Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sourdough experiments

Over the years I have cooked a lot of sourdough using two basics methods.  My dough proves in bannetons and then it is cooked directly on the floor of our wood oven or directly on a layer of terracotta tiles that live permanently in our gas oven.

I know a lot of fellow bread friends, including Celia sometimes cook their bread in various pots with a lid.  Recently I decided I needed to try this method for myself.

My pots of choice were two cast iron camp ovens which we use regularly in our wood oven for cooking almost everything.  Camp ovens are hardy enough to withstand high temperatures, they hold their heat for long periods and are perfectly suited to the sometimes unforgiving world of wood oven cooking.  They are also heavy and need to be handled with care, especially when they are hot.  Enter, welding gloves. 

On this occasion I cooked four loaves directly on the wood oven floor and placed two loaves into cold camp ovens with the lids on.  The camp oven bread and the bread that cooked directly on the floor all went into the hot oven together. 

The loaves that were placed directly on the floor cooked and rose faster than their counterparts in the camp ovens.  The loaves in the camp ovens spread out more and didn’t achieve the height of the other loaves.   The camp oven bread also developed a more golden colour.  The bases of the camp oven loaves were perfect thanks to an extra layer of protection from the wood oven floor.  Perhaps my biggest challenge with wood oven bread is preventing the bases from burning.

Overall, I didn’t find a huge difference in the taste or crumb of these loaves.  Although our camp ovens are always clean and thoroughly seasoned perhaps the loaves had a hint of lamb shanks or slow roasted goat about them.  Not altogether a bad thing.    

For anyone who is interested, the loaves on either end of this line up were from the camp ovens and the four loaves in the middle were cooked directly on the floor of the wood oven. 

Happy Sunday friends, I hope you are baking something tasty x

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pondering and pretty things

I have been thinking about a lot of things lately.

No matter how many babies are born, it is always a miracle.  When a special little girl recently entered the world I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic as I put her gift together. 

We have been spending some time with a wise horsewomen who has been teaching us about the basics of natural horsemanship.  This is a new way of thinking for us and along the way an easy friendship has developed.  It is wonderful when new things lead us to like minded people and exciting opportunities.  

Christmas can be a special time but it can also be a time of ridiculous excess and family tension.  I pondered all of this while I was making a simple wreath from a soft gum tree twig one hot afternoon.  

My friend Zara is very talented with the sewing machine, amongst other crafty things.  Have you ever seen Australian themed tea towels look so pretty?  These cushions suit our home perfectly.  Thank you Zara, these colours brighten my day every time I look at them.

This year my garlic bulbs are not particularly large, but they still smell delicious.  Do I need to even say how much I detest seeing Chinese garlic in the supermarket? 

In a quiet corner of my kitchen I have some beautiful beeswax candles given to me by a special friend.  Also, some pretty reading material from the talented Lunch Lady and Fete magazine. Both of these magazines are printed on delicious, thick paper which I love.  

I listen to more music now that I have in years.  My taste is varied to say the least.  I like a little bit of country both old and new, I love the big hits from the '80s but I also listen to Triple J  whenever I can.  Guitar Town was released by Steve Earle in 1986.  I hadn’t seen the video until recently; I do love an old school country tune to get my toes tapping.  Check out the styles and the classic tour bus in the video.  

What are you thinking about, friends?

Garlic, horses, music or Christmas?  

Wishing you peace this week x

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

In My Kitchen, November 2015

Lately things have been fairly simple in my kitchen.  While some of the food we eat isn't necessarily quick to prepare it all contains simple ingredients.  Sourdough baking and vegetable growing are entwined in the rhythm of our life and the processes have become second nature over the years. 

I don't think I will ever get tired of preparing, baking, eating and photographing bread. 

Sourdough cinnamon buns made using Brydie's recipe.  My dough turned out to be quite wet and sticky and so my shaping was not nearly as neat or creative as Brydie's but they still filled my kitchen with that unmistakable smell of cinnamon, bread, butter and goodness. 

On a dusty shelf in an outback shed holding long forgotten nails, nuts and bolts, my husband found this gorgeous old ice cream tin and bowl.  The little bowl is by Johnson Bros of England and I have it on good authority that this particular shape is quite rare in the world of op-shops and Johnson collectables. 

Sourdough pizza topped with home cured olives and fresh spinach and thyme from the garden.  

A circle of spring goodness, baby zucchinis, asparagus and thyme from the garden.  

In our house it is unthinkable to run out of yoghurt.  It is comforting to know that when the supply runs low it doesn't take much effort to make a bowl of silky, creamy yoghurt to keep everyone happy.  

Last summer I grew chickpeas and with some help from Mum and the kids we harvested enough peas to eat and some to sow again this year.  My hand model had been picking mulberries in case you hadn't guessed.  I have found chickpeas make a hardy green manure crop to grow in the summer and picking the peas is a bonus. 

Are you keeping things simple in your kitchen?

I hope the middle of your week is full of good things.  

As usual I am linking up with Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Please visit her kitchen and other kitchens around the world, if you get a chance.