Friday, January 31, 2014

First time making Mozzarella

For Christmas my Mum gave myself and 2 of my 3 sisters who live here in Brisbane a Cheese Making Kit each.  It was a bit heavy to post to Perth and as my sister leads a busy life Mum didn't think she would be into a Cheese Making Kit.  So last week my sisters came to my place with their kits and we set about to have a go at making Mozzarella.

We made two batches one of them 15 minutes apart as there is some waiting involved when you can get started on the next batch.  It all seemed to work out okay on the first batch and the cheese set however we started stirring it and it seemed to split and we ended up not being able to use the first batch.  The second batch we had on the go looked the same as the first batch when it set however we didn't stir it at all we gently put a knife in and sort of just moved the set milk apart a bit and that was it.  This batch worked fine and we set about to have a go making Mozzarella. I have heard that it only takes 30 minutes to make Mozzarella and then you can put it on your pizza for dinner which sounds great however I would give it an hour as we had to wait 30 minutes for the milk to set in the beginning.

Like anything that you haven't done before it takes longer to do it the first time and it seems rather daunting but once you've done it once and it turns out okay you gain the confidence to do it again just like soap making and making yoghurt when I did these things for the first time.  The second time round it's not as hard because you know what you are doing.  In all honesty it's pretty easy particularly with a kit that comes with everything except the milk.  These are good investments to have a go first to (i) to increase your chances of success (ii) not having to run around different shops and buy different items and (iii) if you like the process you can invest in individual items from suppliers to keep your cheese making going.  It is not as scary as it looks and the cheese was delicious on our pizza's.  The cheese can be kept in the freezer or in the fridge in the whey from the milk.  All in all it was fun and we were pretty impressed that we had all made cheese.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Home Made Pasta

The other day Brenda from 13 Acres posted this wonderful story about her family making pasta and the food looked so great that I wanted to get a bowl of it myself and eat it.  We've made pasta a few times but not very often and after seeing Brenda's post decided I had to make some pasta yesterday to go with the Spaghetti Bolognese we were having for dinner.  The few times we have made it I felt it was too rubbery and lots of it stuck together so this time without the help of the children so I could get it right, set about to make the pasta thinner and I dried it on the tea towel for an hour or so before cooking it.

I mixed up the dough in the Thermomix however you don't need one of these to make pasta as Rhonda from Down to Earth explains here.  My pasta machine was $15 from Kmart has has just 2 settings being fettucini and spaghetti which is fine for us and of course you can make lasagne sheets as well.

I didn't have time to take the eggs out of the fridge before I made it but went ahead with it anyway.  The pasta was actually so much better because it was thinner and none of it stuck together in the pot and the kids gave it the thumbs up.  So for dinner we had home made pasta, home made Bolognese and home made Vanilla Bean Ice Cream for dessert.  It all felt pretty good really.  Thrilled that I had another go at this as the pasta is great and as I didn't make the whole recipe I put the rest of it in cling wrap in the fridge and will make it up today.  I plan on letting the pasta dry for a bit and then wrapping them in nest like balls and into the freezer for those quick dinners.  I always have Bolognese in the freezer as I usually double or triple my batch when I'm making it.  It's one of our family favourites in our house as you can tell from Sienna in the last photo enjoying her dinner. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Soda Bread

On Australia Day I decided to whip up some Soda Bread which is not very Australian, as it's an Irish bread however like our Pizza we had instead of lamb there was a good reason for it.  Soda Bread does not need time to "prove" so we could just mix it up, pop it in the oven and 30 minutes later it was done.  I actually cooked ours for another 10 minutes so 40 minutes in total but just the same it was something that could be done half an hour before my family arrived.

All you need is wholemeal flour, spelt flour, baking soda, buttermilk and salt and that's it.  I also mixed up the herb butter which is included in the recipe and I grabbed some home grown parsley and spring onions from the garden and mixed it in with the butter.  I would have to say that the herb butter melted on this bread was amazing and everyone loved it.  The bread is what we would call probably an Aussie Damper although slightly different recipe.  If you are making it make sure you make the herb butter mix to go with it because it made this delicious.  So simple and so tasty and a great starter when family and friends come round.  It would also be good to have with some homemade soup.

Gather the ingredients together.

Mix it together and let me warn you it is a very sticky wet dough so you need flour on the bench and a bit more when you try and make it into a ball.

Dough ready for the next stage.

James was brushing on the buttermilk to the dough and Sienna in her Australia Day Umbrella hat was watching on.

Cut some slits into the top of the bread before placing it in the preheated oven.

While it's cooking mix your butter and herbs together and wait until it comes out of the oven looking like this.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Happy Australia Day

Happy Australia Day to all those Aussies and I for one, know that we live in the lucky country and I'm very pleased I was born here.  We had my family over for our Australian Day Lunch and normally we have a BBQ, however as 2 of my sisters and I made Mozzarella Cheese with our Cheese Making kits on Friday we decided to do pizza's instead.  We had a great day and lots of yummy food including Pavlova and Lamingtons.  I hope everyone enjoyed their Australia Day celebrations.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Weekend Reading

When I find sites I like on the internet that are related to simple living and baking at home I usually email my friend Karin the link (and myself) so I don't forget them.  Often when I'm reading a blog I may not have the time to read all of it at that moment so I do the quick email and I then I can go back later and have a look.  I thought it might be nice to share some links that I have found interesting to do with cooking, photography, kids activities and gardening.

Home Made Wheat Thins - I am going to make these as they look great.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Recipe which I have recently mentioned as being a favourite of ours.

Little Green Village - An Australian family who moved out of the big city to welcome a better life.

Do What You Love for Life Course - this sounded interesting.

Petite Kitchen Chocolate - yum, I want to make this recipe as well.

Rock Monsters - easy activity for kids.

25 Things to Play outside at home - from Maxabella Loves.

How to make your own Hamburger Buns - haven't tried them but I have put them on my list to do.

Saturday's with Maggie Photo Book - documenting one photo every Saturday of their daughter.

Since every blog post needs a photo below is a new cook book that I bought recently.

A morning at Sandgate exploring.  You can see the rest of the photos here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Home Grown Cucumber

Today we picked our second cucumber which was a normal size and had it for lunch.  How cool is it when you can walk out to your backyard and collect food like this.  It was delicious and there's plenty more where that came from.  One little thing that I have to remember is Sienna kept saying "Mum, can I do the honours, I want to do the honours" as she wanted to be the one to slice our first (well second but our first large) cucumber.  It was so cute.

Sienna trying to be mysterious with her tennis racket.  Check out the corn growing behind her.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Around Here

I don't know about any of you however I'm getting pretty worn out now we've had 7.5 weeks of school holidays and I'm on duty 24/7.  I'm needing some quiet time to myself and space just to think and get this house back in order.  The heat hasn't helped things as I find it's too hot to take the kids out on 33 degree days so we stay inside and keep cool.  Today thankfully is a little drizzly with rain so it's nice but it's still very humid and I'm over the heat to be honest.  With that all out of the way I thought I would post a few pictures of what's been going on around here.  Veggies, Biscuits, Kite Flying and 2nd hand magazines.

This is our first cucumber off our vine and we are very happy hence Sienna's "cucumber smile"

Sienna standing next to the growing corn.

Our corn is higher than the fence now.

I know there is a world wide shortage of bees but was pleasantly surprized to find 4 bees on top of my corn.  I'm not sure whether I should be happy about this or not?

Sienna and I baked some Anzacs this morning which is our staple biscuit in this house.

I picked up these 9 magazines for $1 each at the local Yarn Shop.  It is a UK magazine and generally I like to buy Australian magazines as the stories are more relevant to our climate however it was about "Slow and Simple Living" and the photography was great and lots of stories to match.  It's divided into 3 times in the day, Dawn, Day and Dusk.  I  loved reading the story on the Baker in the UK and their family has been Bakers for a few generations and they make their Sourdough Bread using a Sour Dough Starter that is 57 years old which has been handed down within the family.

James and Sienna enjoying some home made popcorn cooked in a pot on the stove with Coconut Oil and posing for this funny snap.

James trying out his new Kite which was a Christmas Present from a friend with Sienna being his trusty assistant.  I didn't take them to the park until 5pm as it was still too hot before that.

Up up and away.

I love a good kite against a bright blue sky.