Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another one

This poem could have been written for several people I know.


You are
A four-cornered star, shining rustily in hot water
You are
The perforated parachute that makes my morning
Landings soft when I crash in from dreamland

You are a savoury scented sandbag
As half-empty as it is half-full
Your permeable membrane an inverted flood-wall

You're the force that through infusion drives my waking hour
A freshwater sponge, soaking up my power
To resist you, I insist you're always welcome to muddy my waters

For when I'm blue I brew you up
And pour you out into my cup
And offered as soothing ointment to my oesophagus
You are not a disappointment

Although you are (a disappointment) as a Christmas decoration
And also as a duvet you've a very low tog-rating

Produce of more than one country
You are an intercontinental holistic missile
Yes I'll always keep our mid-morning appointment
For the best of many heavens is
And when you're hot for me
To be honest
Just one is
Enough per pot for me

Consolation prize, foul-weather friend
Treasure at the rainbow's end
Calm-inducer, tongue-loosener
Rescue-remedy, biscuit softener
You're often a subtle social worker
Or community relations officer

Peace-broker, mediator
China-stainer, radiator
Nerve-soother, mood-changer
Don't you ever be a stranger

My multi-tasking flask-filler

I'll see you later...

Matt Harvey

Monday, April 27, 2009

Matt Harvey

Much as I don't believe in writing without pictures; the lack of a computer forces me to resort to type only.

So here's a poem.


I've been feeling sleek and furry
since you came and made me whole,
and now I understand why love's
an anagram of vole.

Matt Harvey

Monday, April 13, 2009

Adventures in advanced cookery...

The fabulous K in his quest for perfection in all foods* was keen to try cooking eggs at exactly 69 degrees for one hour - thus apparently producing the most perfect and succulent egg.
I figured the Da would fully embrace this experiment and offer his kiln as the most accurate cooking environment. We are, after all, obsessed with cooking the most perfect egg round here, what with the chickens producing so many themselves...

We programmed the kiln to go up to 69 degrees at the rate of 500 degrees per hour. (As a result the temperature went up to 72 or so and then slowly came down - next time we will take it easier!)
Unfortuneatly the results weren't quite done, so we had to finish them off in a pot. Opinions were divided 2:1 on the kiln-cooked eggs having a softer white. But they were still a delicious easter sunday tea and more experiments are planned for the future!

*including ones he hates

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Feelin' springy...

The Blackthorn is flowering, blessing the hedgerows with its delicate white fuzziness. And I have been continually obsessed with fermentation. Sourdough experiments are abounding and the starter is chugging merrily away between periods of rest in the fridge. The starter was made by adding a cup of flour to a cup of water, leaving it in a warm place and waiting for it to bubble slightly, then adding a cup of flour and a cup of tap-temperature-water each day for about a week. I used wholemeal, but you can use any type of flour. When the starter went from smelling completely rancid to nice and sour, it was ready. This is the recipe I used for the bread.

Sourdough Bread
This makes three loaves

To make the sponge:
1 good ladleful starter
500g flour
600ml warm water

Mix it up and leave overnight in a warm place if possible. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag or use a shower cap (incredibly handy for bread-making)

The next morning it should look like that - all frothy, and bubbly and beautiful. Now add

2 and a half tsps salt
600g flour

Knead until nice and rubbery. You may need to adjust the quantities according to your starter - mine is quite wet and my doughs have been fairly wet - I've had to add a fair bit of extra flour. But the dough has been really soft and fluid, practically pouring out of the bowl -a really beautiful material to work with! Puffy, light, airy... (Yes, I am turning into a bread-nerd.)
Shape the dough into a round by placing it flattest side down, flattening it slightly and going round in a circle folding all the outward edges in - this stretches the strands of gluten that are forming and makes it all the more effective. Put it back in the bowl, leave for an hour or so - it may not have risen much, then pour it out and shape again. Repeat this 2 or 3 times - the longer you leave it, the more flavour develops - then shape into loaves and leave for the final proving, until just under double its size. Bake for the first ten minutes at 260 Celsius, or as hot as your preheated oven will go, turning down to 180 or so after ten minutes, depending on how fast it is browning, and cook til done - another 20-30 minutes.

It still amazes me that flour, water, salt and time can produce such flavourful incredible stuff!

On another springy theme - inspired by the seedlings poking their little but strong heads through the soil in the greenhouse and garden, I knitted this little plant for a friend.
Hurray for spring!