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…

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

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

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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!)

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

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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.

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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 🙂

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Green Tea, Chainsaws, Moonshine and Redneck Rock down on the farm…

Hi All,

A terrifying thing has just happened…I headed to my “Blog” folder on my PC to look for the beginnings of a blog post. I usually have one or two ideas stuffed up my collective sleeve (I collect things in my sleeves so I am allowed to abuse the vernacular, mostly dirt and dog hair but whatchagonnado when you live on 4 acres out in the bush?) but today I found nada. Nada isn’t a good start folks…nada…zip…zilch…whatever you want to call it means that narf7 has to pull her finger out and get cracking with something for her dear constant readers to pore over with a microscope (you don’t? I am assured many do! 😉 ) for a Wednesday. Hump day arrives and narf7 has responded by being in recovery from her complete and utter addiction to Pinterest last week and by actually doing some work for once. Yesterday I spent the day removing rope and sundry “things” from a massive length of ex-fish-farm netting. The sundry things consisted of a huge amount of sludgy green algae (I removed it with that collective sleeve I mentioned earlier…), assorted chook manure that I kept finding thanks to the chooks being out now and most curious about what I was doing, several white plastic rings that I have NO idea what they were meant for but that made Steve excited to be the new owner of (for “own” read “throw in shed to make more mess…) along with so much thick nylon rope people are going to start talking about us unless I decide to find a tutorial for how to make a hammock that has a half-life.

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Here’s the view from the deck looking over the water at 7.30am on Monday morning and Steve just caught the sun coming up…

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And this is exactly the same spot the last image was taken but at 7am on Tuesday morning…it doesn’t look like the same place does it?! Anyone else think that we are in for a bit of rain in the near future? ;). Note, neither of these images have been Photo shopped.

We have been busy collecting wood and waiting for rain. We have various piles of debris on Serendipity Farm that we would like to imagine that we left there for the specific purpose of allowing the leaves to fall from the branches and mulch the denuded soil, harvesting smaller branches for a hugelkultur base for our soon to be realised ENORMOUS fully enclosed veggie garden (typing that just made me tired…) and for harvesting the larger portions for making Brunhilda the equivalent of a tasting platter. In reality we just piled them up whilst doing the metaphorical equivalent of putting our fingers in our ears and yelling “I CAN’T HEAR YOU” loudly…over and over again. Now we have to deal with our metaphoricals in a more physical way and after poring over ideas to make me look like I am a clever and savvy horticulturalist, environmentalist and permaculturist (all the “ists”) I came up with the idea to use the big bits for firewood. It’s amazing how much wood you actually get out of piles of ex shrubs. Steve and I know…we have been harvesting it all week.

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Ferals enjoying the autumn leaves

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The maple tree has finally started dropping it’s lovely red leaves

The weather for our winter so far (all 5 days of it) has been that glorious mix of crispy squeaky cold mornings and lovely sunny days. I love weather like this. It makes you feel clear headed and full of purpose (even when you aren’t and are just dragging along behind an overexcited dog hell bent on urinating on every shrub he sees). Today we cut more ex-fish farm netting and we collect more firewood. It might not sound interesting but when it all comes together it is both productive and delicious. I have been cooking a lot lately. Lots of wholesome soups and delicious Stromboli’s and my mind is starting to turn to food adventures. I am considering making a sweet Stromboli. How does adding some more sweetener to the dough and some kind of dried fruit and sweet spice sound? How about when I flatten it out (easiest dough to work with folks…) I spread over some grated apple and cinnamon sugar or grated chocolate and orange zest or jam and more sultanas, but this time they have been soaked in rum? Then I roll it all up, tuck in the ends and bake it for the sake of a happy man. I could call it “Stromboli Poly” and could serve it with custard and thick pouring cream. I reckon it’s a date!

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As you can see, we aren’t short of a few leaves here on Serendipity Farm. Do you like where we chose to put the craypot we got for $5 from the progressive garage sale?

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A close up of a vegans nightmare 😉

I got up at 2am this morning. I don’t know if it was the pressing need to write a blog post or just that my mind is a bit twitchy today. I am off to my daughters this weekend and my brain has gone into planning overload. I want to bake up a storm. On the phone yesterday my youngest daughter Bethany told me that they had bought me a tray of friand pans and had also bought me some Matcha green tea powder. They couldn’t find me any locally so they imported it from China! The food miles are prohibitive but apparently I have a certificate with my bag of fluffy green powder to assure me that it is “Genuine Green Tea”. I can only begin to imagine why they would feel the need to issue a certificate with their green tea…I don’t want to imagine it any more…all roads lead to adultered milk powder with stirred in spirulina ;). We are going to have a great time this weekend and I am taking the ingredients for making waffles over with me. I am also going to take the ingredients for friand. Apparently “Friand” is a peculiarly Aussie word for the French “Financier”. They are one and the same thing but we Aussies love to take something and make it our own (just ask the New Zealanders, they have been saying that we pilfered lamingtons, pavlovas and goodness only knows what else from them for years! 😉 ). I have been lusting after friand pans for a while now and whilst I can’t justify buying a set of pans for a single use, I CAN accept them as a gift 😉

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Steve has had Stromboli’s on a regular basis ever since we trialled them for The Virtual Vegan Potluck last month. As an Omni, he has smoked csabai and bacon and feta on his Stromboli’s along with grated cheddar cheese which I hadn’t grated on yet in this picture. This is the Stromboli pre-roll…

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And here it is post roll. You get a good look at our kitchen in the background. That board resting on the floor was designed to fit snuggly over the gas cooktop on that section of cupboards to the left at the rear of this image so that we can use it for extra preparation space. We don’t use this cooktop much in winter as Brunhilda is on pretty much 24/7 so it’s a good idea to utilise the wasted space when we need it the most, when we are up to our armpits in bread dough etc. over the cold winter months.

I have to report to you that Steve will be my guest poster on Saturday. I was twitching about having to get this post AND Saturdays post done yesterday and Steve gallantly came to the rescue. Steve is an attention hog folks…don’t let his mild mannered beatific smile lure you into any false pretences that this man is a benign sideliner…no sooner is my back turned then he has plans for this space. Apparently he is going to give you a history lesson for Tasmania “Steve style”. I just wanted to mention here that I can’t be held responsible for any content that my wonderful quirky Aquarius husband inserts here on Saturday…just hold onto your rollercoaster seat and get ready for a decidedly “side left” experience! I have given him free range so long as he doesn’t go on about religion and politics. He seemed a bit crestfallen there as just about everything going on in Tasmania at the moment has something to do with both and that is where he got the idea about history…you can’t go wrong with historical events…they have already been and Wikipedia has more than enough of them for the average bear. He didn’t really like what Wikipedia said. It bored him. He is easily bored so he is going to rectify that by adding in his own interpretation on events. Good luck…make SURE to affix your safety belts and don’t tell me you weren’t warned when I get back here on Wednesday 😉

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Glad allowed us to take a few shots of her driveway when we were talking to her the other day. See all of those leaves? That’s about 1/8th of the leaves to be raked and claimed by yours truly :). I love it when helping your neighbour is also helping yourself :). The road you can see at the end of Glad’s driveway drops off straight into the river on the other side.

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Aren’t these oaks lovely? The minister for the Auld Kirk church next door to us was buried in Glad’s garden somewhere as her home used to be the church manse. I wonder if Glad knows where he is?

I’m back. Did you miss me? I have been outside collecting wood and cutting net while the sun shone which wasn’t all that long to be honest but at least we were able to get some of what we wanted done. Steve has been wrestling with his chainsaws which have both apparently gone on strike. I decided to retreat to the safety of the house to protect my delicate ears from the ensuing stream of profanity and decided to finish off this post. I have fed Audrey and she is ruminating nicely on the kitchen bench. I like to give her a little bit of time out in the warmth of the kitchen to make up for the fact that she pretty much lives in the fridge. I have also transferred my milk kefir grains from their twice weekly dunking in “real” milk to a container of homemade soy milk made from organic beans and date paste. The grains LOVE date paste. I have been watching them closely to see if there was going to be any negative connotations with putting them into non-dairy milk on a long term basis but haven’t seen anything yet. If anything, they appear to grow faster when they live like this. I guess they know that they are going to have a nice holiday in regular milk every couple of days and have decided to make the best of it. I get the feeling that certain sections of the yeast/bacteria symbiosis that forms the complex relationship we know as kefir grains love nothing more than fruit sugar. I had read that you can double ferment kefir by adding fruit to the finished result for the kefir grains to continue to feed on. I use date paste because they seem to like it a lot. They actively feed on it whenever they are added to the date sweetened soymilk and I have started to get adventurous with my combinations

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I was talking to Roxy, our friend who lives down the road on the way past her home yesterday and as she volunteers in the local Beaconsfield thrift shop I asked her to keep her eyes open for any hand knitted jumpers that I could buy and unpick for the wool. She said “hang on a minute” and came out with a bag of wool. This bag contains 5 balls of a lovely khaki green wool. Not sure what I am going to make with it but I think I might make Steve some fingerless gauntlets

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She also gave me a large bag of hand spun wool that she had spun herself. I will be making myself some gauntlets out of this gorgeousness. I love sharing. We gave Roxy and Guy a whole lot of potted plants to plant out on their property and Roxy, in turn has been very generous back with veggies and this lovely wool. Developing community allows one mans trash to become another mans treasure. Roxy said that she had knitted herself enough beanies, gloves and scarves to last her a lifetime and I was welcome to the rest of the wool. I will try my hardest to do it justice. Any suggestions for patterns (pointing me in the right direction online) would be most gratefully listened to 🙂

I am not all that sure that my adventurousness is being rewarded. I have combined the finished kefir with some homemade coconut milk that I made a while ago (from fresh coconut meat not dried) and promptly put into the cold part of the fridge and promptly forgot all about. I found it the other day when I was hunting for cheese for a sandwich for Steve. I opened the top and it didn’t smell “bad” so I decided to throw it into the kefir mix. Not so sure it was a good move…it tastes nice but it seems to have added something explosive to my kefir mix. The kefir has started to bulge alarmingly in its 3 litre plastic milk container. I opened it this morning and the lid blew off! It is über fizzy, tastes lovely and as I have been adding more date paste to keep the mixture fermenting it is certainly using what I give it. I figure that I have made a sort of date, coconut and soy hooch. I tossed in a bit of leftover almond and oat milk this morning and the kefir assimilated it like the Borg. I don’t know what I have created but I feel like Dr Frankenstein once he lost control of his creation…it may yet go over to the dark side and need euthanising but for now, it’s great fun and so long as I remember to release the gasses from the finished kefir every time I go to the fridge, I shouldn’t have to clean up an almighty mess any day soon. (Note to self…remember to use it all BEFORE you go away for the weekend… 😉 )

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This is what “real eggs” look like folks. Those feathered Somalian pirates do have some benefits. The problem is, it is getting increasingly harder to find where the crafty minxes are laying!

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Remember that tree that rotted and dropped and is being propped up by another tree right next to the house? Well it’s still there…sigh…

The chainsaw just started and kept going so I figure that means “SUCCESS!” and it might be safe to step outside and check if the bit of drizzle that we have had so far is adding anything to our rainwater quotient. Steve now sounds like he is trying to play “The Chainsaw Song” by Jackyl (a band from the 80’s folks…I hadn’t heard of them either…) on one of his long suffering chainsaws. To illustrate what I am talking about here is a link to the song…watch it, and then you will understand what I mean…incidentally…I would like to apologise for the 30 seconds of “Kardashians” that you will be forced to watch before the actual video commences…please feel free to get a bucket in readiness for the inevitable vomit response that will highly likely occur…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A52p9jc-gOo

Now let’s get something straight from the get-go…Steve and I both LOVE this song. We are apparently both Sidmouth Rednecks in the making but manage to stifle it most of the time. You can be sure that we are both jumping around the kitchen for the duration of the song (and I dare you to remain seated…its catchy folks 😉 )…aside from that you might be forgiven for thinking that Bon Scott from ACDC has somehow taken possession of the lead singer of Jackyl…he hasn’t. The man’s name is “Jessie James Dupree” (somehow incredibly fitting) and aside from being a pretty good and most athletic singer in a redneck band, you may have seen him in the heinous approximation of a television show called “Full Throttle Saloon”. Much like Mr David Lee Roth who is also an athletic and very good singer, Mr Dupree seems to be squandering his talents. At least Mr Lee Roth is driving an ambulance…Mr Dupree seems hell bent on getting Mr Lee Roth as much work as he can handle.

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This is an Osteospermum daisy. It is my nemesis. I decided to share this photo with you because they do look pretty but they aren’t welcome here along with their Vinca major mates!

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Since we cleared out all of the competing undergrowth from around this lovely Protea it hasn’t stopped flowering. It’s probably the happiest plant on Serendipity Farm

Steve appears to have a desire to become an aging redneck. His hero is a now deceased man called Popcorn Sutton. Popcorn Sutton made the best moonshine in the U.S. Steve is in awe of the mention of his name. He has an uncanny ability to dance just like Popcorn Sutton and wants me to video him doing his hillbilly shuffle so that we can rotoscope him for posterity. Should this strange (and somewhat disturbing) video ever eventuate, I promise to share it with you all here on The Road to Serendipity, cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye folks! By the way…what is it about half naked men with long hair that appeals to me girls? Give me an 80’s Pearl Jam clip and I am gone! ;).

Here is a “Doodied up” version of Popcorn Sutton dancing…marvel at those moves folks and know that Steve has been studying them intently and can replicate them in minutiae…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E575kEtKRBs

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Finally we see fungus! Anyone who has been hanging around Serendipity Farm and this blog for long enough will know of my undying love and respect for my fungal companions here on planet Earth. I have NO idea what this fungus is, all I know is that they tend to grow on tree stumps and rotting wood in large clumps like this.

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Isn’t this pretty? My love for fungi knows no bounds 🙂

I might make this a slightly shorter post than usual and leave it here folks. It is starting to get late and it’s already almost dark at 2.45 in the afternoon! I have my evening routines to start at 3 when we feed the dogs and everything flows from there till about 7pm when we get to both sit down (after racing around after animals all over the place) and have a well-earned rest. We think Frank and his wife have headed off to Canada as they have been strangely quiet on the Western Front. We did see a good friend who used to work at the Alanvale Polytechnic when we attended horticulture lectures there for 2 years (Hi Nat :o) ) who used to be the head groundskeeper. He wasn’t ANYTHING like Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons and was more like Mr MacGyver (Mr Smarty-pants fix it with string…) from the hit television series of the same name that back in 1985. Corey could fix ANYTHING and was/is the most laid back person I have ever met. Today we saw him driving a truck load of gravel for a new house being built right next door to Frank’s house.  So we have impunity to see just how many roosters we can populate Serendipity Farm with in the 6 months that Frank will be absent without leave. Let’s take some bets on how many shall we? The winner takes them all! 😉