Baking Bread this weekend…..

What a great thing to do this weekend…make bread together with those you love.
This first recipe is one I have literally been making for 15 years. Simply No Knead was a local company that sold ingredients, products and held classes. I have learnt so much since then and now tend to make it by feel,adapting flours and water as required. The company appear about Nanna-ish, but it is a good basic staring point.

The second recipe is such a find. A good friend stumbled upon this great book and she shared!  Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day by Jeff hertz berg and Zoe Francois is simply amazing and a tested family favourite. There is page after page of inspiration here. And the recipe link has a step by step guide with pictures….always helpful.

Basic White Bread Loaf
DRY INGREDIENTS:      
600grams (or 4 metric cups) No Knead untreated flour          
2 teaspoons No Knead natural improver  
1 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons No Knead cold pressed oil 
1 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoons No Knead dry active yeast (slightly rounded)
LIQUID INGREDIENTS:

500mls very warm water (you will probably not use all of this water
METHOD:

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, make a well. 
2. Pour in of the liquid and the oil and mix thoroughly, adding small amounts of water until you have a stiff moist dough. NOTE: 50 to 100mls maybe left over
3. Cover the dough with CLING WRAP and allow the dough to double in size. 30 minutes 
4. Turn to the dough out onto a well-floured board or flat bench.
5. Shape the dough into a smooth ball, then divide in half. Shape each half into a smooth ball.
6. Lightly oil** a 700gram Pre-Seasoned bread tin.
7. Place both halves of dough into the tin, spray with water and sprinkle with Sesame or Poppy Seeds.
8. Allow the dough to double in size.
9. Place into a pre-heated oven and cook for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
10. To clean your bread tins, wait till cool then wipe out with paper towel
11. To make a grain loaf, add 3 to 4 TABS of your favourite grains.

TEMPERATURES:
Electric- 220oC Fan Forced- 200oCGas- 215oC

** Olive oil is a viscous oil becomes sticky when heated and is not recommended to baste our tins with before baking your bread. We use and recommend Cold Pressed Sunflower Oil.
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By Bread Alone…

The Bread Truck

Some time ago I gave up eating bread. Those of you who know me know that I bake bread often. It is a family staple and I love experimenting with different flours and sourdough starters, artisan style breads and breads with fruit and seeds. So it was quite a big deal to stop eating bread.

But I think I feel better for not overdoing it in the bread department. I have learnt to make a ‘sandwich’ without bread, to find alternatives to the thousand and one ways we eat fast food by wrapping and containing it some sort of bread product.
Freshly baked rolls at home

But I miss it….nothing beats beautiful handcrafted bread. I remember when we lived in London, there was a weekend market that sold truck loads of the most amazing baguettes, cobs, rolls and the like. This truck brimming with great looking French style bread took me back to my wanders down Northcote Road…..you can almost smell the fresh bread can’t you? Do you make your own bread? I have the best no knead, no (…insert hard work, time consuming nonsense!) recipe. Would you like it?

Inside Out – the Beach Shack

Garage sale find – Vintage retro teapot, milk jug and sugar pot

Our lovely weekender is made up of things from family, friends and any extras we have found at home. It has been exciting pulling together a bright, comfortable, yet interesting second home. There are so many rustic, make do elements to our little cottage right now but here are a few snippets that make me smile each time we visit.

The Recipe Book Collection…..

Elements form outside brought in.

Roasting Vegetables…

I have been experimenting a lot lately with one pot/tray wonders and have loved the results of roasting a lot of vegetables at once. These have formed the basis for accompaniments with meat, topping for pizza, a great addition to pasta, toasted in a panini, melted with some feta for a warm salad…the list goes on. And I am particularly enjoying roasting brussel sprouts. I love the nuttiness and sweetness that emerges with a bit of olive oil and time in the oven.

This week our menu has features a few time savers:

Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti (oven baked meatballs)
Roasted Pork Sausages and Vegetables (one tray)
Vegetable Chowder
Lamb, Spinach and Chick Pea Curry

Some of these can be made ahead of time and reheated. The meatballs freeze really well and the one tray sausage and vegetable dish is great finished with a little balsamic.
Do you have any fabulous easy dishes to share?

Try it Again…

So I have really been struggling being the patient, loving, calm mother I have in my mind’s eye. You know the one – the woman we all envisage being. Polite children, they have all rise early, eaten, found all items of school uniform and PE kit without any assistance, they have made a nutritious breakfast without leaving a trail of milk on the floor, we have spoken in gentle morning tones over breakfast.

This picture is far from our home truth. I was encouraged last week to use the words, “Try it again.” When things don’t go well, when we are impatient and hurried with one another, when the kids want to bicker and squabble, simply ask them to “try it again.” And do you know what? They have stopped, looked at me a little dumbfounded (…what does she mean?) and they have indeed tried again. They have chosen encouraging words, found manners and adopted a respectful tone.

So to me, my family and anyone struggling to be the parent they want to be. Try it again. After all it was what He is all about – a God of second chances, of forgiveness and grace.

Conversations with Creative Women – Honor Bradbeer

Honor Bradbeer is an exceptional young Melbourne based artist. Her work has an ethereal quality about it and the viewer always feels that she is straddling the physical and the spiritual, when she puts ink to paper. I am always intrigued to find out how creative women arrive at that place of bringing beauty and inspiration to others. In this short interview Honor gives us a glimpse of who she is and what makes her creative.
What does being creative mean to you?
Being creative means the world to me.
But if you’re looking for my definition, I suppose being creative means making tangible what is intangible. In particular, I think the creative act is taking something from the deep privacy of our unique understanding and giving form to it, so that others may experience it, or so that we can understand it anew. The wonderful thing is that in this process of bringing out something from within, something is actually added in translation: there’s always, without fail, some by-product that was not intended, something new for the world, however tiny.

Do you remember the first drawing you ever made?
No. I’m sure I scribbled out all kinds of baffling stuff from an early age. But there is certainly a drawing that is celebrated by my family as my ‘first’, because it was the first that communicated something they clearly recognised. It’s a portrait of Miss Piggy from The Muppets. I honestly thought she was the most beautiful thing in the world at the time. The portrait is all snout, pearls and curly hair, and I drew it in texta when I was three.

Where did you grow up and how did family life and your home influence how you “see” the world and ignite this desire to create?
I think the desire to create is primal, it just isn’t always supported or celebrated or understood. I grew up in the inner western suburbs of Melbourne. One of my uncles is an artist and his family lived in the same street as mine. My parents were well aware that art is not generally a lucrative business, but they encouraged and supported me, from the start. The option of taking up art as a career was always simply there, and it was always what I wanted to do. I think it would have broken my spirit if they had ever tried to push me in a more sensible direction.
As to how I see the world… how long have you got? … I consider myself very blessed to have grown up with a religious mother and an atheist father whose ideologies actually manage not to be at odds with each other. The idea of an inner life has tremendous value for both my parents, and my sister and I were brought up talking and thinking in those terms, and feeling more or less comfortable with those big mysterious spaces and resonances of the mind and heart. It wasn’t easy sometimes, trying to orientate myself spiritually, but that struggle has left me with deep longings and vast landscapes inside – good, mysterious, open spaces in which still echo a beloved warmth and presence. I can think of no better play-space for an artist.

What are some of the ways you have had to juggle your creativity around different seasons in life?
I’m almost thirty-two, but I haven’t experienced very striking differences between seasons, yet. I very much want to have children and I look forward, with some trepidation, to the changes this will bring to my creative life. Certainly I have experienced that love can be a challenge to creative practice. I think love resonates in, and draws from, those same spaces that creativity does. It takes diligence and practice for them both to exist there harmoniously. I know I’ll have to make room in there for the kids, as well.

How do you balance life with time to create?
I don’t. I am perpetually wobbling on this tight-rope, and finding a consistent routine is an ongoing project. This year I have given my art practice priority by cutting back work and living off my savings. It’s wonderful, but still a battle. The problem is the desire to live as richly as possible in all directions. It can be paralysing!
Tell me about your studio and workspace. How do you keep it well stocked and organised?
My studio is a 4×5 metre white box with a concrete floor, housed in a wonderful old building that used to be a wool mill. It hums with the industry of other creative people and their musical preferences. It isn’t perfect, but I love it – it’s my own creative space and even paying the rent feels like an act of self-respect. 
I am not very organised. I re-stock as I need, and if I’m short of one thing I’ll use something else. I often draw over old drawings when I find I’ve suddenly run out of fresh paper. 

As an artist do you have other artists that you admire? How have they influenced your work?
Whenever anyone asks this I think of Vincent van Gogh first. I don’t know why, except that I have so much admiration for the way he was really chasing down something very important in his mind’s eye. When I look at his work, I see all that fevered endeavour, stripped of artifice and self-consciousness, and it is one of the most beautiful qualities.
Sometimes I see that in the work of other visual artists – Alberto Giacometti is a favourite, Giorgio Morandi, Edgar Degas, Käthe Kollwitz, Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly…
To be honest, I am more frequently inspired by musicians and poets. If I read it or hear it, I can visualise something new, and feel empowered to create. The excitement I get over visual art is tempered by a personal sense of redundancy.
Do you have a favourite medium to work with?
I’ve been working almost exclusively with ink on paper for ten years. Black ink, blue ink, sometimes red ink, but that’s it. Three colours in ten years!
I’ve just started playing around with lots of colours – watercolour, pencils, bright inks. It’s terrifying.

What can we expect from Honor Bradbeer in the future? How do you envisage your business developing in the next few years?
I don’t really know what to expect. This is the first time in all these years that I’ve really craved something very different, and I feel like a beginner, again. When you’ve established a practice that is so identifiable by its method and media – such as my big, monochromatic ink work – it’s challenging to think of putting something very different out there and retaining a clear sense of identity. 
Colour and movement. That’s what’s coming. I’m restless for a sense of movement in my work. I don’t know how, but it will come. Watch this space.

How do you use your artistic talents to support and serve others locally and globally?
Oh, that’s a perennially troubling question!
In order to be at peace with myself, I just have to have faith that what I do is inherently worthy. It’s important to me to be a useful body in the world, but I think that, with art, it can be a long time before it does its work for the wider community. That said, I think it is really important that there is a large body of artists in any society. It can be hard, lonely, spiritually draining work, and there’s definitely a sense of being called to do it. Creativity is knowledge, development and communication on a suprarational level – beyond rational bounds – and I think a lot of our living actually happens on that level, and we need stimulation and solace and help there as much as we need the rational stuff. 
It’s tempting to think artists aren’t essential, but I think we’re like garbage collectors – it would be felt pretty quickly if we all stopped doing what we do.
If I could deliver anyone at all to your studio who would you most like to sit and sew with over a cup of tea?
Oh, Leonard Cohen, always. I’ve turned his words round and round in my head since I can remember. There is just so much meaning in there. I can know and love a song for years and then discover a whole new perspective in it that I hadn’t picked up, before. Every new album is like a letter from a trusted mentor, and I spend hours decoding it. He’s striding through his seventies, now. I don’t know what I’ll do when he dies.
I’d also very much like to see what his sewing is like.

Complete this sentence: I wish I had known……
How many different methods and media I would like to utilise throughout my career. I shrugged off a lot of good opportunities to learn new things at university. “Animation? It’s just not my thing.”

And finally, what advice would you give someone starting on their artistic journey.
A trusted mentor once told me: “whatever you do, if you do it with integrity, you will have an audience”. It’s the single best thing anyone ever told me about being an artist, and it guides my practice.


You can view more of Honor Bradbeer’s work online here.
Honor Bradbeer exhibits at Dickerson Gallery.

Gingerbread – made in His image

Gingerbread is a favourite in our house. My three year old and I baked these this week. She helped to add ingredients, mix, eat the dough, mix, eat the dough again. I rolled and after we ‘cut’ the shapes together she helped me add the eyes and mouth with a bamboo skewer. What intrigued me is that even though each little person was cut from the same dough, with the same hands…..they all have their own unique personality. Their expressions have changed and I swear that guy in the top right corner is waving to me! There was a lesson here. We are all made by the same creator, all in His image and yet we all seem so radically different.

If you struggle to apply a creator God to your worldview then look closely at your children or at a family you know. Have you ever wondered how they could all have come from the same parents? I have helped bring to life five little people and they have black and brown and blonde hair, we have brown and blue and hazel eyes, we have thick and straight and curly hair too. And yet I know they are all expressions of me and my man. Just as we are all expressions of Him. Hhhmmm.

Here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS


125g butter
½ cup (100g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg yolk (I tend to sue the whole egg)
2 ½ cups (375g) plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 teaspoons ground ginger
½ cup (125 ml) golden syrup

Icing:
1 egg white
1 ½ cups pure icing sugar, sifted

sultanas or raisins for decorating

METHOD


Preheat oven to 180°C. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the egg and beat until combined.

Sift dry ingredients and stir into butter mixture with the golden syrup. Mix to a light dough and knead gently on a lightly floured surface until smooth.

Roll out between 2 sheets of baking paper until approximately 3 mm thick. Cut gingerbread men from the dough and place on baking paper on biscuit trays and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Re roll dough as many times as necessary. Cool on trays.

Combine the icing sugar gradually the egg white until smooth. Spoon into a piping bag or freezer bag with the corner snipped. Decorate biscuits as desired.