Sourdough Ecourse

During isolation I had the time to film some videos for my brand new sourdough ecourse. I’ve been wanting to release an online sourdough course for some time. I wanted to be able to have a bread baking community with easy to follow videos and a space where people can ask questions and share photos of their beautiful bread with like minded home bakers.

If you’d like to jump in and start baking, I would so appreciate that. See you in the group.

How do we access the course?

The course content is all available through a private Facebook group. You do need to have Facebook to access this course.

I already purchased a sourdough starter from you, what will I get from this course?

This course has step by step videos, new content and recipes added all the time, and a great community feel, where you can ask questions, and share your successes and failures.

How much is it?

It’s $12.50 until July 3rd, then it’ll be going up to $24.99.

What supplies do I need?

To look after your sourdough starter you just need flour and water. Then to mix up your loaves you need flour, water and salt, baking paper and an oven. I like to bake my bread in a pot, but that’s up to you.

How time consuming is it to look after a sourdough starter? And bake sourdough bread?

You need to be around for a couple of days, but hands on time is minimal. I ‘feed’ my starter about lunch time, then mix my bread up that evening, and bake the following morning.

How do I get a sourdough starter?

If you are in Australia I will post you a dried one, there is a video on how to rehydrate it in the course. If you are international there is a video coming on how to make your very own starter from scratch.

Please let me know if you have any more questions and I can’t wait to see you in the group!

The Spoon Theory

I’m writing this post from my dining table, on my phone because the idea of walking to get my computer is exhausting. You see I worked today, and I ran out of spoons.

When I first heard of the spoon theory I dismissed it. Not for me. Firstly, spoons, seriously! Secondly, I’m fine. But the longer I sat with it the more is resonated.

If you’ve never heard of The Spoon Theory, check out this article and the photo below.

For me it’s a little different, I usually plod along until something really hits me hard. Cleaning the house uses a lot of spoons, and thankfully now we have a cleaner, showering after requires more than you would think, walking takes more spoons than riding my bike, and the rare occasion that I go to work can take every spoon I have.

So today, I’m out of spoons.

Sustainable Bean Bag Filling

My mum bought Elliot a beautiful mustard Kip&co bean bag many years ago now. It got filled with polystyrene balls. When we moved to Wollangarra we left the bean bag at Mum and Dads.

When we returned, the bean bag was returned to us, but time and use had made it flat. And I refused to buy new polystyrene balls to fill it, so it sat flat in the spare room.

Until, Mum asked last week about filling it. I said I’d only fill it with an eco-option. So she did some googling and came across foam fill for beanbags. I called out local Clarke Rubber and found that they sell bags of crumbed foam off cuts for this exact purpose. We purchased a bag for $70, and used less than half to top up the bean bag. I think using something that is a waste product is a perfect way to fill your bean bags.

Updating My Wardrobe

I’ve always loved putting on an outfit that makes me feel great. I feel like clothes can lift up your mood, or support you’re already great feeling.

Not too long ago I was getting dressed and realised that there was nothing I’d wanted to wear. For so long I’d been at Wollangarra, wearing ‘farm’ and ‘outdoor education’ clothes, and once moving back I’d been handed down so many beautiful clothes from my mum and aunty.

But when I went to get dressed that morning, I realised of all the beautiful clothes I’d been given, there were none that felt like me.

So I started a ruthless clean out. Throwing out anything that no longer felt like me.

I created a Pinterest board or outfits that I resonated with, then I went to the op-shops.

I grabbed a few dresses, a coat and a fun jumper. While op shopping, I thought to myself how I couldn’t imagine going to a shop to pick out one of so many items that looked the same. It just doesn’t bring joy to me.

I’ve been following an incredible English activist, Venetia La Manna, who shares a lot of information about fast fashion brands, the conditions in which clothes are made, and how the best clothes to purchase are those that already exist. It’s what I’ve always enjoyed, but now I’m becoming a bit more educated about it.

And by the time I’d emptied things out, and added the news things, I was feeling a bit more myself.

My Current Favourite Lunch

I don’t enjoy eating lunch. Often I’ll eat a late breakfast, then snack on something late afternoon and then just hold out until dinner. So I’m trying to do better and eat lunch.

At the moment I’m loving having a broth, inspired by Jo Whitton from her Life Changing Food cookbook, for lunch.

I get a cup of homemade chicken stock and put it in a saucepan. To that I add a big spoonful of homemade ghee, a handful of shredded cabbage and with a few broccoli florets or a stem of bok choy finely diced, and spoonful of minced chilli. Then I bring that to a simmer and crack in two eggs. Pop the lid on, so that it’s slightly cracked, and set a timer for 3 minutes.

It’s a hearty, warming and delicious lunch. What’s your favourite lunch right now?

Thrifty Bread Bags

I’ve been baking a lot of bread recently to share with friends and family and wanted to have a good way to easily wrap them to hand them out or leave at door steps.

So when I was meditating the other day I had this vision of cloth bags made from flat sheets that we’ve never used.

I found a cloth bag we already had in the size I wanted and used it as a template. It was approximately 45cm x 35cm.

Now my sewing skills are kind of rough but they do the trick for me.

I started by cutting the outside seam off the sheets so that I could use it for the pull cord in the bags.

Then I cut a 90cm strip off the bottom of the sheet. Then I used a piece of cardboard to mark the fabric at 35cm intervals. I cut those out. At the top and bottom of each piece I folded in 2cm, this will be where the cord goes once complete.

I sewed this up using my very old but perfect for me sewing machine.

So I sewed each of the 2cm strips, making sure they folded in towards each other. Then I folded the whole piece of fabric with the seams of each of the 2cm bits in to each other, and sewed up the 45cm length of the side, making sure to not sew over the 2cm loop.

Once the sides are sewn I turn in the right way and thread some of the seam I cut off at the start through the 2cm loop. On my mum’s suggestion I threaded one through one way, then one through the other, having a knot of cord at each end making it easier to close the bag.

I’m very happy with my thrifty bread bags.

Really Bad Bread

Today I baked really bad bread.

It doesn’t happen often, I’ve been baking sourdough for 7 years or so, but it does happen.

I was baking some loaves for a few friends, I had six to bake. I used the dough scraper to scrape the dough onto the bench, shaped it and let it do a short rise while the oven heated up. I bake 3 loaves at once. So they went in for their for 20 minutes, which I have been doing at 260°C.

Once the timer went off I took off their lids, turned the timer back on for a further 30 minutes and proceeded to scrape the second batch of dough onto the bench. It didn’t look right, I knew then that I hadn’t let it rise long enough but I was being impatient. So I let it rise on the bench for about an hour.

THIS. DOESN’T. WORK.

The 30 minute timer drew nearer and I realised that I hadn’t turned the temperature down to 220°C, which is what I should have baked the bread at for the final 30 minutes. I opened the oven to almost black loaves. Perfectly shaped but charcoal.

I continued to let the second batch of dough rise, in the hope that it would amend my previous mistake.

I decided they looked ok and popped them in the oven for their first 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, I open the oven door to flat pancake loaves.

Turned off the oven and gave the flat loaves to the chickens. There was no bread for anyone this morning.

Mostly my loaves are beautiful, but it happens to the best of us.

Self Care – A Poem

“Self care, what buzz words they’ve become,

and it feels like a whole lotta fun.

Take care of myself you say, 

eat right, drink water, meditate each day.

Hashtag self love, hashtag epsom salts,

hashtag have you seen the results.

Dance like no body’s watching,

keep doing all the things, without those balls

dropping. 

But,

in fact, we all know, the reality is,

the act of self care, can find you in a tiz.

Real self care, real self love,

it doesn’t necessarily fit like a glove,

it’s hard work, it’s some effort,

and often you want to say “eff-it”

I’ll stay in bed, no exercise today,

spend all the money, who needs that pay.

Spend time with those people who feel exotic,

only to find out they are actually toxic.

Self care often means looking your failures in the

eye

and realising that you are the guy,

the guy that can change that

reality of yours, that needs a little reformat.

Sometimes self care means no instead of yes.

No to the spending, the cake, the dress.

Sometimes you must say yes,

yes to that workout, yes to that abscess.

The abscess the dentist found that you are

avoiding.

So one day instead of yourself doing the spoiling,

you’ve realised that the self care you need

is in fact in a dentist seat.

Self care can be fun, 

and should be done

every day, in fact,

and we should do it with a little tact.

Self care means making the hard decisions,

putting in the previsions,

for you to live your life in the simplest way.

Just a little time each day,

Self care maintenance,

For that life balance.”

– Clare Reilly

Preserving Olives

We’ve been preserving food for a while now. It’s such a great way to take advantage of the abundance of produce you get at certain things, at certain times of the year, and gives you access to produce year round. It’s also delicious! And you know what goes into it!

We are so lucky in Portarlington where we have so many fruit trees, with so many people willing to share.

For now we’re finding ourselves preserving other peoples excess, until we get our veggie garden up and running, and we love it.

Yesterday Jay went and picked some olives with a friend and today it was my job to make sure they got preserved.

A few years ago I went to get olive oil from a local olive grove and was told that the best way to preserve olives is the following way. So I thought I’d share it with you.

Once you’ve picked your olives, you need to wash you jars and sterilise your jars. I wash them in hot soapy water, while preheating the oven to 180°C. Once jars are clean, pop them open side down, and the lids into the oven. Turn oven off and leave them in until it’s cooled.

Make sure you wash your olives and get out any sticks and leaves.

While jars are sterilising, make your brine. The ratio for the brine is 1 litre of water to 100gm salt. For this lot I used about 2 litres of brine. You put the water and salt in a big pot and bring to a simmer, make sure salt has dissolved.

Carefully get the jars out of the oven and put in your clean olives, then pour over the hot brine. Put the lids on tight.

Doing olives this way takes about 6 months. So you’ve got to be patient. Pop them away somewhere, but make sure you remember them to add to your festive season platters.

My Bike

Let’s talk about this bike. This might look like just a regular bike to you. It might even look like someone who’s taking its easy, riding an electric bike along the beach side track. But to me it’s freedom.

This bike means is so much more than just this bike.

In November 2019 I applied for NDIA funding. Pretty quickly I was denied. I felt disheartened and alone. I’m pretty lucky in terms of my MS, I’m still mobile, I can do most things for myself, and from the outside you may not even know I have it. BUT I spend a lot of time at appointments to maintain what I can do, the physio, the psychologist, the continence physio etc. If I clean the bathroom, I’m wiped out for the rest of the day. And walking is getting tricker. So when I got denied by the NDIS, I was resigned to the fact that I’d just be doing it on my own.

I reapplied, and so quickly, at a moment I really needed it, got accepted.
I got funding for proper shoes, orthotics, physio, psychologist, a regular massage for my tightening muscles, a cleaner and an ebike. It was a huge weight off my shoulders, it was a huge weight off emotionally and financially.

This news came right at the start of Covid-19 isolation, so the first thing I jumped on was getting this bike before shops closed. I wanted to have some freedom, to get out and exercise while the gym was closed. I wanted to be able to leave the house without having to get in the car. And I really wanted to, once schools opened again, to be able to ride with Elliot to school.

So this bike, while it may just look like a bike, every time I get on it, I think about how the government is doing something right in supporting some of us who need a little help. It’s freedom, it’s the wind in my hair, it’s a little bit of peace and quiet while we’re all still at home together a lot of the time, it’s financial and emotional support, and it’s really fun.

We Painted a Circle Headboard

We’ve been talking about doing this for almost 12 months, collecting inspiration on my Pinterest board. I’m not sure why it’s taken us so long but isolation was the perfect time to get a lot of little projects like this done.

When we built the house we were so nervous about doing something wrong. Now, with a little bit of experience under our belts, we’re happy to try something, knowing that we can mostly fix things.

If the circle didn’t turn out, we’d just paint over it.

So we finally picked the colour, matching it to the grey in our rug, and thought we’d go for it.

We, measured the centre of the wall, then worked out where we wanted it to come out from the bed and how high we wanted it and drew a circle. To do this we popped a nail in the wall at the middle point of all the measurements, used a piece of string and a pencil, and went for it. Like a protractor in primary school.

Once we were happy with the pencil marked circle, we started painting. The outside of the line is HARD. I’m not particularly steady on my feet and that made for a wobbly edge. Once I was sitting to do the lower part it was fine, and Jay did the rest of the standing section. We filled it in with a roller.

Our circle was about 2.14 cm2, and we used about 1 litre of paint.

We love it! We’re going to be putting a shelf across similar to those in the kitchen, which will house plants, pretties and art work. I can’t wait.

What do you think? Would you paint a circle headboard? Do you do mini-home improvements with confidence?