Feeds:
Posts
Comments

We’re having a very mild Autumn here in Sydney, and our messy garden is thriving on the mix of rain and sunshine.

We’re growing a paisley shaped lemon (just one, photo below), as well as our first ever Tahitian limes (above)…

Some of you might recall our garden updates from a couple of years ago with photo after photo of just one solitary lemon on our tree. There are now more than sixty on there (I lost count after that)…

Our bed of greens has nearly run its course, but we’ve eaten heaps of rainbow chard and bok choy from it, as well as perennial leeks and red amaranth…

As the other plants start to die back, the continental parsley has returned with gusto…

Our mutant jap pumpkin/trombie squash has gone completely mental. It’s now rambling over three beds and trying to colonise the pathways…

We have four giant pumpkins maturing in the top bed…

…and a regular supply of zucchini-like babies…

The large yellow flowers brighten up the garden…

We’ve managed to keep the squash away from the camellias this year (last year the trombies scrambled all over them). This one is just starting to flower…

All five chooks seem to be doing quite well. They’re laying a couple of eggs a day between them, which is plenty for us…

Taking photos of our hens involves pointing the camera at them, snapping two hundred shots, and hoping for the best.

Amber continues to rule the roost. She’s very bossy…

We’re not supposed to play favourites, but Mrs Gronkle is so endearing and inquisitive that she’s impossible not to love…

She pops up for a chat whenever she sees us…

(Not Quite) Lorraine stands out with her distinctive plumage…

She has the fluffiest white pants of the flock…

Baby Esme is all grown up, but still has her trademark perky tail…

And little Billie doesn’t seem to be laying at the moment (we can usually tell by their combs) – she’s clearly the youngest and sits at the bottom of the pecking order…

The yellow cherry tomatoes continue to flourish, despite the cooler weather. They’re absolutely delicious, and I love the fact that Linda found the seeds in a national park

Surprisingly, we still have basil growing…

Being rich is…having excess basil to feed to the chickens…

Our self-sown marigolds continue to flower…

Thanks to Sir David (Attenborough), we knew that this little visitor was a damselfly rather than a dragonfly – the former fold their wings in, but the latter don’t…

Our pond is so full of aquatic plants that we can no longer see the water. We have a couple of resident Brown-Striped frogs, whom we hear most nights…

Our kitchen bench is filled with green leaves, oregano prunings and fallen lemons…

How are things going in your garden this month?

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful Easter! We’ve had a lovely break, and I’ve spent most of it baking, so there are a string of bread posts to follow!

. . . . .

I’ve realised that the main reason I buy cookbooks these days is not for the recipes.

After all, I have a stack of cookbooks with more recipes in them than I could ever make. Instead, I now buy them – usually in ebook format – because I like the author, and want to support what they’re doing. It’s the fifty year old’s equivalent of buying a band t-shirt and an album at a live gig.

That was the case with this book by Josey Baker, whose surname actually is Baker, and who started his mad bread baking journey only a few years ago. If I lived in San Francisco, I’d drive over and buy a loaf from his bakery, but as I don’t, picking up his ebook from Amazon for $10 feels like the next best thing.

I first came across his video on Jarkko’s Bread Magazine website. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy…

. . . . .

. . . . .

Josey’s book is chatty and full of photos. It’s written as a series of lessons – starting from a basic yeasted loaf, all the way up to elegant sourdoughs that take days to make. For me, there are recipes to attempt as they’re written (like the gluten-free Adventure bread, although finding gf oats here can be tricky), and yet others to take inspiration from and adapt to my own lazy way of baking.

As an e-book, it reads well on the iPad, and all the recipes and chapters are hyperlinked, making navigation pretty easy. The font size varies a bit, but that’s a minor issue, and there are plenty of step by step photos on shaping and dough handling.

I liked Josey’s idea of baking balls of filled dough in muffin tins to make what he calls “pocketbreads”. I adapted his B(L)T recipe and stuffed my latest batch of sourdough with sundried tomatoes and crispy bacon, but you could use whatever bread dough you have on hand. Here’s my recipe…

  • 300g active sourdough starter (fed at a ratio of one cup water to one cup flour)
  • 600g water
  • 500g bakers/bread flour
  • 500g Semola Rimacinata di Grano Duro (fine durum wheat semolina flour)
  • 18g fine sea salt
  • 120g (combined) of crispy fried bacon and sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • fine polenta/cornmeal for dusting

1. Mix all the ingredients together (except the cornmeal) in a large mixing bowl, squelching them together until well combined.  Scrape off your fingers, cover the bowl and allow to rest for half an hour.

2. Uncover and knead briefly in the bowl for a minute, then cover again and allow to prove until doubled in size.

3. Turn the risen dough onto a lightly oiled bench and give it a few folds. Using scales, divide the dough into 18 x 110g pieces (some might be a bit larger). Shape each piece of dough into a tight ball, then roll each ball in cornmeal.

4. Line 18 holes of muffin pans with paper liners, and spray each liner with oil (I forgot to, and had to cut bits of paper off my finished pocketbreads). If your muffin tins are in better condition than mine, you could just spray them directly with oil. Place each cornmeal-coated ball into a hole, cover (I used the lids from my cake carriers), and allow to prove a second time.

5. Preheat oven to 240C with fan. Once the rolls have risen, slash a cross into the top of each one and spritz the tops with water. Place the muffin tins in the oven, reducing the temperature to 220C with fan at the same time. Bake for 15 minutes, then shuffle the trays around, reduce heat to 175C with fan, and bake for a further 15 minutes more, or until well browned.  Allow to cool before scoffing.

. . . . .

These are seriously cute – like little Alice in Wonderland loaves – and a bit too easy to eat. The muffin pans work well, providing an easier option than shaping individual rolls, and the cornmeal coating gives the crust an appealing crispiness (and allows for pleasing alliteration).

If you’re looking for more breadspiration, you might enjoy Jarkko Laine’s digital BREAD Magazine. It’s available by email subscription at a very reasonable price (I bought a 2014 subscription for $8, and all of last year’s copies for $10). You can also download all four editions from 2012 for free.

The magazine has superb photos, interviews with artisan bakers, tips on how to improve your loaves, breads from all over the world, and more. Every time I read it, I find myself rushing into the kitchen to bake!

I wrote this bagel tutorial for friends in 2008, a year before we started FJALC. These days we bake a sourdough version as well, but the yeasted ones still make regular weekend appearances. PS. If you do make these, try to use scales rather than cup measures – you’ll get a much better result!

. . . . .

About a year ago, I put together a tutorial for some friends on making bagels at home. I thought it might be nice to upload it here, before it disappears into the ether. It’s really a fun process, if somewhat laborious , and the finished bagels are definitely worth it! Lots of photos to follow, as I think it can be hard to visualise the process otherwise.

The original recipe is based on one from the New York Cookbook by Molly O’Neill, although it’s been tweaked to reduce the amount of salt, and to include malt extract instead of brown sugar. Note that this recipe is for yeasted bagels; if you’d prefer to make a sourdough version, the recipe is here.

Disclaimer: I am neither Jewish nor American, so have never had an “authentic” bagel. Having said that, friends who are native NYers have told me that these bagels make them happy!

Ingredients :

  • 4 cups (600g) bread or bakers flour
  • 1½ tsps (10g) fine sea salt
  • 1 sachet dry yeast (mine had 8g in it)
  • 3 tsps (25g) malt extract (original recipe called for 3 tsps brown sugar)
  • 1½ cups (375ml) filtered water

1. In one mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In another, whisk together water, yeast and malt extract.

2. Mix flour mix into water/yeast mix. Mix together initially with a wooden spoon or spatula, and then get your clean hand right in to mix it all together. Squish the mix in your fingers to make sure it’s all evenly combined.

3. Spray a little oil on the bench, and turn the dough out, scraping out any stuck bits. Knead the dough for 5 minutes or so.

4. Oil the mixing bowl you had the dough in, shape the dough into a ball, and put it back in the bowl to rise. Cover and leave it for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

5. Tip the risen dough out onto the re-oiled bench, and punch it down. Divide into 10 equal pieces (about 100g each), and shape into balls. Then stick your finger in the middle of the ball, and twirl the dough around your index fingers.

6. Shape the dough more by squeezing the “tyre” in the palms of your hands. You want to make the hole big.

7. Place “tyres” onto baking paper on the bench, dust with a little flour, cover with a clean tea towel, and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Halfway through, put the kettle on to get the hot water ready. Also, preheat oven to 400F (200C) fan-forced.

8. Fill a wide shallow pan with boiling water, with 1 Tbsp salt and 1 Tbsp malt syrup added. Bring to a rolling boil, and add bagels gently – don’t overcrowd. Boil or kettle the bagels for 1½ minutes on each side, turning them with a plastic slide, then fish them out and drain them on a rack covered with a clean teatowel.

9. Gently dry the bagels with a clean, lint-free towel (I use a cotton/linen napkin). Place onto baking tray lined with Bake, and brush with eggwash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water), then sprinkle on toppings.

10. Bake in oven for 12 minutes, then rotate the tray to brown evenly. Bake for a total of about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

=

© copyright 2009 by Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. All rights reserved.

I made two of these blankets for Pete’s mum before she passed away in 2011. This wasn’t a post I’d intended to write, but just before my sister-in-law arrived to pick up the blanket, I quickly took a few photos in case I needed to replicate it. As I hadn’t been able to find anything on the internet about these, I thought it might be useful to others, so I wrote it up. It makes me happy (and sad) that the original post continues to get dozens of hits every week.

. . . . .

This is a sensory blanket.

We have a family member suffering from advanced dementia, and this is the second blanket I’ve made for her.  The first one was the size of a cot blanket, whereas this one is lap sized, and will hopefully provide both warmth and distraction.

Dementia, particularly as it advances, is an incredibly tragic and heartbreaking disease.  For some sufferers, one of the later symptoms is an almost constant need to touch and fiddle with things, which is where these blankets, also known as fidget blankets, can help.  The ones I’ve made aren’t particularly pretty, but as there isn’t a lot written about them on the internet,  I wanted to share mine with you in case others with loved ones with a similar condition might find the idea useful.

In this larger piece, I’ve sewn bits and pieces (found in my sewing room) onto the upper edge of the blanket.  The base is made of red polarfleece, which is both warm and lightweight.  I’ve tried to work in a combination of elements that allow “doing” with some that are designed just for “touching”.

There is a long zip pocket for opening and closing, as well as a button flap (the button is sewn on with dental floss for security)…

A small drawstring bag is half-stitched in, enabling it to be opened and closed…

On the tactile front, I’ve sewn in a patch of non-slip fabric, originally bought for the soles of baby shoes (which goes to show how long it’s been in my sewing room), and a patch of embossed velvet.  For added interest, I’ve sewn a small triangle into the velvet, and trapuntoed it from the back to create a little raised pillow…

A scrap of fur salvaged from Reverse Garbage…

…and some stiff braid add textural interest…

This old snap-lock came from Big Boy’s baby sling!  I’ve also added little pieces of suede fringing…

As I mentioned, this is the second blanket – the first, smaller one was filled with many of the same components, and has been very successful.

I’m hoping this one will provide some comfort as well.

Even though I’m taking a break, I couldn’t not have an Easter chocolate post! This is the second of the two we wrote in 2012 (the first is here). If you’d like to try your hand at making chocolates this year, you might find our Chocolate #101: Tempering at Home post useful. Have a fabulous Easter!

. . . . .

We made a batch of experimental Easter chocolates this year, using Callebaut white and a blend of Callebaut 811 (54%) and 70% dark.

The white chocolate was tempered first, drizzled into the moulds, then allowed to set up in the fridge.  The tempered dark chocolate was then ladled over the white.  We made two large eggs – I particularly love how the white and dark mingled in the bottom one to form a lighter shade of brown…

Two-toned lollipops were made by highlighting the design features in white chocolate first, using a small paintbrush…

The bows on these eggs took several coats of white chocolate…

And with all the leftover bits and pieces…

…I made a new cake!  Recipe to follow soon…

Wishing you all a joyous, chocolate-filled Easter!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,924 other followers

%d bloggers like this: