Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sourdough for an inland beach wedding

I have always loved weddings.  It has been almost 13 years since Terry and I tied the knot but that doesn't stop me from taking the occasional peek at wedding photography blogs.  My two favourites are here and here just to get you in the mood.

Almost 12 months ago a girl named Summa asked me to make the bread for her wedding.   As the year progressed the plan changed from large loaves to individual dinner rolls for each guest.

Last Friday, armed with almost 5 kg of active sourdough starter, 9 kg of bread flour and just enough salt and water I started working towards producing 200 dinner rolls.  My afternoon fell into the steady, comforting rhythm that the bread people out there will understand.

On Saturday morning I was calm and ready for a few hours of solid baking.  Annabelle, George and I then had the privilege of delivering the finished product to a particularly stunning lakeside marquee.

With the bread delivery taken care of we enjoyed a simple beach picnic and a paddle in the water.  The temperature was rising towards 40°C but it was cool and tranquil near the water.  These moments sitting in the shade reminded me of just how beautiful our part of the world can be and how fortunate I am. 

All the very best wishes for the future Summa and Nathan and I hope you managed to eat your bread rolls on the night!


PS I want to be a baker when I grow up.

Do you love weddings?
Do you love making bread?
Or is it just me?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Garlic, the good stuff

I have been waiting patiently since April to harvest my garlic crop.  Finally, last week I could wait no longer and in no time at all I had unearthed around 100 bulbs from the soil.  

Originally I planted 5 different varieties all purchased from the Diggers Club.  Judging on size, appearance and overall plant health I would say the two most successful varieties have been Italian Purple and Italian Red.  We have only taste tested a small amount so far, the rest have been strung up to dry.


In keeping with my garlic harvest tradition I made this bread with a loaf freshly baked in our new wood oven.

Earlier this month I painstakingly transported a piece of very special butter home from Adelaide after it had survived a whole day sitting at a conference in a ‘coolie’ bag.  The interstate transportation of butter is another whole story.  Luscious butter teamed with fresh basil and garlic produced this indulgent loaf.

Having access to an abundant supply of my own garlic makes me very happy and content.  Some lucky friends might even get a pungent piece for Christmas.

Do you share my love for garlic?
Do you occasionally set yourself a transportation challenge with food?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The wood oven project

At the end of our verandah now stands a wood oven and an open fireplace.  The natural stone looks as if it has stood proudly in place forever and smoky smell has already seeped into our surrounds.

Earlier this year we deliberated over a family holiday to King Island or an outdoor wood oven and the wood oven was the eventual winner.

We were fortunate enough to cross paths with a man who calls himself Ossie.  He is almost 70 and has been bricklaying since he was 15.  Ossie is the quintessential Aussie character,  full of stories and knowledge collected over a colourful lifetime of manual work, fishing, family and mateship.  Put simply he was the perfect man for the job.

The construction took longer than we expected but what we now have is a structure that has been built by hand from the ground up.  The stone, which was collected from a ruin on our property will be a constant reminder of the history that surrounds us.

On the night the job was finished we lit a small fire in the oven and cooked a simple meal of grilled homemade sausages and beef ribs served with salad and sourdough.  In amongst the concrete dust and rubble Annabelle spontaneously picked a bunch of roses for the table.  We had a few drinks with Ossie and reflected on bricklaying, beautiful stone, life and the tenderness of the beef ribs.

We have copper pipes within the roof of the oven to heat water.  We also have plans for a smoke box within the chimney to smoke food with.  Already our new infrastructure is proving to be very versatile.

There is something special about cooking with fire isn't there?
It is really about getting back to basics with cooking.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Eat Drink Blog 2012

Two things happened to me last Saturday.  Firstly it marked 12 months since I started my blog adventure.  The second was that I found myself on the pool deck of the Adelaide Hilton enjoying a cold South Australian beer, tempting food and the company of 80 other enthusiastic food bloggers who had gathered for Eat Drink Blog 2012

To get things started on Saturday we took a guided tour of the Adelaide Central Market.  Celeste was our bubbly tour guide and as we weaved our way through the market we enjoyed some samples and spoke to generous stall holders who were obviously having a busy Saturday trading.

In the afternoon some delegates enjoyed winery tours of either the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale.  I chose to participate in a Food Writing Workshop with the talented Dianne Jacob.  Dianne made me realise that I could put a lot more thought into my writing and I came away feeling very impressed with the spontaneous creativity of some of my fellow bloggers.

The balmy Adelaide evening provided the perfect atmosphere for the Eat Drink Blog dinner at the Hilton.  We were greeted with the sight and unmistakable smell of a whole lamb on a spit which set the tone for a special evening. 

I will not attempt to recite every dish but Dennis Leslie and his team cooked up a Latin American inspired feast topped off with two glistening Haigh's chocolate fountains.  My fondest memory of the dinner was having the opportunity to chat with old and new blogging friends, most of whom I had only just met in real life.

In the early hours of Sunday morning Twitter told me that my favourite Adelaide bakery would be supplying our breakfast.  I knew immediately that it was going to be an extraordinary day.

Again, I am not going to attempt to cover all of the valuable information we received.  Perhaps one thing I learnt is that I still have so much to learn! Finding a balance that works for your blog and keeping your blog authentic was a reoccurring theme in most of the presentations.

The Local and Seasonal presentation by Simon Bryant and Tammi Jonas, chaired by Amanda McInerney was particularly relevant and interesting to me as a farming person.  Both Simon and Tammi spoke of the importance of eating locally and seasonally and making informed choices when it comes to eating, particularly in regards to meat.  The subject of meat sparked a lively discussion amongst the speakers and delegates.   

Simon of Simon Food Favourites captured the movement and excitement of the weekend perfectly in this video.  Enjoy. 

Thank you to the hard working committee for providing us with this experience.  My mind is still buzzing and I feel very fortunate to have been involved in Eat Drink Blog 2012.

Amanda McInerney (co-chair) Lambs' Ears and Honey
Christina Soong-Kroeger (co-chair) Hungry Australian
Alex Prichard Eating Adelaide  
Celeste Wong Travelling in MaryJanes
Erin Brooks She Cooks, She Gardens
Kirsty Dummin SmithThe Natural Foodie
Natasha Stewart Playing House

 *I would also like to thank my friend Mel from The Adventures of Miss Piggy for initially telling me about this gathering otherwise it may have completely passed me by.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In My Kitchen November 2012

Welcome to another little tour of my kitchen.

This post had to start with a photo of amazing chocolate made by Celia.  I was fortunate enough to win 500 grams of dark chocolate goodness in Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's Million giveaway.  I would have been happy with one block but we have been savouring no less than 6 different chocolate blends.  This was a very generous giveaway.  Visit Celia's latest blog post for more chocolate treats!

Two lovely old teapots thrifted by my husband on a recent trip to country South Australia.  The floral arrangements were put together by our children.

Fresh strawberries picked straight from our garden.  I cannot believe how good these taste and smell. 

A bowl of freshly set home made yoghurt.  As a family we consume a lot of yoghurt and recently I have been making my own.  It really is easy and is something I should have been doing years ago.

If you are not really into meat you may want to look away for the next photo.

We recently slaughtered a heifer* which will keep us supplied with beef for many months.  The home butchering and meat preparation is something Terry normally handles but this time I decided to take care of the the tongue and tail myself.  I treated the tongue in a similar way to corned beef by soaking it in a brine solution and then simmering it slowly.   The taste reminded me of corned beef although the texture was more gelatinous.  

The tail was put into a big pot along with the beef cheeks, plenty of vegetables, stock and seasoning and cooked very slowly until the meat almost came off the tail bones.  This was a hearty and delicious meal.

Lastly, a test batch of white sourdough dinner rolls.  Next month I am making 210 of these for a wedding.  I cannot wait to get stuck into a big bread project.

What is happening in your kitchen at the moment?
Please share!

*Heifer: a cow under three years of age which has not yet had a calf.