sky, clouds, glorious, red
home, writing

Glory in Nature – Sunset Surprise

Sky, sunset
The Glory of Nature – what a show!

If anyone was ever in doubt as to the majesty and power of nature they only had to look out over my balcony last night to see this.

Such a Surprise on one of the coldest but freshest nights at the Home By the Sea, yet.

red, orange, sky
Just look at the range of colours and effects – no filter!

As a fan of winter and cooler weather, it didn’t bother me. I heard many grumblings from family and neighbours.

Isn’t it cold? They complained as they pulled out thermals and jumpers and huddled under blankets.

Ironic that now there is some freedom to move around, nature slaps us back into our homes, sheltering from the cold south westerly winds.

One could almost say nature appears not quite ready to receive the full onslaught of modern civilisation quite yet.

writing

Friendly Friday – Isolation Cravings

“What am I Craving in Isolation?”

Sandy misses the beach. Do I?

I already have a beach at my doorstop.

Neighbours, convenient transport, cyclists, kids?

They are all around me too.

My kids have moved home due to job loss/constraints and we speak to most of my friends via phone, messaging or if they are locals, in person, but at a social distance.

The air is cleaner and the traffic calmer.

Life has slowed down.

I like that.

People are educating their kids at home, spending quality time with then that will become treasured memories in later life.

Time with your children can never be traded back later.

It is a once-only ticket to a perpetual show that changes EVERY DAY and never has an encore.

The Mountains known as Glass House on the horizon near my home

I feel pretty lucky to be living where I do – a great mix of city and coastal life, without the frenetic pace. But there are two things I do miss, Sandy.

  • a good haircut
  • sipping a cuppa at a hyggelig cafe.

Posting for Friendly Friday Isolation Craving Photo Story Challenge, hosted by Sandy at The Sandy Chronicles and Amanda (me) at Something to Ponder About.

food, home

Forget the Banana Bread

Forget the Banana Bread, that is so yesterday! The new kid on the block at the Home by the Sea, is a breakfast Fig and Walnut Loaf.

Never having with Figs before, I was convinced to give it a go when my local cafe shut down. One of their signature breakfast dishes was a delicious Fig and Walnut Loaf. Not to be defeated, I decided to replicate this delight on my own.

The recipe was simple and straightforward, however I recommend exercising restraint with the quantity of figs. 250 grams of Figs constitutes a a whole packet and I only added half of that amount to this mix. That was more than enough and still leaves you with a very figgy loaf, which is fine, but I would suggest reducing the figs to 75 grams and adding a tad more walnuts.

But that is just my personal taste.

Suggested Variations

A nice variation would be to substitute a blend of Dried Apricots and Figs, or a mix of nuts. I suggest hazelnuts or pecans as well as walnuts.

I am sure you will absolutely love this dish for breakfast. As it takes 90 minutes to cook a deep loaf, I used two small loaf tins and a long 20 x 10 cm pan. The smaller pans were done in 30 minutes, whilst the larger took 75 minutes at the recommended temperature.

Fig and Walnut Loaf Recipe

Ingredients

  • 125 grams or 1/2 cup unsalted Butter, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Water
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk or Kefir
  • 250 grams or 1 cup Dried Figs**
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 cups White Spelt Flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mixed Spice
  • 1 cup Walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Dessicated Coconut

Method

  1. Grease and line a large Non-stick Loaf Tin
  2. Place butter and water in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  3. When butter is melted, add figs. Bring to the boil and remove from heat. 
  4. Transfer figs and butter mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool.
  5. Add buttermilk, eggs, brown sugar, flour, baking powder and mixed spice to bowl and stir to combine.
  6. Add walnuts and coconut and stir one last time.
  7. Pour into prepared tin.
  8. Bake in 160c oven for 90 minutes.
  9. Slice and serve with butter, and Garnish with mint, strawberries and dusting of icing sugar.

Original recipe from newideafood.com.au

memorial
building, food, health, home

Day 4-6 Sourdough Starter

The weather is getting cooler at the Home by the Sea. Could this affect the number of bubbles I see in the starter?

Sourdough Problems or Not?

Since I attended one of those slightly cringeworthy Tupperware parties of the 80’s, I always store my white flour in the fridge. I never get weevils or pantry moths in my flour due to this storage method. However, I got to thinking that this might make the sourdough more sterile, due to a lesser number of bugs. So I ask the break making veterans: Would this make a difference?

Day 6

The Starter seems to have run out of steam, a little and I am looking for explanations. I do have a confession to make:

I added the morning feed quantity at the evening feeding and the following morning it was very liquidy on the top.

I may have overfed it!

I may have killed it?

I continued feeding the batch I was intending to keep and use, and left aside this ‘to be discarded if it doesn’t do anything’ batch, for a day but it didn’t seem to improve.

Not many bubbles, compared to day 2, which is seen below.

I have no idea as to whether it is still alive, or if I am flogging a dead sourdough mother.

home

Anzac Biscuits or Cookies

Over at StPA, I spoke of the Anzac Day spirit living on throughout Australia, as it does here at the Home by the Sea. Today, April 25, is Anzac Day. This morning we experienced an Anzac Day, like no other.

Due to the risks associated with Covid-19, Australians were unable to hold communal memorial ceremonies, at the shrines in each and every suburb, as is the norm.

Our first Anzac Day at the Home by the Sea, was always going to be unique.

In our street and across every residential streets of Australia, people turned out to stand on their driveways, at 5.55 am in order to hold a candlelight line of honour in memory of the Anzacs and sacrifice of servicemen and women.

Thanks to a bugler two streets away, the Last Post wafted quietly over the rooftops and the suburban streets, which had fallen into a 5-minute silent vigil, as a mark of respect. Hearing this tune chokes up the hardiest person, once you know what it represents.

The haunting tune, made eerily more real as humanity battles the Corona virus.

Flags hung from balconies, garage doors and windows. Later, street barbeques with appropriate social distancing were held at lunch. The R.S.L. branches held ‘Two-up,’ online! A first.

Me, I made Anzac Biscuit from my own recipes and shared them (observing appropriate Hand Hygiene practices), with the local community. Rick, our self-appointed neighbourhood watch trooper who scoots about on his Power Wheelchair, was a grateful recipient, scooting off to share the still warm biscuits or cookies, with his “Mrs.”

An Anzac Day we will not forget.

food, writing

The Mother of Sourdoughs

Beginning the Sourdough Journey

Day 4 – Creating a Sourdough Starter

After being late with the P.M. feeding of my starter last night, I was a little concerned that it may not be fermented enough by the time the morning feed was due, but comments from supportive fellow bloggers and my Sourdough mentors, Peggy, Sandy and Chris, relaxed me about the process.

A Forgiving Dough

Mary from Mary’s Nest Sourdough website, states that you can change/swap or alter your sourdough starter as you go along, from white to rye, or wholewheat. What flexibility! [Happy Dance]

I started this process using a mix with half whole wheat flour and half white flour, as this is the mix most of my family and me, prefer. This excludes the fastidious Moth, of course. He is a committed, refined-bleached- white flour man, who likes his bread ultra-fresh and soft as a baby’s bottom. That is a bad comparative metaphor for bread, but you get my drift.

So Day 4 Dawns, and I feed this mother of all sourdough mixes.

Some exponents, including Sandy, prefer using equal parts flour and water, by weight in their starter mix, and I might still do that. I guess I can change it up as I go along, with this ultra-flexible sourdough mix.

After all, as Chris pointed out in a previous comment, people have been making bread this way for millennia, and most likely didn’t have clocks, timers or accurate scales to measure ingredients.

More tomorrow from the Home by the Sea.

animals, environment, home

Birds and Sports

I walk daily to the beautiful lake near our home by the sea.

plastic contamination

There are many new homes being constructed in this area at present, thus there is always something new to see along the way. But the real attraction is the birdlife in this area, such as this Heron.

As a Chinese symbol, the Heron represents strength, purity, patience and long life.”

I hope this might mean that both the Heron and I have a long life!!

Sometimes we even see the local kangaroos and their joeys in this area. Meanwhile, the Heron continues stamping the slightly soggy ground on the street’s verges looking for some food.

Today, however, we took a long walk in the opposite direction to the roos and away from the foraging Heron.

A new sports facility has opened up. In the current environment, this means that the ground is open, but as the football competition has been closed for the season, I am not sure if you could call it open, but officially it is.

We continue walking from the main road towards the “basin,” or pond. This is a mini wetland area that has attracted a variety of birdlife.

With a larger wetland environmental area opposite, the birds have plenty of food sources.

On closer inspection we could see cormorants, drying their wings in their familiar crucifix-like gesture, welcoming the morning rays of sunlight as well as a Black swan and the odd Ibis. A Willy Wagtail pair tweeting their way along the path in front of us, danced lightly on the ground. They were gone before I could photograph them.

We saw Moorhens chicks stepping their way through the waterlily pads, a perfect adaptation to the watery environment.

This Mother was calling her wayward adventurous chick, and had to chase after her to give her some food.

The cutest of all were these little ducklings. Covered with down, they dipped their heads under the water, but never really that far from Mother Duck.


New Sports Facility for Australian Rules Football

This football field will be a training ground for the local Australian Rules Football club. If you are not Australian, you might not know of this game. Developed as a way for the cricket players to maintain their fitness in the off-season, ‘Aussie Rules,’ is played on a large oval with four posts at either end. It is basically a kick and catch type of game, with elements of basketball thrown in for good measure and a few penalties along the way to add excitement. The players are tall and lean, and very muscular, and I might add, very highly paid.

The Football Clubhouse looks forlorn and vacant and I think of the term ‘white elephant’ when I look at it. It awaits the demise of Corona as we all do.

A storm was heard in the distance, towards the Northern coast. Highly unusual for this time of year, it did not threaten us, but we did get to see some gorgeous coloured sky and cloud formations.

The simple pleasures of life.

Some days I feel that the lockdown won’t ever be over. I push that thought aside and continue my walk from the ground back towards the estate.

Just before we hit suburbia again, there is an Eco-corridor. The Magpies are up early hunting for their breakfast and I am getting pretty peckish too.

The early bird gets the worm, I hope. Can you see four birds in these pictures? Three were magpies and the fourth, an Indian Myna bird.

That completes Monday’s Walk at the Home by the Sea. Thanks for walking along with me in the virtual sense.

Breakfast awaits.