Thursday, 24 March 2016

Hitching a Ride..................!

Sorry for the delay in writing this week, but I was away in Paarl for a few days! I was going to be cat-sitting over this Easter weekend, but Catherine and Stuart made the decision not to join the traffic and go away for the weekend but to stay at home and relax! So, although my ministrations were not needed, I drove down on Monday and back this morning...............

And thereby hangs a tale......

After a lovely few days with my daughter, that included rescuing a cute dog, (Google dachshund X beagle and find a black and brown one),feeding some feral cats, having a lovely meal out and some equally tasty meals in accompanied by wine and telly, I set off home this morning after breakfast at about 10. 'Great', I thought, 'I shall be home in time for lunch.'

And I would have been if the car had not broken down!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Message in a Bottle!

Remember our fish pond?

Rob balanced the rocks round it as a stone wall and it has worked very well for the last few years. But after a few dislodged rocks, thanks to the animals who clamber on them (cats), or lean on them to scratch various parts of their backs (dogs), the whole things was looking decidedly tatty. So Rob decided to do something.

And he found Sam!

Sam the wonder man!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Mongoose Mayhem!

While I was baby-sitting in Paarl, Rob had a visitor! Look carefully at the corner of the gate.....

The grey mongoose peering in!

This little chap (Galerella Pulverulenta) is often in the garden but he has never come into the house far as we know. Rob was in the office one afternoon when he heard one of the cats making the howling noise that precedes a fight! As we do have a few (!) ferals still around, he went to see what the fuss was about and saw this mongoose peering in through the security gate. It left when it saw Rob (I am not sure who got the biggest surprise) and then came back a while later. This time it came right into the house and ended up in the spare room, under the bed! Rob heard a very loud 'clicking' sound from the irate mongoose and found Alfie with his nose under the bed and a cat or two all puffed up and looking highly umbridged!

Eventually it left and the cats deflated their fur and Alfie withdrew his nose!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

No Need to Knead!

I have had a few requests for the bread recipe that I was bragging about last week, so I thought that instead of sending emails and whatsapps out to those friends who read my writings (thanks everybody....) it would be easier to put it on the blog for anyone who wants to try it!!

Remember, this is not my own idea, it was first 'discovered' years ago and then appeared in the New York Times in 2006. The first time I actually tasted the bread was when Stuart made it, and it was truly delicious! Also, I have tweaked and used hints and ideas from a few other recipes, but it worked, so I shall make it again, next time in the cast-iron bread pan that I bought specially!
So, here goes, and the secret is...........don't worry!

No knead Bread.

1. In a large bowl mix 3 cups of bread flour, or a combination of bread flour and Nutty Wheat, 1 teaspoon salt, and about 1 really flat teaspoon instant yeast. Here you can also add seeds like sunflower, linseed, sesame.

2. Slowly add 1 and 1/2 cups (400 ml) warmish water and stir until the mixture looks 'shaggy', mine was still lumpy and dry looking but that's fine. It sorts itself out!

My dough after mixing, looking a bit 'shaggy'.

3. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place for at least 4 hours, but can be much longer.

4. On a flat baking pan, spread about 1 tablespoon of oil. Tip the dough onto the pan and with wet hands flatten it a bit, once. I spread some olive tapenade over the dough at this stage.

Ready for the tapenade.

5. Roll the dough up and literally drop it into the baking dish that you are going to use. Put the smooth side down and the 'ugly' side up as that gives the nice affect with the jagged crust. Remember the dough rises and also remember to either spray and cook the dish or line it with baking paper. I didn't and mine stuck a bit!! Sprinkle salt over the top of the dough and also seeds or pesto or sundried tomatoes if you like that sort of thing.

I used a Corning ware dish with a lid (very important), but you can use a pyrex container or a cast iron pan.

Ready for the second rising.

6. Put the lid on and rest it for 30 mins while you heat the oven to 450 F or 232 C.

7. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on and then lid off for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Ready to eat!

Turn out and let it cool....................or not!!

*Now I must add here that in the original recipe, the empty container goes into the oven while the oven heats up. I shall do that when I use the cast-iron pot, but in several recipes the dough went into the cold container and then into the hot oven.The hot container gives a steam which helps to give the bread it's crusty affect.

*Another difference is the first rising time! Some of the recipes call for 1/4 teaspoon yeast, more water and a rising time of at least 8 hours. it seems that the longer the rising time, the less yeast is needed. Also some recipes call for more water which gives a very sticky dough!

But you can experiment with all those things. Google 'no-knead bread' and browse!

Try it..........and let me know how it worked for you!