Saturday, July 31, 2010

Homemade yoghurt

Nothing beats homemade yoghurt, well maybe some of the organic flavoured yoghurts come close.

After making a few dud batches of yoghurt, I decided that a break was in order. This week I made my first batch in months, I don't know what I did but this is the best yoghurt I've ever made. Thick and creamy with a bit of tartness, it even has soft peaks forming when I spoon it into a bowl.

Fingers crossed I can replicate my success as I would love to make some quark with my next batch.

The method I use is very simple

1L of milk (I use pasturised local milk from Maleny or Kingaroy)
1/2 cup of gelatin free natural yoghurt (ideally keep some from your last batch)
1/2 cup of milk powder.

  • Pour the milk into a saucepan, whisk in the powdered milk then gently heat until 80C or when bubbles start forming around the edge of the saucepan.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool to 45C or until you can leave a clean finger in the milk for 10 seconds.
  • Whilst the milk is cooling, say about 10 minutes before it reaches 45C, heat a large thermos with hot water for 10 minutes.
  • Once the milk is cool enough add the natural yoghurt and mix well to combine, pour into the thermos, secure the lid and leave for at least 12 hours. I think the last lot sat for about 16 hours.
  • I mix the yoghurt in a bowl before pouring it into clean jars, allow to chill about 4 hours before using.
I found this method in the Reader's Digest 'Kitchen Handbook' and on the Down to Earth Forum .

Hope you have a lovely day

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cooking experiment part 2

On Sunday afternoon I made a batch of Lemon Yeast, supposedly Grandma Anderson's recipe. I have since found the exact same recipe, word for word in a 1930's edition WMU cookbook.

The photo below is after 36 hours, no action happening there. It just smelt like floury lemon water. I thought to myself, well the instructions said ready for use after 24 hours, so I gave it a whirl and made quarter of the original recipe. I had my suspicions that nothing would happen and I didn't want to waste so much flour.

After mixing allow to sit for 2 - 3 hours

Then knead for 20 minutes - looks nice and smooth, then allow to rest till well cracked.....?

After 2 hours resting, no cracking, just a well kneaded lump of play dough!

I let it sit overnight and the lump looked exactly the same this morning.

Of course I have to question why it didn't work
  1. Lack of warmth in my kitchen, I would imagine that most kitchens in the 30's and 40's would have had a wood stove thus keeping the kitchen warm.
  2. No wild yeast in the ferment, might be best to cover jar with an open weave cloth instead of a lid
  3. Not using a seasoned jar i.e one that has been used for yeast making before. (I read this in the WMU book)
I wonder if anyone still uses this type of yeast or a potato yeast? Perhaps a sourdough starter is similar to those homemade yeasts used in bygone days.

Oh well, it was a bit of fun, maybe I'll try again when the weather warms up.

Hope you have a lovely day

Monday, July 26, 2010

Catching up and saying thanks

Bit of a catch up post today. I've been a busy with work and generally trying not to spend too much time on the computer.

To my surprise I have been given a blog award for a blog with substance. Fancy, little old me with my brand new blog, I'm blushing as I type.

I have to fess up, this is the second time someone has given me this award. Being the shy and and easily embarrassed person that I am, I didn't follow up the first time (sorry Kimberly). So now I'll make this a double thank you.
I'm not sure that I'll be able to meet all the requirements to receive this award but I'll try.
  • Sum up your blogging philosophy, motivation and experience using 10 words -: Small steps to a simpler life, learning, creating and sharing.
  • Pass this award on to ten other blogs you feel have real substance -: OK this is where I'm going to pike out. The blogs on my side bar are all worthy of this award, please drop by and have a peak at their blogs.
Bit of a bread disaster yesterday, I tried making rye bread following Rhonda's great tutorial. Oh boy what a disaster it turned out to be, the only thing I did differently was to add a bit of gluten flour to the mix. I wouldn't have thought that would have made such a big difference. Anyway I'll keep trying, next time I'll make it by hand and use much less water.

After the earlier disaster, I decided to make some cornbread to have with the vegetable soup I was making for dinner. Thank goodness that turned out and tasted lovely.

Tastes great the next day too, spread with my chewy orange marmalade!

Next was some roasted pumpkin seeds, very moorish I must say and a great use of an otherwise discarded food item. Unless you are saving seeds or feeding them to the animals (great for expelling worms), whoops, sorry this is a food post :/

I found the idea and recipe here at the Greening of Gavin. I added pepper and a sprinkle of cumin to the mix. I forgot they were in the oven, so I guess they cooked for about 25 - 30 mins.

And last but not least my cooking experiment. Yesterday I spent way too much time looking at my Dad and Nana's collection of recipes, six books in total, mostly hand written or cut out from the paper, hundreds of recipes.
A recipe for Grandma Anderson's Lemon Yeast kept popping up in all the books, so I thought I'd give it a try. Hmmm looks interesting, according to the recipe it should be ready for use tonight. I'll keep you posted.

Hope you have a lovely day

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sewing...what sewing

You would think with a blog title like mine that sewing and crafts would be a prominent feature on these pages, sadly they're not.

For that past six months, gosh maybe even a year I've been experiencing sewers block or sewers constipation as I prefer to call it, everything is ready to go but nothing is happening.

Sure I've done a bit of sewing here and there, a couple of bags, two aprons, some hand sewing and mending. As for quilting or dressmaking, its a no go area.

I have a few theories for my lack of sewing enthusiasm; not enough space to lay out fabrics, sewing room too cluttered to swing a cat in, lame excuses I know.

The beautiful piece of fabric below is one of the main reasons I've stopped sewing, strange but true. Ages ago a dear friend asked me to turn this beautiful sari into a bed throw and cushion covers. Being the ever obliging friend I said sure, no problems. That was until I saw it, I thought to myself oh s**t, how am I going to cut this up without all the beading unraveling. My answer to the problem was to put it away in the cupboard and hope for a miracle, pathetic I know.

I think I've convinced myself that if I'm not working on this project then I shouldn't be doing any sewing at all. Does that make sense? Silly I know, I'm my own worst enemy. Anyway I've decided that its time to face the sewing demons, confront my fear of stuffing it up and just get started.

To help shock or shame me into action, I'm exposing my hoard of UFOs. If I can get the ball rolling with the sari then there will be no excuses with these unfinished quilts.

These just need to be quilted - angel wall hanging (was going to be a birthday present for my aunt) and three baby quilts (the baby's are too old for the quilts now)

Boarders need to be added and then quilted - queen bed size - Japanese fabrics, single bed size - Laurel Birch fabric, 9 patch pizazz wall hanging

These are still in the construction stage, applique butterfly quilt, kaleidoscope quilt and hand pieced quilt (started in 1993, first attempts at patchwork).

There are most probably a couple of others not mentioned here, I don't want to overwhelm or depress myself too much!
This is just the quilting stuff, I don't even want to think about my stash of dress fabrics or wool. Hmmm serious fabric and wool hoarder here!

Goals for this weekend - clean out sewing room and clear cutting tables.
Daily goals - try to spend one hour each day knitting and one hour of hand or machine sewing.

Watch this space for updates

Do you have many UFOs or are you a finish one project before moving on to the next sort of person? Do tell.....

Click on the photos for larger images

Monday, July 19, 2010

What a week

Lots of tears, difficult choices, time for reflection, remembering the happy times, kind words and thoughts from friends

I've finally made my way back after the past week, who would have thought a gimpy black lab could have made such an impact on my life. Thank you Utah, you were a blessing from the angels.

A big thanks to those who left comments this week, especially to Sue and Wendy for the wonderful poems about the loss a beloved furry friend.

I managed to do a little baking yesterday, the usual loaf of bread - light wholemeal and oat.

Special request from Tony was a fruit cake. I thought I'd give my Nana's favourite boiled fruit cake recipe a whirl, its been years since I've made this.

Here it is, the recipe was either cut out of The Courier Mail or The Telegraph and stuck on a piece of cardboard from a shoebox.

Click on the picture for the recipe. If you have problems reading it let me know.
A few notes on the recipe - I used 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, line the cake tin with two layers of paper, brown paper if possible. Daph cooked her cake at 350F/180C degrees, I would try 160C as the cake started to brown and cook to quickly. I cooked it for about an hour and 15 minutes.

If you fancy a little buttery french goodness then pop over to Down to Earth Forum and check out my Brioche tutorial in Adventures in Bread Making.

Hope you have a lovely day

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Hardest Decision

Yesterday my partner and I finally made the painfully difficult decision to have our beautiful boy Utah euthanised. Arthritis and other joint problems were taking their toll on his poor old body.

We always knew that it would be quality of life rather than quantity with Uie. He had developed into a swimmer puppy by three weeks of age (legs out like a parachute) and didn't learn to walk properly until he was about 6 weeks old. He had a hip replacement at 12 months of age, then had to have surgery again a year later, as the implant had moved. Really he was an orthopedic disaster. In spite of all his problems he had the most beautiful nature, he loved everyone and everyone loved him.

The sadness and emptiness I feel at the moment is rather overwhelming.

Goodbye my beautiful boy.....Rest in Peace

Utah - 27/08/1998 - 13/07/2010

Baking day

Today's bread is a light wholemeal and oat loaf.

295ml water / 1 1/4 cups*
25g butter / 2 tbpns*
6g salt / 1 tsp*
375g flour / 3 cups* I used half wholemeal
40g rolled oats / 1/2 cup*
25g brown sugar / 2 tbspns
6g active dry yeast / 1 1/2 tsp*

*American measurments

The original recipe is made in a bread machine. I just used the bread maker today for mixing and proving, then shaped by hand and baked in the oven. If you made it entirely by hand I think you would have to adjust the amount of water as it produced a very soft dough.

I think this would be a big hit with kids, its not too heavy, nice texture and seems to stay soft and fresh, lovely for sandwiches.

Hope you have a lovely day

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lazy Sunday

Not much happened here today. Our usual trip to the local market for fruit and veg. Then a quick stop at another market on the way home, in search of organic eggs. No eggs to be found, however the organic grain man was there so I got 5kg of lovely organic flour for bread making, much cheaper than the shop.

The markets are held every Sunday in the historical village of Old Petrie Town. They have a working blacksmith on site, fire brigade museum, working steam engines, pottery studio, wood fired bakery, lolly shop, craft stalls, books and records, plants, jams, fruit and veg, antiques and bric a brac.

When we first started going to this market the lolly shop made everything on site. They had candy stretching demos several times a day. A few years ago the ladies retired and everything changed.

Today we decided to have a wander around the grounds and look in at the community garden. It looks great, lovely and green, everything growing in a rambling sort of fashion.

A very large Moreton Bay Fig - that's Tony standing in the base of the trunk, not sure how old it is as I forgot to look at the sign

The community garden

This raised bed is decorated with pieces of pottery and terracotta faces made I think by the artists from the pottery studio

This is my style of garden, flowing and rambling, I just love it!

Hope you had a lovely weekend

Click on the images for a larger picture

Friday, July 9, 2010

What a whopper

No I can't take the credit for growing this gigantic strawberry. I found it in a punnet I bought on the weekend at my local market. Not organic I know, but I really fancied some strawberries.

I remember hearing that strawberries are one of the most sprayed fruits and looking at the one above I would have to agree.

How many times do you see folks feeding their kids or themselves strawberries straight from the punnet, not washing the fruit first. No thanks!

Having said that I'm sure they have no idea what they are eating. Even if its organic I would still wash it first. Maybe they need to have warnings on the fresh fruit and vegetables we buy, listing the possible pesticides that may contaminate our food.

All the more reason to grow your own or buy organic where possible. Says she who is still trying to get her garden up and running. LOL

Hope you have a lovely day

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The things you find whilst walking the dog

A few weeks ago whilst out walking one of my mutts, I stumbled upon a branch from a geranium. It was just sitting there on the ground, no other geraniums around, a single twig. Oh goodie I thought to myself, as I'd been wanting to buy some geraniums. I took the lone stick home and forgot about it for a few days, finally I got round to taking some cuttings from it and planted them in some little pots. Over the next few days I noticed that each day a different cutting had been pulled out of it's pot. My little dog I think was the culprit. The pots were moved and given a drink and then forgotten about again for a few days.

Look at what I found yesterday when I finally checked on them. We've grown and even bloomed! Must have been that rough handling that spurred them along.

The one at the bottom has a tiny wee leaf just starting to grow.

Whenever I think of taking cuttings from plants I'm reminded of my Nana, she was an avid gardener. Nana often came home after visiting friends or a day at the races, with a bunch of cuttings or 'slips' as she called them. Nana had a super green thumb.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Looking out my back door


Not today though as its overcast and I slept in till 7.30am.

I went out for dinner last night with some girlfriends, so it was a bit of a late night. Ah its lovely catching up with these ladies, nothing like a good belly laugh to raise the spirits!

Hope you have a lovely day

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Soap N Stuff

First day back at work yesterday after my 10 days off. I always seem a bit out of sorts on my first day back after a break, no more sleeping in or lazy days.

I really didn't plan my return date well as we had stock take yesterday, on my first day back. What was I thinking! Thankfully the shop is not that big, but there's lots and lots of little things stuffed in there. Oh well we only have 4 large plastic containers of dog coats to count and the contents of the cold room (burrr) and then we're done for the year! Yay.

Last Monday I finally got round to making some more soap. This time I used old milk cartons as moulds, don't think I'll be doing that again. Great use of a throw away item, but I don't like the shape of the finished bar. I'll have to make some proper timber moulds for next the next batch.

They don't look very pretty I must admit. Luckily they're more for utility purposes than as presents.

Laundry soap - coconut oil and olive oil, I guess that's why it has a green tinge. Half left plain, the other half I added eucalyptus oil, for stain removal.

Rosemary and honey shampoo bar - I infused rice bran oil with fresh rosemary, also added some avocado oil and honey. On cutting it seemed a bit crumbly, hence the ragged look.

Goats milk soap made about 8 weeks age. We've just started using this, its lovely and moisturising.

Next planned batches are, gardeners soap with citrus infused oil and pumice for extra cleaning power, soap for my dogs and maybe something pretty with a nice smell.

This soap making malarkey is really addictive stuff!

Hope you have a lovely day