Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wheat biodiversity, draught exclusion, split peas and Elizabeth David

It happens often; I am washing the dishes, while listening to the radio or just meandering through my mind, when an idea comes along that I absolutely must write about that minute. Off come the washing-up gloves, up flashes Live Writer and before a word is typed, something else pops into my brain, from another day or another life and then there are 2 topics that need attention. Sometimes I jot down a link or a couple of words about both so I don't lose either of them in the excitement. Then I relax a little, cast my eyes out the window and catch sight of another topic, as a bird swoops by, a frog croaks or a spring onion uncurls an out-of-season flower......

And so it is today that I concoct such a crazy heading as the one above. Actually they are all related, as everything is in reality (OK Alex, I am sure you will suggest otherwise!!). It is one of those days when no-one goes outside who doesn't have to. The wind is ferocious, blowing in powerful, turbulent gusts straight off the Antarctic. There is flooding in Hobart and Huonville. Snow is causing chaos on parts of the road I was driving on in the sunshine, only a couple of weeks ago, north of Hobart. The rain is horizontal, and has been all day and most of last night, lashing the windows and creeping into the bathroom through a poorly designed vent directly above the toilet! My pond is full and the creek is gushing, almost up to the top of its bank. It is 9C which seemed icy when I was out battling with the wheelbarrow and the wood heap but I am very warm inside with just my small, slow combustion fire on low.

And that is the thing..... this wind is very southerly, maybe even a little south-easterly, not the usual north or south westerly. And what that means is that the wind is hitting straight onto the back of my house which is the laundry and (wet) bathroom, instead of the kitchen and lounge room where more of the windows and doors are. The bathroom and laundry are forming a great draught exclusion zone. I knew draughts were a problem with this house but I did not realise how significant they are, despite my efforts at using weather strip and other products to try to fill the gaps around my old windows and doors. I wish I had an answer.

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So, what does one do when gardening is cancelled and an inside day is thrust upon us? Cook, that's what..... pea and ham soup, Tamari-toasted seeds and bread.... well not actually make bread yet but read about it in a book I had never really looked at much although I have had it forever.... Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery, published in 1977.

 

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It is such fun to read a book written in a particular era, about that era, rather than as an historical depiction of an era past, if you see what I am saying!? I was 19 in 1977 and thought I was very modern, no doubt, but now it seems like I am reading about the 19th century, when Elizabeth David talks about all the different flours available, and buying flour from a baker, if you like their bread. There would be parts of Australia nowadays where you would not find a baker making real bread for hundreds of kilometres, never mind asking for a special flour!

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One very interesting thing she mentions is the use of the exact same idea of the 85% flour that I use and recommend for making my sourdough bread. As with Four Leaf's flour mill, the older, English mills did not remove the germ, but instead just some of the bran, making the flour less course and easier to work with.

 

 

I am passionate about biodiversity and believe it is the answer to many questions related to maintaining and improving health for humans and the planet, as well as adapting to a future of uncertain climatic conditions, worldwide so I revel in Elizabeth David's words describing the huge range of wheat varieties used in different parts of the UK, Europe and America up to and including the 1970's.... I wonder how this compares to today?? .....Then she goes on to discuss equally interesting facts about rye and barley and other grains and how they vary all over the world, making the history of breads a fascinating topic. .... and there's another 500 pages to go.

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Every 20 minutes a little, brightly coloured, plastic and wire-spring bloke does the Samba on my kitchen bench, telling me its time to stir the soup again..... thanks Alex, he makes me laugh every time. Its not every timer that is so entertaining!

2 comments:

Maggie said...

Wish I had a wire spring bloke doing the samba on my kitchen bench!

AlexF said...

We had a thunderstorm here a couple of days ago too - can you believe I haven't experienced one of those for years? Nice picture of the robot timer - glad you like it!