5 November 2007

A wonderful sun day

Yesterday was a day of gardening, cooking and sewing for me. It was quite hot here so before the sun hit the garden I was out there cutting back the pigeon peas. Most of the vegetables are growing well and our nectarines are the sweetest and juiciest we've ever tasted. Sadly there are a lot of fruit fly around and we've had to cover most of the fruit with exclusion bags to keep these tiny flies out. They lay their eggs in the fruit so it all needs to be cut open for checking before we eat it. I'd hate to bite into one and have a mouth full of wrigglers. Ack!

I planted some borlotti beans before I came back inside and I hope they'll give me some more dried beans to store in the stockpile cupboard. Bortolli beans are one of any number of beautiful pink or purple and cream beans that look like jewels until you cook them, then they are a lovely cream colour. They're a really good bean for salads or soups, so a good all round bean for storing. The seeds I planted are a bush variety, so they won't grow too tall.

I made a nice heavy brown loaf yesterday. It's the first time I've used this flour and it's absolutely delicious. The crust was crusty and the crumb was light. The bread was one of my best yet, even if I do say so myself. : )

You can see in the first photo that along with the bread there is also a large pottery crock (the one Tricia gave me) and a Fowlers jar with a cloth cover. I'm becoming increasingly interested in fermented foods and these are two of the fermented foods I commonly make. I'm going to get a book from the library to find other foods that use this ancient method. Bread, cheese, wine, beer, tea, pickles, sauerkraut, vinegar and yogurt all all common foods that use fermentation in their production. The sauerkraut I made in winter was delicious and I'd like to expand my recipe base for fermented foods. I have some vinegar mother here that has developed on my apple cider vinegar and I'm going to see if I can make more vinegar using it.

The picture above is the beginning of my sourdough. I made this starter with one cup bread flour and one cup water. I'll feed it for a few days before using half of it in a loaf, I'll continue feeding the other half for more bread. As the starter ages, the flavours develop more and you get better bread. I hope to keep this start going for a long time.

Unlike the loaf I made yesterday that I added dried yeast to, sourdough relies on collecting the wild yeast in the air. That is why it takes a long time to develop. The wild yeasts need to settle on the flour and water then multiply enough to start fermentation. It's a really interesting process and reminds me how many bacteria, yeasts and microscopic life forms surround us every day in our homes.

So what is in the crock? Ginger beer! I made a plant of ginger powder, sugar and water about seven days ago and have fed it every day since. Yesterday I added some sugar syrup, lemon juice and water to the strained ginger plant and here is the ginger beer. I'm keeping it in the crock for a couple of days to ferment some more and develop more flavour. There are about six litres in the crock, so I also have to find some bottles to store it in. I always have a problem finding plastic bottles from a source I trust. I might have to ring my son and ask him to save me some from his restaurant.

More reading on fermentation.

After a long relaxing lunch, I watched Gardening Australia because they featured the nuns' garden from the TV series, The Abbey. I didn't watch the series, but wanted to. It's on too late for me and we have no way of recording it. So seeing the nuns' garden and the nun who tended the garden was a real treat. She has turned her leaks into perrenials by simply cutting them off at ground level. Doing this she got three harvests of leaks instead of the usual one. Good one, sister!

After lunch was spent talking to Kathleen on the phone and working on my swap aprons. I think I should have them done next weekend. I'm not rushing myself with them as I want to do a good job and I'm thinking of my swap partners while I'm sewing. I'm also thinking of all our swappers and the little community we've built up here. I am really proud to be a part of it.

I'm working at my voluntary job today and tomorrow. My lunch will be a sandwich of my bread with backyard eggs, boiled and mashed, with home grown lettuce, S & P and a little homemade mayo, two nectarines and some organic black tea. : )

I hope you all had a productive weekend and enjoyed time relaxing with loved ones.


  1. It's lovely to start the week reading your blog Rhonda :)

    Thankyou for the fermentation link - I'll come back and read more later. I'm interested in making our own vinegers and sourdough. We made ginger beer as children and learnt not to add too much sugar to the bottles... one memorable Christmas there were midnight explosions in the store room!

  2. Your loaf of bread looks delicious! Do you have a recipe for it somewhere on your blog?

  3. The bread looks lovely! I've never heard of Bertoli Beans, do you eat them fresh can they be dried? I'm going to google them, I think. How nice to have nectarines in the garden, I wish we could grow them. Sounds like you had an absolutely lovely day!

  4. Your bread looks so good!! As a little girl my Dad made a bit of beer and , like Em, that stopped one day after a lot of bottles exploding in the bathroom! Have a lovely day. Sharon

  5. Hello Em and Niki!

    Abundantly, it's just my usual recipe:
    3½ - 4 cups bread flour
    about 200 mls water - this varies on the weather
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1 tablespoon sugar or honey
    1 teaspoon yeast

    Wetting the dough all over just before it goes into a hot oven makes it crusty.

  6. Hi Sharon. I put my ginger beer in plastic bottles because they expand a bit.

  7. Hi, Rhonda. I too started a sourdough today after scouring my bread books and the web, my first time. It says in my recipe to 'throw away' half of the starter then add one cup of flour and one cup of water. This seems wasteful. Should I do that ? Or can I do anything with it ?

    I grew Borlotti beans for the first time this year. When I cooked them they turned blue and looked like ticks - yuk. I haven't tacked the rest, they are sitting still in my trog.


  8. Rhonda,

    We got alot done this weekend. We are getting ready for winter here in the U.S.

    I am glad you had a good weekend. It is fun thinking of you gardening and us getting ready for a long cold winter:)

    Blessings to you,


  9. Rhonda Jean,
    Your bread looks awesome. I lack cooking skills. That would be a understatement. I have mastered the bread machine though.

  10. karen, I'm at work but will get back to you about the sourdough.

    Hi Renee and Suzen!

  11. I forgot to say, I am drooling over you homegrown lunch. City girl here, has never tasted fresh picked veggies or a egg that has just been layed. I can only imagine what I have been missing.

  12. I've got a new brew going that smells different than I thought it would. Instead of powdered ginger for ginger beer, I did the sugar and yeast with peppermint tea. I'll be bottling it in a few more days, adding it to more peppermint tea instead of just water. If it doesn't taste good, I plan to try making a chocolate mint bread with it.

    Everyone seems to be writing about sourdough, so I think it's time to get a start of my own going. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. Be careful about having too many fermentation items too close to each other. They can swap bacteria and yeasts with each other in a bad way. I've read it can mess up yogurt and sour dough. Yogurt used bacteria, sour dough needs yeasts. If you get yeast into the yogurt or bacteria into the bread start, it spoils.

  14. What a coincidence! It's about four days since I started my first ever ginger beer plant, after searching your blog for a recipe, quite convinced that you'd have one ;-) I love ginger beer, but it wasn't until day two that I twigged I was making an alcoholic version LOL! Not that that concerns me too much ;-P

    You're a couple of days ahead of me then. Hopefully your progress will remind me to take the next steps on time!

    I'm using fresh organic ginger root and organic rapadura sugar to make an organic ginger beer :-) It's very dark due to the molasses in the rapadura sugar. I'm looking forward to this, though unfortunately it's having to go in my mother-in-law's old soft drink bottles.

  15. Hi Rhonda Jean :) How interesting! I have never tried sour dough bread myself - we have a dear friend who makes it. Maybe she will give us a lesson :) The only "starter" bread I ever made was an Amish Friendship bread, and it was so fun. Plenty to share, too! Have a lovely week! Love, Q

  16. Hi, I've just found your blog. Very inspiring and interestig reading. I can see it will help me along my journey to living simply. Thanks.

  17. Hi Rhonda Jean...your bread looks gorgeous!
    I have sourdough starter going too but my sourdough never gets really sour :( I am not giving up though!
    I just want to thank you for your posts, you always keep me thinking, and planning and being inspired here at home!
    Have a wonderful day!

  18. Hi Rhonda. I found you through Jewels way back when, and have been lurking since then. LOL. Just wanted to say that I L O V E homemade ginger beer (my mother made some once while we were on a 4-week camping holiday near Bunbury, WA, and when she ran out of sugar she fed it sultanas!) Oh maybe I will try making some. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Karen, that is what I'm doing. These are the instructions I'm following: http://www.io.com/~sjohn/sour.htm

    But I've also made this loaf in the past and it was excellent. It's kind of a faster sourdough, not entirely authenic, but it makes delicious bread nonetheless:

  20. Thanks Rhonda. That is the exact same link that I am following. It just seems a waste to throw half of the starter away, but if that is what is to be done then so be it. I shall tend to it now as it has not been fed today, it must be hungry.


  21. I need a bread backing Tudor for spelt flour and non wheat recipes.

  22. You have so many nice ideas. I used to make this when the kids were little I have to try it again :-)

  23. do you have a DVD player? if so, I have the Abbey and am quite willing to burn a copy for you. just email me if you would like that.


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