In this weekly round-up, I tackle excess rain hampering my project time, and a lovely brioche recipe that made our mouths drool!
Queensland in winter time is one of the best seasons. The nights are cool and the days are pleasant. You may need to wear long sleeves or a vest first thing in the morning, but after 9am you’re most certainly in a t-shirt and shorts enjoying the day.
The entire year so far has had unseasonable rain. We don’t get rain in the winter, and it’s usually our driest time of year. But this year is set to be the third La Nina year in a row with another weather front called a dipold in the Indian Ocean that brings more slow moving rain. That dipold has been bringing rain continuously through Autumn and Winter and will continue into the traditional wet season which starts in September.
This week we had yet another wet weather system come through. The last few have brought about flash flooding and so much water that the ground started getting mouldy. It feels as if just as one weather event finishes, the next one comes through with the previous one not even having time to dry out.
As a result, the entire property is soppy and wet. The poor horse can’t walk anywhere without his feet sinking in, and I haven’t had a ride in months as I don’t have a suitable arena to ride in. The ground is so wet that my poor horse carrying his weight and mine may trip or hurt himself if we were to attempt going around the property, so I haven’t.
This has also hampered all our other projects. We had several clearing sessions, wood that needs to be repositioned to elsewhere in the property, and burn offs to be done. Until they are done, we cannot clear more of the bush arena as we simply don’t have anywhere to put the new stuff which needs sorting, cutting and/or burning.
And now with the plans to make a bigger coop, I am beyond exhausted at the amount of rain and wetness everywhere. I cannot build the coop until the current cleared stuff is burnt off and sorted. But we cannot get to that because it is so wet. And we can’t set posts yet, because the guy needs to come in with his machine when it’s dry to level that section for us.
There is a slight slope on one side of our property going down, and it’s ever so slight but enough to cause water to run down when there is heavy rain. So, making the chicken coop needs more foundational stuff, and I am beyond frustrated with the delays.
Having the arena ready to go means I also don’t have to do poo pickup there, and when I want to go for a ride or do some groundwork, I don’t lose an hour cleaning first before training or riding.
It has been frustrating. No doubt about that. But still, the week went off mostly without a hitch. We still got some projects done and still managed to get a bit of work progressed. So without further ado, let’s kick off this week’s round-up.
The Tartine brioche is by far a new favourite dough…
The Tartine book is by far one of the best and one of my most fave books ever. It is a cookbook, don’t get me wrong, but it is written in such a way that you could pick it up at any page and read it like it was a biography. I just love it and I thumb through it multiple times a week.
The last few sourdough bakes I’ve done have been less than stellar. The dough hasn’t risen enough in bulk fermentation stage and the end result has been a bread with a great taste but not enough air.
Sourdough is one of those things you need to make 1000 of before you maybe start feeling like you have all the intricate pieces of it down pat.
This week I tested raising the dough in the proofer option on my dehydrator. This worked much better than all other natural attempts at proofing dough to date, so I will continue doing it this way. The thing I will try next is not splitting the dough into 2 half kilo segments, but making a full 1kg bread. I still split the baked loaf into a few segments and freeze it so we can defrost and eat my home-baked bread throughout the week, it’ll just be a different size.
I felt confident enough to tackle the brioche this week. I’m a great cook and baker and most recipes – even if I haven’t made them before – turn out exactly. But what gave me the confidence to do the brioche was that the Tartine book had stated it was a forgiving dough.
So I gave it a crack. And whilst the end product was amazing, getting there I had some frustrations.
When I first put all the ingredients into the bowl of the stand mixer, it filled it almost to the top. I mean the thing needs 500g of eggs, which is about 7x70g eggs, and it needed 450g of butter. After putting everything in I went back to the first page of that recipe segment and saw “makes 4-6 full sized loaves”.
I must have skimmed through that part.
No problem though as my bowl has a guard. So before I went to get the bowl guard I tried turning the machine on and it spewed everything everywhere but instead of turning it off my brain said, no, pull the lever forward. And flour and eggs and water went everywhere.
I went and got the bowl guard and that helped, but I was already covered in flour!
So I started mixing it and finally the ingredients starting incorporating enough that there wasn’t any loose flour spewing everywhere. I referred back to the book at this point which said to cut the butter into squares and start introducing them. I started doing that, but it wasn’t incorporating into the dough. At all.
But by this point I was concerned about mixing it any more. I think the butter needed to be slightly softer, but not hot melted. I may next time try melting it before I start so that it cools but is a more liquid consistency.
The key is incorporating it into the dough so there are no chunky bits of butter fat floating around in the dough.
I left the dough in the fridge overnight as I wanted to bake it on Saturday. A cold retard on this dough just doesn’t work, because it was exploding out of my container. None the less, I took what I needed and froze the rest. As the butter didn’t incorporate properly at the initial mix, I was pulling out chunks of cold butter, but that wasn’t so bad. The bread still tasted amazing and very buttery.
So on Monday, we had brioche burgers with fried chicken. They turned out phenomenal and the dough in general is already a favourite.
Our freeze dryer has left the USA
Other exciting news came this week! Our freeze dryer left America on Tuesday and is expected to arrive on 18 September. I am beyond excited.
When it finally does arrive I will do a review, unboxing and some content on it, and also release the details of the homestead business expansion planned!
So sty tuned!
This week’s Wednesday blog post
This week’s post was all about how to start a sustainable and eco friendly lifestyle.
I have said this many times throughout the blog, that people that are homesteaders – I think anyway – tend to be people who are more mindful of reusing and recycling things.
Our chicken coop is being built from 90% repurposed goods off the property, and stuff we’ve taken down from other things. For example, we had a cubby for kids that wasn’t used. So we extended the garden and instead used what was good from that pull down for other things.
But just because you are a homesteader doesn’t mean that you cannot also take some steps to live more sustainably. This post was written to remind people of simple changes they can make to be more mindful about what they purchase, how they use and dispose of things, and what easy changes they can make in their life to be more eco friendly.
It isn’t winter if you don’t have a bonfire. And generally this is the time of year people in this area do their property maintenance which includes burning off.
So on Wednesday night we had a bonfire. In fact Serge had been burning off all day but at night we went out and sat by the fire with a few drinks.
There is nothing better. Nothing. Yes you stink like smoke and your sinuses get inflamed, but it is so worth it.
The sunset this week were also stunning. But the evening of the bonfire it had a yellowy-orange tinge do it and it was just superb. I managed to get a few quick shots with my phone as I was out and about.
The Digger’s Seed Annual and a lone sunflower
Despite all the work I did a fortnight ago in the garden, there is always more to do!
This week the lone sunflower that has emerged in the vegie garden finally opened it’s face to say g’day. I managed to get it just as it opened it’s eyes – so to speak – and it was just marvellous. Sunflowers always put a smile on my face.
And the Digger’s Club Seed Annual 2022/23 finally got delivered and I was as excited as a kid in a candy store. I love the seed annual and I love leafing through it to see what beautiful things I can plant.
My free seeds this year were Onion, Calendula, Chives and Cornflower, though I am saving those for the new flower garden.
The smoked meat is ready and my dad is driving up here in 2 weeks!
I cannot begin to express how excited I am. I haven’t seen my dad since pre-covid, and I know I will have tears of joy when I finally see him.
But this year my dad made us our own segment of meat. So salami, sausages, smoked neck, bacon etc. I love my dads food and I love when he makes it for us too.
One day I would hope to be able to take this job on on behalf of my dad as its such a finite skill, and definitely a traditional homesteading skill that needs to be passed down.
This next week appears to be dryer than the one we just had. So Serge plans on doing the rest of the burn offs and getting the wood cleared from the back.
I am hoping we can get to the logs that I want, as some of them I want to frame the flower garden and the rest I want moved at the front for an entry way garden I am planning there.
Aside from my regular IRL day-job (which I still have despite being a homesteader!) this week I hope we can at least gets posts in the ground for the coop if possible. If not, then it may need to be extended to next week. but the minute posts are in the ground the rest of the progress will go much quicker. Now I just need to decide the layout.
I had a plan, and Serge decided to come in and change it all. So now I need to rejig my plan a bit as the location may have changed, alongside a few other things.
I want to get this coop up and running sooner rather than later and am getting annoyed at how long it is taking. In reality, this coop should take a weekend to build, and so far it’s taken a month to get to this point. I don’t like procrastination, wasting time and changing minds all the time, and I particularly hate when the plan changes halfway through without needing to.
But anyway. I know at least it is progressing. That’s all I can hope for.
And now I am off to thin some seedlings and get them into the ground if they are strong enough.
I hope you enjoyed this weekly round-up and catch ya next week!