Monday, August 30, 2010

Southern Girl

Well, I am feeling very guilty and quite shut off from the blog world, as it has been quite some time since I have written, and even longer since I have read what everyone else is up to!

Allow me to explain...
As the last part of my degree, I have been sent to Dunedin to work in an internship-esque arrangement for 3 whole months! Unfortunately, I don't have internet access at home so I have not been able to post anything.
So, I've snuck on here in my tea break to reassure those who care that I have not, in fact, fallen off the face of the earth. I am just quite near the bottom of it, literally.

I plan on heading back home every second weekend or so, and while I am back in my own home, will most definitely endeavor to a) do something that involves my sewing machine, kitchen, or garden, and b) write something about it!

Paddy, who is in charge of my very baby seedlings, and protecting my fruit trees from any sign of a frost, assures me that everything is fine, and the house and garden are still standing. I get almost nightly updates and he even brought me photos down this last weekend as proof my trees were alive and kicking (as much as mostly dormant trees can be...). What a darling, he sure knows how I tick.

I am still myself though, as much as is possible, and I'm still baking, and making bread and buying my veges from the Farmer's Market. However, with a laptop that won't read my camera, no internet, and a flatmate I am trying not to weird out too much ("excuse me, can I please photograph your dinner?"),  it has been hard to write about these things.

So, that's where I am, and will be for quite a few more weeks. I look forward to a thorough catch-up of everyones goings-ons and a new and exciting post this coming weekend.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Parcels of Delight

I really, really enjoy baking bread; I feel like it calms my soul. Everything from plain sandwich/toast loaves to crumpets to special filled loaves, it all gets me excited (and hungry). I love the versatility of a good basic dough recipe, and I often do most of my creating from this foundation.
It was my turn to bake for a meeting this week, and I decided to bring out an old tried-and-true classic. A colleague asked me what they were called and I decided on 'parcels of delight'. Homemade bread rolls stuffed with blue cheese and homemade spicy pear chutney. Are your tastebuds tingling yet? They should be...

For this recipe, I use my basic white dough. The rest is really very easy:

1. Seperate the dough into 12 pieces, and shape into balls.

2. Flatten out a ball on your hand, and place a little bit of filling (I used blue cheese and pear chutney this time) in the middle.

3. Bring the edges of the flattened dough up to meet, pinch together to seal, and gently reform into a ball.

4. Place each filled roll seam-side down into a pre-greased muffin tin. Repeat steps with remaining 11 balls.

5. Spray with water and sprinkle with topping of choice (I used sesame seeds this time). Leave to rise as the oven heats up.

6. Bake at 180 degrees ish until golden brown and sound hollow to tap on their bums.

Serve warm from the oven, while the filling is still melty and delicious.

The fillings can be whatever you want them to be, just don't put too much in! So far I have made them with chocolate and jam, blue cheese and pear chutney, and cheddar cheese and tomato chutney, but really the sky is the limit. I don't bother to change the dough for sweet versus savory, but make sure you sprinkle something on top to identify which flavour is which!

Here is another delicious variation to my standard dough, for which the recipe is here.
For this loaf I modified the recipe to 1.5 cups white flour, and the remaining wholemeal flour. To the dough I added a good handful of rolled oats, around 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, and a tablespoon or so each of linseed (flaxseed) and sesame seeds. As the dough came together I added a little extra water to get it to the consistency I wanted. It turned out absolutely perfectly, and looks scarily similar to store-bought Molenberg, but tastes a whole lot better!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Spring Garden Planning

What a busy week I've been having! I've recently found out I'm moving to Dunedin for 3 months for the final clinical placement of my degree. How exciting! In only 14.5 weeks I'll be a qualified Speech-language Therapist!

But, with this move not far in the distance, I've got ALOT to get organised. From accommodation to car servicing to assignments, and of course, I'll have to be super on to it with my Spring seed planting! I plan to come back for a few weekends to see Paddy and my garden (and I can't miss mine or Paddy's birthdays or our 5 year aniversary!) but I need to have all my seeds ordered and planted before I head off. I'm always slow off the mark with seed raising, but this year I hope to be different.

So, I've spent the last week perusing the King's Seeds catalogue, and creating a strategy for how I am going to fit it all in my teeny tiny garden! Where there's a will, there's a way... trust me.
So here we go, the plan (sorry about the picture quality, click for a better view)...

With the addition of my new fruit trees (including another this week, a double-grafted dwarf apricot!) I am going to have to move outside the gate and onto the driveway... Not ideal, as I like to be able to keep an eye on my babies, but unfortunately necessary. Luckily it's actually one of the sunniest areas of the house, and I know the trees will love it.

In my list, there's a lot of regular, tried and trues- my favourite bulls blood beetroot and chantenay carrot, as well as a few new varieties of old favourites, such as slowbolt coriander, genovese giant basil, and a new black coral zucchini. I've also branched out,  including in my order some medicinal flowers, inspired by my much-loved 'Grow Your Own Drugs' books, as well as some new and exciting tomato and chilli varieties.
I find in a small, mostly concrete-surrounded garden, getting bees in can be a problem, so I'm always sure to stock up on bee-attracting flowers. Last year my borage, phacelia and nasturtiums worked a treat, so I'll be sure to plant plenty of those, as well as a few flowers for cutting.

At this point in winter, I start to get a bit down by all the grey days and persistently cold weather, and it always makes me feel better to plan my garden and focus on the upcoming Spring. With the addition of my wonderful new fruit trees, I am even more excited than ever to watch my garden grow!

And, just to make me feel even better, I'll leave you with some photos of my garden from last Spring. So much to look forward to!