Monday, April 27, 2009

Just to make things perfectly clear...

It's strictly amateur night when it comes to me & cooking. I've had some moderate success with the breads, and I've cooked up some nice meals in the past.

But tonight, for example, is a good indicator of why I'm not planning on giving up the day job. Dinner was corned beef fritters. Good stuff! Just throw some flour, egg, & milk together with some diced corn beef, and bobs your uncle!

Except if helps if (a) you get the proportions right, and (b) you use self-raising flour instead of plain flour. :-D

Lets just say they weren't my best work. Still edible and tasty, just not as delicious as corned beef fritters normally are!

Ah, well. Maybe next time...

I wont inflict a photo on you. Yes, they looked that bad...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lest we forget

They grow not old, as we who are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Today, of course, is Anzac Day.

We got up early, and attended the dawn service at Sunnybank RSL - march started at 4:15am, and the service proper started at 4:28am, the customary time.

Afterwards, we trundled over to the Salisbury RSL, where we have attended the dawn service in years gone by. It was listed in the paper & on the RSL web site as having a "stand to", and Anthea was curious as to what that was.

It turns out they, also, had a dawn service, starting at 5am (I think the RSL members there are a bit older on average than the folks at Sunnybank). We arrived just a few minutes after they started, so we attended that one as well, and followed up by partaking of the "gunbarrel breakfast" they put on. Slice of bread, with a sausage, onion, bacon, and fried egg if you want, along with tea or coffee and "something to warm the cockles of your heart", as the MC called it - i.e. a tot of rum in your coffee.

No, I didn't have any of that. Not a big fan of rum, myself, and particularly not before 6am... :-D

There was a good turnout at both services - I'd guess about 200-odd at Sunnybank for the 4:28 service, and probably another hundred at Salisbury. It's nice to attend these smaller suburban services, they tend to be fairly atmospheric.

It's tempting to go in to town one year to attend the service at Anzac Square, but I gather that that one is very crowded - thousands of people usually attend.

Then again, maybe we'll go to a service at Villers Bretonneux or one of the other battlefields. Not sure if my granddad fought in that particular battle - I'll have to look up the history of the units he was posted to, to see where he served.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Further adventures in breadmaking

Well, I got the dough out of the bowl, folded it (though I forgot to add the extra sprinkle of flour, oh well) and put it in the casserole dish to prove for an hour or so.

I ended up adding at least half a cup of extra wholemeal flour, and the dough was still, in my opinion, too wet & sticky. Next time, I'll go with even more flour. I'll try weighing it out, too, as suggested in the second video on Breadtopia. The proportions aren't quite right.

Ah, well. If it's like the first no-knead bread I made, it'll still be delicious and tasty, just not quite right. :-D We'll see in an hour or so.


Well, here it is! Still not quite right - I think the dough was too wet, plus I probably should have let it cook a little longer, as I put the pot into a cold oven rather than a pre-heated one - I adjusted the cooking time a little, but not enough, I think.

Still very tasty, though! :-D

You'll notice in this shot you can see where I folded a bit too much flour into the dough just before putting it in the pot... :-D Plenty of large voids in the bread, though. The biggest problem is not eating too much of it at one sitting! It goes really well with jam. Especially when it's still warm out of the oven.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ok, another bread is brewing...

I've got another no-knead bread fermenting. This time, I've done the basic no-knead bread as depicted in the videos on Breadtopia. Mix up some flour (about a cup and a half of wholemeal, two cups of white) with a quarter teaspoon of instant yeast, a teaspoon and a half of salt, and a cup and a half of water.

The instructions say to leave it ferment for 18 hours. I mixed it up at about 3pm this afternoon, so it should be well and truly ready for the next stage by the time I get up tomorrow morning. Then, a bit of folding (but not kneading), some proving, and it's in to the oven.

I will, of course, post some photos and taste reports tomorrow morning. :-D

We'll probably try it out when Anf gets home. She's going in a beginner's triathlon tomorrow morning. Yeah, I know, crazy exercise stuff... ;-)

Interesting thoughts about existence and identity

Have a look at this movie:

I found it on the Dan's Data website, in a very interesting article about possible extension of human consciousness into computers, or duplication thereof... Some very interesting reading, it's highly recommended, especially the couple of "footnotes" at the bottom (which, as Dan says, contain more text than the article proper).

I particularly liked this bit, in a quote near the end:

"...waking consciousness is dreaming - but dreaming constrained by external reality"

It engenders some intriguing thoughts... I think I might have to buy that book to have a read sometime!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Third time lucky?

Ok, here's today's bread attempt.

This is a conventional loaf (half white flour, half wholemeal).

I think it turned out ok, although the bottom is a tiny bit overdone.

The funny shape is thanks to the stoneware casserole dish I cooked it in - the bread expanded during cooking and completely filled the dish!

Anyway, going to slice it up & try it out shortly... :-D

The bread has been sliced & tested. Pretty good, even if I do say so myself!
I figured out why it's a little overdone on the bottom. I didn't read the cooking instructions properly, did I... "Bake at 240ºC for 10 minutes, then reduce to 180ºC. Bake for 30-40 minutes". I didn't notice anything beyond the "240ºC" bit... D'oh! Ah, well, still came out ok, lucky I used the casserole dish, or it would have been rather crispy...

And here's a pic of the stoneware casserole dish I baked it in. Thanks for the wedding present, Cathy! It's been sitting in the cupboard for eight years, but it's had a workout the past few weeks! :-D

Friday, April 10, 2009

Baking, part deux

After last weekend's efforts with the no-knead bread (delicious, but the proportions weren't quite right) I went looking for other bread recipes during the week (ok, so I was killing time at work... ).

I found myself a recipe for a wholemeal loaf from this site. It's not bad - very, very easy to make. You simply mix the ingredients together to make a dough, let it rise in a greased baking tin for 30 minutes (or silicon pan in my case), then put it in the oven & bake for about 40mins.

The resulting loaf, pictured below, was absolutely delicious. It needed just a little more baking time, though, being a touch too moist in the middle. I'm going to try baking one of those in a casserole dish next time, like the other no-knead bread, and see how the crust comes out.

As you can see by the last pic, though, the silicon pan wasn't such a huge hit... a little too soft on the sides! Cooks well, though. :-D

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An experiment

So I found a recipe online for no-knead bread, and thought I'd try it.

Here's a pic of what it looked like after baking:

The verdict:
  • Absolutely delicious!
  • Very little effort involved
  • The recipe I got off the net ended up having waaaaaay too much water, and not enough flour. By a long shot. I added an extra half a cup of flour (which is a lot to add) and it was still too wet, really. Don't really know why, maybe american flour is really, really dry or something?
Gonna try a wholemeal loaf next. Supposedly the recipe I found only needs 30min of proving, and 30-40min of baking. It involves kneading, but that can be therapeutic. :D