Friday, July 20, 2012

Ice Decoration

A smile is a powerful weapon; you can even break ice with it.  
~Author Unknown

On nights which will dip below freezing as it did this morning (down to -5degC), 
we love to set up a bowl of water, 
with a doily tied to a string lying within, 
in the hope that it will not thaw too early in the morning,
so we can hang it up on our balcony, 

we watch it hang, 
we watch it spin, 
we watch it sway in the wind.

We wonder how long the ice will hang, 
predict the time it will fall, 
then watch and wait as we enjoy morning tea....
then lunch...

today it fell after we predicted, 
no-one noticed it fall
as we were all enjoying a quiet time after lunch.

I'm amazed how much a simple little decoration
has engaged my girls
it has truly captured their attention.
We wonder about the physics of it all - 
the direction of the wind, 
the forces holding the ice up, 
holding it to the doily, 
we explore the three states of water - 
gas, liquid and solid,
the forces turning the ice, 
changing its direction, 
changing the way it swings from side to side, 
to round and round.

Yet the best part of the whole experience of making this ice decoration I am told is:
watching it fall!
(which is, of course, very difficult to photograph) 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Making Radish Leaf Pesto

Stumbling upon a post by Amanda Soule,
then some radishes, seemingly out of season, at my market, 
I decided to whip up some fresh pesto - 

My baby girl loved helping by picking and placing the leaves and almonds

It tastes delicious and as well as enjoying the pesto as a hot little snack on top of radish slices,
I love my pesto on my new wholemeal spelt bread.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Five Minute No Knead Bread

The best things in life are nearest:  Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you.  Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

This is most definitely my new favourite bread.

I've used Rhonda's recipe from Down to Earth which is as follows.
It is the old New York Time recipe.

On the day before you'd like to eat your bread
Mix dry ingredients together:
3 cups spelt flour (I mix wholemeal and white)
¼ teaspoon dry yeast
1 teaspoons salt

Mix in 1½ cups water with your hands

The dough will feel sticky and stringy after only a minute.
This is enough.
Allow to rest and rise covered with plastic wrap in a warm place.
(I've been placing mine in the oven after I've turned it off, as our evenings are cool).

The next day place a dutch oven in your oven and
 preheat your oven as high as it will go ~ 250°F.
(I use my Corningware dutch oven with lid).
Place dough onto a floured bench.
Pull it together in a gentle knead for only a minute or so.
Fold the dough under at the bottom to make a smooth top.
Cut into the top with a knife to allow a better rise.
Place in the dutch oven in the preheated oven.
Bake for 30 minutes, before turning the oven down to 200°F and removing the lid for the final 15 minutes.
Rest for a few minutes on a tray before slicing and enjoying.

I'm still amazed at how crusty the crust it, how delicious the loaf tastes and how easy it is to bake.
It begs the question: why has it taken me so long to bake my own bread.
Are you baking your own bread?  What's your favourite method/recipe?

For a larger loaf, use 5 cups of flour, 2½ cups water, 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon dried yeast.
Bake for a few minutes extra.

On my road to sourdough spelt bread.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Violets In My Winter Garden

The sun does not shine for a few trees, and flowers, but for the wide world's joy. The lonely pine on the mountain-top waves its sombre boughs and cries, 'Thou art my sun.' And the little meadow violet lifts its cup of blue, and whispers with its perfumed breath, 'Thou art my sun.' And the grain in a housand fields rustles in the wind, and makes answer, 'Thou art my sun.' So God sits effulgent in heaven, not for a favoured few, but for the universe of life; and there is no creature so poor or so low that he may not look up with childish confidence and say, 'My Father, Thou art mine.' ~Henry Ward Beecher

It is almost my sweet niece's first birthday.  I'm made aware by the appearance of sweet violets in my winter garden, even though it is not the same garden as I enjoyed when she was born.  Last year my awareness of the violets in our garden came on the day she was born.  It was such as precious time. 

This year I am enjoying a new winter garden - my own.  I do love the garden in winter.  

It is a time of rest as we shelter indoors while the plants take a rest from their rigorous growth.  

It is a time of last farewells as we say goodbye to summer blooms such as this rose blossom which was mostly hidden by the weeping cherry during summer.  

It is time of anticipation as we wait for the budding blossoms to burst forth and reveal their delightful colours and fragrance.

Waiting for your first birthday little Eleanor...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's Time to Bake Bread

"The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight."

The Art of Eating, M. F. K. Fisher, (1908-1992)

For a long time now I have wanted to make my own sourdough spelt bread.  Yet I have no experience in bread baking - my aunty used to bake bread but stopped before I was old enough to learn from her.  Baking bread was something my mother never did in my memory.  She did make a loaf in the bread maker however.

My husband has assumed the bread making role in our family regularly baking spelt bread in our bread maker.  He makes a lovely loaf which my children enjoy.  So do I in recent times as I am unable to buy the lovely spelt sourdough loaf I regularly purchased at Dough at the Adelaide Central Markets before we moved.

However my goal is still unachieved - baking my own spelt sourdough.  I still haven't found a blogger who has found success to this end.  So I'll have to keep searching.  I have however made a couple of friends who are experimenting with sourdough bread baking so I look forward to some baking days with them.  I don't they think are using spelt but at least I will progress further in my quest to bake sourdough bread.

Today, thanks to the inspiration of Rhonda's post yesterday on Five Minute Bread and a Spelt Bread Recipe published by Four Leaf, I have two loaves of spelt bread in the oven.  We are eagerly anticipating a lunch of hot bread dripping with butter and/or olive oil along with some delicious Potato and Leek Soup.  The smell of my home is divine today and while I don't actually feel hungry yet, I am beginning to salivate with the fragrance tickling my nose.

The mix started to be seemingly a little dry, yet I persisted.

After time to rise, punching back and rising again (which I did in a preheated oven turned off due to our cold weather today),

the loaves were kneaded lighty, placed in warm pans and ready to bake.

Just look at the results.  The girls are were very eager to have our lunch when it was ready.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How much sugar?

This is what I've been grappling with for the last little while.

I've worked very hard to ensure that I nurture my family with food which nourishes them.  I've educated myself according to our specific needs.  I've read widely and listened to health practitioners advice.  I think I could consider myself I bit of a nutritionist and have considered that if I chose to study something at this stage of my life it would be Nutrition.  I was encouraged last week in my small home group when a friend spoke up and said, "You should be a Nutritionist Cathy!".  It was very encouraging considering she doesn't know me well yet and would not know my past and desires in relation to nurture and nourishment.

All appears to well on the homefront, however herein lies my struggle:

As we leave our home and participate in the community more and more, as we are doing in Canberra, we are being confronted by a culture of food sharing and eating which is substantially different from our own.  At least it appears that way on the surface.  When I speak to many mothers about my struggle we seem to share similar concerns.  The main one of which is the amount of sugar which is consumed in everything we eat.  Mothers are trying to bake with half the amount of sugar, struggling to find healthy options to fill a lunchbox, to share with friends.  They are trying to find something on a table of food which is nourishing rather than simply pleasing when we share food.

I am committed to making a concerted effort to stop eating sugar in our household. Fortunately I have some friends who are doing the same.  And by sugar I mean fructose as well as sucrose.  We are now only eating fructose as a whole fruit with all the fibre surrounding aiding the digestion of the fructose.

I'm enjoying the fact that my appetite control mehcanism is now clearly working.  I feel full regularly and rarely have that sense that I need to eat something - just to satisfy.  I'm enjoying lots of different foods with my girls including savoury toppings for toast, treats which aren't full of sugar ie profiteroles and some little chocolate almond cakes we recently baked.  There are more: we are on a journey and will discover as we go.  No doubt I'll share some of our new recipes here to share with you.  Are you already on this ride?  Are you ready to join us?

I'm delighted that my husband is keen to join us for the ride and that we now have a reason not to spend our money at the ice cream shop.

It's taken me a while to really get onboard with this notion.  I was first introduced to this research when my 21 month old baby J was just born by our neighbour.  Now I feel it is time for us.

I'm still struggling with the fact that my children will choose to eat sugary foods when they are offered, however like many other things 'I will let that go'.  I will continue to nourish them at home with quality foods, guided by information that comes to hand and trust that as role models, my husband and I will be remembered as parents who led our children towards paths of good health and responsible eating.

Monday, July 9, 2012

One Frosty Morning in June

One thing I love about living in Canberra are the frosts.   In Adelaide we perhaps got one or two frosts around my birthday at the end of July.  I always thoughts I'd get ready to photograph the frost the next day.  Yet the next day of frost rarely came.  

Here we get frosts regularly for 6 or 7 months of the year.  I love the way they transform my garden with beautiful white icy crystals.  It gives me a sense of nostalgia reminding me of my childhood when my parents would announce on many a winter morning that Jack Frost had been to visit overnight.  It alights in me my sense of wonder at the beauty of nature.  The way ice forms its crystals on many varying plants, outlining them with white evenly-shaped forms.   I love the way my children delight in the ice forms.  They generally want to eat the ice which results in fingers becoming frozen and needing to be warmed on our heated tiles inside.  They too delight in this magical winter wonderland that appears every morning that is cold enough.  Voila! - that magical carpet of white!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Great Uncle Steve, we are so proud!

I'm sharing this news a little late, however I am so proud of my great Uncle Steve that I wanted to share this news article.  I am so thrilled that finally, in his later years he has been able to make this trip to London to see the Lancaster again, to witness the opening of a controversial memorial, to be with fellow veterans who perhaps have not spoken of their horrific ordeals until recent years.

Surprisingly I grew up thinking that there was noone in our family who fought in the wars. Yet my grandmother's brother was there serving with the Bomber Command.  He has only spoken of his experiences in the last decade and I am only really just coming to understand what he was actually involved in.

It is sad I did not know until now, but I am so very grateful that now I do know.

Tearful trip to UK for Bomber Command vets

During a special Australian service at an Air Forces memorial on the outskirts of London overnight tears flowed among an aged gathering as thoughts turned to thousands of fallen comrades.
About 10,000 Australians served with Bomber Command, with 3486 killed in battle, while a further 650 died in training accidents in the United Kingdom.
"In lonely cockpits at dizzy altitudes ... in fog, in deadly cold, in storms, on fire, in prison camps, in skin grafting hospitals, there are none deserving more honour. Today we remember their selfless sacrifice," Major General Mark Kelly told the gathering of about 100 veterans.
The veterans from across Australia are in London for the dedication of a memorial to Bomber Command by the Queen on Friday. It commemorates the 55,573 Bomber Command aircrew killed during the war.
"This is a very emotional day," Adelaide veteran David Leicester, 88, said.
"It really gets to me and I will find I have tears in my eyes for the whole week of celebrations. The playing of the Last Post and the national anthem of both countries gets right into my heart.
"When the Queen unveils the memorial on Thursday (local time), I can't even begin to think how I will react, with so much emotion."
Mr Leicester flew 68 missions with Bomber Command, mostly night-time bombing operations over German cities in aircraft including the Halifax, and Pathfinder Lancasters.
"One of the worst nights for me was March 30/31 1944 when 96 aircraft were shot down and a further number crash landed," Mr Leicester said.
"It was the worst night for Bomber Command casualties and we had a particularly bad time, returning on three engines and severe damage to the aircraft.
"It was a very rough landing, but we were the lucky ones."
Steve Flood, 88, from Stanthorpe in Queensland, flew as a air gunner in 30 Bomber Command operations for 467 Squadron over enemy territory in 1944.
"One was a raid to Revigny (France) which was only a small raid of 106 aircraft and altogether 24 were lost. (Squadron) 467 had six aircraft on the raid that night and only four came back."
While Mr Flood is looking forward to Friday's Bomber Command memorial dedication as a "fitting" tribute, the highlight of his trip to England will be a war museum visit where he will be reunited with the Lancaster aircraft affectionately called S Is For Sugar.
"It will be the first time since 1945 that I've seen her," Mr Flood said of the Lancaster.
"I was on board her one night when she lost 120 rivets out of her wing. I remember the pilot saying `we've been hit', but we still got back okay."

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