Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Wow, so much rain! How wonderful. But then, I thought it would never stop! Happy for the milder weather. The rain kept me indoors for more baking adventures and in the moments of mild sunshine, some planting out of summer cuttings and sprouting some new babies. I've also discovered Instagram which was potentially very dangerous... I'm @HeadGardenerTFQ

This month's harvest:

- 7kg jap pumpkins (2)

- 3 bunches of misc greens (bred)

- 2 bunches spring onions

- 7 baby carrots

- 4.5kg sweet potato

- 2 baby cucumbers

- 2 baby pawpaws

Harvest is still very much impacted from summer neglect. Did not sprout any annuals over this period - starting to realise how annual dependent my garden is due to not knowing where garden beds will end up due to renos etc. 

March is reconditioning soil and mulching month. Something I am very happy with and can definitely see improvements from 1 year ago in soil structure in the older beds. When I dig/fork into them now it's nice and black and crumbly. There are also lots of fat earthworms. Success. The sheet mulching has definitely seen the best improvement overall though I have been fascinated with the success of leaf mould - a shame we don't have much dediduous trees in Bris but my pile of rakings from the park turned into black gold:

Swapped some pumkpin for some horse poo :)

The moringa is getting huge! I've underplanted this area with sprouted seeds from the pantry: chickpea, buckwheat, lentils and nigella seeds - who'd have thought. They've been sitting there for years..!

Also took the plunge and planted out some fruit trees that had been hanging around in pots for ages: Peach Florda, Orange berry, kaffir lime (and added a cheeky new tahitian lime). Thank you Susan for your suggestion to plant the citrus in the western facing garden bed (peach is an intruder but will monitor how he goes here - also, am already looking forward to his beautiful blooms!)

I decided to get rid of as much Hawaiian Gold SP from one of my original beds as possible. It is just taking over too much. I've still got designated areas but I'm thinking Grow Bag towers are really the only way to go. I'm thinking of investing in the grow bags becuase the double layers compost/plastic hessian sacks really only last one season and then tend to flake plastic everywhere during removal process.  I think I will probably never be able to get rid of all the SP from the bed... any tips? (don't say don't plant!)

A freak experience, as I rip up the sweet potato, I find a tag I put when I planted it last year - exactly 1 year to the day!

This time they were white-white. Creamier than the Pink-white but less vigorous.

Speaking of root crops...

Speaking of babies, had a few miniatures this month. I'm not complaining but would be good to have some whole sized ones too! I do need to add some potash though, I've not done that, so not too worried. Something growing is always more encourage than nothing growing.

Baby cucumber:

Baby pawpaw: 

This courgette root however was anything but baby! Reigning in at over 3 metres!

Some pretty flowers this month. Passionfruit, and below, Moringa

Still been making the most of the curcubit & other green tips in stirfry. In this pic I have 7 different greens I put in the pan :) Can you name them all?

Lunch!

Jap below - this one turned into soup and also Spelt and Pumpkin Bread, pic below (Recipe from latest issue Earth Garden Magazine by Say Little Hen). 

Light Rye below based on this recipe from the Swirling Spoon blog. So many delicious recipes to try there!

So yes, the sourdough baking adventures continue. Being home sick this week I was able to do some of the longer experiments - the easy thing about sourdough is there is little work involved but a lot of waiting around. Perfect when bored, sick and miserable. 

I have a big breakthrough this week. Like, big time big. I got the Sourdough Book by the Norwegian boys from @illebrod (cult on instagram) and the first "Basic Bread Recipe" I made was a dream. One of those days where everything just goes magically and everything does exactly what it is meant to. It was a hot and humid day, which I suspect the wild yeasts love.  I think it also helped that the book is very neat and straightforward to follow with lots of pics. I did have a few moments of panic (pinch in the salt, what does that mean?? Oh right... pinch in the salt... seems silly now haha) but as a beginner, it is difficult to discern from success and disaster during the process! At some point, it is just an art, and you just have to go with your instincts (and sticking to the recipe at least once usually helps!!)

Baking in the dutch oven I realised that it is very important for sourdough to be cooked in a very hot oven. The dutch oven keeps the moisture - this is what caramelised the crust. 

The thing I enjoyed about The Sourdough Book was that it was all based on one solid recipe. Rather than always switching between different water, flours, knead, no knead, proof fridge not fridge, baking in dutch oven or not, they are like: Bam, this is the way. Which is why I found this book good for a beginner. Then once you master that, you can start messing around with replacing flours etc but the basic process stays the same. Another thing I did learnt is if your flour is old it might require more water (thirstier).

While waiting for my doctors appointment, I read Richard Bertinet's Crust. Compared to the @illebrod boys, Bertinet does more stretch and folds earlier rather than spacing out 4-5 every 30 mins for 3-4 hours. 

So I set about trying it. But then I had a huge coughing fit and got completely interrupted and had to go to the pharmacy, completely unplanned. What this meant was there was more time for the autolyse and after the 'Pinch in the salt' part, which actually made the dough a lot tougher - which at that point of the process is actually a good thing, as in the gluten bonds get stronger (I think). It means you have then 'relax' it through the stretch and fold/bulk fermentation process, when you start stretching them out. Ok sorry if you are not familiar with the sourdough process - it is quite involved and daunting at first and didn't make ANY sense (on the internet everyone had a different idea but nothing was working like it should!). 

So anyway, after trying Bertinet's longer stretch and fold with Illebrod's ingredients, magic happened. I turned the dough into 3 baguettes and baked the next morning. I also used Bertinet's quick 15 sprays of water into the oven to create steam as I was baking on a cookie tray (baguettes don't fit in dutch oven). 

This worked out really really well. 

Ahhh!

Just when you thought it couldn't get better, I added dates and walnuts, oh yeah!

FYI - this is the difference between adding steam (right) and not adding steam to retain moisture in the oven

Also made some to freeze

And bottled some kombucha in Dianne and Graham's fancy beer bottles I picked up at the Elaine's GV

A la Susan, I will finish with a pretty flower pic, a rose amongst the SP

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Comment by Dianne Caswell on March 30, 2017 at 10:18

How wonderful, Thanks so much for the Blog, it is always great to see what you are up to. I'm so pleased you continue to enjoy the adventures of Gardening and Bread Making.

Comment by Christa on March 30, 2017 at 8:46

Looking good Sophie,  I can see a food forest in the making.  That zucchini plant wasn't going to give up easily.  When you see a photo of homemade bread, you can sense the smell of it, not so with packet bread. Thank you for sharing your produce and news in the garden.  

Comment by Rob Collings on March 29, 2017 at 19:44

Nice growing there Sophie. Your photos and writings on breads, receive a standing ovation from me.

Comment by Susan on March 29, 2017 at 17:24

Beautiful looking blog Sophie.  I'm glad you got those citrus in -perfect timing with all this rain.  Those sour doughs look amazing, I need to get my act together to try it.   Can't offer much advice on your sweet potato problem, I ended up using Zero on mine back when I had let it grow in the beds. 

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