Fermentastic

It’s been all about fermentation at our place recently.

I had been pondering the idea of several fermenterrific things for a while — probably since I started watching River Cottage — but my partner’s impending low-FODMAP diet just sort of tipped me over the edge into home-fermentation land.

Fermentation the first: sourdough

Regular wheat isn’t allowed under a low-FODMAP diet, but spelt is; and it’s even more allowed if it’s in sourdough bread form. Which sounds fine, except that shop-bought sourdough spelt bread tends to be not only expensive but also a bit stale. Not my favourite combo.

Add that my friend N makes delicious home-made bread just about daily and she has TWO kids — a three-year-old AND a baby — and I thought it was just embarrassing if she can find the time to make her own bread and I can’t.

It turned out that finding the time was easy since it required small amounts of time, semi-frequently — perfect for someone who’s at home all day with a baby – but it was all kind of a pain in the ass.

SourdoughStarter

The starter burbling away in the pantry…

Sourdough starters are more art than science and they use up heaps and heaps of flour. There’s no getting around it. And you end up with way more starter than you’re ever going to need. The internet is full of recipes for ways you can use it up (I made some yuck pancakes and some nice carrot cake), but it’s kind of annoying.

As for the recipes for actual sourdough bread, each one seems to ask for a slightly different sorts of starter (it’s all about the water/flour ratio) so you really do need to experiment. Then, it turns out, you need to experiment to get it the way YOU like it.

The first loaf, a white one, looked ok but turned out too sour (well, I thought it was. My partner thought it tasted fine and he doesn’t normally even like sour foods):

DoughBubbling

The dough rising and getting all bubbly

WhiteSourdoughWhiteSourdoughCutThe internet told me that, counterintuitively, you add MORE of the (sour) starter to make the final bread less sour. And it was quite right. The second loaf, which I made wholemeal, was just nicely sour:

Wholemealdoughbubbling

The dough rose beautifully with twice the starter…

WholemealSourdough

But both loaves, as you can see, weren’t that high. Meh, we had thin, long sandwiches. I might try a tin next time, see if that helps make it higher.

Fermentation the second

Ginger beer. Oh, yeah.

GingerBeerI used the River Cottage recipe, with fresh ginger, and I was terrified that it was going to explode (mostly because I didn’t want to have to clean it up), so I stored the bottle inside my sealed (clean) nappy bucket, as you see above.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. The first time I tried, my yeast was dead, so nothing happened. It still tasted delicious, it was just flat and non-alcoholic.

The second time I tried, with brand new yeast from a nearby homebrew shop, it worked beautifully. Yum. The third time, nothing happened again, even with the new yeast, but this time I just topped up the mixture with a bit more yeast and a bit more sugar, and left it for another few days… and it worked beautifully.

So, again, more art than science.

Fermentation the third and fourth (plus a pickle)

To get started, I should probably mention that I am a trifle in love with Garden Betty ATM. Just look at her. She’s so great…

Yes, I stole this pic from her website. Since it’s her “official” shot, I assume it’s ok to pinch under these circumstances (i.e. when raving about how great she is)

I found her through googling, about six months ago. I don’t remember what I was googling, as I was immediately distracted by her blog. She is wonderful.

Melbs is a bit obsessed with banh mi at the moment, so I started with
her do chua.

DoChua

Washing off the salt. Look at those shiny, sexy sticks

Tasty, tasty home-made banh me...

Tasty, tasty home-made banh me…

Flushed with success, and full of delicious sandwiches, I felt emboldened enough to try her kimchi.

KimchiReadyToMix

Ready to mix the red pepper/garlic mixture in with the veggies

KimchiMixed

All mixed! It kind of made my eyes water…

KimchiJars

I really need to get some proper preserving jars :(

It was bloody amazing and is wonderful in noodle salads (in fact, Pip Lincolne re-posted a recipe for her kimchi noodle salad just the other day that looks sensational).

And I made her fermented salsa just the other week. It was muy tasty.

FermentedSalsa

Mixing, mixing. Yum.

FementedSalsaSo, what’s next? Cheese of course!

MadMillieCheese

Will let you know how it goes :)

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Being single can be so much better than some of the alternatives

Years ago, when I was single and had been for quite a while, I picked up a guy at a party who was perfectly fine but I didn’t actually fancy.

It was an experiment in seeing if I was actually being too picky, after hearing multiple friends saying that you can learn to fancy someone after you get to know them, and I should stop waiting for an immediate connection. That I needed to give more blokes “a chance”.

So, I went out to dinner with him. We went for a walk afterwards and he told an anecdote about a friend picking a plug of poo out of their ass to clear up their constipation.

I decided after that, that being single was fine. I had actually always thought so, and still do, but it’s good to be reminded of these things.

I had forgotten all about this particular story until just then, when a friend complained about a bad date she’d been on and said it just reminds you that being single is better than excruciating badness.

Hugs to all my single friends (the ones who don’t want to be, anyway), and keep hold of the thought that being single is better than some of the alternatives.

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Shed makeover

As previously mentioned, I was hoping to makeover a nasty corner of our backyard. To a tacky kitsch tiki garden.

My partner hated the idea. However, since it is designated as “mine”, he didn’t mind me altering the shed, which was the main aesthetic problem in said yucky corner.

So, I made it over.

Before:ShedBefore

After!

ShedAfter

And the inside, too! Before:

ShedInsideBefore

After!

ShedInsideAfterAm considering putting astroturf down on the floor. But I’m not sure my gardening tools  and pots etc really deserve it…

If you’re interested, this really wasn’t expensive. Less than $200 all up, even if you have to buy paintbrushes, etc. The bamboo cladding stuff was $90, the leis were $20 ($2 each from a $2 shop), the silly cardboard decorations and the plastic bunting cost bugger-all from Lombards and the paint was $30, but I didn’t even use half of it. All sorts of things are now going to be painted purple around our place…

It also wasn’t time consuming. The bamboo just had to be cable-tied to the shed’s metal frame, and painting/preparing for painting was also quite quick since there wasn’t much area to actually paint. All up, I think it took three short afternoon sessions in between the baby’s naps; she pottered around the garden while I worked.

Easy!

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Daiso. Feeling paper, sweat patches, nose powder. Wow.

These things are available from Daiso in Chadstone. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

DaisoSweatStains DaisoDietPatch DaisoDoubleEyelidTape DaisoNoseShadowDaisoFeelingPaper

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Gelato Messina — overrated ice cream, stupid cookbook. And don’t get me started on Zumbo

I am so disappointed.

It has taken me weeks and weeks to bother writing this because all my will to talk about this crap was gone.

I had been (note the past tense) so excited about the two new Sydney imports Melbs was getting, being Zumbo and Gelato Messina. I went to both of them shortly after they opened. Neither was worth the trip.

I will admit that Gelato Messina’s products were perfectly nice. But not cross-to-the-other-side-of-town nice. And certainly not worth all this fuss. I don’t know what passes for gelati in Sydney, but you can get good-quality gelati in Melbourne just about anywhere.

And all the crazy flavours that they’re known for, which I fully intended to try? Nowhere to be seen.

GelatoMessina

Just people looking bored.

To add insult to injury, I was given a copy of the Gelato Messina cookbook recently and, as someone who had made their own ice cream for years, thank god I didn’t pay money for it.

For starters, the ingredient lists all include “stabiliser” and “dextrose”. Because so many home cooks have those in the cupboard (sarcasm). And despite these overly processed softening agents, they still include a disclaimer that if you don’t eat the ice cream right away, the texture will be “compromised”. So… why add those stupid bullshit ingredients????

That’s a rhetorical question.

I briefly considered tracking down stabiliser and dextrose just so that I could try their stupid recipes and do a blog post complaining about them but remembered I actually have a life.

Also, the introduction just pissed me off. Not only does it include completely incorrect “scientific” information about the chemistry of ice cream (for instance, apparently you don’t want ice in ice cream. Actually, you do. How the fuck else would you freeze something that is mostly water?); but it included this really dumb paragraph:

“When Messina opened its doors in 2002 in Darlinghurst, gelato in Australia didn’t have a great reputation. It was perceived as an icy, hard, watery type of ice cream, and it wasn’t very popular.”

Um, no. This is not true for all of Australia. Melbourne’s history of Italian immigration meant that you could get good-quality gelati at heaps of places. No dodgy reputation needed, thanks. Gelati places did boom around Melbourne at the beginning of the noughties, it’s true, with 7Apples then Fritz and then Trampoline setting up, but to say it was perceived was watery ice cream before then is just incorrect for Melbourne. And, given this interview, they knew that. Annoying.

And as for sodding Zumbo: wow. Just, wow.

Shit service, bugger-all seating, nothing special about their product.

Best I can say is that their store looks fancy.

ZumboSign

ZumboSeating

Mmm, inadequate AND uncomfy!

Zumbarons ZumboCakes ZumboCakesAngryOrange ZumboCakesCardboard

Sure, the cakes look nice, but you can get attractively-presented cakes HEAPS of places. With better flavour and better service. Also? I assumed those little “az” circles would be printed chocolate or something.

ZumboCardboard

Nope! It’s CARDBOARD. Because cardboard is SO TASTY ON A CAKE.

YUMMY! PLEASE SIR CAN I HAVE SOME MORE?

Also, just so you know, “zonuts” are disgusting. Tastes like a croissant was deep-fried with oil that wasn’t hot enough, then injected with not quite enough pastry cream and allowed to get slightly stale and soggy.

I don’t want this to be a Sydney v. Melbourne thing, I really don’t. I find that sort of thing too dull for words. But as nicely as they did up their shopfronts, these particular Sydney institutions just fail to live up to their hype in a city that already has a really entrenched history of demanding good food.

They both score a “fail” in the book of Lisa.

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Sticking things on things

We had a boring wall in the laundry. In fact, the whole room was boring. So I fixed it.

SpaceInvaders

I used a footstool instead of a proper ladder to put some of the aliens up and regretted it after I fell off.

SpaceInvadersBruise

But to be honest, I didn’t regret it that much. Because I bloody love the result. I would have just bought a decal set but they all come in horrible colours. Whereas making your own, in pretty florals, is hilarious.

SpaceInvaderFloral SpaceInvaderShipI used Dailylike adhesive fabric sheets from their Amazon listings.

The Engrish description on there was very enjoyable (“You can use the Fabric Sticker for decorating of book, diary covers and pencil cases or any other items like any products. The product that be produced of paper, backside of the product that you are able to draw as much as you wanted then you cut them, you can do making clearly whatever you would like to make, it can be DIY”) but didn’t make me smile as much as their packaging:

Dailylike

Knowing the way to hear a part of daily life daily like.

Mmm.

My mother-in-law asked why space invaders for the laundry. I told her that there was a Futurama episode where space invaders invade because they need quarters to do their laundry.

That is not the reason.

We just needed more 80s computer game stuff in our house. I’m not sure anyone but someone of our generation would understand.

I bought extra fabric sheets so that I could use the rest on my child’s boring, boring roman blinds. I was sick of their white dullness AND the three or four marks that were marring their boring whiteness, and I was going to just paint a pattern on them, but the adhesive fabric idea seduced me. 
CirclesI’m so pleased. But they’re not done yet. I’ve ordered more. Very excited.

In other news about sticking things on things, I also did a washi tape Christmas tree this year. A proper tree just seemed like a tease for the little person.

WashiTapeTree

OK, I taped some ornaments up there too. I’m not made of stone.

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These are delicious

Quick post; had to rave about how delicious the things I’m currently drinking are.

The following things are great (have had to use all their official pictures rather than my own as wordpress won’t load pictures lately. Annoying, but I can console myself that they’re better than my own pictures, at any rate):

T2′s “Toasty Warm” oolong tea and their Southern Sunrise tisane:

I’ve been having it iced (well, chilled – it doesn’t need sugar or anything else)

LuxBite Salted Caramel & Mörk Chocolate

This is fucking amazing. But the jar of caramel should really be bigger, as I kind of ate the rest after just two cups. It’s great in coffee. And off a spoon. Also, the instructions say to use three teaspoons of cocoa mix; I found that to be way too much.

Melbourne Gin Company gin (yes, we finally got to booze)

It’s delicious. And I don’t drink shit gin, so trust me. Mmmmmmm……

That is all. Carry on.

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