Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Feels like winter

The past few days have been spent preparing the garden for winter and weeding as the first rains have prompted the growth of sour sobs (Oxalis sp.) and winter grasses.  The wattle is flowering...

... it must be winter!

The vegetables are doing well and I'm planting more regularly in the hope that we won't have too many weeks without a harvest... we'll see.
I have also dug out the artichoke patch,  divided the biggest plant and now have ten "clumps" altogether.
These produce at the same time as the broad beans and I can't wait to dig out my "artichoke and broad bean" recipes here and here and here.  It's interesting that these are "traditional" Greek or Italian recipes... places where these vegetables grow well and those Greek and Italian women (for I'll bet it was women who were cooking the "rustic" or "traditional"  dishes) worked out how to use the harvest efficiently.

Meanwhile there are plenty of good things out there now...  not a lot of variety yet,  but it's coming.

The other thing that I noticed while weeding yesterday was the difference in the health of the trees in my yard (where the leaf litter and weeds take over) and those in the neighbour's yard where the yard is defoliated, paved and glyphosated within an inch of its life!
The small tree in the foreground is self-sown and about eight or ten years old.  The leafy canopy shown is attached to the two trees behind my "tree seat" that I cleaned around on the weekend.  Behind, and to the left is what should be an equivalent canopy,  but looks rather the worse for wear.
I know that trees compete for nutrients and water in the vegetable garden,  but there are a few other things to consider as well.  The nutrients that these trees find deep under the ground must end up in the leaves that they drop.  The litter might take a very long time to break down,  but when it does,  it is very cheap compost.  I'm just lucky that I have the space and time for it to be useful.

Today I am staying inside.  We had 1.5mm of rain overnight last night... not enough to do much,  but I don't need to water the newly sown seeds.  They are just damp enough.  It is cold out there (about 16-17C)  and windy.
I lit the fire in the kitchen and I am baking bread.  We do need bread anyway,  but on days like this it's tempting to find a reason to light the fire.
The bread is made with local Lauke wallaby flour, local (Rosedale) olive oil, yeast, water and sugar (to feed the yeast) and a little bit of local salt...  fresh and local.... and here is the dough, well-kneaded on my kitchen bench...
... and it's rolled in olive oil (so that it doesn't dry out on the outside) and in the bowl to rise....

I cover it up with a tea towel to keep it warm and damp,  and eventually it expands enough to puch the cloth up in the middle...
... it has about doubled in size...
Then it's punched down,  divided and put into my big bread tin...
The oven is already fairly hot... about 375C...  I have a little thermometer sitting inside the oven...









I will try to increase the temperature a bit more before the bread has risen again (400 would be better) but the wood that I have is a bit of a mix.  It's mostly mallee that does burn hot, though some of it is still a bit green too,  making it a bit cooler.   When you're cooking in a wood stove,  you need to think about the kind of wood that you use,  how long it has been seasoned and you need to maintain the fire while the food is cooking.   It's the same situation as any other "multi-tasking" operation... not hard,  but you need to keep your mind on the job.  
Twenty minutes later and the bread has risen again...  it's about twice the size that it was before.
And so it's time to bake the loaf.... and as I popped it in I noticed that the temperature had made it to 400C....
.... and about 45 minutes later....
... there are two loaves in the same tin, and separated, they look good...  and the kitchen is still warm.





1 comment:

Fiona (posts by her mum and dad) said...

Can almost smell the bread baking. Thanks for that.
love
Louise