Wednesday, August 31, 2011

goings on

 a handmade dress from that hand-me-down bundle


even hung on hooks, I still manage to forget to bring bags

 enjoying a sustainable cup of tea, after reading this post.

vintage blocks from the op shop

hoping to make that caramel pear pudding again so I can pass on the recipe

delivered to the mailbox

did I tell you my mum sews?

 saving and planting apple seeds

clicking fingers is hilarious

working on a sewing project

reading her first Enid Blyton

 more bathroom tomatoes

I do hope your Tuesday treats you well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

our daily bread

I've had a few of you asking about the bread I  make (hi Kath!)

A few years ago, armed with my trusty Nigella book, I managed to teach myself to make bread. One of the first steps I took to simplify life a little. To know exactly what was in our bread. To save myself the $6 per day I was spending on a loaf of bread. 

Most afternoons would see me kneading a new loaf for the next days bread. I didn't mind the kneading. Occasionally I would buy a loaf, but most of our bread was homemade.

But during my last pregnancy I wondered how I would manage to keep up the bread making with an extra little person in the house. The no knead method seemed like a perfect solution, as I wasn't too keen on going down the breadmaker machine path.

So I ordered this book and very quickly began turning out daily loaves or bread rolls usings its quick method. Very similar to before but with no kneading. Admittedly kneaded bread comes out just a little softer. But sometimes ten minutes free for kneading is hard to come by. So generally, un-kneaded it is.

As for finding the time to make bread I find that prioritizing preparing food does make it easier. The cleaning or washing up can always be done later, but when it comes to food it needs to be put first on the list of jobs to do. I try and mix mine before I go and pick up the kids from school. Sometimes I can get away with bread making every second day.

I have adjusted the original recipe to suit our tastes.

EDIT : I have adjusted the recipe slightly over time. Feel free to adjust your flour and water amounts to make a firm but wet dough. I find different brands and types of flours require different amounts.

No Knead  Bread

3  cups water, lukewarm
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sea salt
6 1/2 cups plain white flour (or 5 cups white and 1 1/2 cups wholemeal)

flour - I  do love using organic, but it quite a lot more expensive. Kialla is an excellent organic brand. (Try to stay away from the Woolworths Select organic flour. I've had a few loaves "flop" with that flour. It's obviously more of a cake flour.) But I generally use Lauke Wallaby baking flour.  It's easy to find bulk flour in most supermarkets or health food stores, or even online.

1. Pour water into bowl. Add yeast and salt. Stir with whisk.

Add flour. I'm making the healthier version here. White and wholemeal.

Stir to combine. If it's hard to mix you may need to get your hands in to mix it up. If it is too dry to mix add a little more lukewarm water.

Leave the dough to rise in the bowl. This usually takes about two hours. It will roughly double in size and then flatten at the top of the dough. Of course, it is usually faster in hot weather, but rises slower in Winter.

When dough has doubled, add a few handfuls of flour to make the dough easier to handle. Shape into bread rolls, or two free form loaves or 1 large loaf. Sprinkle with flour and slash the tops  with a bread knife if you are making the free form loaves.

Sometimes I make a double batch of dough. This can be stored in the fridge after the first rise. I have successfully left mine out at room temperature for a day or two. With both these methods you end up with a tangier, slightly sourdough taste to the finished bread. I prefer it that way.

While the bread is rising again (which takes about twenty minutes with rolls , a bit longer with freeform or a loaf tin) ) preheat the oven at 230 degrees celcius. I don't time my bread, but I think rolls are ready after about a half hour. Tap on the bread and see if it sounds hollow. I find I can cook the rolls a more pale colour , but the bigger the loaf, the darker the crust needs to be. I tend to cook the loaf tin until the crust is very dark brown. Turn onto a wire rack to prevent a soggy crust.

And there you have it. Our everyday bread in this house. Best served warm with butter. But fine for next day sandwiches. Makes great toast or breadcrumbs when stale.

Have you tried the no knead method?

Monday, August 29, 2011

weekend : in the garden


  • We planted our fruit trees - all 14 of them, heirloom varieties from Yalca Fruit Trees. A Summer Strawberry apple anyone? Or an Emerald Chesnut? Well, maybe in a few years..
  • Why dig your holes by hand when you can use a hired excavator, that requires hiring, loading on a trailer (said trailer not quite up to the job), and a diesel top up before towing home? All worth it in Daniel's books, but I must admit it did do the job extremely quickly with our compacted type of soil. Minus any broken backs.
  • A flower and shrub garden bed dug out on our immediate front lawn. Daniel sees maintenance, but I envision being able to fill a vase with pretty flowers.
  • More potatoes planted. After the dog dug up and ate half of the first lot. Must remember to shut the gate.  Lettuce, bok choy and radish seeds sown. 
  • The Spring air has awakened the chives and rhubarb. Self seeded cos lettuce has been thinned.
  • Nothing like a garden to bring a family together for the weekend. Even if said family disagrees from time to time.

 Have you been in the garden lately?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

interesting things

interesting links for this weekend....

sew a pretty pleated scarf
make a bath mat from repurposed towels
read an interesting article on the rise of craft consumerism.. oops, I'm a little guilty of this sometimes
knit this for your favourite cup
eat a salted caramel cheesecake - I'm dying to try this one

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

in mail

In the comings and goings of our thrice weekly mail I have a few to show you from the last few weeks.

I was very fortunate to win this bib in a giveaway on the gorgeous Amanda's blog. A great place full of sustainable ideas, recipes, crafting and more. Amanda is soon opening a store,  Little Eco and will be stocking sustainable goodies such as this. If you haven't already discovered her blog yet,  do pop over and have a look, it is a lovely place to visit. Thanks Amanda!

I also received a package of goodies that I purchased for a few little projects that I have in mind.  Little Bits of Pretty is a blog run by Lea that sells little packages of pretty little crafty things. Little Bits of Pretty is a fundraiser for The Children's Hospital at Westmead. You may also know Lea from her other blog We like to make stuff which is full of crafting, op shopping and family life. Thank you Lea!

And now onto books. These were a few recent purchases from a voucher I had.

The Stylish Dress Book - Lot's of floaty, pretty dresses in here. Particularly good for hat I'm looking for as I do love to team smock style dresses and tights. Much comfier than jeans. I've been warned though to beware of the sack like qualities of the tunic style dresses. Looking forward to having a go at some of these though, and will be prepared to take in if necessary.

Winter On The Farm has gorgeous pictures of the author's Tasmanian Farm. Not unlike our frosty and foggy days. I can see myself making a lot of these recipes as they look temptingly delicious, simple and warming. I do like his approach to "real food".

Backyard Self Sufficiency is a little gem of a book for information aplenty on vegie gardens, fruit trees, and small livestock (I'm only halfway through the book, but so far this is what it's covered). Did you know you can plant fruit trees two metres apart for tighter spaces?  This book is of particular interest to me as Jackie French gardens in a very similar area to mine with hot dry summers and frosty winters. She actually doesn't live too far away, so her advice on growing lemon trees in our climate ( my last one died within a week, victim of a November frost, followed by a 30 degree day) is one I can relate and listen to.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


On the weekend we picked up our first bulk meat purchase. Something we've been meaning to do for quite some time, both for the health benefits of fresh grass-fed produce and for a more economical way to buy meat. In our area it was a little harder to source meat off the farm as we live in a predominantly wool district. But with the help of a friend who likes to buy his meat in bulk, we bought a whole lamb from a local farm and a whole side of grass-fed beef rump.

We carted our two esky-fulls of meat home and spent an hour or so dividing the meat into bags. There was bags of cutlets (I used to love these as kids, but sadly they became trendy and have been outside the budget until now), a bag of lamb shanks, four leg roasts, huge ribs, chops and a bag of scraps for the dogs. On Daniel's instructions we didn't get any liver or kidney, but I'm going to ask for them next time. Sorry Daniel.

The beef rump was cut into steaks, cubes and stir fry pieces. I'm only just starting to learn about meat, but the creamy fat and marbling is supposed to be a good thing. And thank goodness for a sharp knife.

I had never thought bulk meat could be such an enjoyable process of preparing, bagging and popping (or cramming) in the freezer. It was a joint effort between the two of us.

That night we enjoyed a barbeque of lamb chops, cutlets and steak. The next night we enjoyed a roast lamb dinner. Then cutlets the next. I think we need to slow down! But the thing is, I don't think I've ever had such delicious and tender meat. The difference in taste and tenderness was amazing. I've never been a meat and three veg type person, even though it was what I was brought up on. But I think I'm converted.

Not wanting any to go to waste I have started saving meat dripping which have already made the tastiest and crunchiest roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding.

So I am hoping that this meat will last us quite some time. Trouble being, with so much meat to choose from, and it being so delicious, it may not last all that long in this house.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

on shopping and diy haircuts

In what sometimes feels a little like a "former life" to me, but was in fact only four or five years ago, I  had a hobby. I loved to shop.  I had fear of being caught out of the style loop.  My "hobby" involved a weekly or sometimes twice weekly visit to my local giant shopping centre (in our Wollongong days).  Clothes, clothes, more clothes, and often shoes. I loved to shop. Though I would not say I had a full blown shopping addiction, I do think I had a subtle form of it. There was no credit card debt racked up and I did it within our means (mostly), but I think the hidden cost in all this was the disgruntled little kid's that had been dragged around the shops all day, as well as the wasted savings. Clothes that were designed to be disposable and were often discarded at the end of the season. I never stopped to think about how wasteful and unsustainable this really was. It had become one of the most important things in my life. My main source of recreation, and the more I shopped the more I felt like shopping. It was what most people I knew did. It was "normal". But I do believe it was filling some kind of void.

a leisurely day of shopping while on holidays - at least I still have the dress

We moved to Canberra. The shopping was good and I embraced it. I devoured fashion magazines. Sales catalogues warranted a sit down and cup of coffee. But one day I stumbled on this book (saying something about my mindset at the time) at one of those discounted store displays. Nothing truly groundbreaking, but it was a huge eye opener for me. It talked about getting connected with your food by visiting farmers markets and growing your own food.

So I found a local farmers market and began taking the family out every Sunday morning. We would come home every Sunday lunch time and we would break open the local sourdough and olives and I would cook with the beautiful fresh vegetables, the likes of which I had never tasted before. I'd always enjoyed cooking, but there is nothing like cooking with exceptional ingredients.

It wasn't long before I started my own vegie garden in the tiny backyard of our unit. I began making bread and most of the kid's snacks. I learned about the dangers of processed foods and stopped buying low fat anything. It was all this that pushed us into the direction of wanting to have a little land. To be able to grown vegetables and fruit trees. Some space for the kid's to run around outside. Not too long afterwards we purchased our acre and I think you know the rest of the story.

I am no longer what I would consider "in fashion". I rarely shop in new shops anymore and I think I've been to a big shopping centre once in the past twelve months. I still love clothes but now most of my clothes shopping is done in op shops, and I have plans for sewing up some summer clothes for myself. My wardrobe is a little challenging right now, during the breastfeeding phase, but I'm learning not to equate worth with fashionable-ness. When you ignore that hunger to acquire "stuff", it slowly goes away, leaving you with freedom in your life to be yourself.

And yes, I cut my own hair last week in a moment of vanity induced desperation. My hair had thinned so much after I had Violet, and it was just too hard to get to the hairdresser. But it's not too bad. Just don't mind the extra make up I popped on for the benefit of Photo Booth.

And the void I mentioned before? I think my void has been filled by a simpler approach to life. Less things, a little more work, but satisfaction in the creativity of cooking, learning to sew, knit and garden.