Wordless Wednesday

Afternoon cuppa, with lemon-thyme flavoured shortbread. Image: Su Leslie 2018

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The Changing Seasons, November 2018

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New growth, grapevine. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Time’s a strange thing. It is defined by its measurement, objective and increasingly precise. Yet even as we observe the system, we experience time in our own unique and subjective ways.

I think about this every month as I begin to write my Changing Seasons post, aware that I experience the passing of different months in very different ways. Indeed I would say I’ve experienced November as almost outside of time, anchored by neither nature nor culture.

In my garden, plants seem to be flourishing, but not in dramatic ways. Blossom has given way to fruit but none of it is ripe. About the only thing that’s noticeably grown is the grape vine.

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It never bears fruit, but in the words of 10cc “it hides an ugly stain (alright, fence) that’s lying there”. Image: Su Leslie 2018

In all the years we’ve lived here, the vine has never produced grapes. Its utility lies instead in covering — at least for a few months a year — a particularly ugly fence.

I am a utility gardener, and while I appreciate the masking properties of the vine, I want more from it. In one of those moments which, in a movie would carry ominous soundtrack warnings, I thought it might be fun to try cooking with the vine leaves.

Fondly imagining some tasty little herby halloumi parcels, I set off across the lawn with my secateurs.

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Fresh vine leaves. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Online, I found lots of advice on blanching the leaves for preserving, and lots of recipes using preserved leaves — but not a lot on using blanched leaves more or less straight away.

With our little vine I can’t really harvest enough leaves to be worth preserving — and besides I wanted to cook NOW.

“NOW” has proved to be a very fluid term. It took me the better part of a day to figure out a combination of blanching, soaking and simmering that would render fibrous leaves edible, turning a quick snack into an edible marathon medal.

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Blanched, soaked, simmered; topped with a slice of halloumi and fresh herbs. Good to go. Image: Su Leslie 2018

The parcels themselves are pretty quick to make. I added my new favourite herb combination of oregano and lemon thyme, and cooked them in a lightly oiled skillet for a few minutes on each side.

 

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Halloumi-stuffed vine leaves with quick-pickled red onion and pomegranate seeds. Image: Su Leslie 2018

The verdict: the dish worked quite well. The pickled onions and pomegranate seeds balanced the salty cheese and I liked the background taste of the herbs. The leaves were ok; still a bit chewy and fibrous, and I wouldn’t serve them to guests.

The idea of garden to table living is incredibly appealing to me, and is indeed what I am aiming for eventually. In that context, the time spent fiddling about cooking leaves doesn’t feel wasted, and I’m not disappointed in the final outcome. I have discovered reserves of patience and tenacity I don’t always think I have, and learned quite a lot about a food I’ve only ever eaten in restaurants and as a take-away.

When I look back on my November, I realise I have spent a great deal of it on projects like this; learning and practicing skills that haven’t necessarily produced the kind of results I would want to photograph, but have changed me for the better.

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Little Pieces of MeChanging of the Season — November 2018 and Changing of the Season — November 2018 (Riding Edition)

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Lee at Ladyleemanila

Ju Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Deb at The Widow Badass Blog

Jude at Under a Cornish Sky

Mick at Mick’s Cogs

 

because it’s been a snackish sort of day

The beautiful day hinted at by some early-morning sunshine quickly gave way to another leaden-skied, rather cold weather offering.

A perfect day to spend in the kitchen, and work on a recipe for crackers using leftover sourdough starter.

The thing about sourdough is that, to work, it needs feeding. Growth is, if not exponential, then close to. And unless one bakes an awful lot of bread, there will inevitably be some starter that is surplus to requirement.

These crackers are quick, easy and require little more than some extra flour, a bit of butter and water, and a few herbs to jazz them up.

I’ll post the recipe if anyone is interested.

Friday flowers

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Flowers and People – Gold, 2015 (teamLab). Still from video installation. Seen at NSW Art Gallery, Sydney. Image: Su Leslie 2018

A slightly different take on flowers today.

Flowers and People — Gold, (above) is a video installation that sees digital flowers bud, bloom and wither, moving about on a giant screen in infinite variety. It’s installed at the NSW Art Gallery, and watched at the end of a long day, it is mesmerising and incredibly soothing.

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Princess flower tea; with jasmine and globe amaranth flowers. Image: Su Leslie 2018

My last meal in Sydney (if you don’t count snacking in the Air NZ Lounge) was lunch at the White Rabbit Gallery teahouse. I couldn’t resist photographing my princess flower tea as the jasmine and globe amaranth flowers unfurled in the pot.

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Unfurled. Princess flower tea with jasmine and globe amaranth flowers. Image: Su Leslie 2018

The Changing Seasons: October 2018

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I really should stop organising to travel at the end of a month; it plays havoc with The Changing Seasons scheduling.

I’m off to Sydney on Sunday to visit Sculpture by the Sea, a fantastic exhibition that is installed annually along the coastal path from Bondi to Tamarama Beach. With luck I’ll have lots of photos to share — but not until November.

Which leaves me wondering what I’ve done with this month.

Part of it certainly has been spent woolly-headed and lethargic from the absolute worst cold I can ever remember having. But that only accounts for about 10 days, and my photo folder for October is the smallest it’s been in ages. So however I have occupied my time, much of it obviously hasn’t seemed worth recording.

I’ve done a lot of sewing — mainly cushion covers to freshen up our living room.

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I’ve baked bread, including a couple of variations on sourdough.

First came some impromptu flatbreads from dough that was intended for crackers …

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… then Rewena Paraoa, or Maori bread.

Maori bread is something I have been aware of for a long time, but knew nothing about. I found an old recipe, and was surprised to find it’s basically a sourdough, using boiled mashed potato mixed with flour and water to create the starter.

Neither wheat nor potatoes are native to New Zealand, and arrived with European settlers. Prior to that, kumara (sweet potato), yams, taro and ti pore (Pacific Cabbage Tree) were probably the principal sources of carbohydrates. Both were brought from East Polynesia by the country’s original migrants, probably around in the 13th century. As far as I know, pre-European Maori did not make bread.

Potatoes are easier to grow than kumara, and were widely adopted into the Maori diet. The use of potatoes in sourdough cultures is not unique to Maori, and was once widespread, but interestingly I had found no reference to it prior to finding this recipe. It certainly produced a starter culture much more quickly than the flour and water version that the Big T and I made a couple of years ago. My potato starter (which I actually made with kumara out of curiosity), was ready to use after two days, while our original starter took around two weeks.

The finished loaf was ok; a bit dense, and I forgot to salt the dough properly, but it was edible, and I’d certainly attempt it again.

Eroded sea-shell. Image: Su Leslie 2018 Exposing the inner workings. Eroded sea-shell. Image: Su Leslie 2018

One of those little philosophical moments …

I found this tiny, eroded shell in a little bag of rocks and other stuff tucked inside one of my son’s shoes. He had obviously planned to take the bag (and the shoes) home after a visit to us, but somehow they got left behind.

It reminded me of a time –long past — when we went to the beach together, bringing home assorted treasures destined to be forgotten.

From the outside, the shell is relatively smooth and uniform. It is only when the interior is exposed that we can see the complexity of growth and change. The passage of time does that.

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Deb at The Widow Badass

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Babsje at Great Blue Herons, who joins us for the first time. Please take a look at this great blog, including a second Changing Seasons post.

Lee at Ladyleemanila

Little pieces of me

Jude at Under a Cornish Sky

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Sarah at Art Expedition

Ju Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful