Archive for May, 2013

Slow and steady

Here’s today’s progress on the laundry:

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We’ve started varnishing the bench top in marine grade polyurethane. This is coat number 1 (of 4!) on the underside, so lots to go.

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An autumnal cake

Until we set an orchard, we’re reliant on the shops for fruit. If like us you’re not lucky enough to have fruit trees, you can usually tell that a fruit is in season because it’s cheap in the shops.

Right now it seems to be pear season. These are going into Miss soon-to-be-4’s birthday cake. The great thing about pears is that if you slightly overdo it, they don’t make the cake taste weird.

So the recipe was 6 pears, halved and roasted until soft, then cooled, cored, skinned and pureed. Into that went 2 cups of sugar, 1 tablespoon if baking powder and about 1 cup of cocoa, plus some ground cinnamon and clove. Miss stb4 proclaimed that it “smelled gorgeous!” Mixed it till smooth, then beat in 4 big eggs. After that, in went about 250g melted butter and half a block of melted chocolate. Again, we mixed till smooth. Then we folded in about 2 cups plain flour. If you overbeat cake mixture that contains flour, it sets the gluten off and makes the cake tough. The advantage of adding the flour at the end is that you can beat the hell out of it to get the mix smooth at first, and you only need to ease off at the end when the flour goes in.

That went into an oven preheated to 160 for about 50 minutes. I put a tall baking paper collar around to stop it burning, which seemed to work.

This makes heaps of batter. You might want to halve it actually:

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It made 1 big cake and 3 small ones.

I think this is the best cake I’ve ever made: moist, spongy and chocolatey. Miss stb4 was much more interested in the batter though, and completely rejected the cake in favor of licking the bowl! 

Edit: once you decorate a cake for a four year old, all traces of the seasons are lost:
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Green tomato sauce

A while back we cleaned out our tomatoes to make way for broad beans.

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We also picked out remaining people beans and olives.

Most of the tomatoes didn’t ripen so I made some green tomato sauce with them. Step 1 was smoking them, but I missed getting a picture of that. Then, in the pan with about a kilo of browned onions and some apples:

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Had to do the onion in batches.

Then I boil up cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, while black pepper, caraway, coriander, cumin, cayenne and anything else that takes my fancy in some vinegar, strain through a cloth into the tomatoes, tie off and drop the “bag” in.

Plenty of sugar goes in, a bit of salt, and then it boils away for a while.

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Six jars, some of them whoppers! This is great on roast beef.

Laundry progress

There’s nothing like putting a 430 mm hole in an expensive bit of wood to get the heart pumping. Lacking a 2 foot wide hole saw, I broke out the jigsaw. But these are notorious for making wobbly, wonky cuts.

Enter the diy jig!

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I found a bit of board and popped holes in the right places.

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Screwed it to the foot plate of the saw

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Screwed the board to the centre point of the hole to be and around we went…

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Success! It’s not perfect, but much better than I could have achieved freehand.

This is another testament to the usefulness of a box of screws rescued from an old fax machine:

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After sanding, this is the trial fit:

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Next step: varnishing.

First broad bean sprout

Our first broad bean of the season has just poked its head out of the soil!

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We have a row planted where the bean curtain was over summer, a spot that’s roasting in summer but might not be sunny enough in winter. Time will tell.

[edit: a sprout, not a spirit!]

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