Monday, May 30, 2011

Making Yoghurt

I was recently asked to explain how I make yoghurt. Now, I am not sure if this is the correct way but after quite a bit of reading and experimentation, this is the recipe that seems to work for me.

Before I start warming the milk, I usually put the jars I am going to use into the dishwasher on its hottest cycle.

It is amazing that only two ingredients are needed - yoghurt and full cream milk. I choose to use organic ingredients whenever possuble. Even though organic milk is difficult to get here in the west, the Margaret River brand is getting a little easier to locate. I love the creamy top you get on the milk. Yum.

I haven't made my own yoghurt for a while so I needed to start from scratch. Normally I would just save the last of the batch and use that to start the next yoghurt.

Two litres of milk are emptied into a big pot and brought to the boil. There are a few different opinions on what to do next but I choose to let this boil gently for two minutes and then turn the heat off.

As the milk has been boiling, the next step takes a while. It needs to cool so the bacteria that are going to be added survive. All you need to remember is the magic number - 43. 43 degrees Celsius is the temperature the milk needs to cool to before the living yoghurt is added. I find that a thermometer is a fabulous investment for this part of the process.

When the magic number  has been achieved, a large tablespoon of yoghurt is put into a bowl. A small amount of the warm milk is poured into the same bowl and the two are stirred together. This way the yoghurt is distributed evenly through the milk.

When the yoghurt and the milk are combined, add this back to the large pot of warm milk and give it a gentle stir.

Pour the mix into the jars and put the lids on straight away.

I then wrap the jars in a woollen blanket which is inside an insulated picnic bag . The blanket is folded over and the insulted bag is zipped up. This all needs to be done is a place where the yoghurt will not be moved.

Generally this is all done in the evening and the jars are snuggly in the bag by the time I head off to bed. In the morning the yoghurt is ready to go into the fridge. I usually let it chill before I open any of the jars. It just seems to set better.

Once you have a good supply of yummy yoghurt there are so many fabulous recipes out there. Two of my favourites are labna and gozleme. There is also a new cupcake recipe that is up on my 'to do' list.  I figure that if there is yoghurt in the recipe, it must be healthy.

Take care

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Adventures in Sourdough

After my fabulous sourdough lesson last week, I thought it was time to get moving and finish the loaves that were started 7 days ago. We prepared the dough in the session up to stage where all of the kneading had been done but non of the rising had occurred. Last Sunday when I brought the dough home, I placed it into the fridge as Yoke told us that we could do this for up to 5 days. I was a little worried as I had left it a week.

I let the dough get back to room temperature for about an hour and then gave it a gentle stretch to strengthen the gluten.

After a 15 minutes rest (the dough, not me) I divided the dough into two loaves - one for a tin and one to be freeform. For the freeform loaf, the dough was stretched and then some dried apricots and walnuts were generously sprinkled before it was rolled up.

I also bought a lovely little loaf tin from Yoke after the lesson. It is a great size and the dough from the basic recipe should make 2 loaves of this size.

Both loaves were left to rise for a few hours until they had doubled. This took a little longer than I had expected as the weather was quite cool here today. I left the loaves covered by a damp tea towel on the front seat of the car to warm up.

The results are great and I know that there is so much to learn about how the process works best. I am excited about having another go during the week.

Take care.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wholefood Seminars

Just a little heads-up to any of you around Perth that might be interested in going to any of Jude Blereau's seminars.

There is one seminar called What's in the Bag about school lunches with special guest Julie Eady, the author of Additive Alert. This is a repeat as the first session was a selloout, so if you are interested in this event held on 16b June, you should get in quick.

The second seminar which will be held on 25 June is called How Does Your Garden Grow. This looks at wonderful winter vegetables and gives you great menu planning ideas. I have been to a few of the seasonal seminars and found them to be really interesting.

For those of you too far to travel, perhaps you could check your local library for some of her wonderful books. I have written about the delicious Chocolate Chip Biscuits before and have also tried her fabulous Pear Harvest Cake.

Take care

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sourdough Sunday

This past weekend barely left me with time to catch my breath.

Saturday was spent involved in a community planting activity, watching a worm farming demonstration and going to a Slow Food lecture with Paolo Di Croce.

Now if that wasn't enough for one weekend, Sunday was spent on an amazing four-hour Wild Sourdough cooking class with the incredibly talented Yoke Mardewi. This was a Mothers' Day pressie I bought for myself.

I have never attempted sourdough. I had often worried about the starter, and how to get it started and keep it all going. Now that I have had quite a bit of experience with yoghurt, and using some of the last batch to start the next, I wasn't as worried about it.

The class was a mix of listening and watching, and some hand-on. 

It started with some taster plates on arrival that consisted of a selection of sourdough breads and homemade jams and preserves. Yoke then made a few different loaves using dough she had prepared earlier - fig and walnut, sundried tomato and roasted red onion, and haloumi and dried herbs. These were rolled up and left as free-form leaves. While these were doubling in size, we where shown how to get the pizza dough ready, as this was to be our lunch. These was a selection of tasty treats to use as toppings, including some homemade pesto. 

After lunch we collected the bowls we had brought which now had some starter and water ready for us to add the flour. This was where is was great to be shown what the dough should look like at certain stages. I had to mix the dough for about five minutes until it was completely mixed. That was such difficult job as the dough is very thick and the stirring involved a lot of muscle. The dough needed 15 - 20 minutes to rest so that was enough time to have a cuppa (or two) and we were able to see the free forms loaves come out of the oven and watch these be cut open. Throughout the session, Yoke spoke about successes and failures and gave great little tips. 

The last part of the afternoon involved learning how to air knead the dough. I could see how this could be a great thing to do in the afternoon after a busy day a work. By the time we left, each of us had enough dough to make two nice-sized loaves, as well as a started to get the next batch on the go. We were instructed that to stop the rise, we had to put the dough into the fridge as soon as we got home. Later in the week I will get organised to finish off the process.

On the way out I had to buy myself a copy of Yoke's book, Wild Sourdough, and it looks amazing. The instructions seem really clear and there is a great variety in the bread types. Yoke is a very good teacher and is so approachable. Once you have been to a class, she is happy to answer any questions you have regarding making the bread at home.

I like to think that this is where the sourdough experience starts.

After the lesson I now have a better appreciation of why these loaves are generally quite expensive to buy.

Hopefully by the weekend I will have impressed my family with a wonderful homemade sourdough loaf. The funniest part is that I know that after all of the time taken to prepare and bake this lovely bread, it will be eaten within minutes.

Take care.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

And the winner is ...

Could you please email me at with your postal details so I can get the book out to you this week.  Congratulations.

Thanks to those of you who played along in the little giveaway.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and I look forward to telling you all about the sourdough class I took today. My head is still spinning.

Take care

Friday, May 20, 2011

Decluttering On My Mind

It is that time of year again. As the seasons change I feel the urge to get the house and yard sorted. I know that over the coming months we will be spending more time indoors so it would be nice to be able to see the floors in all rooms, rather than just the paths that everyone follows to get outside. A good clean of the yard is also needed as we won't be out there as regularly as we are over the summer.

As the kiddies get older, many of the clothes, books, toys and games that have accumulated have now been outgrown. The clothes don't fit quite as well as they did last winter and we usually find that socks keep feet much warmer when they aren't full of holes.

I am hoping that by the end of the day there will be a pile of things that are no longer needed. These will either be sent to a charity bin or uploaded to Freecycle. I am usually pretty good at working out what can stay and what must go, but my problem is that then I seem to lose enthusiasm when needing to get it out of the house. I end up with piles by the front door.

It is always such a great feeling to declutter. To have benches cleared and wardrobe doors and drawers able to be closed can easily bring a smile to my face

Last night the ipod was charged, with a podcast or two and an audiobook uploaded, and it is ready to keep me company through the day.

The older I get, the more I appreciate "Less is More".

Take care

P.S. I would much rather be sewing like Rhonda Jean today.
P.P.S. Head over and join in the giveaway before Sunday. Good luck.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Quince Paste Update

Sunday night was spent tending over a pot of simmering quinces after reading about the wonders of Quince Paste over at Greening of Gavin and Gooseberry Jam.

After about four hours I can certainly say that I was happy with the final result.

We have been having it on crackers with a lovely tangy cheddar but I am sure by the weekend there will be some brie involved.

I used silicone cup cake cases and managed to fill all 12.

Super easy and definitely worth a go.

Make sure to drop by and add a comment if you are interested in winning a book in a giveaway that closes on Sunday.

I also had a few requests for buttons for Sow. Give. Grow.  If you are interested I have now managed to get one up in the SGG sidebar. Please feel free to pop one on your site. Thanks again to you all for the support.

Take care.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday and a Giveaway

I need another weekend to get over this weekend.

Yesterday the lilly pilly tree was generously trimmed so that we could reach the fruit more easily next year. I made sure that every berry was picked off the branches before they were taken to the greens tip for mulching. We ended up with a whopping 5.3kg.

This was the beginning of the domino effect for the weekend.

I knew that there was no way I could deal with all of that fruit in one weekend so it would need to be frozen. To make room I would need to do something with a lot of the fruit I already had in the freezer. I found blueberries, nectarines, strawberries and peeled bananas.

Luckily I had seen a great Blueberry Frangipani recipe on Friday so that was the first bake of the day.

Now on to finding something to use up the nectarines. After a bit of searching I came across this divine Nectarine Cake.

Smells amazing. Tastes incredible. The only problem was that it didn't use enough nectarines.

Off to find one more option. Donna Hay can always be relied on to help out in a predicament like this. Her Nectarine and Blueberry Slice was the perfect way to end a morning of baking. I did change it a little by using only half the sugar prescribed. Also I added more nectarines just after the beating of the eggs so that there was fruit through the slice as well as on top.

All were received rather enthusiastically by the family so all worthwhile. I now also have room in the freezer to pack the lilly pillies.

There was also a little time to head out and do some trans-planting for Sow. Give. Grow.

After being inspired by Gavin and Gooseberry Jam, I thought I should stop paying for Maggie Beer's retirement and have a go at making some Quince Paste myself. It is on the stove as I type and is looking and smelling delicious.

Now for a giveaway. I have talked about Michael Pollan before and his great little easy read, Food Rules. So much of it is common sense but it was a great book to show the kiddos. They got quite a bit out of it and I still hear them remind each other of some of the rules.

If you would like to go into the draw for a copy, leave a comment on this post by Sunday 22 May. Hopefully some of those lovely little 'lurkers' will join in and say hello.

Hope you all had a great weekend.

Take care

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Growing Fruit is On My Mind

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to go to a truly inspirational talk by Josh Byrne, who many of you may know from Gardening Australia, organised by Earth Carers. He talked about sustainable gardening and gave fabulous examples from the houses he has lived in and landscaped.

One of the topics that really got me thinking was the section about dwarf fruit trees. They seem easy to grow and can yield quite a bit of fruit. He spoke about how wonderful these are for growing in pots, which is a great for people who rent, as he does.  I had a voucher to a nursery that needed to be used, but I could never quite decided what to spend it on. After walking around the fairly limited selection, it was decided that we would take a Dwarf Pear Tree home. Pears are one of the many fruit that we all love so everyone was please with the final choice. The next step is deciding whether to plant it into the ground or into a pot. I'll have to think about that one on the weekend.

I have been keeping an eye on the few other fruit trees that we have and they all seem to be coming along really well, albeit slowly.

The grapefruit has three fruit which should be ready soonish. I noticed that one of these is starting to turn yellow. Very exciting.

The lime tree has quite a few beautiful white buds and a handful of tiny fruit. Last year we managed to get about five fruit which were fabulous in a super easy, delicious lime tart.

We have a very small fig tree which has yet to produce any fruit. It will probably take a few more years before it is mature enough.

The passionfruit vine that was planted to cover the fence is looking much greener than it has previously. It is growing really well over the trellis so hopefully in the next year or so we will be able to harvest some delicious passionfruit.

The biggest surprise for me today was the blueberry bush. These should fruit in summer (shouldn't it?) but this morning on closer inspection I noticed about half a dozen flowers. I am wondering it is because we have had such a warm autumn.

Aren't they just beautiful.

Take care

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Super Easy Apple Cake part 2

A few months ago I came upon an amazingly easy, scrumptious Apple Cake recipe. I tried it again recently but changed it slightly. Instead of sultanas, I substituted dried raspberries. I still halved the sugar and it was definitely sweet enough. This is great for an afternoon tea snack or school lunch box.

I tried it again missing out the dried fruit altogether. This time I added pumpkin seeds which really changed the texture. Some were mixed through and some sprinkled over the top.  I must admit, in my hurry to get this in the oven I forgot to halve the sugar, so it was a little too sweet. Still very yummy though.

This is a great recipe that you can play around with. The cup of sultanas could be substituted with so many wonderful ingredients.

Happy baking.

Take care

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sowing, Giving and Growing

Thanks so much to you all who have dropped by to a new project I started with a wonderful friend of mine last week. Sow. Give. Grow. has been going for only a few days and already we have had some fabulous feedback. There have been wonderfully encouraging comments left on both Living a Little Greener and Sow. Give. Grow.

A big thanks to Dixiebelle, Gooseberry Jam and Eight Acres who have made particular mention of the project on their blogs. There may be others but these are the ones I have found.

The project has now been expanded to include the giving of seeds as well as seedlings.

My family and I were involved in some trans-planting yesterday at the St Luke's Eco Fair and we had a blast.

The kiddies spent the whole time going back to where we had left some of the seedlings and seeds to see if these had been taken. It is amazing how reluctant people are to take something that isn't theirs. We had written the word FREE in big red letters on the tags as a form of encouragement. The most exciting part of the experiences was seeing someone pick up some seeds, put them back down, pick them up again, show them to a friend and then take them.

I hope some of you decide to join us on this little adventure as either sower or givers to encourage some growers.

J has written a wonderful post on The Thrill of the Trans-plant, all about our 'naughty' Friday'.

Take care

Friday, May 6, 2011

A New Project is On My Mind

It has been a very exciting and busy time getting a new project ready for launch.

Please head over to here to find out all about something that brings a smile to may face.

Take care.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dipping my toes in the Raw Food waters

I like to think that we will have a go at just about any foods here, so when one of my dear friend forwarded me a link to My New Roots (Aussies, giggle here!) and in particular the Raw Brownie recipe, it was one of those things I knew I would have to try before the end of the week.

It is so simple.

The author of My New Roots, Sarah Britton, comments that these will change your life. I would definitely have to agree with her. Sarah even adds a lot of nutritional information that I will let you read via her site.

My nearly 20 year old food processor certainly earned its keep today. I am sure that those with a Thermomix could have this made before I had even put my old machine together.

Next time I would make the almond pieces much smaller. I thought I had given them a really good chop in the processor but the ones at the bottom where still too big. I think I would actually process them down to meal so that everyone in the house will eat them.

See you Friday. I am really excited about a project that is going to be launched this week. I hope you will join in.

Take care

I just found another recipe here that is just about the same but also adds a little vanilla. Yum.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Compost Week

Just is case you weren't aware, Sunday was the beginning of International Compost Awareness Week. ("Woohoo" I hear you all cry)

There is so much amazing information out there about composting, so I thought I would bring a few of sites together for you.
WMRC Earth Carers
Sustainable Gardening Australia
G Magazine

We have reduced the amount of waste that goes into our council bin substantially and I know that a lot of this is due to composting. We now have 2 bins on the go.

One other composting system we have invested in is a Bokashi bin. The benefit of this system is that it is not picky at all as to what can go in. Cooked food, dairy and meat can all go in, and as it is an anaerobic system, there is no smell if you choose to keep this in the house. As long as you keep the lid tightly on and make sure that the tap is always closed, there is no reason you could not have one in your kitchen.

With both compost and bokashi, we keep separate buckets on the bench. Once a day we empty these into their respectable bin. Bokashi also involves squashing down and sprinkling with some of the Bokashi mix. The mix that you use "is a mixed culture of beneficial naturally occurring micro-organisms, mainly lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, photosynthetic bacteria and actinomycetes. All of these are mutually compatible and coexist in a liquid culture. " It doesn't break down like in a compost bin, but it smells more like it is pickling. It isn't too offensive but sometimes you might need to increase the amount of mis you sprinkle over the top.

On an Earth Carers course one of the tours guides commented that if you have the space for a garden, you have the space for compost.

The biggest pay-off of it all is using your own compost to grown your own vegetables. What a buzz. I really love the little surprises you get too. I have lost count of the number of tomato seedings I have harvested just from the compost that has gone onto the garden.

I hope you enjoy International Compost Awareness Week.

Take care

Sunday, May 1, 2011

LIlly Pilly Cordial

I know you are all thinking, "Not with the Lilly Pillies, again," but with a tree that keeps on giving, I needed to find another use for the fruit.

I followed this recipe.

It was really easy and tastes wonderful.

I will certainly be making it again.

As it is a cordial not a juice, we diluted it with some soda water for a bit of fizz.

Take care
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