipe which she blogged about today, and modified it. It makes 2 generous loaves and calls for 500grams of leaven.. I have worked 'dough baby' pretty hard the last few days and decided to use just a small amount of him and give 'Kamut baby' a go. It was about a  40% dough baby and 60% kamut baby. Remembering this starter is only 2 1/2 days old.
I was not disappointed... after 3 of the 5 hour first rise time.

The dough never made it to 5 hours, while this will have affected the flavour a little I had no idea how the Kamut starter was going to reactI didnt want the dough to collapse.. I decided to cut the rising time short and shape it into two, weird looking loaves.. I went off to the library ran some errands and  came back and popped them in the oven...
Unfortunately, I got engrossed in a soap book and they over cooked a little, well a lot.. but they will still be good to eat. I was not disappointed with the result. 
Lastly... I no longer have cute bubbling baby.. nooooooo I have created a, do not feed after dark  wild yeast gobbling gremlin.
I fed Kamut baby today - there was maybe 1/2 cup of starter left after the fruit bread.. I added 3/4 cup filtered water, and 3/4 cup Kamut flour.. left the 'babies' sitting in a kitchen where the temperature was 13c.. and look 2 hours later.

Below is 4 hours

At 5 hours, I took to it with a spoon, and mushed it into submission, it was gonna escape out of the jar.
As I type, the Kamut Baby is back up to the rim.. it doesnt have the lovely, yeasty sour dough smell yet..but I am sure it will come. I am surprised at how reactive this flour is. I am no expert, but I expect the high protein in Kamut flour has something to do with it. On the weekend I am going to try our favorite sour dough pancakes with the Kamut starter and flour.. also some home made pasta.. which Kamut flour is also good for.. possibly sauerkraut and next week my Kefir grains arrive will keep you informed, if you haven't all nodded off :-)

Jun 15, 2011

Babies, Bread and Toast

My baby was gurgling and bubbling happily this morning when I got up.. however she still had her little water ring - it was just bigger.
However, as the morning moved on and warmed up... look what happened.. it disappeared, so it leaves me to believe it was new baby syndrome and the colder temperatures.
See above how the bubbles are all the way down to the bottom of the jar and the ring of liquid has gone...

I feed her this afternoon.. I cut her in half then added 2/3 cups of Kamut flour and 2/3 cups water and gave her a good mix, I was astounded how she was reacting 2 hours later. This is a very energetic baby.. I may not feed her tomorrow. Kamut Baby on the left and Dough Baby on the right.. I fed them at the same time and baby is more active. Amazing.

Well, I said I would post pictures of yesterdays bread experiment. The only fault I could find with it, was not enough salt, I erred on the side of caution. I have another one on the go.. this time I am following a recipe, substituting one cup of the flour for Kamut, and tomorrow I will add enough salt.. This is what it looked liked 
When it was cut. 

And as my breakfast...with a big slurp of home made peach jam.

Jun 14, 2011

New 'Baby Kamut'

I love all aspects of bread making, how the yeasts work, the smell of the yeast or my sourdough starter, the feel of Goddess given, ground grains in my hands and the therapeutic aspect kneading the dough brings. I have never felt it to be a chore. I always try to pick flour types that are natural, unbleached - rye flour or meal, wholemeal, spelt and now slightly more modern version of an ancient grain, similar to durum wheat. Kamut flours common name is Khorasan wheat and it's from Egypt. The benefits of eating products made from this flour is vast. While it has gluten, it is easy to digest and also has no fructose, which is helpful to those with allergies, it is higher in vitamins, protein and amino acids. It can be used in any baking you use normal wheat flour.. you can even eat the grains. A 5kg bag of this flour followed me home on Friday, along with some wholemeal spelt and rye.
This new flour has a different texture than I am used to so it is a learning curve for me. As I am a huge fan of sourdough another bread steeped in ancient history, it seemed a foregone conclusion that I would make a sourdough starter with it. So I would like to introduce you to 'Kamut Baby'
I have put 'Kamut Baby' on the left and my original sourdough starter 'dough baby' side by side so you can see the difference in the colours. The Kamut flour is white until you add the water and it changes to a fawn colour.  As the weather is very cold here at the moment  it gets down to 8 or 9c over night colder as winter progresses, I don't have a warm place to keep the starters, so I knew the new starter would be slow or may even fail. So I cheated a weeeny teeeny bit, to the 1/2 cup of Kamut flour and 1/2c cup water I put about a teaspoon of my original starter in to kick it along. By bed time I was already seeing a little action, Kamut being a very strong flour and the joys of  being blessed with an amazingly active starter.
This is what greeted me this morning.

'Dough Baby' on the right is trying to climb out of his glass crib and wee 'Kamut Baby' is making little baby bubbles on the left. Again you can see the colour difference. I am noticing a difference between the too apart from colour.

See how there is a layer of plain looking flour paste on the bottom, a layer of liquid and then the bubbly flour brew on top. Now I think this could be because the bench top is cold, and it is not fermenting the same at the very bottom.. the liquid layer in the middle is common in a starter, but it is usually on the top.If anyone has another idea, I am happy to live and learn.
I have fed baby again this afternoon, and she is looking good this evening, I will post a photo of her growth tomorrow. I will know she is up and walking when I can smell her yeasty, goodness.

While I am on the topic of bread and growing things, I read some where about making bread a little like you do sourdough.. by mixing your flour water and rising agent (starter or yeast) then leaving it all sitting 24 hours to brew.. now I wanted to see if this made good bread. So I had a go - I cant give you a recipe, I didn't really use one, just put some flour, some water and a good sprinkle of yeast in a blow, stirred and left it.

This morning I had a bubbly bowl.. again no real recipe, I tossed in some salt, sugar, a little milk powder, a little oil and flour... Mixed it up and then kneaded it.. nice an glossy waiting for the first rise by the furnace.

After an hour or so I put it into it's cooking container, again new to me a casserole dish. While it was raising, I heated the oven to its very hottest setting- now it has doubled in size (2nd rising) it got weirder still - I added 3 tablespoons of water to the container and jammed on the lid, and quickly shoved it in the oven.
After 20 minutes cooking at around 250c I took of the lid, slashed the top and quickly shut the oven door, turning the oven down to about 180c - I left it cooking for about 20 minutes until it sounded hollow when it was tapped.
It looks and smells so good right now. The water made a good thick crust as it turned to steam inside the casserole dish. Then when the heat hits it without the lid, it gets crunchy. However not everything was as it seemed at first.. next time, I will use only 2 tablespoons of water next time,. and I will also roll the dough and secure it a little more tightly, because it unrolled itself - so it was my mistake. It is still very edible just a little crustacean looking.
 I can't tell you what it is like yet, bread is best cut a couple of hours after coming out the oven.. if you can wait that long. My breakfast it shall be, and I will take a photo for you then......

Jun 10, 2011

On My Mind - left behind

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY.
When you write you write your blog and post a photo,  put a link on it back to DOWN TO EARTH - ON MY MIND   A great way to meet new bloggers :-)

On My Mind today ....
I got this beautiful mortar and pestle from my daughter for Christmas... it sits proudly on my counter top. However, I am always wondering how it always becomes the raffia receptacle, when I am labeling and wrapping soap, something I prefer to do on my bench. Everything gets cleared away, but some how the raffia always seems to remain in the mortar for a day or two afterwards. I will put it away this morning - again

Jun 9, 2011

Green Cleaning Ideas.

I was going to write this post days ago.. but after my last post, there was an issue trying to get into my blog.. I was so worried I would have to leave it abandoned, as Google were not to helpful in assisting getting back in here.. however here I am so it was meant to be..
Now, as some of you may or may not know, I like to make my own soaps, cleansers and breads including sourdough.. heck I bought my sourdough starter "dough baby" 3000km across the country in the back of the car, so much is it part of our family.. today though I want to tell you how excited I was to get back to the homemade cleaners. I had to stop for a wee while, mainly due to the health issue.. Last week I had a wee concoction making day.. The recipes are not mine, they have been gathered from other wise woman, who no doubt, got them off another wise woman, and so the knowledge is shared.
Rhonda over at Down To Earth was the inspiration for me ever starting making my own soap powder.. now I love the dry powder, but I always wanted to try liquid. I like the ease of it, no need to try to dissolve it, just pop it in the machine.. and I have a front loader and it works well. So I set about making some liquid laundry powder.
I won't post the recipe, you can find it here at Rhonda's there is more information on this page than just the recipe, so go have a go it is great and it makes about 9 to 10 liters for less than $3.00 HOMEMADE LAUNDRY LIQUID
This was mine all nicely bottled and bucketed. I put a little to much Eucalyptus oil in mine, but it leaves the washing smelling great.
Now, this one above is dry soap powder. I always have plenty of soap ends to grate up for this recipe.
Here is the recipe.
4 cups grated laundry or homemade soap or store bought soap flakes, 2 cups borax, 2 cups washing soda.
Now you can use it like this, but I prefer mine much finer, so I toss it into the kitchen whizz and mix it to a fine powder.. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and store in a plastic container with a lid.  Use 2 to 3 tablespoons per wash. You will have to experiment a bit, it really depends on your water type (hard or soft)
Once in it's storage container, add about 2 teaspoons of Eucalyptus or Lavender essential oil, this is optional, but I like the smell. The other thing.. it doesn't make bubbles! Soap manufacturers tell you it needs bubbles... and add icky glop to it, to make it froth. Bubbles dont clean, they just give your head some kind of bubble happy.. soooo noooooooooo it doesn't need bubbles, this one was hard for me to get used too.. but trust me on this * smiles*
Narelle over at Just Like My Gran Made has concocted one of the greatest citrus cleaners about. Please go check it out if you love those citrus spray cleaners... I cant be without one and does this stuff work, you can bet your bottom dollar it does.
Now do you use.. Clorox Gumption, Jif, Ajax, or any of those other cream cleansers?? Yes I used to, I swapped to baking soda and vinegar, but last week over on the DOWN TO EARTH FORUM I found a recipe for one of those great cream cleansers. It need a bit of modifying. So here is the recipe:
1 cup baking soda, 2 tablespoons dish liquid, 1 tablespoon glycerin, 1 teaspoon Eucalyptus oil (see a theme here) or Lavender if you like, stir and mush till it is crumbly, then add very slowly while stirring enough water to make a smooth paste. I store mine in a wide mouth El Paso salsa jar. When I need to use, I swirl the cloth about in the jar, then clean sink, bath hand basin.. comes up so clean.. The picci below shows what it looks like.

If you don't already use green cleaners, I do urge you to try, they are as cheap as chips to make and green cleaning like our great grandmothers did, is a far better way I think. No harsh chemicals, not contact dermatitis on our hands from chemicals and far better on the environment.

Jun 7, 2011

A Wee Visitor

It has been a bitterly cold day here in Victoria today, about an hour ago the temp outdoors dropped to -1.8c thats about 25f. It is a real winters day. I watched someone playing golf in the hail and wind wondering if they were in fact a legend or a fruit loop, and as the wind whistled and whirled across the golf course I sat waiting for their umbrella to blow inside out, or for tem to take off Mary Poppins fashion.. alas I was amused by neither.. what I did find, was a lone babe from the woods.
I am expecting the wind blew a little hard and this wee one tumbled out of the nest. It managed to get onto our fence, just under the eaves to stay out of the wind and rain.
 A very cute, but chilly baby Magpie, I doubt this babe is very old.
To spite the sleet and chill, this little one sat on the fence and jabbered away in baby Magpie talk for the longest time, my awwww moment for the day.
Every now and then this little one would stop it's baby jatter, and look up as if to say "Are you here yet Muma"
What a precious gift.. I was so blessed to have been able to spend sometime,nose to beak through the window,  now the night is now that much colder, I hope it's Mumma came taking it somewhere that it is warm and dry and safe from foxes and feral cats.. Goddess Bless little one.