Sunday, June 18, 2006

I'm really trying to not get caught up in cupcakes.

I haven't got a sweet tooth; I'm not exactly slim, and the last thing S.O. and I need is a dozen cakes here at any one time.

I've got a great big jar of beads and buttons though ~ bakelite, resin, old, new ~ and found myself turning them into brooches the other day. Well, actually, they started off as a necklace, but it didn't quite work.

But look, they're cupcakes. A dozen of the little treasures. I can wear them and not gain a gram, and a number of gift issues are solved. I give you...


These ones are particularly earthy wintery colours, but I'm looking forward to some really cupcake colours soon.

Another one.

I already have far too many cookbooks, but it was a lovely bookshop browsing Saturday, and I had new glasses, all the better to see with, so I succumbed and bought Karen Martini's Where the Heart Is. The Melbourne Wine Room is one of our favourite places, so Karen releasing a book was a must have.

I tihnk it will become an oft used one. Some nice refinements and changes to a number of old favourites.

To relieve the guilt of another cookbook I really didn't need to have, I also bought The Ethics of What We Eat, Peter Singer and Jim Mason's extraordinary book. I haven't thought about becoming a Vegan again since Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation

I love the structure of Singer's book, taking three families and tracking their food choices back through their means of production, specifically looking at humane animal practice. While I knew a bit about intensive chicken farming, the pig farming nearly broke my heart. It is confirming my efforts to go that bit further and get organic 'happy' meat whenever possible. And if we can't, well, we should just do without.

Nothing much new on the food stakes this week.

Our good eating friends joined us Sunday evening but announced on their arrival that had very, very ordinary shanks and couscous the night before at one of their friend's places. Quelle horreur! We were having...gulp... shanks and coucous. But it was okay. And they both scoffed lots of bread. They were so enthusiastic about it, that I gave M a loaf to take home. And she paid me the greatest compliment ~ she'd been trying to work out a way of hiding it in her clothing on the way back from the bathrom. Doesn't get much better than that.

Other than Sunday, a lot of takeaway and eating out, with one fritatta thrown into the mix about Wednesay.

I am v. excited though that my Sourdough Starter arrived. I have been feeding it diligently all week and it's looking like it might be a goer. Next Saturday will be the proof (or is that the proving?)

Earlier in the week our friend Pete had left part of a bottle of Cooper's Pale Ale here. What better thing to do than to make some Beer Bread. Very cute. Came out like five interlocking mini loaves or large rolls. Not our favourite so far, but quite decent.

Used up the end of the beautiful spiced cherries in a mid-week Ice Cream Sundae. Ice cream, cherries with their spicy syrup, organic cream and flaked almonds. Deeeelicious!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Lala is a very naughty Wookie

As mentioned in previous post, I made a couple of small ciabatta loaves on Saturday night. They were proving under teatowels in the loungeroom, and from the front of the house we heard a bit of a racket, but figured the cookbooks had tumbled off their shelf again and thought nothing of it.

Some 20 minutes later, I went to put the bread in the oven. Only one loaf remained.

Our very bad schnauzer, whose guts we always knew would get her into trouble had scoffed about 600 grams of uncooked bread dough.

Hysterical I called the vet, who confirmed that, yes, it could do her some damage and to keep a very close watch on her. Over the next couple of hours, she puked up various bread roll sized lumps of dough around the backyard. Once we knew she was out of danger, she was in serious trouble.

Handy tip ~ embed vet magnet in loaf of bread for easy access.

She's looking a bit sorry for herself today.

The week's Vittles

Sausages twice this week. That's bad. But when they're as good as Romeo's and it's freezing outside it's hard to resist. The first round was the Italian Pork Sausages with creamy polenta. Paula Wolfert's oven baked polenta, and it's marvellous. Really creamy and absolutely no stirring. S.O. cooked up the snags in a tomato ragu and of course the polenta had some cheese in it.

Then something slightly more healthy ~ roast lemon chicken with coucous studded with basil, olives, capsicum, preserved lemon.

Thursday night, Black Pudding redux with apple and mustard mash for me. He's scared of the black pudding, so had a salami, chessy melty thing on that good bread wot I made.

Friday ~ Turkish takeaway.

Saturday ~ more successful bread making to a point. Some of the dough was made for the pizza, with the rest becoming two small loaves of ciabatta. However, there was an incident. See next entry.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Soup and Bread

The stock turned out beautifully and I turned it into a beef, veg and bean soup. Very hearty and delicious.. and Cornucopia's Organic Chuck Steak. And much greater success with the bread ~ not a sourdough though.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

See, I told you.

Just before we bin it, as it's impossible to cut, here it is in all its building brick glory. Actually the flavour was quite nice. (I did manage to rip a bit off while it was still warm.) However, once it cooled, there was no slicing it with anything less than a chainsaw.

To cheer myself up I bought a big bag of organic beef bones at the market and am making a huge pot of beef stock in the new stockpot.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I am so confident...

...that the sourdough is going to be a complete disaster that I have bought some genuine Authentic San Francisco Sourdough Starter .

Is it cheating? I don't know. Will it be good? I sincerely hope so.

This is what Linda's starter and finished loaves look like, and she offers free Tech Support. What a service.

Stay tuned.

I don't care what Chris Manfield says... I am ALARMED

You will recall the Sourdough Starter from Sunday. Well, she has been festering away for five days now. Not really sure what I should be looking for in a Starter, I thought perhaps the time had come to turn her into something edible. Therein lies the problem. I'm not confident that it will be edible.

Chris Manfield's tells me not to be alarmed at the stickiness of the dough. Sticky! I think I've created a new glue. In fact, her very words are "Do not be alarmed at how difficult it is to handle." Well, frankly Chris, I am decidedly alarmed.

I put before you the '3 Stages of Starter' for your persual. From top to bottom:

1. The initial starter sludge to be left for a couple of days under a wet tea towel.
2. The medium starter sludge after a couple of days.
3. The truly alarming finished 'bread' (and I use the term loosely) sludge in its tin awaiting the oven to preheat.

Stay tuned. It'll be a laugh if nothing else.

It's a cold and rainy night here in Sydney town. Going out for a movie is currently off the agenda. It's books and take away for us... And of course the general hysteria over the bread in a couple of hours.

Almost a week has passed

A bit of experimentation, some more successful than others.

Dinners ~ chicken involtini, the continuing search for the perfect snag (and I do believe we're getting pretty close), Georgian Cheese Bread (not one of my better efforts) and a very artistic pizza created by S.O.

The Cheese Bread didn't cook properly and was a bit underdone in the centre. Shame, because the filling was delicious ~ mozzarella, goat's milk feta and ricotta. Damn. Still it's all part of the learning process.

I have bought some snags at Fox Market which are pretty close to perfect. We have had both the Toulouse and the Berkshire thus far.