Heat light and gnocchi

“On the seventh day God said “let there be heat” and gave us a Thermalux and it was good”…..

Hi all

When we moved into Serendipity farm we needed to exorcise everything that gave us bad memories about this place if we were to make this our ‘forever home’. We used most of the small inheritance that we got to gut the kitchen and turn it into a rustic homely place where we can sit around the table studying, sharing a home cooked meal or simply sharing a beer. Firstly I need to make something clear. We are NOT consumerists and are not interested in Master Chef, becoming lycra stick insects on pushbikes, owning any sort of hybrid car or quaffing truffle oil whilst stirring a local olive in some tourist oriented vodka martini. Consumerism is what is wrong with the world and why most people have the overwhelming feeling that they are sub standard to the norm. We are all different. Thats what makes us interesting. We are not all designed to wear the same clothes (fashion), eat the same food (the new ‘foodie’ revolution), cycle our way to the tour de France (and like the French, most cyclists are the most arrogant bastar@#! that I have ever met…) or rave on about art, your car, your expensive landscape architect designed house etc. What that achieves is trying to separate yourself from others by your ‘wank factor’. Elevation above everyone else and guess what…I AINT BUYING IT! We all have the same needs. Just get over yourselves. Ok, now that is off my chest! Lets get back to the stove. The reason why I had to rave on for a bit there was that we sat down and planned out every cent of the money that my father had left us. We didnt have the luxury of being wasteful with it, we had to make every cent count. We bought ourselves a trailer. We needed it to remove the debris from our complete overhaul of this place and its paid for itself 10 times over already. We rebuilt the kitchen and to anyone out there contemplating this, try to do it yourself if you can. We saved a fortune and got good results by doing this. We also had no stove when we moved in as my father had apparently had an inkling that he might not be around for very long and told me that “when you get this place you can put in your own stove”…. so we had to think of a way to make whatever stove that we chose work for us and ultimately save us money.

I have always wanted a wood stove to cook in. I remember my grandmothers house and her Everhot wood stove. It was the centre of her house and in winter was an amazing place to stand and chat with a cuppa. I wanted something similar as here in Tasmania it gets pretty cold in the winter. I loved the atmosphere and when we were thinking about our stove, we both decided to buy one. We tentitively looked at “Aga” sites and “Rayburn” and had to lay down for a bit at the prices. I cant belive that these stoves are worth the money that the suppliers are asking for them! We discovered an Australian manufacturer of wood stoves called “Thermalux”. I was curious about them as I always try to buy local whenever I can and so began our odyssey. We wanted to incorporate our hot water with our stove so that we would get our hot water for free. The atmosphere that a wood stove contributes should also be a factor here as well as the chance to dry your clothes in front of it for free and the warmth that it contributes to your house. We checked online and then discovered that we had a local supplier of this stove and headed into Launceston to take a look. We chose the top of the range stove called the “Grand Cuisine”. We both love to cook and so this seemed the most suitable choice. It has 4 ovens. Heres a couple of pictures…

The stove is huge compared to Aga’s and Rayburns of equivalent price. The circular bit on the left of the stove is a wok burner and the large area on the right is the cooktop area. We ordered the stove at the end of April. It arrived six weeks later. It wasnt installed until almost the end of August! We had to go through winter with no heater because we had removed the old combustion stove to prepare the area for the new stove. We had been cooking on a gas converted beer keg since last December and so ANY stove was going to be good but once we learned how to cook on the Thermalux, we discovered that it was worth every cent that we had spent on it. It makes amazing bread…

and the stove top heats up very quickly. Its just like using a convection oven but with lovely dry heat. Theres no hot spots, no problems getting it going, no problems maintaining its heat or regulating heat. All in all we are so glad that we took the risk and paid out the money to get this stove. These new models go all night when tamped down and are still going in the morning. It should be a money saving asset to us for years to come. Heres our stove that we had to use (our Keg stove donated by a sympathetic friend to their stoveless friends)

This keg stove and our bbq allowed us to cook our last Christmas dinner and we had the most amazing duck fat potatoes ever. I cant wait to try the wood stove on duckfat potatoes. The Thermalux has heat shield doors that prevent heat conductivity and that minimises heat loss when closed and this means that we can use it to heat up our hot water in summer and prevent the sweltering that old fashioned wood stoves caused. We are going to build a wood fired pizza oven out near the vegetable garden so that we can minimise cooking inside through summer. I have ideas on how to incorporate a hot water system to this stove but am still researching this option.

Daylight savings is having a profound effect on us here at Serendipity farm. We are up just on dusk and cant seem to keep our eyes open past 7pm. Its like having jet lag and I must admit its going to take a bit of time getting used to waking up so early. The dogs love it and we are currently attempting to be ‘good owners’ and train El Chupacabra to heel. I have to admit he is getting a whole lot better at it, but he still has the ability to drag me around like a rag doll if he spots a rabbit or wallaby on our walks and forgets himself. We are taking our boys out for 2 walks a day and this isnt helping us to stay awake after 7pm in the slightest. I guess we are just going to have to accept that dogs + lots of exercise + daylight savings + alchohol is going to = tired aging hippies….

I made gnocchi the other night. I have been meaning to do it for a while now but have never gotten around to it. I now know why…I started cooking (as in steaming the potatoes) at just on 6pm and we didnt get to eat till just on 10pm. The recipe was simple,

Gnocchi

500g steamed and mashed/riced potatoes

1 1/2 metric cups of plain flour

1/2 metric tsp salt

1 large egg, beaten

After cooking your potatoes (I steam mine so that they are not wet when I rice them), mash or rice them (I rice mine as they give a better and drier result) and while warm, tip in the flour, salt and egg and incorporate all into a dough. Turn out onto a floured surface (I cant stress enough make sure that the surface is floured, unless you like scraping glue off your surface till the early hours of the morning…) and knead till smooth. I had read that one of the main problems with gnocchi turning out hard and rubbery was overkneading so I just patted it all together and then cut into 4 portions, rolled out into ropes about 3cm in diameter and cut into 2cm lumps. Then you have to do something with a fork that even though I headed off to youtube and watched several people doing this “simple and easy” move, I was totally unable to replicate. I thought that it was my fork, I used a fork with longer tines and still couldnt do it so Steve ended up being the gnocchi representitive. The resulting gnocchi were somewhat crude and rustic to say the least! This entire process only took about 30 minutes. After this the recipe said “cook 6 – 8 gnocchi at a time in a large pan of boiling salted water”….I had made a double batch. What can I say… I am greedy! and this process of “6 – 8 at a time” took till 10pm! I cant show you a picture of the gnocchi as we were so ravenous that we scoffed the lot in no time flat. The gnocchi were soft and tasty but not worth 4 hours work. The dogs loved them but I cant see me anytime soon cooking gnocchi for 4 hours just to satisfy the dogs….

The best bit about the gnocchi making was Steve messing about on youtube and discovering all sorts of old Bowie music videos and sharing all sorts of old Goth, Punk and other music videos with me. We were headbanging at 9pm to Metallica and Korn (sad old hippies aren’t we?) and I still cant move my neck properly…but it was all worth it. Youtube, like the library is an amazing free resource. You can find all sorts of unusual food preparation videos for all sorts of ethnic foods that you might never have heard of otherwise. You can find music videos from your youth (and you can put your neck out remembering “the old days”)… you can also source all sorts of old television shows. I, in particular love UK comedy. Give me Black books, Black Adder, Bill Bailey, Dylan Moran, Red Dwarf (the earlier series), Fawlty Towers, Absolutely Fabulous (again, the earlier series), The Vicar of Dibbley and so many more any day over most American trash. There are a few exceptions. I have to admit to falling off my chair laughing at Family Guy, especially this episode…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WNrx2jq184

or where else would you find the following website by accident when trying to look up Sesame Street (when Jim Henson was alive and Sesame Street was hilarious and worth watching)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57ta7mkgrOU

Just head out there and think of the most freakish thing that you can think of and you can bet that someone else has been there first.

I cant recommend messing about online to find out all sorts of precious information enough. I must admit to being a magpie when it comes to knowledge. I find information that I am interested in precious. Its like I have won lotto when I am able to find a particularly good site that gives me more than I expected and I am so grateful to all of the people out there willing to share their knowledge and skills for free with the rest of us. It goes quite a long way to restoring my faith in humanity sometimes. Hasnt the internet made the world a much smaller place? I met Steve on the internet, I can talk to my children on the internet, I can send emails to my mother and be able to keep in touch whenever I want virtually for free. I can access all sorts of quality information (so long as I am willing to wade through a fair bit of rubbish to find it) and I can save, and share it with whoever I see fit. Gotta love that. Ok, enough prattling on here, time to head off and look for a recipe for tonights dinner. Till tomorrow, have a great evening

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 04, 2013 @ 07:56:58

    Yeah, I’m always looking up stuff on youtube, like how to cut my own hair which worked. And then there is all our do-it-yourself projects. I wonder who these people are that put this stuff up, but I’m grateful for it. Chris also wants to build an outdoor pizza oven. He worked at a pizza place for years. And, he makes really good pizza.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Apr 04, 2013 @ 09:29:44

      There is NOTHING better than really good pizza :). I worked at pizza hut for years and know really BAD pizza ;). We have clay on the property so the odds are that we might build a pizza oven but that’s WAY after everything else that needs doing so it might be a few years before it is realised 🙂

      Reply

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