Thursday 10 November 2022

Sour dough English muffins

 Julie, who I work with, is quite demanding - she texted me recently with a thinly veiled request that I make her some sourdough English muffins.

As you all know, I am nothing if not biddable and kind, as well as being up for a challenge - a 2 day challenge in point of fact. 

There are several photos here, and a number of them are showing sideways - just turn your phone or computer 90 deg to view them correctly. Alternatively, view them incorrectly ... To coin a phrase, you get the picture 😬😉😇

The recipe is simple and doesn't really require a huge effort (don't tell Julie that) but it is extended over more than 24 hours. If you want to try them, here's the link:  Sour dough English muffins

The sourdough starter fed and ready to rock.

Some starter with milk and honey stirred in. My sparkling clean starter jar beside it ...


Flour added. Ready to be left to prove for 16 or so hours overnight. Covered with gladwrap and a teatowel and left on the bench.
By this morning it had expanded. So the task was to add bicarb and salt and then work the dough for a few minutes.

Now it waits in the bowl again for half an hour or so - I went outside and water-blasted part of the path around the house while waiting.
I was meant to use a 3" scone cutter but we don't have one so I used my silicone sourdough cutter - the muffins should be round but they weren't. At this stage they had to be left loosely covered for an hour.

David went over to get Kay to be one of the taste testers - the woman is not well, but she was willing to take a risk ... When I sent this photo to Julie, all she could say was 'You're short!" Rich coming from her as I am pretty sure there is less than a millimetre's difference in our heights ...

It's important to test the taste with a variety of toppings: berry jams rasp and strawb, manuka honey, syrups golden and maple, plus feijoa jelly

David and Kay - both valiant taste testers.

Soft and yummy with raspberry jam and butter.

With feijoa jelly going in that belly ...

So the trial was counted as a success. I'll do another batch over tomorrow and Sunday - and I have realised that a pint glass has a 3" diameter so the set for the short demanding one will be circular ...

Saturday 5 November 2022

Cleaning and tidying and decluttering

 It's that time when we are doing spring cleaning - never done it before but better late than never!

This morning's task was cleaning the soffits around the house - last week Shona had mentioned she thought they needed to be de-spidered. So obediently, we got busy.

Questions of interest:

  • how come dust sticks on upside down surfaces?
  • why does said dust not come off with the fierce hose, the broom that has warm water and HandyAndy?
  • why does the dust require being washed off with a cloth?
  • and why am I the one who can see the dust and therefore have to be the one doing that washing with a cloth, making my shoulders and right upper arm very sore?
  • why am I unable to climb up on to the platform leading with my right leg?  My right thigh just will not lift me! WHY?

Anyway, the soffit looks fabulously clean and sparkling - I shamefacedly have to confess we have not ever washed them before on this house, and we have lived here 8 years! There has been a price to pay though in case you didn't understand - my shoulders and right arm are VERY SORE!

And David has cleared his office - who knew it had a floor? Who knew it was quite a big room? Who knew that he could get rid of so many computers and cables and pieces of technology and still be able to function?  

Amazing, eh?

I still can't quite believe it!

He has also been up in the attic clearing things out. We decided that if stuff had been up there for the 8 years we have lived here, then it clearly was not required - in the main, I think many things up there were items from our parents that we could not let go of in the early days after losing them and becoming orphans. It's a bit easier now to let things go. We found two prints that had been David's dad's that Kirsty had asked to have. She still wants them, so back up they will go - until we head over to see her with a large suitcase!


And shock horror - I may even divest myself of some of the cup and saucer sets I collected back in the early 2000s. I can afford to let some go as there's about 50 of them, I think. Letting some escape may result in a china cabinet being able to find a new home at some point, perhaps, maybe, depending ...

And I looked at the lovely reproduction drinks cabinet I bought when we were B&Bing in Cherswud - it hasn't held alcohol for years and ever since we moved here it has housed glass stemmed dessert bowls - quite lovely, but totally impractical because no one could eat a dessert as big as they hold. So they are off to the charity shop along with a box of other trinkets (my friend Lesley calls it tat, but she's a bad person), and the drinks cabinet will be sold to another loving owner.

Yesterday, when we left the cafe after breakfast, we saw these fabulous motorbikes and sidecars only two but I have three photos so you can see both sides more easily. So gorgeous I think I'd even be keen to travel in/on them!

And one for the road:

Wednesday 2 November 2022

Visitors from away

 On Monday afternoon this week, when I arrived home from the office, Irene and Ian Jameison of nb Free Spirit had arrived here at Cafe Rata.

They had arrived from a week in Sydney where Irene had spent most of the time quarantined in the upstairs suite in her brother and sister in law's home - she had developed the covid symptoms on their second flight out from the UK.

When she was clear of covid, they flew to Auckland and then on to Whanganui to pick up Mary and Alan's little Toyota HiAce poptop camper which they have hired for their 5 month sojourn. It is a lovely wee van, but bloody hell, it's tiny! However they like each other a lot, so it's fine. 

Ian and Irene arrived here while I was at work on Monday, and even though I came home with a significant headache (migraine - feel sorry for me please), it was fabulous to see them. I did spend the first 20 minutes or so lying on the couch and then had to sit up and join in.

Over the next couple of days, in between bits of work, we socialised and Ian and Irene put some time in making the van their own, even temporarily. Mary and Alan's grandchildren had been the main users of the van as a playhouse for the last couple of years.

Irene cleaning the roof, Ian on his knees with David watching - Ian was fitting the bits to the battery so the new folding solar panel would power the battery and keep the fridge going.

Irene was very careful not to get Ian wet as she had the hose dribbling to rinse where she had been washing - she is far far far kinder than I would be ...

Mary, if you are reading this - do not despair or feel guilty that the camper wasn't pristine. Ian washes their motorhome and their boat with monotonous regularity - he's a bit OCD really ...

Yesterday's task was to stick on the NZMCA wings and number front and back. The front is done - successfully - but you wouldn't know that judging by Irene's worried look ... And see her right hand - she is itching to take over 😆

Right hand up a bit ... Keep it smooth, Ian.
And here it is, all done. I looked at ours afterwards and decided we need a new set of wings on the front - it has suffered in the heat.

We introduced them to Quiddler, a word/card game, and dammit, Irene won both games. While David was washing bird poop off the two back porches and cleaning the outdoor furniture of bird poop, I, I & M played cards - dinner was cooking at this time, so we weren't entirely idle.

David has decided to sell his dad's old desk and chair. They are iconic pieces of NZ furniture built by Chapman Taylor. The desk is huge and heavy. 

Did I mention huge? It won't go through the doorways with its top on. So that has to be unscrewed. And it still won't go through doorways so 2 doors had to be removed. It was wonderful that Ian was here because he was very very useful. Irene describes him as her man who can - pretty apt!

The desk is now in the garage waiting to be advertised and waiting to be dispatched to a new home. And the two doors removed by necessity were speedily replaced. David vacuumed his now almost bare office that for the first time since we moved in back in 2014 actually looks like it could be a bedroom!

Unrecognisable! And almost no reproducing cords in sight!

This morning the Jameisons were heading off on adventures. Fortunately for her, Irene did not put socks on under her sandals - what is it with that British custom? Naff or what? I'd had to school her about it when I got home on Monday. So all day yesterday she looked right and fitted in nicely - sandals, no socks. I did tell her that she would be instantly recognisable as English if she reverted and she'd lose any credibility...

Filling the water tank - a bit of a different story from the motorhome and a hugely different story from filling the tank on the boat ...

Both Ian and David have had prostatectomies. David noticed that the 3 letters of the number plate spelled out the acronym for something that neither of them need again - digital rectal examinations ...

Here she is, (see - no socks) all ready to depart on their adventures: 5 months of wandering around wherever the fancy takes them. And judging by some of our conversations, they are keen to do more silly stuff, like swing bridges and fly by wire and walking around the outside of the Skytower attached to the railing by a flimsy carabiner and wire.

We sent them away with 

  • a loaf of sourdough, 
  • a couple of small bags of pasta and one of rice, 
  • a rice salad for tonight's dinner (that Irene made from last night's leftover rice) 
  • a wodge of chorizo
  • several small bags of fresh herbs (parsley, mint, thyme, and lime leaves) and 
  • spices from the pantry
  • a couple of lists of places we thought they would enjoy seeing or activities we thought they'd enjoy, and
  • strict instructions that if they are aiming for Tongaporutu they need to get in touch so we have time to join them there.

Safe travels, you nutbars. M&D xx