Last shot on the card, February 2021

Brian at Bushboy’s World had the fun idea of posting our last photo of each month, without editing or explanation.

The rules are simple:
1. Post the last photo on your SD card and/or last photo on your phone for the 30th November.
2. No editing – who cares if it is out of focus, not framed as you would like or the subject matter didn’t cooperate.
3. You don’t have to have any explanations, just the photo will do
4. Create a Pingback to Brian’s post or link in the comments
5. Tag “The Last Photo”

Scottish oatcakes

Scottish oakcakes and butter. Image: Su Leslie 2021

There are as many recipes for oatcakes as there are bakers it seems. The type and proportions of oats varies between them. Some specify wheat flour as well as oats. Some include a raising agent; others not. Some contain sugar (ugh). The proportions of dry and wet ingredients varies; as does the ratios of different kinds of oats. Most include butter or lard.

I’ve experimented with a variety of these recipes, and this is what works best for me.

Ingredients

100g rolled oats / quick oats (see here for quick guide to different ways of processing oats)

100g pinhead (or steel cut) oats

25g plain flour

40g butter

5g salt

Just boiled water – around 4-8 tablespoons, as needed


Method

Preheat oven to 160°C

Mix oats, flour and salt in a large bowl. Add melted butter and stir to combine. Slowly add water, a tablespoonful at a time, until the mixture holds together but isn’t too sticky.

Turn the mixture onto a floured board or baking parchment and knead briefly to bring it all together. Roll out (use another sheet of baking paper on top) to a thickness of about 5mm.

Cut to preferred shape and size and place on parchment on a baking tray. Cook in the middle of the oven for around 20 minutes, or until crisp.  Turn half way to ensure even baking.


Notes

It would seem that oat processing produces a variety of slightly different products with different names depending on where you are. The products you use, and their relative composition, will affect the texture of the dough and that is why you need to add water gradually, in small quantities. The aim is a firm but not to too sticky dough that will hold together while being rolled, cut and placed on the baking tray.

Traditional oatcake recipes I’ve found do not contain wheat flour. I’ve found that adding this small amount helps the dough to hold together better. This is likely due to the kind of oats I’ve used. I suspect that “quick” oats in place of wholegrain rolled oats would remove/diminish the need for flour.

I have made flour-less cakes, and they tasted just as good. The dough was a bit crumblier and the taste a little grittier, but they were still enjoyable. I also cut them slightly thicker (6-7mm) because of the crumbly texture.

My recipe uses slightly more butter than others I’ve found, but as with the flour, I find that this quantity of butter gives a nicer texture and a bit more crunch.

I use a 7mm diameter cookie cutter, and that produces about 12 oatcakes from the quantities above. It has occurred to me that instead of cutting rounds then having to rework the scraps, I could cut the whole, rolled piece of dough into “squares” and ease each piece apart a little. I’ll let you know how that works.

Obviously, cooking time will depend on the thickness (and moisture content) of the dough. I aim for “low and slow” to give a crisper result, but you may find that trial and error (especially as our ovens will undoubtedly be different) is the only way to get them right.

The Changing Seasons, February 2021

Image: Su Leslie 2021

“Try to represent … the notion of time without the processes by which we divide it, measure it, or express it … We cannot conceive of time except by distinguishing its different moments.” — Emile Durkheim, French sociologist

I quote Durkheim here because I’m struggling with the experience of time right now. In the seemingly relentless cycle of hot dry days and humid nights, time is hardly more than arbitrary changes in the calendar date on my phone, and a slowly increasing number of images in the folder labelled February.

Those images tell me that I’ve baked quite a lot, visited a couple of cemeteries to research Headstones and Hidden Histories posts, and enjoyed a couple of spectacular sunsets.

Coconut cookies. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Raw caramel slice. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Scottish oatcakes; recipe here. Image: Su Leslie 2021

After a bit of experimentation, I have an oatcake recipe I’m happy with. I’m posting it separately here, so if you do want to try it, you won’t have to wade through my ramblings first (one of my pet hates with online recipes).

I’ve been meaning to write about Ellen Melville for a while. She was one of the country’s first woman lawyers, a city councillor for many years and a powerful advocate for women’s participation in public life. I’m still doing research to add colour to her story, but will post it as a Hidden History when I’m done.

A story to be told. Image: Su Leslie 2021

The stories of Freda Stark and Thelma Trott could hardly be more different to that of Ellen Melville — but are totally fascinating. This post may take me longer, as there seems to be a resurgence of interest in Freda Stark, and I’m determined not to just re-hash old material.

As a clue to how interested I’ve become — T and I made a 200km round trip last Saturday to see a play called Freda Stark — The Musical.

I hate musicals.

And to be honest, I hated this one more than most — but that’s another story to be told.

A story to be told. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Freda Stark — The Musical may have been disappointing, but we had a really good lunch at Saigon Noon in Hamilton.

Ok, not as interesting as our food, but when it arrived I was too busy eating to take photos. Image; Su Leslie 2021

And a stop at Mercer on the way home offered a beautiful sunset.

Sunset, Waikato River at Mercer, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

The following evening, a walk on Auckland’s Tamaki Drive produced a similarly spectacular sunset.

Auckland CBD from Tamaki Drive, Orakei. Image: Su Leslie

And a little later … Auckland CBD from Tamaki Drive, Orakei. Image: Su Leslie

Sunset, from Okahu Bay Wharf. Image: Su Leslie

Sunset, Okahu Bay Wharf, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly project where bloggers around the world share their thoughts and feelings about the month just gone. We all approach this slightly differently — though generally with an emphasis on the photos we’ve taken during the month.

For many of us, looking back over these photos provides the structure and narrative of our post, so each month is different.

Others focus on documenting the changes in a particular project — such as a garden, an art or craft project, or a photographic diary of a familiar landscape.

But in the end, it is your changing season, and you should approach it however works for you.

There are no fixed rules around post length or photo number — just a request that you respect your readers’ time and engagement. (1)

Tags and ping-backs

Tag your photos with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

Create a ping-back to this post, so that I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Tracy from Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Suzanne from Life at No 22

Natalie at Little Pieces of Me

Marilyn from Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

XingfuMama

Ju-Lyn (who you’ll know from All Things Bright and Beautiful) has a new blog, and shares her month here, at Touring My Backyard

Tish from Writer on the Edge

The letter S

Sunset, Christmas Beach, Herald Island, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

Many (many) years ago, I used to watch the TV programme Sesame Street with my baby brother. At the end of each show, the “sponsor” announcement went something like “today’s show has been brought to you by the letters … (take your pick) and the number … (usually a small one)”.

This week’s Lens-Artists challenge, which asks for subjects beginning with the letter S, reminds me of that (and how convenient that the show was called Sesame Street).

So of course we have a sunset.

And how about some sea, sand and sky?

Kakanui Beach, Otago, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

Or sunflowers.

Image: Su Leslie

Perhaps something sweet …

Image: Su Leslie

Or do you prefer savory?

Image: Su Leslie

I like to sew …

Image: Su Leslie

But I’ll leave singing to others.

Image: Su Leslie

Amongst the visual arts, I’m particularly fond of sculpture.

Sometimes serious …

‘Gretchen’ Sam Harrison, 2014. Exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore, Devonport, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie

Sometimes a little bit silly?

‘Damien Hurst Looking for Sharks’ Cool Shit, 2018. Exhibited at Sculpture by the Sea Bondi, NSW, Australia. Image: Su Leslie

Just like Smurfs on a road trip …

Image: Su Leslie

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge subjects beginning with the letter S