Dunedin, NZ, is fairly well known for its not-so-tropical weather. Crowded House’s song Four Seasons In One Day sums it all up rather nicely really.
We’ve had some stunning weather this summer, and we’ve had some bloody shit weather. BUT shit weather means rain 99% of the time. Blissful, beautiful rain that we depend on for our water supply. Although its a tad frustrating on these days as I can’t get out into the vege patch, it does a fabulous job of watering my garden on my behalf. The last couple of days have been rather bleak, however, a few hours over lunch meant I was able to get out and sow 50sqm of soon-to-be spring beds with an oat/lupin/pea green manure crop. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to sow the remaining 50sqm tomorrow if it clears up. The ruby red chard awaiting transplant into the market garden beds are needing to go in now, actually more like yesterday. I must get that bed prepared tomorrow!
However, the late season potatoes are doing fabulously.
Dreary days also means the oven stays on all day and the house smells of home baked treats. My sour dough starter, birthed at the start of January, is proving (thank you) to be a winner. It makes a glorious loaf and I’ve already given some away to friends due to its voracious appetite for consuming space. I swear to god that it doubles in size every 24 hours.
Good starters, lovingly fed and kept warm, were family treasures, often passed on through generations. On standing, a starter sours, and gives bread made from it a lovely tangy flavour. Historically made by attracting wild yeasts found floating around the kitchen, today starters can be made using a little bread yeast. The key is to keep your starter clean and warm whilst it kicks off.
In a clean jar mix the following, leaving about 1/4 of the jar for headspace as it will rise and often bubble over. Cover the jar and leave in a warm room, out of the sun, for 4-7 days (depending on the temperature). Each day, stir the starter with a clean spoon.
2 cups high grade flour
1cup low-fat or unsweetened yoghurt
1 cup water
1 tsp active dried yeast
Once it has quietened down and developed a definite sour smell and a clear layer on the top, put it into the fridge. If it starts to smell funky or changes colour, especially pink or purple, chuck it out and start again.
To use, stir well and pour off what you need. Replace each cup used with a cup of high grade flour mixed with a cup of water. Leave the jar at room temperature for a day before using again or refrigerating. If you don’t use it regularly, chuck out or give away a cup full once a week and replace with fresh flour and water as above.
Sour dough tends to need a longer rising time and sometimes extra yeast is required to give it a boost.
Let’s hope the next few days bring some sunshine and a bit more productivity in the vege patch. But it still needs to rain more to top up tanks. Ideally, sun shiny days and wet nights. But, whilst I wait I’m getting stuck into some sewing to build some stock to take to the local markets. And baking heaps of bread of course!