Monday, 10 February 2020

Hunkering Down

Saturday was calm and sunny. As I walked Ziggy in the afternoon under blue skies, admiring the catkins and magnolia buds, I thought what storm? By Sunday lunchtime though the roof sounded like it was about to take off and at one point the heavy rain being blown against the windows looked like someone was chucking buckets of water at the front of the house. Our dog walk that day was quick and businesslike, Ziggy strangely unwilling to linger, sniffing, over every blade of grass and lamp post as he usually does.

We battened down the hatches and stayed indoors. John had to work but, with the kids occupied and the dog asleep, I set to work in the kitchen, cooking so often my way of dealing with the weather. I turned sunshiney vegetables into soup, roasting squash, sweet potato, onion, peppers and garlic, and then blitzing them with chilli, coconut milk and vegetable stock.

I've been making a few forays into sourdough bread baking over the last few weeks, trying to get into the habit of baking it weekly, thereby saving us the small fortune we spend on nice bread each week. We are a family of sourdough lovers. and the children will choose it over any other type of bread. I love it because it doesn't go soggy when toasted, making it a perfect carrier for toasted cheese, beans, avocado, scrambled egg...

I've had this sourdough starter in the fridge for months and had forgotten about it and was going to throw it out, but you can apparently revive an old starter by throwing away all but a teaspoon full then starting again, feeding it with flour and water daily over a week. It worked, and a couple of weeks ago I made a white loaf.

The whole process worked a lot better for me if I mix the dough at tea time, stretch and fold it now and then over the course of an evening, and then put the dough into a floured banneton basket in the fridge overnight. I made a half white/half rye loaf last weekend and this is how it looked when I tipped it out of the banneton onto a baking tray, ready to be baked.

In the recipe I follow, you bake the loaf for 35 minutes in a pre-heated cast iron casserole dish (dutch oven) with the lid on, then put it on a baking tray for another ten to get a good crust. This is how the rye one looked when it came out of the oven.

I am so happy with how it came out. It's huge - it's not even half finished now and we've all eaten loads of it for breakfast and lunch - and the deep, sour rye flavour is wonderful. It doesn't have the holey centre that many sourdough loaves do which suits me fine, as I find all the butter or jam falls through the holes. 

The crust has softened over the last twenty four hours making it better for sandwiches. 

Other nesting activities have been firmly centred around yarn. Progress on my sweater came to a sudden halt when Ziggy chewed my wooden crochet hook and of course I didn't have another one in the right size. 

The front and back are almost finished. I just need to do the collar and arms then sew it all together. I love it but I think it's going to be very baggy when finished. 

I found myself dipping into this book, Making Winterlast week. It's a real gem, with some gorgeous crochet patterns inside. I spotted this ball of yarn in my local yarn shop at the weekend and something about the variegated pattern made me think of feathers. The pinks, browns and greys are so wintry and are currently being turned into a cowl.

I have also started this Trio Blanket, using three Schepjees yarn cakes which I bought with birthday vouchers almost a year ago.

As you can see I haven't got very far. I'm at the stage where I need to have faith and persevere, remind myself what it was about the blanket which appealed so much in the first place.

I think it's going to be one of those projects that will be satisfying and relaxing when you've got into it a bit and can see the pattern start to grow and the colour changes pool. Right now it's just a tangled mess.

I hope you are all staying warm and dry in this weather. Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post - I am really happy that you enjoyed it and found it uplifting. There's a lot that's good about winter. 


  1. That soup sounds lovely, and not unlike one I made last week, with coconut fat and plenty of ginger to give it that extra warmth and a bit of a "Thai" touch.
    I love sourdough bread, and yours looks wonderful! Is there anything as lovely as the smell of freshly baked bread to make a house feel even more like a home?

  2. Oh dear, you seem to have been spammed in your comments. What a pain for you.
    One of these days I am going to go on a photography course and stop being lazy and using my iPhone. Your photos always looks so professional. Your rye loaf looks wonderful.generally I prefer white or spelt sourdough because of the texture but rye has such a good flavour. What percentage of rye did you use?
    The sweater pattern is so unusual. It looks quite difficult to do. The wind has been howling again this morning from the early hours. I’m off shopping to stock up on fresh food then it will be time to batten down the hatches again I think

  3. Your loaves look wonderful and have me craving a slice right now! Also inspiring me to have a go at sourdough. Small hitch of no oven just now, but it gives time to research. You make it sound so easy but there seems to be a lot of mystique around sourdough. I've loved rye ever since spending a year in France as part of my degree. Rye bread was unheard of in Scotland in the early 80s, and it was an amazing revelation being able to buy these loaves at the market.
    Very heavy snow falling here overnight and this morning, but not lying yet at our level down in the glen.

  4. Your loaf looks fantastic. I keep meaning to make my own bread as I'm home so much during the week, it really makes sense to give it a go. I loved reading about how you make it especially using the casserole pot as a Dutch Oven. Fascinating! x

  5. What a wonderful weekend!! Your bread looks very yummy, I'll try the casserole trick! I never try sourdough. Last week almost reach 38° celcius so I appreciate your winter!! Have a nice week!!

  6. Goodness what a weather change indeed. Made chocolate cake to survive, nothing special but oh so delicious. Coffee and hibernating with a taste of dark strong chocolate helps one get through the days of januari and februari which seems to take forever. Love the sweater, knowing the pattern it was ment to be baggy or am I wrong? Three Scheepjes Whirls together, that's hooking fastidious to get to the colour changes 😄😄😄😄

  7. Oh Gillian, what a splendid post once again. Amazing how the weather sneaks up on you sometimes........we have the same in around London, Ontario. Surprise. You have inspired me once again with your loveliness of blogging and I thank you very much. Have a brilliant day and enjoy your life (-:

  8. I used to make all of our bread...this brings back such sweet nostalgic memories...& scents! My husband has juvenile diabetes so I stopped making traditional breads but I sure do enjoy sampling some when I have the opportunity.

  9. I don't make bread but I do make a huge cheese scone on Saturdays sometimes to have with soup and pretend that it is bread but it took half the time! You have some good yarny projects on the go. Stay warm. Jo x

  10. Perfect weather for staying cosy inside...

  11. Your soup and sourdough bread look delicious, Gillian! Look forward to seeing your blanket grow :)
    Hope you’ve kept cosy during Dennis too!


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