May 13th, 2011

Failbread, and other tales of domesticity.

I found some french flour at the local farm shop, which made me decide to make french bread. And I did (several months later). It turned out really nommy, but I was slightly afraid of breaking my mixer, and I couldn’t knead the dough by hand unless I wanted to suffer for it for days. So I decided to try a no knead recipe for my next attempt.

I used this recipe, pretty much, after reading a few things online and deciding to change it up a bit. My dough was too wet after the, hmmm, 16 hours it spent rising, so I used a wet spatula to try and fold it over in its bowl, then gave up and dumped it straight into the bowl with the floured towel. Then the plans went a bit wrong, i put it in the airing cupboard just before my parents came over to take me to the garden centre, thinking I’d be back in time to get the oven hot for it to go in after 2 hours. Well, i forgot that ‘do you want to go to the X’ from my dad, means ‘do you want to go to the X and then the pub’,  so we were out considerably longer than expected. When i got home the dough had fallen inexctricably in love with my teatowel, despite the copious amounts of flour used. So i just dumped it in the cold cast iron pot, pulled as much as i could off the towel and chucked it on top, then stuck it in the cold oven. I turned the oven to 230 degrees and set the timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes i removed the lid and stuck a thermometer into the dough. I have no idea how long the next stage took, maybe 15 mins, but when the internal temp of the bread reached 99 degrees, I took it out.

Looking good!
failbread3

Then. I looked over to my left and saw the untouched roll of greaseproof paper. I had PLANNED to put some in the base of the pan to stop it sticking. or at least some flour, but in my teatowel unsticking frenzy, i forgot.

Still looks pretty good, right?
failbread4

Untiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil
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YES MY BREAD HAS NO BOTTOM SHUT UP. There was no way in hell i was getting the thing out of the pot, so I waited until it was cool and then realised i had to sacrifice the bottom crust.

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Ignoring that huge fail though, it looks pretty good, really light and airy, tastes like a cross between ciabatta and french bread, but with the BEST CRUST EVER. Seriously, it’s incredibly delicious. Next time I will use a liiiiiittle less water, remember the damn greaseproof paper, and probably borrow a smaller casserole dish from my mum so it makes a taller loaf. Oh, and try not to ruin any teatowels. Still, failbread is yummy, so I’m happy.

Another fail i experienced lately was that my beans didn’t grow. Considering the seeds were 10 years old, I pretty much expected it. So today i bought some dwarf french bean seedlings, which are now happily sharing a bed with my peas.
vegmay3

The tomatoes I am growing from seed did rather too well, i have 20+ plants, but i am expecting at least a few cat-related losses. The watercress in the front large pot has suffered at the paws of mummycat, and the carrots in the back pot have been sat on a couple of times too. Still, stuff is growing. There’s 4 chili plants in there too, which are doing very well.
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The courgettes are getting biiiig, and i got a couple of tomato plants from someone down the road (one Alicante, one Gardener’s Delight) for some variety, as the ones I’m growing are all Moneymaker.
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And fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally. The most unflattering photo of me EVER EVER EVER.

newdress

I finished this dress the other day. The top is based on this pattern but at a tighter gauge because I wanted to use a 100% silk yarn and knew it would stretch, and then i added the skirty part. I don’t like orange, but i had 4 skeins of Debbie Bliss Pure Silk in orange that I bought aaages ago cos it was cheap. I thought i actually had 5, but maybe one has gone on a stash adventure. I also had a skein each of the pink and purple, so made that hideous creation. AND TODAY I DYED IT. I was going to dye it red then overdye it with black, but i decided i liked the red as-is, so it can stay this way for at least a little while until i am bored with it. Red is notoriously hard to photograph, but here it is, it’s a really bright yummy cherry red colour.

ruffles

Once it’s dry I’ll beg Gren to take a pic and hope I don’t look as chubby as in the above webcam pic. I may also have to sew an underdress thingy for it, cos it is raaather nippletastic, and while i have no qualms normally about my nipples showing through my clothing, this is a little much even for me.

May 10th, 2011

Another veg patch update.

It’s coming along well. Since the last pic I’ve cut back the hedgerow and pulled a few weeds, and weedkillered the brambles, which are starting to die off. I got Gren to dig out the grass under the cold frame, which he did with minimal protesting, and got a few sacks of spare gravel from my parents’ place, which Gren moved with considerable protesting. I put down more anti-weed plastic on the path areas, and weedkillered the remaining grass/weed areas, so soon I’ll be able to put some plastic on there and get a bit more gravel, and it’ll start looking like a cared-for patch!

gardenprogress

The radishes are now ready, and many have been eaten, nom nom! Once I’ve taken out a whole row, I’ll plant some more. The tomatoes and chillis are all potted on and are in the cold frame waiting to get a bit bigger before I plant them out. I have 20 tomato plants, so I’m going to need to rehome most of them! The strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are all in flower, so if I can keep the birds away, I should have some nice fruit this summer. I think Snargle is doing a pretty good job of keeping the bird population down though, yesterday Gren came and told me she’d got a bird but he wasn’t going to take it off her because of some spurious reason which boiled down to being lazy and hoping she’d eat it. She did a good job, only left the wings. This morning there was a dead starling in her offering spot, so I can only assume starlings don’t taste as good as whatever she had yesterday.

May 10th, 2011

Something I never thought I’d say…

…I’m on a diet!

Since Gren moved in almost 18 months ago, I’ve put on 7 lbs. Not a huge big deal cos my weight fluctuates with my health and med side effects and other crap anyway, but I’ve been generally feeling ‘well’ this year, and noticed my diet has got worse, more due to laziness/routine changes than being too sick too cook. I am 5’3 and now weigh 126lbs. So totally not overweight or anything, but I LIKE to be around 115-120. I am fairly curvy, so any less than this my bones stick out too much and people start telling me I look sick (personally I don’t notice that I look sick until I get below 100, but I guess I trust people around me). And I miss my flat tummy.

So I decided to try and reduce the crap I eat. My new diet consists of:

  • not letting gren cook for me when i’m too lazy to cook myself, cos every meal he cooks involves chips
  • only drinking fruit juice diluted half and half with fizzy water or cold tea
  • making large amounts of various salads and putting them in the fridge so I always have food available when i want it and am not tempted to eat junk cos it’s easy
  • only having one beer when i go out instead of two
  • not buying anything that says ‘low fat’ or ‘diet’ on it unless it’s naturally low fat
  • not having any food that I’m ‘not allowed’, cos that would just piss me off and make me fail
  • if i buy any chocolate or cake or other ‘junk’ leaving it in the fridge and only bringing one portion to my room at any time. I’ve not actually bought any junk, but the day i decided to start this, we had a bbq and my mum brought over a strawberry pavolva. nom!
  • using half the amount of mayo that i normally do when i make coleslaw
  • going back to eating when i’m hungry and not because it’s ‘dinner time’

At some point, if I’m feeling brave, I might add ‘forcing myself to eat breakfast’ to the list, but I’m not so sure, as even though I’ve not been feeling terrible since spring started, I still generally feel pretty sick for the first couple of hours after waking, so I don’t know if food is a good idea then.

Mebbe I won’t actually lose any weight, but at least I’m eating a lot more veggies now, and in my fridge there are piles of green salad with yoghurt and mint dressing, coleslaw, waldorf salad, brown rice salad, and hummous. and a whole roast chicken. AND i have homemade french bread, which is surprisingly good given there was no way I’d be able to knead it by hand, so did most of it with my poor old mixer. It didn’t seem too happy with the task, but it coped reasonably well. I really hope I don’t kill it by using it for dough, cos I so can’t afford the KitchenAid I’ve been lusting over. I have been keeping my eyes open for bread machines with a dough option on freecycle though, so maybe I’ll manage to snag one of those instead.

And I am actually enjoying the cooking. I’ve always liked cooking, but never really liked doing it just for me due to the level of mess, and Gren doesn’t each much that I eat, so we only eat together once every week or so (when i cook a roast, or when I’m too lazy to cook and eat burger and chips with him), but having the new kitchen helps, cos it’s a lot easier to keep clean. I suppose not feeling like I’m going to pass out every time i stand up also helps, but fingers crossed I’m getting better and won’t have as many days like that in future.

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