Sunday, November 05, 2006

Holy Silver Iodide, Batman!

Well, darn it all... if only we had some bloody clouds to seed, then it would be great. But, alas, no, we don't. For those of you naught in the know: Australia is in the middle of the worst drought since records were kept. I happen to live in the driest state in the driest continent on the wettest (liquid) planet in the solar system (there's a lot more out there, but it's kinda frozen and relatively inaccessable to us --although if you put the billion dollars a day that's funneled into an unnamed Persian Gulf country then we'd have been harvesting the ice in the solar system yonks ago).

But, as usual, I digress... So how are we at the ole clan homestead dealing with the drought? Several things, and this is why I've been pretty damned busy this last week --I'm sure you noticed the lack of posts perhaps? But have no fear, I've got a multi-part story time for you and loads of recipes so there should be a post daily this coming week (fingers, toes, eyes all crossed).

Ok, back to drought stuff:

There are several ways in which I've been keeping the garden going and still EASILY abiding by the water restrictions (which are pretty wussy restrictions anyways).

I don't use the in-ground sprinkler system --hose and bucket instead. I've found that the sprinkler system is for lazy folk and it doesn't do nearly as good a job and wastes a sh*tload of water.

Don't overprune the shade plants --this should have a serious Duh Factor to you gardener types.

Plant things that have a root system that binds the soil and traps nighttime dew.

Don't water the apple tree... WAAAAAHHHH!!!! This years apples will be very small and kinda bitter, so I'm not even gonna bother watering (I mean extra watering, BTW) the tree or harvesting the apples. But that's ok! For one thing, it gives the parrots, rosellas and lorikeets something to eat in the middle of the summer (they are very pretty). And I know a good market garden outside of Hahndorf where I can get good, inexpensive apples anyways. Soooo, this year the apples are for the birds (I'm so eco-friendly).

And the one that's been taking up a helluva lot of me time: Barking. Oh, not the dog type variety... Barking the garden. This means a completely thorough weeding session (how do those damn things grow in a drought?????) before putting the bark down. Why bark? Barking traps all the moisture so your shrubs, bushes, herbs, roses, etc can utilize the night dew without having to over water the place. Aaaaaannnnndddddd, the oil leeching out of the bark KILLS grasses and weeds!!!!!!

Oh, a word about weeding: this is the weeding job from HELL. I didn't design this garden --good gawd it would be different if I did--so it's an actual pain in the *ss to get to a lot of it. Roses are planted hither and thither with bushes and shrubs; and the whole thing was done with sandy loam so the cooch grass and the kikuyu grasses from the lawn have put out runners and infested it all. Blech.

I do most of my herb growing in pots and baskets just cus the layout of the rest of the place sucks the big one.

Do any of you remember that I've got a multi-part story time coming up? For you newbies (all 23,456 of you) I try to post an amusing anecdote from my youth and it usually involve me: getting hurt, doing really dumb things, or scaring myself shitless. Today there will be no story time though... I've got a great (it involves all three things --weehoo!!!!) one coming up that I'm spreading over a few posts this coming week. So STAY TUNED!!

Oh, yes, a recipe... If memory serves me right, I last talked about sourdough starter. So today I'll give you a use for the sourdough started all million of you have had in your garage. Your welcome.

Coming shortly: a young dave, ice skates, pebbles, jammed wrists, ice, babes, broken arms, hockey sticks, ice, needles, shovels, ripped clothing, casts, ice, embarrassment, cold, winter, ice, bulldozers, bruises, snowplows. How's that for a teaser?

But first, Food!

Sourdough Biscuits (scones for you in the UK)

Well, last time I told you all about making your own sourdough starter, and since it's been 3 or 4 days (try over a week dave), your starter should be just about ready for use.

There are many things you can do with sourdough starter, but I'll only give them to you in dribs and drabs --that's so you keep coming back to visit and leave boatloads of comments!

One thing you'll find with sourdough, the bread takes a lot longer to cook than other breads. So make sure you've got a firm grasp on the nuances before you make stuff from sourdough for guests.

Dave's Sourdough Biscuits

I am taking credit for these, since, well, ummmmm, this is how I make them! If I've somehow stumbled upon someone else's recipe in my kitchen experimentation, then tough!

What you need:

1 1/2 cups (355 mls) plain flour
1 tbsp raw sugar
2 tsp baking powder
dash of sea salt
2 tbsp softened butter (not melted!!!)
1 cup sourdough starter
some flour for your rolling pin, board, and hands

What you do:

Combine the first four (4) ingredients in a mixing bowl (actually, any kind of bowl it'll fit in will work). Toss in the softened butter and cut in using fork tines until the mixture has a cornmeal texture.

Pour in the sourdough starter and stir to combine. Using your floured hands (no fingers please), work the dough till it's a nice "doughy" texture. Oh, BTW, even if you don't bake this is a pretty darned easy one, no worries.

Roll out the dough on your cutting board to about 1/2 an inch thick (a bit over a cm). Cut with a 2 inch cutter --NOTE: if you don't have a cookie cutter, then just use an upturned water glass, that's what I do-- and put them on an ungreased baking tray.

For those of you who are real chefs... I cook mine on one of my pizza stones, works great!

Bake at 200 C (392 F) for 20-25 mins (remember, sourdough takes longer than regular dough).

These are great as the "biscuits" in "biscuits and gravy". They are also wonderful as scones in "devonshire cream tea", and they are great with lemon butter*. I've also put guacamole on them and that tasted great too --well, at least to me it tasted great but I'm a little bit different.

* Don't worry, I'll tell ya how to make lemon butter soon... IT'S AWESOME!


Geeky Dragon Girl said...

Gardening, ugh. This is why I prefer to pay someone $50 a month to do it for me.

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

I must admit, it's damned easy down here... You plant stuff, and it grows! And you get your own fresh herbs and whatnot.