discovering a simpiler life

discovering a simpiler life

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Spring is in the air

It's 5 days til the start of Spring and I can't wait.  Already the mornings are crisp but the days are filling with some sunshine.  I thought I'd keep it short and sweet and let the photos do the talking.  Here's a look at what is happening here in my garden.
baby turnips keeping warm in the winter
a new navel orange tree which will grow espalier across this awful fence and narrow area 
my pride and joy is my lemon tree
brassica's during winter above and today ready for spring below....need some weeding done! 

another new addition to the garden, this lavender.  On the recommendation from the lovely Jem this beauty will hopefully encourage bees with it's tempting purple flowers.
The girls were treated to some straw - it was a quagmire of mud but this definately did the trick
homegrown with love and curiousity

always giving kale
we grow kohlrahbi and swedes for their delicious leafy greens...I pick handfuls of all of our leafy plants - beetroots, rocket and spinach too,  and gently simmer for a minute in water, drain well and toss through coconut oil, a smidge of chilli, a squeeze of lemon & S&P - who needs vitamin tablets!
garlic slowly on the rise
celery thriving
mint, spinach and walnut pesto has been heavenly on our roast lamb and slow braises
the heart warming sign that spring really is coming, my apricot tree
And finally a peak at the mural I'm having drawn on our courtyard/garage wall by a very dear friend who is a local be continued....

Before I go, I just wanted to share a wonderful book for any of you interested in reading a true story about a New York woman who falls in love with a farmer, and the memoir of their start up year.  You should be able to get if from your local library - beautiful read - I found myself waking early dying to know what was happening.  It's called "The dirty life by Kristin Kimball.  It almost made me wish I was there with them.

Ciao, Jan x

Monday, 10 August 2015

Mama's Scones

This is a re-post of a post I did back in October 2013...It's international scone week and I'm hooking up with the lovely Tandy from Lavendar and Lime who is hosting the big event.  Time hasn't and won't be on my side this week hence the re-post, but it's well worth a read and this scone recipe is the bomb!!

We had the most lovely impromptu afternoon tea yesterday.  
We were meeting up at my nan's, well she's called Mama actually, to have a play with one of my cousins daughters after school.  
When we walked through the door, much to my delight, 
Mama had the flour container out and her apron on.  
It meant only one thing....Scones!! You are in for a treat.

Mama's Scones
3 cups s.r flour, sifted
pinch salt
small tspn caster sugar
2 tbspns butter, grated OR 3/4 cup cream
1/4 cup of milk of using cream OR 1/2 cup of milk if using butter, or maybe a bit more.
Preheat oven to 250c.  Grease a baking tray.  Sift flour into a large bowl and add salt and sugar.  Grate the butter in and rub together to form crumbs then gradually add the milk, using a long bladed knife and a cutting action through the dough OR if using cream, mix cream and milk together and gradually add to flour using the knife and cutting action.  You are aiming for it to come together, not too moist, not too dry.  Unfortunately this is something that comes with experience, feel and trial and error, but I've taken lots of photos to help me remember!  So here we go....


Look at those hands at work.  Mama is almost 88 yrs old, an amazing woman who bore 11 children and too many grand, great and great, great grandchildren to mention, all who she has influenced along the way.  Mama is the glue that holds our family together.  She is affectionately know as Mama by all our friends, partners, husbands and inlaws.  When I started taking the pictures she initially didn't want her hands taken but we then both agreed that they were an amazing set and had weathered extremely well, and so its with pride I show them to you.
Mama is the scone wizard, 
these were whipped up in under 2 minutes, 
with little helpers expertly kept at bay but all the while with enough involvement to keep them satisfied.  
She is held in high esteem among our large family as the only one that makes the scones.  
I asked if I could do it but she said "Not today, I'm in a hurry"

No cutting them with a knife, a scone cutter is the only way

Yes they taste as good as they look!  
I was taking lots of photos and Mama kept saying, 
"don't forget to tell them they need to use fresh flour", and 
"don't forget to tell them that they are meant to be touching each other on the baking tray but I don't think you need to", and 
"don't forget to tell them the oven must be hot", and 
"don't forget to tell them to be gentle: don't use a rolling pin~my mum use to say go gently."  
So I'm telling you all!  
I'm surprised she let me share the recipe, and I promise the recipe is missing no secret ingredient.
They were devoured with hot cups of sweet tea and lots of talking with the grandies eating til they couldn't move, smothering theirs with runny cream as well.  
It truly was an afternoon that memories are built and relationships are strengthened.  I remember doing this with her when I was little, how lucky our little ones are to get to do the same ritual.  
So it is with a warm heart that I share this post with you.  I'm so pleased I finally got this recipe documented!

Ciao, Jan

Sunday, 9 August 2015

photo a day challenge ~ week 32 2015

I'm linking up again with the photo a day challenge that you can find the details for here.  
I don't always have the ability to hunt for the photos of each days word as such, more like I'll read the words when they are released for the week ahead and they will swirl around in my mind the whole week and sometimes I might find day 7's photo on day 1....I love how it keeps me thinking about something cool to find within the humdrum that can be my life. 

Monday 3: words
This is a note Mama wrote me years ago and I framed it.  We had a joke about the little sayings she would breathe into our conversations over the years, so I was thrilled when she wrote them down for goes like this:
"Dear Janis, Always remember - what is bred in the bone comes out in the flesh!  A silent tongue makes for a wise head.  The easiest children to rear are "other peoples" and always, count your blessings! Love and god bless always from Mama xo"

Tuesday 4: on the shelf
Some of my favourite things on my kitchen shelf.

Wednesday 5: something purple
Another owl beanie for a friend's little lady...I think this one is my favourite so far.

Thursday 6: What I wish for
Blue skies :)

Friday 7: Quirky
I'm not really a quirky sort of person so this word just troubles me...the closest I could think of were these old taps at a dear friends house....and I'm not really sure they are that quirky!!

Saturday 8: Door
Ok, so maybe this is a gate but I figure it's the door to someones back yard!  Found on my morning walk when the frost hung low.

Sunday 9: Perfect
My perfect kind of time....reading cook books over a glass of cider or wine.
I'm already looking forward to finding next weeks words.....there are some tricky ones.

Ciao, Jan x

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Nan's nutloaf

Long time dear readers will know I have been blessed with two wonderful Nan's.  One is known as Mama (my mum's mum) and the other Nan (my dad's mum).  Even luckier is the fact I still have them in my life.  When I was growing up, they both had a big influence on my life, although I didn't realise it at the time.
Mama had 11 children, raised on her own (she is a saint), and had a big hand in helping raise the grandchildren that ensued.  She was our babysitter as there was no daycare in those days, so her house was a riot of yelling, feeding and where you were usually pushed out of your seat to an older cousin. I was one amongst a million but we all felt loved and cared for even if it wasn't with a gentle touch.
Nan's house was different.  It was quiet and everything just so.  When we had any meal, the table was set with a tablecloth and I just loved doing those jobs. There was always a chair for me.   Nan and Pop  had 2 sons and a smaller extended family.  I was the only granddaughter gifted to Nan so you can imagine the word spoilt came up often.  My pop spent most of his time in the back vegie patch and was rarely inside.  I spent every Saturday and Wednesday night with Nan while my parents worked and it was a treat for her to pick me up from Mama's and I'd go around and kick the older boy cousins that had been a thorn in my side as I had my biggest ally with me....although they had long memories and I'd be in for it when I returned.

Saturday we baked and went to the local football.  Nan was a wonderful baker and quite often it would be this nutloaf, other times it might be rock cakes or her melt in your mouth shortbread.  I'd sit up on the bench and help measure and mix, and the biggest job of all - licking the spoon and bowl. The smells would make my tummy rumble.
Before we headed off to the football, Nan would take me up to the bathroom, dampen my fringe and give it a little trim, we'd both put red lipstick on and off we'd go with a hot thermos of sweet tea and our baking.

It was while I was baking this nutloaf that all of these memories came flooding back to me like a warm hug.  The smell of the spices put me straight back to Nan's kitchen and a smile settled on my lips for hours.

Nan's nutloaf
1 1/2 cups of self raising flour
pinch of salt
1 tspn mixed spice
60gm butter - at room temp
1/2 cup caster sugar
generous 1/2 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
generous 1/2 cup of sultanas
1 egg, beaten well
1/2 cup milk
  1. Grease the nutloaf tin and pre-heat oven to 190c/375f.
  2. Sift flour, salt and spice into a medium sized bowl.  
  3. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Add sugar,, nuts, sultanas and stir through.
  5. In a seperate small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk.
  6. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine - gently and don't over mix.
  7. Leaving the bottom on the nutloaf tin, fill with the cake batter and bake - keeping the tin upright when you put the top on and into the oven.
  8. Bake for approx 50-60minutes - you will smell it when it is ready! Though you can take the lid off and check with a wooden skewer - if it comes out clean the loaf is done.
  9. Leave in the tin on a cake rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before you take the loaf out.
  10. Serve sliced with butter and a cup of tea - perfection!

I'm sorry there isn't any nice photos of the nutloaf slathered with butter but I made this during the day in anticipation of my Nan coming for dinner.  I've been doing Wednesday night dinners for her and my dad ever since I had my little one which is a family tradition I love.   I'm always worried when I am doing one of her recipes and just hope it comes in close.  As I dished it up, she told me that she hadn't baked nutloaf in the 8 years since Pop passed away, it was his favourite.  As she sipped her tea and ate a slice, she smiled and said it was as good as hers.  What a compliment, I think I could have shed a tear.

And that my dear reader is why I love to cook and bake - it just warms my heart.

Ciao, Jan x

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

In my kitchen ~ August 2015

This months IMK series has come around so quickly I'm sure I can hear Spring calling!!! Hurry up!!! My goodness, I'm sorry to go on about it, but I really don't think I've felt the cold as much as this Winter.  I even brought myself some thermal tops to help layer the cold away.  But, as always, my oven is my saviour and it's been put through it's paces again, with my beloved bread running front and centre....but there are a few other things just so you don't think I'm the size of a sour dough.
Grab a cuppa or a wine and relax while you take a peek....

In my kitchen these amazing soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies didn't disappoint and are stashed up the back of the freezer for those times when only a cookie will do with a cup of tea...they defrost perfectly in minutes.
In my kitchen is my nan's nutloaf tin that I've had a few goes at.  It's over 60 years old and I must say I was in a heaven of memory nostalgia eating the loaf...recipe to come :)

In my kitchen has been lots of pea and ham soup (this recipe is one of my first and is fun to see how much my photos have improved).  I add a big handful of steamed greens from the garden to help boost the vegetable intake and a smidge of chilli.

It wouldn't be in my kitchen if I didn't include some crochet...I made the pink and blue owl beanie for my little lady for our cold walk to school and the other for a friends little one.  Beanies are proving to be one of those things that are trickier to size than you think!!
In my kitchen almost everyday in July and August is this bounty freshly picked from the garden that I never tire from picking nor eating.
In my kitchen is my no knead grain bread that never fails.

In my kitchen has been lots of sourdough baking.  My 100% hydration starter is getting better week by week, gluttonous feed by gluttonous feed.  Bread baking is now well and truly entrenched into my soul - it's the funniest thing how passions are quietly unearthed isn't it.
I travelled to a friends kitchen a few hundred kilometres away and took my sourdough dough and camp oven with me so I could make her 2 loaves as I've been teasing her with too many photos...let me tell you I might start putting my dough that is proofing in the back seat of the car - it traveled beautifully and didn't disappoint on the morning I doled these magnificent specimens out.

In my kitchen is Mr. GW's huge once weekly bacon and eggs.  Our girls haven't missed a day laying even in this cold weather - they are the best and deserve the hot milk soaked crusts I give them most mornings.
and my size....I also was gifted this divine dinner set "Viola" - I'm very, very much in love with it.

look at that golden yolk.....such clever girls.
In my kitchen I made Celia's burger buns that were a big hit.  We had them with thick oven roasted Italian sausages, caramelised onions, lettuce and tomato.....get your laughing gear on it!

Thanks for stopping's a little different format on Celia's blog (link at start of this post) and you can find all other contributors in the comments of her IMK post.  I love reading and getting all of your comments and if you drop me a line, I'll be sure to come and see what you have been up to in your wonderful kitchen.

Ciao, Jan x
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