Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Spring has sprung

Firstly, I'm very sorry if you're reading this in the Northern Hempisphere. 

Don't get me wrong I love Autumn and heading into winter when you actually might get some snow is really something special - but here in New Zealand we are now entering a fully blown, gorgeous, daffodil filled, sweet blossom smelling Spring. 

And I just adore to be amongst it.

The lambs have been gamboling (as opposed to a spot of gambling!) out in the neighbouring fields for a while now.

At our place the animals all seem to know Spring is in the air too. 
They haven't been gambling either but a fair amount of frolicking has been going on.

Sometimes I really do wish I could speak their language though.

The avenue of plum trees burst into fragrant, bee attracting, white blossom which is now snowing on me as I walk through the trees

I really, really wish I could let you smell this picture - the sweet blossom is hhmmmmmmmmm......

The clocks changed for daylight saving last weekend, which means our evenings by the fire seem to start a little sooner - or go on a little later.. I'm not sure which!

The grapefruit tree is still bearing its heavy load of fruit (we're not big grapefruit eaters) while already new buds are growing more. Thankfully my parents arrive in December and adore grapefruit so it's a perfect match!

The chooks - well they never really stopped laying for winter but are certainly back into the swing of things with a regular 8-10 eggs a day. Maybe I need to make a grapefruit pavlova.....

Meanwhile - in the old chicken shed... Sheila tries out the nest box and discovers it's a great place to hide from that pesky little kitten.
That is until.....

Exploring Meer Cat made a discovery!

We trimmed back the passion fruit vine which had covered the shed and already it's stretching out its little creeping tendrils to cling and grow along the building again.
Meer Cat was seeing what's so special about the cat on a hot tin roof thing

More blossom - the cherry trees this time - and the honey bees just LOVE it

See..... frolicking Pip
She just frolics and frolics around the garden!

And to round of this summary of our Spring news and images....
a glimpse into a pretty usual activity for the crazy kitten that is Meer Cat!

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Monday, 21 September 2015

A fresh addiction

I am sort of, maybe, just a little bit, newly addicted to making bread.

Many years ago we went through a spell of 'making bread' every day in a machine which called itself - funnily enough - a bread maker. a You'll have seen the sort, or even have and maybe use such a thing. A little book tells you how much of this and that to add to get a variety of breads - which if you're lucky turn out square and swollen with a little hole in the bottom where the mixing blade likes to lodge during cooking.

It was quite pleasant to set this machine to come on overnight and wake up to the smell of fresh bread - but as with a lot of things, the habit got dropped over the course of time and the machine has long since been relegated to a dusty shelf in the shed.

But my interest in baking has recently been re-ignited after I finished a chic-lit book I picked up at the library, Jenny Colgan's Little Beach Street Bakery.  It's a fun, easy read, complete with recipes in the back of the book (Thanks Jenny). If you like baking, Cornwall, or just like Jenny Colgan then you really should read this book! (I don't do long book reviews - just take my word for it).
So I ventured into making some bread the good old fashioned way - with arm-aching muscle power for the required kneading. And quite satisfactory results....

Farmhouse white loaf
Spicy sweet rolls

However.... a few months ago we acquired a pre-loved Kenwood mixer, complete with a dough hook for making bread. I'm not sure what kind of life it had with its previous owners but it came to us in near perfect condition and eager to be put to use. 

Hello beautiful :)
Kneading - sometimes I have to hang onto the machine to stop it jumping off the counter
All proudly risen and ready for some knocking back
Ready to prove itself and then jump in the oven
Voila - a beautiful crusty white loaf

I've now started attempting to make a variety of breads.
Yes I say attempted as they don't always turn out the way I'd like them to - but hey practice makes perfect and there's always a willing crowd here willing to sample. So far there's only been one occasion (my first sourdough when the starter wasn't quite ready) that the bread has had to go to the chooks - and they certainly didn't complain.

A split tin loaf

Focaccia - incredibly easy to make (easier to make than pronounce in fact!) 

My current favourites are sourdough and focaccia.

The second one can literally be prepared in a few short hours so makes for a perfect dinner addition. And who would not want fresh focaccia with their dinner?!

Sourdough on the other hand requires a lot more time as you have to 'grow' your own yeast in a sourdough starter. My first few attempts had a definite whiff of acetone about them. Not quite what you want when eating bread. But my family of human guinea pigs tell me that I'm getting there and last loaf I made was definitely the best one yet.

I think I better knock up another to keep practising though.

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The Kiwi Good Life blog and social media pages are run by Vicki Annison (aka KiwiVix)