Soda bread and mushroom soup

We’ve been getting back into watching some old episodes of River Cottage this past couple of weeks, and as usual we’re inspired to take the kitchen by storm. Tonight I was inspired to make a quick and easy soda bread to go with my mushroom soup.

Mushroom Soup

  • homemade chicken stock (inspired by River Cottage)
  • dried wild mushroom mix from Neudorf Mushrooms (purchased and the Neudorf festival held on the weekend)
  • Slightly old “fresh” mushrooms”
  • Riverside cream skimmed from the top of raw milk (just down the road from our place)
  • fresh parsley from my garden (the parsley “bushes” are wild and lovely now)
  • chunk of butter from Wangapeka Downs (another local dairy)
  • black pepper and salt to taste (I LOVE loads of pepper in this dish)

Served with Soda Bread ala River Cottage I did not think this was going to work out in the end. I had no buttermilk and only a smidgen of yogurt left so I performed the old vinegar to milk trick (1 tsp vin to 1 cup milk) and added what I had of the yogurt then accidentally added it all to the bread flour and ending up with a slightly wetter bread mix. Added to this little stuff up I had the dedicated help of a 2.5 year old who wanted to poor in everything he could reach, stir and stir and stir and then throw in handfuls of flour. So between juggling him on a chair up to his elbows in flour, the visit from a friend and her daughter who had dropped Pip off and not quite getting my measurements, I ended up throwing a fairly wet pile of ahhh, slop, onto the baking tray (there was no way I could cut a cross in the top as the knife just stuck it was so moist) and closing the oven door and ignored it for 40 minutes while I whipped up the soup.

The result was an absolutely delicious and filling dinner of hot bread and hot soup – and I don’t even like mushrooms! 😉

Oh and I almost forgot to mention the cold glass of Elderflower cordial we made a few weekends ago (along with Elderflower Champagne that should b ready in a few weeks).

The joys of homesteading

I don’t know if we have simply been inspired by the TV show River Cottage, or because it’s Christmas and Craig has some time away from his desk, the beautiful summer weather or all of the above, but we are really enjoying ourselves the last few days and been really really busy.

Christmas day started with us cooking breakfast for 55 people! All in the common house of Earthsong. It was wonderful and a great way to stop from feeling homesick. There were croissants with filings including homemade preserves, ham, cheese, tomato, avocado, pineapple, strawberries and cream and waffles. Orange juice, bubbly, tea or coffee to wash it all down with and wonderful company. It was an absolute delight, everyone seemed well feed and happy and the compliments and words of thanks were greatly received. We then followed it up with a very small pot-luck lunch, very laid back and quiet.

At the end of the day I was left with the remainders of a half-leg of ham, 10 “chips” of strawberries and a big bowl of sliced tomatoes. Craig and I did our best with the ham yesterday and this morning, and then this afternoon I turned the remainder into a big pot of yummy pea & ham soup served with a zucchini bread (or cake, it was pretty sweet, next time I serve it as bread I’ll put a lot less sugar in it, but with all that sugar it would be a delicious dessert with yogurt).

  After leaving the ham & split peas to soak for 4 hours I turned the bowl of sliced tomatoes into soup, I added vegetable stock, 2 baked potatoes, thyme and bay leaves, cooked it all up and then put it through the blender. It tastes amazing and I’m so looking forward to having it tomorrow with some more of the zucchini bread for lunch.

While I was busy in the kitchen, Craig was out side trying out our new auger (you stick one end in the ground and then turn the big handle to dig holes for posts). He managed to dig enough holes and embed posts into them ready to make our new garden fencing (to keep the poultry out).

I forgot to mention that prior to this activity we started our morning off by making breakfast, feeding the animals and watering the glass house, followed by a plum picking expedition. We have a wonderful mound of plums.

Tomorrow morning I have another busy cooking day scheduled with a long list of things to preserves and piles of yummy fresh food from the garden.

I’ll be turning the left over strawberries into more strawberry jam, the plums into jam, sauce and some sort of chutney, then there is the bean chutney and the zucchini pickles, not to mention the guests we have coming for dinner, the probable beheading of a chicken for the pot, oh and I would also like to do some sort of lactic fermentation of at least 1 cabbage. I think I’ll let Craig see to the feeding and watering of animals and plants tomorrow.

Now if that wasn’t enough activity for you, we also squeezed in a visit to a very cool kitchen shop called Milly’s Kitchen and spent a bucket load of money on new preserving jars (we already ran out of supplies with the last lot of preserving we did). This shop is full of wonderful kitchen goodies and I was in total heaven! I so need to find away to justify the sexy-as $300 copper jam pot… So shop visit, home, cooking, more holes & posts, dinner, a few minutes of archery practice (it’s been over a year since I’ve picked up my bow, and man do I suck, lol). Wondering around the gardens investigating the plants (yes the zucchini plants definitely have “rust” and some of the greenhouse tomatoes have blight), lots more plant maintenance was listed, noted and dealings with to come *sigh*. Now Craig is off in his workshed working on his workbench (I think?).

Sprocket has also been very active today too, it’s so bizarre to feel these little movements and huge reminder that I’m not alone in this body any more- how freaky does that sound!

In other news, in an attempt to protect our surprise second clutch of ducklings from the hungry Harrier Hawks, I built a dome for them.

 The dome consists of  12 meters of flexible pipe, 4 T connectors and some bird netting. Inside we’ve placed a shell pond for them to paddle away in with a little bridge to get in and out of the water. Mum and ducklings have been living in the dome for about a week now and seem pretty happy. The other poultry come and visit them throughout the day so we may actually get a good clutch surviving this time round.

It’s so nice to see so much happening around the home lately. Their are 2 types of onions hanging (brown and red), plus three bunches of bananas,  I’ve been feeling so great about cooking up a storm in the kitchen, to the point that I made a zucchini soufflé for the first time ever after just watching an episode of River Cottage a few days ago. It felt so decedent to sit down to a souffle for breakfast, made from the fruits of our own garden. I’m so hanging out for next weeks mail, I have starter cheese making kit arriving with all the necessary bits and pieces to make fetta and/or cottage cheese. 

I hope that the joys of our harvest continue to inspire and excite us in the future and never become hum-drum or “work”.

Navajo Plying

I’ve been playing with navajo plying today, plying one of my white singles as a test run. I’d like to use this technique to spin up the wool a dyed a few weeks ago as I only had 1 bobbins worth, I’m hoping there will be enough for a pair of fingerless gloves. The benefits for using navajo plying include:

 

  1. I only have 1 bobbin to work with
  2. No wastage
  3. The colours will stay spread out rather then blend together more
I’m told that this does make for a slightly weaker yarn then if it was a normal 3 ply, but I’m cool with that. My test yarn seems to be strong enough, it’s currently drying after being washed and and whacked.
And pictures:
Close up of Navajo ply you can see some of the loupe like structures in here (I think that’s from where I’ve started new loupes.) One of the things I found with this was that when your yarn is good and strong plying is a dream, if you have week points in the yarn then it’s a real bitch to ply as it breaks and you have to rejoin the yarn – which is kinda messy if you ask me.
Hanging to dry hanging out to dry.
And last but not least, a photo of the 1 completed Craig sock:
Completed sock I’m really rather pleased with myself. I’ve finished the ribbing on the second sock but I’m afraid it’s been almost a week since I’ve picked it up to knit since *bad me* I did take it with me on a few occasions, only to discover that (as usual) I had left the fourth dpn at home! I was really expecting this to be a lot harder then it was to do.
I’ve been making more bread this week also with great results. I’ve turned the fan off in the over, going for a hotter oven with a bowl of water in with it, this gives a MUCH softer crust which is fantastic. I really didn’t like the hard crust on the first batch of bread. I’ve found that my recipe does 2 large loaves and 6 rolls (which I burnt the tops of because I had them way to close to the top of the oven and forgot about them).
I’ve also had my loom out this week and finished off a small section – about half an hour or so worth of weaving, not much, but at least it’s something. I really want this project off the loom so I can start on my dishcloths, but I must finish it, even if it doesn’t motivate me. I’m using short lengths of weft so about ever second turn I have to start a new length, it’s just tedious. The fabric itself will like nice when it’s done though I think.
What else… Craig is busy in the garden when he can get a chance, planting broad beans, garlic and onions, building raised beds and generally getting his hands dirty. The driveways are being poured, the guys have been busy, not as busy as some of us would like and the seem to have a fear of getting damp, but certainly things are progressing and more then halfway finished. I’d say providing it doesn’t pour down rain everyday, they should be completely finished by the end of next week – yay! Earthsong is really starting to look less and less like a building sight and more and more like lush eco-neighbourhood. 

 

Finally! Bread

I was given a lovely gift from a friend of a friend a few weeks ago, her German sourdough recipe and two jars of her starter. Well, I finally got a chance to make the bread and it works! Actually it worked a little too well and I ended up with overflowing tins and a sink full of dough, but I’m fine with that 🙂

Overflow

The bread appears to have cooked up rather nicely, I just cut into it and I think it still needs a few more minutes of cooking – has a sort of doughey feel to it, but it looks good (and it rose!)

In other news, my sock is going well, I’ve turned the heel successfully (at least I think it’s successfully) and I’m now just pottering along knitting the length of the foot before I decrees for the toe.

Turned Heel

Yeast

I took these photos the other day when I again attempted to make bread. As you can see, the yeast is very much alive and active so I’m very sure that the fault lies in the flour not the yeast.