Daily Bread

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Bread has long been a staple of our Western diet.  It comes in many and varied guises from the square white slices bagged in plastic bought from the supermarket to artisan sourdough loaves from trendy cafes and delis.

Then there is the seemingly elusive quest for a decent gluten free loaf.

Add the desire to reduce or eliminate plastic packaging and buying a loaf of bread really becomes a minefield.

For over 20 years GMan has made our bread.  This was before I began eating a gluten-free diet and we had 2 children at home.  He made white bread, grain bread and fruit loaf in a breadmaker using bread mixes from Laucke Flour Mills.  We made sandwiches, toast and toasted sandwiches – all with minimal packaging from the bread mix bags.

Things have changed and GMan now makes white bread from scratch in the breadmaker as well as fruit loaf using a premix with added fruit.  Here is a loaf he made tonight.

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The white loaf is the same shape but generally not as high.

However, his real love is sourdough bread which has led GMan on a quest to create a perfect sourdough loaf.  For those who have asked for the recipe, all I can offer is this link which he found and has followed (in general terms).  It appears to be an art and one in which I have not got involved.  After months of varying degrees of success this was the result from a couple of weeks ago.  Gman believes that it is definitely worth the effort.

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I eat very little bread these days as most gluten-free breads are not that great, expensive and heavily packaged in plastic.

Credit to inspired + delicious Facebook page for this bread recipe.

1 cup buckwheat groats
2 cups hot water (almost boiling)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons psyllium husk
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil

Soak the buckwheat in hot water with apple cider vinegar overnight.

Next day, place buckwheat plus liquid in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and blend well.  Place mixture in a greased, lined loaf tin and allow to stand for 15 – 30minutes to allow psyllium to soak in properly.  Bake at 200C until browned and it bounces back when you poke it.  This is approximately 30 – 40 minutes.

This is the basic recipe but you can add whatever else you choose.

My first loaf had a handful each of sunflower seeds and pepitas added to the basic mixture.

Here are a couple of slices toasted.  While it is perfectly edible as bread it is really delicious as toast.

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One of the things I do miss about bread is having grilled cheese on toast.  This is not an everyday food but an occasional treat.  I really enjoyed this for lunch the other day.

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Since I regarded my first attempt as a success, I decided to expand my repertoire and modify it to make a spicy fruit loaf.  I added 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of mixed spice, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, some sultanas and dried cranberries and omitted the pepitas.

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I am now happily dreaming of other flavour options.  I think the next attempt may be a savoury one – sun-dried tomato and olive.

While I am not going to be eating bread for every meal, it is great to have a plastic-free, unpackaged, gluten-free bread that is quick and easy to make.

Unpackaged bread has been my major success for Plastic-Free July this year.

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Cleaning the Laundry Room

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It is probably the smallest room in the house but it can be difficult to get and keep clean.  This is mainly due to there always being something in progress.

However, on Sunday I had finished all of the washing, including the handwashing so it was the perfect time to clear the bench and give the laundry a scrub from top to bottom.

This is the result.  I do love a clear bench, even though it is a fairly rare occurrence.

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The view from the doorway.

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The opposite side of the room with storage cupboards.  For a view and story of the contents of the various cupboards you can read about it here.

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The entrance to the 2nd toilet is just out of view.

This room had 4 doors – one to the hall and another to the kitchen as well as the external door and the toilet door.  We had the door to the kitchen removed which allowed for the built-in bench and cupboards.  The hall and toilet entrances are both sliding doors which conserve space.

I am enjoying the clear, uncluttered space and am determined to try to keep it that way.

 

Fruits of Our Labours

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Sometimes you seem to spend ages beavering away in the background with not a lot to show for it.  Then it finally comes together.  Yesterday was one of those days.

After about 5 weeks without a door on the dining room, it is finally finished and re-hung.  However, it was much more than a 5 week job if you take into account all of the time (years) that it remained unpainted and the agonising debate over what colour to use. We are both extremely happy with the result so it was worth the wait.

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And the view when it is closed.

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Of course, GMan has identified a couple of minor touch-ups which require a steady hand so I have been seconded to do those and the glass needs a final clean as there are a spots of paint on it.

Whilst not completely finished, here are some progress photos of the entrance walkway/arbour that has been in progress for a few months.

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Yesterday we added the final cross rail as well as the wire of the lower sections.

Here is a close-up of one of the mandevilla creepers that we planted. I hope that in time they will cover most of structure.  We have planted 3 and need to buy one more.

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The lawn has been dug up from beneath the walkway and will be paved.  We also need to work our exactly what size and spacing we want for the slatted roof.

 

Other Interests

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You could be mistaken for thinking that I have no other interests apart from what I write about here.

While gardening, cooking and sewing are both hobbies and an integral part of our simple, sustainable life they are not my only interests.

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GMan and I have many shared interests.  Films, books, photography, history, music, art, architecture and travel are equally as important to me as the more practical pursuits.  I don’t have as much time as I would like to indulge in some of these and they are often mostly confined to holiday times.

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We both enjoy the films and social interaction provided by the local film society screenings each fortnight in our country town.  Today was the AGM of the society and I have accepted the role of secretary for a second year.  Community organisations such as the film society exist due the generous contribution of members who volunteer in a variety of ways and I feel that it is important to give back to the community in this way.

Are your hobbies inextricably linked to your lifestyle or do you have hobbies or interests that are……..just because?

In the Fading Light

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After the grey and rainy days of the past week, we had a perfect Queensland winter day.  Brilliant blue sunshine but quite chilly with a westerly wind.  I did not even stop to take a photo as we were busy working on an outdoor project.

You may remember this post from a little over 3 months ago when we began in earnest to build the walkway/pergola entrance to our garden.  It had been several years in the dreaming/planning stages but is now finally a reality, albeit, a not quite finished one.

We worked until the light was fading fast so I snatched these last minute photos as GMan was packing up the final tools.

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We still have to attach the crossbar at the end closest to the house as well as panels of wire on the lower sections of the sides.

The next step will be to decide on exactly what coverage we want on the top of the walkway.  It will probably be timber slats but we need to consider how wide and how far apart.  The base will be paved with some of the pavers we salvaged from the front steps when they were demolished.  There is even a pile of excess crusher dust salvaged from the front steps project, too.  We will clean the pavers with the high pressure Gerni first.

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The final step will be to plant 4 Mandevilla creepers in shades of pink and crimson.

I am excited at the progress we have made and am looking forward to seeing a welcoming flower-covered entrance to our garden.

 

Plastic Free July

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Well, it is a week into to Plastic Free July and I decided that rather trying to to buy any plastic for the whole month, I would simply shop and live as I do on a regular basis and try to capture a true picture of my plastic consumption.

Having our own vegetable garden and fruit trees certainly helps.

Orange juice ready to freeze.

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Grapefruit marmalade.

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Yesterday I took a Weck jar when I went to buy feta cheese at the deli counter of the local IGA.  This was a definite win, but only after reminding the attendant to weigh the jar before filling it.  A reminder that this is not yet the norm and you need to be ever vigilant to ensure that your plastic-free attempts are not hijacked by well-meaning staff.

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Fruit and vegetable shopping is relatively easy to achieve plastic-free, particularly if you choose local, seasonal produce as much as possible.

Here is what I bought today.

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The supermarket is a very different story.  The items I bought today represent the majority of what I buy at the supermarket.  By its very nature, everything is packaged.  The cans are recyclable as is some of the plastic but, as we know, recycling should be the last resort.

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There was also a bottle of vinegar which did not make it into the first photo.

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We make at least some of our food from scratch which helps to eliminate some plastic packaging.  These include bread, pizza bases, tomato sauce and peanut paste.

These pizza bases are partly pre-cooked and ready to be frozen.  The plastic wrap is old cereal packets which have been washed and re-used many times.

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I am far from perfect when it comes to Plastic Free July (or any other time for that matter) but by making and growing some of our own food, having virtually no takeaway and not shopping for recreation we are fairly successful at limiting our single-use plastic consumption.

Are you participating in Plastic Free July?  How is it going?

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Remember, there are no failures – just increased awareness.  And that is a good thing.

 

 

Food – The Eternal Merry-Go-Round

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Now don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy cooking and love planning and preparing meals but it occurred to me this morning how it really is a never-ending cycle.

The citrus trees are producing prolifically at this time of the year so yesterday I juiced grapefruit, oranges and limes as well as preparing some grapefruit ready for marmalade.

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Today I am making marmalade using this recipe from Annabel Langbein.

I am very happy with the result.  Lovely colour and consistency.  This is the excess that did not quite fit in the jar.

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The finished product ready to go in the pantry.  It should be enough for the whole year.

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The other job is to make some more gluten free pizza bases for the freezer.  The recipe I use makes 6 bases.

On the other side of the ledger, I dived into the freezer and retrieved some vegetable curry for lunch.  There are also portions of cooked rice frozen so lunch is ready to go.  Dinner will be equally as easy with cauliflower soup and cheese scones all from the freezer.

As an aside, all of this was prepared with zero waste and no single use plastics.

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