Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Crassula falcata Buddha's Temple

The pot of two large and winding crassulas, and a small one which was just a piece that had broken off last year, is growing well and I feel that there may be some flowers this spring.  There are some bare patches on the lower reaches but lots of nice healthy side shoots.  Once it has flowered, I think it will be time to regenerate by taking lots of cuttings from these side shoots and ditching the two older plants.  I think these plants are about three years old, since they are from cuttings from the plants which I 'refurbished' last time when I posted about them flowering in 2014.  I noticed that some well organised gardeners write the date of propagation on the label...I must get organised!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Arkatena Bread

I am going through my stores and finding recipes to use up the ingredients which are close to the best before dates, and I have some chickpea flour....Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters Book came up trumps.  I read the recipe and felt that it would take a little too long for me, as well as making a largish batch of production leaven where not all was used.

These ratios and timings suit me.  The resulting loaves are delicious.  I baked them in two 500g oval bannetons and the picture is of the loaf that got stuck in the banneton...hence its rather rustic looking top.

Early afternoon of day 1

50g sourdough white starter..100% hydration
25g chickpea flour
25g white strong flour...my current batch is stoneground organic strong white from Stoates
50g water
150g starter in total

mix and place in a bowl and keep covered on the worktop

Late evening day 1

150g starter from the above
50g strong wholemeal
50g chickpea
120g water
520g total Production Leaven

Mix and leave the bowl covered on the worktop

Day 2 Early morning

100g strong wholemeal
300g stron white wheat flour
10g sea salt
300g water
20g fennel seeds
520g Production Leaven
1250g dough in total

Knead the dough well for about 10 minutes, and then leave on the worktop under an upturned bowl for about a hour.  Stretch and fold, then leave for another hour, repeat again!  Its well worth developing your sourdough techniques.  Thanks to several months working on doughs into the Perfecting Sourdough Challenges on Facebook, and exchanging tips there, I have come a long way.

Divide as appropriate to fit your baskets, then prove for a couple of hours or so depending on ambient temperature until the finger tests show that the loaves are ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 220 C, bake for 10 minutes, then reduce to 190 C fan and bake until ready about 25 minutes for 500g loaves.

The bread is rather delicious...nutty and nutritious.  Nice toasted too...great with cold meats, chutneys, roasted veg and hummus.

With 250g of the dough left after two 500g loaves, I mixed in some soaked fruit, spice, and the soaked bottom of the fruited all bran breakfast cereal bag, and left the mixture to rise in some muffin tins...rather delicious upcycled breakfast cereal, the dusty small bits which would have gone in the bin!  I got six nice fruity breakfast buns.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Garden Wildlife

With a new garden very close to the Open Countryside we are having a lovely selection of birds visiting...and later today I shall be going out to top up all the feeders, clean out the water trays and trying to get closer to the blackbird which visits for his mealy worms.

Caught through the very dirty patio windows is this frequent visitor.  Its wonderful to see his strutting around the garden with the sunlight showing off his wonderful feathers.  The blackcaps are frequent visitors as are the Coal tits..yesterday we saw a thrush and then there are all the usuals!

This is the view I get from the living room bay window, when I stand and stare to see what the weather is like!

San Francisco Sourdough

One of the March bake challenges on our Facebook Webpage is San Francisco Sourdough.  It worked really following the techniques...but I don't have a 1kg basket and for just the two of us two smaller loaves means than I can freeze one.

I was rather happy with the crumb and distribution of holes...and the golden colour is on account of using Stoates Stoneground Organic White Flour.  I am happy to have found a local shop The Good Earth in Wells that sells Stoates flour in 8Kg sacks.

Saturday, 4 March 2017


Some of the first blooms at the start of the year during the dark mizzerly days which seem to catch the light are snowdrops.  Mizzerly weather is a new type of weather not much experienced in the Midlands...a very light rain almost a heavy mist which swirls making everything very wet indeed.  Maybe its the closeness to the coast that brings these fine misty rainy days.  When we get a sunny day it certainly cheers the soul.  However in the absence of sunshine a few white nodding heads in the garden remind me that spring is on its way.

Each year Mr S and I venture forth to admire snowdrops.  This being our first year in Somerset, we had to go to the Snowdrop Festival in Shepton Mallet.  James Allen the Victorian Snowdrop King who planted many different varieties in his garden at Park House.  We went on the Saturday, but I wished we had visited on the Friday when there were many Galanthus growers selling bulbs in bloom.  I did spend my pocket money for the week on a couple of pots of Galanthus Woronowii which has wide shiny bright green leaves, and Galanthus Elwesii as it had such large blooms.

The local Horticultural Club had planted up displays and hope this new festival grows and grows!We followed the walk they had devised and as well as enjoying the architecture of the town, enjoyed visiting James Allen's grave.

 Galanthus Woronowii

 Galanthus Elwesii

In the absence of much gardening, I've enjoyed Charles Elliott's essays in The Transplanted Gardener...a very good and amusing read!