An update and things coming together

It’s all pretty amazing when things start coming together. I mean, you plot, you plan and you dream and you try and cram the plotting, planning and dreaming into reality, dodging around obstacles like time, money, weather, differing ideas, legal requirements and everything else and you hope to come up with a workable situation that hasn’t strayed too far from your first inspired musings.

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Heidi, grandfather and Aunt Dete hurrying away

My initial dreams involved up to 5 acres, an eco friendly house built by my own two hands, robust and healthy children who look liked they had escaped from Heidi, friendly animals, beautifully landscaped (but not rigid) gardens and fresh produce pouring from their richly composted soil. The reality is a little different.

We have a 1/2 acre, the house was not built by my own two hands although I have had a lot of input into the design and materials used and we have been as eco friendly as the budget allowed for (low VOC paints, woolen carpets over recycled fibre underlay and LED lights). My children don’t have the plump legs and ruddy complexions of Heidi fame but they are healthy and happy and sporting somewhat of a tan, testament to their enjoyment of outdoor life. Our animals aren’t quite as keen on us as we are on them but Milly and Molly are getting more comfortable although Mandy still keeps her distance. The baby chicks are well acclimatised to children as they are picked up and carted around by the kids for a couple of hours each day and the silkies are fast becoming favourites (Mrs Silverpants was replaced last night along with her companion Dandelion the white silkie and Goldie or Gold Star the golden silkie). The baby chicks are used to being handled by us too although they still peg it during the day (we go out each night to make sure they’re either sleeping in a nesting box or on the perch which they’ve finally figured out last night too). The gardens are not the verdant oases I dreamed of and their soil, although rich, is not as rotted down as I had dreamed. It’s getting there now though. We do have crops coming along nicely too. I have 2 zucchinis that will be ready in the next day or 2 (they’re taking longer I think due to the still un-rotted garden beds) and my corn are flowering and I can see the beginning of corn cobs. ๐Ÿ˜€ My watermelons won’t make harvest this year but I will try transferring them even though they hate it. I have nothing to lose at this stage. My tomatoes are still coming along in the garden too. I live in fear of possums discovering them but we appear to have few of those thieving little blighters around thankfully. My broccoli are doing much better since I got up close and personal with them, rubbing the underside of their leaves and squishing all the caterpillar eggs (or are they butterfly eggs – defined by what they hatch into or what lays them?) and caterpillars of the (presumably) coddling moths that had turned their leaves into fine green lace. They still look a little lacy but much happier. My onions haven’t even made it to pickled onion stage sadly but then again I never really expected them to. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The greenhouse garden

The greenhouse garden, marked out with sticks and some used chicken straw for nutrients. I will mulch it when the seedlings are up more. Thanks for the idea Narf. ๐Ÿ™‚

But it’s the greenhouse I am most amazed with and proud of in our garden. It’s a Sproutwell greenhouse built from a kit I bought off eBay (they also have a website and the price is the same) and the garden beds I built myself using corrugated iron and hardwood corner posts. The hardwood we already had and the iron, bought from my uncle, makes each bed cost $1.50! WIN! Anyway, I’ve built 3 beds in there and filled and planted 1 of them. I transplanted the tomatoes from the second martie bed as they were very small and not going to make harvest before the frost arrived so I had nothing to lose. I planted my mandarin, banana and lemon trees in there first, then the transplanted tomatoes and transplanted marigolds in there, some beans planted down the side, transplanted capsicums, rocket seeds between them, then planted carrot and radish seeds, some spinach seeds, leek seeds, coriander seeds, transplanted chives and also chive seeds. So far the chive seeds are the only ones I haven’t seen a sprout from yet. I also transplanted in a pumpkin that popped up from seeds I’d scooped out of a pumpkin around Christmas time and planted out mid January. So, although it’s not yet that verdant oasis, it is well on its way to being a nifty little food garden.

Radishes

Capsicums and radishes

A bean

A bean

Carrot wisps :)

Carrot wisps ๐Ÿ™‚

Spinach

Spinach

Capsicums and rocket

Capsicums and rocket with a tomato and the beans in the background. The carrots are near the icy-pole stick.

Nice mangel wurzels ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ve also bought some more interesting seeds – mangel wurzels which are like turnips but they get HEAPS bigger and if harvested small they’re good for human consumption or if left to grow out, great for cattle and chickens. I wanted to try them just because I can! I’ve also finally sourced some black carrot seeds (purple/black inside and out and amazing for antioxidants), kale, rainbow chard and some other bits and bobs. I’m planning some BIG gardens over winter. ๐Ÿ˜€ And speaking of winter gardens, I’ve started building the garden beds to go in. The existing beds will be raked up to fill the new ones and they’re a little shorter but I can double the amount of beds, greatly increasing planting area overall. I am eagerly awaiting Autumn now, something I NEVER thought I would say. ๐Ÿ™‚

But the most fun of all is that Ignisa and I are starting to work together. We’ve had some veryย unseasonablyย cold weather this last week and Ignisa, our lovely Gourmet Cooker has been alight for about 44 hours although she’s been resting for the last hour or 2 but I’m getting cold again so reckon it’s time to fire her up again.. We need to organise some hardwood to burn (if anyone local has any they’re getting rid of or selling…?) but in the meantime we have been able to make do with our existing poplar stocks which isย marvelousย that we can use them up. ๐Ÿ™‚ We also had a little bit of plum from a tree that we chopped down after it died at Spotswood. I started off by bringing in our old DVD shelves and then arranged them in such as way as to make a surround or frame for the stove. I’ve now got some space for trinkets, wood, kindling and fire lighting paper. The lamps came out and look lovely too, bringing some pleasant ambiance to the room. The fire guard, half of our playpen is doing duty as a fire guard and at night it makes a great clothesrack too once stoo up on it’s ends. ๐Ÿ˜€ Multitasking and repurposing at its best. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve done some cooking with Ignisa too. ๐Ÿ˜€ I cooked a compete meal on her the other evening, spuds in the oven and then fried off the bacon in aย fry panย on top and breakfast this morning was homemade sourdough English muffins cooked on Ignisa and a hot chocolate made with her heat too – another complete meal. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also baked bread in her belly the other night but the oven was a wee bit hot (like 350C rather than 200C required). Should be fine once I carve off the top inch. lol

3 bookshelves arranged just so

3 bookshelves arranged just so

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English muffins and hot chocolate – this mornings breakfast

Briquette?

Briquette?

I also did some more unpacking – DVD’s away (not that they will see much use given the lack of tv), my crystal radio set up and working (I need to find a better station with some music although ABC news radio is ok too), and I’ve been knitting away getting clothes ready for winter. The kids each have a new hat and I’ve made a scarf for Orik too. I need to source some more yarn to make Allegra a scarf so it’s time to dig into the stash. I also knitted my first dishcloth using this pattern and I’m happy with how it’s come out. Now to test it and see how it works.

Our food is improving on a weekly, if not daily basis. I’ve committed to making sourdough pasta using this recipe so we are slowly using up our normal pasta which I can’t eat and once it’s gone, that’s it. We’re now drinking real milk, our veggie box arrives each week from Highland Heritage (I highly recommend contacting them if you’re local and interested as their produce is first rate) and I’ve started culturing milk too – milk kefir is like super dooper yakult and it tasted a HEAP better as well as being heaps better for you. Google kefir if you’re interested. I just don’t know enough about it at this stage other than to say it’s very good for you and not unpleasant to taste.

Bertha was also split and fattened up and her daughter, Agnetha has gone to her new home. Bertha will be fed and split again and posted this week to The Eco Mum and Narf so you should see some mail coming your way soon ladies. I had planned to post it today but I haven’t fed her or her babies enough for the rigors of travel. ๐Ÿ™‚

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My Bertha, Agnetha her daughter and the tub with my bread in it at the bottom of the picture.

A Dexter. Photo is not such a good one of the cow but gives a brilliant idea of their size.

They come in black (most common) dun and red, polled or horned, short legged or normal. I think these are polled and the black one closest appears to be short legged. Aren’t they pretty. ๐Ÿ™‚

My latest project, much to the horror of my darling long-suffering husband is to purchase a house-cow. Yep, a cow! ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t have a cow, she wouldn’t be a full sized one and nor will she be a genetically twisted (albeit via breeding only) miniature cow but a genuine naturally occurring small breed cow, the Dexter. The average Dexter cow, when fully grown will stand no higher at the hip than Jasper. They stand around and just over the 1m mark although the bulls are up to 1.17m I think (44in) so they really are quite small. They’re easy calvers, easy milkers, friendly animals and make excellent lawnmowers! ๐Ÿ˜€ They also require a lot less pasture space and although we don’t quite have enough land for exclusive grass feeding we may have access to some good local and I believe organically grown hay. It’s also another reason I want to try growing mangel wurzels as they used to be used for winter and early spring food in the UK for cattle. We are big dairy people here with hot chocolates, homemade yoghurt, custard and cheese (not yet homemade) on our menu with frequency. I want to know that our dairy is organic and hence free of hormones, anti-biotics and all the rest of the garbage pumped into many commercial cows (I’m not sure how much of that is dairy cows rather than beef cows which I believe are treated with regularity in factory farming conditions but any of that gunk is too much gunk) and I also want to know that it’s cruelty free. These cows are prolific milk producers for their size and can easily feed 2 or even 3 calves so I figure that there is no need to remove the calf from mother and we can simply milk the excess. No poddy calves! ๐Ÿ˜€ I also want to know that our milk is local. Full respect to dairies around Australia but I would prefer to support any in the district and preferably my own back yard… Literally. ๐Ÿ˜€ I also want to be able to give my children raw milk, full of all the wonderful goodness that milk contains, not pasteurised to within an inch of its life. I understand that pasteurisation aims to kill nasty bugs but it also kills many beneficial ones and a single cow raised at home will be much easier to maintain in a sanitary milking condition than hundreds of them all traipsing in manure and mud. And that brings me to another great reason for keeping a cow… I want her manure for my gardens. ๐Ÿ™‚ Bonus fertiliser cakes. ๐Ÿ˜› Dexter cows are also great for their meat which is reported to be superior – a wonderful duel purpose cow. They can also be trained to pull like oxen, something that will come in handy in a post peak oil world. Any bull calves would be fattened up for organic, pasture-fed, free-range, cruelty free (need to find an on-site butcher) and utterly local beef. It’s a HUGE undertaking though, with initial costs, commitment (10 months of the year they lactate and they live for up to 20 years, even more) and we obviously need to check council rules and permits (definitely required) and whether we have or can access sufficient fodder (I do not want to grain feed except maybe as a treat) and there is also up to 10 litres of milk a day to work through. I would need to make cheese on a daily basis which would be far too much for us to eat) and I’d still have enough left over for custard, yoghurt, bechamel sauce, Orik’s bottles and all the rest. It’s very exciting to dream though and following up on information and researching is keeping the old brain box ticking.. ๐Ÿ™‚

So anyway, that’s the updates for now. There is lots happening, lots in the pipleline and many many more things on the discussion table. It’s a busy time and I’m loving it. ๐Ÿ˜€ What’s the news in your slice of paradise?

A death in the house and bottling more apricots.

We have our first death in the household since moving here. One of our 4-5 week old chicks, named John after our builder who first saw he wasn’t well, died last night. I got home about 10pm from bottling (more on that in a minute), got the kids into bed (I don’t normally kep them up that late but Martin was in Spotswood packing up the old house and we had been working hard until then so it was a needs must situation) then I finally got the chance to bring in our chicks. They’re around 5 weeks of age which means they’re nearly ready for life in the big pen but in the meantime they’re being slowly acclimatised by being taken out each morning and brought back in every evening. They’re enclosed in our old chook house, a small kit build one a friend gave me about 2 years ago which is plenty big enough for now 8 small chicks and it gives them time to get used to the other hens and roosters, and them to the smaller chicks too, before they’re in the pen proper. Well, when I brought them in last night John was a pretty miserable bundle of feathers. He was cold and stiff and I was convinced he was gone. Given how sick he’s been and that he hasn’t grown in a couple of weeks I had been fully expecting it and, if I’m brutally honest with myself (and you too of course) I was grateful too. A sick chick IS a lot of extra work AND he would have been so very miserable. Well, as I picked up this cold stiff little bundle of feathers he drew in a very sick gaspy little breath. Unbelievably he was still alive. I bedded the chicks down inside and said farewells to John (I am a sentimental fool I know), knowing full well he would not be with us in the morning. He was not. Orik couldn’t care less of course and Allegra just took it in her stride. It was just another piece of information to her as she’s still a bit young to really comprehend what had happened but Jasper is fully aware of what had happened and was most upset he couldn’t pat John again and couldn’t see him again and so on. We had a pat and said goodbye, both of us with streaming tears and John is currently sitting on top of Ignisa our wood heater, in a small tin awaiting Daddy to come home to perform a funeral. It seems kind of silly to hold a funeral for a 5 week old chick but I think it’s probably a necessary thing for Jasper to complete the hard little life lesson he’s just learned. He knows about death but it’s never been such real and tangible thing, only ever an abstract concept gained from his Granddad having passed years before he was born.

In other more positive news, yesterday was spent up to the eyeballs in apricots, finished off with super sweet white nectarines. I headed over to Phoenix Park, a great caravan park with cabins and a most marvelous hall where we set up the pressure canner, Fowlers Vacola water bath, dozens of jars, bowls and between us, 30kgs of apricots and 5kgs of white nectarines, all organic and absolutely delicious. We had freshly made Vegemite and cheese scrolls and brown rice mushroom risotto for lunch, then got stuck into halving our apricots. I had decided to halve them and if the halves were complete and whole I would bottle them but if they were blemished or bruised etc, then the apricot minus the blemished part would be turned into apricot nectar for drinking. I bottled 16 of the #27 jars of apricots in water and 4 of the #36 jars and a #20 of nectar but sadly I forgot the golden rule and I unloaded hot jars onto a cold bench (in my defense I had only made it to bet at 1:15 the night before with a 5am wake up and I was pretty much exhausted when I was unloading the jars) so I’ve broken 2 of my #36’s and I have a 3rd of questionable condition as it’s leaked over 1/2 of its contents. It’s made me stop and think about several aspects of bottling juice but I’ve not given up yet. It sounds crazy, even to me, but it took us 11 hours to bottle 16 jars of apricots in water, 8 in light syrup, 7 bottles (I think) of nectarines and 6 or 7 bottles of apricot nectar as well as processing 30kgs of apricots and 5kgs of nectarines but we also had my 3 monkeys and a 9 month old in the mix! Not a bad achievement in my books.

So, here are the photos I promised from yesterday.

Sterilising jars

Sterilising jars

First jar of apricot halves . I figured out a better way to stack them in after this one.

First jar of apricot halves . I figured out a better way to stack them in after this one.

Left to right: With lid awaiting clip, clipped and ready to process and jar filled with apricots and water and ring on awaiting the lid and clip.

Left to right: With lid awaiting clip, clipped and ready to process and jar filled with apricots and water and ring on awaiting the lid and clip.

After processing. 10 successfully processed jars, 1 that appears to have sealed but with a LOT of air in it in the fridge and a small jar (#20) of nectar.

After processing. 10 successfully processed jars, 1 that appears to have sealed but with a LOT of air in it in the fridge and a small jar (#20) of nectar. Clips will come off tomorrow.

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Halving apricots and 4 well-behaved kids (with a very tired Orik who fell asleep within 5 minutes of taking the photos.

Broken jar. I put it on the bench and no sooner had I moved my hand away (thankfully) than POP! Vomit! What a mess!

Broken jar. I put it on the bench and no sooner had I moved my hand away (thankfully) than POP! Vomit! What a mess!

My other broken jar. :( The white you can see is actually VERY fine bubbles creating a path through the puree heading to higher ground.

My other broken jar. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ The white you can see is actually VERY fine bubbles creating a path through the puree heading to higher ground.

The same leaky jar with my other unsuccessful jar of nectre in the background. Only half full so it may not have sealed adequately with all the space (air) in the bottle. One to be used quickly.

The same leaky jar with my other unsuccessful jar of nectar in the background. Only half full so it may not have sealed adequately with all the space (air) in the bottle. One to be used quickly.

This morning was a very slow start after the late night we’d had. Orik slept until 7:30 (although he came in for milk at some ungodly hour of the night before dawn), Allegra after 8 and Jasper slept until almost 9. I think he would happily have stayed in bed longer except for his sister being insistent he get up accompanied by a grumbly tummy. As we broke our fast at around 9:30 10 I went out to take the chicks outside and was greeted by a couple of visitors I hadn’t expected to see. I knew we had kookaburras around as one had been visiting and eating the resident skinks from my potato beds and compost heap and then had returned that evening with a friend whereupon they’d caught the mouse Minnie had rejected the day before and another skink or 2. Given their predilection for snakes and other reptilia they are so very welcome. ๐Ÿ˜€ In fact we will be encouraging them to come visiting.

This morning's visitors. He took flight just as I hit the button but it's not every garden that has 2-3 kookaburras come and visit and not many that have a kookaburra perching on the edge of the trampoline. I think Martin's a little sorry he missed seeing them.

This morning’s visitors. He took flight just as I hit the button but it’s not every garden that has 2-3 kookaburras come and visit and not many that have a kookaburra perching on the edge of the trampoline. I think Martin’s a little sorry he missed seeing them.

The other kookaburra.

The other kookaburra.

The fellow on the trampoline flew off a little so I followed after him and was blessed to be able to stand about 3 metres away from him. They really do have the most amazing glossy hard black eyes. Predatory, without being cruel if that makes sense. Sadly I didn’t get laughed at (never thought I’d say THAT in my life) but I was snickered at, a slow craaaak… craaaak… craaaak… but not the full-throated belly laugh. Is there any other bird in the world with such a distinctive and joyful call I wonder? It is simply marvelous to hear them chortling and chucking away in the trees across the creek and it never fails to make me smile. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you have never heard a kookaburra’s laugh, check out this link. Well, Mr Kookaburra was warmly welcomed and most cordially invited to drop in whenever he fancies and no need to call first. In fact he was told he’s welcome to make himself at home whether or not we are at home BUT he was warned off the baby chicks (not that he can get to them at the moment anyway but still). What a wonderful cheer me up after John’s discovery this morning. I just wish my photos were better but with limited zoom and an iPhone only and being a less than average photographer… Oh well.

Sitting in our silver poplars next to the house.

Sitting in our silver poplars next to the house. Sorry for the crappy photo.

And finally, I put my kids down for naps this morning as I could see they were cranky from too little sleep and although I know they’re not very eco at all (we’re getting back into cloth again but we have been using sposies just whilst we got settled ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ), Allegra who is just toilet training went back into a nappy for her nap. Jasper was being helpful and went to fetch it for me…

Stick em up and give me all your chocolate!

Stick em up and give me all your chocolate!

Packing and baking

Packing and baking usually aren’t 2 activities that go together but here they most certainly do. The pantry is mostly packed, with only the essential ingredients left out or jars with bits and bobs left which I am hoping we can use up before the move. I didn’t find too many out of date items (surprisingly) however, all of those that I did find are herbs and spices (unsurprisingly). I am looking forward to growing my own herbs though so I can see a big chuck out on the near horizon.

I’ve got the car loaded and ready for a run tomorrow as I’m dying to have a squizz and see how the painting has gone. ย I know they’re working on the trims now which is really exciting. Nearly all done! Then on to tiles. Sorry John, I know that’s going to be a rotten job too. I hope it’s easier than expected.

I’ve also got some errands to run tomorrow, including a trip into Ballarat to sort out details for carpet installation which is very exciting. I think we are on the final lap now! Get that chequered flag a-ready!

Baking however, has become a MUCH larger task than anticipated. I decided to bake to use up some of the aforementioned small amount ingredients but I really must remember to focus when reading recipes. Using the flour measurements to measure out the sugar has resulted in having to make 6 times the original recipe, rather than the double I was aiming for. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Gem scones anyone? I’ve ended up with nearly 200 of them so I hope Martin’s colleagues fancy home-baked morning tea tomorrow. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I have 60 in the freezer as well as about 15-20 for the next few days. On the bright side, no more cacao nibs. ๐Ÿ˜€

Herman AKA Hermy the Thermy

Hermy has been waiting patiently for a proper introduction. It’s well past time I introduced him to you all.

Hermy

Hermy is my Thermomix. The Thermomix is, to put it succinctly, a kitchen crammed into a single, very well built appliance. It can chop, beat, mix, emulsify, mill, knead, blend, cook, stir, steam, weight and melt. Hermy is very important to me in being able to provide my family with nutritious meals that are quick and easy to prepare without needing to buy expensive and preservative laden jars of sauces etc.

Firstly, let me say that I hate cooking. I don’t mind baking but I don’t enjoy food preparation, the cooking and most particularly I hate cleaning up multiple saucepans, boards, utensils and bowls. So, if I’m cooking it is mostly the same meals prepared over and over. Simple meals they are too. Hermy takes most of the hard yakka out of cooking though. He cooks perfect rice in 15 minutes (I can burn rice with flair), and can steam veggies at the same time. He can boil eggs (something else I am hopeless at), cook pasta, grind flour, make casseroles, make soup, chop up a coleslaw, make easyย mayonnaise, butter chicken from scratch, tikka masala paste (my husbands favourite), a divine fruit sorbet, creamy mashed potato, freshly ground flour, soups, casseroles, risottos, custards and much much more! What he can do is pretty much limited only by your imagination and ingredients. There are a few things he doesn’t do though. He doesn’t bake bread, although he makes and kneads the dough beautifully, he doesn’t cook steak, won’t freeze ice-cream although he will make it ready to go in the freezer and he doesn’t get hot enough for popcorn. He also cooks to a maximum of around 100 degrees Celsius (hence why no popcorn) so the ingredients aren’t heated too much killing the nutrients in them.

Empty bowl, quartered and peeled onion, chopped in 5 seconds, sauteed in butter for 3 minutes.

He comes complete so there is no need to buy extra attachments or gear to be able to make different things. In fact there are very few extra accessories that can be bought. It comes with an internal cooking basket which you use for cooking rice (amongย other things), the lid and measuring cup (not with ml or fl oz but some recipes call for MC or 1/2 MC amounts), the steamer tray known as the Varoma and the spatula which has a nifty hook on it for lifting out the basket. There is also the butterfly or whisking attachment. The only other official accessories I know of are the bread mat which I don’t yet have and the Thermoserver, an insulated stainless steel bowl that will keep cooked food hot for ages. I have 2 of these and I use one almost exclusively for making yoghurt. They are well worth the purchase.

Are you wondering yet where you can get one? They aren’t sold in shops, only through demonstrations which are easy to organise – just click here to find out how to book a demo in Australia or let me know if you’re in Western Melbourne or surrounds and I can hook you up to a consultant. For those overseas, just google Thermomix and your country. ๐Ÿ™‚ There is no obligation to buy if you have a demo but you will have had the opportunity to see a great machine in action AND taste some of the foods it can make. Yep, a demo is kind of like having a dinner party that someone else comes and cooks for you. At my demo we started off with mixed berry sorbet, followed with garlic and herb dip, then coleslaw, mushroom risotto and fresh bread rolls and finished off with a lovely lemon custard. You can place an order for your Thermomix on the spot and there are payment options available too. The best bit is that your consultant is there for after sales support. In fact my consultant has become a very very dear friend to me.

They aren’t the cheapest appliance out there, I have to be very honest, but the price truly reflects the quality of workmanship. It is a German company – Vorwerk – so the engineering is, as always, of superior quality and many people, myself included, sell appliances that have had their jobs taken over by the Thermomix so you can recoup some of the money. And we save a lot of money on our groceries as we no longer need to buy jars of sauces or ready made meals. It has, I would say, paid for itself in food savings. And I would use Hermy at least twice a day on average, sometimes up to 6 or 7 times. I may make porridge or pikelet batter in him, clean him, make hot chocolates, clean him, make bread dough, clean him, make lunch in him, a milkshake in the afternoon, clean him, then say rice, then chicken tikka marsala for dinner, custard or sorbet for dessert and later on a hot chocolate for me before bed. There’s a potential 9 or even 10 uses in a day. If we bake cakes or biscuits I would also make the batter/dough in him. Of course this isn’t a daily menu but I would say 5 times a day on average at least. ๐Ÿ˜€

My thoughts on owning a Thermomix are, plretty clearly, rating it VERY highly. There are some things it doesn’t do and others that can maybe be done better by other instruments, but in our household, Hermy has allowed us to do away with many other appliances and there are others we will never need to get (rice cooker, coffee grinder, milk frother, stick blender, bread maker, digital scales, steamer, mix master and there are others. It’s allowed me to make a lot more room in my pantry and cupboards which is never a bad thing and I love that I know EXACTLY what ingredients are in my veggie stock (so often they are not what they seem) and that I can use the high powered blades to work with ingredients that I would have otherwise been limited with (butternut pumpkin soup with the skin and seeds still on – more nutrients and flavour). I love my Hermy the Thermy and wouldn’t be without him now. He has been a large part of the eco jurney we have taken with eating less processed foods so he deserves a lot of credit and recognition in my book.

Love you Hermy.

Sourdough revisited

Well I think I have a workable sourdough recipe now. It has taken several tries and a new sourdough starter but we are there now I think. Well, enough so that I will share the recipe.

I was a little low on flour the other day so by sheer necessity I made a smaller batch. It made 1 nice high singe large loaf which will last my family around 36-48 hours depending on whether we have toast for breakfast or not. It means I’m baking every 1-2 days which is great for the sake of my starter.

I made my starters, one using fresh ground organic spelt flour and the other organic white flour following the recipe with the grapes as previously posted and then when I fed them I used organic rye flour. They seem to dearly love the rye as the silly thing bubbled up so much it overflowed about a 1/2 cups worth… All over my bread bin, down the back and into the bin too. Hence, the loaf of bread in there was ruined. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Nothing like waking up after a bad sleep to exploded sourdough starter.

I used the spet rye starter for this oaf but it should be no difference.

Thermomix sourdough my way. ๐Ÿ™‚

200g organic wheat/spelt grain, mill sp 9 for 2 mins.

Add:

600g organic bread flour
400g filtered water – don’t use tap water as the chlorine in it is unfriendly to sourdough yeasts. You can “air off” the chlorine though I believe by laving the water to sit for 24 or more hours.
400g starter
2 teaspoons Himalayan rock salt or other quality salt (please don’t use the crappy iodised table rubbish)
20g good quality oil. I used EVOO but I’m looking for an oil that doesn’t turn rancid when heated.

Mix sp7 10 secs until combined then 3 mins interval. Tip onto floured board, mat or bench and hand knead just until it is abe to be handled without sticking too much. You will need a bit more flour for this, maybe 1/4 cup or so. This is still quite a sticky dough. Mold into your well oiled or lined bread tin, cover with a tea towel and leave on the bench for 7 hours to rise. Yes, 7 hours. Then bake it fr around an hour at 180 degrees C.

Some recent reading has taught me that grains these days, because of the harvesting technique used do not get the opportunity to sprout. Before modern harvesting techniques, wheat was cut down, gathered into sheaves and stood up outside in shocks to rest. In this time it would possibly begin to sprout which broke down certain enzymes present in the grains which make it much harder to digest. You can achieve the same results by soaking grains until you see them begin to sprout and then drying/dehydrating them again but it is time consuming. The same chemical process apparently occurs when bread is left for extended rising time. Hence it is easier to digest, and in the case of sourdough, has a good chance for the yeasts to multiply, do their thing and rise the bread.

I have a history of later onset gluten intolerance running in my family and I suspect that I have some of the early symptoms so this is a technique that is helping minimise the effects and it is definitely working for me.

I also heard the other day that wheat has been selectively bred over the years to increase the gluten content (selective breeding of plants not GMO) and wheat now contains a LOT more gluten. I can’t source the article I read but I think it used to be around 3% and is currently up to 50% or something incredibly high. No wonder gluten intolerance seems to be on the increase!

Anyway, the long rise time works well for me with the children too. I make the dough just after breakfast whilst I clean up the bomb site kitchen and then I bake it around dinnertime. I can then make use of the oven heat if I need to oven for dinner too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Then my darling husband gets to try it out first as I make him breakfast to eat on his way to work – homemade organic sourdough with homemade homegrown lemon marmalade and a coffee. ๐Ÿ™‚