Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 26


There is generally something bubbling away in the kitchen around here. Kefir and sourdough and a bit of kimchi. I have a cup of kefir every morning and most days I make a loaf of sourdough as well. I use the bread machine because it's fast and easy.

I start by putting in some sourdough starter and 50:50 flour and water. I tend to use a mixture of some sort of seedy/granary flour and organic white. I put the bread machine on the 'Pizza' setting for three minutes so that it just mixes everything. That's done at lunchtime, then I leave it until 6.30am the next morning.

When I get up, I add the rest of the flour and the salt and set it back on the 'Pizza' setting, which is 45 minutes of kneading and warming and resting.

Then I take out the blade from the bread machine and make sure the dough is in a nice shape. I leave it until mid-morning when it has usually risen, then I stick it on a bake setting for 45 minutes, and hey presto. The advantage of sourdough is that I never need to bother with yeast. It can be a bit unpredictable though. Some flours don't rise much, some rise madly. Then there is the weather and how lively the starter is feeling. 

I quite like having it in a proper loaf shape rather than a flat round, it's good for sandwiches that way, and you don't get too much crust in comparison to actual proper bread. I am not a fan of the crusts.

When I use the sourdough starter, I just top the remainder up with 50:50 flour and water. You really only need a bit of the old starter. Kefir is just as easy. Strain and put the grains into organic whole milk, leave for 24 hours, job done.

I do love the transformation when things ferment and bubble. And by all accounts the microbes are really good for the gut. I'm all about the gut health, it has such a big part to play in how we feel I think, everything from mental health to a strong immune system. The sourdough doesn't contribute obviously, as it's been cooked, but the other things are brilliant. Fermenting can make vegetables more digestible as well, and release more nutrients from them. It's a good option when there's a bit of a glut of things or when things are on special offer.

I'd love to go to South Korea one day and try all the fermented pickles there. I hear they have separate fridges, just for the kimchi, brilliant. I don't much like when vegetables are pickled in vinegar, but when they're done with salt they are absolutely delicious on the whole. And easier to make than I imagined.

Monday, 25 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 25


Rain, shine, rain, repeat. The dog and I timed it wrong and got soaked. If he's wet when he gets home he has to run around madly and scrabble at the floor and drag his basket somewhere new and turn it inside out before collapsing in it. It takes him all morning to get his feet just right. 

I tackled the pak choi this evening, cooking it with some of the elephant garlic. I fear I may have overdone it and now the whole house smells of garlic. I threw all the windows open for a while but it rained again so I had to batten down the hatches. Most of it got eaten, although some on the basis of, 'I tried my best'. I have added all of my clothes to the laundry mountain, I can't stand the smell of onions or garlic clinging to things. I have some lovely little bay and rosemary tea lights that are scrumptious. I think I bought them when I read that rosemary aids focus. I need all the focus I can get quite frankly. So I am trying to overpower the elephant garlic and also make my brain a little zingier.

Do you have any good essential oils or candles to recommend? I don't like anything too sweet, but I love citrussy smells and lavender and pine, that sort of thing. Candles bought online can be a bit hit and miss. I like the more natural ones as well, essential oils and nice wax, you know the sort of thing. Any recommendations, let me know.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 24

Cheating with photos taken before today. Today went like this: watch football, work, housework, walk dog, work. I am pretty much done for the day now though which feels brilliant. The house is surface clean (ish) and I even decluttered some shoes along to the shoe bank for extra bonus points. I do love Sunday evenings.

I managed a tiny bit of reading this morning as well while I was waiting for the football. I always mean to read more, but it is always the last thing on my list. To be done when everything else has been done, or when I can't do any more of the other things, which means I am generally tired and with low focus. But in the half hour before a football match starts, I sit in the car in total peace, with nothing else to do except read and it is utter bliss. Honestly, it's a wonder I even get out of the car and go and watch. 

The littlest boy was tempted along on the dog walk this evening with the promise of a tasty snack from the corner shop. Alas, there seems to be a crisp shortage, with vast expanses of empty shelves. At this rate, we will have to resort to making our own. How hard can it be? Potato, fat, salt. And it will be lower plastic usage as well I should think, although the sunflower oil comes in a plastic bottle. Has anyone made their own crisps? I have a thing I do with cashew nuts which is lovely. Put shoyu (I use Kikkoman) in a bowl and add a spoon or two of harissa paste. Mix it around, then put in a load of cashew nuts. Toss around a bit and leave to stand for a couple of hours, mixing occasionally. Spread on a baking sheet and dry in a low oven. Honestly delicious. And around 18% protein, if you happen to be building muscle mass, which some people are in this house.

Have you ever seen Eddie Hall? Petty much who we model ourselves on, even the dog, who is in fact also nicknamed The Beast. It involves eating almost all day long. I will be taking up boxing next.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 23


It's all feeling very autumnal now. Leaves swirling past the window and the last of the apples and pears falling from the trees. Is it my imagination or were there more insects around this year? I feel that there were, I noticed them particularly on the windowsills at the end of the summer. They will be heading for shelter soon no doubt. I accidentally served up a live caterpillar at teatime today under the home grown salad. He was released back into the wild with a tale to tell.

In other notable news, I had a good hair day. The thing with curly hair is, you never know what you're going to get. The other day it was so astonishingly bad, I've no idea what happened. Today, nice orderly curls. No-one saw it, unless you count the Amazon delivery man, because I worked all day, except for an early dog walk and a late, after-dark dog walk, so it was entirely wasted.

I am going to excuse myself now as I have been sat at the laptop typing words for hours and my brain is just about done for the day. Earlier I thought my 'Undo' button had disappeared and I yelled for the middle boy to immediately appear and fix it. It turned out that it was exactly where it always is. Of course, he was happy to get up and come over and help me, so that was all fine.

Friday, 22 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 22


A quick foray into the city to drop the eldest at the station. I don't much like the city any more, all so busy. As I was walking around, past the odd tree surrounded by gravel and concrete, all I could think was how it was all wrong for dogs. It seems I am a dog person now. I like lots of green snuffling areas and a bit of soil. Down by the station there are acres and acres of tarmac and concrete buildings everywhere and all the traffic.

An orange light came on on the dashboard. Apparently it signifies an engine malfunction. I cannot find the right secondhand car. I hear it is not the right time to buy one, but I fear this one is on its way out. It's been absolutely brilliant, up mountains and here, there and everywhere, reliable as can be. All I ask in a car really. That and room for a dog of course.

Half term is upon us, and the urchins are mooching about without much purpose. I am planning on getting the middle one to cook a meal or two, after some very flat comments about what I'd prepared earlier. I had to ask him whether he was being sarcastic when he said, 'Delicious,' in a monotone sort of a way. It turns out he was. For a moment I had dared to dream. 

I have a load of pak choi in the fridge that I had planned to turn into a tasty Japanese dish, but quite frankly I've lost the will to carry on now. Pak choi will push him over the edge.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 21


Sorry for missing a Blogtober day, yesterday rather got away from me somehow. And thank you for your viewing recommendations, I shall check them out. 

Knitting is back out in this house now that the weather has turned a bit nippy. I'm knitting a scarf, slowly. Every single year, I get a sudden affinity with yarn around this time. Garden away, wool out. The youngest has his alpaca blanket on the bed tonight, which is made with dark grey Drops Lima with the odd narrow stripe of colour. It's nice and heavy so it squashes him down a bit, which is no bad thing.

The eldest is off on a camping trip soon. I have been annoyingly flapping around him giving him all the advice and checking his stuff. Only one jumper??? You will need a spoon. Wash your hands before you eat anything. And when you touch anything. Don't leave the charger on overnight. Or get it wet. Or charge it when it gets wet. Or eat anything that's been hanging around in the warmth. Or drink old water. Do not set the tent on fire. Your clothes may shrink if you put them in a dryer. And on and on. I actually ran out of advice earlier which is practically unheard of. I literally couldn't think of a single thing I hadn't already said. So I said some of the earlier things again, which is fine because I'm not sure he was listening properly the first time around. I have plenty of time to run through them all again before he goes in fact.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 19


Fruit and flowers hanging on in the garden, along with some beans which might or might not get big enough to save and sow next year.

At this time of year I am ready to put it all away and head indoors to curl up on the sofa with a good book. I usually watch half an hour of television at the end of the evening, currently Scandal, which is a bit mad, but entertaining enough. Like a rather over the top version of West Wing. I would prefer to read to be honest, as I don't really have any time during the day for it, but I am going with the flow and as I say, it's not bad, although I imagine it might get a bit wearing after a while. I watched Blacklist a while back, in which no-one ever knew the truth, and all they ever banged on about was wanting to know the truth, the actual true truth, and you just knew that it would absolutely never be revealed. So I still do not know, although I know some of the truth and it wasn't much to right home about to be honest. Probably better in the anticipation. Any television you might recommend? Nothing with gangsters though, can't be doing with that.

The dog is snoring softly as I write this. He had a bit of a shock on his walk this morning when three very lively German Shepherds chased him around. They were having fun and playing, he was more of the opinion that he was running for his life. He ended up being sort of herded down a tight lane past a Staffordshire bull terrier and mastiff that we know. Absolutely the sweetest dogs, but Bertie is generally a bit terrified of them. This morning he shot past at warp speed with the tiniest squeak, as if to say, 'What next???' Suffice to say we made it home for breakfast in record time.