Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Cosy Country Kitchen

With the weather cooling down it was time to fire up the wood stove. My all time favorite kitchen ‘tool’. It cooks the best roasts, bread, puddings, and long slow stews and just about everything else .Cooking with wood imparts a special quality into the food & the stove chugging away creates a real presence in the house. It can transport you to another time that moved more slowly and in time with the seasonal rhythms.

Our stove is Australian made, (actually Albury NSW.) the Themalux Supreme ticks away always ready to cook something at the same time heating the hot water (very necessary when there is no sun to work the solar panels). The system also has a tap direct from the hot water jacket that provides instant hot water for washing dishes, hands, cold feet or getting the pasta water to the boil quickly which saves the water coming from the hot water service which takes a while to come through hot.

Another plus is that all the wood to run it is grown on our property. We planted a firewood forest back in1987 to provide all our cooking and heating needs.

Firing up the stove also heralds a change in lunches, the aroma of warming soup and wholesome bread greet us and visitors at the kitchen door. The home garden can provide most of the ingredients along with the pumpkin harvest and never forget the
dried chestnuts now that the fresh ones are all finished.

The stove also provides a focal point and is the most popular room in the house being warm, cosy and with the fragrance of something in the making.

Although bread is made all year its always seems more special when it’s cooked on the wood stove.

Deb’s Sourdough Bread

    1. Take starter from fridg e (lunch time)
    2. Proofing the Sponge Put starter in Bowl with 3 cups flour & 3 cups of water, mix, and cover & put aside.
    3. Prepare 2 bowls with 4 cups flour*, 1 teaspoon salt & 1 teaspoon malt. (late afternoon)
    4. The starter should be bubbly & has a white froth. The longer you let the sponge sit, the more sour flavour you will get. Put 1 cup of starter back in cleaned jar. & add 1cup flour & 1 cup warm water. Put lid on jar & store in fridge. **
    5. Divide the rest of starter between the 2 bowls, adding oil & extra warm water to make a moist mix. Cover & leave sit for an hour or so (not critical)
    6. Knead lightly & leave covered overnight.
    7. (Next morning) knead & make into loaf, rolls or what ever. Cover & allow rising. Double in size. ( In winter I put them in the bottom oven & bake after breakfast)
    8. Cut top of loaves, brush with milk & sprinkle w ith choice of seeds.
    9. To Bake Do not preheat the oven. Turn up to around 180oC rolls 15- 20 minutes loaves 30-45 min depending on size. ( in the wood stove I put the bread in a coolish oven and then open up the air to increase the heat)

*I use a mix of 3 cups of bread flour and 1 cup of wholemeal type flour depending on what type of bread I want. Here are some of my favourites:

  • 3 cups flour + 1 cup Rye flour + 1 cup chopped walnuts.
  • 3 flour + 1 rye flour + 11/2 cup chopped dried figs + 2 tablespoons fennel seeds.
  • 3 flour + 1 wholemeal flour+ ½ cup LSA (Ground linseed, sunflowers , almonds )
  • 3 flour + 1 wholemeal + 11/2 cup sultanas (or mixed dried fruit) + tablespoons dried peel + 2 teaspoons mixed spices.

** Care of Starter

The starter can be stored in the fridge for many weeks without being used. A layer of watery liquid, hooch, develops on top when used regularly it is just stirred in. If it develops a dark beer smelling layer, just pour it off & use to make the sponge as usual.

The kitchen also provides space for drying herbs and storing the harvested garlic.


Lucky-1 said...

Deb, this post brought back so many wonderful memories for me. 22 years ago I too had a wood stove and loved cooking with it. So much my dad asked me why I wouldn't use the gas stove....LOL

Enjoy your kitchen:)

Kate said...

Deb, that's lovely and so 'you'.