Sour D’oh

Standard

So I will start with my usual apology for not having posted in months. I have been busy with work and keeping myself sane, so I am not sure why this didn’t occur to me earlier. So lockdown has continued, working from home is still a thing, and leaving the house has not been a major focus. With this in mind, I have turned to one of my favourite pastimes, finding ways to get fatter. So I have purchased KitchenAid stand mixer, in the first instance. this is to facilitate cake and cookie making, when I feel the call of sweetness. I have also put shelves all over my tiny little kitchen so that I can store stuff, as there is very little cupboard space available. But I am sure that nobody is interested in my DIY skills, or even my outlandish purchases. What you are here for is sourdough.

What you are here for is sourdough.

This is such a simple idea that I am shocked that I have no fallen into this before, although I did have an attempt at making sourdough a year or so ago, and what I ended up with was a jar of mould that refused to shift, and is probably now taking over a landfill somewhere. I have read hundreds of different recipes and suggestions for how to make your sourdough starter or mother, and have condensed all if these differing ideas and theories into a simple concept which anyone can try. I have found it to be not only successful, but damned tasty too.

What you will need:

  • Flour
  • Water

Well that was simple. You can experiment with whichever flour you usually use, but I use strong white flour, as that is what I like. Apart from those you will need something to put it in, so any old jam jar or glass container will suffice, size dependant on how much sourdough you feel you are likely to need. I also use a secondary jar for what most sites will call the discard.

Directions:

This is not a quick process, in fact not much involving sourdough is, so be prepared to find your happy place and remember that things you wait for are way better. Except trains, and test results. Also worth noting that everything here is done by weight. When it comes to baking, weight is way more accurate than volume, which is how the real bakers do it.

  • I will start with 30g being the magic number, as this is where I started. Start with this as your magic number and amend this if you need once you are up and running.
  • Get your jar, and pop it onto your scales and set it to zero.
  • Pop in 30g of your flour.
  • Top up with 30g of water.
  • Mix together into a thin paste.
  • Put to one side. Do not seal the jar, put a lid resting on it so elves don’t fall in, but allow air to get in and out.
  • Go to bed. Unless you did these first steps in the morning in which case do other shit until it is bed time, then go to bed.
  • Wake up. Lament the lack of sourdough bread for breakfast, then remember that you are just starting to make the stuff and do that.
  • Add another 30g of flour and 30g of water and mix it all up. You now have 120g of gunk in a jar. Congratulate yourself and go back to bed.
  • Wake up on day 3 and it is now the dawn of a new age where you will own sourdough.
  • You now need to pour away half of your gunk. You can either dribble this down the toilet (do not pour gunk down your sink, I guarantee you will regret it at some point), or you can use the secondary jar, and pour off half your gunk into your ‘discard jar’.
  • Now put another 30g of flour and 30g of water into your original jar and mix it all up again.
  • Return to bed.
  • Repeat from day 3
Bubbly gunk in a jar

So that is the basics. I personally leave the discard jar to get sourer and then when I have enough, make a loaf out of it. So basically every day you chuck half of your starter away and then top it up with new. By keeping your chuck away, you are being less wasteful and making yummy stuff all the time. I regularly make crumpets, bread, pizza dough, pasta and am always looking for new things to make with it.

Loaf of sourdough bread

There are loads of other sites that will tell you more about the science behind this and how it works and recipes with what to do with your sourdough once you have it, so I will leave it to them to give you ideas on what to make once you have extraneous gunk to use up. I might include the sourdough crumpet recipe someday, as this is so simple it is amazing. In the meantime, feel free to post pics of your gunk.

Well what a year this has been!

Standard

Well I don’t really know what to say to cover everything since my last post. I guess most of it has been consumed by Covid, the rest has been consumed with work and feeling ill. Luckily I have avoided the cough and temperature, but this has not saved me from feeling like shit the majority of the year. I managed a few days of holiday like experience, and have brewed and drank a pint or two; although a the time I was blissfully unaware that they might be my last drinkies, as I have become teetotal, at least for the time being.

Sadly, there has not been time or energy for the allotment, which I fear I may lose, but did get a nice late crop of spuds from there and the bag in the garden.

I have made some new friends, some of whom I have instantly lost, and I have had way less funerals to avoid this year as last year.

I am entering 2021 with a sense of optimism, if only for the fact that while the morons run around with their masks warming their chins complaining loudly that Boris isn’t gonna ruin their socialising, I will be inside waiting for them all to die off, so the lucky survivors can get on with our lives when this finally dies out.

I have also discovered hash brown fries, ate reindeer for Christmas dinner, and have lost my shit to the ‘Clips’ app on iPhone and iPad. I have also experimented with the new mini HomePods, that are, for the record, amazing.

I will close this off with some photos, as this blog may no linger be here next year, I fail to see why I am bothering with it.

Have a great new year to me and anyone else who reads this.

Rudolph the moist roast reindeer
Garden Bag spuds
Hash Brown chips, total game changer

Leading on from my last post…

Standard

I feel I should try and explain the cover photo of the last post, that appeared to be a brace and a half of bottles dangling upside down with greenery sprouting from them. Actually that was exactly what that photo was of, but it is well worth searching the internet for videos of people using old plastic bottles in the garden. What I have done is planted some upside down tomatoes, that against all expectation, seem to be thriving.

I do not believe these will be the first ones to be harvested this year, but they have survived a summer of horrific storms and winds, mainly due to their inverted lifestyle.

In fact, their dangling mitigated the wind quite nicely, and they turned out to be sweet and petite. When added to the yellow tumbling toms, they made an amazing pasta sauce.

Worth mentioning that the salad bowl at the top was salad from the garden with a mix of the tomatoes from the upside down bottles, and tumbling toms, with some home made mozzarella and free range quail eggs from a local farm. This is undoubtably the healthiest thing I have eaten this year.

A Season Has Occurred

Standard

So it is far that I have to offer up such massive apologies to both of the readers of this blog, although I am pretty sure both of them are google bots, but it has been an inexcusable amount of time since my last catchup.

I guess what has made me post is that it has been a year since I first saw the allotment that the council granted, and to admit that I miss some of the people that I have lost contact with since then. A year has had a birth or two, and a plurality of deaths. I guess if you want one, you have to put up with the other.

Anyway, there was spring, and I went to Bulgaria, narrowly avoiding being stuck in the country as the airports were close to closing.

Sly pic with armed security around

So March brought lockdown and a lot of looking at the same four walls. Although I guess it was more a case of looking at the same two monitors for a few months. On the bright side the allotment was declared an open zone and free to visit, as long as we stayed away from people and vegetables that coughed.

How it looked in the bleak light of the new year
After a bit of love

Planted an array of potatoes, from Marris Pipers to Congo Blue, that are totally weird.

I feel that I should not go into the entire previous six months in one post, for a number of reasons, mainly because I am mildly inebriated due to the soporific effects of the home-brew that I have been cultivating for a while, so I may leave this post here; nobody is reading it anyway. If I am wrong, pop something in the comments just to gee me into writing the next instalment.

Who Gives a Duck?

Standard

As per my previous post, chrimble day was bereft of the previous volunteers that were once eager to pluck parsnips from the soil. But what a gorgeous day; sunny, blue skies, utter silence. If you could block out the noise of the adjacent motorway anyway. Even those cars seems reverentially quiet, as if they didn’t really want to be disturbing anyone on the dayoffiest day of the year.

Parsnip supervisor

The only contributor to the parsnip proceedings was Lottie, the allotment cat, who offered sage wisdom with regards to proper hand/fork coordination. This led to successful excavation of a handful of ‘snips, and a sense of satisfaction that a Christmas tradition was born. Next year there will definitely be way more fresh food being dug up especially for the chrimble meal.

Before…
…and after

I don’t think you can get much fresher than being pulled out of the ground and then roasted in goose fat, before being ravenously devoured. If only more than one carrot had been willing to make the effort and grow.

The finished meal

For next year I definitely hope to have the majority of this plate dug up in the morning, making the freshest dinner possible. Even the sprouts, which might possibly be edible if fresh. I am even open to a vegetarian meal if anyone has any suggestions on what you can roast to make it as tasty as duck.

So merry December and looking forward to a great new decade, coming soon to a new year party near you.

Chrimble Cheer

Standard

So as the year draws to a close, it is time to look back and summarise what has transpired in the previous 12 months. Well the allotment was a huge bonus, and the fact that I will be enjoying fresh parsnips on Christmas Day, is worth it in itself. I have test driven the parsnips, and they are a triumph.

Fresh from the garden

So it has been a year of losing some good friends, and gaining some new ones, but I always believe that when someone ghosts you, you gain two good friends in their place. And of course, their loss, and they weren’t really a friend if they drop out of your life etc etc. It’s a good lesson at this time of year to ensure you keep the good friends close. I will see how good my friends are when I have to trawl up to the allotment with volunteers on Christmas morning to dig up the parsnips. I foresee this being a job that will be fraught with a lack of companionship, but conversely, gotta be mildly nuts to be on an allotment on Christmas morning.

The Chrimble day job

So with it being the premiere of Star Wars episode 9 first thing after midnight, it is time for my nap to prepare, and just pausing to wish everyone a merry Chrimble and may the force be with you.

Some Allotmenty stuff

Standard

This evening I will pop a link in the side navigation that will take you to one of the most awesome websites I have ever found. This will feature a plan of my allotment plot and what I will be growing, or at least attempting to grow. In the mean time, I have cleared one bed, and now have some sort of growing transpiring.

Having transplanted the rather poor crop of tomatoes that have grown this year, and some half dead spuds, it now looks like someone is tending to the place, rather than a stinging nettle farm. I will add a couple of pics, but it still looks like a mess. But less of a mess than it did.

First day on-site
After clearing a bed and a half
Planted and watered and growing

Fruit, veg, and whatever rhubarb is

Standard

Back to the usual British summer weather. As I type this, the rain is pouring down, and the wind is howling. But luckily, before this all happened, I have managed a harvest or two. I had a friend ages ago who got me a rhubarb bush/tree/hedge which has loved the weather. Along with the bags of potatoes that I planted, the harvest has been not too bad. Tomatoes have been disappointing, but so many things are this summer. The allotment is looking a lot better, but I will save that for another post; in the meantime just enjoy the harvest.

Potatoes and tomatoes

Just a quick quote

Standard

“We’re all lights in the darkness for one another. When one light goes out, it makes it that much more dark for the rest of us. The human eye can see a single candle from four miles away. You never know when your light is the only light someone can see.”

Not sure why I felt the need to post this, it just spoke to me a little. Sometimes people don’t realise how important they are to others, and some people don’t realise how important other people are to them. When they’re gone, however it’s too late. Wave at people, smile, you never know when you’re bringing a little happiness to someone who needs it and won’t let it show. Unless it’s Donald Trump, he can fornicate himself with a rusty piece of scaffold wrapped in barbed wire.

Exciting News

Standard

Well not only have I spent the week in some of the most amazing scenery, eaten some of the greatest food I have ever tasted, and taken possibly the best kitty photo ever, I received a phone call to let me know I finally have been offered an allotment.

Now I realise this is probably not as exciting to read as it is to type, but this has never really been about what excites other people, just what excites me.

I am especially looking forward to growing corn; I had no idea this was a feasible option, but as you can see from the photo above, it is quite common over here to grow your own corn.

So as soon as I return to England, I will be endeavouring to get everything sorted on my new plot of land. Not even sure if there is anything that can be planted now that won’t just die before it can be harvested. I foresee parsnips in my future. Obviously photos will be posted as soon as I get them, so hang tight for updates. Peas.