(Somewhat) Wordless Wednesday…

Hi All,

 

Today’s blog post is a little bit different than my usual word filled ramble. Today I am going to talk in photos while I give my brain a bit of a rest from the muses endless clatter. Please click on the link at the end of this post to visit an African farmer who has given me pause for thought and great hope with what we are trying to do here in our little patch of paradise…now on, to the not words…

 

Our old lecturer from last year gave Steve this excellent Adobe book when Steve was dropping off our last assessment in the city. Thank you Chris :)

Our old lecturer from last year gave Steve this excellent Adobe book when Steve was dropping off our last assessment in the city. Thank you Chris 🙂

 

Spread rounds of bread dough of your choice with garlic butter...

Spread rounds of bread dough of your choice with garlic butter…

Bake them till golden brown...

Bake them till golden brown…

And serve them with some delicious home made veggie and lentil soup :)

And serve them with some delicious home made veggie and lentil soup 🙂

How to train a dog to use a treadmill...hint...make sure to have a LOT of treats...

How to train a dog to use a treadmill…hint…make sure to have a LOT of treats…

"Seriously? You want me to walk on this?!"

“Seriously? You want me to walk on this?!”

"OH I get a treat? Sign me up!" ;)

“OH I get a treat? Sign me up!” 😉

My little indicator apple tree next to the protected pile of manure to prevent Earl from using it as a ramp to evacuate from the compound

My little indicator apple tree next to the protected pile of manure to prevent Earl from using it as a ramp to evacuate from the compound

I have been keeping myself very busy working hard in the garden. This is an almost extinct pile of earthworm packed horse manure

I have been keeping myself very busy working hard in the garden. This is the almost extinct pile of earthworm packed horse manure prior to me wheeling it up to Sanctuary

And this is a pile of very damp oak leaves just about to be moved into Sanctuary

And this is a pile of very damp oak leaves just about to be moved into Sanctuary

Happy chooks scratching through the remains of the pile and that log selection contains a small oak tree that grew from the debris

Happy chooks scratching through the remains of the pile and that log selection contains a small oak tree that grew from the debris

Acess to Sanctuary via the shed

Acess to Sanctuary via the shed

A big compost pile in the corner now covered in manure and leaves

A big compost pile in the corner now covered in manure and leaves

More manure and leaf piles that are feeding the surrounding citrus trees as well as becoming the beginning of future garden beds in the process. I keep adding buckets of veggie scraps and plant material and dry leaves and the worms and fungus do the rest

More manure and leaf piles that are feeding the surrounding citrus trees as well as becoming the beginning of future garden beds in the process. I keep adding buckets of veggie scraps and plant material and dry leaves and the worms and fungus do the rest

The last of the currant compost piles inside Sanctuary. Earl has claimed this one to roll in...

The last of the current compost piles inside Sanctuary. Earl has claimed this one to roll in…

Happy rhubarb in its forever home surrounded by oak leaf mulch

Happy rhubarb in its forever home surrounded by oak leaf mulch

My transferred Jerusalem artichokes in their new bed where they can grow and expand to their hearts content

My transferred Jerusalem artichokes in their new bed where they can grow and expand to their hearts content

Weeds pulled out of garden beds and sunlight accelerating the growth of seeds that were already in the beds. Lots of free tomatoes, pumpkins and "other" things are growing

Weeds pulled out of garden beds and sunlight accelerating the growth of seeds that were already in the beds. Lots of free tomatoes, pumpkins and “other” things are growing

Curry the male Currawong in mid splash

Curry the male Currawong in mid splash

I managed to save a little honesty plant inside Sanctuary and it has rewarded me by flowering. Now I just need to remove that blackberry that is giving it a hug

I managed to save a little honesty plant inside Sanctuary and it has rewarded me by flowering. Now I just need to remove that blackberry that is giving it a hug

 

We had to redo our new compound gate as the old one was built out of obviously very green treated pine that warped magnificently. This new "Donna Hay" green gate is made out of dry timber and should last the distance

We had to redo our new compound gate as the old one was built out of obviously very green treated pine that warped magnificently. This new “Donna Hay” green gate is made out of dry timber and should last the distance

Steve got tired of my dehydrator being in his music room and made it a new shelf in the laundry

Steve got tired of my dehydrator being in his music room and made it a new shelf in the laundry

Veggie seedlings on Monday

Veggie seedlings on Monday

Veggie seedlings on Wednesday

Veggie seedlings on Wednesday. Growing like weeds 🙂

Looking back outside the glasshouse door you can see a dog sniffing around for the chook that I just saved that was stupid enough to fly into the dog compound

Looking back outside the glasshouse door you can see a dog sniffing around for the chook that I just saved that was stupid enough to fly into the dog compound

My purple artichoke babies :)

My purple artichoke babies 🙂

The other inhabitants of the glasshouse enjoying the sunny weather

The other inhabitants of the glasshouse enjoying the sunny weather

I grow my nut trees from seed I collect on my travels and I obviously have 2 different kinds of walnut here :)

I grow my nut trees from seed I collect on my travels and I obviously have 2 different kinds of walnut here as you can see by the leaf structure 🙂

Look Bev, how your babies have grown! :)

Look Bev, how your babies have grown! 🙂 These are pepino cuttings a good friend sent me and aren’t they healthy little babies. Bev certainly knows how to grow a mean pepino 😉

Even under the potting table is green!

Even under the potting table is green. This is a lemon balm growing out of one of the cracks in the glasshouse concrete floor

The first of the rhododendron blossoms on Serendipity Farm. The surrounding neighbourhood is full of them and we are enjoying basking in their beauty on our early morning dog walks :)

The first of the rhododendron blossoms on Serendipity Farm. The surrounding neighbourhood is full of them and we are enjoying basking in their beauty on our early morning dog walks 🙂

The first of our raspberry futures :)

The first of our raspberry futures 🙂

Wait a minute...isn't this for the dogs? ;)

Wait a minute…isn’t this for the dogs? 😉

Bezial relaxing after a particularly difficult trot around the garden...

Bezial relaxing after a particularly difficult trot around the garden…

My 2 fig cuttings that were bare sticks over winter that are now taller than the fig cuttings that I planted out last year. Ready to be planted out

My 2 fig cuttings that were bare sticks over winter that are now taller than the fig cuttings that I planted out last year. Ready to be planted out

Potato, yacon and "other"patch

Potato, yacon and “other”patch

Zucchini and some form of cabbage or cauliflower seedlings. My friend that gave them to me has no idea which they are ;)

Zucchini and some form of cabbage or cauliflower seedlings. My friend that gave them to me has no idea which they are 😉

That very overgrown area at the back of Sanctuary is just about to become my grape arbour. Who says that compost isn't worth making? This area was where I threw a few buckets of compost last year and look at how much vegetation is growing in this small patch. Compost folks, compost now! :)

That very overgrown area at the back of Sanctuary is just about to become my grape arbour. Who says that compost isn’t worth making? This area was where I threw a few buckets of compost last year and look at how much vegetation is growing in this small patch. Compost folks, compost now! 🙂

This photo was taken standing inside the fence looking back towards the rear compound fence. These trees would have been devastated by the combined efforts of the possums and the wallabies by now but the new compound seems to have given them a much better degree of protection than I would have initially thought. Earl is obviously VERY good at patrolling and marking "his" patch ;)

This photo was taken standing inside the fence looking back towards the rear compound fence. These trees would have been devastated by the combined efforts of the possums and the wallabies by now but the new compound seems to have given them a much better degree of protection than I would have initially thought. Earl is obviously VERY good at patrolling and marking “his” patch 😉

Look at how my little indicator apple has grown! It might just be a rootstock apple but I can graft onto it. Apple futures on Serendipity Farm, I never would have thought it possible :)

Look at how my little indicator apple has grown! It might just be a rootstock apple but I can graft onto it. Apple futures on Serendipity Farm, I never would have thought it possible 🙂

 

http://permaculturenews.org/2014/10/28/glimpse-climate-smart-agriculture-kenya/

Anyone who is struggling with the costs of growing vegetables and gardens in general take heart from Maurice’s story and go and get yourself a bucket full of hope, possibility and enthusiasm from this mans dreams that he turned into realities with his steadfast and most determined actions. He is a credit to penniless people everywhere and a great example of how anyone can do this, you just need to find ways to access cheap/free soil builders. We are just about to pick up 3 trailer loads of grass clippings from Glad’s place next door. Another garden bed inside Sanctuary once they rot down. Its all in the possibilities and in recognising them when they raise their heads 🙂

Last but by no means least…here’s a little pre Halloween image where I become a zombie thanks to Papa Doc Earl…

"BRAINZ!" ;)

“BRAINZ!” 😉

Narf7 bakes bread and loses a leg

Hi All,

Today we are going to take a little bit of an aside from my usual blog post format. Firstly, I didn’t lose a leg…I was just borrowing a quote from “Father Ted”. I have been communicating with a lovely lady in the U.K. called Joanne who hosts the wonderful blog “Zeb Bakes”. I found Joanne’s blog through a compilation bread blog site called http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting/ that is one of the most incredible places to find just about any “bread” you could possibly want. Joanne posts some of her wonderful homemade breads to this site and that’s how I met her…through some of my exuberant comments to her blog.

http://zebbakes.com/2013/08/10/date-syrup-kefir-bread/

And here’s a follow up post for anyone wanting to try the recipe but who wanted to only bake a single loaf…Joanne is such a thorough and caring person when it comes to her blog followers…

http://zebbakes.com/2013/09/08/post-script-date-kefir-loaves/

This kefir raised bread couldn’t have come at a better time. I pulled Audrey, my sourdough starter, out of the fridge to feed her and discovered that she had decided to commit suicide. Rather than a yeasty scented mass of dough, she had gone belly up and was exhibiting a scent wholly unbecoming of a sourdough starter. R.I.P. Audrey, I did you wrong. I also found out that starters aren’t meant to be kept in fridges for extended periods of time and you are supposed to feed them regularly…that would be more than once a month…sigh…”BAD NARF7!”…I am a murderer! I tipped the squalid remains into the compost bucket where her now green and fuzzy remains will add a new suite of organisms to the resulting compost. I was just getting my head around the thought that I was going to have to make a new sourdough starter when along came Joanne with “The Recipe”…

I had asked Joanne about “Date syrup” a product that she had discussed in a post because I had never heard of it. I make date paste to use instead of refined sugar and after talking to Joanne a bit we started discussing kefir etc. Joanne posted the following post about using kefir to raise bread rather than using sourdough starter or a commercial dried/fresh yeast. I got VERY excited about this idea because I make kefir regularly using homemade organic soymilk sweetened with homemade date paste. I found that my kefir grains (sent to me by one “Rabid Little Hippy” who gets a HUGE hug across The Tasman for being so babelicious and such a generous blogger) adore the sugar in the date paste and I can tweak the fermentation of the kefir by the amount of date paste I choose to add. I have also experimented using other sweeteners and can’t see why using something like coconut sugar or rice syrup wouldn’t give you a similar result. Bread can also be baked with water kefir so I decided that I was going to give it the old college try and attempt to bake a loaf or two…

Joanne is an amazing blogger. Not only did she give us this wonderful recipe to tinker with, she actually wants us to get stuck in and inject our own take on the recipe. She tried making a gluten free variety but it didn’t work and asked if I would have a go at making a non-dairy version for people who either choose not to have dairy or simply can’t…there are a lot of us out there. I have linked to Joanne’s Post so that you can all go to her wonderful site and see it in person…she even gives you a PDF download of the recipe! Sorry guys, I am not quite up to that yet but give me a few years and you never know…at the moment, the best I can do is take Joanne’s recipe and add myself to it. I have bolded Joanne’s instructions in ”parenthesis” so that you know when I am quoting her wise words…the stupid words are entirely of my own design so please don’t judge Joanne for them, I take full responsibility ;). I am going to post my images here in a slideshow format. They start at the point where I had mixed the preferment ingredients together and end with the final bread. The last few images are of the bread the following day just before Steve made heavenly smelling toast with it…all in all this bread is wonderful and it won’t be the last time narf7 bakes it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Narf7 Bakes Date Paste Non-Dairy Kefir Bread

(This is where Joanne had put “Started” and had given the time she assembled the preferment) Started – err…no idea really but it was before lunch time and after breakfast so that narrows it down a bit for all of you bread detectives out there ;). The room temperature was reasonably cool here in Tasmania but we do have Brunhilda, our large wood fired oven slowly ticking over all day and so I would imagine the room temperature would have been around 20C.

Make a preferment with: –

  • 150g room temperature water. I used rain water
  • 200g fresh kefir which I make with homemade organic soy milk to which I add homemade date paste (I soak a packet of dried dates in boiling water to cover and once the dates are soft, I puree them to a smooth paste in a blender. To 1 ½ litres of homemade soymilk I add 300g of homemade date paste and this is the basic food for my kefir grains to feed on). Note, you can use mature water kefir in this recipe as well. Not sure how it goes but Joanne mentioned that another blogger that she knows of has made bread with it so it is possible. Mine was “milk” kefir though so don’t quote me on it 😉
  • 250g strong (bread) flour. I used regular strong white bread flour from a local Tasmanian flour mill
  • 50g extra date paste

“Mix these well together and leave in a covered bowl for approximately 18 hours in a warm room (20 – 22 C)  at which point it should be bubbling and thick and looking ready to go.” Note – I put the mix on a proofing rack over Brunhilda to make sure it bubbled enough but prior to putting it on the proofing rack it was bubbling albeit a bit slowly so I would imagine it would just take a little bit longer at a colder room temperature. Kefir keeps fermenting even when stored in the fridge and I have to open the lid of the container of fermented kefir that I keep in the fridge to make sure the lid doesn’t blow off.

Ingredients for the final dough:-

  • All of the preferment (as above)
  • 850g bread flour. I used the same white strong bread flour as I used in the preferment
  • 282g  water (again, rainwater)
  • 20g salt (I used sea salt)
  • 30g melted butter
  1. Using a Kenwood Mixer I put the starter in first, added the water and then the flours and mixed for about three minutes on the lowest speed. I did this too but my mixer isn’t a Kenwood and it started to list sideways somewhat alarmingly midway through the process so I decided to hand mix the dough from that point on.
  2. Leave to develop in the bowl for 20 minutes. I covered the bowl with cling wrap for the duration.
  3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and trickle the melted butter in while the mixer is going and continue mixing till the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Again, my mixer had a bit of a hard time with this dough and after allowing it to dance across the counter for a bit, I liberated the dough and hand kneaded it for a short while to make sure the butter and salt were evenly distributed.
  4. You may need to adjust the dough with more water if your flour is very absorbent. Mine wasn’t and the proportions above were just fine.
  5. 5.       (If you mix by hand then go with a more traditional order of ingredients, i.e. mix the water and starter together and add these into your bowl of flour.)
  6. I will let Joanne talk you through the next bit because I had never done this before…”I took the dough out once it was reasonably developed and put it into a big bowl, covered with a tea towel, and left it for about three hours. During this time I folded it in the bowl twice, as much to see how the fermentation was progressing as anything. Folding in the bowl is simply picking up the dough from one side and pulling it out and over the main bulk of the dough, like light kneading except you don’t put it on a board. You can put it on a board. There are no rules here!” I followed Joanne’s instructions to a “T” and figured that I would fold the dough once an hour and each time I folded the dough back onto itself, it had risen double, and I took this as a very good sign!
  7. Again, Joanne is the real bread baker here so once again I will let her talk you through this next bit…”Once it was showing good signs of activity and had increased in size by roughly a half. I weighed it into two equal portions.  Then I split those two portions in the ratio 85:15 using the % function on my scales. If you don’t have one of those, it would be about 135g for the small ball to 765g for the main ball.
  8. 8.       With the first portion I made a boule which I divided into four quartiles with a thin dowel rod and made a smaller boule with the small ball and put that in the middle.
  9. 9.       With the second portion I made a pointy ended baton and then a plait with the remaining ball which I placed along the top of the dough – because the dough had such a long second prove this didn’t come out quite as I had hoped but I like the effect that it gives anyway. A good way to create a nice looking effect on a loaf if you are finding slashing difficult.
  10. I put both loaves on baking paper on trays and tucked them inside clean bin liners to prove.” You can tell that Joanne is a real baker, I attempted to put my bread on a baking tray but realised that I had no way of stopping it for sticking to the bin liner so ended up putting it into 2 bread tins rather than have to fall on the ground twitching when the top of the bread stuck to the bin liner and deflated alarmingly (“FOOL ME ONCE BREAD DOUGH!”…)
  11. Second proof time was about three hours. Be patient, these are just as slow as a more traditional sourdough to rise. I need to point out here that my bread took less time to proof. For some reason it rose fast and it rose incredibly well. Just as good as any regular yeasted bread that I have made in the past. Proofing it on the bread rack over Brunhilda may have had something to do with it but who knows…I was just happy that all of the steps were going like clockwork and I wasn’t going to stick a spoke in any wheels just to ask questions 😉
  12. 12.   Egg-wash the crust with a mixture of egg yolk and kefir whey and sprinkled a few sesame seeds on top for interest.
  13. 13.   Here’s what Joanne said…”Bake in a preheated oven (with steam) either on the trays or slide them off onto a baking stone or kiln shelf which is what I use rather than a stone.” I just put the bread tins into the oven…no steam, no smoke, no whistles, no bells just a hot oven.
  14. “Starting at 220 ºC for the first twenty minutes and then dropping back by stages to 190 ºC for the last ten minutes of the bake.  About 40 – 45 minutes in all.” We had been stoking the fire to make it get hotter and inevitably the oven that we had the bread in kept getting hotter and we had to put the bread into one of the cooler ovens (I have 4 ovens to choose from in various stages of “hot”, how spoiled am I?) but the damage was already done and the bread top was a little “over-caramelised” but not beyond saving in the photo-shoot (and that’s all that really matters right food bloggers? 😉 )
  15. “Leave to cool on a rack as normal once you are satisfied the loaf is cooked; a nice hollow sound when you thump it is a good sign.” Being a natural fuss-budget I wasn’t entirely satisfied that it was cooked and tossed the loaves back into the oven for 5 minutes upside down once I took them out of the bread tin. It was probably overkill in hind sight but I wanted my bread to be a success…I had a lot riding on this.
  16. Wait till the bread is cool before cutting it.

Or if you are Steve and I, you will cut it when it is hot, soak it liberally in butter and Steve will eat 4 slices just before his tea and will feed a further 2 slices dripping in butter to the slavering hounds waiting below…we are ALL class here on Serendipity Farm. I am sure that most of you will have the diplomacy and willpower to wait until the bread is merely lukewarm before descending on it like wolves but whatchagonnado? My excuse is that I wanted to take photos of the crumb…it’s MY excuse and I am sticking with it! ;). The bread was amazing…the bread rose beautifully with no added yeast aside from the kefir whatsoever…the bread was almost textbook wonderful to bake and I couldn’t believe that I was able to replicate this amazingness being that the baking conditions were almost certainly directly inverse to those that Joanne’s dairy kefir were subject to. Let me clarify it a little bit further…

  1. Joanne is a wonderful bread baker and I am a bread plebeian
  2. Joanne used dairy kefir and I used something strange that I keep making because I SWEAR it is alcoholic (“HIC!”)
  3. Joanne is at the tail end of summer and Narf7 is on the tail end of winter
  4. Joanne created a wonderful recipe that anyone can follow and that a bread idiot couldn’t stuff up (I know they can’t, because I didn’t 😉 ) and I am waffling in excited stanza’s that are probably confusing any poor wayfaring baker from the ether beyond belief
  5. Joanne gave you a PDF…I am not even going to PRETEND to know how to do that so my regulars can just do one of two things “forgedaboudit” or “head over to Joanne’s blog and get yourself that delightful PDF and revel in its amazingness like I did when I downloaded it”
  6. Joanne cared enough about her blog followers to do a follow up post that clarified any issues in the first post and that gave interested people a choice whether or not to bake 2 loaves (the original recipe) or reduce the recipe down to 1. I won’t be offering you the same courtesy folks. It isn’t because I don’t love you all, it’s because why would I try to tweak perfection? Just head over to Zeb Bakes and check it out there.

Joanne, as a well-known bunch of geriatric Aussie rockers with a Scottish lead singer would sing loudly and proudly, “for those about to rock…we SALUTE YOU!”. You both “rock” and deserve my “salutations”. Please consider this most pathetic husk of a blog post that isn’t even worthy to crawl on its belly next to your post, a humble experiment designed to be for the greater good. Your recipe is great…mine was good. From this point on I can refine this bread. I can tweak it and mess about with it and I can include bread in my diet once more and for this, I owe you so much more than a bit of experimentation. Thank you for sharing this recipe and for allowing us free reign to tinker with it…consider it non-dairy tinkered and I offer the torch up to braver bloggers than I am to run with the Gluten Free recipe because that is a step too far for one Narf7 to take folks!

Here endeth the post…that’s it, that’s all folks…you can all go home now and revel in the fact that you can make bread WITHOUT ADDING SOURDOUGH OR COMMERCIAL YEAST. Yup…my job here…is DONE! :o)…except for today’s word cloud that is…here it is folks in all it’s bready goodness for you to enjoy…

Nondairy kefir bread blog post

How to make a Roly-poly tiger Stromboli…

Hi All,

Its Monday morning and Steve has just headed off for his foray into the bright lights, city limits of inner Launceston (and surrounds) for another fortnightly shopping trip. Living out in the official “sticks” means that we need to limit our shopping trips and plan a whole lot more carefully than we used to. We have learned how to make all sorts of things that we might otherwise have had to head palm and do without and in the process we have certainly learned the value of life lessons. “Fool me once!” is my hue and cry folks and when we run out of bread or milk, we know how to make our own or we have a handy-dandy substitute (or something in a can or carton that lasts) to fill the need. There are certain things that a body needs that have nothing to do with frugality, planning and forethought. They are everything to do with impromptu spontaneity and are what gives life its tinges of colour, flavour and wonder. In saying that, I now know how to make one of those little life moments that give lasting pleasure for at least 3 days till Steve and the dogs have eaten it all…Behold…the Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli! A sweet homage to those still warm apple and cinnamon scrolls that could be purchased in the city before the commuters flooded the shops and eaten steaming out of a paper bag on an inner city jaunt with Bezial…life was different then but we can still have our little pleasures, all be they homemade and from a repurposed paper bag…

DSCF2572

What’s this I see here? A small box for Bezial?!

DSCF2573

A small sack of dog biscuits labelled “small dog”?

DSCF2574

Obviously not for Earl, look at the size of that head!

I even have a bowl of vanilla and chocolate icing (frosting for those Northerly persuasion dear constant readers who aren’t out doing yoga or jogging in some gorgeous green forest…) that could have been smeared gloriously over the top of the sweet heady flavour-rich yeasted pastry that we created on Saturday but alas, gilding the lily belongs firmly to Steve and Ms’ Maggie Beer, narf7 has a bit too much of that stolid Germanic simplicity inside her that demands she takes things back to their bare basics and revel in their simplicity so the Roly-Poly tiger Stromboli remains lightly dusted with homemade cinnamon sugar (heavy on the cinnamon) and alluringly always at the ready. This is a time where Steve and I managed to work together to create something magnificent. Magnificent AND positively brimming with possibilities. Neapolitan roasted strawberry Stromboli anyone? How about chocolate and peanut butter Stromboli with a jam and cinnamon centre…Peaches and cream Stromboli with a caramel vanilla crust or even a savoury version with spinach, beetroot and carrot strips or blotches…a never ending stream of happy Stromboli futures rolling off the narf7 press and a very happy Steve (and dogs) to enjoy them. I figure you would all like the recipe and so without any further ado, here are all of the images that we took to accompany the recipe so hopefully, between the text and the images you can all find someplace to call Stromboli home.

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We have our suspicions of just who send this nefarious parcel…we think it might be Qi!

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AND there is a pointed clue in this obvious jibe about Bezial’s girth. Either way, Earl ate them. Bezial wouldn’t be caught dead eating anything for a small fat dog!

Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli

Note: make the filling first because you want it to be cold when you have to spread it onto the dough and if your filling is at all runny you can drain it off here (like narf7 had to) to ensure your bread isn’t too wet

Aside from the toffee apple ingredients and the dough ingredients you need 1 cup of finely chopped dried dates (or you could use sultanas, currants, mixed dried fruit, chopped dried figs or raisins whatever you like really) and some cinnamon sugar if you want to sprinkle it on top of your Stromboli. It’s really about what YOU like here, we are creating magic folks, magic to YOUR tastes so go nuts with your own flavour potentials and make sure that they appeal to you :o)

For the toffee apple filling: –

2kg Granny Smith apples

125g butter…yes BUTTER folks. It’s delicious, it’s all natural, it’s tasty as all get out and one Stromboli worth of butter is going to pay you back SO much more in sensory delight than an austere 125g of oil or margarine could ever give you. Your choice, but its butter all round on Serendipity Farm. Even the dogs won’t eat margarine here!

1 ½ tsp powdered cinnamon (I use Dutch because that’s all we can get here)

1 tsp powdered dried ginger

½ tsp powdered mixed spice (you can leave this out if you like)

The zest of an orange

½ cup caster sugar (or honey, or golden syrup or agave or Lithuanian guava syrup or whatever sweetener you choose to use, this is all about sensory pleasure folks, the choice is up to you!)

DSCF2654

Approximately 2kg of Granny Smith apples sourced from the orchard down the road

DSCF2659

Peeled, cored and sliced and adorned with the purest gold of some butter. Go on folks, butter IS better. If you are vegan you can use some coconut oil or some vegan butter (there are lots of recipes online just do a search)

Peel your apples and core them and then slice them. Throw them all into a stockpot and add the butter and cook them gently until the apples are just tender. Add the spices, the zest and the sweetener and allow the apples to simmer till the sugar has melted or has at least heated up. Cook until the mix gets nice and thick and if you are worried about overcooking your apple, just remove the apple with a slotted spoon and reduce your syrup down till it is nice and thick and unctuous. Stir the thickened syrup back over the apples and combine. Leave till cool before using.

DSCF2664

Dried dates. These little babies play a big part in narf7’s life. I use them for all kinds of things and am just about to attempt to make some date sugar. I will post about it when I do (unless I forget the dates in the oven and burn the living daylights out of them where you won’t hear about it and I won’t ever talk about it again! 😉 )

Now for the dough: –

2 sachets of active dried yeast, about 8g each

2 tsp. sugar

2 cups divided (1 in each bowl) of plain (all-purpose) flour. I used strong bread flour

The zest of an orange and ½ cup orange juice

3 tbsp. cocoa

½ cup milk (any kind)

¾ cup caster sugar divided (put ½ in each bowl)

½ tsp. salt for each bowl (1 tsp. total)

2 tbsp. olive oil or melted butter (your choice) divided (1 tbsp. in each bowl)

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The 2 separate medium sized bowls with sifted flour and respective ingredients

First get 2 small bowls (with approximately a cup holding capacity) and put a sachet of yeast (or 8g measured) into each bowl. Add the orange juice and 1 tsp. sugar to one bowl and the milk and the last tsp. of sugar to the second bowl. Cover with cling wrap and place in a warm place to allow the yeast to activate. You can tell the yeast is activated when it starts to fluff up. If it doesn’t fluff up after about 15 minutes in a warm place you might need to get some new yeast…go to the shops…buy some new yeast…drive home…do it all over again…now divide the flour (1 cup in each bowl) into 2 medium sized mixing bowls and add the orange zest to the first bowl and sift in the cocoa to the second bowl. Add ½ tsp. salt to each bowl and when the yeast has proofed, add the orange juice yeast mix to the bowl with the orange zesty flour and the milk yeasted mix to the cocoa floury bowl. So far so good! Now you add 1 tbsp. of olive oil or melted butter to each bowl and you start to mix it all together. I use a pastry scraper for this. I have 2 pastry scrapers so technically I use 2. I am ambidextrous with pastry scrapers but I am a one trick pony and that’s about as far as my ambidextrosity goes. If you need to work on one bowl at a time feel free to just cover the other bowl with cling wrap and come back to it once you have mixed and kneaded the dough in the other bowl. Squish it folks, knead it, relieve stress and think about how delicious this creation that you are making will be with a nice hot cup of coffee/tea to reward you at the end of your hours and hours of labour. The dough is quite sticky and you can add a little more flour but don’t add too much. This is rich dough and it needs a degree of elasticity and “stick”. Grease the sides of the bowl (that are usually clean of dough thanks to that tbsp. of oil/butter that you added…BOO-ya!) and using your hands, rub a little olive oil or soft butter onto the top of the dough. Don’t ask me why I do this, I just do. It’s a little narf7 quirk and you can feel free to skip that step. I guess I learned the hard way about dough sticking to cling wrap. This dough won’t get to the top of the bowl (unless you ignored me about the “medium mixing bowl” thing and then you probably deserve to be scraping dough from cling wrap…let’s just consider it a life lesson all for you and be done with it 😉 ). Plonk that gorgeous elastic shiny rich dough back into that MEDIUM SIZED mixing bowl, cover it with cling wrap and place it someplace nice and warm for as long as it takes for the dough to double. I have Brunhilda. I have a bread proofing rack that some wonderful man made for me…It takes about 15 minutes for this step on Serendipity Farm but it could take anywhere up to an hour or so for anyone not so fortunate.

Let’s pause for a breath there. It’s been AGES since I typed a paragraph that long and you are probably gasping for air…take a deep breath because here we go again!…

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Nice risen shiny dough and chopped dates ready to be sprinkled onto the final rectangle of Stromboli dough

Once your dough has doubled and is nice and shiny and glossy remove it from its warm haven and deflate it however you see fit. I just use my fist to lightly depress it, I am an optimist, I don’t like depressing things so I am gentle. After you “lightly depress the dough” you can use the mass of dough to clean the sides of the bowl easily. Less mess to wash up and more dough for your Stromboli. Now comes the maths and physics. You didn’t think that you were going to get out of this just making a recipe did you?! Narf7 needs you all to learn about the magic alchemy of doughy mathematics and here’s your first lesson. Form each dough lump into a rough rectangle and cut it into 3 equal portions. You don’t have to go all weighing on it or anything quite so Germanic (unless you absolutely positively HAVE to…) but try to get them as close to equal as you can by eye. Once you have 6 (3 of each) chunks of dough, roll them into sausages that are about 30cm long and try to make the sausages an even thickness across all down their length. Once you have assembled your 6 sausages it’s time for the fun (no more maths, you can open your eyes now and take your fingers out of your ears and you can stop yelling “I CAN’T HEAR YOU…I CAN’T HEAR YOU” loudly…).

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Cooked apples cooling down ready to be used when they are needed

Take a dough sausage. It doesn’t matter which colour you use, just take 1. I will wait here while you work out which one you want to choose…take a section of baking (parchment) paper approximately 500mm (50cm or ½ metre) long and place your chosen sausage to the left hand side of the baking paper (leaving a bit of a margin. Now place a sausage of the opposite colour about 5cm to the right of the first sausage. Keep going, alternating colours and leaving a roughly 5cm gap between the sausages till you have exhausted your sausage pile and all 6 sausages are placed nice and neatly on your chunk of baking paper. Don’t be terrified by this step, narf7 to the rescue! I knew that some of you might be almost to fainting stage by now so I took a shot (I took about 10, I am not the world’s best photographer and I don’t have the world’s best camera and I really REALLY wanted at least one shot to come out…) of this step to diffuse the fear and the rage…

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Rolled out sausages laid side to side in a rough approximation of a rectangle

There now, that wasn’t so hard was it? Now you have done the hard work. This dough is lovely and stretchy and greasy and unctuous and you could use it to make little rabbits and goldfish and frogs out of if you wanted to but for now we are making Stromboli folks so let’s get back to what you do next with it. You need to end up with a rectangle of dough that sticks together and allows you to encase a flotilla of spice scented caramel toffee apples inside it with minimal leakage. I didn’t just tell you that the dough was easy to work for nothing folks! I had worked this out when making normal Stromboli and tucked it away for future experimentation…consider this the future and here we are messing about with the ability for this dough to stretch and adhere to things easily. Squish your sausages out evenly and carefully so that they start to come together. Try to keep the lines somewhat even but even if you do end up squishing your dough a bit skewwhiff, you can just call it a camouflage Stromboli and be done with it.

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What’s this? THIS isn’t a Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli?! It most certainly isn’t folks. I am posting these 2 photos as a sort of mental interlude, a chance for you to go to the toilet and have a quick break and to prove that I made this savoury Stromboli at the same time as the Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli.

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Here you see the topping for the savoury Stromboli (minus the grated cheese and the parmesan). Are you ready to face the Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli again? If so…carry on…

Now make sure that all of the places where the dough is touching its different coloured brethren are stuck together. Take a few moments to ensure that they are by using your fingers and pressing the dough stripes together down their length. You need this rectangle of dough to stay together because you are going to have to roll it up once the filling is on it and a few extra moments taken here are going to stop you breaking down and sobbing because you’re filling is oozing out of the cracks that you rushed ahead and ignored. Sorry to be all negative there but I am married to king of the rushers and I dare say there are more of you out there in the world that need a little reminding to take things slowly and carefully sometimes…sometimes the turtle wins you know!

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Note it’s not perfect and if narf7 can do it…so can you! This dough is easy to stick together so you shouldn’t have many problems with the different dough’s coming apart.

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This is how you roll the Stromboli using the baking paper to guide it. Its very similar to the technique for rolling sushi so if you haven’t ever made sushi before…you now know how 🙂 Thank me later with a mouthful of sushi heaven.

Now you have a nice stripy, camouflaged (or even blotchy…whatchagonnado?) rectangle of dough ready for your nice cold apple filling. If you forgot to cook your apples first just get some jam, some sultanas, some peanut butter, some lemon curd, SOMETHING to spread over the rectangle or even just cinnamon sugar. There are NO losers here folks! If you DID remember to make the apple mix first, now is the time to get it ready to spread. Sprinkle the dates over the rectangle leaving a 5cm minimum border all around the outside of the rectangle. Now evenly distribute your apples (possibly drained if like narf7 you ended up with slightly runny caramel) over the top of the dates and when you have them spread over it’s time to start rolling up your Stromboli. Starting the wide end of your rectangle of baking paper (parchment) directly in front of you, pick up the edges with both hands and start to coax the stripy rectangle (I am being positive here folks…I am assuming you managed to make stripes…) away from you and towards the far side of the baking paper (parchment). I even took a photo (well Steve did…note how much better the photo is 😉 ) to show you how so don’t panic, just look at the photo :o)

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Take note Christi, I have been very careful to try not to wash the label off this jar. I use it for cinnamon sugar which is going to be used to sprinkle the top of the Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli

Now you have rolled up your Stromboli you need to squeeze the wide side together. The trick is to tuck in the filling and make sure you have plenty of dough left without filling on to stick the roll to. As I said before, this dough is very forgiving and will give you a fair bit of leeway and stretch but in saying that, it will tear if you stretch it too far. You can always take a bit of dough from the side bits as you always end up with a portion of unfilled “end” on either side…a handy observation…just in case. Now, once you have the side tucked in, you need to tuck in the ends. Hopefully you’re Stromboli somewhat resembles this delightful stripy slug here…

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What a cute little stripy slug 🙂

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The same cute little stripy slug after being baked and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar

If it doesn’t and it is causing you grief, try pulling it round into a circle…you can pretend you made a Swedish tea bread…no-one else will know…none of us are going to tell…”ARE WE!” Now you get to sprinkle over that optional cinnamon sugar. Feel free to omit it if you like. Carry your stripy slug (on its baking paper and on a baking tray of course!) over to your 180C oven and place reverently inside and bake approximately 20 – 45 minutes (depending on your oven) till risen and lightly browned and headily perfumed. Remove with equal reverence from the oven and leave on the tray to cool. Slice and eat…eat with coffee or tea, eat with cream or ice-cream, and eat with both hands, with friends and family or alone (where you could technically just start at one end and be done with it folks!). Enjoy what you just created because the world can be going to hell in a hand basket out there but you just made a Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli of happiness and possibility and that…THAT is an accomplishment! A little triumph amongst the angst and anguish and something for you to be proud of today. It certainly made me a happy little narf7 camper and Steve is still beaming as he cuts slice after delicious slice. A note to all lily gilders out there…this would be delicious slathered in a rich vanilla or chocolate icing, ganache or even a nice thin glaze. Do with it what you will, I gift it to the world :o)

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Lets cut this baby and see what we just made…

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How yummy does this look? 🙂

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Steve cut himself a nice big slice to test for you all…don’t thank him, he had to force himself…

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And this is what you should end up with…a nice slab of delicious chocolate orange sweet Stromboli. You can add the thickened cream if you like or slather it with the spread of your choice (I bet this would be delicious with avocado…). You can top it with icing or you can leave it plain. It’s your baby now…go and deliver it into your waiting hands 🙂

hobos

Have you ever heard of “BoHo” style? Steve and I have decided to start our own trend…we are touting the “HoBo” look here…just in case any of you are fashion conscious, this look will be big in Italy this year. Here we are just about to set out in the frigid mini-Antarctica that has been Sidmouth Tasmania of late. No rain… just frost and cold and Brunhilda doing a sterling job to keep us toasty warm inside but the truth of the matter is that we have to go outside at least once a day to walk these 2. Without a walk, that red and white one will eat the furniture. I like the furniture. We walk him

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Just to prove to you that yes, we DO actually go out dressed like this and no, I don’t keep my cupboards in pristine condition and Bezial is a robot and Earl can actually “sit” on the rare occasion when he feels like it. What are you all doing still looking at we hobos? You should be off rattling pots and pans and starting your very own Stromboli of great happiness 🙂

Herman and Ethel Merman run amok on Serendipity Farm

Hi All

“Bojon”c. 1900. Probably combined and condensed from Bo-hemia +   Hun-gary. Used as a pejorative.
A very stupid person of Central/Eastern European Slavic descent who works   with their back instead of their head. Fit only for manual labour, the bojon   nonetheless frequently finds him/herself in political office, especially in   areas of heavily bojon dominated constituency in the USA, as well as the   backward, shithole areas of Europe where they originate. The bojon is   characterised by a very brief attention span and being unable to perform   tasks requiring much mental agility. Ideally suited for repetitive tasks, as   long as it doesn’t involve anything very important.“The stupid bojon was unable to pour the piss from his   boot, even though the directions were clearly written on the heel.”(appropriated from urbandictionary.com)

I love the word Bojon. I discovered it last night when hunting for sourdough recipes on a wonderful blog called The Gourmet Bojon. I had NO idea what a Bojon was and the assumption was that “Bojon” meant great unwashed unemployed masses and it struck a chord with this penniless student hippy. Aside from that, the blog was both humorous and very well written and is now tucked up to bed in my rss feed reader for my next mammoth perusal. Check it out here if you have a few spare moments and a yen to dabble in some pretty amazing recipes…

http://www.bojongourmet.com

This mornings breakfast consisting of oats, chopped dried dates soaked in boiling water with home made almond milk and a dollop of pure sunshine a.k.a. Christi’s precious peach and rhubarb jam 🙂

Not a patch on my breakfast in their present state but soon…these little seed kipflers will be planted out in bags and are the beginning of our potato futures on Serendipity Farm

The surreal screen saver that greeted me this morning…Steve has been messing aboot!

I have been replying to comments on the blog and only I could make a comment that was almost as long as a blog post! I think I am going to have to channel all of this verbosity and literary enthusiasm into writing of some sort. I could drain that bubbling spring and see if what eventuates is less verbose and more pointed and pertinent, condensed, LOL see what I mean? I use too many words to get to my point ;).  Saturday was a bit of an anticlimax to me. The permaculture meeting that I attended was interesting and somewhat informative but was more along the lines of a get together over a cup of tea and a bit of an informal chat and lunch. I don’t want to appear ungrateful for the effort that the lady facilitating the meeting took BUT…I am a bit past talking about things and want to get stuck into “doing” on Serendipity Farm. I can find out things out of books by buying the book myself. I can check out blogs and I can educate myself online without having to take 140km round trips that eventuated in a sense of deflated excitement for something that didn’t quite hit the mark with me. As Steve would say “It wasn’t quite what I was after today” and I would have to agree with him.

The results of 9 trays of sourdough starter turned into sour little crispy shards

A closeup of the sourdough “crisps” looking a whole lot like Lavash bread

The process of turning sourdough crisps into salt and vinegar scented sourdough starter powder for sourdough futures and for sharing with friends and family

As this IS my year of living honestly, the second deflation of the day was the sad homogenous mass that awaited me when I got home that refused to raise much and that when baked could have been used to construct the foundations for a mud brick house. I am talking about the sourdough bread that we baked. One of the loaves was reasonably easy to cut and could possibly have been eaten without having to check in to the dentist’s emergency department soon after attempting. The remaining 3 were decidedly terrifying in weight, height, texture and taste. I have to admit to adding about 3 times more sourdough starter than was called for in the recipe (thanks to my frugal heart, my desire to use the starter rather than throw it out AND my fear of what might bubble up out of the septic tank should I be stupid enough to flush it…), using up all of the various packets and bags of flour left on Serendipity Farm (some of it expired last December…) and just about every single process involved in the production of said bricks being ignored . What did I expect? Vinegar bricks is what we got :o(. The vinegar bricks were cut up this morning (Sunday) and strewn in the compost heap in a vain attempt to initiate a few new suites of “organisms” in the mix. I think it is somewhat telling that they are still in the compost heap and even the sparrows are shunning them. After some online research and the addition of several new blogs into my rss feed reader, we are now enlightened members of the online community about sourdough. We have a few adjustments to make to our starter and a couple of new recipes to follow and we should be able to produce something at least edible next time!

Little grape hyacinths that were lazily dumped on the ground to be dealt with later, still in their heap on the ground but flowering against the odds… “way to make a girl feel bad guys!”

Aside from the wonderful crop of Oxalis growing in the pots, these orchids are really enjoying their freedom in the mottled sunshine

Aren’t they beautiful? Very exotic looking but one of the true tough survivors on Serendipity Farm

I wish I had attended the Tamar NRM (natural resources management) Sustainable Living seed swap day before I headed to the meeting because I could at least have collected some free seeds that we could have used in our vegetable garden. I think I am going to have to call yesterday a bit of a dud. Never one to be kept down by a dud day, I got up this morning full of renewed energy and excitement about turning Serendipity Farm over to the Permaculture side. We have decided to move our veggie garden into the external chook coop that is protected from wallabies, rabbits, possums AND chooks (who do the most damage of all 4 if you ask me!) and extend this compound out to form a large area for veggie gardening in. If you can’t beat them…join them! That’s what we are doing…moving our veggie production inside the chook pen to stop them from scratching and pecking their way into the record books for vegetable destruction. They can stand and stare into the compound with their sad little chooky eyes and watch those delicious vegetables grow bigger and riper and the ironic thing is that when the door was open to this area, they never set foot inside!

A little Camellia Reticulata discovered in the undergrowth and free to flower in the sunshine note the clivea underneath

A little flowering quince (Chaenomeles) coming into bloom with a little flowering chook hiding underneath.

One of the natives dropping in for a visit.

It’s been raining for the last few days on Serendipity Farm but we don’t care! We have been holed up slaving for “the man”. In this case, “the man” is our lecturer Nick and we are his beavering slaves. We had procrastinated enough about not doing our Job Specifications for the unit that we are currently undertaking and the memory of manipulating our way around the vernacular and jargon of “the industry” has us twitching at the thought and the Job Specifications are penultimate only to the actual costing of the job where we find out that all of those lovely sustainable touches that make everything more simple and natural actually cost twice as much as doing it old school. The planting alone amounts to $14 000+. Isn’t it lucky that it’s only theoretical? We may be only working on this plan for our Diploma but our lecturer gave us freedom and said “knock yourselves out!” with our plans and we have discovered some amazing products, wonderfully sustainable practices and now have several plans up our sleeves should we ever come into any form of ready currency in the near future.

A bank of mushroom compost and some wood futures (sensibly stacked under the deck close to the house) along with hay for the chook roost

After abandoning Herman’s sour building material offspring earlier in the week, I found a fantastic blog that walked me through the process of sourdough excellence from start to finish and as usual I have been overcomplicating things. The blogger actually said that they don’t even measure their starter, flour or water and just give rough approximations in their bread making. I have been messing about with hydration levels (whatever they are…) with the remaining 3 sourdough starters that I have left. Herman, my original, is still half rye and half white because I am aware that should I kill the other two, I won’t have a starter left so he is being maintained “old school” so that I can fall back on his regular rise and fall should something strange hybridise out of the others. From Herman sprung Ethel Merman, the unbleached organic sister of Herman and mother to Myvanwy (Miff for short) who is a 75% hydrated variant of her mum. Both Ethel and Herman have a steady rise and fall but Miff seems to be bucking the trend. I would have thought that less water would make the process slower and shorter but I would have been wrong! The flour rich sourdough starter goes up and stays up much longer than her predecessors and actually looks very yeasty in comparison to Herman and Ethel who look more “doughy”. I also read that the strongly vinegar smell that I have been concerned about is just a starter phase that most newbies (consider me numero uno newbie on the sourdough starter block!) mistake for their sourdough starters declining and is the cause of many a good sourdough being flushed into the sewer system. The acetic acid bacteria clean out all of the bad bacteria and lay the path for lactic acid and yeast which are the desirable proponents of sourdough. Herman, Ethel Merman and Miff all have a nice fruity yeasty slightly lemony smell now. I expected Herman to still smell vinegary but he has changed. It’s great fun messing about with fermentation. I still haven’t worked out how to stop things from going mouldy in my vegetable crisper. Most probably use them within 6 months might be a good start…

Mushroom futures!

I am going to let you off easy with a shorter post tonight. I don’t even know if I have photos to accompany it! I am usually very regimented about sorting everything out early but sometimes it’s good to fly by the seat of your pants and wing it! I am looking forwards to Christi of http://farmlet.wordpress.com/  blogging fame’s post because she is going to tell us all how to make the heavenly heady concoction she humbly called “Peach and rhubarb jam”, sent to me recently that we are just about to run out of and are doing paper, rock, scissors over who gets to scrape the jar out with their finger…I am just about to head off to the net to see if there is a way that I can cheat to beat the odds! See you all on Saturday when it’s supposed to be a sunny day and Earl has bagsed a nice long walk on the beach :o)