Nope, no funny or obscure title for this one. Hey everybody: It RAINED here in the Adelaide Hills! Why is this such a big deal? Lemme catch you up...
South Oz is the driest state in the driest continent in the world. There's a lot of farming and dairy down here so when there's a drought it can be pretty rough.
We just finished up the driest winter on record, and are in the middle of the worst drought since records were kept (over 100 years).
A month ago the local reservoirs were at 53% capacity heading into a dry, hot summer. There hasn't been any rain since then so it's a safe bet they are well under 50%.
The Murray River supplies a majority of our fresh water. Since the eastern states (NSW and VIC) draw water from it before it gets to us, we sometimes don't get the flow amount we are entitled to (SA doesn't count to the rest of Oz). In fact, there is now NO flow as the Murray drains into Lake Alexandrina --the Lake then drains to the ocean.
Did I mention the weather service here measures rainfall in tenths of millimeter? Well, they do. For those of you who need to know, a tenth of a mm is 4/1000th of an inch --1/200th of an inch! Last week one of the weather stationed reported a .2 mm rainfall --1/100th of an inch!
Lately the relative humidity has been in the 5%-10% range --like for the last two months.
So yesterday when the forecast was for thunder storms and scattered showers, we all kinda were like, "Yeah, right. We'll believe that when pigs fly."
Yesterday and all through the night, them pigs were flying everywhere!
The thunder and lightning started around 2 pm and continued pretty much unabated till 4 or 5 am. It was dark enough in the afternoon to see some of the lightning. By nighttime we were clouded in up here (we're in the hills) so we couldn't see individual lightning forks, but the "sheet lightning" effect was quite something for quite a long time.
I actually did unplug all the computers cus some of those strikes were pretty darned close. It was very cool stepping out at night in the rain and having sheet lightning all around pretty much continuously.
The next morning, I log on to BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) to see the rainfall over the city and surrounding areas... 13.6 mm. HUH? That's it???!!!?!! One damned lousy half inch...? Well, compared to what we've had lately it was quite welcome. We had to have gotten more up here cus the wok outside has an inch and a half in it --the wok is part of my homemade smoker setup, I'll tell ya bout it later, k?
We are going to need that amount of rain every day for two or three months straight to get the reserviors topped up. Ahhhh, going into our summer... Ain't Gonna Happen!
So were are stuck with water restrictions, which is no bad thing. I wasn't gonna use the inground sprinkler system this year anyways. The areas that I do need to water I use a hose and a beer. Hey, if I'm gonna stand in the yard at night with a water hose in my hand I might as well have a beer in the other, right?
On with the food:
You don't get a recipe today, but I'm going to give you some tips instead.
First: Remember the cinnamon bread recipe I gave you a while back? No? Well, go read it!
Anyways, try this: leave the bread in the oven for a lot longer than you normally would (some of the best things are discovered by accident, light Champagne). It'll be hard crunchy when it comes out. Pop it out of the breadpan and let it cool overnight uncovered. The next day put it in a plastic bad and use it for many many good things:
1) Crumble a piece and top your ice cream with it.
2) Crumble up a good amount of it and line a pie dish with it for a pumpkin pie.
3) Tear off a hunk and eat it with butter.
The list goes on... What you basically get is a crumbly,sweet, cinnamon loaf that has as many uses as you can imagine.
Second: The care and feeding of a pizza stone.
If someone tells you not to get a pizza stone cus it'll crack after a few uses, DO NOT believe her (Yes, Anna, you are still a friend but after 55 years you still don't know your way around a kitchen).
To keep your pizza stone from cracking: Do not soak it to clean it. Do not put it in the oven wet. Duh! Anyone who spent time around a campfire should know that. And for those of you who didn't spend time around a campfire, then I've just enlightened you.
You can use your pizza stone for any type of doughy bread, and biscuits (scones) come out perfect. Just sprinkle corn meal or polenta onto it before you put your dough on it.
Cleaning is very easy: Let it cool first, then wipe off with a damp cloth. Anything adhered to it can be easily scrapped off with a plastic dish scrapper the next day. Don't worry about the staining, after all, it is a porous ceramic stone type thing.
I have two, and every loaf of bread that goes through the oven is done on them (this is almost daily) and of course the most awesome pizza in the world in made here in dave's kitchen.
Third: You can make the most AWESOME seafood stock in the world! It's quick, it's easy, and you can freeze it for later use. You know when you are shelling prawns (shrimp) and you toss the shells and the "heads" in the bin? Do not do that anymore! Save all the "head" and the shells from around the prawn meat. Toss the "heads" and shells in a pot with water and boil for about 20 or 30 mins. Let it cool slightly, then use a potato(e) masher to mash down the "heads" to extract even more flavour (flavor) into the stock. Boil again for a few mins. Let it cool and strain it. NOW you can toss the shells and "heads".
This stock is a good base for soups, sauces, and you can even toss some into a seafood stir fry for extra flavor (flavour).
Ok, that's enough tips for now, I've got many many many more to come.