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I think it’s fair to say that I drive my husband bonkers.

On a regular basis.

There is a LOT of salt in our house at the moment.

You see, I couldn’t…couldn’t…pass up the opportunity to buy a second torn 25kg bag of Olsson’s Australian kiln dried flossy salt for $5. I know you all laughed heartily when I bought the first one six months ago, but I’ve given away and used up more than half of it. I’ve baked mountains of bread, made a dozen jars of preserved lemons, and little pots of salt hand scrub now sit at every sink.

So when I passed this bag on the clearance pallet at Southern Cross Supplies, I didn’t even hesitate…

After the initial eye-roll, the ever patient one helped me to pack it all into manageable 2kg bags…

So…then I had twelve bags, plus the five bags leftover from the first lot. Storing it required a little creativity, but I finally managed to get it all put away. It does, I’ll admit, look suspiciously like an illegal drug stash…

There are now bags of flossy salt hidden all over the house. Pete is unimpressed. We had this conversation last night:

Me: “I’m a wife with a LOT of salt. Get it? A LOT of salt. It’s a biblical reference..”

Pete: “I get it…and you need to stop saying it..”

Me: “I’m HILARIOUS, right?

Pete: “I’m leaving the room now..”

Me: “Don’t look back!”

Seriously, the joke alone was worth $5. The salt was an added bonus!

Solvitur ambulando – “it is solved by walking”

. . . . .

It’s my walkaversary!

I started recording my daily steps on my phone on the 14th August 2016, with the aim of walking at least 8,000 per day. It’s now a year later and I haven’t missed a single day.

It’s swings and roundabouts, of course – my absolute minimum on any given day is 5,000 steps (which I only allow myself if I’m sick or the weather is particularly inclement) but on most days, I’ll manage more than 8,000.

Here are my stats for the year – 3,366,509 steps walked and 1,953km covered. That’s a daily average of 9,223 steps and 5.35km per day

Big Boy still walks with me about four mornings out of seven.

We don’t walk fast – the process is meditative as much as physical – and I don’t want to mess up my stats by incurring an injury (yes, I know that makes me sound like an old woman). We are incredibly blessed to be able to stroll by the sea every morning, often in time to watch the sunrise…

. . . . .

There is almost always a light show on display…

. . . . .

Our walking route takes us along the Iron Cove Bay Run…

…and then back to Hawthorne Canal and the Greenway…

. . . . .

On weekends, I’ll often walk in the city – starting at one end and working my way down to the Harbour. There’s always so much to see…

. . . . .

To celebrate my walkaversary, I went for an extra long walk to Birkenhead Point with my friend Carol, where I bought myself a new pair of Merrell walking shoes…

Do you go for daily walks? I’d love to know where your steps take you – hopefully you enjoy them as much as I do! ♥

Baking sourdough bread has become so easy that it feels effortless.

It doesn’t matter if I’m sick or tired or grumpy or overwhelmed (don’t worry, I’m not), there is always bread. It’s literally just minutes of hands-on work. But effortless doesn’t, shouldn’t and mustn’t mean joyless. To this day, thousands of loaves in, I still get a thrill when I lift the lid off an enamel roaster and see the risen loaf.

Unlike other household “chores”, baking bread has never become mundane or boring. I’m not quite sure why that is, but I suspect a large part of it lies in the enthusiasm with which the loaves are consumed.

These days I hardly ever do a small bake anymore – it feels wasteful to run Bobby II for a single loaf. My standard batch produces six slow-proved high hydration loaves for a total flour cost of $2.35 and $1 in electricity. This gives us two loaves to eat and four to share with our lovely neighbours. How cool is it that so much food can be produced for less than the cost of a takeaway coffee?

Last week I picked up a torn 12.5kg bag of bakers flour off the clearance pallet at Southern Cross supplies for $5, so the six loaves below cost me just 81c (technically $0.8072) in flour and flossy salt. I was pretty excited about that…

Five of those loaves went out to neighbours, fabric wrapped of course

You see, whilst baking sourdough makes me happy, it’s the sharing of it that brings me joy. Which is why I cheerfully bake twice a week, rather than simply stocking up the freezer once a month.

Of course, it’s also hard to beat a chicken and mayo sandwich with backyard lettuce on freshly baked bread…

Last week, Big Boy’s old school friend Gabby moved into an apartment around the corner. We’ve known him since he was nine years old and it was with great excitement that we dropped around a furoshiki-wrapped loaf as a housewarming gift. He didn’t have a knife or a plate at that stage, so I suspect he just ate it like a caveman…

The following evening, the indigo cloth came back wrapped around a six-shot Negroni cocktail in a jar (I love that The Screaming Mongoose unpacked his cocktail shaker before his cutlery)…

I suspect it’s contraindicated, but I’m sure it helped with the shocking head cold I had at the time…

. . . . .

If you’d like to bake and share, you might be interested in our basic yeasted bread tutorial or, if you have access to some starter, the basic sourdough tutorial and the overnight sourdough tutorial. Or try our step by step focaccia for 23 year olds – it’s the perfect treat to take to a party!

Sorry folks, I don’t have any dried Priscilla starter at the moment. I’ll let you know when I have more to share!

It’s International Scone Week!

I was keen to participate in Tandy’s round up, but with the imminent arrival of family, I wasn’t sure if I’d have time. Then it occurred to me that if I could make pastry in a food processor, maybe scones might work as well.

I was very chuffed with how these turned out – they didn’t rise as well as gently handled dough, but they were tender and delicious nonetheless. Here’s how I reworked our old recipe:

  • 300g (2 cups) plain (AP) flour
  • 8g (2 generous teaspoons) baking powder
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 75g (5 US tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 50g (¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 125ml (½ cup) milk*
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice*
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 1 egg extra, for glazing

*The original recipe uses buttermilk but I didn’t have any, so I substituted milk and lemon juice. Stir the juice into the milk and let it stand for a couple of minutes before using.

1. Preheat the oven to 190C or 175C with fan. In the large bowl of a food processor, pour in the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Pulse to combine. There’s no need to sift anything. Add the cold butter, cut into small pieces, and pulse again until combined. The texture should be similar to fine bread crumbs.

2. Stir together the milk and juice, then whisk in the egg. Add the liquid into the food processor bowl and pulse very briefly until everything just comes together.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench and very gently shape into a thick rectangle. Cut into six scones and lay them in a parchment lined tin.

4. Brush the tops with beaten egg yolk and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until risen and golden. If possible, eat while hot, smothered with butter and berry jam…

These were so quick and easy that I’ll probably make them this way from now on. I didn’t have to sift flour, or rub in butter, or dust a cutter, or clean up a huge mess at the end. So…are you baking scones this week too?

There are many different furoshiki wrapping techniques, but I only seem to use three on a regular basis – two for carrying goods and one to BYO wine to restaurants.

It’s great fun to have an instruction book open and practise the fancier folds, but when I’m out and about, it’s only the basic ones I can remember. Along with the simple bag (tutorial here), this library bag is my other go-to wrap.

It’s perfect for books, tablets, laptops, slabs of focaccia or boxes of Lego – anything with a roughly rectangular shape. You only need to know how to tie a square knot, which is definitely worth mastering, as it’s strong and won’t slip undone (instructions below from the excellent Pixieladies’ Furoshiki Fabric Wraps)…

. . . . .

Start by laying a large furoshiki face down in a diamond shape. Place your book with the spine at the halfway mark…

Fold the bottom corner up to enclose the book…

Fold the two side corners in and tie a square (reef) knot…

Now tie a square (reef) knot at the top and your bag is finished!

It has a much more elegant look than the simple bag and sits comfortably in your hand or on your elbow…

I use a smaller square to wrap loaves of sourdough for delivery to the neighbours. If they’re not home, the bag sits flat on a doorknob…

. . . . .

Here’s a quick way to make a furoshiki by sewing two tea towels together. The ones from Daiso (called Tenugui) are cute, made in Japan and cheap ($2.80 each)…

It takes just minutes to machine two together, then to trim and hem one edge to form  a square…

The smaller size is ideal for my iPad, or for wrapping up loaves of sourdough or plates of food…

. . . . .

I’m having enormous fun with this new hobby! If you’d like to know more about furoshiki and the ancient art of Japanese fabric wrapping, you might enjoy this earlier post, or our tutorial on how to tie a simple shopping bag.

With the large supermarkets phasing out single-use plastic bags from June next year, there’s never been a better time to get knotting!

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